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.
Warnings: Nothing too heavy. Maybe a tad limey, and some Angst
The following morning had gotten off to a rough start. Duo aimlessly roamed the hallways of Headquarters like a pale and restless ghost. He knew that if he sat in his office and concentrated on all the paperwork he was supposed to file he would fall asleep in a heartbeat. Worrying and crying for Heero had left him with only two hours of sleep the previous night, after all.
He wandered into the staff cafeteria and filled his coffee cup for the fourth time. Lucrezia Noin, who sat at one of the six round tables alone, smiled warmly at him as she unwrapped a granola bar.
"Good morning, Duo," she said. "Rough night?"
Duo sneered as he sipped his scalding coffee. "Bite me."
"You always were a morning person. How did the party go?"
An image of Heero's face in the moonlight entered his mind, and his heart dropped into the pit of his stomach suddenly. "It was okay."
"Just 'okay'? By the looks of you this morning one would think you had a pretty wild time."
"Could you tell me I look like hell one more time? I enjoy insults."
Noin regarded him curiously. "Sorry. I didn't mean anything by it. Are you okay, Duo?"
"No, actually, I'm not. Thanks for asking." He smiled sarcastically, grabbed his coffee cup from the counter, and exited the room.
"Geez," Noin said to herself. "Was it something I said?"
Duo slammed the office door shut and stood trembling for a moment in an impotent rage of mingled emotions. He drew in a few deep breaths to steady himself, then sat slowly behind his desk and switched on his computer. The screen illuminated a greeting: "Welcome, Shinigami. You have mail." His mind flickered to the e-mail messages he and Heero used to send one another before the latter left for the colonies once more. They were little electronic love letters sent in secret, read in secret, and sometimes replied to in secret. He allowed himself a pained little smile and accessed the hard drive.
Some of the letters were titled, and others were saved according to the date upon which they were written. He opened one of these at random and began to read:
I had a little extra time away from college texts for once, so I decided to send you a message. I wanted to thank you for spending the night with me last Saturday--I didn't get much sleep, but it was nice anyway. I think that the best part of the entire night was staying awake and watching you sleep, to be completely honest. It's almost painful for me to think of how beautiful you are. I know, this doesn't sound like me at all. But I know I can open up to you a little more than I've ever opened up to anyone else. Besides, love is funny sometimes, and I think I just might be falling for you. I will send you more later. Know that I'm thinking of you.
Duo swallowed hard against the lump in his throat and struggled once more with the tears that threatened his composure. "He didn't say 'I love you,' " he muttered to himself. Memories flooded his mind, images of himself holding Heero close while they sat in his dorm room and watched a movie together, the sweet taste of Heero and the soft touch of his lips against bare skin, the warmth of Heero's arms around him as they lay in bed waiting for sleep to envelop them. And through it all, he had never once uttered those three simple words that Duo himself told him nearly every single day.
He closed his eyes, tilted his head back a little, and breathed deeply once more. How in the hell did Wufei manage this? He tried desperately to clear his mind and failed in the miserable attempt. When he opened his eyes again he was staring at the glass shelf across the room, where all his pictures of the other Gundam pilots stood, as well as a few of Hilde, Relena, Sally, Noin, and the Sweepers. But the picture in the dead center of the shelf struck his attention. It was the best picture he had of himself and Heero. Quatre had taken it when they had helped Heero move into this dorm room when he first decided to try college. Heero sat beside Duo on the bed, his arm draped across the other boy's shoulders. They were so happy then....
The old, familiar rage tore through his veins suddenly, the violence that always seized him when his emotions overtook him in this way. He seized the ceramic coffe mug standing poised at the edge of his keyboard and hurled it viciously at the picture. The shelf and mug shattered simultaneously in a shower of coffee and glass. Jagged pieces of both fell to the floor and covered all of his pictures in a sparkling pile on the carpet.
"Damn it," he said aloud to himself. Now he would have to rummage for the negatives and have them all reprinted. He was sure the coffee must have ruined at least half of them by now.
He sighed and went to his e-mail account. The screen displayed one new message from a source he did not recognize. He clicked on the icon and brought the message onto the screen. A single line of letters presented itself in a plain font before him:
I'm sorry. I love you.
His heart constricted painfully, and he felt dazed for a moment. When the haze cleared, his mind clicked robotically into a firm resolution. "Enough of this bullshit," he thought harshly.
He stood and bolted from the office, swinging himself on the door frame and launching himself into the hallway. He dashed past Noin, who called his name and brought him to a halt.
"What's going on?" she asked. "I thought I heard glass breaking--"
"Noin," he interjected, "please tell me you've spoken to Heero since last night."
She looked confused, and she shrugged. "He called me after the ball was finished. Why? What's wrong?"
"Did he tell you when he was going to leave today?"
"Yes. Around eight o'clock, I think."
Duo glanced at his watch. 7:30. If he sped like hell maybe he could get there in time to find him....
"Hey, Duo." Noin's voice broke into his thoughts. "Are you okay?"
"Fine. Look, I have to run out for a little bit. I'll be back in an hour at most."
But he was already halfway down the hallway, sprinting as thought the building were on fire. Noin wrinkled her brow in utter confusion and tentatively walked into his office, determined to find the source of his sudden urgency. The pile of shattered glass on the floor caught her attention for a moment, but the glow of the computer screen soon attracted her like a moth to a flame. She leaned over the cluttered desk and read the ambiguous e-mail. For a moment she was further baffled, and then the realization thudded solidly into her brain. He was going to meet Heero at the spaceport, she was sure of it. Heero had sent him this message. And that meant that the rumors were true.
She shook her head slowly as an image of Relena's hopeful face popped into her mind's eye. "What she doesn't know won't hurt her," she said to herself. "At least not as much."
Duo flung the front doors open and propelled his body into the Preventer Headquarters' front courtyard. He reached into his coat pocket and dug frantically for his car keys. Just then a spaceport taxi came to a stop about one hundred feet away, and the rear passenger-side door opened. Duo looked up to see Heero stepping hurriedly out of the car. His eyes grew wide, and his heart thudded violently in his chest.
Heero wore that dreaded look in his eyes once again. It was that look that had first caused his world to come to a complete stop and made him feel as thought no one else existed beyond their mutual radius. He stopped abruptly and stared at Duo for a moment. He looked radiant in the early sunlight, Heero admitted to himself. And suddenly he no longer regretted going out of his way to stop here.
He walked slowly up to where Duo was standing, dumbfounded and speechless, his hand still clenched in his pocket around his car keys. Heero said nothing, only continued to take in the wonderful sight of him. "He always did look good in that uniform," he thought fiendishly. But if all went well here, he would have plenty of time to act on his thoughts a little later.
"Duo." His voice was small and almost shameful.
The latter swallowed hard and blinked. "Heero," he said, words finally creeping back into his mouth. "What are you doing? I thought you were leaving."
"I am. But I needed to tell you something first. Besides, I knew you'd try to come after me." The Japanese smiled slightly. "I thought I'd spare you the trip."
"I assume you got my message. What else do you want me to say?"
Duo felt small and shy suddenly. He looked at the ground to avoid those piercing Prussian blue eyes. "I want you to tell me why you didn't say it sooner."
Heero looked bemused. "I thought you knew."
The American looked up sharply. "I'm not psychic, Heero. You can't just assume something like that."
"Maybe not. But you know me. I don't say much if I can help it. Actions speak louder than words, Duo."
Duo's eyes hardened suddenly. "Yes, they do. And what exactly were you saying when you walked away from me last night?"
"That I couldn't handle the sight of you in tears."
Heero could see him soften immediately. The coyness returned, and he looked away again. Heero reached for his hand and held it gently in his own.
"I have to go. But what I want to tell you is this:" He placed his hand beneath Duo's chin and gently lifted his face to the level of his own. "If you can wait a little while longer, I'll come back to you. And when I do, I promise you that I'll stay."
"But why can't you stay now?"
Heero smiled. "I have to finish out the semester, baka. I'm a student now, remember?"
Duo smiled back and looked longingly into his eyes. "Okay," he relented. "But I want to tell you something, too."
He pulled Heero close and kissed him softly. Heero's body tensed slightly at the feeling of him, and slowly he relaxed and leaned into the kiss. His mind reeled uncontrollably--he couldn't even remember how long it had been since he had last kissed Duo. He wrapped his arms around the other boy's waist, not wanting to let him go. "Please, just let time freeze," he thought, "just this once."
It was Duo who eventually pulled away. He smiled tenderly and brushed his fingertips against Heero's cheek. "God help me," he said, "I'm in love with you."
"You say that as though it were a bad thing."
Tears welled up in Duo's eyes suddenly, and he chuckled softly. "It's not. It's a good thing, Heero. It's a very good thing."
"Then hold onto it. I'll come back soon."
He pressed his lips against Duo's for what seemed like a far too brief moment, then turned and walked away toward the waiting taxi. And Duo watched as the car sped out of sight, carrying Heero away from him once again. But this time the feeling that he had done something wrong, that he had driven Heero away, had dissipated. A faint smile crept across his face as he turned and opened the big glass doors of the Preventer Headquarters.
Noin was waiting just inside the doorway with a wry smile. She placed her hands on her hips and said, "So, there's truth to the rumors after all."
Duo flushed, and his eyes grew wide. "Don't tell me you were watching that whole time." A thought struck him suddenly, and he added quickly, "You're not going to tell Relena, are you? She would hate me forever and--"
"I won't tell anyone," Noin said. "It's none of their business, anyway."
Duo sighed in relief. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it. I always thought you and Heero were a cute couple."
"You mean you knew?"
"Kind of. The two of you seemed to talk about one another quite a bit. And Wufei's been spying a little."
"What?!" Duo's voice took on a tone of indignance. "That little bastard hacked into my e-mail account, didn't he?"
Noin shrugged and flashed him a sarcastic look that confirmed his suspicions. "He was only watching out for you. You WERE kind of out of it for a while."
"So if I'm not grinning like a damned fool all the time, you guys think something is wrong."
"It just contradicts your personality, that's all. And Wufei is very observant. I know, I know, he can be a jerk sometimes. But there's a soft spot inside. He did say that if Heero ever left you agin he'd personally hunt him down and make him regret it." She gestured toward the door. "I just can't believe that after all that he still took off for the colonies."
A wry little grin appeared on Duo's face. "Tell Wufei not to worry about it," he said. "He'll be back."