3-16-2003

Title: #52 Trust
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Story Completed: Mar. 16, 2003
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Angst, Friendship
Pairing: None yet
Rated: G
Warnings: AU, OOC
Archives: Also at Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat.
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.

Notes: The arc begins between one and two years after Endless Waltz. Heero POV in this story.

'Thinking'
"Speaking" ************
Time passing or scene change

Author's Notes: See earlier fics for notes on the arc as a whole. Feedback is appreciated.

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Heero pulled into the driveway and put the car in park. Duo never even stirred. Heero briefly debated waking him as he had when the shuttle had arrived at the colony but decided not to. He had barely managed to wake him then and Duo had practically sleepwalked out to the car, falling asleep again by the time Heero finished fastening the seatbelt that he couldn't seem to get lined up for himself.

"Home" had seemed like a good idea while he was watching Duo struggle to hold himself together at the ruins of the church but Heero had wished they were staying somewhere closer for the night long before they made it back to the shuttleport. Duo had been running on nerves and adrenaline all day; it wasn't surprising that he had crashed the moment they reached somewhere sufficiently removed from all the memories. He had been swaying on his feet by the time they reached the shuttleport and had fallen asleep almost the moment he was buckled into his seat for the trip back to their home colony.

Leaving the car running, Heero climbed out. He unlocked and opened the house's front door before returning to the car. Duo only gave a sleepy murmur as he unfastened his seatbelt and lifted him out of the car. Heero shook his head and smiled affectionately down at his friend's sleeping face. 'Baka. Always have to meet your challenges head on, don't you Duo? Couldn't have cut yourself a little slack on this and taken things a little slower...' He laid Duo gently on the couch, careful not to trap and pull the dangling braid. The substantially *shorter* braid.

Having Duo hand him a knife and ask him to cut a chunk off the braid had been a shock. Both a shock that Duo would choose to do such a thing and a shock that Duo trusted *him* to carry out the actual deed. It was odd - they trusted each other with their lives; had done so since back during the war. Yet somehow that one act seemed to really show just how deep that trust ran. 'He doesn't even let anyone else trim the ends; he's always done it himself as long as I've known him. Yet he asked *me* to cut an eight-inch chunk off his braid.' Eight inches. Over a year's worth of hair growth. Maybe more, since the hair would have been longer than eight inches when unbraided.

Heero hoped that Duo would not regret having cut his hair when he woke. He had seemed very certain of his decision, despite how difficult it clearly was for him. Heero hoped that certainty did not waver when faced with that shorter braid. Hoped too that Duo had left some of the pain behind with that piece of braid.

Returning to the car, Heero put it in the garage and locked up both the garage and the house for the night before returning to the living room. Duo still slept soundly on the sofa, though he had rolled over on his side and was curled up as if cold. Heero lifted him again and carried him upstairs. He stripped Duo down to his boxers before tucking him into bed. Duo never stirred through any of it.

A small grin tugged at the corner of Heero's mouth. This brought back memories of his own. Memories of times during the war when Duo had returned from a mission so exhausted that he would fall asleep at the table or at his desk, leaving Heero with the choice of either letting Duo sleep where he sat or putting him to bed. The first time that he'd given in to the impulse and actually put Duo to bed, he'd excused it as only being practical to ensure the well-being of a fellow soldier. It had been a long time before he'd admitted even to himself that he was more concerned with the well-being of his *friend*. His best friend.

Heero stood watching Duo sleep. He wasn't even sure how long he stood there, watching Duo and remembering. Realizing just how deep the friendship and the trust ran. How much they had come to depend on and to support one another. How much their relationship had changed and grown over the years, particularly this past one.

And wondering. Wondering how he'd ever been so lucky as to earn Duo's friendship back when he had had no idea what the word even meant. Wondering at the patience and persistence with which Duo had taught him what friendship was all about. Wondering at the changes that had taken place in their relationship. Wondering just where those changes might lead in the future...

With a small shake of his head, Heero decided that he was obviously overdue for some sleep himself. He gently brushed a few stray strands of hair away from Duo's mouth then turned to get ready for bed. Crawling into bed, Heero spooned up behind Duo, wanting to stay close in case the day's events brought nightmares in their wake. But he doubted it. Not only was Duo very deeply asleep, he thought that perhaps Duo had managed to put at least a few of his memories to rest today. Not all, and they were merely at rest, not gone. And the nightmares would not simply end for good. But he thought that, exhausted as Duo was, he seemed more at peace. And with pasts like theirs, that was about the most they could ever hope for.

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- tbc -