2-2-2002

Heero's pledge

aww what the heck, you know the pairings already! if you don't go to www.fanfiction.com and type in the authors search box lillie_chan and then click on the link for my first chapter!

disclaimer: don't own a thing, except for this delicious coconut pocky! ^.^

archived: ilovebshonen , DHML , and http://www.geocities.com/dark_lillie/

I Dedicate this chapter to ME! i am having a BIG pity party for myself, cause i just found out 2 hours ago that i have Mono;.; if you don't know what that is, i suggest that you look it up, and NO i didn't get it from kissing, I've never been kissed! *is thinking of the movie "never been kissed"* i got it from sharing a banana split with my friend. ^.^' damn that ice cream! ...*pouts* but it was so good! *yumm*

^^ ^^ ^^ ^^ ^^

 

Heero looked up from the mantle. " I'll except your word for that."

"Then you'll drop the charges?" Duo breathed hopefully. His smile was warm and gracious. " I'll drop the charges." "Oh thank you!" she clasped her hands together at her chest.

Heero bowed again. " would you do me the honor of remaining for supper?

She was caught off guard. "Here?"

"Unless you have a preference."

Duo glanced about her, absorbing in the grandeur. :Hilde will be green.: " All right. But i have to let mama know not to expect me."

"And to the town for the marshal?"

He smiled crookedly. "And for the marshal." As he spoke he strode to the secretary, took out two sheets of thin vellum paper , and laid one out for Duo with a pen and an inkwell. She quickly sat and wrote the note explaining her whereabouts to her parents, then blotted and handed it to him. He folded it along with his own and called for James.

After disposing instructions, he turned to Duo. "It's rather close in here. Would you care to walk outside until supper?"

"That's because of the heavy draperies. If you took the velvet off, left the lace, and opened the windows on each side, you'd get a cross breeze and it would cool off rather nicely."

He raised an eyebrow and she added, "But yes, I'd like to walk."

"Well then..." He motioned her toward the door. At the foot of the stairs, Duo gathered her skirts in a futile but required attempt to keep them from the dust. Heero clasped his hands behind his back and strolled beside her.

They walked in the shade of the cottonwoods, then turned onto a path that skirted the hill. Long shadows lined the pale, grassy fields. Duo turned her face to the breeze , letting it scatter the damp tendrils clinging to her forehead. She glanced side ways at Heero. The handsome features, the dark eyebrows and deep cobalt blue eyes, the firm wide mouth all came together in a dashing blend that he muted with his nonchalance.

He didn't flaunt himself, and Duo quickened to the thought that he had no need to. He was tall-taller than her father who stood at five foot seven, but he still moved with elegance . Heero turned and she dropped her gaze.

As they dipped into the small valley, They came again under the shade of cottonwoods and chokecherries spreading their dense branches over a clear stony stream. Queen's lace flowered beneath. She couldn't help but exclaim "How lovely!"

Heero smiled. "I'm glad you like it. This is my favorite spot on the ranch." He swept his arm forward. "to your right, bald pikes peek, and away east, the prairie. But within this little circle nothing seems as stretched and open."

Duo followed his extended arm as he pointed, then turned back to him. "you're not used to the space yet. It'll grow on you. This place is solid as the rock beneath us. Beautiful, yes. Wild perhaps, but not a jungle teeming with danger or an Arabian desert hiding its treasure beneath hot blowing sands. Here you can grab hold of the land and feel it's strength." She looked up to Heero and smiled. " I think God started here and spread out the rest of the world with what was left."

He was watching her curiously. "Is that spoken from experience Miss Maxwell?

Duo smiled. "Limited I guess."

He opened his mouth to respond, but the clanging of the bell broke the evening still. He raised his eyebrow conspiratorially. "That's the signal for supper, and if we value our necks, we'll not delay."

As they started back, Duo asked" Mr.Yuy..."

"Please call me Heero."

"Heero..." She tested the name. Yes it suited him. Outside with the breeze in his hair, it suited him well. "If your Pa fought in the war, how is it that you didn't suffer the hardship That's upon the south?" She thought she must have offended him when he didn't answer. His gaze went far out before them.

"Long before the war, my father believed the future of the nation lived out west and filed this land on speculation as well as other pieces farther north. When the war ended, our southern holdings were decimated like everyone else's, but our western investments survived."

"How could he homestead the land without living on it?"

"He outfitted partners to homestead it the three years, and when they had full title, he purchased the plots from each outright. This particular ranch was the best of his stakes with free access to water and virtual control of the water source for miles on the open range. That far extends the original survey."

"Your pa was a man of foresight. Why didn't he come out here with you?" For a terrible moment she thought he might have been killed in the war when she saw Heero stiffen.

"He loved his home. So fiercely did he love South Carolina that he faced unspeakable horrors in her name. And when he returned from the war after being captured and imprisoned by the Yankees, he came back to a land he didn't know. There was no way for him to maintain his plantation without workers, his health was broken, and life as he new it changed. Yet he would not desert it."

Duo tried to imagine how difficult it must have been."Could he not have sold his holdings out here and rebuild?"

" He could have, but he wanted this for me. When he died, his last wish was for me to make my life out here instead of drudging through what was left of the 'glorious south.'"

"So your pa's gone, too? Duo stopped. "Have you no one else?"

"My sister, Dorothy, lives with her husband in Charleston."

Clasping her hands, Duo drew in her breath. "I think it was very brave of you to come out here alone and start a new life."

Heero smiled. " How old are you, Miss Maxwell?"

"If i must call you Heero, you must call me Duo. I'm seventeen. Why?"

"I suspected as much."

"your not so very much older?"

" Not so very much. But six years can be a great deal, and at times you seem substantially younger."

He was obviously amused, though she failed to see the joke. When he motioned, she preceded him up the stairs.

"would you care to freshen up before we eat?"

"Yes thank you."

Pearl showed her to a bedroom where a pitcher and a bowl were prepared for her use. The cool water felt good on her skin as she wiped her hot face and neck. She unbuttoned her bodice front and swabbed the cloth down to the edge of her camisole, where it protruded softly before shrinking over narrow ribs. Her hair was wild, so she picked up the brush from the wash stand and ran it through the stubborn tangles before rebraiding her hair again. She She reattached her bodice and went downstairs.

Heero ushered her into a real dining room as fine as the hotel, seating her at one end of the long cherrywood table, and took his place at the other. Pearl and James brought dish after dish to the table. Heero must of seen her surprise. "Pearl rarely has the opportunity to cook for company. She makes the most of each occasion." He muted his smile.

"Pearl huffed. "I cooks what i wants."

"And in abundance."

"As any gen'leman would appreciate."

She bustled into the kitchen, but Duo caught her look of satisfaction at having the last word. James offered each dish and served out the portions. Duo felt four years old with all the attention.

Heero skewered a slice of chicken soaked in wine and cream and nearly had it between his teeth when Duo said, "Don't you think its gonna be rather difficult to converse all the way across the room like this?" She leaned to the side and gazed at him around the vase of larkspur and daises.

Heero motioned to James who immediately came to his side. "Move Miss Maxwell's place down here, please, James."

"Yessuh." He moved swiftly, carrying her plate and glass, down to the seat beside the head of the table where Heero sat. Duo reached for her silverware and napkin, but Heero's eyes halted her, and James moved these also. Heero stood and seated her once again.

"I suppose this must be contrary to southern etiquette , but I've never had the misfortune of attending finishing school, so I'm afraid I say what I think and do what seem's right."

Heero's mouth twitched. "Two admirable quality's that southern woman disdain."

She savored the pork in raisin sauce and roasted potatoes, than dabbed at her mouth. "It's strange to think that to areas in the same country would be so very different. I wonder what i would be like if i had been raised in the south."

"Southern society would never be the same, I believe." Heero chuckled. "And to shudder to think of what my competition would be."

"Why?"

"If there's one thing irrestitable to a southern gentleman, it's a belle who doesn't fit the mold." He skewered a buttered carrot. "Not that he would marry her, of course. He must be conscious of the future generations and choose a lady of impeccable character and lineage who will bear and raise his children according to the tradition of past generations." He bit the carrot, chewed, then swallowed. "It doesn't necessarily make for happiness, though, and the poor fool spends his life pining for the belle who might have brought him out of all that. It's much freer here."

"That's terrible!"

He startled. "What?"

"That a man would marry for those reasons and then continue longing for someone else."

"Ah but we're a strange breed. And i suppose it's no worse than the customs of the west such as your bargain brides-woman purchased by men they've never met. At least there's a noble cause behind it."

"A noble cause?" Duo felt her ire rise.

"Preservation."

"Of what?"

"Of what matters."

Duo laid down her fork. "Did your parents not love each other?" He wiped the white napkin over his mouth. "I can hardly say from experience, being so young from when my mother died. But my father always spoke of her with tenderness and never choose to remarry. I would have imagined he loved her very much."

"Than what you said is not always that way."

Heero laughed. "I didn't mean to distress you. Of course people marry for love, or at least affection. But sometimes there are strictures that make doing things you desire impossible."

"And you feel that if I were landed in southern society. I maybe quite attractive, but certainly not marriageable."

Heero sobered "I see that my words have been careless. For that I apologize. I never meant any such thing." He paused. "Although i must admit its a rather different world, very closed and self-protecting. What's left of it anyway." He sighed. "I suppose it will soon be like any other place, and none of the things we all thought invoilable will matter anymore."

"That's terribly sad. Has it changed so much since the war?"

"Yes it has." He gazed across the room. "I was fourteen when when my father went to fight. I would of gone too- i was desperate to go-but he'd have none of it. He insisted i stay and care for my sister, Dorothy. Aunt Une and cousin Treize came to stay with us, and at different times, i had house holds of woman in my care. Father knew what he was about."

"It was not on the battle front alone that war raged. I had my hands full of hiding livestock and goods so that we and our neighbors didn't starve. Many a night i trenched the ground behind the houses so that silver and jewelry and heirlooms could be hidden away. Many times i rushed on horseback from plantation to plantation warning that soldiers were coming."

"There were even times I hid the sisters and daughters of confederate soldiers in holes on the swamp because if they were seen the alternative was worse. Everywhere the Yankees came they brought ruin, if they couldn't beat us on the battle field, for sure they could beat us at home, Heero's eyes burned as he remembered all those nightmares. " destroy our property, defile our woman, starve,burn,pillage.

"I think it would have been easier to face the bayonets of the Yankee soldiers than to watch my father's property ravaged and looted by marauding Yankee soldiers wantonly destroying what generations of Yuy's had built."

Duo tried to imagine strangers attacking her home and being helpless to protest. "How did you stand it?"

"What choice did I have? I was charged to protect those in my care. It was a sore trial for a young, able bodied man to remain home, and there was more than one time i nearly slipped away in the night to find a company and join up. My spirit cried out to fight."

"What kept you?"

"Dorothy mainly. She was....It was very hard for her. I recall one raid of the soldiers,very early on. She must of been eleven or twelve....twelve i guess. She had a collection of glass horses very dear to her."

He shook his head. "For sheer cruelty, a soldier smashed them. Not all at once, with a n accidental blow, but one by one as we watched through the crack, holed up in the false back of a wardrobe. I think he knew we were there. My rumored presence made our home a favorite target for marauders, a game to tempt the southern boy to fight. He did it to bait me, and I never before had to had to kept self-control as i did then." His eyes burned. "But i had Dorothy in my arms."

He sat silent a long moment. His temple pulsed. "For days she didn't speak. She gathered the pieces, sorted them out which piece to which horse, and fit them together, though there was no bound to hold them. It was a terrible sight. Had the soldier returned, I would have committed murder, no matter the consequence."

Duo felt his raw pain.

"For what?" He shrugged. "If you think for one moment this war was fought over slavery alone, think again."

"Was your father a slave owner?"

"He was born into it, and the economy demanded it. but our people were well cared for. Almost family. My father saw to their needs as he did to his own children." He rested his forearms against the table edge. " On the day of the presidents emancipation proclamation, he wrote to tell our people that they were free, though many of our neighbors kept it hushed. Even so, not a half of them left us until his death, and James and pearl choose to come out here with me. They are however, compensated."

Duo cringed. "I'm sorry. My remark was careless. But Pearl did call you mastah Heero."

"A title of habit and inflection. Heero motioned and James served the coffee. "You've lived here long?"

"Since I was eight. well, not here actually. Pa came out west with Mr. Chang to prospect Auraria, where where building lots where free for the taking. Mama wasn't crazy about living in a mining camp, and pa wasn't a miner, but i loved it.

"Noin, she's my sister four years older, she cried and cried. I prayed every day that pa wouldn't give up and take us back. My memories of Kansas City were the smell of slaughter houses and too many people. He struck it out until the twin camps merged into Denver City and grew fast enough to support a newspaper. Pa saw his chance. He signed on with the paper.

"Ah." Heero nodded.

"After two years pa was feeling crowded. He filed for a homestead near the town of rocky bluffs-more trading posts than town-but he saw promise. He bought a press of his own and we moved. I was ten, though it seems like I've been here for forever."

Heero's smile was indulgent, and she felt suddenly provincial and backward. "But I've read about so many places. My grandfather works in book publishing, and he sends us books about everywhere, Ever since i was small I've imagined seeing Europe and Africa and China. Wufei and I..." She stopped .

"Go on... Wufei and you." His tone was smooth, but his eyes again were amused.

Well, she'd started it, so she might as well finish. Wufei's family has been our nearest neighbor from the start, and he and i, both being the youngest,spent much of our time together. I made up games, and we playacted. Of course he expected me to be the helpless lady trapped in the jungle, and he the hero who came to my rescue." She laughed.

"Perhaps he didn't know it was playacting, and That's why he took it upon himself to rescue you from my attentions.

Duo dropped her violet eyes. "I suppose That's possible. I wish I'd known he felt that way."

Heero leaned back into his chair and studied her with a crooked smile. "How is it that you didn't?"

"I've always considered him one of the family. He's two months younger, and it was nice to think of him as a little brother. It gave me great license to bully him into giving into my way.

"I don't imagine it took much bullying."

"Maybe not lately, but at first it certainly did."

Heero laughed. "I don't think I'd like to with stand your bullying, myself."

"Well lucky for you, I've out grown it."

"Now that your all of seventeen."

Duo's chin came up. "Actually I'm almost eighteen." She dabbed her mouth with the napkin and pushed her plate away. It was instantly removed by James , whose presence Duo had forgotten, and she blushed at have spoken so freely in front of a total stranger. Mama was right. She did need to learn to hold her tongue and be appropriate. she sighed.

But after all, what was appropriate in this house? Heero didn't converse with the servants, except when something was required, and they didn't participate until called upon. Yet they shared a fondness, she could tell, and pearl had positively glowed when he teased. It was confusing, and she wished she hadn't said some of the things she had, even to Heero. He seemed to draw her out, and let down her guard- not that she had much of a guard as mama would point out. "It's getting late, I should go now."

Heero rose and pulled out her chair. "I'll get your carriage." He paused. "What amuses you?"

"The way you say carriage. It sounds like something for royalty to lurk about in." Duo could have bitten her tongue. Who was she to speak so with him?

He replied slowly, softly. "Perhaps I consider you royalty."

Her chest quickened suddenly at the look in his eyes. Then he turned, and she followed him to the door and out into the night. The sky was sugared with stars, and the air smelt sweet. Heero hitched her mare to the buggy and saddled his own horse.

"You needn't ride along. I know my way well enough."

"Although it stretches propriety to be out with you after dark, I intend to drive you back. This is wild country."

"It's really not necessary."

He tied his horse behind the buggy, placed his hands around her waist, and lifted her onto the seat. Sitting beside him in the dark, Duo fell silent, the night noises creating a sleepy symphony of cricket song and wind in the grass. After the satisfying supper, the rocking of the buggy and the regular 'thunk thunk' of the horse's hooves lulled her. She fought the drowsiness spreading across like a warm quilt, covering her senses. "It must be later than I thought," she murmured.

"We did rather linger over supper. I cant remember enjoying a conversation that much. Perhaps it was the table arrangement. I'll be sure to have it set that way the next time you come."

His words caused that unfamiliar jumping inside, and Duo thought of Wufei's remark. Perhaps she was not taken with Heero Yuy, but it was not out of the realm of possibility. His stiff shirt brushed against her cheek as her head dropped against his shoulder, and she pulled back.

"Rest if you like." He was perfectly at ease, and she wondered if others had slept on his shoulder.

The thought brought her up straight, but she couldn't fight it off for long, she felt her head, once again, lay on the shoulder of Heero Yuy.

In the dark Heero smiled.

 

yatta! i had 11 reviews! wow! gracias! Ja! Lil~ who is currantly very wiped out.