by: Sunhawk

Confrontations (cont)

Well, fuck. Heero couldn't be lost too. What in the hell would we do if we were both so screwed up we couldn't find our way?

"Oh damnit," he whispered, his fingers coming to brush across my face. "I don't know... I just don't fucking well know anymore. We didn't know the circumstances... we didn't really know what happened all those years ago. But you seemed to hate Williams so damn much... we weren't sure you'd be... that you would..."

"You didn't trust me not to go charging off and ruin that woman's life," I finished for him, voice turning bitter. "You thought I would rush right out and expose Williams and take revenge for Camden."

There was a spark in his eyes of... righteousness? "Isn't that what you did?" he asked very softly.

"No, Heero," I told him and closed my eyes so I didn't have to look at his damp face any more. "I went and I talked to them. I talked to Williams, and when I had my questions answered, I gave Anna Camden the journal that her husband left her on his dying day... and I gave Williams the pages that I tore out first."

He made a tiny little sound of distress and whispered my name. I felt the heat of his hand as it hovered over my cheek, but I didn't open my eyes.

"I'm... too tired to do this any more tonight," I said and knew it was true. There was a weight on my chest that was making it hard for me to breathe. "I just can't... it hurts too much."

His hands were on my shoulders again and I was finally forced to open my eyes because he wouldn't let go.

"Please," he said softly. "I was worried sick... we need to talk about this. We need to work it out."

"I know," I told him. "But... not right now. I'm just too tired... I've already said things I shouldn't have. I... I hit Wufei, for cryin' out loud. No more..."

"I want to talk this out," he told me, eyes pleading and voice not altogether steady.

"I don't," I responded, refusing to meet his gaze.

"I want to know what happened..." he began, refusing to listen to me, refusing to drop it, and I kind of... snapped.

"Well you should have fucking thought of that before you made me go deal with that nightmare on my own!" I shouted, totally pissed and totally out of control. "You gave up the right to know anything when you damn well lied to me! You gave it all up when you decided that you didn't trust me!"

From the look on his face, you would have thought I'd just kicked him in the balls. "Duo?" he whispered, his voice so laced with pain, it cut me like a razor. I slumped, his hands the only thing holding me up. The anger drained out of me as quickly as it had come.

"Damnit, Heero," I moaned. "I told you... no more. Just... no more."

His hands slid away from me and I collapsed onto the bed, curling back into my ball.

"I am so sorry," he told me, staring down at me with his heart in his eyes.

"I know," I said and dared to look up at him. "Will you just... stay with me?"

He blinked, the shock plain on his face. "Stay? But... I thought you were..."

I looked away again. "Mad at you? I am. I'm pissed and confused and... and hurting. But... I'm cold and scared and damn lonely too."

I thought for a minute he might refuse me, but then he rose and walked around the bed, crawling up to spoon in behind me. He didn't even take the time to get undressed. Or... perhaps that was a conscious decision on his part.

In the other room, my music softly played and I just tried to soak up some of Heero's warmth... tried to relax. Tried to forget, just a little bit. "Later Heero..." I whispered. "We'll deal with this later."

There was a moment of quiet before he pulled me in against his chest, wrapping me tight in his arms. "I... love you," he ventured hesitantly.

I sighed softly and laced my fingers with his where they lay against my chest. "I know," I told him gently. "That isn't gone... I love you too. But... I think this is about more than just love." Behind me, he seemed to tense and I knew he wasn't quite ready to let this go for the night. So I quietly but firmly said, "Good night, Heero."

It took him a couple of minutes but he finally whispered, "Good night." He couldn't have wrapped himself any closer.

Between the exhaustion, the music and his presence, I finally drifted off, though it was hardly the most restful of nights.

It seemed like I no more than closed my eyes before the alarm was going off. It was a struggle to make myself care, and I growled at it, stretching an arm out to fumble it to silence.

My hamsters were back, and in discord. George kept supplying me with little profanities to level at the alarm clock, and Francis kept waving banners suggesting that I just keep my mouth shut. It dissolved into a little hamster brawl on the floor and I forgot about them.

I became aware, as I rubbed sleep from my eyes, that Heero was still with me, still holding me tight and from the feel of his arms around me, wide awake.

"Good morning," he told me timidly when he sensed he had my attention.

"Morning," I responded and turned so I didn't have to look at him over my shoulder. He rather looked like shit. If I were a betting man, I'd have put money down that he hadn't slept much. He made me feel like I'd been kicking kittens. I... felt something inside me kind of shift just a hair to the right.

I stroked my knuckles over his cheek. "I love you, Heero Yuy," I told him, without preamble. "You're so far into my soul I don't think anything will ever change that. But... that hurt."

His arms were still around me and he gathered me in to his chest with a sound that was somewhere off my catalog of Heero noises. "Just tell me you're not leaving me... tell me I didn't screw up so bad that I'm losing you."

"I came back, didn't I?" I whispered against his collarbone and felt him shiver.

"Duo," he said after a minute. "I am sorry. I... should have been honest with you. I was... worried that it would upset you. I only meant to protect you. Please... forgive me?"

I could hear the near palpable need in his voice, but I couldn't give him the instant, easy answer he sought. I mulled it over, poked at it like a sore tooth and finally told him, "Eventually, love... eventually."

When I pushed away, the look on his face was painful to see. I bent to kiss him gently on the forehead to ease the sting of it and then went to get my shower.

I was a little surprised to find him getting ready to leave when I came out, even more surprised when he didn't question my going in. I had half expected him to argue with me, try to get me to stay home so that we could talk. Instead, I was greeted with an almost nervous attentiveness as he served me breakfast. I couldn't wolf the food down fast enough; I was damn hungry, and Heero's continued quiet through my second helping of eggs made me feel... strange. It told me just how much he was holding back, how cautious he was feeling. Normally, he would have been questioning me six ways to Sunday, trying to find out when I'd eaten last, lecturing me about not taking care of myself. This morning he simply put food in front of me as long as I seemed interested in eating it and refrained from comment. I wondered idly if Francis had left me for Heero.

But you know... maybe it was Trowa's reassurances the previous night, but... guilt beast was nowhere to be found.

When we left the apartment, I took the lead and walked toward his car without asking. I hadn't cleaned mine out yet and wasn't much interested in Heero picking through the debris of my little delivery trip. He didn't question it and drove us to work; it was not an altogether comfortable ride. He was so on edge, being so very careful in trying not to upset me that he wouldn't bring up anything remotely related to the incident. And I was still feeling just prickly enough that I let him swing in the breeze. There was a large part of me that was still stinging with the betrayal. A part of me that wanted to snap and snarl and hurt in return. But I am not, despite what the guys seemed to think sometimes, a damn wild animal. Somewhere inside I knew that Heero hadn't done anything to me that I hadn't done to him a hundred times over. Perhaps on a much larger scale. In a more... serious situation. In a way that was more detrimental...

Ok... ok... so it was somewhere way down deep inside. That's kind of my point. I needed to get over being so damn hurt before I could sit down and talk to him about this or I was just going to end up taking his head off. It would escalate into something seriously ugly, and I honestly didn't want that. I had figured out last night that despite everything, I didn't want to lose what we had, and the bitter, angry words that were zipping around in my head stood a chance of damaging it worse than it already was, if they found their way out of my mouth.

I could feel him stealing glances at me as he drove, and I suppose I was stealing one or two of my own. I didn't like this... wall that was between us, but was very aware that I had erected most of it. I felt very standoffish, very unsure of him. The anger and hurt was still there underneath the resignation that I was trying to work with. We were both hurting and not at all sure how to breach that wall.

I finally decided that it was up to me at least to try, and I reached out to take his hand. "Let's just get a little distance from this, Heero," I told him. "We'll talk about it when we're not both so... tense."

He gave me a look that was somewhere between grateful and mournful, squeezing my fingers tight in his. "As long as we can talk about this... get through this."

I flashed him a little grin, trying to lighten things just a little bit. "A divorce would be too messy... who would get custody of the potted palm?"

He returned the smile, though it was a bit wan. "It's not ours... it came with the apartment."

I snorted softly and went back to looking out the window. He didn't let go of my hand though, and after another mile or so, his fingers tightened on mine again.

"Duo..." he said softly, not looking at me. "I do love you... more than anything. I don't always make the right choices, but the choices I make always come out of that love..."

"I know, husband-mine," I whispered. "That's why I'm here and not on my way to Timbuktu."

He gave a little start and looked over at me. I met his gaze, but we didn't speak again.

He dropped me by the door to the mechanics bay before pulling around to the parking garage to go on his way to the main building. "I'll see you tonight," he said, as he did most mornings, but there was a hint of question in his voice. It seemed to embarrass him, because a touch of color rose on his cheeks.

"Of course," I responded with a smile and wished I dared kiss him goodbye. Mad as I was... had been... might be... Hell, I wasn't even sure if I was or I wasn't any more... I still didn't like to see him like this; all torn up emotionally. "Maybe," I ventured, hoping to reassure him that he was going to get what he wanted later. "We should just take home carry-out?" To leave more time for talking. More time for hashing out our differences. More time for explanations and that whole attendant emotional turmoil thing.

"That... might be a good idea," he told me, offering up a hopeful little smile. Then he pulled away and I had to go clock in.

Joy. I'd have to remember to ask for something nice and bland tonight, I had a feeling my stomach was going to be upset enough. For the first time in a long time I could safely say I wasn't looking forward to getting off work.

Griff gave me a very strange, appraising look as I walked across the garage, clocked in and took off my jacket. I rather hoped he would leave me alone, and avoided making eye contact with that wish clutched close to my chest, but it did me no good. I turned from hanging my coat up to find him making his way across the bay toward me.

He waited until he had come abreast of me before speaking, unlike how he usually started yelling before he was halfway there. "So, Duo," he said in a tone of voice that was almost gentle. "You... feeling better today?"

On a sudden bubble of memory, I realized that I had taken off Monday morning and never bothered to call in on Tuesday at all. 'Shit, Griff!' I blurted, "I'm sorry... I forgot to call in yesterday, didn't I?"

"S'ok, kid," he said and I thought I would fall over from shock. This couldn't be my boss... had I been invaded by pod-people again? "You're here now, that's what counts. Your back feeling better?"

I wondered idly if my eyes were bugged out of my head as far as they felt like they were. "Uh... yeah," I fumbled. "It's much better, thanks."

"Ok then," he told me and reached to gently thump me on the shoulder. "You need anything today, you let me know, I don't want you aggravating that burn."

Then he gave me my day's assignments and I couldn't help but notice they were all easy oil and lube jobs, nothing that would have me on the floor under a car or leaning over one for endless hours. How... odd.

I was halfway through the first oil change before it dawned on me. I work at Preventors headquarters. A missing persons report had been filed on me sometime in the last two days and I hadn't shown up for work yesterday. I raised my head to look around the bay and caught no less than three other mechanics looking quickly away.

Well... fuck. I was grist for the rumor mill. Great... just great. I wasn't even going to try and imagine what everybody thought was going on. I would never manage to come close to the wild stories that were probably flying all over the place. Francis arrived right on cue to help me repress the urge to march over to the main building and smack the shit out of Heero. That was going to be one of the things I intended to get some damn answers about; why in the seven Hells had he filed a stupid missing persons report?

The day drug and sped by in degrees, some of my tasks seemed like they were taking me three times as long as they should, but at the same time, whenever I glanced up at the clock, it seemed I was speeding toward the end of the day like a damn bullet. Though I did very little that day besides work and think, I wasn't having a lot of luck getting myself over my irritation. Getting myself ready for what was waiting for me when it was time to go home.

Before I knew it, it was almost lunchtime. It crossed my mind to go up the street to the nearest bar and get drunk enough to pick a damn fight. That was what I really felt like I needed... a good, old-fashioned bar brawl. Hell... maybe I'd get lucky and get arrested for drunk and disorderly. If I got my ass thrown in jail I wouldn't have to have this talk with Heero that I wasn't sure I was ready for. I snorted ruefully, shaking my head at my own foolishness and turned to get another can of oil for the car I was working on, almost running over Sally Po.

She gave ground rather than let me plow into her and grinned at me. "What's so funny, Duo?" she asked lightly.

I flushed and decided that I really didn't want to share my pseudo lunch plans with the woman. I just grinned and ignored the question. "Well hello, Ms. Po," I said instead. "What brings you down to the depths of our grim, grimy garage?"

"Give me a break," she snickered. "Old Griff makes you guys keep this place so clean you could eat off the floor in here."

"And the evil overlord sometimes makes us do just that," I stage whispered.

We both laughed when Griff hollered, "I heard that, Maxwell!" from across the room. I wondered sometimes if he had placed his own office according to the acoustics in the room, nobody has hearing that damn good.

"Well then," she smiled at me. "Let me rescue you; I came to see if you wanted to go to lunch with me."

I stopped wiping my hands on the rag I was holding and looked at her. This was a first. "I really wasn't planning on going anywhere..." I began and got a mega-watt grin.

"Good!" she beamed at me. "You don't have any plans then! Come on... my treat." She had me by the arm before I half had a chance to do my sputtering routine.

I sighed heavily, giving into the inevitable, knowing full well what this was all about, but not sure how in the hell to get out of it. I am nothing if not a pushover for a pretty face.

So I tossed my rag into my toolbox, called across the garage to tell Griff I was going to lunch, waved a jaunty goodbye to the half a dozen guys that were staring at us, and followed where she led.

We ended up in a corner booth at the local sandwich shop, not my favorite place, and she even managed to maneuver me so that I was the one who ended up with their back to the door. Doesn't pay to go places with ex-soldiers. We all hate to be the one with the door at our back.

I waited through the ordering thing, carefully picking a chicken sandwich, remembering how awful the ham and cheese had been the last time I'd been in here, and wished that they served beer. When the waitress went away, I looked across at Sally and grinned a little ferally. "I assume I'm getting a free lunch because I cleaned your boyfriend's clock last night?"

She threw back her head and laughed delightedly. "That's what I love about you, Duo," she told me when she could. "Always straight to the point.'

"I only get an hour for lunch," I told her drolly and she grinned and shook her head.

"Ok, smart guy," she finally agreed. "Yeah... Wufei showed up at my place last night with a black eye and an attitude problem."

I snorted, but the waitress arrived with our drinks then and I waited until she was gone before saying, "So... you want to know the why or the how or just what?"

All the mirth faded from her face and she looked at me intently. "I... I'm not sure what I want," she told me honestly. "I just know that I've never seen Chang Wufei like I saw him last night. And I didn't like it."

I sighed and toyed with my glass of soda, wishing it was in a bottle so I had a nice little label to shred. Wasn't going to get a moment's respite today, was I? "What did he tell you?" I finally asked, a little surprised that she waited the minute or so it had taken me to get that much out.

She quirked a little grin. "At first, not much. But when I threatened to go take the hide off the person who decked him... he finally told me that he only got what he deserved."

I looked up from my glass and met her somewhat sympathetic gaze. "I really didn't mean to hit him," I muttered and she smiled softly and reached out to pat my arm.

"I know you didn't," she said warmly. "He did tell me a little bit about what he's done. He'd told me about the journal when you first found it and that he was running the search for you."

I nodded. "And he told you... told you how that came out?" I questioned, not wanting to talk about it until I was sure what she knew and what she didn't. If Wufei hadn't told her about it, I'd be damned if I would let her trick me into telling tales on him.

She took a sip of her tea and looked at me a little sadly. "Yes, Duo, he told me he lied to you and said he hadn't found her."

I sighed heavily and left off turning my glass around and around on the table, to drag my fingers through my hair. "So, if you know what happened... what are we doing here?"

She gave my arm a little nudge until I looked up from the table to meet her gaze and then she smiled lightly. "First, I wanted to see how you were doing?"

I ignored that. "And second?" I prompted.

Her smile grew into a cheeky kind of grin. "You haven't answered the first one yet."

I shook my head and resisted the urge to sigh for about the hundredth time. "How the hell do you think I am?" I said and knew it sounded... pissy. "The guys... were my damn ground and center... I feel like my world's been turned upside down. I trusted them both implicitly and... and... well, you know." I petered out rather quickly and wished I hadn't said any of it before it was even quite all out of my mouth.

"Oh Duo," she breathed, sounding genuinely pained.

"And the second thing?" I bulled forward, not really comfortable with the openly affectionate look she was giving me.

Her _expression went a little pensive and I saw her eyes flick toward the front of the shop. She leaned across the table and grabbed my hand. "The man I love is hurting like I've never seen him hurt before and I'm a 'meddling onna' and I mean to put things right. That's the second thing."

I blinked at her in silence for damn near a full minute and my brain had just put it all together when I heard the startled little gasp beside us. I looked up to find a very surprised Wufei standing next to the table. His eyes flicked over me, but he couldn't meet my gaze and his attention went to Sally. "What is going on?" he grumbled, obviously caught off guard and embarrassed as hell.

"I invited Duo to lunch with us," she told him sweetly and I thought for a second that he would growl at her.

"You're meddling, woman," he informed her, and Sally laughed right out loud.

"Sit down, my dear," she told him when her mirth had faded. "Or I'll black your other eye."

[back] [cont] [back to Sunhawk's fic]