apparently i've long since decided that homework is optional. *rolls eyes* this part. is disgustingly sappy. as in i need to go brush my teeth right now. but hey, i kinda thought some people might appreciate it in view of the angst to come, and besides. i need them to talk about *something* in their first real conversation. so. *shrugs*. hehe.



FiND ME - 14


Monday morning found Heero shuffling through a pile of papers on his desk. Trowa shot him a look as he walked into the office.



"What are you doing?"

No reply.

Dropping his coat onto his desk, Trowa come over to look over Heero's shoulder. Heero was going through old mission assignments.

Mission: Complete destruction of enemy headquarters building at 194 West 58th Street.

Mission: Infiltrate Jenson Corporation. One Mr. Joseph Karel must be killed quietly.

Mission: Infiltration of FBI information database. Must be done out of headquarters. Retrieve any information on one Jeremiah Crown.

Mission: Actress Marie Anne Mitchellson to be killed within 2 weeks.

Heero's face was void of any emotion as he flipped through the papers and their attached mission statements.

Mission status: Accomplished, with minimal external interference. Cops showed up but were incompetent in their abilities to trace me.

Mission status: Accomplished.

Mission status: Accomplished, but overtime by 15 hours.

Wearily, Heero set these aside and buried his hands in his hair. His eyes blankly stared into the computer in front of him. The blinking cursor flickered in his eyes but he didn't notice. Sighing, he turned to face Trowa, waving a hand slightly at the papers.

"There, that's the history of my life," he said. "I've never done anything useful, have I? All I've done is kill and destroy the lives of others. This helps me none."

"It's what she wrote, isn't it?" came the question. Heero didn't have to answer. Trowa already knew.

Wordlessly, Trowa spun on his heel and stalked out the door. No one hurt his friends like this. No one.

As the subway slowed to a stop, Heero gently lifted Duo off of him, Duo's hand in enclosed in his. He stood and pulled Duo lightly to his feet. Wordlessly they walked out of the station, across the street, down a block, and finally into the hotel.

Still silence as they stood, hand in hand, in the elevator, rising steadily.

The door smoothly slid open the Heero led the way out, back to his hotel room. He unlocked the door and let Duo in, still not letting go of the hand. Duo didn't mind.

When the door was closed and locked behind them, Heero led Duo to the kitchen.

"Anything to drink?"

Duo glanced into the opened fridge thoughtfully. "Juice is fine." Heero reached out and grabbed the juice. He took two cups and poured them some, then put the juice back in the fridge. One cup was offered to Duo, who accepted it and took a sip. Heero took the other and tugged lightly to lead into the other room.

By the time they reached the room, Duo had already finished the small cup of juice and was swirling the remaining few drops in a fairly nervous manner. With a hint of a smile that Duo missed, Heero put his own cup down and took Duo's, setting it down also. Then he turned to hesitantly pull Duo into an embrace.

Startled, Duo almost froze. Then he let himself melt in the arms that were holding him tenderly.

"I just... want to hold you," came a rough voice above his ear. "I don't know why." Duo tucked his head under Heero's chin. "I want to make you smile - a real smile, not what you have to show to everyone, pretending." Softly.

Somehow, Duo found himself being brought to the couch and cradled on Heero's lap again. Being held close. Comfortingly.

'He's doing it again, he's making me feel like he wants me,' the cynical part of his mind said. 'Fucking asshole.'

But another part of his mind contradicted that. 'Look. He's holding me, he's letting me see what's underneath, again. He was just scared of everything yesterday; I should just chill out and talk. Bella told me to talk.'

He didn't want to talk. He wanted to stay in Heero's arms forever. He want to go to sleep and wake up to see those blue eyes, that chunky dark hair, to be in this embrace. If this was a dream, he never wanted to wake up.

A tender hand ran down his braid and stopped at the bottom. The ribbon was loosened and tossed aside, and the hand carefully began to unbraid his hair. The feeling was intoxicating, even though Duo's mask tried to rise up and refit itself onto Duo's face. He mentally screamed; there was no way he would let that happen again.

And then he felt himself crying.

It was years of pent up tears that just had to pour out, and there was nothing Duo could do but cry unto Heero's shoulder. Just because someone was holding him, just because someone might even be pretending to care. Just because he missed his mother holding him like that.

To his surprise, Heero didn't stiffen up or push him away. Instead, Heero rubbed Duo's back comfortingly, murmuring soft words, soft nothings, like his mother had used to.

Duo cried even more.

"Shh, shh," Heero was saying quietly. "Shh, Duo, it's okay. I'm sorry, it's okay, shh." An endless litany of soothing words. "It's okay to cry, Duo."

"No, it's not," came a a muffled sob. He was clinging to Heero and he knew it. "It's not okay. All these years... it's not okay."

"Yes, it is." Heero pressed his lips onto Duo's forehead. "It's okay to cry. Life sucks; we can't be expected to take everything smiling."

The only answer he got was another choked back sob. Then a half-laugh.

"I don't even know why I'm about to spill my fucking soul to you," came a voice somewhere within his shirt. Teary violet eyes peeped up. "But I think I am. Damn you, I don't know what you've done to me, but..."

Heero reached up to Duo's eyes and gently wiped away the tears. "I know," he whispered.

In a moment, Duo broke the gaze and turned his head to look vacantly at a wall. "My parents and sister died when I was little. I came to New York 'cause I didn't know who to trust and some people took me in. Changed my name, 'cause I was scared; dunno. My best friend and I used to call ourselves Solo and Duo as nicknames. Our parents didn't know; no one knew. I figured it would be safe enough. Maxwell was from the... guy that took me in. Made myself a new identity. But in a couple months the... people... died, too. And I was left on the streets."

Heero closed his eyes painfully. "I don't remember my parents, they died when I was young and I lived on the streets for a while. Begging, stealing, being in a gang, whatever. Someone... found me, told me I might have natural talent for killing." A sardonic smile. "Brought me to the United States, and I was put into a group of hackers, assassins, and suchlike. Been there since I was 10."

There was a long silence as the two digested what the other had said.

"We're a pair of fuck-ups, aren't we?" Duo finally said weakly.

"Aa, I suppose so," Heero sighed.

Duo leaned his head up, his bangs tickling Heero's chin. Heero's lip twitched slightly. "What's with the 'aa' thing you keep saying."

At this, Heero had to give a small smile. "It means 'yeah' or 'yes' in Japanese."

Cocking his head to the side, Duo queried, "Why the grin?"

"Trowa always tells me to speak English."

"Oh." Duo supplied the monosyllable with the grin of his own. "Yeah, people usually speak English here in America."

His face was unconsciously slipping into his trademark easy grin. The grin that said he knew exactly what was going on, what knew what to say, what to do...

A thumb traced the edge of his lips and Duo felt the self-assured grin fade away into a softer smile. Prussian blue eyes gazed questioningly down at him. The warm oceans in his eyes were threatening to turn arctic and that was the last thing Duo wanted now.

While the jet gained altitude, Heero felt his ears pop as he quietly inspected his gun. Jordan was in the seat across from him, leaning back, looking like he was sleeping. Behind them were Dorothy and Christie.

The jet was a private jet, one of several owned by Operation S. The pilot was completely reliable and completely loyal.

Heero wrinkled his nose slightly at the popping in his ears. It was probably one of the reasons he disliked flying; that and the fact that he was several thousand feet above firm ground. It disconcerted him that if something malfunctioned, his life was forfeit. Just like that.

Heero wanted to lighten the mood a little: the weight was dragging into both of them and neither were certain what to do.

"What's your favorite color?"

Duo was silent for a moment, confused. Then he giggled a little. "Blue-green. More blue. Yours?"

Heero thought for a moment. "Deep red," he finally said.

Duo smiled slightly up at him. "My turn, then. What's your favorite food?"

This time it took a little longer. Heero thought about all his favorite meals and what he'd like especially, then finally concluded, "Apple pie. You?"

He was answered with laughter. "Anything. I eat anything."

One of Heero's hands absently toyed with the end of the braid. "Hm. Which is your favorite season?"

"Summer, definitely," was the enthusiastic answer. "Except it gets too hot, but it's beautiful. Sometimes Bella and me and a bunch of other guys manage to get to a beach for a day or two." He abruptly looked away, surprised he revealed so much.

Heero, understanding, said gently, "I like summer, too. Beaches are nice. I usually go to my friend's house and stay by his pool, though."


Shaking of his head. "No, his lover." An eyebrow quirked in query. "His name is Quatre. Quatre Winner."

Heero had been gazing away from Duo or else he would have noticed that Duo's violet eyes widened at the name, as if in recognition. But it was sudden and the light in his eyes went away as quickly as it came, so when Heero jerked his head back to face Duo, nothing was there. Only a smile.

Duo wrinkled his nose as if in thought. "What's your favorite ice cream flavor."

"Mint chocolate chip." There was absolutely no hesitation, and Duo had to giggle. "What?"

"Well, that's one thing you're not indecisive about, huh?"

Heero laughed softly. "Quatre always tries to make me try other flavors, but I refuse."

Duo nibbled a fingernail. "I guess I'm just a sucker for plain chocolate, then."

"Mint chocolate chip is very good." Slightly surprised, Duo realized Heero was wheedling him. He shifted slightly to get more comfortable on Heero's lap, pondering what to say in response.

"Bella likes mint chocolate chip," he finally offered.

"Heero," Quatre said impatiently. "You know, it won't hurt if you try another flavor." He indicated three other cartons of ice cream.

Heero, on the other hand, shook his head like a stubborn 4-year-old and reached from the mint chocolate chip. "Quatre, don't you dare stand between me and my ice cream," he mock growled, lunging for this flavor of choice.

With a sigh, Quatre handed over the mint chocolate chip and grinned as Heero dug in with the nearest spoon he could grab.

"That's disgusting," Wufei said, hiding a grin. He helped himself to some chocolate chip ice cream, then added a scoop of vanilla on top.

"I have my preferences," was Heero's cool answer. Then Wufei received a mint-chocolate-chip-flavored kiss. He wrinkled his nose and made a face.

"Heero," Wufei murmured. "Next time you kiss me, make it after you've rinsed out the taste of that ice cream. I hate it."

Heero smirked.

"What are you afraid of?" Duo said in a purposely innocent tone. Neither wanted to delve into their souls anymore: this was to be playful banter at most.

"Planes," was the quick answer. "I hate flying."

Duo gave Heero a curious look. "Why?"

Shudder. "I always think that if anything goes wrong, you can't exactly hang around in midair until you can fix it." A pause. "You?"

Suddenly Heero felt more pressure on his arms and chest as Duo leaned in closer. "Drowning." Duo sat quietly for a few moments. "When I was little I almost drowned - I must have been 3 or something, and thought I was better than my sister, who'd been taking swimming lessons - and I'm afraid of drowning."

"How can you go swimming at the beach, then?"

Duo cocked his head. "I don't go in where the water's past my waist. And I always go with someone else. It took years for me to go anywhere near bodies of water, though." A grin spread across his face as he remembered. "I know that I didn't take a bath for almost a week after that."

Heero rocked in silent laughter hearing that. "I'm sure your parents appreciated that," he said dryly.

"Oh yeah," was the equally sardonic response. "Loved it." The grin was warm and infectious. Heero could feel himself melting a little, and smiling a little.

"A merry-go-round will not hurt you!" Quatre exclaimed, about to burst into laughter. Heero and Wufei were eyeing the childrens' ride like one would eye a wild horse: with severe apprehension. "Look, we'll watch it go around once, okay? Come on, guys, 6-year-olds are riding it and laughing."

"Maybe they're drugged," was Wufei's skeptical, albeit ridiculous, response.

Quatre rolled his eyes.

Trowa hid a smile.

As the ride slowed to a stop, Quatre shoved his three friends into the line. Heero was visibly fidgeting, Wufei was trying to sneak out under the barriers, and Trowa was... well, being Trowa. It took sometimes more to get a reaction out of him than Heero. Well, except for some things...

Quatre immediately pulled his mind out of the gutter, reminding himself that an amusement park was probably not the place to be thinking things like that.

"What's your favorite carnival ride?" Duo forged ahead.

Heero began to think for a moment before he drew himself up in mock indignation. "Hey! It was my turn!"

Duo's face slowly transformed into the sun as his smile widened and he began to laugh heartily. Heero tried his best to glower at him, but failed utterly after about 5 seconds, then joined in with the laughter.

When the giggles died down slightly, Heero murmured, "But it was my turn."

"Answer mine anyways," Duo retorted, grinning still. The softer grin. The more real grin. Heero liked it. It looked beautiful on Duo.

"Not the merry-go-round," Heero said. "I think I like the slide."

Another snicker from Duo. "Why not the merry-go-round."

Heero made a face, then closed his eyes as if pained. "It was the first ride Quatre dragged me on. Trust me, it was a bad experience."

Snuggling closer - not that it was very possible - Duo murmured, "The merry-go-round scared you? Spiffy."


To his left, he could see flames licking at the other wing of the large building. Glass had been shattered, and the fire was growing, touching onto everything remotely flammable. Somewhere near that fire he knew Tobias was stalking around, making sure no one got out of the fire alive.

In front of him was this girl, eying him defiantly. Without turning her head, she spoke to her little brother, hiding in the room she was blocking the way to. "Tristan," she said sharply. "Go to your friend's house."

"Solo's?" the young voice piped up nervously. A grim smile crept onto the girl's face. "I mean-"

"Yeah," she interrupted quietly. "Go really fast, okay? Run. But hide while you run," he voice dropped to a whisper. But he could hear. The brother, too, heard, and next thing the boy heard was the patter of small feet.

He'd frozen for a moment.

Then six rounds went into the girl's body. She slumped to the ground, blood gushing out from all over, tears falling from her face.

"Hn," Heero said dryly. "And I suppose nothing ever scares you?"

Duo tried to look mockingly smug, with about 50% success. "Of course not," he drawled. "Nothing scares me."

"Right," was the skeptical reply.

"Well," came the hesitant reply. "I... you... I mean," he murmured, his voice dropping, and his eyes looking away. "This, whatever..." He glanced up to see he had Heero's full attention. "Whatever we're getting into. Scares me."


Back to Part 13

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