| By : Sunhawk
"Leave it alone, Heero,"
I warned, looking him hard in the eye. "She's done nothing wrong.
Wufei and I do need to work this out."
He deflated, and dropped his gaze from mine, stirring idly at his soup.
"I know, but..."
"No buts," I cut him off again. "I wasn't complaining.
I was just saying that I already wasn't in the best state of mind when
I ran head on into Relena and had that little... discussion." He
looked like he was going to apologize again, but I didn't give him the
opening for that either. "What I did was careless. I know better.
After I realized... I was as embarrassed as hell. Then on top of that,
Quatre falling to pieces... and on top of that, you turning it into a
three-ring circus... I just had to get out."
How's that for honesty? Did I cover everything? Well... I guess I left
out the part where Zechs Merquise came into the same room with me and
dared to breathe, but I really didn't know that I wanted to get into that
little discussion right now, on top of everything else.
"I'm sorry," he murmured, not even pretending to eat any longer.
"I didn't know what was going on. Everything was fine... and then
you were suddenly so angry. I didn't even realize at first what you'd
done. I just stood there like an idiot and let you... let you..."
"Enough of that, Yuy," I admonished. "It wasn't your fault.
It was mine. If I hadn't lost my temper, I'd have noticed that you were
using hot pads."
He raised his eyes from his bowl to look at me, and his _expression just
about killed me. "I screwed up. I froze. If Rashid hadn't been there..."
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "If Rashid hadn't been there, I'd have
figured it out two seconds later, from all the people screaming at me,
and dumped the thing on the stove."
There was more staring. He wanted to beat himself up some more, but could
see I was going to counter his every argument. Would pop his every justification
about how this was all his fault.
He finally tried on a tentative little smile. "You know... we really
should stop having these discussions over dinner. We're going to starve
I laughed for him and we agreed we should finish eating before we had
to reheat the soup to make it palatable.
He, of course, wouldn't let me help with the dishes, but made me go settle
myself in my nest on the couch until he was done. It didn't take him long,
then he came to sit with me, offering up a more composed _expression.
"So... I think it's your turn. What did you want to talk to me about?"
I'd been thinking about it, while I had waited for him to finish cleaning
up, but still wasn't sure where to start. I had known that he wouldn't
forget this, that he would come to finish hashing out whatever it was
I had started to say. Not that I had hoped he would forget... but... where
the hell to start?
I want this thing that you don't want, but I don't want you to give it
to me just because I want it, since I don't want you to...
Oh, never freakin' mind.
"Heero," I blurted, "sometimes it feels like if I asked
you for the moon, you'd spend the rest of your life trying to figure out
how to get it to me."
He chuckled wryly, giving me a bemused little smile. "I... don't
think I understand."
I sighed, reaching to run my hand through my bangs, forgetting the gauze
until I snagged my hair on it. I dropped my hand back into my lap and
almost laughed, suddenly aware of just where this new nervous habit had
come from. "Look... do you have any idea what a burden that can be?
I have to double think everything, just to make sure that I'm not 'forcing'
you to do things just for my sake."
"You don't force me to do things, Duo," he told me, his voice
very intent. "In fact... you almost never ask me for anything at
all. I don't mind..."
He stopped when I sighed. "That's kind of my point," I said,
not able to totally keep the faint dejection out of my voice. "You'd
do anything for me... I know that. So how am I supposed to know when you're
doing things that you don't want to... just to make me happy?"
Something feral came into his eyes then. "I'd sell my soul if it
would buy your happiness."
I shivered and stared at him wide-eyed. "Ok... that's totally my
point! Do you honestly think I could be happy if you were running around...
He had to laugh, and I'll admit it did sound pretty damn stupid, but he'd
started down this particular analogy road. "Duo... it's an _expression..."
"I'm not being stupid, Yuy," I grumbled, glaring at him. "That
was just an _expression. But answer me this... what if I told you the
only thing in the world that would make me happy was... was for you to
quit the Preventors?" It was the worst thing I could think of, for
him, on the spur of the moment.
His face went dead still, his total lack of _expression showing me his
shock at the very idea. He loved his job. He loved feeling like he was
making a difference. It was an honor thing, with him and Wufei both, I
think, and I doubt if he could conceive of doing anything else with his
life. "Is... that what you want?" he breathed softly.
I thought I would pull my hair out. It was right there in his eyes; if
I said 'yes', he'd be on the phone to Commander Une in the next minute
tendering his resignation.
"No, you idiot!" I blurted. "I'm freakin' trying to make
a point here! That job isn't just a job to you. It's more like a... a
damn calling, and we both know it. But if I said 'kiss it goodbye', you'd
be working at the local McDonald's come tomorrow morning!"
He blinked at me for a minute, looking rather taken aback. Then he tried
on a tiny little smile. "Well... I'd like to think I could do better
than wearing a paper hat and flipping burgers."
It was a comment designed to calm me down, and it did make me take a moment
just to breathe. But my stomach still felt like it was full of a flock
of pissed off butterflies. I had gotten rather wound up over this, hadn't
I? Maybe just too much stress for one day? Perhaps I shouldn't have brought
this up on top of everything else. But we were hip deep now, with no path
back, only forward.
"Heero-love," I told him, voice a little steadier. "You
see what I'm saying? I don't want that kind of power. I understand what
that says about how much you love me, but I don't want that kind of relationship.
It puts all the major decisions on my head. I want... a partnership with
you, but that can't be as long as you keep sacrificing everything for
He looked a little... odd. A parade of strange emotions wandering through
his eyes faster than I could read them.
Then he crawled into my nest of afghans and pillows with me.
I ended up with Heero lying on my chest, with his head nestled under my
chin and I thought... God, it's stupid, but I thought for a second I would
burst into tears.
He'd never sought this from me. This was my position, and it felt... very
odd to be the one doing the holding. But it felt... good. Damn good.
"So," he sighed, when he was settled in my arms. "Going
to tell me now, what this is all about?"
"If you swear to me you will be completely honest," I told him;
not at all sure I trusted that he would be. "If you won't just give
in to me, because you think you're making me happy."
He hesitated, which earned him more points than his just blurting out
his pledge. "I'll do my best," he finally told me. I wasn't
sure whether to be reassured by his honesty, or worried about his evasion.
And then we lay there for a little while. I thought about wording and
he waited for me. I thought about trust and he waited for me. I thought
about how in the world I would be able to tell what he really thought
and he... finally sighed in impatience.
"I liked one of the houses we looked at," I told him, calm and
steady and not letting my trepidation come into my voice. "But I
didn't say anything because I heard you tell Miss Montoya you didn't want
Jeez, that sounded kind of... stupid, didn't it? After all the build up.
I was rather surprised he didn't just laugh at me.
I couldn't help thinking the confession should have made me feel better,
to have finally gotten that off my chest. To have finally told him what
had been bothering me all weekend. But I just felt vaguely sick, waiting
for him to answer, Afraid he would insist that we buy the house sight
unseen. I could suddenly see how getting what I wanted in the wrong way,
could poison the dream until it would be worse than not getting it at
He raised his head and looked up at me with a strange little gleam in
his eyes, and said, "So sell it to me."
"What?" I responded, sounding quite intelligent, I'm sure.
He stretched up the extra couple of inches required to kiss me gently,
and said, "Convince me, Mr. Maxwell. Sell me on this house."
"You mean it?" I breathed, afraid to believe. "You won't
"I understand what you're saying, love," he told me simply,
and there was something in his eyes that told me he really did.
"Then let's go!" I grinned, almost laughing at the surprised
look on his face.
"Where?" he blurted, frowning at me.
"I work better with visual aids!" I chuckled and began pushing
him off. "Come on... before it's too dark."
"Duo," he said reasonably, looking at me with a touch of good-natured
indulgence in his eyes, moving off my chest and sitting up. "It's
Sunday, Miss Montoya isn't going to..."
"Screw Miss Montoya," I informed him, scrambling to my feet
and heading toward the closet to get our coats. "Well... not literally,
she's not my type. But since when did I need a damn key to get into whatever
the hell I wanted into?"
"I don't know that we ought..." he started to protest again,
looking at me as though I'd grown a second head.
"Oh, take a walk on the wild side, Yuy!" I grinned at him. "I
need light to present my case properly, and I'm losing the light."
He looked for a moment like he didn't have a clue what to say to me, but
then he seemed to remember my bandaged hands and couldn't just stand there
watching me struggle into the jacket.
"This will constitute breaking and entering," he grumbled; as
he took my coat away from me and helped me slip it back on.
"Only if we get caught, lover!" I smirked at him. "And
besides... we can always flash that Preventors badge of yours and claim
we're investigating... something."
He sighed, managing to sound greatly put-upon, but slipped into his own
coat as well. "Only if you promise to be more careful about those
hands," he scolded me. "I know you don't feel it... but that
doesn't mean you should be using them like nothing happened."
"Yes, boss," I said contritely and headed for the door.
He snorted. "Oh that sounded believable," he groused.
"Just come on!" I laughed and he followed me out.
I hadn't flat out told him which house I was talking about, half because
I really did want to be able to show him the things I'd seen about the
house that he hadn't, and half because I was just nervous. Afraid that
I wouldn't be able to convince him. Afraid that I would.
I navigated while he drove, without giving him the final destination.
He responded to my 'turn here, go there' commands with sighs and rolling
eyes, but somehow seemed to be... pleased about something. I kept catching
him glancing at me with these funny little smiles, though he did his best
to keep the 'exasperated' _expression firmly in place.
I was so cheap-watch wound tight excited, so Ohmygawd anxious that I was
starting to get a headache. I wondered what it would do for my case if
I puked in his car.
I saw when he figured it out, and stopped bothering to give directions.
The last mile was kind of quiet. He was frowning thoughtfully. I was trying
not to peel the gauze off my hands in my nervousness.
And then we were there.
He pulled up and parked, turning the car off, but waiting for me, still
following my lead. I got out; feeling like our whole future was resting
on my shoulders, and started the walk up to the porch. Heero followed
after me, strangely quiet. Or maybe I was the one who was strangely quiet.
I suddenly wasn't so sure this was such a great idea.
Jimmying the lock took no more time than using a key would have, so we
didn't have to linger suspiciously on the porch. Not that there was anyone
around to see us. Heero sighed softly as we stepped inside, closing the
door behind us. "Oh, you are such a little goody-two-shoes,"
I chuckled. "Relax... bet you've never snuck into a movie theatre
He raised an eyebrow but didn't comment on the strange _expression. "This
is going to be pretty hard to explain, if we get caught," was all
"Then we'll just have to be careful," I teased and guided him
into the living room.
I tried to let go of my unease, tried to recapture the feeling I'd had
while we'd been here before, however short-lived it had been. "Come
on, Heero," I told him. "You have to admit this is the coolest
looking fireplace we've seen anywhere."
"Coolest?" he mocked me, archly. "I don't remember 'cool'
being on our list of pre-requisites."
It caught me rather by surprise, that he was willing to play the devil's
advocate for me. That he was willing to make me win this and not just
give in. I felt a flash of hope, and some of my excitement came back.
"Cool is always a factor," I informed him haughtily, and wandered
over to run my hands along the stones. "Just look at it... it has
to be a hundred years old! Can you imagine the man who built it? He probably
dug the stones out of the backyard himself!"
Heero grunted and moved to stand beside me, reaching out to touch the
stones with a tentative air, as though he thought they might be hot.
"Not like those houses we looked at yesterday," I tried to explain.
"There was no... soul to them. They were all alike, built from the
same set of plans. The guy who drew up the blue-prints has probably never
even been in one of those houses." I moved away, turning about in
the center of the room, looking around at the crown molding, at the deep
windowsills. "This place has a... voice. It's got history."
I moved to where I saw the ghost of a plush couch, seat deep enough to
accommodate two, lying side by side. "Can't you imagine winter evenings
here, with just the fireplace for light?" I trailed my fingers along
the back of that nonexistent piece of furniture as I went by. "We
could put the stereo system there in the corner." I could almost
hear the music playing.
Heero cocked his head, his eyes following me as I moved around the room,
touching things, pointing out the little details. Then I happened to step
where I could see down the hall and realized that the sun was setting.
Understanding that I was losing my much-vaunted light, I moved to take
Heero by the arm and pulled him down the hallway with me. "Hurry,
Heero... before it gets too dark to see."
"Hands," he murmured, gently untangling his arm from my grasp,
but his tone wasn't so much irritated, as it was... tender.
I took him to my studio. The room he'd never gotten to. Not speaking for
a minute, just watching him as he moved with me into the room.
The setting sun was streaming in the back windows, making the normally
white room glow with a warm, orange fire. I saw him recognize it from
the drawing and he turned to look at me for a second. I could only smile
sheepishly. He stepped away from me and walked around the room, pausing
where I had stood the day before, looking out at the back yard, at the
willow tree. His fingers dusted through the residue of potting soil, just
as mine had, and I say his eyes look for the other signs that had told
me this had been a virtual greenhouse, once upon a time. He cast a glance
back over his shoulder at me and then walked deliberately to the other
end of the counter, climbing up to sit in the very spot I'd drawn him,
mimicking the pose. The fading sunlight set him aglow, set his hair on
fire and made him look like some damn exotic fire creature come to life.
It made my heart ache. It made me wish for my paints. I just stood and
stared at the picture he made... determined to burn the image into my
mind for later. It was as beautiful as I had ever seen him.
He stretched out a hand and I went to join him, crawling up to sit facing
him, feeling almost reluctant to intrude.
His smile was gentle and warm, and just a touch wry. "You never saw
the kitchen, did you?" he asked and I had to shake my head.
"It's awful," he informed me flatly. "I completely refuse
to do anything until we remodel it. I don't care how bad the rest of the
house is, the kitchen comes first... it sucks."
I nodded, staring at him, trying to judge... trying to be sure.
"The price is enough below what we budgeted," he said firmly.
"That we should be able to afford a contractor to do that part, but
after that... any other repairs, we're going to have to do ourselves."
"I'd like that," I told him, and he frowned at me.
"It's going to be a lot of hard work, Duo," he informed me,
wearing the shadow of that concerned look he gets. "Are you sure
you're up to this? That's why I dismissed it... I don't want you wearing
I looked around, seeing the room in my head the way I wanted it to be.
"That's part of what attracts me, Heero," I said quietly and
I don't know that he understood. I frowned, thinking about it. "It'll
be... building something again." I turned away from him, sliding
off the counter and walking over to where I could 'see' my easel, almost
reaching out to touch it. "It's been so long since I felt like I've
had a... direction. I look at this place and I just ache to fix things.
I can see how it ought to look... how it once looked, and I want to make
it a home again."
There were hands on my shoulders, turning me around, and when I met his
eyes they glowed with an inner fire that the sunset couldn't come close
"My Duo," he breathed, looking at me in a way that made me feel
warm somewhere inside, but made me shiver all the same. "You've sold
me. I won't lose anything that's brought this... life back to you. I've
dreamed of seeing you like this again, ever since that damned accident."
I could only stare at him wide-eyed and shocked, while he fairly drank
me in with his intense gaze. Then he leaned slowly in to kiss me. Gently
at first, bare brushes of his lips over mine until something inside me
let go. The headache was just... gone. The vague unease was just... gone.
I met his soft touches with more desperate ones and he wrapped me close
against him. I suddenly knew that everything was going to be all right.
It was all going to work out. He stopped his near frantic rain of kisses,
pressing my face into the crook of his shoulder and telling me not to
cry, which made no sense, but he held me tight, murmuring soft promises
until the sun was completely gone and it really did get dark.
"Let's go back to the apartment and call Miss Montoya," I whispered,
suddenly afraid of losing this. Afraid that someone else would move faster
and take our house away from us.
"All right," he soothed and steered us toward the door, his
arm still around me. "We'll tell her we're thinking about making
an offer, but Duo... we really need to come back and look at the rest
"I know," I admitted sheepishly, realizing that the whole upstairs
might be gutted and we wouldn't know it. But somehow, I'm not sure it
I think Heero sensed that, and he sighed, chuckling softly. "You're
hopeless," he grumbled. "Let me do the damn talking... one look
at your besotted face and the woman will know she can ask whatever the
hell price she wants."
"Hey!" I objected, starting to slap at his arm, but he caught
my wrist with a growl of warning and I flushed, grinning unabashedly.
"I have done this kind of thing before, remember?" I informed
him, ignoring the slip.
"We'll see," he grumbled, lifting the arm he still held trapped,
to lightly kiss the gauze. I snorted, retrieving my poor, battered hand
just as we got to the front door. We took a quick look around, found the
coast clear and slipped outside, carefully making sure to lock up behind
"Now that's the first thing we need to take care of," I told
him. "Those locks are pathetic."
He chuckled at me as we made our way down the front steps. I hesitated
as we walked across the front lawn, turning back to look up at the house.
Our house. Heero didn't immediately notice and I heard his footsteps,
still moving away.
I wanted to offer up a little prayer that nothing had changed, that no
one else had made an offer on the place, but I was kind of afraid to push
my luck. Sometimes... when I want things a little too much, I'm scared
to draw divine attention to it. God sometimes seemed to have a twisted
sense of humor where Duo Maxwell was concerned. Having something outside
my control take this away from me at this point, would rather fit that
sense of humor.
There suddenly seemed to be a shadowed presence on the porch swing and
I imagined it gently swaying.
"Don' worry, kid," Solo's voice came to me on the breath of
a still wind. "I'll keep an eye on't for ya." He leaned back
and tucked immaterial hands behind his imaginary head. "I like it
"Me too, old friend," I whispered.
"Duo?" Heero's voice called and I turned to find him waiting
by the car. "Is everything all right?"
I smiled and went to join him. "Just fine, love," I told him.
"Just about perfect, in fact."
He smiled in return, giving me another quick kiss, looking at me with
that strange, contented look again. Then he opened the car door for me,
mindful of my hands.
I glanced back toward the porch, watching Solo peacefully swinging, while
I waited for Heero to make his way around the car. I wondered idly if
I should tell him our new house was haunted.
That thought made me chuckle. Well...perhaps some other time.
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