1-19-2004

warnings: a little sap, a little oocness, a few tears...
pairings: 2+1, 3+4
disclaimer: I don't own gundam wing, and i don't own the movie 3 days, i am just barrowing them for this fun and exciting...? crossover of sorts...

authors notes: it's been a while since i have seen the movie 3 Days, so the events that take place are kind slightly out of order... but it's the general idea that i am attempting to go for... umm enjoy?

3 Days

 

Prologue:

I used to hate sun rises. It came to early in the morning for my liking. I'm more of the night owl type, probably even part vampire. The sun to me was just an extremely large and hot flaming ball of fire that provides natural sunlight.

Heero, on the other hand, loves them. He gets up an extra 1/2 hr. before just so he can watch it. He sits out on our apartment balcony, in a reclining fold-up chair, a cup of coffee next to him, and sometimes when it gets cold, he's wrapped in a blanket. He'll watch the sunrise then curl up in his chair 'till I wake him.

He looks so cute and innocent when he's sleeping in his chair. You wouldn't believe the amount of pictures I have of him like that.

After the wars, we decided to get an apartment instead of a house, it wasn't for us. Maybe later on. I work with Hilde as the Heads of a successful small buisness. The only problem is we have to go on alot of trips around the world to keep it running. Because Hee-chan and I weren't alone that much, I started to take the things he did for grantit. HEY! don't look at me like that! I know NOW that I was wrong, and it took Hee-chan's death for me to realize it.

My name's Duo Maxwell and this is my story.....

 

PART 1:

---- 3 days before X-Mas an apartment on Earth ---

'Duo...wakey wakey. Breakfast is ready.'

'Grr...Not now Hee-chan. 'm tir'd.' He snuggled deeper into the blankets. He started laughing hysterically as Heero started tickling him.

'OK!....OK....I'm up!' Laugh.... 'I'm up!' He rolled them over so he was over Heero, 'Hmm.. I have breakfast right here,' and started nibbling his ear to his neck.

'Duo... breakfast...come-on.' He pushed him off and took his hand, leading him to the kitchen. Half way there Duo's cell phone rang. 'I'd better take this... Hello? Hey Hilde.... WHAT!?! You've GOT to be kidding me!... Yeah alright... I'll meet you in an hour at the airport.' He hung up and turned to Heero, '...Hee-chan, Hilde called to tell me that the head of our leading competitor wants to talk about a possible merge... I have to go to L1...'

Heero had an unreadable expression on his face. 'What about Christmas? We still have to pick out our tree!'

'I'll try to be back as soon as I can. But this deal is important to the company.' Duo was out the door before Heero could protest.

Ever since Duo had introduced the other pilots Christmas, they've celebrated it together ever since. Somethimes before hand and others during. They made it a tradition of picking out a tree together and decorating it, then snuggling by the fire with hot coco, and a book. They'd read it together well into the night, until the fire died down and they retired to bed.

Heero wasn't happy about Duo having to leave. They'd had the enitre day planned, Christmas shopping, tree hunting, and dinner reservations with Quatre and Trowa.

'I'd better go call Quatre..... Hey Tro... We're fine, but I have to cancel for dinner again.... Yeah buisness... No you guys go ahead. I'll be fine... I'm sorry. Bye.' He sighed as he hung up.

He quietly cleaned up the dishes and got ready to go shopping. Just because Duo had to go on another buisness trip, didn't mean Heero could sit at home missing him....

--- Duo's Hotel that night---

'Can you believe it Hilde! THis merge will be great for the company!' Duo was in the bathroom getting ready for bed and Hilde was sitting on the bed waiting for him.

The vid-phone rang, 'Hild. could you answer that for me?'

'Hello?'

'Hey Du.... Hilde? I'm sorry they must've given me the wrong room number.'

'No this is Duo's room.' She was smirking. Heero had called to say good night to Duo. He wasn't expecting Hilde to be there..... expecially in what she was wearing....

She had on a silk see-through robe, short pajama shorts pulled up to the point that left nothing to the immagination, and a spigetti strap top, with nothing underneath.

'He's getting ready for bed-' Anything else she was gonna say was cut off because Heero cut the connection.

'Who was that?'

'Oh... Just a wrong number.'

In the bathroom Duo found the picture of him and Heero together that he kept in his suit case. It was the first picture Heero had let anyone take of him, let alone with Duo. Duo was wrapped around Heero from behind, his chin on his shoulder, eyes twinkling and a real smile on his face. Heero had his arms crossed across his chest, a small smile on his lips, and his eyes where softer, not their customary glare.

--- Heero and Duo's apartment ---

Heero brought the tree to the door, when they're neighbor's dog wiggled it's way around his feet and the tree. He picked up the small taco bell dog and brought it back to his owner, 'Here you go Mrs. B. Yeah he is a cute dog. Have a good Holiday, ' he sighed and went to decorate the tree.

The tree itself was slightly taller than him and kinda scrawny when it came to branches. Heero didn't feel that a big tree was necessary when it came to Christmas, as long as you had family and/or friends to share it with you where good. When he saw that tree, it looked alone and knew that nobody would want it. So he bypassed all the big trees, full of pines, rich in color, standing tall, and got the small tree.

After dinner and the tree was nicely decorated, he sat be the fire with a book.

/Hmm../ He called Duo's hotel to say good night, and what he got was definatley not what he was expecting. When Hilde answered the phone he was confused and slightly hurt. Duo would be able to explain when he got back right? He could wait a few days right?

Unfortunately fo Heero, he had an extremely active imagination, and the 'Perfect Soldier' was coming up with all kinds of things Duo and Hilde could/would be doing at the hotel room.

 

PART 2

---X-Mas Eve 11:30 pm. Duo and Heero's apartment---

[I hope Hee-chan likes these flowers...] Duo got out of the cab eager to see Heero. When he got to the apartment the lights were out and it was slightly cold. 'Hee-chan? Are you here? Hee-chan?'

Heero was still on the couch from 3 days ago. He hadn't even moved to rekindel the fire. His imagination had been working in over drive, so when he realized Duo was kneeling in front of him, it took a few minutes for him to calm down.

'Heero? Are you ok?' Duo had concern in his eyes.

/Funny he seems sincere..../ 'Why didn't you return my phone call?' Heero was TO calm.

'Phone call? When did you call?' Strike 1...

'The night you left for L1. I called your room. Hilde answered the phone.'

[She said it was a wrong number...] 'Hee-chan I never got the message...'

'Stop... Just stop.' He got up from the couch and started pacing around the apartment. 'Why exactly was Hilde in YOUR room at that hour. In her pajamas no less?'

'Hee-chan let me expla-'

'Is it me? Are you tired of me? Did I not do something right?' Duo pushed him back against the Isle seperating the kitchenett and living room, and kissed him.

'Hee-chan, calm down. Here let me help you relax...' He kissed him again. Strike 2.

It didn't work though... 'Stop.' Heero pushed him away, 'You always do this... try to make me forget, but it's not going to work this time...' He ran out of the apartment.

Duo stood there for a minute in shock before slamming his fist into the Isle, making a large dent, and running out after Heero.

--- X-Mas Eve 11:57 pm <-- somewhere in the street---

Heero ran, he wasn't sure where, and all he knew was he needed to get away. He heard a bark comming from the street, 'Mozart? What in the world are you doing out here at this hour? Come 'ere. Come on.'

The dog sat down in the street. Heero sighed and went to pick him up.

After everything that had happened ovcer the past few days, over worked his system completely, he didn't notice or hear the semi until it was to late. It also help that the driver wasn't paying any attention to the road....

For Duo everything happened in slow motion. He saw the truck, then saw Heero...

'Hee-chan!!! NOOOO!' He ran to Heero's body, 'Hee-chan come on, wake up. Please.' There was no pulse,and Heero wasn't opening his eyes. Duo didn't hear the ambulance when it came, and he didn't want to let go of Heero for the parametics. He was completly numb inside and out as the church bells struck mid-night. All he knew was that his Hee-chan was gone.

Strike 3.... you're out.

In the hospital he sat by Heero's bed. Nobody came into the room, and there was no steady beat of a heart monitor. There wasn't much the doctors could do and it was to little to late.

'Hee-chan.... I'm so sorry. This is all my fault... I'm sorry.' The nurse came in a few hour later and helped Duo out of the room. He still couldn't feel anything as he walked back to the apartment building.

'What the hell?' The key wasn't working. 'Great, this is JUST great!' He threw his arms up in the air and turned around, only to notice a 24 hr. locksmith store. He blinked but didn't say anything about it, he just went in.

'Umm... Hello?'

'Ahh. I've been waiting for you.'

'Do I know you?'

'Nope. My name is Odin. Let me guess.... your key doesn't work for your apartment right Duo?'

[Why does that name sound familiar?] 'How do you know my name?'

'That's for me to know and you to wonder about.'

'Look, I'm really not in the mood for games.'

'This isn't a game, just a statement of fact. Besides, you always used to love these kinds of games.'

'Oh really?'

'What are you doing out at this hour anyway? It IS Christmas Eve.'

'That's really NONE of your buisness.'

'Lose someone close to you?'

'YES ok?'

'Well SOMEONE is a bit touchy.'

'Look, can you fix the key or not?'

'That depends on you.'

'What?'

'Did you love him?'

'Yes, what kind of question is that?'

'Well, what happened?'

'What?'

'Why'd he die?'

'How did my personal life turn into a game of 20 questions?'

'JUST answer the question.'

'He was hit by a truck earlier tonight.'

'Oh, let me guess. You two had an argument over something and he walked out.'

'Sort of. He thought I was cheating on him.'

'Where you?'

'No!! I would NEVER do something like that!'

'But you were thinking about it....'

Duo knew he was caught, so he just looked away.

'That's what I thought.'

'But I didn't. I LOVE Heero with all my heart.'

'Did he know that? Did you tell him that alot? When was the last time he heard those words from your mouth? When was the last time you saw him watch a sunrise? When was the last time you two had dinner with your friends?'

Duo thought back... When was the last time he'd done any of those things.... Reality came crashing down like a ton of bricks thrown off 4 stacked up Gundams..... TOO long.

'Oh....God... What have I done....? Why are you here!?!?! To stomp on my already torn out heart!?!?!?!?'

'Well, if you MUST know, my job here is to give you a second chance. But frankly I don't think you deserve one.'

It took Duo a minute to comprehend what he was saying. 'A second chance?'

'Yeah. Give you a chance to make-up for being such a bastard. The only thing is Heero will die, just like he's suppost to. Sametime, same place.'

'How long?'

'Lets see, your latest fiasco started 3 days ago. So you can start there. Plus he won't remeber anything about dying. It'll be like nothing happened for him. But you'll remeber everything.'

'That's not enough time!'

'Either take it or leave it. Now I personally would want a loved one to die knowing that they were loved.'

Duo nodded.

'Good, Here catch.' He threw him a Gold Key, 'This'll open the building for you. You should get some sleep, you only have 3 days.....'

As Duo made the trek back to his apartment, he wondered about what the guy in the shop had said. When he got to the door of the hotel he tried the key and sure enough it opened. He turned back to the store, and it wasn't there. So instead of going back to investigate, he just ran inside. It had been to long of a night and he couldn't deal with anymore weird stuff right now without seriously hurting someone or something.

Instead of lying in the bed he curled up in a small ball on the couch staring at the books Heero had left on the table. [Was this what it was like for him? Thinking that I wouldn't be coming back? Or what would happen if I did?] He eventually made it to his bedroom and empty bed. He curled up around Heero's pillow on Heero's side of the bed. Dreams of the accident and the hotel were the last things he saw before sleep finally overcame him....

~~~~

'Who called?' Duo was just wearing his pajama bottoms as he walked out of the bathroom.

'It was just a wrong number. You look tense. Come here and I'll give you a message.' Duo sat on the edge of the bed, Hilde kneeling behind him started to work at his shoulders, getting rid of the tension he felt from the day. [Heero loves to do this....]

When Hilde's intentions became suggestive and slightly seductive, a picture of Heero flashed through his mind and he tensed up again... [WAIT! What am I doing!?!?]

'Hilde stop.'

'Why did I do something wrong Duo?'

'Look I think you have the wrong intensions for being here right now. I love Heero and I'm sorry if I lead you on or anything like that. This is strickly a buisness trip for me.'

'Yeah but it's not like he'd find out or anything.' She wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

'I think you should go. Now.' He grabbed her arm and pulled her to the door, 'Goodnight Hilde.'

As the door was shut, the dream changed to the accident....

'HEE-CHAN!!!! NOOOO! Duo saw the truck as it hit Heero full force. He SAW his body as it went flying back in the air. He could smell the blood, a smell that he was all to used to smelling, but not wanting to comprehend it. He could hear the driver trying to talk to him, but not egknowledging his presence as important.

'Why Duo?' The voice was faint but still audible enough for him to here it, although if it was part of the dream or something else was a mystery to him. 'Why?'

 

Part 3:

Duo woke with a start the next morning. He didn't really remember falling asleep on the bed though. His last coherent thought was missing Heero and passing out on the couch. He quickly came back to the present, a small bit of hope slipping through his barriers.

Duo sat up suddenly and frankically searched the room for any traces that Heero might have been there.....

Nothing.

The room looked exactly like it always had. That small bit of Hope crumbled away painfully as he fell back onto the bed. He layed there for a few minutes when he heard an extremely quiet noise, which, had he not been a Gundam Pilot, he would've missed completely.

He quickly got out of bed, and went down the hall towards the kitchen, not even bothering to throw clothes on over his boxer only clad body, and not making a sound. He looked into the kitchenette...... and gasped.

Heero was at the counter getting their breakfast together, when he sensed, more than heard, Duo come out of the hall. When he heard the gasp he turned to him.

'Duo?... What's wrong?... Why are you so pale?'

Duo was in shock, to say the least, he didn't move, breath or talk... he just stared.

/Hee-chan... but he.... here..../ He couldn't compute the information into his mind.

'Duo?' Heero put down what he was working on and went over to him. 'Are you feeling well?' He placed a hand on Duo's forehead.

That action seemed to break the spell. He took the said hand off his head and placed it over his heart. 'Your.... here....' Duo was still mystified.

'Du-mphfo.' His question was again unanswered, but this time because he was being frankically kissed. He pulled away when the smell of buring eggs filled his senses. When he turned back to the stove, Duo wrapped himself around him from behind, with his head resting right on top of Heero's.

'Your real... Your here!'

'Where else would I be baka?' Heero's innocent slightly joking but still confused answer brought back the memories of the accident to Duo's mind. Including that weird conversation he had with the.... locksmith?.....

'3 days!' He suddenly let go of Heero and started pacing.

'Hmm?' Heero turned from the stove and watched the picular behavior of his other half. 'Why are you acting so strangely?'

Duo stopped pacing and came right up to him, 'Let's take a vacation, go anywhere you want.'

'What?'

'No, I'm serious. When was the last time we've been on a vacation.'

Before Heero could answer the phone rang. Duo made no move to anser it.

'Shouldn't you get that?' It was Duo's work line.

The phone kept ringing..... 'Duo... what's wrong?' He always answered that phone, no matter the time.

Heero moved to anwser it, but Duo suddenly moved faster and picked it up, 'Hello?..... Oh... Hey Hilde...-' Heero was getting more and more confused. Duo's behavoir was extremely strange.... even for him...

'...No..... No I'm OK.... yeah... So why'd you call?.... Really?' Heero noted that something was off about his voice.

'L1?... Now?'

/Oh... that's probably why. He's gonna cancel ag-/ Heero's thoughts saddened.

'I can't go.'

/WHAT?/ He mirred Hilde, not even realizing it.

'...No... You can take care of it... Then make him wait until AFTER Christmas....'

/Duo NEVER does that.../ Heero's confusion hightened another notch.

'Look, I have to go. Tell me about the details to whatever you decided... AFTER Christmas.... Bye Hilde.' Duo hung up and turned off the ringer. At this point completely, utterly, and totally perplexed didn't even BEGIN to describe what Heero felt.

'Well Hee-chan? Where'd'ya wanna go for vacation?'

Heero just stood there looking at Duo like he'd grown a couple extra heads. 'Who are you and what have you done with the braided baka Duo?'

Duo noted that he didn't say [MY] Braided Baka, giving him an idea as to how much he needed to do to make things right between them. 'It's still me Hee-chan, see?' He kissed him thoroughly, pulling him close.

'mmm,' Heero pulled out of the kiss slightly out of breath, 'Why are you acting so strange Duo?'

Duo was slightly hurt by that but didn't show it, 'When was the last time we ever went somewhere, just the 2 of us? Pick anywhere on the Earth or Colonies that you wanna go, and we're there. Just you and me. Whatever you wanna do for as long as you want.'

Heero noted that he was avoiding the question, 'Anywhere I want to go?'

'Yep this Chirstmas, everthing is yours.'

'No matter what?'

'If you wanted to go Sky Diving in the Artic, I'd go get a plane right now.... I hear Mars is nice this time of year... Maybe we could even go visit Zechs and Noin... see how they're doing.'

Mars was also the farthest you could get away from Earth without going into Deep Space for months on end. Heero also knew that Duo wasn't to fond of Zechs and Noin, although he couldn't figure out why... maye it was cause they were related to Relena... But it could have been anything.

'Ok... I just have to make a quick phone call.... why don't you pack some of our stuff.'

Duo was curious to what Heero had in mind, but didn't question him.

---3 hrs. later on a train----

'Hee-chan.... Why'd you have to pick HERE of all places?' Duo whined. Where they were going was the LAST place he wanted to be.

'Didn't you say ANYWHERE? I wanted to go? Or are you going back on your word?'

'NO!!.... I... I mean....' Duo sounded strange again... 'I want to take you somewhere... Away form the apartment ya'know?... Just you and me....So I can show you how much I Love you.' He had been saying that all morning.

'......Aa...' was his only reply.

-----

'Heero! Duo! How are you? Why the sudden change of plans?' Quatre and Trowa met up with them at the station. The original plan was for them to go visit them at their apartment, but Heero had called them asking if they could change the plans. Quatre noticed something was wrong with Heero, but didn't ask him about it over the phone. He would tell them if anyting was wrong later when they had a minute to talk. Heero didn't like talking abot personal stuff over phones, if it could be done in person. Somethings never change.

Trowa nodded in greeting to them.

'Will you be staying at the Estate with us? There's plenty of extra rooms, and the little ones will be so happy to see you.'

'NO!' Duo was getting jumpy again, 'I... I mean... not that it wouldn't be nice, but we have reservtions at the bed and breakfast. So we can have more private time.'

The 'little ones' Quatre was talking about, were the orphans from the local orphanage. Ever holiday Quatre and Trowa invited them to the Estate for a big celebration. They also send out presents to other orphanages that were farther way.

Duo's sudden reply caught Quatre off guard. He usually loved seeing the children when they came to visit. Even though said visits were few and very far between. Quatre sensed something was definately off about Duo, but he couldn't quite put his hand on it. He much much to frantic about something, although Quatre couldn't figure out why.

'Well at least let us give you a ride up there.' Trowa also felt something was off and it might help if they could get it out in the open, or at least figure out what it was.

The ride to the bed and breakfast was.... different...

It started out with just friendly catch up, but whenever it got to something about what was going on with Duo and/or Heero, Duo quickly steer the conversation way from that subject. After a bit Heero just stopped listening to what was being said, and turned his attention to the window. If any of them noticed, they didn't comment. The rest of the ride was spent in a slightly uncomfortable silence.

-----

'Duo, you didn't have to be rude to them you know. They only offered for us to stay with them.' Heero was sitting on the edge of the bed as Duo hurridly arranged and rearranged all his clothes, trying to find something to change into.

'We made these reservations though. I didn't want to have to change them again. I didn't mean to be rude Hee-chan. I'm sorry.'

'It's not me you should be appologizing to.'

/If only you knew how wrong you were Hee-chan/ 'And I will when we see them for dinner tomarrow night. I Promise not to be rude either.'

Heero looked at him for a long moment before nodding.

'What would you like to do for dinner tonight Hee-chan? There's a nice Japanese Resturant not to far from here.' Heero noted that Duo was efficently changing the subject.....again...

'Actually, I'd like it if we could just stay in tonight. Have a nice quiet dinner with just us. A small fire going.... If that's ok....'

'Hey remember what I said Hee-chan. Whatever you want.' Duo made the call to room service, then got the fire going in the fire place. he found a lite classics station and put that on for background. It reminded Duo of something important.

'Dance with me Hee-chan?' He held his hand out for Heero. Something flashed in Heero's eyes, but it was quickly hidden. Duo wasn't even sure if it was a trick of the light or if it was real. He gracefully excepted the extended hand, with the smallest glint of a spark in his eye.

They started their dance at the proper distance apart, Heero's arms around Duo's neck, but he was slightly tense. Duo had his hands gently hold his waist. As the songs progressed they became closer together, their bodies barely moving. With a small sigh Heero relaxed completely against Duo and placed his head on the junction between his neck and shoulder. Duo placed his head over Heero's and his hands completely encircled him from behind, gently rubbing his back and sides in a relaxing jesture.

But while Heero seemed to be relaxed on the outside, on the inside he was running on over drive. Most of his thoughts were trying to figure out what Duo was up to, and most of his theories had dark conclusions. He didn't want to bring up the subject again, for fear of Duo getting angry(ier?) at him, and avoiding the question. He either did that or said how much he loved him, then changed the subject completely.

/Why was Duo doing all this? Was he trying to redeem himself for always being away?

Had he finally tired of having me around and the buisness trips were just an excuse to be away?

Was he trying to see if he still has feelings for me?

Did he do something wrong and is now doing this to feel less guilty?

Who is he trying to convice when he says the 'You know I love you right?''s Is he trying to convice either himself or me that there might be hope for a second chance?

Did I show to much disappointment when he went on the buisness trips for days/weeks on end?

Was it not enough?

Did I not keep the house clean enough .... was it my cooking?.../

Heero managed to stop his train of thinking before it got to the point were he would cry. He never showed that much weakness, especially infront of Duo. He didn't need more reasons for Duo to....

Heero sighed and relaxed. If Duo wanted to tell him he was leaving... or worse... then he would enjoy this last bit of time with him, while he could.

Besides... he didn't know how much time he would have left.....

 

Part 4a:

As the sun peaked over the horizen, it swept through the room, illuminating everything it touched with it's soft presence. Duo sat watching how said beams of light danced across his koi's face. Strangely though Heero hadn't risen with the sun like he usually would.

Duo had gotten a very small measure of sleep that night, instead choosing to stay awake and just look at Heero. Something he hadn't done since the first war. He realized how much his koi had grown up since then, and filled out in all the right places. He noticed how Heero twitched his nose slightly as he slept, and how his hair didn't seem as wild, but framed his peaceful face just right, giving him an even more aluring look than ever before. It also made him much more mysterious. Duo watched everything about him, engraving the image in his mind.

Well he was until he felt a strange sensation, making him want to go to the window. He carefully extracted himself from Heero, to go see what was so important. Strangely though Heero still didn't wake, but he did make a sad face and cuddle closer to Duo's pillow.

The owner of said pillow was torn between going to the window or crawling back under the covers. However something inside was telling him that this was important. He brushed Heero's bangs away from his face and kissed his forehead. Heero still didn't want to wake up, but the sad lookvanished almost completely, to be replaced by his peacefull sleeping expression. Duo continued over to the window, what he say made him want to gasp, but he restrained himself at the last minute.

Outside standing on the walkway was the strange locksmith and a small boy that looked surprisingly like ..../Solo/.....

/But he's.... dead....it can't be.../ Duo grabbed a pair of pants and boots completely forgetting about his jacket.

'Do you htink he's gonna come?'

'He'll be here.. just give him some time.' As the small boy finished speaking the front dorr of the bed and breakfast opened and out came Duo clad in a t-chirt, pants and boots, his hair still braided from before.

"You!! What in the world are YOU doing here? What now you stalk people you grant wishes to?"

"Don't push it brat, I'm still against this wish. I personally think Heero deserves better.. but since he fell for you.. We're trying to give you a chance to not mess up again. And frankly so far you're doing a really crappy job." The locksmith.. Odin?.. seemed pissed at Duo.

"Yeah well I am trying the best I can here."

"Well for once your best isn't good enough."

Duo growled.

"Hey! Cool it you two!"

Duo noted for the first time that the small blonde boy was standing there. He just stared... /Solo?.... It's can't be.../

"Geez Duo.. you look like you've seen a ghost or something...''

"S...Solo?"

"And who else would I be?"

The weather suddenly wasn't felt as Duo went numb inside. He knelt down on the sidewalk, not caring about anything except the small figure in front of him. He went to put a hand on the boy's shoulder, but Solo pulled away before he could.

"Sorry D. can't touch. It's a rule.' He had an appologetic look on his pale face.

"Hey snap out of it down there!" Odin seemed to be loosing what was left of his patience.

Duo on the other hand, snapped out of the trance type state he was in and stood up. The weather once again making itself known, full force. "What do you mean another chance?" The earlier conversation coming back to him.

"Maybe give you advice on how to not screw up anymore?" Odin was still really pissed at how Duo was handling the wish, so he was being very sarcastic.

"Frankly Duo I have to agree with Odin on this. You're not doing a very good job here."

"I need more time! It took me a hell of a lot more than 3 days to get Heero to open up to me the first time. This isn't very different!"

"Oh Really? So you're saying that he's STILL an emotionless soldier?" Odin was getting a bit angrier.

Duo noticed the anger washing off the spirit in waves. He had the deceny to look a bit afraid and flinch back slightly.

"It's not that... it's just..." He wasn't sure how to explain the situation to them. After takign a few seconds to gather his thoughts he proceeded. He looked right into Odin's eyes as he talked, not once breaking eye contact, to show the sincerity of his words. The fact that Odin was dead never really got put into play. It was like he was really there, just another person talking to him on the street.

“Heero’s not an emotionless soldier, he never was, at least I never saw him that way. He’s strong in mind and body, determined, loyal and dedicated to a worthy cause. That’s what I fell in love with. He’s also gentle and has this childlike innocence about things, which I also love about him. I guess I started to take him for granted when I realized that he loved me enough to want to stay... when I realized he wasn’t going to die and leave me like everyone else I loved.... I didn’t realize how much I was hurting him though. I love him with all my soul, I really do. But it’s gonna take me longer than three days to make this up all my mistakes to Hee-chan. I need more time... please.” The last word was barely a whisper.

Odin didn’t say anything at first... he seemed to be considering something.

“Well Odin?” Solo sounded hopeful about something.

“Fine... but I am agreeing under slight protest.” With that he just disappeared.

Solo sighed. Duo blinked, “Agree to what?”

“Look .... Duo... there is a way for you to save Heero’s life. -” Duo cut him off looking hopeful, “Really? How? I’ll do anything!!”

“You have to give Heero the Ultimate Gift. Something so special that it’ll take away an doubts and fears about you not loving him.”

“What is this Ultimate Gift?”

“I can’t tell you... you have to figure it out on your own.. Look, I have said to much already..You should get inside before you catch your death with a cold... Good bye Duo... Until we meet again.” With that he also just disappeared.

“S..Solo? NO!! Wait!!!” But it was to late he was gone. The wind picked up again and Duo ran inside muttering about ghosts and their stupid need to be mysterious.

When he got back to the room, he didn’t dare jump back into bed, for fear of waking Heero. So he just sat next to him, on a chair - watching him - something he hadn’t done in a long time.

Heero awoke a little while later, noticing he was alone in bed /was it all a dream?/ He sensed someone watching him and he turned towards said person. “Duo? Why are you sitting over there?”

“I had to get up for a second, and I didn’t want to wake you up when I got back. Besides I never get to watch you sleep anymore.” Duo scooted closer to the bed and reached over to push some of the bangs away from Heero’s face. When said hand touched Heero’s face, he shivered involuntarily.

“Duo Your FREEZING! What were you doing? Standing outside in your boxers?” He pulled Duo under the covers with him, rubbing his arms in an attempt to warm him up.

Duo just chuckled, “Umm.. well actually it was a T-shirt, pants and boots.....”

“Baka.. Were you TRYING to kill yourself?” /pleasedontsayyespleasedontsayyes..../

“Of course not Hee-chan. Why would I want to do something like that?”

Heero didn’t say anything in return to that, he just kept trying to warm Duo up.

“...So what do you have planned for us today Hee-chan?”

“I haven’t thought about it... Could we just tour the town a bit? See what’s changed since we last visited?” /since the wars.../

“Hey, this vacation is all for YOU remember? Anything YOU want to do. That sounds like fun... And we can go to the park - see some of the kids.”

They just laid in bed cuddling for a bit longer then got up for the day of ‘exploring’ that was ahead. Duo was DETERMINED to not screw-up today, like he had yesterday and all those times before. But little did he know, that fate, or as he would later think - a meddling spirit, would get in the way.

---Around Noonish---

“Hey Hee-chan, are you getting hungry at all? I saw this great little place right down the road is you wanna stop for lunch.”

“Sure.” Duo and Heero had been walking around the town for most of the morning. They had done some window shopping but not much else. Heero seemed hesitant about something but Duo wasn’t sure what.

When they reached the resturant Duo realized that he hadn’t held Heero’s hand while they had wlaked around the town. At the end of the war whenever they went out, Duo always held the Japanese pilot’s hand - no matter the looks they got from people. Duo always glarred right back and held Heero’s hand tighter. That small gesture always spoke volumes of how he felt towards Heero. Duo vowed to do it after they left the resturant.

/Is that what’s bothering him?/ Duo pulled out Heero’s chair for him, then sat down himself ignoring the few strange looks he got from some of the customers.

As they were waiting for their food, Duo pulled out a small box and handed it to Heero.

“What is this?”

“An early Christmas present... Go on open it.”

“Oh my gosh... Duo.... When did you .... Where... How....?”

“Duo you like it?” Inside the box was a small crystal folphin splashing above the waves. “I got it earlier when we were looking around. I slipped into the store while you were looking at the books.. Are you mad?”

“No.. Duo... you didn’t have to get me this...”

“But I want to show you how much I love you Hee-chan..”

/He’s doing that again..../ “Aa.”

Just then their food arrived and they started eating.

Halfway through the meal Heero spoke up... although he seemed sorta hesitant... “Duo... There is one place I want to go before we leave...”

“Where is that Hee-chan?”

“I was thinking we could stop by and see Wufei... we haven’t seen him since the wa-”

“What!? You want us to actually go see that two timing... backstabbing...”

“Duo stop it! Just because he switched sides during the wars doesn’t make him the enemy.”

“He tried to kill you for gods’ sake! There is no way we’re going there. No and I mean it.” Heero just gave him a look, got up and left - not once saying a word.

Duo was pissed, it was only lunch time and he was already screwing up.

“Kuso!” He threw his fork down, left a lot of money on the table and went after Heero. “Which way did he go?”

Duo was looking around frantically when he heard a familiar voice, “Duo, honey, you need to calm down.”

Duo froze... /It can’t be.../ “Sis...Sister Helen?” He turned around and came face to face with another face that haunted his nightmares.

"No Duo this is not a dream. I am really here, just like Solo was."

Duo was speechless; he felt his anger slowly drain only to be replaced by confusion and sadness.

"Duo what happened to you? You've changed so much... why?" He looked away suddenly not feeling very much on anything except shame.

"I...I don't know... I'm really trying Sister Helen.. but I can't seem to do anything right. I got Hee-chan a present then I went and yelled at him."

"Maybe you are trying to hard?"

"What!? how?"

"Honey, think back to when you and this boy started going out, what did you do?"

Duo thought back, and without even realizing it started talking with a small smile and a glow in his eyes. "...I always held his hand when we went places - even if it was up to the office at work.. Hee-chan loves to cuddle, he always said it made him feel safe and warm... I loved to hold him because I wanted to protect him from the world and his nightmares.. I always told him how much I loved him and he would give me a small smile... he loves to watch the sun rise... I have so many pictures of him curled in the chair on our balcony asleep after he watched the sun..."

"So why did you stop? And why aren't you doing those things now?"

"What?"

"Look back on what you just told me and compare it to how you have been acting these past two days. You haven't held his hand to one place you've gone. You've been snapping at your friends AND him. When was the last time you watched him/the sunrise together? When was the last time you talked with your friends in person? How has he been responding to your declarations of love? Do you even know why he's reaction is so different?"

Duo shook his head slightly.

“These past two days when ever you said anything remotely loving and endearing it’s been said frantically with a strange gleam in your eye… it’s like you’re trying to convince yourself just as much as him. It’s like you are trying to convince yourself that you do *still* love him. Anything endearing that you have done, like dancing last nite, cuddling this morning, the present you gave him… they’ve all been spoiled because of how you expressed your love.”

Duo winced as her words hit home and looked away again. /How am I ever going to fix this?/

“Duo look at me.” He slowly raised his gaze to her face, surprised to see the loving expression she always had instead of disappointment.

“Why can’t you just be yourself? Be the person that Heero fell in love with... not this stranger he is with now.”

“But -”

“Don’t worry about how much time you have left with him. If you do that then you’ll never be able to give him the Ultimate Gift… Now… he’s on his way to the park.” With that said she slowly disappeared.

“No! Wait!” It was too late, she was gone. Duo took a minute to try and comprehend what the spirit had told him. /They’re right, I keep trying to hard and I’m just pushing him away. I can’t believe this. I have to try harder! No wait! Sister Helen said I shouldn’t try harder… Just be me… I can do this… I HAVE to do this./ With those thoughts he ran to the park. The wind picked up as he ran. He thought he heard Sister Helen’s voice whisper through the wind “/Good luck little one./”

----

Duo turned the corner and stopped short. Heero was just ahead walking slowly with his arms crossed and head bowed. Duo walked fast enough to catch up with him, without running. When he did catch up, he fell into step with the man that held his heart, and looked at the ground as well. If Heero noticed the approach, which he probably did, he didn’t say anything about it, but he also didn’t turn in another direction either, so Duo took that as a good sign.

Neither man spoke, each for his own reasons, for about 5 minutes, when Duo was unable to take the silence any longer.

“Hee-chan, I wan to apologize for what I said about visiting Wufei.” Heero just kept walking, not bothering with any kind of acknowledgements. Duo was semi sure he was listening so he went on, “When you said that, it took me by surprise and I was wrong to snap at you like that.”

Again no response.

Duo stopped walking and pulled Heero to a stop as well, turning him so they were face to face. Heero moved with Duo’s hold, but he still wouldn’t look him in the eye. However, Duo was not deterred.

“Hee-chan, I am so sorry about the way I have been acting, and there is no excuse for it, I have been a stubborn, bull-headed, idiotic jerk, feel free to stop me at anytime… I have been rude to out friends and to you, and I haven’t been a good husband either. I am not asking for you to forgive me right now, that is up to you when and where and how. And about visiting Wufei, I know you want to, so I am willing to give it a try, for you. Ok?”

Heero hadn’t looked Duo in the eye for fear of seeing the look that had been Duo’s facial expression for the past few days. However, he did glance at his face through his bangs a couple times, when Duo wasn’t aware, and he didn’t see the look. All he saw was sincerity in Duo’s eyes and a gentle expression on his face. At the end of the speech Heero cautiously looked into Duo’s eyes and still only saw the sincerity. Without a word he hugged Duo, laying his head on his shoulder. Duo hugged him back fiercely silently thanking every higher being he could for another chance.

Heero pulled away, still not saying anything, but gazing into Duo’s eyes, searching for something he hadn’t seen in a long time. He eventually liked what he saw and gave Duo a small smile. Duo own smile widened and he kissed Heero’s forehead, taking his koi’s hand in his own. Heero’s smile grew just a little bit at the gesture, but most wouldn’t have noticed.

Duo wasn’t one of those people.

They walked at a leisurely pace towards the sounds of laughter and joy of children’s voices.

-----

The park was close to the estate where Quatre and Trowa held the parties for the children. So the children would spend their afternoons in the park then go to the house for hot coco, a big dinner, and then the occasional party. The children were becoming more and more fond of the couple, and started to go visit them more often. The ex-pilots didn’t mind, it was always fun to have the kids there, so they extended it to an open invitation.

At the moment a handful of the orphans between the ages of 6 and 9, were building a fort out of the large pile of snow – left from the more recent shoveling of the sidewalks – and having a large snowball fight.

The fort itself consisted of a small tunnel going straight through the center and a level snowed area on top for the tower. The youngest of the group, a boy barely turned 6, was currently standing on top, throwing small snowballs at the older kids, who were laughing and running around. A girl and another boy were playing tag, the girl was it. She was attempting to catch the boy and followed him through the tunnel. She was about halfway through when the youngest boy on top managed to hit the oldest of the bunch. He was so excited that he managed to hit an older person; he started jumping up and down on the fort.

Now, seeing as how this fort was made entirely of snow, and there was a tunnel going straight through the center, one can imagine what happened next. The little boy on top jumped one to many times, and the entire fort caved in – right on top of the little girl.

Total elapse time: 6 minutes.

----- 5 minutes earlier -----

As Duo and Heero walked hand in hand towards the happy children, Duo decided to see if Heero would talk to him. “The children do sound happy – I wonder what they’re doing?”

Instead of answering right away, Heero had an idea. He unintwined his hand and bent down to make it look like he needed to tie his boot. Duo stopped walking and was slightly curious why Heero would be retying hisboot. Heero very casually picked up a handful of snow, turned around and threw it at Duo, hitting him smack dab in the chest – getting snow all over his jacket.

“I believe they’re having a snowball fight,” Heero’s eyes were twinkling as he turned and started walking again.

Duo was in a state of shock, which is a nice way of putting that he was gaping with a complete look of disbelief covering his face. He definitely wasn’t expecting *that* from Heero – not that he was complaining. He just stood there like that for about a minute not making a single move, /Heero… Hee-chan just threw a snow ball at me…/

His mind was having slight difficulty processing that bit of information.

Heero’s eyes were twinkling again as he grabbed some more snow, “You know, the act of taking snow, making it into a ball, and throwing it at your desired target…” He took aim and got Duo right in the mouth.

That certainly got a reaction out of Duo. In his mind that annoying little voice that pops out at the most unusual times took that moment to appear. /And you’re going to let him get away with that? /

Duo’s eyes took on an impish gleam and he smiled, “You are *so* gonna get it…”

Heero’s eyes flashed, he grinned, and he took off towards the kids, not running at full speed because of the snow. Duo took of after him – at full speed, not really caring about slipping all over the snow, and tackled his snow throwing koi to the ground, pinning him there and tickling him mercilessly.

“Duo!” Heero started laughing. After a few minutes, Heero managed to dislodge his lover’s hands from tickling him and entwined their hands together. Heero was panting slightly, trying to catch his breath, is face inches away from Duo’s. They gazed into each other’s eyes – neither one able to look away. Their faces slowl got closer together. However before they could reach their goal – screams of terror and cries for help collided with their ears.

Without a word, they both jumped up and ran towards the cries. They no longer carried their guns – so they would have to resort to hand-to-hand combat if necessary. They reached the children, who were circled around the fort trying to pull the 6 yr. old out of where he collapsed into the middle. The oldest spotted them and pointed to where the tunnel was supposed to be, “Becky! She’s trapped!” One of the littler boys was trying to dig her out. Heero went to the little boy on the top, still stuck in the collapsed fort and pulled him out after a few tugs.

“Are you OK?” The boy was crying, scared out of his mind, and shaking badly. Heero pulled the snow soaked jacket off him and gave the boy his own, pulling him into a hug to try to get him warmed up.

Duo went to where the other boy was attempting to dig up Becky, picked him up, and moved him out of the way. He dug twice as fast and pulled more snow out. Her legs became visible and he grabbed them, pulling her out. She was on her stomach so he turned her over and noticed she wasn’t breathing. He checked for a pulse and felt none. He started CPR.

Heero moved to his other side, still carrying the boy, and looked at the girl. She reminded him so much of that other little girl… He hugged the little boy tighter. The oldest of the children had moved the other children over to the swings so they were out of the way of the adults. After 30 seconds of CPR, the little girl was still not breathing.

“Come on… Don’t you dare die…”

Neither pilot noticed the tall man that was standing behind the other children.

“Please… not her too… Please.”

Duo would not give up. All rational thought told him the girl was not coming back. However the look on Heero’s face made him keep trying. The guilt, agony, pain, and fear were evident in his eyes, and his silent pleas were stinging his ears. They were so much like the pleas he had said when Heero’s accident happened. It strengthened his resolve for everything. Keeping this girl alive and gaining back all the ground he had lost with Heero. He was NOT going to give up.

Neither pilot noticed when the man smiled giving a small nod, and a push to another young spirit.

The girl suddenly gasped for breath on her own and started coughing. Duo stopped giving her CPR and sat her up. She was still extremely pale and shivering uncontrollably. She turned to Heero when she finally caught her breath, “They’re waiting for you. They said it was almost time.”

Heero was dumbfounded, “Who is waiting?”

He looked at Duo, but Duo was not looking at him, he paled considerably and was looking at the little girl. “The angels. They said they were waiting for you to come back.”

Heero was shocked. /Angels…? What? Who? /

Duo was looking around the playground, looking for someone, or something. His eyes fell on a familiar figure. Odin was standing there, a small smile on his lips. What the smile was for, Duo did not know. He let Odin see his determination through his eyes. Odin smiled a little wider, and disappeared.

Duo did as Heero, giving the girl his jacket and pulling her to his chest. Duo looked at Heero over the top of the girls head, relief and a bit of fear for his koi, showing in his eyes. There was something else in his eyes, but Duo decided to wait until there were alone to ask about it.

Still holding the two children, they lead the other kids to the estate, so they could get them some medical attention if needed.

After spending about two hours with Trowa, Quatre, and the small band of children – making sure they were all ok, Duo and Heero said their good byes and promises of being back for dinner.

-----

Once they were a couple streets away from the children Duo noticed some of the color returning to Heero’s features. Despite the cold weather, Heero had become uncharacteristically pale when he heard the words of that little girl.

Duo squeezed his hand reassuringly, “Are you ok Hee-chan?” He knew the playful mood Heero was in earlier was not going to be coming back anytime soon.

“I… she, the little girl… Angels? She wasn’t serious right? I mean, she… she was just delusional right? There’s not really such a thing as Angels is there?” There was a desperate pull in Heero’s voice, which Duo wasn’t sure how to respond to. A part of him wanted to reassure Heero that everything was ok and that there was no way he was going to let anything happen to him. Yet another part wanted to tell Heero everything and then reassure him that there was no way he was going to let anything happen to him. Duo looked Heero straight in the eye, he couldn’t lie, and he couldn’t tell Heero everything either.

“Hee-chan there’s always the possibility that angels do exist. I mean just because something can’t be seen doesn’t mean it’s not there. Hey, what’s wrong? Why is this bothering you?” Duo moved a little closer and rubbed Heero’s arms.

That wasn’t the answer Heero was looking for. “/they can’t be real. It can’t be true. She must have been wrong. I can’t go to… to Hea-… I can’t go there. I don’t deserve it. /” Heero didn’t’ realize that he was voicing his thought until Duo pulled him into a crushing embrace, “You’re wrong Heero, you do deserve to go to heaven, whether you believe it or not. You are the kindest hearted, loving, caring person I have ever met. You made mistakes, everyone does, but you are always beating yourself up over them, and it eats you up inside, I know it does. But that doesn’t make you undeserving, it makes you Human. I know you didn’t have a chance at a childhood, and you were hurt but that doesn’t make you undeserving either.”

He tilted Heero’s head so he could look him in the eye, “Hee-chan you deserve to be happy, and I am going to give you as much opportunities as I can to make you happy, and make you see how deserving you are. I love you Hee-chan, and I hate to see you sad, or when you have nightmare. There has to be a heaven, cause I know for a fact that is where you are going to end up. Cause I know you. However there is no way I am going to let you get away from me anytime soon to find this all out for yourself.”

As Heero listened to what Duo was telling him, he was in a state of disbelief, there was no way what Duo was saying could be true, but that small annoying little voice made a valid point before disappearing to his subconscious state again. /Duo never lies. It goes against his beliefs/.

When Duo tilted his head to see his face, Heero was again afraid of what he would see in Duo’s expression. But the look that Heero was expecting was not the one that was situated on his koi’s face. Duo had the same look as when they were talking in the park. His expression was gentle, caring, and full of sincerity. It did a lot to ease the doubts that were swirling through Heero’s head. There was a strange feeling behind Heero’s eyes that felt a lot like tears. However Heero would not give in to them in public. Maybe - *maybe* if they were somewhere, alone, and not on a street – even if it was empty, Heero would give in. But at this moment he settled for letting Duo pull him into a hug, and snuggling close to him, and feeling safe within his arms. A feeling he hadn’t felt in a long time and was afraid he had lost forever.

When they pulled apart – an eternity later, Duo once again held Heero’s hand. “Are you ok to visit Wufei? Or do you just want to go back to the Inn?”

Heero thought he was hearing things, “You would still come visit Wufei?”

“Why not? I said I would right? We still have a few hours before we have to be at Quat and Tro’s for dinner.” That earned a small smile and an arigato from Heero.

Duo just grinned back and squeezed his hand. They set off in the direction of the institution that Wufei was residing. Duo hoped that he wouldn’t do something stupid to mess up the progress he made with Heero. This was going to be an important test and he knew that if he failed there would be very little hope to showing Heero his true feelings.

 

Part 4b

The institute in question was a place for ex soldiers to go if they needed help cooping with the effects of war in peace time. Even though Wufei realized the error of his ways in siding with Marimaia, he still had a long way to go until he was ready to head back into the world to help keep the peace.

In the hospital where Heero had been making his recovery, the other pilots had visited their resting comrade. Duo did not take to well to Wufei’s presence around Heero – especially when his koi wasn’t completely capable of taking care of himself. All that should be said about that incident was: it took 2 orderlies, Trowa, and Quatre to restrain Duo from physically harming Wufei. It was only after Heero woke to the scene and gently called Duo to him did he stop his physical attack. The verbal attack came next which Heero had to literally twist Duo’s arm to make him quiet down.

Everyone present in the room knew that the trust Duo had in Wufei had shattered – along with Wufei’s ability to forgive himself. Wufei checked into the Institute the next day, trying to regain some of what he had lost from his encounter with the braided pilot.

Trowa and Quatre moved close by to where Wufei was, to show their support to their misguided comrade.

Duo had wanted to move as far away from Wufei as possible – least he have some kind of relapse and try to hurt his koibito, but Heero wasn’t sure he could bear being that far from his closest friends. So they ended up moving to an apartment a couple hours away by car, in the city.

Duo had not said two words to Wufei since the incident in the hospital. The bridge of trust had been shattered and it would take a miracle for it to be fixed…

As the couple neared the building, Heero glanced at Duo to see if he could figure out what was going on in his head. When no answers were coming, he sighed, “Are you sure you’re alright with this?” Heero stopped walking which stopped Duo as well, and looked him in the eye.

Duo took a moment to collect his thoughts which had been running in all directions colliding into each other the entire walk there. /Am I really going to be ok in there? Hee-chan isn’t hurt (the obvious “yet” was left off), and I don’t think the spirits would posses Wufei or something just to get to Heero – would they? No… they are trying to give me a second chance. Hopefully I’ll be able to control my temper… oi. /

“I can’t make any promises Hee-chan about this, but I will try to not do something stupid.” He was trying to show the sincerity of this words through his eyes as well.

Heero did see the message, /he is being honest…/ He squeezed Duo’s hand and gave him a small smile. That alone made Duo forget about why he was mad at Wufei to begin with – Almost.

As they walked through the building, Duo was expecting some kind of hospital set up. However, it was the complete opposite. The entire building was designed like a giant house – not quite mansion. There was a very homey feel to it that the couple noticed right from the entrance.

Wufei was sitting in the basement rec. room, playing a game of chess by himself when Duo and Heero walked down the steps. He didn’t notice this fellow pilots until Heero called his name a little quietly. At first he thought he was hearing things, but he looked up anyway. He saw Heero and Duo not to far away, keeping out of his personal space.

Wufei stood, bowing slightly to the pilots, “Yui, Maxwell. What brings you here?”

“We came to see how you were doing, and wish you a merry Christmas.” Heero spoke up talking calmly. More for Duo’s benefit than anything else, “It’s good to see you’re in good health.”

There was an awkward silence developing between Duo and Wufei. Duo was more concerned with not messing up over anything else. The best way for him to do that was to keep quiet. However, it seemed fate was against him yet again.

“Come, have a seat,” Wufei pulled over some more chairs for Duo and Heero, giving Duo more time to collect himself. “What brings you all the way out here? Don’t you usually spend Christmas together at your apartment?”

“Well, I wanted to give Hee-chan a chance to spend Christmas with you guys, it’s been a while since we’ve been on a vacation with the yard and all…”

“You always were spontaneous during the wars.” Duo tensed slightly at the mention of the wars, and moved a little closer to Heero protectively. If Wufei or Heero noticed, they didn’t say anything.

“Wufei? How are you doing?” Heero decided to talk to Wufei, giving Duo a chance to calm down.

“I am doing better. Thank you for keeping in touch with those emails and such. It has helped a lot.”

Duo muttered something under his breathe, which earned him a glare from Heero and a slight wince from Wufei.

“Maxwell, how is your yard doing?” Duo tensed at the mention of the yard. It brought up a few memories he really didn’t want to remember. There was a hand on his arm and Duo realized that he had been lost fighting back memories.

“It’s doing well.” He said tersely. “Why do you ask Wufei? Didn’t think I could make the yard work, did you? Me being that baka pilot and all, I could never do much right to you could I?” Duo caught his tongue, realizing that his attempt to hold the memories at bay didn’t work as well as he hoped, and he took out the anger at that on Wufei. He also realized that if he kept this up he was going to regret it later. He only had a little bit of time left with Heero, and the argument they were already going to have over this was going to be bad enough – there was no need for him to continue throwing wood into that particular fire.

Duo took a minute to collect himself, and turned to Heero, “I need to go, you can stay if you want, but I am gonna head for a walk, then meet you at Quat and Tro’s for the party.” With that he walked – not run – up the stairs and out of the building, not looking back.

Heero turned to Wufei, “I’m sorry. I have to talk to him.” Wufei nodded to him, not making a verbal response.

Heero ran up the stairs after Duo. When he got outside he found Duo walking across the street. Calling out to him was not something Heero wanted to do – old habits die hard. As he caught up with Duo, he didn’t bother being quiet, there was no need for him to.

“Do you wanna tell me what happened in there?” Heero’s voice wasn’t condemning, angry, happy, or even pushing for an answer. It was said in his normal quiet monotone. He knew Duo needed a chance to gather his thoughts so he just let him walk.

/I can’t believe I exploded like that. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but that’s not the point, I should’ve had more control than that. I am such a baka! Hee-chan is going to be mad at me; I can’t believe I screwed up again! Kuso! How am I going to explain this to him? I don’t know what to say… but I have to tell him someth- No! I have to tell him the truth. He deserves that much before he makes good on that Omae wo Koruso threat of his. /

With that thought Duo stopped walking and turned to Heero. /Here goes nothing…/

“Heero, I am sorry about blowing up at Wufei like that. I really did try, but I couldn’t do it. Honest, I did try to keep a better hold over my anger towards him under control, but at the mention of the yard, I just lost control. I know you’re mad at me, and I’m really sorry. I can’t seem to do anything right, maybe Wufei was right, maybe I am just a baka.” He turned his head away, all his anger draining away to leave guilt at hurting Heero and probably making the last mistake towards him – using up his last chance with his koibito.

“Duo, could you tell me exactly why you and Wufei have such a bad relationship?” The couple had never really talked about this, but Heero assumed it just had to do with the Eve Wars and his fight with Wufei. He didn’t realize that the hurt/anger ran deeper than that.

“Did you ever notice that Wufei and I weren’t partnered together on any missions? I guess the scientists realized our personalities clashed to much – that we would blotch it up. Well, they were sorta right. Remember that time when the five of us met for the first time at the base?” Duo didn’t want to bring up any unpleasant memories for Heero, but he wanted to start at the beginning. And he realized said memories were resurfacing as Heero tensed greatly.

“I’m sorry Hee-chan I didn’t mean to bring up unpleasant memories for you. Are you ok?”

Heero nodded slightly, “I’ll be ok, go ahead and finish.”

Duo hesitated slightly before continuing, “Wufei did a background search on us pilots, like we all did, to get an idea of our training and such. When he did mine, he didn’t find much, seeing as how I was a street rat and didn’t meet G until later. Wufei is a smart guy, he put 2 and 5 together to get 3, and realized that I was from L2, and was probably a street rat. His attitude towards me changed then, he made some assumptions and acted like he was better than me, seeing as how he was a top notch martial artist/ heir to the Dragon clan, AND a scholar to boot. I’ll just say he was arrogant, and snobby. He always found a way to put me down some how when he thought something was my fault.

“I didn’t do anything to change his mind; it stopped bothering me that people acted that way when I was still on L2. But then I had you with me, and nothing he said could phase me, I was on cloud nine. When the Eve Wars came thought, and you fought him, and crashed into the Earth twice, I thought I had lost you. And at that point I could no longer continue being the noisy braided baka he thought I was. When he came to the hospital you know it took a lot of people to restrain me from killing him. He never respected me as a person, or a pilot, and he almost killed you, there is little chance I’ll ever be able to forgive him. Given some more time… maybe.”

Heero was astounded. He hadn’t realized the extent of what had happened between Duo and Wufei, or that the two of them had never been on a mission together.

“Duo, I’m sorry for forcing you to go visit Wufei. But you should know the attitude towards you he had during the war is not the same anymore. That was one of the first things I made him change before I would forgive him. I’m sorry Duo; I didn’t know it was that bad between you two. Forgive me for dragging you along?”

“What? Hee-chan, I sould be asking you for forgiveness again! I was the one that blew up at Wufei and stormed out, it wasn’t your fault! You didn’t know.”

“I’m not mad at you Duo; believe me when I say I know how hard it is to control your anger sometimes.”

Duo couldn’t take it anymore; he pulled Heero into a huge hug, talking into his shoulder, “Arigato Hee-chan I’m so sorry. I promise I’ll try to make peace with ‘Fei.”

“Thank you for telling me what was bothering you.” Heero hesitantly hugged Duo back.

Duo realized that he was also not talking to Heero about things anymore – mainly because he was never really there, and when he was he didn’t want to bother Heero with his problems.

/That’ll change right after Christmas also. / He didn’t even bother with the “if” of finding that Ultimate Gift or not – he *would* find it.

When Duo realized that they were still standing in on a *public* sidewalk, he reluctantly pulled away – he knew how much Heero didn’t like big PDA. He gently took Heero’s hand in his own, “We still have some time before that party at the estate. Do ya think they could use a hand setting up?”

“Sure,” it would be a good distraction for both of them.

-----

As the couple got closer to the manor, and the voices of happy children reached their ears the mood between them began to lose it’s negativity, and started to resemble that of Christmas cheer.

By the time they were at the front door, Duo was able to put on his grin and give all the kids that ran to greet them bug hugs.

“Mr. Duo!! Mr. Duo! Come help with the tree! There’s so many pretty ornaments that have to go on!”

“You guys are early. Come in. Come in.” Quatre came out to see what all the excitement was about. He shook both their hands and lead them into the house, the children running about the tri in circles. They walked to the back yard – where one of the largest trees on the estate was being decorated by Trowa and all the kids. Trowa was lifting up one of the younger girls so she could put an angel up near the top to look over everyone.

“Hey Quat,” Duo pulled Quatre back a little so he could talk to him for a minute. Heero was busy with the kids so it was a perfect time for Duo to apologize to Quatre, “I want to apologize for how I acted in the car, as well as all those times I wasn’t able to make it to come visit you guys with Heero. There is no excuse for forgetting how important you guys are to me and for acting so rudely yesterday. I am sorry for my behavior and I want to make it up to you somehow.”

Quatre felt as well as heard the sincerity behind Duo’s words. Duo really was sorry for his behavior and Quatre was glad, although slightly confused as to what had brought on the sudden change in his friend. “There was no harm done. I am glad to have you back Duo.” Now wasn’t the time to ask about the sudden change, it would damper the cheery mood and Quatre didn’t want that.

/Besides/ Quatre mused, /…there will be plently of time for that after Christmas…/

-----

Heero noticed Duo pull Quatre aside, /probably going to apologize for his behavior yesterday/. Heero sighed. Duo had been doing a lot of apologizing lately. The only question that remained for Heero was /what changed? Why did Duo’s attitude suddenly makea 360 and change so much over nite no less?/ He sighed again. Wufei was right about one thing, Duo was always spontaneous during the wars.

This was no different.

He was pulled away from his thoughts as the kids started tugging him to the tree to help with the decorating. He put on a small smile for the children and followed them over to the tree. He smiles at Trowa and followed his example of lifting the younger kids up into the air so they could reach the higher parts of the tree. Quatre and Duo came back over and helped with the decorations also. Everyone was smiling happily as the decorated the tree.

/This is what Christmas should be about. Spending time with your loved ones and friends…/ With those thoughts Heero was able, for the time being, to put Duo’s strange behavior aside, and almost completely block out what happened with ‘fei. This was not the time for sad thoughts, or unhappy memories.

Those could be set aside for after Christmas…

Heero’s smile brighten slightly with those thoughts and he tickled one of the children next to him.

Over to a corner of the yard, unbeknownst to anyone living, sat Sister Helen and Odin. “I think he finally figured out that he should be spending time with Heero not worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow night,” said Sister Helen.

“Well it’s about time.” They sat together watching the couples and children while they shared this happy moment.

 

part 4c

Despite Quatre’s lavish upbringing, dinner was not all that formal; in fact it was the exact opposite. There was of course lots of food – with all the kids and Duo there, that was a given. Everyone sat together at the large table, taking whatever they pleased from the large spread.

Diner was by no means a quiet affair either. Everyone was talking to each other about all the exciting things that they did all day and fantasy presents that they would like for Christmas. As dinner came to a close Quatre stood up. “Well it’s almost time to get those ornaments on the tree, right kids?”

He smiled as a loud chorus or “yeas!” and cheers rang up from all the kids. “Ok kids! Trowa, can you and Duo take the kids to get their ornaments? Heero and I will get there plates and such put away ok?” Everyone nodded their heads and got up from the table, the children eager to get the last of the ornaments on the tree, so everything would be ready for Santa. The rest of the estate was decorated as well, done by the children, Quatre and Trowa, and the servants there, who were all given off for the holiday, but chose to stay and help decorate.

Duo raced some of the younger children out of the room, while Trowa followed at a more subdued pace with the rest of them. The two older men stayed towards the house as the children gathered their ornaments and went to find the best place to put them on the tree. While they watched the kids, Duo thought this would be a good opportunity to apologize to Trowa as well.

“Hey Tro, I want to apologize for my behavior in the car yesterday and how I’ve been acting towards you and Quat for a while. You guys are my closets friends and I haven’t been acting much like a good friend (/or lover for that matter/) back to any of you. Trowa looked Duo in the eye for a moment, judging the sincerity of his words. “It’s not a problem Duo. How are things going between you and Heero?” He didn’t miss the obvious tension between the couple yesterday either.

Duo’s posture suddenly saddened, “I… I made a big mistake towards Hee-chan and I’ve been trying to make things right.”

/Maybe that would explain the distance between them in the car/ Trowa thought, /But they both looked happier when they arrived. Was it just another mask? /

Trowa didn’t push for details as to what Duo had done. He had a general idea as it was, from past instances where they had tried getting together as a group and Duo would suddenly cancel at the last minute, leaving Heero alone, and having to explain his lover’s absence. Besides, that was there own private matter and it wasn’t Trowa’s place to pry. If Duo asked for advice or anything like that, he would gladly give him some. Or if Duo needed someone to talk to, he could always talk to him, “You know you can talk to me if you need to Duo.”

/No, I can’t. Not about this at least/ “Yeah, thanks Tro. That means a lot. You know you’ve changed some since the wars. More so around Quatre than anyone else, even us. But the change is still evident if you know where to look.”

Trowa only nodded at his friend’s sudden change of subject. And he wasn’t completely sure where Duo was going with the conversation. He decided to give his friend the benefit of the doubt, “Thanks.”

“In fact we’ve all changed – and not all of us for the better.” They bother knew Duo meant himself. “You know you and Quatre have something really special. Don’t ever take it for granted cause if you do, it’ll be harder if you lose it, or it gets taken away from you. It’s the worst feeling in the world to lose someone that important to you and not even realize that importance until after they are gone.” Duo stopped talking and looked over at the kids. Trowa was stunned – not sure what to think about what Duo was telling him.

Then Duo turned back to his friend and looked him in the eye, “Life is precious Trowa. Treat the one’s you love like precious gifts that need the utmost care and love. Always try to treat your time with them the same care – never take it for granted, don’t put things off, otherwise you may never get the chance to do it again –” Duo stopped talking and looked to be blinking back tears.

Trowa was stunned, shocked and quite frankly didn’t know what to say. After a minute Trowa finally spoke up, “Duo maybe you were wrong about something – we’re all changing still – and it’s all in a good way.” He gave Duo a small smile and there was a soft look in his eyes. Duo returned the smile momentarily before they both turned back to the kids.

There were a few minutes of silence before Duo spoke up again. “Hey Tro, do you think you can handle the kids for a bit? I’m gonna go see how Quat and Hee-chan are doing with those dishes.” Trowa nodded and Duo went back towards the kitchen to see how things were going with his koibito and friend.

As he got closer to the door he heard muffled voices and the faint sounds of what might have been crying. He knew he shouldn’t snoop, but Duo couldn’t help it. He stealthily made his way towards the door, hoping Heero and Quatre wouldn’t notice his presence to soon.

He stopped when he was just within hearing range, “…changed Quat, I don’t understand him anymore. It’s like he’s hiding something from me…” There were some muffled words as they moved around the kitchen then, “…I don’t know what to do…”

Duo stopped listening at that point, sneaking out of the hall and reentering making noise like he normally would, to give Heero a chance to compose himself, a wide, fake, grin plastered on his face. Had he stayed and listened more he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep even a fake grin on his face. /I still have lots of work to do as far as Hee-chan is concerned. Some of the issues between us were resolved today, but that wasn’t the last of them, not by a long shot. /

Duo needed more time… which was something that he didn’t have at all…

 

----- (Heero and Quatre) -----

“…Heero and I will get these plates and such put away.” Everyone nodded as Quatre gave out the final directions before the tree lighting.

Heero wasn’t completely paying attention to everything everyone was saying by the end of the meal. He knew Quatre wanted to talk to him about a lot of things – most of which concerned his braided boyfriend and was just trying to figure out the best way to go about telling him about it. He wasn’t sure how much his empathic friend had already picked up on, so maybe he could wait for Quatre to get the ball rolling so to speak, and he could just pick up where the empathy left off.

/That’s what I’ll do/ Heero nodded to himself to reaffirm his resolve. Duo’s action’s since the end of the war – when he started changing – left Heero finding it a little difficult to open up to people, especially those already close to him. He did stay in close contact with the other pilots, but most of the time he still let them start the conversations.

Today was no different.

As the kids filed out to the tree followed closely by Duo and Trowa, Quatre and Heero started bringing the food and plates into the kitchen to be preserved for the orphans to take home. Little was said as the ex-pilots brought the food into the kitchen which gave Heero more time to think. Heero was glad that the blonde had given him more time to gather his thoughts. He knew he couldn’t hold off on this forever, and when they were both in the kitchen with all the food and plates brought in, Heero knew his time was up.

He just hoped he would be able to keep his emotions under control.

“I think it’s safe to say everyone loved the food, there’s hardly anything left.” Quatre knew his friend was tense so he decided to try relaxing him a bit before getting into questioning him.

There was a soft snort from Heero and he started to involuntarily relax. /It’s just Quatre. I can talk to him… I hope. /

Quatre forged on, taking his comrades reaction as a good sign. “It figures though, with Duo and a room full of hyper children, we should have seen this coming.” Heero tensed slightly back up at the mention of his lover’s name, which Quatre did notice but continued anyway. /He needs to talk about this before it’s too late. /

“I’m glad you two decided to come to the party and stay for vacation, we were all starting to miss you. Have you been enjoying your vacation?” Heero became extremely tense at the question, going into what Duo used to call ‘mission mode.’ His grip on the cup he was holding was almost to the point of breaking it and he had to force himself to let go. Heero gave a small nod to answer his question.

“That’s good. After the rocky start in the car yesterday, which Duo did apologize for, I’m glad things are looking up.” The way Heero was moving about the kitchen and loading dishes in the washer told a different story. Quatre decided to try a slightly different tactic.

“What made you guys change your minds about coming down to visit? Was Duo finally able to snag some time away from Hilde and the yard?”

That did it. Heero dropped the plate into the sink a little too hard so it shattered the gripped the edge leaning forward against it like he would fall over. “Does he love me?”

It was so faintly said Quatre wasn’t sure he heard correctly, “Heero?”

“Does he still love me?” Heero turned towards Quatre as he said it letting him see the fear and hurt on his face that he knew the empathy was sensing from his heart. His blue eyes begged for reassurance.

“Oh, Heero, why would you ask something like that?” He moved closer to his friend.

“Ever since the wars ended he’s been so different, always away on business trips with Hilde, or at the office working late. He seems so different from the wars, like now that we’re not in constant mortal danger and running from an army, or trying to bring world peace, he’s drifting away from those he ‘says’ he cares about the most.”

“Heero… you can’t think that is true right?” Quatre knew something was wrong but he didn’t realize it was that bad.

“I honestly can’t be sure. He’s changed Quat. I don’t understand him anymore. It’s like he is hiding something from me. This whole trip was his idea. Well it was his idea that the two of us would go someplace that I wanted to go. It was completely out of the blue. Then the phone rang. It was Hilde, but instead of canceling the trip until after Christmas – he started to get frantic and hung up on her.” They were both silent for a minute before Heero sighed and kept going. “I just… I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Quatre pulled his friend into a big hug, both of them knowing he needed the contact. However, before he was able to say anything to help his distraught friend they both heard someone coming down the hall towards the kitchen. With one final squeeze and a whispered, ‘it’ll be alright,’ Quatre let Heero go and turned back to the food giving his friend a moment of privacy to compose himself before the person in the hall got there.

Heero was grateful for that small bit of privacy and was able to pull himself together before Duo made it to the kitchen.

“Hey are you guys ready? Those kids are starting to make me seem calm!”

Quatre chuckled slightly, “And you left Trowa out there by himself? Well all the food is put away, and the dishes can be finished up later. So let’s go!”

The three ex-pilots went out back to the tree lighting and party. When they got there Quatre went over to talk with Trowa while Duo went to get his and Heero’s ornaments. Heero just looked around the yard and to all the kids who were standing around the tree waiting with varying degrees of patience for the tree to be lit.

“Here you go Hee-chan.” Duo handed him his ornament as the both made their way over to the tree. “Remember what you told me during the war? Every ornament is special and it has its own special spot on the tree?”

Heero blinked, “You were actually listening to me when I said that?”

“Of course I was Hee-chan. You don’t talk a lot, but when you do I always listen. Here, you go first.”

Heero gave his braided partner a semi questioning look before briefly closing his eyes and slowly moving his arm to a branch on the tree. When he found the right spot he placed the ornament there and opened his eyes to find Duo smiling gently at him. “Excellent choice Hee-chan.”

Duo closed his eyes and placed his ornament next to Heero’s. Heero had a strange look in his eyes but it disappeared seconds after Duo looked back at him.

“What?”

Heero just shook his head and turned back towards Quatre and Trowa. Trowa nodded slightly to him as they had one of those silent conversations and nudged Quatre towards the little gazebo to get the party started.

“Ok everyone! It’s that time of the year.” He wanted a few seconds for the children to calm down before continuing. “And now… the moment we’ve all been waiting for…” He nodded to the head of the orphanage that was standing close by ready to make the final connection that would light everything up. She nodded back and connected the two wires.

Nothing happened.

She tired again and still nothing.

All the kids moaned in disappointment. However, Quatre, who was always the peacekeeper, spoke up before the kids could rebel. “Now, now there is probably only a faulty wire, so Miss Gretta will look at them, and the rest of us can do a sing-a-long! Right Trowa?”

Trowa was already getting out his flute and Quatre’s violin and just nodded. He handed his lover the violin and received a kiss on the cheek in return, which was promptly followed by “oooh’s” from all the kids and one whistle from a certain braided pilot.

Ignoring the children Quatre asked if there were any requests. Duo had a sudden idea and jumped up to the gazebo. He whispered something to Quatre, which earned him a strange look from both musicians. Duo just raised an eyebrow. He picked up the microphone – tapping it once to see if it worked and got a loud screech of feed back.

Duo looked over at Heero and smiled at the perplexed look on his koibito’s face. He then turned to Quatre and received a nod. He nodded back and waited for the music to start. When his cue came, he started to sing:

[I’m dreaming of a White Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where tree tops glisten and children listen
To hear the sleigh bells in the snow]

He gave Heero another small smile and descended the stairs of the gazebo towards his koi.

[I’m dreaming of a White Christmas
With every time I see your eyes
May you dreams be merry and bright
And may you Christmas be white…]

When the verse was over Duo handed the microphone to the oldest orphan closest to him and he looked into Heero’s eyes, “dance with me Hee-chan?”

“I thought you said you couldn’t sing?” His words were playful not accusing. Heero took the invitation and the two of them danced slowly together to the sounds of Trowa and Quatre’s beautiful music. The kids finished singing the song.

-------

Sister Helen sat off to the side making sure to stay out of Duo’s line of vision, smiling at memories of the Christmas she was able to spend with him. As she wiped a tear from her eye at the memories, the plug was put in again to light the tree. The only difference was this time it did.

There was a collective “oooh” from everyone. Duo looked over Heero’s head to see Sister Helen smiling at him. He smiled back and hugged Heero closer to him.

Together the couple turned to look at the tree and listen to the sweet melodies of a flute and violin duet. Everyone forgot their problems and their hearts were warmed from the music, lights and each other.

Everything was just perfect.

 

Part 5a

7 am: Duo and Heero’s room at the Bed and Breakfast

Duo sat back against the pillow hugging Heero closer to him. He only had 17ish hours before…

/No. I am not going to think about that./

He focused his attention back on Heero so he didn’t have to think about *that.* They still had sometime before sun rise, which was good because Duo wanted to share it with Heero. Heero stirred slightly as Duo slowly petted his hair.

“Morning Hee-chan. Did you sleep well?”

Heero gave him a small smile, “Hai.” Duo hugged him closer and kissed his forehead. They stayed together in bed for a while longer, just snuggling.

“Hee-chan, I have another surprise for you, but you have to close your eyes.”

Heero looked into Duo’s eyes for a moment, looking for something to tell him what his koi was up to this time. After a few seconds he closed his eyes and waited. The bed shifted as Duo got up and Heero felt a gentle tug at his hand. He followed Duo’s lead and got out of bed also. Duo let go of his hand for a moment, so he could grab some blankets. When he had everything ready he gently took Heero’s hand back into his and started walking. Heero was slightly confused because he didn’t know they would have to leave the room for a present. He was suddenly thankful they were wearing tank-tops and pajama pants.

“Careful Hee-chan, we are going upstairs,” Duo gave Heero a small commentary as they went to their destination, making sure that he wouldn’t fall or get hurt. Dup stopped just short of the doors which lead to the balcony on the roof. They were both not wearing warm clothes, so it would not be smart to go outside dressed as they were. He took one of the blankets and placed it around Heero’s shoulders, “Don’t open your eyes yet Hee-chan.”

Duo then took a second blanket to cover himself with. He opened the doors and they were both hit with the cold winter air from outside. Duo sighed in relief because they still had some time left. “Ok, Heero, open your eyes…”

Heero opened his eyes and gasped at the scene before him. A small lake not frozen over from the weather had small waves rippling in the breeze. The ground was covered in pure white snow, which was completely untouched by humans. Animal tracks were the only think keeping the snow from being completely smooth; however, the tracks were very sparse. Snow covered pine trees as well as bare trees were circling around half of the lake and pushing back onto the horizon. Very few clouds dotted the sky, yet the ones present glimmered as the sun’s rays fell upon them.

“Oh Duo…” Heero did not know what to say, and he did not want to break the euphoric feeling of this peaceful moment. When they were at their apartment and Heero watched the sun rise, it was nothing compared to this. He engraved the picture into his mind. If he was a painter, he could not have created a more beautiful picture.

“Merry Christmas Eve, Heero.” Duo wrapped his arms around Heero from behind and placed is head on Heero’s shoulder. The couple just stood together, watching as the sun made its journey through the sky.

After what felt like forever, which in reality was only about an hour, Heero remembered that they still did not have a Christmas tree, or any of their decorations up. As much as he wanted to stay and here, he wanted to spend Christmas with Duo in their apartment even more. It had been so long since they were able to curl up with a book by the fire, or just cuddle in the safety of their own home. “Nee Duo, shouldn’t we get back to the apartment? It *is* Christmas Eve and we still need to get a tree… Duo? Are you alright?”

Duo tensed at Heero’s question about going back to the apartment. /We *can’t* go back…/

“What! Why? Don’t you want to spend Christmas here Hee-chan with the guys and the orphans?”

“We already had a party with them… I would like to spend Christmas back home just you and me. It’s been so long since we were able to just be together.”

“Aren’t we together now?”

“Not like this… I mean in *our* home. Not a bed and breakfast, or at Quatre and Trowa’s mansion. It’s not our home. It’s not the same.” The last bit came out as a whisper, as Heero cast his eyes down. He knew Duo was reverting back to the way he was acting on the first day when they arrived and there was no hope for them to go back using that tactic.

Heero decided to play his trump card. “And you did say we would do whatever I wanted for our vacation…” /Why do I feel like I am trying to plan a strategy for fighting a battle and not trying to talk to Duo…/

There was a slight hesitation on Duo’s part then, “Of course we can Hee-chan! Anything for you! ‘Cause I love you so much. I just thought you would want to spend time with the guys and kids, because we don’t see them that much anymore…” Duo had a forced smile in place of the one he was wearing that morning, as he started babbling and walking presumably back to the room to start packing.

Heero stood silently looking at the stairwell that Duo just disappeared through, hoping what just happened was a figment of his imagination and Duo would come back with a large grin on his face saying “gotcha!.” That Duo didn’t just do what he’d been doing all along.

/I knew it was too good to be true…/ Heero’s eyes became ice cold, similar to how they were during the war. He sighed slightly as a flash of disappointment passed so briefly across his features that not even Quatre would’ve been able to catch it, if he was kissing him.

~+~+~+~+~

Duo was rambling to no one in particular as he stalked – yes stalked, around their rented room to gather his clothes and other supplies. As he was closing his suite case Heero came downstairs and started changing for the day. Not a word was spoken from Heero and Duo’s ramblings quieted down. Duo moved to help Heero pack when a hand pushed the cover of the suite case down, almost catching his hands in the process, “I am a big boy Duo, and I can pack my own suite case. Why don’t you go sign us out or something?”

Heero’s voice was different; in fact it took Duo a while to realize that Heero was using his monotone, something he hadn’t used since before the end of the wars. Although be then it was too late. Duo nodded and grabbed his own packed bags, heading in the direction of the stairs.

~+~+~+~+~

The lobby of the bed and breakfast was right next to the stairs leading up to the rooms. The stairs went up in a square type manner that wrapped along the walls. If you were standing on either side of the desk you couldn’t see very high up the stairs, which may not always be the best thing in the world.

~+~ 9:30 am (14.5 hrs. before Christmas)

Duo dropped his bags rather loudly by the desk and cursed silently when he didn’t see anyone there to sign him out.

He ran the bell. Nothing happened. Duo sighed and rang it again, “Hello?”

/He’s probably in the kitchen./ Duo leaned against the counter expecting a long wait.

The door to the entrance of the bed and breakfast opened behind Duo, “Duo? Is that you?”(1)

~+~+~+~

Heero silently packed his bags, not really sure if he understood what
was going on in Duo’s head. /Why does he keep sending off such mixed signals? Is it me? Is he mad at me? Did I not do something right? I just wish he would talk to me…/ Heero sighed and made one last look around the room before grabbing his bag and shutting the door. Out in the hall he could hear Duo at the front desk.

He slowly walked to the stairs and slowed even more when he heard a familiar voice come into the building. /Why does Duo suddenly sound nervous? / Against his better judgment Heero decided to stay hidden on the stairs.

~+~

“Howie? What brings you here?” There was a slight hint of nervousness in Duo’s voice, but he quickly masked it and only let his surprise show through. For some reason, he felt like fate was again working against him…

“Quatre and Trowa asked me to play Santa at the orphanage after the war and I’ve been doing it every year since. What are you doing here? Are you and Hilde here on another ‘Business’ trip?”

“WH…what? I don’t know what you’re talking about Howie…” Duo now looked nervous.

“Oh, come on Duo, she told me about what happened the last time. Toothpaste?” He laughed, “That is such a funny excuse. I feel bad that you guys were interrupted like you were-”

“Howie, I really-” Someone ran by them and out the front door before Duo could finish his sentence.

“CRAP! Heero!” Duo ran to the door but it wouldn’t open. He ignored Howard and the inn keeper, focusing on the door. “Open it up!! Odin please! Any of you!”

There was a click and the door opened. Duo ran outside but it was too late, Heero was nowhere in sight. “DAMN IT!”

/what to do… what to do…Trowa! / He went to pull out his cell phone, but it wasn’t in his pockets /Heero must’ve grabbed it when he ran by./

Duo was getting frantic, so instead of going back inside to use the bed and breakfast phone, which would be logical, he took off for the mansion. Logic at this moment wasn’t on Duo’s mind, getting to Heero was.

~+~+~

“Master Quatre, Mr. Maxwell is here to see you, he seems panicked.”

“I’ll go talk to him,” Trowa spoke up next to Quatre. The blonde was a tad pale, so he just nodded.

~+~+~

Duo paced in the front hall of the mansion for either Trowa or Quatre.

“You should try to calm down Duo.” Duo spun around to find Trowa right behind him.

“I can’t, I need to find Heero. Can I barrow your car? Jet? Perhaps a helicopter?”

“Heero took the plane; he called Quatre a little while ago. He’s on his way back to your apartment. Duo what happened?”

“I… I screwed up Tro. I mean this is really, really bad. Heero thinks I am having some kind of affair with Hilde, but I’m not! And I never was.”

“…But you were thinking about it at one point weren’t you.”

Duo hesitated for a moment before he nodded. It was so small though, that Trowa barely caught it. /That explains why Quatre could barely wake up from his nightmare. It must have been amplified from the emotions running off of Duo and Heero. /

“Heero has the plane Duo. There is one train leaving later this afternoon around 4 that will take you back.”

“That is HOURS from now! Can I borrow a car?”

“With all the traffic it would take you just as long to get back with a car. Why don’t you just wait? You can stay here with us.”

“No thanks Trowa. If I stay here I’ll only hurt Quatre more. I will just walk around town for a while.” With that Duo turned around and walked outside, not really paying attention to where he was walking, he was too caught up in his thoughts.

/I’ve really done it this time. How am I going to be able to make it up to Heero now? Maybe Odin was right. Maybe it would be better for Heero if I wasn’t around anymore. Hopefully Heero will let me explain what happened with Hilde…/

Duo looked up and realized he was at the institute where Wufei was at. He blinked and was about to turn around when he remembered his promise to Heero. Without thinking about it, Duo entered the building. He took the stairs down to the rec room, hoping to see Wufei. Duo looked around but his hoped dimmed when he didn’t see him.

There was a small movement to his left so Duo turned to see what it was. He smiled as he spotted Wufei curled up reading a book. Quietly, as to not disturb him, Duo made his way across the room. “Hey Wufei.”

Wufei looked up to see Duo standing there looking mildly upset. Instead of prying into Duo’s personal affairs, considering their history, Wufei just smiled up at him, “Maxwell. Merry Christmas Eve.”

“Care for a game of chess?”

“I would like that. Thank you.” Wufei placed his book down while Duo moved the chess board across the table. In no time at all the pieces were set up, and colors were picked.

“White makes the first move ‘fei.”

“So it does Duo. So it does.”

 

Time: Noon
ETA for Christmas: 12 hrs.

 

Part 5b

Duo stayed with Wufei until it was time to catch the train. It was the last train running today so if Duo missed it, he would be out of luck. Hopefully fate would let him have this last chance.

The time Duo and Wufei spent during those two(ish) hours was used to mend some of the breaks in their relationship. There were no harsh words exchanged and the beginnings of what could be a stable friendship were formed.

-----3pm Christmas Eve The train ride back for Duo----

Duo took the time of the train to calm down. It did *not* help that he knew he only had less than 9 hrs left though. /I have to deal with one problem at a time. First I must talk to Heero about the whole Hilde issue. *Then* I can worry about his Ultimate gift…/

--- 6 pm, less than 6 hrs before Christmas---

“Where did all this traffic come from?!?” Duo was sitting in the cab trying to get back to his apartment.

“What do you expect buddy? It’s Christmas Eve. Everyone is trying to get home to their families.” In the time frame of twenty minutes, the cab had barely moved.

“How much is the meter up to? Oh forget it, here.” Duo gave the cab driver a large wad of money, grabbed his bag and got out of the cab. “Keep the change!”

With that, Duo took off towards the apartment.

---7 pm 5 hrs before Christmas; Duo and Heero’s apartment---

Duo ran into the apartment complex hoping to find Heero inside. He was ip the stairs and almost down the hall when Mrs. B’s dog Mozart started barking at him.

“Gah! Down boy… easy… easy.” Duo stepped carefully around the dog and went into the apartment.

“Heero?” He dropped the bags at the door, ignored the dog in the hallway and ran around the apartment looking for Heero.

However, Duo’s efforts were in vain. Heero was no where in the apartment. Nothing looked different from before they left. Duo thought about trying his cell phone, but he didn’t want to anger Heero. Plus he didn’t know if Heero would pick up the phone. With one last look around the apartment, Duo took off to search outside. He ran for a couple clocks then stopped.

/Ok. Breathe. I need to think logically. Now, Heero can be anywhere. He was the Perfect Soldier. But if I was Heero were would I go…/ Duo noticed a sign on the back of a bench for the Aquarium. They had a Dolphin show in the summer with a special inside show on Christmas Eve.

----Flashback---

“Duo where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise Hee-chan. We’re almost there, close your eyes.” Heero looked over at Duo for a second before closing his eyes. Duo reached over and took Heero’s hand in his own, squeezing lightly. They drove for about 5 more minutes before Duo finally stopped the car.

“Be right there Hee-chan.” There was a playful note in his voice. Heero heard his car door open and felt Duo remove his seatbelt. “Ok Hee-chan, careful on this step…”

Duo gave Heero a commentary all the way to their destination. Heero heard a splash, and Duo told him to open his eyes.

Heero was face to face with a dolphin. He blinked as the dolphin went into the water then came up and squirted some water at Duo.

“Hey!” Duo sputtered and shook his head. Heero cracked a smile at him. “Duo no baka. You really don’t have a good was with animals do you?”

“Duo grinned back at him, “Duo you like your surprise Hee-chan?”

“I love it Duo arigatio.” Heero leaned down to pet the dolphin’s nose.

---End Flash back---

/Maybe…/ Duo took off for the aquarium.

---7:45 pm. Meteor Aquarium 4hrs 15 min until Christmas---

“The Meteor Aquarium will be closing in 15 minutes. I repeat, the Aquarium will be closing in 15 minutes. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.”

The voice on the loud speaker didn’t deter Duo from finding Heero in the least. Besides, he already had a pretty good idea of where to look. He ran up the stairs to the Dolphin arena’s stands. After a quick sweep Duo was slightly saddened when he didn’t see Heero. He forced himself to take another look, only slower this time.

/There! / Sure enough he saw Heero kneeling down next to the glass window with a little boy and his mother. Duo looked closer and he could see Heero explaining something about the dolphin to the boy. He boy hugged Heero while his mother thanked him before the two headed off, presumably back to their home to await Santa’s arrival.

Duo saw his chance to talk to Heero since he was again alone. He carefully made his way down the stands until he was close enough to Heero, should his koi try to get away, Duo could cut him off, or at least try to. “Heero? Can I talk to you please?”

He saw Heero tense up when he first called his name, but he didn’t show any signs of bolting. /So far so good. Right? /

“Heero, I’m sorry about this morning. I –” Heero started to walk away, but Duo wouldn’t let him.

“Heero matte!” He grabbed Heero’s arm and turned him so they were face to face.

“I’m so sorry Heero. I didn’t know Howie was going to be there, and I had no idea he would bring something like that up. When Hilde and I went on that trip, it was sometime last month I think she forgot her toothpaste. She stopped by the room about a half hour after I got off the phone with you and asked to barrow mine. I didn’t think anything of it. Honest. I could’ve told her to go to the hotel gift shop, but she was a friend, *only* a friend. I never had *any* intension of doing anything with her then.”

“And now?”

---Heero’s POV--- (when he first arrived at the Aquarium)

/Duo… and Hilde…was this just a guilt trip for him? That would explain why he’s been acting so strange. But… why? I don’t understand him sometimes. /

“Hey mister?” Heero looked down to find a small boy pulling on his jacket.

“Yes?”

“I’m lost. I can’t find my mommy. Duo you know where she is?”

“What does she look like?”

“A mommy.” The boy was about to burst into tears.

“Calm down. Everything will be ok. Where did you last see her?”

“We were walking around the big swimming pools when this large fish came up to the glass. It looked funny and I turned to look at it closer, but it went away. I turned back to tell mommy but she was gone.”

Heero looked around the room. There was a killer whale tank, a seal tank, and a dolphin tank. The boy was probably talking about the killer whales, which was in the middle of the room.

“What is your name?”

“Joey.”

“Well Joey, what is your mommy’s name?”

“Mommy.” Heero sighed, and made a mental note to not ask to many questions to a 3 yr. old about their parents.

“How about I lift you up and you can tell me if you see your mommy ok?”

“Ok!” The boy smiled and jumped up and down.

Heero was suddenly grateful that he was wearing his Preventers jacket, so Joey’s mother wouldn’t think he was trying to kidnap her son. Even though he and the other pilots weren’t full time agents, they did help if something came up the Preventers couldn’t handle. Heero made a mental note to thank Une for the jacket.

Heero picked up Joey and started to slowly turn them in a circle. “Do you see her yet?”

Joey didn’t answer, all his attention seemed to be focused on finding his mother.

“Mommy!” Joey tried to get down going to his mother. Heero looked to see who he was trying to get to. He saw a woman standing with a security guard across the dolphin tank. He started walking over to them, keeping the boy in his arms so he didn’t get lost again.

Joey’s mother spotted Heero and started running over to them. “Joey! Oh thank you so much!”

Heero handed Joey over to his mother. “It was no problem ma’am.”

“I’m sorry mommy, I was looking at the big fishy.” As he said that a dolphin came close to where they were standing and jumped out of the water. Joey tried to get out of his mothers hold so he could look at the dolphin though the glass. After some maneuvering he managed to get away.

Heero knelt down next to him, incase he tried to run again. “That’s a dolphin. There aren’t a lot of them left in the world because of all the pollution.”

“It’s so pretty. And big. When I get bigger will there be more of them? I wanna learn to take care of them.”

“I’m sure there will be. You’ll have to study really hard to be able to take care of the dolphins. Do you think you can do that?”

“Yes!”

“You should start by getting a good nights sleep,” his mother said gently, “that way you will be well rested and ready to see what Santa has brought you about the dolphins.”

“Cool!”

“Say thank you to this nice man for helping you.”

“Thank you mister!” Joey gave Heero a hig.

“Call me Heero.”

“Thank you mister Hero! Bye!” Joey took his mother’s hand and started walking with her back toward the exit.

Heero went back to watching the dolphins when he heard a familiar voice, “Heero? Can I talk to you? Please?”

Heero tensed when he heard Duo’s voice. /Why did he come after me? How did he find me? Do I really want to listen to what he has to say? Is it going to make any difference? Gods, what happened to us? Why is this so hard? / He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t move a muscle. Duo took it as a sign to continue.

When Heero registered what Duo was saying, about what happened that morning he wasn’t sure if he could handle the explanation so he tried to leave. But Duo wouldn’t relent, he grabbed Heero’s arm and turned him so they could be face to face.

/I can’t do this now. Not after everything that has been happening lately. But Duo never lies… / He took the chance of looking Duo in the eye as he talked. /Duo always said, you can tell if a man is lying by his eyes. /

Heero didn’t find any of the things he thought would be hidden in Duo’s eyes. Duo had the same look in his eyes from when he wsa apologizing about Wufei yesterday afternoon. “…I never had *any* intention of doing anything with her then. Honest.”

/Then? Does that mean? /

“And now?” Heero almost didn’t want to hear the answer to his question. /But I have to know. /

“Hee-chan, this whole vacation was for you. I realized tat I’ve been a real jerk towards you, ignoring you, and I even started to take it for granted that you would be around. I am not proud of any of that, and this trip was *supposed* to be a way of making all that up to you. To show you that I still and always have loved *you.* And *only* you –”

“The Meteor Aquarium is now closing, Have a Merry Christmas and a save trip home.”

The loud speaker interrupted Duo, but it was enough to give him a small idea. “Hee-chan! That’s it! The Ultimate Gift! I’ve got it!”

“What? Duo what are you talking about?”

“Never mind that, I’ll explain later. Just take off you shirt, socks and shoes.”

“What!? Duo are you *crazy*? They’re closing.”

“You’ve always wanted to swim with the Dolphins right? Well now’s your chance! Please just do this for me?”

The answer Duo gave was not what Heero was expecting /He had a sincere look in his eyes. Maybe I can believe him. /

However, when he saw Duo’s reaction to the loud speaker announcement Heero was once again thrown for a loop. /What is that braided baka doing? What is he talking about? /

“Sirs, I’m sorry but the aquarium is closed for Christmas, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Can we stay for a little longer? Please?”

/Stay? Longer? What is Duo doing? /

“I’m sorry sir, but we have to feed the animals and make sure
everything is shut down for the night.”

“Please? It’s Christmas Eve. And my koi really would like to feed the dolphins… Just give us 20 minutes and he’ll make sure the dolphins are feed. Please?”

/Koi? He hasn’t called me that in public since the Eve wars… /

“Duo, it’s ok. We can just go home.”

“No! It’s not. This is something you want. It’s not ok until you get it. Look, here.” Duo took out his wallet, “15 minutes that’s all we want. How much do you want? 100 credits?”

/What in the world is he doing? /

“Sir…”

“200! Here take the whole wallet.”

The trainer sighed, “You have 15 minutes and half a bucket of fish. Keep your wallet. But I am warning you. If I come back in 15 minutes and your still here I am calling security, got it?”

“Thank you so much!” Duo went over and took the bucket of fish and handed it to Heero. The trainer quietly went up through he back employee door to gather the whale’s and seal’s food as well.

Heero blinked, and then blinked again. He looked at the bucket of fish then to Duo then the dolphins, which seemed to be watching the whole event like it was a movie. Heero could almost see them munching pop corn. He cracked a smile and turned to Duo taking the bucket.

“You are a baka,” he shook his head. “Definitely a braided baka.”

“Aa. But I’m *your* braided baka nee?”

“Hai.” Duo smiled back at him.

“Well? What are you waiting for? 15 minutes remember?” Duo nudged Heero towards the dolphins.

Heero shook his head again and went over to the dolphins. As Heero fed and talked with them, Duo sat back by the stands and watched.

“Dolphins are such smart mammals aren’t they?”

“Yeah,” Duo responded without even thinking about it. Then the voice registered and he blinked and turned.

“Hello Duo.”

He blinked, “of course. I should’ve known. What brings you here? Come to say good bye to Hee-chan?” (1)

“I’m sorry?”

“Have you come to say good bye? I figured it out you know, Hee-chan’s Ultimate gift. I gave it to him.” Duo sounded extremely confident in his tone.

“Oh really?” Father Maxwell sounded amused, which seemed highly unlikely for a ghost.

“Yep,” Duo’s confidence didn’t waver.

“If you don’t mind my asking, what was the Ultimate gift then?”

“What?”

“Your Ultimate gift, what was it?”

“The dolphins being able to feed and swim with them with no one around. Hee-chan has wanted to do that for the longest time. I gave that to him. I granted his wish.”

“Duo, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but that’s not the Ultimate gift. Heero could always be a dolphin trainer or a fish biologist if he really wanted. It was a sweet gesture, but not even close to being the right gift.”

Duo looked crest fallen, “What am I supposed to buy Hee-chan?”

“Buy? Think of what you’re saying Duo. When have either you or Heero ever needed money or bring you happiness or love? The ultimate gift is not something that can be bought. It is just what it’s called, the *Ultimate* gift. The most important, precious thing you can give to the person that holds your heart. But don’t give up hope. There is still a few hours before Christmas.”

Duo’s head snapped up, “No. I refuse to loose Heero too. Heero is *not* going to die tonight, or anytime in the near future.”

“Duo? Who are you talking too?” Heero came over to find Duo when he was finished with the Dolphins. He noticed that Duo seemed to be talking to himself.

“I was talking about the next present I can give you for Christmas. We can talk more outside though, on the way to get a tree. I don’t think that trainer was joking.”

Heero smiled at the thought of getting their tree. Although Duo was acting highly unusual, Heero chalked it up to him reliving old habits. During the time between the Wars, Duo was always spontaneous and trying to keep Heero on his feet. /Maybe there’s a chance…/

Duo took Heero’s hand in his own as they walked down the road towards the tree lot, without even thinking about it. “So Hee-chan, what can I buy you? What do you want?”

“What?” Heero was slightly amused but still confused.

“I wanna buy you something. Anything you want. I want to show you how much I love you.” Heero tensed at that but as he looked into Duo’s eyes and didn’t see anything panicked or anxious, like two days ago, he loosened up.

“You don’t have to buy me anything Duo. I’ve lived most of my life without lots of things and it’s never bothered me before.”

“I…I know… it’s just I want to make you happy.”

Heero started to slow down until he stopped walking completely and for some reason, he was having trouble looking Duo in the eye.

“Hee-chan? What’s wrong?” /Did I say something wrong? Is he mad at me? /

“I umm... I have a surprise for both of us… sort of…”

/What? / Duo was scared that Heero was bringing bad news… /No! Please!/

“What is it Hee-chan, you can tell me anything. I won’t be mad… promise.”

“I’ve been talking to Relena about this for a long time now and umm…” Heero took a deep breathe, “Please don’t be mad. I asked Relena if she would carry our babe…”

Duo’s jaw dropped, that was certainly *not* what he was expecting. /Da…daddy? Me? I’m gonna… we’re gonna be daddy’s…/

Heero took Duo’s silence as a bad sign, “I… I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you, but you’ve been on your trips and so busy with the yard that I didn’t want to burden you with it. And-”

Heero was abruptly cut off as Duo pulled him into a hug. “Oh my god! Hee-chan! I’m gonna be a daddy! We’re gonna have a baby! That’s so wonderful. How far along is she? Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Your… not mad?”

“Oh no! Hee-chan that is the best present anyone could’ve ever given me. Oh I love you so much!” Duo pulled Heero into another hug.

Heero leaned his head on Duo’s shoulder feeling content to stay like that, not even bothered that they were standing on a public sidewalk in the middle of the city. “It will be 6 weeks on Christmas Day. And I was hoping we could be surprised about the gender.”

“Anything Hee-chan. That would be wonderful.” /There is no was I can let Heero go now. I have to find this Ultimate gift. /

Relena was a close friend to both pilots. Once she was able to get over her childish crush on Heero, they became like brother and sister in every way possible except blood. Duo wasn’t as close, but he considered her a very close friend. For her to carry a baby for the couple meant a lot to both of them and it strengthened the bonds between them. There would e a very small chance for a custody battle since Heero agreed that the child *should* know it’s mother, and Relena would be able to see him/her whenever she wanted.

---8:37 pm: Duo and Heero’s apartment -3 hours and counting until Christmas---

“The tree looks great Hee-chan.”

“Aa. I’m glad they had trees left. It wouldn’t have been the same without one.” The tree was the same one that Heero had picked the first time around that Christmas.

Duo hugged Heero from behind, “Just think Duo, next Christmas we’re going to be tripping over all the toys. There’s going to be so many presents under the tree!”

“We’re gonna need more stockings for the fireplace.” Duo kissed Heero’s head.

“Aa.” Heero turned around in Duo’s arms and kissed him. Duo returned the kiss and started walking back towards their bedroom.

---11:49 pm: 11 minutes before Christmas---

Duo sat on the edge of their shared bed. /11 minutes. I have to keep Hee-chan here. /

“…ice cream?” Duo was drawn out of his thoughts when he heard Heero’s voice from the kitchen.

“What?”

“Do you want some ice-cream? We have your favorite ‘Death by Chocolate.’”

“No thanks. Hey Hee-chan come back to bed. Please?” The phone ringing cut off Heero’s answer.

“Don’t get that!” Duo shot up from the bed and ran to the hallway at the kitchen entrance.

“Hello?....really? sure! No problem. Alright. Merry Christmas to you too. Bye.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Mozart got out. Mrs. B asked me to help look for him.”

“Duo froze, “Why can’t she look for him?”

“Duo, she’s 90 *years* old. I’ll be right back.”

“No! Please don’t go! You stay here. I’ll go look for him.” Heero was getting dress and Duo was following his lead. Trying anything he could to keep Heero from going outside.

Heero laughed, “Duo, you know Mozart hates you,” Heero was getting his shoes tied and about to get his jacket.

Duo was also doing the same, “Look, why don’t you get all cozy on the couch with a blanket, start a fire in the fireplace and when I get back you can warm me up.”

“NO! I mean, I want to go with you!”

“There’s no reason for us to both freeze.”

“Let him go Duo. It’s time.” Father Maxwell’s presence in the hall watching the couple only added to Duo’s panic.

“No! He is *not* going *anywhere.*”

“Who are you talking to Duo?”

“Please Hee-chan. Don’t go?” Duo tried kissing him.

“I have to Duo. Why are you acting so kawaii?”

“It’s his time Duo. Let him go.” Duo looked Father Maxwell in the eye. He distantly heard Heero saying something about being right back and a door closing. He blinked and looked around the apartment.

“NO!! HEERO!” Duo ran to the front door but it wouldn’t open, “OPEN IT! PLEASE! I can’t lose Heero too! PLEASE! I’ll give *anything!!!*”

“Anything?” Father Maxwell paused and looked deep into Duo’s eyes. The door unlocked. Duo was out and down the stairs in a heart beat. He had to catch Heero before it was too late.

“Good luck to you Duo…” Father Maxwell disappeared.

--11:55 pm: Somewhere in the street ---

“Mozart? Here puppy. Where are you?” Heero heard barking. It was coming from the door of a warehouse. “Hey Mozart! Come here boy!”

Mozart looked up at Heero, barked some more and ran into the street. “Mozart, what are you doing boy? Come here. It’s ok.”

Heero followed the dog trying to pick him up to bring him back.

---

Duo was running full speed down the roads trying to get to the accident spot before it was too late. /Come on. It’s right up here. I *refuse* to lose Heero again! /

He heard Heero’s voice and a dog barking. /Yes! There! / He heard the truck in the near distance. /SHIT! No! /

“HEERO!” Duo saw Heero right ahead.

“NOOOOOOO!”

The clock struck midnight

 

Part 6

/How could this happen? Why did this happen? Did he know? Was that why he was acting so strange? Gods… why…/ Heero sat in the waiting room of the hospital emergency room in shock. The events that had transpired earlier did not want to compute into his mind. As he sat with his head in his hands, hands leaning against his knees, Heero replayed everything in his mind. Trying to understand what happened.

~+~+~+~Flash Back~+~+~+~

“Mozart? Here puppy! Where are you?” Heero heard barking coming from the warehouse. “Hey Mozart. Come here boy.”

Mozart looked at Heero, barked some more and ran into the street. /What is that dog doing? He’s crazier than Duo. / Heero smiled slightly at the thought of his braided love.

As Heero picked up Mozart, the dog started squirming trying to get away. /What has gotten into this dog?! /

“Heero!” Heero turned to find a panicked Duo standing a few paces away. /Duo?? What in the world is going on? /

Heero blinked as Duo suddenly pushed him into a pile of garbage, never breaking eye contact. Duo mouthed a final ‘I love you. Forever.’ Then the semi barreled into him, his body flying back on the impact, his eyes glassy and staring up at the sky.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” Heero went into shock at that moment. He ran to Duo’s body – the dog Mozart completely forgotten. He didn’t hear the driver try to talk to him, he didn’t hear the ambulance as they tried getting Duo to respond and move Duo’s body. All he saw was Duo and that Duo was barely breathing. He was aware of a quiet murmuring coming from somewhere. Which – he realized as they reached the emergency room, was his own voice talking to Duo, only loud enough for his koi to hear.

~+~+~+~End Flashback~+~+~+~

Heero was pulled out of his flashback by the approaching Doctor. “Mr. Yuy?”

When he looked up he noticed that the Dr. looked vaguely like Sally, only with lighter voice and much longer hair. “…Duo?”

The Dr. hesitated then, “Would you come with me please? I think we need to speak in private.”

Heero nodded mutely, not at all happy by that particular answer and followed the Dr. to a side room. “Mr. Yuy,” the doctor looked him right in the eye, “Mr. Maxwell sustained some serious injuries from the accident. We… We did absolutely everything we could.”

She paused and took a deep breath, “He is in a very deep coma, almost in a vegetable like state. The chances that he will come out of this are close to nil, it would take a miracle. It would be a miracle if he survived through the night. I am very sorry…”

Outside Heero was calm, taking everything in and keeping his Perfect Soldier mask in place. On the inside the only thing that was holding him together was the hope that Duo had a chance at surviving. It didn’t matter that the chance was so small that it would take a miracle for Duo to wake up. It was the fact that Duo DID have a chance. Heero couldn’t even *attempt* to try and imagine what would happen if Duo didn’t make it.

“Ca…Can I see him?” Heero’s voice greatly contradicted the mask he was so desperately trying to keep in place. If the doctor noticed, she thankfully didn’t say anything; she nodded and led him to Duo’s room.

~+~+~

As the door opened the only sound coming from the room was the semi steady beep of Duo’s heart monitor. Duo was pale as a ghost and bare chested under the blanket. He was covered in bandages, cuts and bruises.

Heero sat in the chair next to Duo’s bed, gently taking one of Duo’s hands in his own, holding it against his cheek.

“Duo,” his voice cracked as he said his koi’s name, which was enough for his mask to crack as well. “Duo please, wake up for me. Please. Duo don’t go. I can’t do this without you. I love you so much please.”

Heero had tears running down his cheeks as he hugged Duo’s hand closer. The beeping on the heart monitor slowed. There was a second of silence then it flat lined. “DUO!”

A nurse came in a few seconds later, gently pushing Heero aside so she could check Duo over. “I…I’m sorry Mr. Yuy.”

“No… Duo…”

~+~+~+~+~+~

“Duo….Duoooo.” Duo blinked and opened his eyes, looking around the room.

/Where? / The accident suddenly came back to him… “Heero!”

Duo sat up and wildly looked around the room for Heero. However, the only people he saw were father Maxwell and Solo. He blinked.

“It’s about time you woke up!” Geeze we were starting to think you would sleep through your own death!” Solo winked at him.

Father Maxwell gave Solo a disapproving stare before he returned his attention back to Duo. “Do you remember what happened?”

Duo looked around the room again; slower this time and realized he was in a hospital. He nodded slowly as he looked down and saw his own body, covered in bandages, and bruises. He found that a tad disturbing, but didn’t have time to comment as Heero came in and sat by his bed, taking his body’s hand. “God… Heero.”

Duo looked down at his own hand turning it slightly. He couldn’t feel Heero’s touch in his spirit form. “I’m sorry Duo. You can’t feel the touch or warmth from the living.”

“Heero.” Duo went to touch Heero but was stopped by a hand covering his own.

“No touching remember?” A pained look crossed Duo’s face, as he slowly drew his hand away from Heero. All he wanted to do was hold his koi and never let him go as he reassured him that he was ok.

“Duo. It’s time.” Father Maxwell held out his hand for Duo. Odin and Sister Helen appeared behind them.

“Duo,” Sister Helen noticed he was hesitant, “Heero knew in his heart how much you love him… You were able to give him the Ultimate Gift. But it’s time to go.”

With one more look at Heero, Duo took the offered hand and stood up. He looked down as he noticed he was dressed in his priest outfit that he had back during the wars. He heard the heart monitor flat line, he heard the nurse come in, but mostly he heard Heero’s voice, hoping, pleading, begging him not to leave.

“Hee-chan,” Duo moved to touch him again but stopped short and just watched him. Suddenly he turned to the spirits. “You’re hurting him more by doing this!”

Duo couldn’t bear to see that look on Heero’s face. Such loneliness, clinging to a fading hope… He turned to Odin. “Please, let me go back. I can’t stand to leave Heero like this. He doesn’t deserve this! I have to go back!!! And if you cared for Heero as much as you say I had to and still do, then you’ll let me go back. Please…”

He didn’t wait for a response, he turned back to Heero. “Its ok babe, I’m right here. I’ll come back, promise. Please don’t cry. Shhh.”

“Hey Duo.” Duo reluctantly turned back to Odin, and was surprised to be pulled into a hug, “You’re not such a bad guy after all.”

With that Duo felt 4 pairs of hand push him back into his body.

~+~+~+~+~

Heero was crying into Duo’s chest, crushing his koi’s hand in his own and begging Duo to come back. He heard a beep, and another, and another. He couldn’t believe his ears, maybe the monitor was broken? Heero looked up at the monitor and checked for a pulse on his own; it was faint but there and growing stronger. /Gods! Duo! / “Duo! Open your eyes! Please! Come on you braided baka open your eyes please…”

“I’m your braided baka though nee Hee-chan?” His voice was quiet and horse but he knew Heero heard him from the small chuckle he got in response. Duo slowly opened his eyes and the first thing he saw were Heero’s eyes looking back at him lovingly and hopefully.

“Hai Duo.” He gently kissed Duo’s lips then anywhere else on his face he could reach. Heero felt the hand he was holding squeeze his own and he smiled looking up at Duo. “Please never do that to me again.”

Duo looked into Heero’s eyes and smiled warmly at him. He used their joined hands to pull Heero closer. Heero thought he meant to whisper something and leaned his head closer so Duo wouldn’t have to strain his voice.

“Hee-chan, I promise to never do this to you again.” He leaned up and gave Heero a kiss. They broke apart as the door opened for a surprised Dr. and Nurse to come in. Heero held onto Duo’s hand through the entire examination.

After the nurse and doctor left, both extremely shocked at this miracle, Heero hugged Duo close, laying his head on Duo’s chest. Duo stroked Heero’s hair as they both slide into a peaceful sleep.

Tomorrow they would have to call Trowa and Quatre so they could figure out a way to get Duo out of the hospital as fast as possible. They would have to also tell their fellow pilots about what happened, even though they probably wouldn’t believe them. There was still much to be done between Heero and Duo’s relationship that would heal and mend over time.

But that was all for tomorrow.

For this Christmas it was just going to be them. Together. This was all either of them really wanted.

~+~+~+~ Owari ~+~+~+~