Disclaimer: The Gundam boys *are* mine, right before my alarm goes off. Then they belong to the fine people at Sunrise and Sotsu Agency, who just rock my world. All attempts to sue would be fruitless since I spent everything on anime already. Also, the song is "Hey You" by No Doubt, which I did not write.
Warnings: Nothing too heavy. Maybe a tad limey, and some Angst
Hey you, with the wedding dress on
Made of white chiffon, blowing in the wind...
"Another day, another ball." Hilde thought ruefully. She may not have been the Queen of the World anymore, but the lesser title of Vice Foreign Minister was still not enough to free Relena from these pompous social obligations. Just being Relena Darlian practically guaranteed her a life in the public eye; being Relena Peacecraft had sealed her fate, and becoming Vice Foreign Minister doubly so. And where Relena went, Hilde followed, whether of her own free will or not (which was more often the case). As far as stuffy official events went Hilde had to admit that this one did have its perks. It was outdoors, for one thing (a headache for those, like herself, in security, but still a welcome change from the overly bright, ornate halls in which these things were usually held), and there was a quiet air of rejoicing that was usually absent from such gatherings. It was, after all, the eve of the third anniversary of the end of the One Year War. That fact alone provided its own set of perks. Like peace. Also, Duo was there.
"Hey, Hilde! Long time no see! How's it going?"
Duo sauntered up to Hilde in her position at the garden's back wall, looking drop-dead gorgeous in his tux. Her heart jumped, and she allowed herself a moment to inwardly drool before grinning and returning his greeting.
"Hi, Duo!" she beamed. "It's going great. Thanks again for helping me get this job."
The two embraced briefly and kissed one another chastely on the lips.
"Don't mention it," Duo said. "Someone's got to keep an eye on ojousan."
Hilde grinned. "And as long as it's not Heero you don't care who does the job," she teased.
Duo looked both sheepish and hurt. Hilde reflected that he was perhaps the only person on the earth or colonies who could pull off that expression.
"Hey, now," he said, a little seriously. "You know I don't want Relena hurt. She's important. It's just--"
Hilde interjected. "It's just that she and Heero have a lot of history together and you're stupidly afraid of what might happen if they were alone together for too long." She shook him a little and, with a note of affection and exasperation in her voice, continued. "Heero loves you, Duo. He's not going to leave you."
But Duo thought that he had already left him. Heero had been away for nearly three months now, and though the status of their relationship was still officially "separated," he couldn't help but wonder if Heero had found someone else back on the colony.
He relented, and his expression turned to one of embarrassment. "I know you're probably right, Hilde. I do. It's just that... well..." He gestured with one hand. "Well, look at her. She still thinks she's in love with him. That dress looks like a wedding gown, for Christ's sake."
Hilde looked in the direction Duo had indicated and saw Relena and Heero talking by the fountain. She hadn't noticed it before, but Duo was right--Relena's gown really did look like a wedding dress. It had a flowing skirt made of layers of white chiffon, and a bodice of delicate lace over more white chiffon. The portrait neckline framed her face beautifully, and the halo of flowers resting on her elaborately piled hair completed the effect. Hilde also knew that she had had the dress made for this particular occasion. She had thought that it was merely because it was such an important event. But then she recalled that the Gundam pilots, or more specifically Heero, were to be in attendance.
Hey, you, with the dreams in your head
You've been so mislead by your heart's pull
Hilde watched how Relena interacted with Heero; the way she leaned toward him, hung on his every word, glowed for him, used the considerable force of her personality to try to draw him in. Her heart clenched in sympathy; she, too, had done these things once. But Heero stood impassively by, seemingly unaware of all the effort being expended on his behalf. "Oh, Relena," Hilde thought to herself. "Don't do this to yourself. Can't you see he's never going to want you?"
She had told herself the same thing not long ago, when she realized that Duo could never fall for her the way she hoped he would. She watched Relena and began to compose a song in her head:
I know you're waiting for your ship to come in
You anxiously wait, for such a long time
You're just like my Ken and Barbie doll
You dress up and play the game
You're just like my Ken and Barbie doll
Your name will never change
Hey, you, you naive thing
Your patience, in time, will tire
I know you're waiting for your tide to roll in
How did you ever get such high hopes?
You're just like my Ken and Barbie doll
In a plastic world of make believe
You're just like my Ken and Barbie doll
You know he's just going to leave
Relena nodded and smiled warmly. "Hello, Heero," she said, her voice still as smooth and gentle as ever.
A little voice in the back of Heero's mind told him that he had waited far too long to visit her again.He nodded back and silently admired her. She was the same Relena he had parted ways with nearly two years ago; tall and slender and graceful as any princess would be. Her uncanny strength and determination presented itself in the way she held herself, her shoulders back and her chin straight, her hands clenched delicately at her sides. She never ceased to amaze him. He knew as well as Duo did that if he hadn't fallen for that beautiful, blue-eyed American boy that he might have been able to fall for her.
Duo. He was the reason Heero had made this pilgrimage in the first place. Stopping to see Relena, as well as attending this party, were merely clever excuses. He had been putting this off for far too long, and he knew that his distance was beginning to make Duo nervous. The separation had served its purpose well, though painfully, however. At least now his priorities were straight....
"It's been a while," Relena continued. "Do you like my dress? I commisioned it for this occasion."
"You look beautiful," Heero replied. "You always did."
He thought that a little flush crept into her cheeks, and she smiled again. "Don't go telling me things like that. It might go to my head."
Heero produced a small black box from the pocket of his vest and extended it toward her. Relena looked confused, and Heero smiled wryly.
"It's for you," he explained. "Go ahead, take it."
She accepted the gift with a hint of surprise, and gently lifted the lid of the little box. It housed a heart-shaped locket on a delicate golden chain. A single diamond was set in the middle of the heart, gleaming wonderfully against a solid gold background. Relena's eyes shimmered with excitement, and she lifted the locket from its velvet bed and held it aloft before her.
"Oh, Heero," she said, "it's absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much."
She threw her arms about him and embraced him for a long time. From his position near the garden wall Duo scowled and turned his face from the spectacle.
"I'm just glad it wasn't an engagement ring or something," he said. "Although, it wouldn't surprise me."
Hilde regarded him with sympathy. "I'm sure it's not like that," she told him reassuringly. "They're friends. Friends give one another gifts all the time, especially when they haven't seen each other for a while."
Duo sighed heavily. "I know, I know. I just wish I could accept it without suspicion. This hasn't been easy for me, Hilde. I've spent these last few months pining away for him, and now that we're finally in the same place together he won't even look my way."
Hilde straightened. "You're not being fair. Give him some time to work his way over here."
Duo fingered the tiny cross about his neck and silently prayed for the patience he was lacking. Hilde felt a little stab of pain in her heart at the lonely and hopeful expression in his eyes. She hoped that she had never looked that way to Relena whenever her friend had mentioned his name. "He should be happy," she thought to herself. "If not with me, then with someone...."
As the twilight crept upon the garden, the party slowly began to move into the lavish ballroom across the patio. Heero allowed himself to be coerced into a few dances inside, first with Relena, then with Hilde. He pretended not to notice how beautiful Duo was in the soft light of the chandeliers, standing alone at the edge of the activity, unobtrusive for once. He thought of how boisterous Duo usually was, and the thought grew into a dull ache in his heart. It was then that he realized how this entire situation was killing him.
As the music stopped a slight motion in the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned to see Duo slip quietly out the big glass doors and into the garden alone. "Now," he told himself, "do it now."
Hilde thanked him for the dance, and he smiled and politely excused himself. Relena looked worried for a moment.
"Are you feeling all right, Heero?" she asked.
"I'm fine," he replied. "I'm just going to get some fresh air. I'll be back."
He turned away before she could say another word. Hilde knew exactly where he was going, and she patted Relena's shoulder in assurance and thought of a quick excuse.
"Don't worry," she said. "I'm sure he's fine. He's not used to these high-class functions, after all. He probably just needs a little space."
Outside, Heero sauntered through the garden, staring up at the stars as he went. He thought of home, and of how he would be taking a shuttle back to the colony in the morning. He had made up his mind, and yet could not seem to follow through with his decision. It was an odd feeling, and one that he was not used to. It meant that the Perfect Soldier had a weak spot, and that the weak spot was called Duo Maxwell.
He gathered a deep breath and rounded the curve in the garden wall that led to the sprawling manicured lawn. He stopped there suddenly when he saw the shadow of his lover standing just ahead in an ivy- covered stone archway, leaning with one hand against the ornately- carved column. After a moment's hesitation, Heero pushed himself forward across the cobblestone path.
He stopped just behind Duo and, without a word, placed his hands on the other boy's shoulders. Duo trembled slightly at his touch, and Heero pressed his forehead gently against his back. Heero sighed and thought of how his long, silken hair smelled of all the sweet things borne upon a spring breeze. God, how he had missed him.
"What took you so long?" Duo asked softly. "I've been waiting for you all night."
"I know," Heero said. "I'm sorry."
Duo pulled away from him gently and turned to face him. His cobalt eyes shined beautifully in the moonlight, yet his expression was sad as he studied the Japanese boy in silence. What he read in Heero's face disappointed him, but came as no surprise.
"You're leaving in the morning, aren't you?" he asked.
Heero nodded solemnly. "Yes."
"And I suppose you won't--" He stopped abruptly and turned his eyes shyly to the ground. "You won't stay with me tonight, will you?"
"You know, Wufei would probably hit me if he were here. He'd probably tell me I'm being a stupid, weak little fool. But maybe I am. It's just that... I... love you."
"I know, Duo."
"Yeah, you know. But you won't tell me you love me, too."
The words Heero longed to say froze in his throat. Duo hung his head in rejection, and a stream of tears glistened on his cheek. It suddenly occured to Heero that he had never, in all the time he had known him, seen Duo cry.
"So you tell me," Duo said quietly, his voice trembling. "Where are we headed, Heero? I want an answer before you leave me again."
"Damn it, Duo. Don't do this to me. You know I care about you, more than I've ever cared about anyone in my entire life. Don't make me look like the bad guy."
"If you're not going to answer me, then leave. I mean it. And if you leave I... I don't ever want to see you again. I'm not going to hurt for you all my life."
"And would you have me hurt for you?"
The question seemed to catch Duo off guard. He looked up sharply, and Heero sighed and turned away. "I have to get back," he said. "Relena will be worried."
Duo offered no reply. Heero hesitated, half hoping that he would say something to stop him from going. When it became apparent that he was not going to speak, Heero looked at him over his shoulder and asked, "Are you going to be all right?"
He noticed the shimmering reservoir of tears in Duo's eyes and knew by the way he was trembling that he was trying his hardest not to let them fall. The sight pained him deeply, and he turned and reached out to touch him. But Duo merely pushed his hand away and turned his back on him. By the sound of his voice, Heero could tell that he couldn't hold the tears in any longer.
"Go." His voice was little more that a tortured whisper. "Just go."
Heero lingered for a moment, debating whether or not to console him. But he knew that Duo was upset now, and that he would only push Heero away if he were to try. He had retreated into himself again, and he needed time alone. Heero had learned this lesson well.
Without another word, he turned and headed back across the cobblestones.
Relena looked at Hilde from the corner of her eye and said, "Don't you think he's been gone a little long? I hope he's all right."
Hilde could barely hide her own worried visage. She kept picturing a heated argument between the two boys, and the thought disturbed her. She knew that such a thing was not what either of them wanted, but a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach told her that something was definitely wrong.
And she thought of Duo, and how the look in his eyes only a few hours earlier had caused her heart to collapse. She had always had a weakness for those eyes, and the way they shined when he was happy. They always shined that way in Heero's presence.... Damn. There she went again, feeling sorry for herself. She pushed the thought away and watched as the lavishly-dressed partygoers swirled around the ballroom floor.
But soon her thoughts drifted to Relena, standing like a jilted bride in her chiffon dress and her crown of pink blossoms. Hilde couldn't help but feel pity for her; the poor girl was delusional. What did she expect? Heero never let himself get attached to anyone, save Duo. That fact alone should have been a hint as to what was going on between them. She had to have figured something out by now. Although Hilde had to admit that she herself hadn't caught on until she had walked into Duo's cluttered office in the Preventer headquarters three months ago and found him kissing Heero in the corner. She still remembered the looks on their faces when they pushed away from one another and tried to pretend that nothing had happened. That had been mere weeks before Heero had left again for his home colony in order to "find time to think" about his feelings toward Duo. According to Relena, his departure was a simple case of homesickness. Yet she was among the first to inquire about Duo's sudden, vague depression once Heero had gone. Hadn't she pieced two and two together yet? And with all the rumors flying at Headquarters, it was virtually impossible not to suspect a scandal.
Relena perked up suddenly and said, "Oh, there he is."
Heero wove his way slowly through the crowd and joined the two girls once more. Hilde couldn't ignore the sparkle in Relena's eyes when he reached them; it was exactly the same sparkle that Duo's eyes revealed when he was near Heero.
Relena's next comment took her, as well as Heero, by surprise. "Where is Duo?" she asked. "He was standing over there a little while ago, and now I don't see him. You haven't talked to him all night, Heero, and the two of you are such good friends."
Heero looked nervous suddenly. Relena never usually spared a thought for the rambunctious American, for she tended to think of him as pretentious, annoying, and crude. He glanced at Hilde, then looked away quickly and shrugged.
"I haven't seen him," he said flatly.