10-13-2001

Hello again, here is part 3 of my fic. Sorry for taking so long but I'm a snail writer.

Title : Change Of Hearts - 3/?
Author : Minky
Pairing : 1+2
Warnings : AU, OOC, angst
Archive : My little website, http://www.geocities.com/minky_ccl/PreciousMoments.html and Tyr-san's GWA

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The chime of the clock told Duo that it was already 2 am in the morning but he was still sitting near the altar with his hands clasped together, head bowed, eyes shut, saying a silent prayer in his heart.

He was still shock by Heero’s unexpected appearance, totally soaked to the skin with a badly bleeding chest. He could help but wonder what had happened.

/ He must have been wounded while assassinating someone. /

Duo cringed momentarily at the sudden vision of a bloodshed scene.

Soft footsteps came up behind him. The wheelchair bounded boy turned around to find Sister Helen approaching.

“How is he, Sister?” he asked, trying to sound casual.

“We managed to stop the bleeding. But his injuries look quite bad. Perhaps we should send him to the hospital where he will receive better medical treatment.”

“But that might attract unwanted attention since the hospital is bound to question the cause of his injuries.”

“Yes, that could bring some unnecessary problems,” Sister Helen agreed.

The nun saw Duo fidgeting with the end of his braid, a habit he would display when he was worried or nervous.

“Why don’t you go and take a look at him?”

“No…that won’t be necessary. It’s very late now, good night Sister.” Duo excused himself and went back to his room.

The nun watched his retreat with a frown. / You are being too stubborn, Duo. /

Duo was very perturbed about Heero’s condition but outwardly he pretended not to care. Pride and stubbornness refrained him from seeing the wounded boy. He hardened his heart, trying to push all worrying thoughts out of his mind.

But when Heero came down with a high fever, possibly caused by an infection to the wounds, Duo’s worry turned to panic. He began to wonder if he had made the correct decision of not sending Heero to the hospital. Though Sister Helen was trained in first aid before, Heero’s condition might require the hospital’s treatment. He could be endangering his life by refuting proper treatment for Heero.

Duo watched with great unease as the nun and Father Maxwell scurried in and out of Heero’s room with medical supplies. He stayed close by to keep track of the Japanese boy’s condition; all the while trying to dispel worrying thoughts of his condition might took a worse turn.

It was already dusk when he saw a tired Sister Helen left the room. After some deliberation, Duo decided to take a look at Heero. He peeked into the room and saw him resting on the bed, tossing and turning unsettlingly.

Going forward, he saw how bad his injuries were. Duo closed his eyes in agony when he saw the bandages on Heero’s shirtless chest. Though the bandages were freshly changed, they were already stained dark red.

“Why can’t you be more careful?” Duo wanted very much to yell at him. He felt so exasperated seeing how frail-looking Heero was. But when he noticed the chain of shells around his neck, Duo couldn’t help as tears filled his eyes. It reminded him of what happened between them that tore them apart.

Blinking them away, he was about to move away when he saw the washcloth sliding off from Heero’s forehead. With a sigh, Duo took it and dipped it into the basin of cold water on the table by the bed. Squeezing out the excess water, he gently wiped away the beads of sweats on Heero’s forehead and face.

Sister Helen was about to enter the room when she noticed Duo was inside. She saw him wiping Heero’s feverish forehead with the washcloth with tenderness. The nun smiled and stepped away quietly, leaving Heero in his care.

The wounded Japanese boy was mumbling something incoherently in his subconscious. Curious, Duo leaned forward and managed to catch what he was muttering, ‘Duo’.

Heero was calling out for him. Even in the state of unconsciousness, he was still missing the other boy. Duo felt tear welling in his eyes again. / Heero, you idiot! /

Reaching out hesitantly, he took hold of Heero’s limp hand and whispered faintly, “I’m here, don’t worry.”

As if hearing his assuring words, the injured boy began to calm down and slowly drifted off into a peaceful sleep. Duo stayed vigil by his bedside that night.

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By the third day, Heero’s fever had finally subsided and he was slowly aroused from his unconsciousness. Opening his eyes, he groggily wondered where he was until he noticed a crucifix on the wall. He realized he was in the Maxwell church.

“I made it here after all,” he thought. He was about to force himself up when Sister Helen came into the room.

“Heero! Don’t get up yet. You are hurt, you need rest.”

He saw the bandages on his chest.

“Thank you for saving me.”

“Actually, it’s Duo who found you at the doorsteps.”

“Duo? Sister, where is he? I…I want to see him.”

The nun smiled.

“He was here last night, taking care of you.”

“He did?” Heero’s eyes widened incredulously.

Sister Helen nodded. “Yes, he did. It’s a good sign, isn’t it?”

“Sister, I want to see Duo. I need to see him.” Heero started to get up again, only to be restraint by the nun.

“You rest, I will get Duo for you.”

The nun went looking for the American boy and found him collecting mails from the postman.

“Duo, Heero is awake and he’s asking for you.”

Duo went quiet without response.

“Don’t you want to see him?” Sister Helen asked inquiringly.

“I…I’m busy at the moment. I got to deliver these mails to Father and later I have other chores to do. Please excuse me, Sister,” he blurted out and wheeled away in haste.

“Duo…,” Sister Helen called after him, exasperated. Why must he be so stubborn?

Duo stopped his wheelchair outside Father Maxwell’s office. Heero was awake, meaning he was getting better. That was relieving news to Duo but now Heero wanted to see him. This tormented Duo very much. He was torn by his conflicting emotions about Heero. He found it difficult to face him, unsure of how to treat him. What Heero had done to him, Duo couldn’t just pretend that it never happened. Things had strained between them; Duo could not treat him amicably like before. No, he didn’t want to face Heero. He didn’t know how to deal with his own feelings about the Japanese boy yet.

/ I don’t want to see him. I don’t care about him. /

Wiping away the tears that rolled down his cheeks, Duo knocked on the door before entering the office.

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Heero was filled with disappointment when Sister Helen came back alone.

“He hates me,” he lamented sadly.

“No, I’m sure he doesn’t. He’s just not mentally prepared to see you yet. Things haven’t been easy for him,” the nun tried to assure the upset boy.

Sleep eluded from Heero that night. He had wanted so badly to see Duo but the boy was avoiding him. They were in the same church, so near to each other, yet he was unreachable.

“If he won’t come to see me, I’ll go to him instead,” he decided.

Struggling to get up, Heero paused for a moment as his movement brought about a sudden bout of pain to his chest.

Slowly, he sat up on the bed and grasped hold onto the bedpost to stand up. He grabbed his jacket on the chair and threw it over his bare shoulders.

There were no lights in the hall, save the dozens of candles lit in front of statues of saints. There were only flickering lights. Tall, high candles; little thin ones and many that were flickering on the verge of extinction like a prayer that had been said for a soul that was slipping away into eternity.

And there, sitting before the statues, was the one he wanted missed so much.

“Duo?” he called out softly.

The boy jumped, not expecting anyone at that hour of the night. He turned around immediately and saw Heero standing behind him. They stared at each other in silence, both unsure of what to say.

“What…what are you doing out here?” Duo managed to utter when he finally regained his composure.

“I missed you very much, Duo but you refused to see me or talk to me.”

“We have nothing to talk about,” he replied, keeping his voice as cold as possible.

Heero gritted his teeth as his chest began to hurt. He moved forward to take a seat on a nearby bench.

“After what had happened, it is understandable if you can’t accept me anymore. But please, just let me see you once in a while. As long as I can see you, I’m content,” he implored.

“What are you hoping to achieve?” Duo’s tone was getting suspicious.

“I just want to be sure that you are all right.”

“I will be fine as long as you leave me alone.”

Duo unlocked the brakes on his chair and started wheeling back, away from the aisle. Heero quickly stood up and hobbled after him, grasping onto his chair and stopping it.

“Please don't go Duo. Please!”

“God! You're the most exasperating person I have ever known. What do you want with me?!”

“Duo, I know no amount of apologies can appease your anger and hatred towards me but I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done to you.”

“Fine, I accept your apology; now, will you just get out of my life and leave me alone?"

“Duo, please don’t lock me out of your heart. I love you.” The last portion of the words came out almost in a whisper but it was crystal clear to Duo and it threw him into confusion.

“Love….me?”

Heero nodded. “Yes.”

Duo was dumbfounded, unable to react to this unanticipated confession. But soon, his astonished expression turned into anger.

“Stop playing with my emotions. I will never believe a word you say. Just go away!” the American boy cried out before backing away from Heero and out of the hall.

Heero watched him flee away with anguish reflected in his eyes.

“Duo, I truly love you.”

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Duo didn’t stop until he reached his room and locked the door behind him. He was shaking all over.

“Why? Why must you tell me this?“ he cried out. “Love me? Liar! How could you possibly love me? What do you see in me? I’m nothing but a handicapped orphan. Liar…liar!” He kept telling himself that Heero was lying.

“It can’t be true….he’s lying…..lying…”

The mixed feelings he had for Heero deepened and the pain he felt in his heart worsen. He was fighting and suppressing his feelings for Heero but without success. Finally he decided that escaping from all these would be a better option. He remembered Father Maxwell received an invitation to the annual Christian convention a few days ago but the old priest had decided to turn it down, as he wasn’t feeling well enough to travel to the next city for it.

“I’ll go, I will ask Father to let me go instead.”

The old priest and the nun were surprised by Duo’s request. The boy begged and implored, stating that the convention was too important to be missed.

“But are you sure you can make the trip?” Father Maxwell asked, unable to decide if he should allow the boy to go.

“Of course I can. I have learnt to be independent. Please, Father, let me go. Give me a chance to prove myself.”

“All right then but you must promise me that you will be extra careful.”

Duo nodded enthusiastically. “Don’t worry, I will.”

When the boy left the office, Sister Helen turned to the priest. “Father, you think it’s wise to let him make the trip?”

“Let him go. It will help to clear his thoughts.”

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Duo was packing his clothes when Sister Helen came knocking on his door.

“Need any help on that?” she asked.

“It’s all right, I’m almost done.”

“Duo, why are you so eager to attend the convention?”

“Because it is too important to be missed.”

“Is that the real reason?”

“Huh?”

“Is that the real reason or are you just simply looking for an excuse to avoid Heero?”

The boy just zipped up his knapsack in silence.

“Duo, I am really hoping that you would solve the problems between you and Heero soon. It pains me to see both of you suffering like this. Don’t make use of this to escape from your problems. You will have to face them one of these days.”

“Maybe I will have to but until then, I really do not wish to see him. I don’t know what to do, Sister, I’m really confused.”

The nun hugged the young boy, patting his head softly like she used too when he was younger. “You were brought up by me, Duo and I really don’t want to see you upset. If this trip will make you feel better, by all means, go for it.”

Duo left for the train station early the next morning without bidding Heero goodbye. As the train left the station, he looked out of the window and whispered a soft goodbye.

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Heero was extremely depressed when he learnt of Duo’s sudden departure from Sister Helen. He was aware that Duo left because of him. He knew he shouldn’t pressurize the boy but he wanted so badly for Duo to forgive him, to accept him into his life again. He didn’t expect Duo to run away from him instead. Now he had lost him for good.

He was staring at his clenched fists with such an expression of sadness and desolation on his face that Sister Helen felt sorry for him.

That night, Heero left the church quietly.

 

~~ End Of Part 3 ~~