Warnings : Yaoi, angst, sap, OOC, Heero POV, limey stuff and language. This is a direct sequel to the 'Road Trip' series.
Thanks to Christy for the beta, and Aya and Yume for opinions rendered.
Feedback is almost as good as chocolate, though less fattening.
I do not own Gundam Wing; though I heard another author somewhere finally came clean and laid claim.
by Sunhawk

The Quilt

I had, in the past three years working as a Preventer, had worse days. I just couldn't remember one in a long while that had been this... tedious. Hours of digging through old unsolved case files and reading crime scene descriptions, looking at photographs of people long dead. Searching for signs that they might be part of a current string of murders. I had the nagging hint of a headache and just wanted to go home.

Wufei walked with me to the parking garage, looking like I felt. We were both quiet, trying to clear the crap out of our heads. This was the part of the job I really hated, the paperwork and the endless reading. Any good agent does their research, but that doesn't mean you have to like it. And it was just damned depressing looking at all those pictures of victims whose killers had never been found. Thinking about all those families who had never known closure.

I saw Duo waiting for me at the car, sitting on the hood and swinging his leg off the side. He had already lost his tie and his collar was unbuttoned. He fairly vibrated with... something, and leaped down when he saw me, jogging to meet us with a wide grin plastered on his face. I had to smile; it lightened my heart just seeing him. I caught Wufei smirking at me and I growled at him, but it was the both of us that found ourselves enveloped in one of Duo's exuberant embraces.

"I'm gonna be an uncle!" he crowed, leaving us both breathless with the force of his hug.

"Maxwell?" Wufei frowned his confusion. "You don't have... I mean... "

Duo just laughed at his consternation, letting go of us as we resumed our walk to the cars.

"Misty!" he told us, naming his assistant Network Administrator. "She's pregnant and asked me to be the Godfather! Well, asked us... " He looked at me and I raised an eyebrow. "As a couple, I mean, to be Godparents."

I blinked at him. I knew Misty, though not well. We had been invited to her home a few times for dinner, and Duo had asked her and her husband over to our apartment once. Her husband... Justin, wasn't very comfortable with Duo and me... as a couple. I couldn't imagine the man wanting this. The look on Duo's face faltered a little.

"That's Ok, isn't it Heero?" I recognized the tone that told me this was important to him, and made myself smile despite my reservations.

"Of course," I reassured him and was rewarded with his bright smile. He totally eclipsed the crappy day I'd had.

"Well, then," Wufei smiled at my mate, fairly dancing beside us. "Congratulations."

"Thanks, 'Fei," Duo was practically glowing with happiness, and I was surprised to find that my headache had somehow melted away. I shook my head ruefully, glancing across at Wufei only to see a matching _expression on his face. We both laughed and Duo looked at us oddly. "What?"

"One would think that you were the expectant parent," Wufei grinned at him and I could see he was sorry he had said it the instant it passed his lips, but Duo just smirked at him.

"Well, I figure it's about as close as I'll ever get unless you," he dug a finger into Wufei's ribs, causing the man to jump, "ever break down and ask Sally Po out on a date."

I thought Wufei was going to faint. His face went chalk white for the space of a heartbeat and then as red as I have ever seen it. He's my partner; I've seen him with a lot of different expressions over the years, but this one was new.

"Maxwell... !" he hissed a grim warning and then turned on his heel, stalking stiffly toward his car.

"See you in the morning!" Duo called cheerily after him, his eyes alight with wicked merriment.

"Sally Po?" I asked, incredulous, once Wufei was safely in his car.

"Come on, love," Duo chided me. "Have you not ever seen them in the same room together?"

I had to think about it. Put me in a room with fifty people for five minutes and I can come out telling you where each and every one of them was standing, who they were talking to, and what they were wearing if it's pertinent to the mission. But... the sort of thing that Duo was talking about usually escapes me.

Then, Wufei forgotten, Duo was dragging me by the arm to the car. "I'll drive," he proclaimed. "I have a stop I need to make."

So I climbed in to the passenger seat and let him take me where he wanted, but was more than just a little surprised when we ended up outside a... quilt shop?

"Duo?" I questioned him as he parked. "Are you sure this is... whatever you were looking for?"

"Yep." He grinned at me, barely able to contain his bizarre excitement. "I've only got eight months to get our Godchild's birthing day present done."

I have to confess that I sat there and blinked at him like an idiot.

"You coming in?" he asked me brightly. "It may be awhile."

I shook my head with that same rueful feeling. This, I had to see.

I trailed in, wandering around behind him at a safe distance as he moved from table to table, fingering the material, pulling bolts out to compare colors side by side. A saleswoman came up and asked if she could help me, and I couldn't hide the vaguely enchanted smile as I shook my head and told her, pointing, "I'm with him."

I found a chair after a half an hour and just watched as Duo had the poor woman cutting yard after yard of material... fabric, I had been corrected on that point, adding it to the already impressive pile. Other things ended up in that pile of which I recognized not half. Pins, thread, and scissors being about as far as my mental catalog got before I lost track.

Duo had the whole store charmed and eating out of his hand before he was done, the other two clerks coming over to offer advice and point out coordinating mat... fabric. Showing him bizarre gadgets and demonstrating tools. His exuberance was highly contagious. He ended up spending more than we typically used for a months groceries. I had to help him carry it to the car.

"Duo," I finally ventured as we loaded the sacks into the trunk. "Do you even know how to sew?"

"Of course!" He looked at me with just a hint of scorn. "You don't think I'd buy all this if I didn't know what to do with it, do you?"

I suppose, knowing his frugal nature, I should have known better than to ask. "I've just never seen you do it," I pointed out logically.

He shrugged as he closed the trunk and we moved to get back into the car, not speaking until we were inside and he was starting the engine.

"Sister Helen taught us," he said softly, pulling out into traffic and I sat and watched his profile as he drove. "Blankets were hard to come by and she made quilts from rag scraps and things."

I sat quietly and listened. He rarely spoke of those days, of Sister Helen and Father Maxwell and the orphanage, but when he did it always afforded me glimpses into his past that I hoarded away; little bits of information that fit into a larger whole. Someday I hoped to piece it all together.

We had shared some of our histories with each other, spent nights in our lost youth curled together in the dark telling dark secrets. But it was the off-handed comments that gave things depth; that let me see things through his eyes, with his perspective. Blankets were hard to come by. He was not telling me that he thought that was odd, or unfair, or wrong. It was a simple fact of his life that only needed to be mentioned to explain the next part of the statement.

"She saved everything. Said that we should never waste anything." He chuckled lightly, a slightly self-deprecating sound. "She would have been... shocked at the excess I just exhibited." He glanced across at me looking a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry Heero... I shouldn't have spent so much."

I chuckled at him. "Duo, I think we make enough between the two of us that we can afford for you to spend a little now and then."

He murmured something that might have been a thank you.

"Besides," I said with a smile, hating to see his mood spoiled. "It is our first Godchild after all."

I watched the faint cloud of melancholy lift from his eyes.

"I wonder it it'll be a boy or a girl?" he grinned. "Gods! How do parents wait nine months to find out?"

"I don't think they have to, if they don't want to," I informed him. "They can do ultrasounds."

He rambled on for a bit about how he thought it would be nice to know in advance, that the quilt would be easier to make if he knew if it was for a boy or a girl. I didn't catch all of it; I was too busy watching him. The sun, sinking in the sky, was streaming through the window and setting his hair alight. This late in the day, those little wisps of hair around his face had slipped the braid and were dancing around on the wind. His eyes were bright with anticipation, alive with ideas and plans, his face happy and animated. His hands on the wheel were sure and steady, no matter how he talked or how excited he got, his attention to the job at hand never wavered, and he wove us through the heavy traffic with practiced ease.

He glanced at me and flushed a little. "What's the matter?"

I didn't avert my gaze, but smiled. "Just thinking how beautiful you are."

He truly did blush then, and snorted softly, but couldn't keep from smiling.

There was a bit of silence then, companionable, I thought.

"You cooking tonight?" he asked after a little while. "Or do you want me to drive through someplace."

"I think I feel like cooking," I said, surprising myself. "I don't really want fast food tonight. Unless you'd rather?"

That had been one of the few chores there had just been no real question about who got stuck with it. I had always hated cooking, but I hate eating Duo's cooking even worse. That was one area he had just never gotten much better at. And over the years, it had become something that I didn't mind all that much. Duo was always appreciative of whatever I came up with, and adventurous enough to try anything I put in front of him. Though his childhood had left him with a view of food that led him to think of it as simple 'sustenance' and not something to be fussed over, it also left him with a certain appreciation for new things.

I will never forget the first time someone brought a bag full of fresh apples back to a safe house we were staying in. We were all in the kitchen putting the groceries away, and Duo had been jabbering away as usual. No one really paying much attention until the voice had suddenly stilled. We turned, out of curiosity, to find him holding an apple in his hands as though he had found the Holy Grail at the bottom of the grocery sack. We had all been rather perplexed, but in the early days, a little too new to each other to speak much about ourselves. We had known nothing about this odd boy with the long hair and bright smile.

"What's the matter, Duo?" Quatre had asked him. "Is there something wrong with the apple?"

"No!" he had blurted, eyes a little wide. "It's... perfect."

It didn't explain his odd behavior as he kept turning it in his hands and looking at it and I remembered him saying, almost as though he had forgotten we were there, "I've just never seen one that wasn't all... shriveled."

Quatre had laughed brightly and set a bowl out to put the fruit in, a huge pile of apples we would probably never be able to eat before some of them went bad. I had seen Duo's eyes go wide at the bounty before him and for the first time I had understood the difference between the two of them. Up to that point, I had thought them very alike, but that moment had shown me how wrong I had been.

It had been one of the first pieces I had collected to the puzzle that was Duo Maxwell. Back before I even realized I was gathering them.

I always kept fresh fruit in the apartment now.

We were home before I knew it and I helped him carry his packages upstairs where we dumped them on the huge coffee table. He was already sorting through his haul while I changed clothes and started dinner.

It would be months before I saw the top of that coffee table again.

I got a distracted, "That's fine," When I asked if liver and onions was all right for dinner, and I ended up leaning in the kitchen doorway for several minutes watching him sort through the piles of fabric. There seemed to be some method to the madness, but for the life of me, I couldn't see it.

I started dinner, liver and onions being something that Duo had acquired a taste for during the war, and Trowa had finally managed to teach me to cook it well enough that I could stand to eat it myself every now and again.

Duo popped up in the doorway after a little bit, a pile of dark colored fabric clutched to his chest. "How long 'till dinner?"

"Maybe fifteen minutes," I informed him after checking on the dinner rolls.

"Great! Just enough time to get down to the laundry room and get this started! I'll be right back." And he whirled and was gone before I could ask. He hadn't even changed out of his work clothes yet.

He came trotting back up the stairs just as I was putting it on the table, and sat down breathless to eat.

"Duo?" I couldn't help but ask when he finally settled into his chair.

"Hmm?" he responded around a mouth full of liver.

"Why are you washing brand new mater... fabric?"

"You have to pre-shrink it," he informed me, as though it was a nonsense question. "And sometimes the colors bleed."

"How in the world do you know so much about... " I didn't even know what, exactly, you called it.

"Quilting?" he provided, and I nodded. He shrugged. "I guess I've always liked them. Reminds me of Sister Helen."

He took another bite of his dinner, his _expression unreadable.

"I used to sit with her in the evening and help sort through the scraps," he continued after a moment. "She always said I had good color sense and let me lay out the pieces after they were cut."

I didn't speak. This was another one of those moments of discovery that I craved. They were fragile things, I had learned over the years, and a wrong breath would stop the flow of words.

"I liked that part. Laying out the pieces to make the pattern. It's a kind of... geometry. But the color makes the possibilities endless." His eyes had a faraway quality, and his fork was resting on his plate, food completely forgotten. "It always made me feel good; like I was creating something for a change, not destroying. And Sister Helen always sewed it together just the way I chose. She said we were making something together. Building something new from the remains of something old."

He sat utterly still for a moment and then shivered slightly, coming back to himself. He glanced down, his face unreadable.

"Damn," he muttered. "I never changed clothes." And he fled the room.

I gave him a few minutes and then followed. Finding him in the bedroom, just standing there in the dark. I went to him and gathered him into my arms.

"Miss her?" I whispered softly and he burrowed against me with a tight little nod, letting me hold him.

"Wish I could have known her," I told him.

"She would have liked you," he said and was quiet for a long time, arms around my neck, and then he started to chuckle. I drew back, looking at him in surprise.

"Until she figured out that we were... lovers," he laughed unrepentantly, eyes suspiciously bright. "I think we would have shocked her."

I smiled for him, because that's what he wanted; to change the mood. I tugged him gently back towards the kitchen. "Come on," I told him quietly. "Cold liver and onions... suck."

We finished dinner and I told him to go get his fabric while I did the dishes. When I emerged finally from the kitchen, there was a pile of wrinkled, frayed, but freshly washed and dried dark fabric on the couch, and Duo was off with a load of lights. The ironing board was set up behind the couch and I started to figure out that this was going to occupy his entire evening. I sighed in resignation, laid claim to the end of the couch that wasn't covered in fabric and wisps of threads, and settled in with a book.

Duo bounded back up the stairs before long and started carefully pressing and folding the fabric, piling it back on the coffee table as he worked. Sorting the piles by something called 'color value'. I shook my head and went back to my book. A couple of hours later found everything washed, pressed and arrayed around our living room. Duo, slung into a living room chair just staring at it, occasionally shifting pieces of fabric around, putting different colors next to each other.

"What are you doing?" I ventured, after observing this odd behavior for almost a half an hour.

"Trying to decide what the pattern is going to be," he grunted with only about half his attention.

"Wouldn't it make more sense to decide the pattern and then buy the fabric?" This was the most haphazard process I had ever seen.

He looked up at me with the strangest _expression in his eyes. "It... wouldn't be the same. The fabric has to tell you what it wants to be."

I think I just stared at him. I finally shook my head in bewilderment and rose to take him by the hand. "You and your fabric will have to talk some more tomorrow night. It's getting late and you need to get your shower."

He let me pull him up and slid his arms around my neck, nuzzling at that spot just behind the hinge of my jaw, making me shiver. "Wouldn't it make more sense to take the shower after you make me all hot and sweaty?"

"Actually," I returned the nibble. "I was thinking we could avoid the whole hot and sweaty issue if I just got in the shower with you."

He grinned wickedly and we made our way to the bathroom. It didn't work out half bad, even if I did have to call the landlord the next day to have the cracked glass replaced in the shower door.

That week saw us back at the quilt shop twice; the ladies there were starting to giggle as soon as we pulled up out front. I could see them through the front window. If watching the strange glow that came into his eyes in there hadn't made me feel so damn good inside, I would have stayed home and made him go by himself.

He acquired a notebook and most of that first week was spent making notes and doodling in small rectangular boxes. As much as I loved watching him, I had to admit that even in that early stage of the game I was already sick of the little bits of thread that seemed to cover everything. It seemed that no matter where I went to sit down, I had to move quilting supplies first.

"Duo," I asked in exasperation one night toward the end of the week, having spent another evening watching him do nothing but sketch and stare. "Are you ever going to start that thing?"

He looked at me a little sheepishly. "I want it to be perfect."

I wasn't sure what to say, but suspected that what popped out probably wasn't the right thing. "It's just a blanket." As soon as I said it, I could have kicked myself, but he just grinned at me.

"It's not a blanket." He cocked his head at me a little sadly, as though I was the one missing something here. "It's a quilt. There's a big difference."

But at least I had his attention. I almost snorted as I realized that I had been feeling a little neglected, abandoned for this new obsession of his. I put my book aside and crawled off the couch to join him on the floor where he lay making his notes and drawing his pictures. He was lying on his stomach, propped up on his elbows. I crawled around and stretched out on top of him, nestling my chin on his shoulder. He chuckled and I kissed his ear.

"Tell me," I sighed into that same ear, making sure my breath tickled and enjoying his shiver. He turned his head to grin at me and I stole a kiss.

"A blanket is just something you buy," he told me with a soft smile. "But a quilt is something that somebody took the time to make, with their own hands."

"Somebody has to make the blankets." I nibbled at the back of his neck, a very sensitive spot.

"Some machine makes the blankets," he informed me somewhat haughtily. "A quilt is... an _expression... a message... " His brow furrowed, "It should say something."

I felt something strange in the air and stopped teasing him, rolling off to lie on my side next to him, where I could see his face.

"What do you want to express?" I asked gently.

"I'm not sure," he said, looking off at nothing. "That's sort of the problem."

We were quiet for a little while and I finally managed to ask the question that had been nagging at me all week.

I settled my hand in the small of his back, stroking gently. "Love; are you sorry that we can't have children of our own?"

I felt the tension in his back and had my answer, but waited for him to tell me.

He quirked a grin over at me. "Am I that damned obvious?"

I hooked his waist and pulled him against me, letting him pillow his head on my arm.

"Not really," I reassured him. "But there's been... something going on behind those beautiful eyes of yours all week."

He flushed, I loved that I could do that, and he hide his face against my chest.

"I don't think I really want kids," he told me after a bit of thinking. "Not really. I can't see how either one of us could possible be any good at raising children."

I pulled my head back to look at him, but he just rolled his eyes. "Come on, Heero. It's not like either of us had what you would call a normal childhood. What the hell do we know about kids?"

I kissed him and waited, but he didn't say anything else until I poked a little. "But?"

He brought his eyes up to search mine and his voice was very small. "But sometimes I ache with wanting it."

"I know," I soothed gently. "I know."

He pushed me over on my back and rolled himself on top of me, pillowing his chin on his cupped hands in the middle of my chest.

"You?" he queried expectantly, and I weighed my words carefully.

"Not, I don't think," I said slowly, looking up at the ceiling. "The way you feel it. I don't... " I struggled hard with the words. "I don't... " I stopped and regarded him for a moment, trying again. "When I see it in you... when we're around other people with little kids, especially babies, I see you... wanting it so much. I don't crave it the way you do. But... sometimes, when I think about how it might be if we could truly... mingle us into something new... " I shook my head in defeat. I wasn't explaining myself well at all and decided to just shut up.

"What would a child of ours be like?" he asked after a strange silence.

I had to laugh. "Stubborn!"

He chuckled a little, then said wistfully, "he'd have your eyes." He caught me off guard.

"No... " I breathed. "She'd have yours. And your beautiful hair. And your bright smile."

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