A Tale of Love

-----part 1-----
Heero looked at himself in the mirror. "You must not fail this one, Heero Yuy." he said to his reflection. "This is your most important mission. This is mission is more im... " he fell silent.

//This isn't a mission, you idiot.// he told himself. //This is something even more important. If you treat it like one, you will have failed before you even started. The war is over. There are no missions left. You survived countless battles and won through odds that were far less certain than what you're facing now.//


"So why does this one thing scare me more than all those battles combined?" He asked himself.

He paused for a moment, to collect himself, then walked into the living room where Duo, Quatre, and Wufei were watching TV. From the kitchen, Trowa could be heard trying to select some munchies.

"Duo," he said, "I need to speak to you."

"Sure. What'cha need?"

"Alone." Heero explained.

Quatre exchanged a look with Wufei.

"I think Trowa needs help in the kitchen." Wufei suggested as he left.

"Yes. I'd better go, too." Quatre agreed.

Heero sat on the couch next to Duo and took the other boy's hands in his own. "Duo..." he began.

"Heero, what's wrong?" Duo asked.

"I wanted to ask you something, but I just realized... Duo, I'm not good enough for you. None of us are."

"Heero..." Duo whispered, his heart racing, the question Heero had wanted to ask. Could it have been...?

"Duo, all the angels in the heavens aren't good enough for you."

"I don't want all the angels in the heavens." Duo replied, leaning over to give Heero a gently kiss on the lips. "I just want Heero Yuy. I love you, Heero."

"I love you, Duo." Heero replied. He kissed Duo's fingers, then paused.

"Something wrong?" Duo asked.

Heero looked concernedly at the ring finger on Duo's left hand. "This one seems awfully bare, doesn't it?" he mused. He took the ring from his pocket and slipped it onto Duo's finger. "There." he proclaimed. "Much better, don't you agree, Duo?"

Duo nodded, "Heero..." he whispered, "is this...?"

"An engagement ring?" Heero asked. "I'd like it to be. Duo, will you marry me?"

"Yes." Duo replied.

"All right! Way to go, Duo!" Quatre cheered from the doorway.

"Congrats!" Trowa agreed. "Both of you!"

"My Space Heart tells me you two are perfect for each other." Quatre told them.

The trio exchanged a few congratulatory hugs until Duo collapsed.

"DUO!" Heero exclaimed.

Quatre examined Duo's pulse. "Its okay," he told Heero. "He's just fainted. I think all this excitement's just been a little too much for him. He'll be okay in a minute."

Heero let out an audible sigh of relief.


-----part 2-----
"So, what are we going to do about the wedding?" Duo asked the next morning during breakfast. "Any suggestions?"

"Neither of us has a family, Duo." Heero replied. "So it'll have to be small."

"I don't care if it's small or extravagant." Duo told his fiancé. "Just as long as it's you I end up with."

Heero kissed him.

"Hey!' Quatre offered. "Let me handle the wedding. My family's got
plenty of money.

"Quate, we don't want to impose." Duo began, but Heero silenced him with a loving kiss.

"Of course we'll accept your help." Heero said, while Duo was still musing over the kiss. "Duo deserves the best wedding he can get."

This sentiment met with a round of applause.

Duo blushed.

"What type of ceremony will you two be having?" Quatre asked. "American? Japanese?"

"Whatever my Duo wants." Heero replied.

"Japanese, please!" Duo said, in mock desperation. "I'd look horrible in a stuffy old tuxedo!"

"You could always wear a dress." Heero suggested.

"I was thinking of a wedding kimono." Duo admitted.

"You'd look beautiful in one of those." Wufei told Duo.

"Duo would look beautiful in anything." Heero pointed out. "Or in nothing at all." he added, thoughtfully.

Duo blushed, again.


-----part 3-----

Duo sighed as he gazed at the wedding kimono in the bridal shop window.

"Do you want that one?" Quatre asked. "It's yours if you want it."

"But the price..." Duo protested.

"I told you, it's on me. Don't worry about it." Quatre sighed.

"I can't impose on our friendship like that."

"Then think of it as a wedding present." Quatre told him.

There was an explosion in a nearby apartment building and they turned to see it in flames.

Duo rushed toward it.

"DUO! NO!" Quatre cried out. But Duo wasn't paying attention.

//I couldn't save them when the Maxwell Church burned down.// Duo thought as he rushed toward the building. //But I can save them this time. And I am going to save them... whatever it takes.// he got to the building and saw a little boy there, crying.

"Someone inside?" he asked.

The boy nodded. "My puppy." he said. "Please, save my puppy, mister.

"No," the boy's mother said. "Sir, you don't have to..."

But Duo ignored her and plunged into the burning building.

Duo fought his way throughout the flames, making his way to the second floor of the house, where he could hear a yipping puppy. He found the puppy cowering under the bed. Ignoring the danger, he crept under the bed... just as the bedroom ceiling collapsed.


Duo felt the weight of the mattress and the ceiling on his back, felt the heat of the fire as it burned toward him and the puppy he'd come to save.

//No.// he told himself. //I'm not going to die here. Heero asked me to marry him and I said I would... and Duo Maxwell is not a liar! I promised Heero I would marry him and I am going to keep that promise.// he struggled until he was on his back, then sat up, slowly, pushing upward with his hands, trying to lift the mattress and the bits off ceiling off of himself.

Outside, Quatre fought with firefighters, trying to get into the building and go after Duo. Heero, who had been out buying supplies, saw him and rushed over. "What happened? Where's Duo?"

"Duo ran in after some kid's dog." Quatre said. "These guys won't let me inside."

Heero ran for the door of the building. A fireman tried to stop him, but Heero punched the man out and raced into the building. He checked the rooms on the first floor first, but there was no sign of Duo. He raced up to the second floor. He checked several rooms and was about to give up when he saw a burning pile move upward, just slightly.

"Duo! Hang on! I'm coming!" He called.

Under the mattress, Duo was running out of air and the heat was starting to get to him. Still, he was sure that the voice he'd just heard wasn't just some auditory hallucination. His redoubled his efforts to free himself .

Heero pulled the debris and the smoldering mattress off of Duo.

Duo stood up, then grasped the puppy, checking for a heartbeat.

Heero watched with his heart in his mouth. He knew that if the little puppy was dead, Duo's heart would shatter and even his love would never be able to mend it. To his relief, the puppy licked Duo's face in gratitude.

Duo laughed and the sound was the more beautiful to Heero than the sweetest song.

A cheer erupted from the crowd as Heero and Duo emerged from the burning building. The puppy leapt out of Duo's arms and raced over to the little boy who picked it up and hugged it, happily.

"Thanks, mister!" the child told him.

"I'd like to offer you a reward for saving my son's puppy." the boy's
mother told him.

Duo shook his head. "Being able to save that puppy is reward enough." he told her. "By the way, what's your puppy's name?"

"He doesn't have one." the boy replied. "I just got him today. What's your name, mister?"

"Duo." the boy replied.

"Can I call the puppy Duo?" the boy asked.

"You sure can." Duo smiled. "I'd be honored to share my name with such a fine dog."

"Thanks!" the boy went to play the puppy Duo was now sharing his first name with.

Heero drew his Duo into his arms, and kissed him. He didn't care if the whole world could see them. All he cared about was that Duo was safe and sound.

Duo pulled Heero close, returning the kiss.

Quatre cleared his throat. "I hate to spoil the moment, but we still have our shopping to do." he pointed out.

Heero nodded but held onto Duo for a moment longer. "I'll see you when we get home." he said. Then, tapping Duo on the nose with his forefinger once at the end of each word for emphasis, he added, "and no more rescues." He kissed Duo once more, then resumed the walk he'd been originally taking toward the grocery store while Duo and Quatre returned to the bridal shop.


-----part 4-----

The taylor was adjusting Duo's wedding kimono a few hours later when Duo suddenly stumbled.

"Duo?" Quatre asked, sensing something was very off.

"I'm okay." Duo assured his friend and the taylor. "I guess I'm still a little winded from earlier. Don't worry. I'll be..." he hit the floor a minute later.

"Duo!" Quatre cried out, rushing to the braided boy's side. "Duo, please, speak to me?"

Duo lay there, unconscious. Quatre closed his eyes, reaching into Duo's mind, pushing his uchu-no-kokoro to its very limits. He had to do more than feel, this time. He had to know if there was anything in Duo's mind that might give an indication of why he'd collapsed. At first, he could detect nothing, then images began to form.

Duo was in a doctor's office, shaking his head. He and the doctor were arguing over something.

Quatre pushed himself harder, ignoring the nosebleed it was causing him. He had to find out what Duo and the doctor were saying.

"There's no way I'll do that." Duo shook his head. "Not in a million years."

"It could give you a little more time." the doctor argued. "Please, consider it."

"I have." Duo told him. "And the answer is no. A little more time? How long is that? A week, maybe two?"

"Maybe a month." the doctor offered.

"And that's supposed to be encouraging?" Duo shook his head.

"Don't you want more time?"

"To do what?" Duo asked. "Watch my hair fall out? Become more and more tired every day? Waste away until I'm a mere shell of my former self?"

//Oh no...// Quatre shook his head. //Oh, Duo. Why didn't you tell us?//

"Sorry, doc. But I refuse. And don't try forcing me to submit to it, either. Everyone I've loved except for one person has died, and if Shinigami feels that its time for me to be reunited with them, then I want to look my best and be alert when I meet them."

Quatre pulled back from Duo's mind. He shook his head, sadly, as he readjusted himself to his physical body and location. "Duo, please... not yet. Wait a while before you leave us. You're supposed to be getting married. Please wait a while, Duo."

Duo opened his eyes. "I'm sorry. I hope I didn't worry you." he smiled, cheerfully, then went into the changing room. He came back out in his street clothes a few minutes later and saw that Quatre was crying. He took the boy in his arms, consoling him.

Unfortunately, that's when Heero drove by.

"Duo." he whispered, "Omae o korosu. I hate you, Duo." he pulled the wedding ring he was planning to give Duo from his pocket and threw it out the car window.


Duo and Quatre walked home, neither of them spotting the discarded wedding band. They had something more important to think about.

"Duo... tell me. I know you have cancer of some kind."

"It's a form of lung cancer." Duo explained. "The last time OZ captured me, they used me as one of their lab rats. Tried out a few chemicals on me to see how I'd react. They forced me to breathe various toxic gasses. Then, they cheerfully told me I was going to die. I went to the doctor the next day. He told me..."

Duo stumbled and Quatre lead him over to a bench.

They sat there and waited a while, then Duo resumed "The doctor told me I had only six months," he stood up and continued walked to the safehouse, "maybe seven with chemotherapy, that the cancer was incurable. I didn't want you guys to know. I'm sorry you found out. I didn't want to burden you."

They arrived at the safehouse ten minutes later.


-----part 5-----

Quatre sensed that Trowa was upset and ran upstairs. He found the unibanged pilot packing his suitcase.

"Trowa?" he asked.

"How's your boyfriend, Quatre?" Trowa asked. "Are you happy, now? Heero saw you and Duo in that tender embrace just a short while ago."

"What are you..." Quatre cut himself short. "Allah..." he whispered, sadly. "But the wedding."

"Heero called it off." Trowa shook his head. "He canceled everything as soon as he got home. Obviously Duo would rather..."

"Duo's dying."

"be.." Trowa stopped short. 'What?"

"Duo's dying, Trowa." Quatre explained. "When he collapsed in the bridal shop, I looked into his mind. He has cancer, Trowa. "


-----part 6-----

Trowa pulled Quatre into his arms and stroked his hair. "We should talk to Heero." he said, once Quatre's tears had subsided. "We have to let him know he's making a terrible mistake."


"You bastard! You little cheat!"

Duo was staring at Heero with a look of bewildered hurt in his eyes. "Hee-chan?"

"Stop calling me that. Don't ever call me that again. And give me back my ring. I hate you."

"Hee-chan..." Duo tried again.

Heero backhanded Duo hard enough to fling him onto the bed. A gleam of anger and lust came into his eyes and he leapt upon Duo, pinning the other boy down and tearing his clothes.

"Heero! Don't!" Duo pleaded. "Stop it! Please, don't do this! GET OFF OF ME!!!!"

Trowa and Quatre had just got to the door when they heard Duo's shriek. They ran inside and saw Duo struggling to push Heero off of himself.

"Heero! What are you doing/!" Trowa cried out in alarm.

"Keep out of this." Heero warned, still accosting Duo despite the presence of the other two. He could always kill them later. "This is between the little cheat and myself."

"Duo was comforting me, Heero, " Quatre explained, desperately. "I was upset. Please, don't ruin what you and Duo have over a misunderstanding. You've got so little time left. Please, Heero. Life's already being unfair to Duo. Don't make it worse for him. His last six months should be full of happiness, not shame."

Heero froze as if realizing his actions for the first time. He looked at Duo's bruised cheek, his torn clothes.

//I almost...// he backed away from Duo, hurriedly. 'Duo..." he whispered, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry... " He sat on the edge of the bed, crying for the first time, hating himself for what he'd almost done, and hating God for what He was doing to Duo.

Duo went over to Heero, despite what had almost happened, and put a hand on the other boy's shoulder. He drew Heero into his arms and rocked him gently.

"How can you be so kind to me?" Heero whispered. "I almost..."

"Shhh..." Duo didn't care about almost. There was no time left to care about almost. "Heero, I forgive you. I love you too much not to. Nothing you could do could ever destroy my love or my devotion to you." he held onto Heero for a while longer.

"The ring!" Heero yelped, leaping up and rushing out of the safehouse.

Duo blinked, then looked up. "Would someone mind telling me why Heero just turned into Frodo Baggins all of a sudden?" he asked, confusedly.


-----part 7-----

Heero pulled the car to a halt by the spot where he'd thrown out the ring. "I have to find it." he said. "I have to give it to Duo at our wedding... K'so! I cancelled the wedding. I'll have to see the priest on the way home and explain that it's back on, that it was a misunderstanding."

"Looking for something?"

Heero looked up and saw the priest he'd spoken to. "Yeah." he nodded. "My wedding ring. The one I was going to give Duo." the told the priest what had happened.

The priest smiled, though the expression was tainted with sadness. "I'm sorry about your friend." he told Heero. "Though I'm glad you've resolved the misunderstanding. "Ah, is that it?" he shone a flashlight on a small wedding band that lay upon the ground.

"Yes! That's it, thank you!" Heero picked up the ring and sped back home.


-----part 8-----

Duo looked absolutely stunning as a bride. He approached the altar and participated in a traditional Japanese ceremony with Heero. The ritual went perfectly, and the happy couple were dancing in each other's arms when Heero felt Duo's entire body sag against him.

"Duo!" Heero cried out in alarm. The others hurried over.

They raced Duo into the Winner family's private hospital.


"How bad is he?" Heero asked some time later, when the doctor approached him.

"His left lung just collapsed." the doctor explained. "The cancer is spreading at an alarming rate. I'm afraid he's going to have to remain in bed. We suggest he stay here. You're welcome to stay with him, of course..."

Heero nodded.


-----part 9-----

Duo noticed how sad Heero was. //He's going to kill himself.// he thought. //He thinks life is a waste without me. I have to think of a way to keep him alive. I have to give him a reason to live.//

"Heero," he said, out loud, "can you get me a hot fudge sundae? In fact get us both one. Pretty please?"

"Okay." Heero kissed Duo's forehead and left to fetch the sundaes.

"Doctor, " Duo asked. "if I wanted Heero and I to have a baby, what would be involved?"

"Genesplicing." the doctor replied. "We'd take tissue samples combine the genetic codes from both, then fertilize a donated egg. But under the circumstances. With you dying..."

"That's why I want to do it." Duo explained. "I want Heero to have a reason to live. Please? Let me leave behind someone who can comfort my Perfect Soldier in my absence."

The doctor considered, then nodded.

-Chapter 10-

Heero held Duo's hand. It had been five months since the wedding and Duo was in constant pain now, a respirator breathing for him since his right lung had collapsed a few days earlier. Heero brushed the hair from Duo's forehead and kissed him, softly. "Duo, I love you. Please, Duo. Please don't leave me...

Duo squeezed Heero's hand as a new pain surged up through him. "I'm sorry, Heero." he said, sadly. "Ai shiteiru." he closed his eyes for the last time and sank back against the bed.

The doctor came in and covered Duo's body. "I'm sorry." he told Heero. "He's gone."


-----part 11-----

Heero toyed with his food for several minutes, flipping over a cold strip of bacon several times before finally putting it down and standing up. It had been three months since Duo's death and in that time, none of the pilots had been able to cheer Duo.

Trowa and Wufei were off on a mission, but Quatre had stayed behind with him. Heero had lost all interest in missions. "Duo's gone." he explained, "There's no one left to fight for. It was always you, Duo" Heero thought back to all the battles in which he and Duo had fought side by side. "Love at first shot." he allowed a brief smile. "I never forgot the day we met. When I was wounded by your bullet and captured by your eyes. .."

A knock at the door pulled Heero's mind back to the present. He opened it and was surprised to see the doctor standing there holding a tiny baby in his arms.


The doctor handed Heero the baby. ."It's a boy." he told Heero. "Congrats."

Quatre was alarmed by what he was seeing. "Heero, how could you?!"

"I never..." he turned and glared at the doctor. "What the hell are you going on about? I never... I was always with Duo."

"I know." The doctor replied. "I guess he never got to tell you. This is his and your baby." he explained about Duo's request and the genesplice that had resulted in the tiny wailing infant now in Heero's arms.


-----part 12-----

Heero stood there in stunned silence for several minutes, looking at the tiny infant in his arms.

"Shinigami-no-Kiseki." he whispered, after some time had gone by "That's a perfect name for you, you know that." he told the fussing newborn. "I think he's hungry. What do I do?"

The doctor smiled. "I'll show you how to make up the formula." he offered.

Heero watched the doctor prepare a bottle for the tiny baby.

Shinigami-no-Kiseki Maxwell-Yuy drank the formula, contentedly in his father's arms, two tiny violet orbs looking up at Heero.

"You've got you mother's eyes." the new father told his son. "He was very beautiful, you know that. Everything about him was beautiful. His body, his mind, his heart, and his soul. But now he's gone. I... I guess Heaven wanted their angel back."

Heero handed the baby to Quatre, then left the room.

"It's still difficult for Heero." Quatre explained, frowning as the baby burped up on him. He frowned at the baby. "Couldn't you have done that sooner?" he asked.

"He should come in for regular check-ups, the baby I mean, for the first few months, just to make sure everything is okay. If Heero has questions at I encourage him to ask them." The doctor looked at the door Heero had just gone through "I understand this is a difficult time for Heero being a new father, and having recently lost his spouse. He has my support. Tell him to call if he needs any advice, no matter how stupid he might think it is." He looked over at the bag he'd brought which now lay in the corner. "There's clothes, diapers, toys, bath supplies and more formula in there. And I've enclosed some books on baby care that should help."


-------Part 13---------

Heero stood before the kamidana, silently lighting the joss sticks. He meditated for a moment, then spoke. "Congrats, Duo." he whispered. "it's a boy. Thank you for giving me such a lovely child, Duo. He has your eyes. I wish you could've held him. He's a beautiful little boy."

A wind blew through the room, brushing against the lips of the Perfect Soldier.

"You just kissed me, didn't you, Duo? " Heero felt tears streaming down his face. "Ai shiteiru, Duo."

He could've sworn he heard the wind whisper "Ai shiteiru."