Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: lil*Shinigami
Pairings: 3x4/4x3 (1x2/2x1 in later parts)
Disclaimer: don't own the Gundam boys, although it would be nice if I did... (::hentai thoughts::) Anyways, I didn't write "A Christmas Carol", Charles Dickens did. So, don't sue, you'll be very displeased with what you'll get, cuz I don't got much. ^_~
Warnings: I don't think there are any at this point in the story...

 

Heero stepped through the doorway and instantly began coughing. A sudden onset of extreme piney smells had set it off. "What the- ?" Cautiously, he opened his eyes, fearful of what he might see. "God, what the hell happened?" Wide-eyed, he looked around. Everywhere he turned, Christmas decorations were placed wherever there was room. Garland circled around the railing, hung across the doorway and along the edges of the table. Figurines, bells, small trees, and the like crowded the tables and seeped to the floor. And... is that... mistletoe?! It looked like Heero had walked into a Christmas shop.

A pile of boxes with legs and a long chestnut braid wobbled over to Heero. A head peered around the supplies and gave a huge grin. "Hee-chan, how'd the mission go?"

"Hn. Fine. What happened to the house?" Heero asked incredulously.

"Oh, I'm decorating! Christmas is only in 20 days!" Duo exclaimed happily.

Heero smacked his head and sighed. "Why am I not surprised?" He headed for the kitchen, which wasn't much better decoration-wise. In fact, it was worse (in Heero's eyes). "Hn. I hate Christmas!"

Duo followed him and relieved his supplies on the table. "Oh, c'mon, Heero, lighten up! Christmas is the best time of the year!"

"Yeah, long lines, bills, debt, the best time of the year, ne?" He looked around. "Duo, don't you think some of these decorations are a bit too childish?"

Duo pouted. "No, and I happen to like Christmas, and I'm sorry if you don't, but don't ruin it for me!! It's a very important holiday!"

Heero held up a chain link that little kids used to tell how many days there was until Christmas. "What, Duo, you can't count? Christmas isn't that far away!" He glared at Duo, waiting for an explanation.

Duo smiled and shrugged, taking the chain from Heero's hand and taping it to the refrigerator (the wall was covered). "What can I say? I liked it! I'm trying to get into the spirit, but you're making it difficult!"

Heero shook his head at Duo. "You are insane! Hn, it's just a stupid holiday!" Seeing Duo's face fall at his harsh choice of works, Heero instantly regretted his words. <time for a subject change> "Sooo, where are the others?" he asked, patching up a small cut on his arm,

"Mmmph..." Duo took the scissors out of his mouth and tried again. "Trowa's off searching for Wufei, and Quatre is decorating the living room, at least he will be, as soon as he finishes calling everyone." Seeing Heero's slightly confused look, Duo explained stiffly: "The Secret Santa, Heero, c'mon! you said you'd be in it! Everyone's coming to pick their secret santa today!"

"Hn. Alright, alright..." Heero headed for the living room to see if it was worse. Duo followed with his supplies.

"Quatre, everyone coming?" Duo asked, helping Quatre decorate.

"Yup!"

Heero put his head in his hands and sighed. "Gods, that tree is gonna fall over! There are way too many ornaments on it!"

"Oh, do you really think so? Should we get another tree?" Quatre studied the living room, trying to figure out where the best spot for a second tree would be.

"Quatre! You're missing the point entirely!" Heero exclaimed, exasperated.

"What? I don't understand, Heero!" Quatre looked adorably confused.

"Forget it Quatre. Heero just hates Christmas, that's all." Duo hung up another decoration.

"Hn."

Duo stopped to survey their work. "Well, the decorations are going good."

"What do you mean, 'going good'? Aren't they done?!" Heero stared at the two boys in disbelief.

"Oh, no, Heero, decorations aren't done until you can't see the wall anymore! Duo said that's the way Christmas is supposed to be!" Quatre smiled at Heero, before returning to his decorations.

"Hn. We're Gundam pilots. We don't have time for petty things such as Christmas!" Heero grumbled, glaring at Duo like he was the one who invented Christmas.

Duo opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by Trowa's voice. "Wow, you guys, you went all out!" Trowa smiled as he entered the room, Wufei, Sally and Cathrine behind him.

"Twowa!" Quatre squealed, forgetting about decorating.

Duo sighed "Well, people are arriving," he looked at Sally and Cathrine, "so I guess I'll just clean up." He began packing the supplies into their boxes.

Soon after, Relena showed up, Dorothy and Hilde at her heels. "HEE~RO!!!" She smiled hugely and skipped over to him, plopping herself next to him on the couch, very hyper. "Oooh, nice decorations! Did you help put them up, Heero??"

"No, I want them down, now! I hate Christmas! Hn." Heero scooted as far away from Relena as he possibly could.

Hilde had headed over to Duo, and was politely helping him carry the boxes into the dining room, since no one was eating over. "Oh, Duo, I absolutely love your decorations!" she gushed, smiling prettily at Duo. Duo flushed and glanced at Heero. "Thanks, Hilde... I think..."

Quatre jumped, suddenly remembering something. "Oh, I'll get the hat! Then we can pick our names!" He smiled and skipped happily into the dining room. He returned a moment later with a horrible looking hat- brown with pink stripes, and bright orange puff-balls glued onto it. He held it upsidedown out to Heero. "Here, Mr. I-have-no-time-for-Christmas, you pick first."

Reluctantly, Heero reached in and pulled out the paper his fingers touched first. Quatre grinned, and turning away, moved on to the next person. Heero slowly unfolded the small paper and looked at the name scrawled on it in chickenscratch handwriting: DUO MAXWELL

-----------------

Heero lay in bed on his back, staring up at the ceiling. Clenched in a fist was the small piece of paper that Duo had scrawled his name on. He could hear Quatre's unmistakable laugh from the next room as the blond boy performed his nightly ritual of saying goodnight to everyone. Heero knew Quatre would be coming to his room next, and quickly hid the slip of paper from view as he heard the doorknob turn.

"Heero?" Quatre's light voice flitted through the doorway, entering Heero's thoughts and leaving as quick as they came.

"Nani?"

"Goodnight!" Quatre sang cheerily, smiling.

"'Night." Heero replied dully.

Quatre moved to leave and shut the door behind him, but stopped when he remembered his other reason for coming here. "Oh, Heero?"

"Yes, Quatre?" was stated through clenched teeth.

"You do know about Duo, don't you??" Seeing Heero look at him confused, Quatre continued. "Well, since you're so thick, I will tell you." Quatre completely entered the room and shut the door tightly behind him. "You see Heero, Duo... well, he likes you. Actually, more than likes. In fact, to be truthful, he's in love with you. So, if I were you, I'd try to make this Christmas extra-special; don't ruin his favorite holiday."

"Bah! Hn. I hate Christmas! Plus, I won't even be home; I've gotta mission."

"Really? On Christmas?! Wow, Dr. J is pretty harsh." Quatre stopped smiling and rested his eyes upon Heero sadly. "Too bad, Duo will be heartbroken... he was really looking forward to spending this holiday with you." That said, Quatre left, leaving silence behind him.

<Dr. J didn't give me the mission, Quatre, I gave it to myself.> Heero resumed staring at the ceiling until he could barely keep his eyes open. <Holidays are for the weak. Humans. Not Perfect Soldiers.> Placing the small scrap of paper on his bedside table, Heero turned to his side and fell asleep almost instantly.

***
Quatre trudged sadly to Duo's room to say his usual goodnight. He'd decided that in order to save Duo's heart as much as possible, he'd break the news to the braided youth about Heero. Heero would only make it worse. Quatre knew it would kill Duo- the braided boy had so many plans for his all-time favorite holiday. And all of them subtly centered around Heero.

"G'night Quatre!" Duo sang, prancing about his messy room happily as he tried to find the clothes he would wear to bed.

Quatre had been deep in thought and hadn't realized he had opened the door to Duo's room. "Goodnight Duo." He replied, smiling. He sighed and sat on the unkempt bed, waiting for Duo to stop bouncing and realize something's up.

Fortunately, Duo is a smart boy, and stopped soon after Quatre sat down. "Q, what's up?"

"Duo- " Quatre was unsure how to start. He wanted to make this as painless for Duo as possible. "Duo, remember all those plans we made for Christmas together?"

Duo nodded happily. "Yup. For Hee-chan." He twirled around in circles, arms outstreched to the world, smiling. "All for him!!" He paused. "Why?"

Quatre thought for a second, wording his words before he spoke them. <Heero, I swear, I will never forgive you for what you are doing to Duo> "Well, Heero just told me that he had a mission on Christmas and wouldn't be home."

Duo stopped his happy twirling and looked at Quatre, startled. "On Christmas?!! But- but- it's a holiday!! The doctor can't do~oo that!!" He wailed miserably, face all sadness. He kicked the chair in frustration, angry tears begging to be let out. "I'd like to be alone right now Quatre." Seeing his friends worried look, Duo added: "Don't worry, I won't kill myself, I'm not Heero."

Quatre nodded. "Alright. Get me if you need anything..." Silently, Quatre slipped out of the door. He hadn't bothered to tell Duo his suspicion, that Dr. J. hadn't really given Heero a mission; the Prussian-eyed pilot had just wanted an excuse to be gone on Christmas.

"Angel, what's troubling you?" Trowa wrapped his long arms around Quatre.

"Oh, Trowa, poor Duo!! Heero's gonna be gone on Christmas because of a 'mission'!" Quatre buried his face in Trowa's chest. "He's heartbroken. When will things be less chaotic?!"

***
A continuous beep startled Heero into a foggy awareness. Blearily, he checked the clock. "Only 11:00? Jeez, it feels later. Hn." Getting up to shut the annoying sound off, he stumbled around until he banged into the desk chair. He plopped into it, rubbing his sore foot. He glanced at his laptop, noticing it already turned on. "Hn. Funny, I could've sworn I shut it down before I went to bed... hmm..." He studied the laptop intently, trying to identify where exactly the noise was emitting from. But the second his fingers hit the keyboard, a loud pop and a flash of blinding light occurred. He jerked his hands back to cover his face with his hands, and closed his eyes tightly, trying to block out the bright flash that lit up his whole room.

"HeeEEeerrrRRRrrrooOOOoo!" A voice slurred. "HeeEErrrRRoooo!!!!"

Heero fumbled for his gun, but stopped, realizing the sound was coming from the laptop. (Plus, he wasn't wearing one) It was a person, a person that looked vaguely like... "Dr. J??"

"Heerrrrroooo!!!" Dr. J sounded again. "I have commmme to waarrrrrn youuuu. For your attitudddeee, youuuu shallll be visited by threee ghostssss tooonightttt. The firstttt willll arrive whennn the clockkk strikkkessss midddnight... be warned, Heeeerrrro Yuy, if youu do nottt change yourrrr ways... all willl be lossstt." And with that, the image disappeared, leaving a very befuddled Heero.

"What? Three ghosts?? Ha! Yeah, right, sounds like a spooky story that braided baka would create. I'm going back to bed." Heero shuffled into bed and under the covers. "Stupid Dr. J... waking me up in the middle of the night to pull a prank..." He drifted back to sleep.

-----------------

Heero shivered in his sleep, curled in a tight ball. "c-c-c-cold-d-d." He groped for the blankets that were supposed to be on him, but felt nothing but air. "Dammit!" He opened his eyes and looked around for the comfortable comforter. He found it; scrunched up at the foot of the bed. And the window was open. "No wonder why it's so c-cold!" The dark curtains were billowing in the fierce wind that sent cold chills down Heero's bare spine. Getting off the bed, he headed over to the window, rubbing at his arms to revive them. "Stupid wind. Too windy for its own good." Slamming the window shut, and locking it, Heero headed back for the snug confinements of his bed and comforter. Rolling himself up in the blanket like a caterpillar, he plopped onto the bed and closed his eyes peacefully.

Another cool breeze kissed his face as it blew around. "Can't that window stay shut?!" Heero growled, once again opening his eyes, turning to face the window.

The window was still closed. "Hn. Then where is the damn wind from?!" He moved his head from side to side, scanning the room for any opened windows. He didn't spot any; instead what he saw was a human-shaped shadow. At least, that's what it looked like. Then the shadow moved slightly, and Heero confirmed it to be human.

"What are you doing in my room?" Heero demanded, pulling a bathrobe on over his baggy pants and bare chest. "Answer me!"

In response, the shadow moved to the left a bit. Heero noticed the blonde hair and slight figure that was visible under the moonlight. "Quatre?"

The shadow shook his head. "No, Heero Yuy, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past." The ghost smiled.

"Then why the hell do you look like Quatre?!" Now that he looked closer, he could tell that the ghost's hair was much longer than Quatre's normally was, but not as long as Duo's.

"I took the form of your fellow pilot to make you more comfortable and less fearful." The ghost beckoned at Heero, "Come, we have much to do and so little time to do it all in."

"You have got to be joking. It is-" Heero's eyes widened as he looked at the clock on the nightstand, "midnight. K'so, Dr. J. said something about that.." Reluctantly, the Prussian-eyed pilot followed the blonde ghost.

The ghost paused outside a window and held his hand out to Heero. "Come, let us remember the times when you were little.." He jumped out the window and floating, gripped Heero's hand, pulling him towards the window.

"WHAT!? I can't fly! I'm not a ghost!" Heero jerked away from the window, shaking his head stubbornly.

"That's why you hold my hand. Come." The ghost gave a final yank and Heero gave in, allowing himself to be pulled out the window.

Heero clenched his eyes shut, waiting for the whoosh of air as he fell and the hard bang on him hitting the icy ground, but neither came. Cautiously, he cracked open an eye and almost fell from surprise. "I'm..flying?!"

"As long as you don't let go of my hand you are." They floated along silently for a few minutes, before the ghost again began to speak. "Heero Yuy, might you remember the days when you were little, and in your Doctor's care?" Confused, Heero nodded. The ghost pointed to a building hidden by others. The building looked very familiar to the Zero pilot, but they were on Earth, not a colony! They drifted slowly down towards the building. "Remember this place, Heero Yuy?"

Heero gulped, then nodded. "Yeah..that was where I lived and was trained for most of my life..but it's not on Earth.."

"No, Heero, this is a memory, one we are using to find emotions that have been buried up inside of you for so long you've forgotten about them." The ghost responded, lightly landing on the ground a second before Heero.

"But Ghost, I don't understand.."

"You shall see, you shall see." The ghost led him into the building and past the guards, who didn't even blink as boy and ghost passed them.

Heero stared wondrously back at them. He whispered: "Ghost, how come they don't tell me to stop? I know they can't see you, you're a ghost, but how come they can't see me?"

"Heero, you are an element of the future, much like a ghost. The Heero you are in front of me has yet to exist."

A happy cry filled the hallway, and a small boy, of about 4 or 5, ran though them. The child stopped and turned around in time to see a guard dashing after him. "Heero!! Stop now! Dr. J will not be pleased!"

The child giggled and stuck his small tongue out at the guard. He shook his tiny head, hands on his hip. "Nope. Dr. J. said never to give up! Never ever never! Under no circ'mstances!"

The older Heero watched this exchange. Spotting the guard he remembered was behind him that day, he called to his past self: "Heero, behind you!!" It felt funny saying his own name, calling to himself.

The ghost put a hand on Heero's shoulder. "Heero, they can't hear you, you're not really here."

Heero watched as the guard snuck up behind the child and grabbed him. The child screamed and kicked his tiny feet and arms around, trying to get free. "Lemme go! Lemme go!!" The cries could be heard all the way down the hall as the child was carried away.

Suddenly, the surroundings melted away, as new ones appeared. "Dr. J.'s office." Heero whispered, remembering. "Ghost, is it the same day?" The ghost nodded, and gestured for the teen to watch.

"Heero, you were very disobedient today. You know better than to fool around like that! The world is a cruel place, and there is no time for fun and laughter! How many times do I have to tell you?!" Dr. J. waved his claw threateningly in front of the small child's face. "I don't want to here this happening again!"

"Sowie, Doct'r Jay." The small boy mumbled, head hanging.

Dr. J. sighed, exasperated. "You may go. Finish your training without anymore interruptions, or the punishments shall not be painless. GO!" He waved his claw at the small boy, who silently scampered away, a tear falling from his cheek.

"I really wanted to impress him that day." Heero whispered, remembering. "But, Ghost, what does this have to do with Christmas?"

The ghost raised a small blonde eyebrow at the older boy. "You don't remember? Why, Heero, that was the last time you ever disobeyed Dr. J."

Heero's eyes slightly widened at both the blunt statement and remembering how that day had changed him. No longer was the little Heero happy, smiling and laughing much, after that day. "I-I..didn't want to make him angry anymore.."

Dr. J.'s office melted away, and reappeared. This time, the curtains looked a bit more faded, and the desk more cluttered with various papers, most about the boy's progress over the years. Dr. J. was seated at his desk, shuffling through a stack of papers and muttering as he went along.

A soft knock on the door startled him. "Enter." Little Heero entered, hands behind his back, a smile pulling at the edges of his mouth. He looked about a year older; eyes hinting that he knew more than he should at his age. "Yes, Heero? Shouldn't you be training?"

"Yessir, but I was excused for a little bit, on account I hadda see you.." Heero replied coolly, smiling tentatively at the doctor.

"Oh? And why is it that you had to see me?" The doctor pushed his chair back and marched over to the boy. He was not pleased that the child's trainers had excused him. "This better be important, boy."

Heero nodded enthusiastically, smile slowly growing. "Oh, it is sir, it is!" He removed his hands from behind his back and stretched them up towards the taller doctor. In his grip was a small package, covered with red paper with green Christmas trees on it. "I made it all by myself!" he stated proudly, smile growing by the second. "And I wrapped it all by myself! It's for you.." Heero looked up at the doctor.

"I remember this day.." The older Heero turned away. "Take me home. I don't want to see anymore.."

The ghost shook his head and pointed at the small replica of himself. "Watch."

The doctor glared at the boy, taking the small package. He glanced uncaring at it, before chucking it at the wall. The sound of its contents breaking were audible as it hit the wall heavily. The child's face crumpled, small blue eyes filling with tears, threatening to spill over onto his cheeks. The doctor knelt until he was at eye level with Heero. "Emotions are for the weak. I've told you that many times, so stop crying! You know what else is for the weak? Do you?"

The tiny child shook his head, causing a few tears to trickle down his cheek. Quickly, he wiped them away. "No sir."

"Holidays! Those are for normal people! People with no purpose in life! You, Heero, have a purpose! You are to protect the colonies! Millions of people will be counting on you! How can you protect them to your fullest potential if you are worrying about petty things such as holidays?! If you find you care about someone? Heero, you are alive for one reason alone- to protect the colonies! Nothing else should get in the way! Do you understand? DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!" Dr. J. shook the child to emphasize his point.

"Yes-yes-yessir.." Heero's small face smoothened, and became passive, eyes hard and impenetrable. With a final glance at the crushed gift, Heero glanced up at Dr. J., face statementless, and asked just as unemotionally: "May I leave?"

Dr. J. looked stunned at the sudden change in Heero's voice and nodded. "Go."

Heero nodded curtly, and performing an about-face, left the room.

"Ghost, tell me, why does Dr. J. suddenly want to change me? It was because of him that I am the way I am!" Heero looked at the ghost expectantly, waiting for an answer. That day had changed him as well, the start of the Perfect Soldier shell that had built up and strengthened as he grew.

"Heero, Dr. J. realizes his mistake in training you, emotions don't hinder missions, they only assist in them. And holidays are a major part!" The ghost paused, then continued. "But now I must go. Beware, the next ghost shall be arriving when the clock strikes one.."

The office faded and Heero's room once again came into view. He scanned the room, searching for his undead companion. "Ghost? Ghost? Hn, I must've dreamt it..still..it seemed so real.." Climbing into bed, Heero lay down and fell instantly asleep.

-----------------

Heero lay, curled up on his side, sleeping peacefully. Yeah, right. It was the loud noises coming from another room that startled him into awakening. With a quick glance to the clock (12:59), he got out of bed, put a bathrobe one, and padded towards the doorway. The noises had ceased for the moment. Just as Heero crossed the threshold, the Grandfather clock in Quatre's hallway rang once, signaling it was 1 o'clock. Heero jumped at the sudden intrusion on the deathly still silence, which didn't last much longer.

Laughter, familiar laughter, rang from downstairs somewhere, and the sound of silverware clattering against plates drifted upstairs to Heero's acute ears. "What the hell? At this time of the day? What does Duo think he's doing?!" Of course, he'd automatically assumed it was Duo, since it was obvious that the braided pilot was obsessed with Christmas and everything having to do with it. He hurried down the stairs and burst into the dining room, face set in a stony statement, eyes gleaming in anger, which turned to surprise at the sight of the eating area. Food crowded the gigantic mahogany table, so much that the table itself wasn't visible. And there was 'Duo', right in the middle of it all.

"Heero Yuy! Just the man I need to see!" Duo's voice boomed out, a drumstick in one hand and a corn muffin in the other. "Want something to eat?"

"DUO!! Did you cook all of this?!" Heero spread an arm, encompassing the table with 1 sweep.

"Wrong twice! I'm not Duo, and I didn't cook this food." Came the cheery reply, and with a snap of greasy fingers, all the food disappeared.

Heero gaped openly. No magician could make food in that large amount disappear the way that youth just did. "Wait... you're another one of those ghost people, aren't you?"

The ghost nodded. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, here to show you the events that will occur this Christmas if you do not change your ways. Come, my boy, there's much to discuss." The ghost laughed heartily before yanking Heero by the tie of his bathrobe out the door and down the street.

Heero trotted next to the ghost, two of his steps equaling one of his. "So, where are you taking me, Ghost?"

"The restaurant where you shall be going for Christmas dinner, Hee-chan. You shall see the events that will occur before they actually do, in hope you will change before it's too late...ah, here we are, Heero-sama!" he walked through the door and beckoned for the Zero pilot to follow.

"Through it?! But, I'm not a ghost!!" Heero shook his head.

"You are at the moment Heero, didn't Past explain this to you already? The Heero right now is off on a mission. Now c'mon Hee-chan!" The ghost smiled triumphantly as Heero passed through, ill at ease. "See? Told ya!"

"Hn." Heero looked at the reservation card on the table next to a big window where the outside was visible. The small card read "Maxwell party". It reminded Heero vaguely of the small paper with Duo's name scrawled on it, which reminded him that he had yet to get his braided partner a gift.

"Yes, that is where everyone shall be sitting, Heero. Everyone that is, except for you."

"Me? Why?" Heero questioned, watching as the laughing group entered and sat down on the table.

"Because you had a mission to do, remember?" the ghost was becoming sick of repeating himself. "Now, watch and learn, Heero." Heero turned toward the table obediently and watched.

"Hey, where's Maxwell?" Wufei looked curiously around, before ducking under the table to make sure the baka wasn't tying everyone's shoes together like he had done last year.

As if on cue, Duo trudged through the doorway, head hanging. "Hi guys. And girls." He took a seat, and looked across to the empty seat across him, sighing dejectedly. "Heero ain't coming, I assume?"

"No, and good riddance if you ask me!" Hilde stated stubbornly, crossing her arms.

Duo glared at her. "Oh? And why is that?"

"Because he's always so cold and never smiles! He ruins everyone else's happiness!" Hilde replied.

The argument went on for awhile, before Trowa stepped in. "You guys, Christmas isn't about arguments, it's about happiness and giving, and sharing and caring. Lets forget about Heero and celebrate!"

 

"Ghost? Is that my seat Duo's looking at?" Heero asked, mouth dry.

"Yes, Heero." The ghost answered seriously, and gestured at the braided boy. "Watch and see what you've done to him."

 

Duo stared dumbly at the vacant chair as food was placed before him. He sighed sadly, rubbing an eye, and turned away from the rest of the table. Everyone else was laughing and smiling, chatting about Christmas and anything that came to their minds. Duo, the one normally always laughing and joking, scowled at them; it was fair that they could be so happy when he wasn't. He glared out the window, willing Heero to walk into the store, but spotted something else instead. A little boy was crouched under a tree, trying his hardest to stay out of the way from the cold snow falling from the sky. His clothes were few, and hung about in tatters on his thin, malnourished body. Duo looked from the boy to his plate of food and back again, before picking the hot meal up and rushing out the door.

"Duo? Where are you going?" Quatre called, and the others voiced much the same.

Duo paid no heed as he crouched next to the small boy, taking off his coat to wrap it around the child lovingly. "Merry Christmas, little one." Smiling, he handed the boy his plate of hot, steaming food before retreating into the restaurant, resuming his seat and saddened statement.

"Oh, Duo, you are so sweet!!" Hilde gushed, smiling at him. "That's what Christmas is all about!" The others nodded.

"Yeah, but it's also about family and friends too." Duo stared pointedly at the empty seat.

 

Heero watched this wide-eyed and saddened. "I- I- don't believe it!"

"Believe it." The ghost nodded towards Duo. "You're killing him, not literally, but look at what you've done to his favorite holiday, just by not showing up!"

Heero squeezed his eyes shut. "No more Ghost, I don't want to see anymore! Take my home! Please, I beg you!" He opened his eyes to see if the ghost would listen to him, and found himself in his room. "Huh? Did I dream it? No, no, it was too realistic! Oh, but I must've..." Removing his bathrobe, Heero climbed into bed, falling asleep. "Gomen, baka..."

-----------------

Heero awakened a minute to two o'clock, and was not surprised to see another spirit had found its way into his room. He would be pretty used to seeing strange things in his room after tonight. "You're the third Ghost, right? To show me what's to come?"

The ghost stepped towards Heero and the bed, and nodded his hooded head once.

<damn, major difference than the one before. Complete opposites, like black and white> Heero inspected the new ghost. He...she...it... was tall and thin, with a thick, dark robe draped over its shoulders. The robe, being taller than the ghost, dragged on the floor as it walked ominously towards the bed. Its face was completely hidden from view by a dark hood that drooped over its eyes.

Heero stood, putting his bathrobe on once more, he knew what would happen now. He walked over to the window and held out his hand to the silentoccupant in his room. "Well? Are we going to go? I want to get this over with!" He tapped his foot impatiently.

Ignoring the impatient boy by the window, the ghost drifted towards the door, floating across the threshold and disappearing around a corner.

"Hey! What are you doing?!" Heero hurried after, following the ghost. "Where are we going, Ghost? What are you going to show me?"

The ghost gave no sign of hearing Heero's questions, or answering them. Instead, he quickened his pace and glided down the stairs, the only sound emitting from it being the extra-long robe as it dragged along the stairs.

"Fine. Ignore me. See if I care." Heero stomped after the ghost, curious to see what it was going to show him.

Stopping at the entrance to the living room where Duo and Quatre had decorated until it was ready to burst, either that, or until the tree would collapse under all the weight on its branches, the ghost motioned slowly for Heero to come. It pointed at the room.

"What? What about it? I know it's over-decorated, but Duo and Quatre refused to listen to me..." He trailed off when he realized that wasn't what the ghost was trying to tell him. "What? Ghost, tell me!"

The ghost pointed again at the room persistently, staying in that position unmoving.

"Oh, do you want me to go in there?" Eyes on the ghost, Heero headed towards the room. <This would be so much easier if he'd just talk!> The spirit dropped his arm and followed Heero. Heero turned his eyes away from the spirit to gape at the room. It was totally changed, smaller, with wooden walls and a quaint little tree. Colorfully wrapped gifts overflowed under the tree. It was decorated just as much, and so Heero guessed this was Duo's house, in the future of course. "Ghost, why Duo's house? What is the point?" As usual, the ghost failed to answer.

 

"DADDY DADDY DADDY!!!! I WANNA OPEN GIFTS!!!! NOW!!!!" A little boy, around 2, flew into the room, screaming at the top of his lungs, a familiar grin from ear to ear on his face. His golden brown hair was messed up from sleeping, and hung about his shoulders lazily. He bounced around the room, screaming 'daddy', waiting for his father to come.

"Ghost? Is that Duo's son?" Heero questioned, and was rewarded with a small nod and a gesture to keep watching. Duo entered the room, much to his son's delight. <Duo looks different. Well, he is older, but something else...aha! He's not smiling!>

 

"DADDY!!!! NOW!!!!" the toddler demanded, shaking a gift to see if he could tell what it was.

"Alright, alright, go ahead Solo, open them." Duo smiled as his son pounced on gift after gift, wrapping paper flying everywhere. "Here, give this one to Mommy, Solo." He handed the toddler a small package.

"ooooh..." Solo shook it curiously, before shouting, "MOMMMMMYYYYY!!!!!!"

 

"Mother?! Ghost, who is Solo's mother?" The ghost didn't respond. "I don't know why I bother." He muttered, before letting out a small gasp as Solo's mother walked in. "Hilde?! But Duo hates Hilde!"

 

Hilde smiled as Solo dumped a package on her lap, before returning to devouring his gifts excitedly.

Gifts all opened, wrapping paper everywhere, and Solo was in the middle, playing happily (and quietly) with his new toys.

Doorbell rang. Duo went up to answer it, smiling when the door was opened. "Quatre! What a pleasant surprise! Come in, come in." Shivering in the snowy weather, Quatre entered the warm, cozy room, and removed his coat and boots. "Sit down, if you can find a place, that is." Duo pushed aside wrapping paper and motioned for Quatre to sit. Hilde handed him a cup of hot cocoa, before sitting next to Duo.

"Hiya, Uncle Quatwe." Solo stated, eyes never leaving the new toys.

 

<Duo doesn't look happy...I don't like that. Duo is supposed to be happy> Heero sadly watched the future play out.

 

"Merry Christmas, Solo." Quatre smiled at the preoccupied toddler, before smiling kindly at Hilde. "So, how's the baby? Any ideas for names?"

Hilde smiled as she patted her stomach. "No, no ideas." From the kitchen, a whistle sounded, signaling that the water was boiling. "Oh! Excuse me, Quatre." She hurried in the kitchen to prepare more hot chocolate.

"Duo...why don't you name him Heero?" Quatre asked.

Duo's eyes clouded over for a second, before he shook his head. "No, I'll not curse my son before he's even born Quatre!"

"Duo, you can't mean that! Heero's all alone, with no purpose for living after the war. He'd be so thrilled to hear that you named your son after him!"

"NO! No, he wouldn't be thrilled. He'd probably laugh in my face, and you know it! And as for purpose, I gave him chances, chances by the ficken handful! And what did he do? Tossed them away with the swing of a fist into my face. Quatre, I want my son to be lovable, to be able to love, happy and all smiles, like my Solo, both to be the complete opposite of Heero! I'm trying to forget him, not have a constant reminder by naming my second son after him! I'd rather name him Trieze!" Duo concluded miserably.

"Duo, you don't mean that, do you?"

Duo nodded, as if to convince himself, then shook his head, eyes focused on the small toddler playing happily, talking to himself, oblivious to the turmoil tearing his father apart.

 

"That's the future, ghost?! No, no, it can't be! Tell me ghost, tell me please! Can the future be changed!? Can it?" Heero looked at the ghost pleadingly.

"Do you love him?" the ghost rasped dryly [1], motioning at the saddened braided man in front of them.

"I...I...I--"

"Before anything can change, you have to be able to admit that, Heero Yuy..." The insensitive voice sounded so much like Heero's.

"I'm done, ghost, I want to go home."

The ghost shook his head, the surroundings shimmering as new ones appeared.

"A graveyard? Ghost, why are we here?" The ghost pointed at a grave in front of them. Heero read the inscription aloud, voice trembling. "Duo Maxwell. May you rest in peace with God, Shinigami...Ghost, what happened to Duo?! What about his family? Hilde? Solo? The unborn child? Ghost, answer me! How'd he die?!"

"Of a broken heart. To Quatre's insistence, Duo and Hilde named their second child Heero Maxwell, and his hair was dark, with the Prussian blue eyes, much like yours. Smiling proudly, Duo presented the infant to you,telling you he named the boy Heero, after you. True to Duo's words, you laughed in his face and asked Duo why he'd want to name one of his kids after a killing machine, before slamming the door in their faces. That was the last time you spoke to him.

"A week after that incident, Duo stopped eating, and no matter what she did, Hilde couldn't convince him to. Marching up to your door, she yelled, begged, pleaded, for you to come and convince him to, for she was sure that if Heero wanted him to live, then so would he. But you refused, slamming the door a second time, this time in Hilde's face, saying that's what he deserved, naming his child after a soldier. Duo died, and you didn't attend the funeral." The ghost's grating voice ended, and he was silent

"My fault?! Ghost, I'll change, I promise! Just don't let Duo die, please! He doesn't deserve to die, I do!!"

"The innocents are always the first to die," was the last said, and graveyard and ghost vanished, leaving Heero shaking in his room, the sun peeking though the trees and casting a pale light in the dreary room.

Heero ran onto the balcony, looking for someone, anyone. Spotting a boy running down the street, he called out to him to stop.

The boy stopped short and looked up at Heero, a curious, yet fearful statement on his face. "Yeah?"

"Tell me, what day is it today?!"

"Why, it's Christmas!!" the boy answered, surprised.

"Good, I didn't miss it! There's stll time!" Heero sighed in relief. "Thank you!" He ran into his room to get dressed, a plan already coming to mind.

[1] I know, I know, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come isn't supposed to talk, but I needed him to, so he does now.

-----------------

Heero dressed quickly, anxious to get out of the house before anyone woke up. He didn't want to have to answer any questions from the other pilots. And he didn't want to see Duo just yet. Pulling on his customary tanktop and slipping into a warm pair of jeans, he grabbed a jacket and exited his room.

He crept down the stairs and headed into the kitchen. Seeing no one, he grabbed a bagel and was just about to sneak out the door unnoticed when a voice from behind him stopped him.

"Where're you going, Heero?" Duo sadly looked at the Zero pilot from the middle of the elegant swooping staircase. His hair was half-braided, as if he had rushed out to catch the pilot before he left. A ray of sunlight lazily drifted in from a skylight above the staircase, curling around the braided boy's head, making him look like an angel.

Heero's breath caught in his throat as he turned to look at Duo. <Gods, he's beautiful. Why didn't I see it before?> "..." He didn't know what to say. He didn't want to lie to Duo, but he didn't want to tell him where he was really going. He turned and reached for the doorknob.

"You're going on a mission, right? On...Christmas? Couldn't you wait until all the gifts were opened?" Duo's face fell as Heero reached for the doorknob. <Why, of all people, do I have to fall in love with the most unloveable of them all?!>

"Hn. Be back later." Heero wretched his gaze away from the pilot and left without another word, leaving his angel crying softly on the stairs.

* * *

"Which one...oh, the choices. I hate shopping, almost as much as Chri-" Heero caught himself. "No, you like Christmas, remember Yuy? It's your favorite holiday, just like Duo's." He frowned sadly at the memory of this morning popped into his head. <Oh, Duo, if only you knew what mission I was on.>

Heero knew exactly what to get Duo for Christmas. He just hadn't know how many different ones there was. He had been to every store in the entire mall, searching for the perfect one. So far, he'd had no luck. They were pretty, but none of them screamed Duo.

Frustrated, Heero dug into the bottom of the box, and pulled out a small, plain one. Black and red ribbon holding it together. "Perfect. Mission accomplished."

Smiling, he headed to the cash register and handed his present to the old lady, along with a box, wrapping paper, scissors, and tape. "Little late for Christmas shopping, aa dearie?" She smiled kindly at Heero.

"Better late than never." Heero paid her and took the bag and headed out to an unoccupied bench. Placing Duo's gift in the box, he painstakingly wrapped it in the colorful paper- little santas and elves pranced along the paper happily, cheering "Merry Christmas!" Wrapping complete, Heero headed home.

* * *

"So, Heero had my gift? But of course, Heero hates Christmas, so he wouldn't get me a gift..." Duo slumped in the couch. Christmas was supposed to be a happy time of year, but Duo wasn't happy. He clutched Heero's gift to his chest.

"I'm sorry Duo. Maybe he has a gift for you but forgot to put it under the tree because of the mission." Quatre tried to be helpful, all bundled up in the fleece blanket Trowa had gotten him. The others had left, leaving the two alone with Duo. "You know Heero."

"Yeah, the mission would be more important than Christmas, but I doubt Heero got me a gift. I do know Heero, that's the problem." Duo sighed, fingering the many M&M's that littered the floor. He hadn't realized he knocked the small jar over until now. It lay on the rug, on it's side, Santa Claus smiling up at Duo.

From the foyer, a door shut. And Heero entered the room, sitting next to Duo. Silently, he handed Duo the small package.

"Heero? Did you complete the mission?" Duo looked up at Heero, amethyst eyes searching cobalt ones hopefully as he gave his gift to Heero.

Heero smiled inwardly. "Yeah. Mission accomplished. And successful." Heero took the wrapped box and put it behind him.

Duo grinned happily. Maybe today wouldn't be so bad after all. Heero was home, mission completed, sitting next to Duo, and, to top it all off, Heero had gotten him a gift! Duo shook it, trying to guess what it was.

"Oooo...what is it?"

Heero poked Duo anxiously. "Open it!"

Duo's grin widened and he ripped off the paper excitedly, a bundle of nerves.

He opened the white, unmarked box and held up the gift in front of Heero, confused. "Heero? A bunch of leaves?"

Smiling, Heero shook his head. He had predicted Duo's reaction exactly. Capturing Duo's confused face with his hands, he answered, "No. Mistletoe." Duo flushed, confusion gone. He opened his mouth to reply, and Heero took advantage of the situation. Closing the space between their lips, Heero lightly kissed the braided boy, who kissed back happily.

Breaking away, much reluctant, but needed in order to breathe, Heero smiled at the amethyst-eyed angel in front of him. Decisively, he said: "I like Christmas."

"Oh really? 'Cause last time I checked, you didn't. You hated it." Duo shifted to snuggle into Heero's strong arms peacefully. Quatre and Trowa had crept out long ago.

"I don't anymore." Heero's breath tickled Duo's ear as he spoke.

"Oh? And how did you come about with this decision?"

"Would you believe me if I told you three ghosts came to visit me last night, showing me what would happen if I didn't?"

"No, I'd say you'd lost one too many marbles." Duo smiled up at Heero.

"Only one?" Heero kissed Duo's forehead

"Well, maybe more, but I still love yah for it." Duo admitted.

They rested silently for a few minutes, gazing at the fire cackling in the fireplace. "Duo?"

"Yeah?"

"Ai shiteru. Don't leave me."

"I know you do, and I love you too. No worries, Hee-chan, I won't leave." To emphasize his words, Duo snuggled deeper into Heero, who wrapped his arms tighter around his angel.

"Duo?"

"Nani?"

"Don't call me Hee-chan. It reminds me too much of Relena, and I don't want to be reminded of her today."

Duo laughed, music to Heero's ears. "Alright. I won't."

Silent for another few minutes, Duo was half asleep when Heero spoke again. "Duo?"

"What?!"

"Merry Christmas."

-----------------

Duo watched the fire dwindle to little more than ashes, unwilling to get up to add more wood. That required leaving the safe confinements of Heero's thin, but strong, arms. "Heero...the fire's going out." No response. Duo shifted slightly to look at Heero, sleeping peacefully like a little boy, Duo wrapped in his arms like a security blanket.

Night had fallen, leaving the two in almost total darkness. Reluctantly, Duo disentangled himself from his love's arms and threw a log into the fire, watching as it sparked and crackled, growing with new life. It lit the room with an orangey glow.

Heero stirred, awakened when he felt the warmth of his angel disappear. "...Duo?"

Duo stared at the fire licking at the bricks imprisoning it, mesmerized. "Funny how something can be so dangerous and deadly, and yet, beautiful and essential for life at the same time. Go figure," he mused.

Hero stood up to embrace the braided boy from behind. "Kind of like me."

Duo twisted in Heero's arms so that both boys were face to face, inches apart. With gentle hands, he gripped the Zero pilot's face as he spoke, all traces of humor gone. "No, not like you. Fire needs to be controlled, or else it will destroy the harmless and harmful alike. You can control yourself, and the people we destroy only bring it on themselves. It's not your fault they're so gullible. He lightly kissed Heero's nose to take this sting out of his words.

Heero nodded thoughtfully. "Duo, you are too good for me. Tell me, why do you love me?"

Duo rested his head on Heero's shoulder, thought contorting his cherub-like features briefly. "I dunno why, I just do," he confessed, shrugging helplessly. "Whenever something happened that I didn't understand, Sister Helen used to tell me that God works in many ways. Maybe "us" is God's way of rewarding us for all that we've suffered through. Or maybe," he shrugged again, "we were just...meant to be." He paused once more. "Heero, why do you love me?"

"I..." Heero struggled with conflicting emotions, trying to tell the waiting boy leaning against him. But it's hard to find the right words to describe your heart to anyone, let alone the one you love. He stopped, taking a deep breath, and started over. "Duo, you are so different than me, always happy and smiling, never afraid to let people know what your feeling, vibrant with life. I...i was jealous, wanting to know why you were so happy while I wasn't. I studied you, trying to discover the secret to your happiness. I guess, somewhere along the line...you became something else, something more important, to me." <And it only took three ghosts and a sleepless night for me to realize that.>

"Wow, that must be the most I've ever heard you say, well, except for the day I accidentally screwed up your laptop." Duo hugged Heero tightly, feeling the reassuring arms surround him. "Heero, don't change. I love you the way you are." Then, thinking a moment, he added as an afterthought, "On second thought, it could do you some good to smile more often. Frowning causes premature wrinkles, ya know." He grinned up at Heero, daring him to smile back.

Heero felt a smile tug at the edges of his mouth, and let it play over his lips.

"You're cuter when you smile, ya know that?" Duo didn't let Heero respond, deciding that he liked Heero's lips best when they were locked onto his. He ran his tongue over Heero's lips, begging admittance. Heero parted his lips slightly, allowing Duo's tongue to enter, where it began to explore every inch of Heero's mouth, devouring it greedily. Just like his tongue, his fingers roamed over Heero unconsciously, having a mind of their own.

Heero moaned softly, the sound lost in the kiss as Duo's skilled tongue fought a winning battle with his own. Reaching behind Duo, he found the famous braid, and snapped the weak elastic. He weaved his fingers through the mass of brown hair, letting unravel and cascade down his shoulders like a chocolate waterfall. He tugged on Duo's shirt, breaking away from the kiss to take it off, and lost all sense of anything as Duo expertly stripped his of all his clothing and removed his own.

Duo stepped back to admire his handiwork. The Zero pilot's Perfect Soldier shell had dissolved, passion and need shattering the box he normally hid in. Heero's cobalt eyes were swirled with lust and confusion as to why Duo had stopped. He shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably as Duo examined every inch of him hungrily. Then, without warning, he pounced on Heero, pinning him to the couch.

Heero surrendered, allowing himself to be pinned to the couch. Actually, he couldn't resist, even if he wanted to. At the sight of Duo naked and with his hair curling about him almost protectively, Heero felt his mind slip away, and everything but Duo became nothing but a bleak, empty space. He drank in Duo's beauty, much like a vampire with his kill, and wondered once more why Duo would want to be with him, and that he didn't deserve angels like the naked one before him. But that thought didn't last long; when the braided boy pounced on him eagerly, he lost all ability to think.

Duo, straddling Heero, slowly lowered himself to lay on top of him. Lips brushes against Heero's neck, then cheekbone, then ear. Pausing, Duo whispered. "Heero...do you want me?"

Sadly snapping out of his fantasy world, Heero vaguely remembered what the last ghost had whispered to him- //"you must be able to admit that before anything will change..."// He nodded, rubbing his ache against Duo's for emphasis, and moaned when Duo's tongue played with his ear teasingly. Duo stopped, and sat up, straddling Heero once more as he reached for something. "Duo?" he rasped, voice heavy with want and desire, "what's wrong?"

"Getting something..." Smiling triumphantly, he held out the red and green package to Heero. "Open it quickly, will ya?" Heero's gift was on impulse really, win or loose and nothing inbetween. He handed the it to the boy, laughing at his statement- confusion mixed with desire and anger. "Oi Heero! If only I had a camera!"

Ripping the paper off as quick as he could, Heero smiled at the sight of the small tube. Placing it on the floor by the couch, Heero growled, "Duo! Finish what you've started!"

Smiling at Heero's impatience, Duo lay on top of Heero once more. For a fleeting second, he thought of the couch they would ruin, but forgot about it as Heero rubbed against him. Licking Heero's ear, Duo traced a path down to Heero's mouth, where he pause briefly, before becoming bored with the already explored territory. His hands roaming freely, Duo gave Heero's lips a final kiss, before tracing an intricate pattern on his chest with his tongue. A roaming hand discovered a hard nipple and toyed with it idly, while Duo's tongue finished the pattern and went to please the other nub, nibbling and kissing, causing Heero to arch his back with pleasure. He felt Heero's hands gripping his hair, and heard Heero moan his name.

After a series of twists and detours, which resulted in a wet and lust-filled Heero, Duo made it to Heero's navel, where he dipped his tongue in, circling around. Heero wiggled and moaned, telling Duo that wasn't low enough to suit his needs. Smirking, Duo moved his hands to the sides of Heero's hip to steady them, causing Heero to moan in weak protest. Slowly, Duo dragged his tongue down to Heero's erection, taking more time than necessary, taunting the Zero pilot to beyond comprehension. Heero struggled to control his raging hormones, resisting the urge to buck with all him might, but Duo's teasing tongue wasn't helping, especially where it was now, centimeters from his painfully hard arousal.

Duo took a moment to glance up at Heero. The visible emotions animated his face in a way that Duo had never seen before. Hands gripping Duo's hair, eyes slitted, mouth half open, breathing ragged and rushed, sweat leaving a glimmering sheen on his chest, Heero involuntarily pushed up a little, wanting to close the short gap between Duo and hi ache. Duo smirked, and flicked his tongue over the head of Heero's member, lapping up the indication to Heero's pleasure, savoring the taste, rolling it with his tongue. Unable to contain himself any longer, Heero thrusted upward, but was stopped halfway by Duo's imprisoning hands. "Duo..."

Duo grinned at the sound of Heero's voice, filled with desire, moaning his name. Deciding he'd tortured the pilot enough, Duo engulfed Heero's entire arousal in his mouth, moving his skilled tongue to stroke the entire length slowly, before speeding up. His tongue flew around in elaborate motions, sending Heero into oblivion. When Duo felt Heero close to coming, he released his cock, and fumbled on the ground for the lube. Finding it, he put some on his fingers and, giving Heero a reassuring kiss, inserted one finger into him slowly, so as not to hurt him. Entering another, and another, Duo slowly stretched Heero out, searching for Heero's sweet spot. Heero cried out, and Duo removed his fingers. Coating his own hard erection, he slowly entered Heero, kissing him.

Instantly, Heero began thrusting upwards, and Duo began steady, rhythmic thrusts that gradually sped up as they got closer. Heero matched his thrusts to Duo's beat, moaning as he got closer. With a free hand, Duo began pumping Heero's neglected shaft, using his thumb to rub over the small slit. Heero came firt, spilling over Duo's hand and onto his chest, crying out Duo's name in ecstasy as he did so. Moments later, Duo followed, coming deep into Heero as he cried his name. Drained of energy, Duo rested atop Heero, laying his head on his chest. Pulling a blanket from its position on the back of the couch, Duo spread it over them, and fell asleep, cradled in Heero's arms, listening to the steady heartbeat.

**owari**

COMMENTS!!! Nice comments...please? humor me. <still in disbelief>

I think this ends the story. There isn't much else to write, ya know? I'm fresh out of ideas. But I'm sad it's over. I hope you all enjoyed it.