2-26-2006

Title: Ray of Hope
Parts 21-30
Creative assistance from Sunhawk
Archive: http://www.mizunoamy.bravepages.com
Pairings: Eventual 1x2, 5XS, References to past pairings, other pairings possible
Warnings: AU, language and possible citrus
BY: SkyLark
Beta Writing By: Deb

 

Part 21

[I really love to be alone
without all the ache and pain and the April showers.
But it ain't long before I long for you
like a ray of hope coming through the blue]
-Lyrics to `Lifted' performed by The Lighthouse Family

Removing his trim uniform hat, Wufei stepped into the main headquarters of his department. His right hand clenched tightly around the small note that he made for himself the night before. With a few nods of his head to the other officers that greeted him on his way, already he moved with sure steps to his partner's enclosed workplace.

"Well, we're smiling before our first ticket handout of the day. That's a new one for you. The weekend must have treated you well," Treize grinned as he straightened in his seat when his Chinese colleague reached his office. "You look like the cat that just ate the prize canary," he commented as he reached for his steaming cup of coffee.

Before his old friend could reach his morning beverage, Wufei threw the crumpled note onto his desk. "No, but I did get a lead on our mysterious sailor's identity," he smirked. "I have a few assignments that are going to have me tied up, so I need you to get that to Une so we can update our search."

Treize took up the small paper and opened it to reveal the name that the other officer had scratched there. Raising a long eyebrow as he looked up to his partner, he asked, "Do I even want to know how you managed to get this information?"

At that, the Chinese young man's dark eyes narrowed as he shrugged, "It really doesn't matter how in the end, does it?"

Rolling his eyes, the older patrolman sighed deeply, "I thought not. Well, just so long as you didn't steal it." When his partner's dark eyes looked away at the statement, Trieze's own gaze widened as he rose from his seat, shouting, "You stole it!"

Quickly raising a finger to his lips, Wufei glared fiercely at his colleague and warned, "Shh!" Out in the hall, a few passing policemen peered into the glass windows of the office. With a forced smile, he and Treize waved at them until they finally went back about their business.

When the hallway was cleared again, the raven-haired officer ran a hand over his dark hair to calm his nerves. In all honesty, Wufei felt terribly guilty for the way that he went about obtaining Heero's actual name. But when all was said and done, he was only doing what he thought was right to solve a case that he was on. Just as every case he was given, he would see it through until it was solved, regardless of what measures he had to take to solve it.

When Sally found out what he did, he would deal with that when the time came… He just hoped that she would understand.

Sighing deeply, Wufei finally stated, "Look, I didn't steal the information." He paused and bit his lip before frowning, "…per say."

The panic growing on Treize's face, he asked, "Is this anything that I am going to get in trouble for?"

"Of course not!" Wufei shouted, his dark eyes narrowed in frustration. "I wouldn't have given you the name if I thought that you would."

Instantly, the older officer's face calmed as he sagged back in his seat. "Oh," he replied simply. Breaking out into a wide grin, he nodded, "We're okay then." As he looked back to the name, he thought aloud, "Odin, huh?"

With resolve in his blue eyes, Treize lowered the paper and nodded up to his friend, "All right. You know that it'll be quite some time before we hear anything, but I'll see that Une looks into this when she gets in." In mentioning the young woman's name, his sly smile returned. "You know I am always looking for an excuse to talk with her, anyway," he chuckled deeply as he reached for his cup once more.

It was Wufei's turn to roll his eyes as he sighed deeply, "Yes, I know how much you love `talking' with her. Just please don't try `talking' on the photocopier again. You're lucky that I thought of a believable excuse to how the glass broke."

Raising his coffee mug after taking a sip, Treize smirked, "Which is one of the many reasons why you are going to be the best man when I finally decide to get over testosterone-driven ways and commit." With a wink, he took another swig from his coffee.

His Chinese friend snorted and shook his head, "I'll be sure not to hold my breath for that day." Gesturing to the paper on the desk, he told the tall officer, "Just make sure that you take care of that." As he held his cap in both hands, he turned on his heels and made his way to the office door.

Just as his partner was about to step out, Treize called after him, "Hey, Wufei." When the other young man turned to face him, he held up the crumpled paper and asked, "What is it that you have against this guy, anyway? Ever since he crashed on this island, you've made it your mission to find out everything you can on him." He tilted his head and shrugged, "Maybe he's not meant to remember his past so he can focus on starting a new life here."

Blinking his widened dark eyes, Wufei considered the unexpected question and insightful remark. He truly did like Heero after meeting him, so he was not trying to be vindictive. Still, the fact that the sailor was obviously running from something weighed heavily on him. Finally, he answered, "I just don't like not knowing who I am dealing with."

He didn't wait for his partner's reaction as he turned and stepped from the office. On his way down the hall, Wufei reached up to wipe the sweat that, until then, he was unaware had been beading on his brow.

* * * * * *

Three weeks later…

The sound of several men grunting approached the car that Heero was working on. Rolling out from under the vehicle on the rolling bed he was laying on, he sat up to watch one Trowa and the four of his mechanics pushing a rusty Olds Mobile into the shop. The red paint was flaking off and the bumpers were bent and twisted. Overall, the car certainly had seen better days. Despite the poor shape that it was in now, the Japanese young man knew that in its heyday, it would have been a beauty.

His cobalt eyes widening, the sailor quickly rose to his feet and assisted the team in pushing the rundown car to the back of the work station with Trowa maneuvering it. "Right there," he called as he raised a hand from the opened driver seat door that he used to push. Its wheels squeaking to its halt, the rust and red vehicle almost sighed as it sank on its flat tires.

As the four that he originally gathered walked off to return to their other projects, the shop owner grinned as Heero ran his hands over the round edges of the car in his inspection. "Like it?" Trowa asked as he slapped the sailor on the shoulder when he finally made his way to him.

Nodding, Heero kept his eyes on the car. "It was put together well. Too bad that no one took the time to care for it. This thing would have run forever if they had. "

"If you can get it running, it's yours," Trowa smiled. His friend's head snapped to gaze at him with a slacked jaw and wide, disbelieving eyes. Laughing, the Latin mechanic patted his shoulder again and stated, "It's what I do for everyone that works for me as a way of thanking them. All of the cars that the others, here, drive are ones that I found abandoned that they fixed and rebuilt for themselves. Whenever we hit a lull in work, you can use the time to work on it and use the resources here."

With a wide grin tugging at his lips, Heero sputtered, "I-I don't know what to say." the excitement of having his own car sparkling in his cobalt eyes, he walked around the car once more, examining it more closely.

The vehicle certainly had a great deal of potential and he thought of the many possibilities that it presented. When he made his way all the way around, he took Trowa's hand into his own to shake it firmly. "Thank you," he said sincerely with a firm nod.

Chuckling deeply, Trowa shook his head, "You've been here over two months now. I figured you could use something to get you from point A to point B without having to rely on someone else to drive you around." He turned to the clock. With a low whistle, he shook his head, "Damn, this day flew by. As he what you were working on so that we can call it a day."

Heero nodded and followed as he looked back over his shoulder to the car that he could now call his own. The smile on his face was almost hurting his cheeks, but he paid no mind.

* * * * * *

Thirty minutes later, Trowa and Hilde dropped Heero off back at the cabin in the late afternoon. After an exchange of farewells until the next day, the excited sailor ran up towards the house. His smile never left his face ever since he learned of his surprise.

Opening the front door, he called, "Duo!" At the entranceway, he kicked off his sneakers and lowered his toolbox. Stepping into the hallway, he called again, "Duo!"

"Hey!" Duo smiled as he ran into the hall from the kitchen. His violet eyes widened when he was pulled into a fierce kiss. He didn't even have a moment to return the kiss before his boyfriend pulled back with an elated grin. Blinking in shock, he chuckled deeply, "What's gotten into you?"

Even in the midst of his excitement, Heero could not help but appraise the braided young man in his arms. The last three weeks of having his family and loved ones close had worked wonders on Duo. His flu had finally subsided completely and his usually pale complexion was replaced with a healthy glow.

Gone were the traces of any dark circles under the violet eyes that sparkled brilliantly in a way that the sailor had never seen before. The much needed sleep and better eating habits certainly worked their wonders on the lighthouse keeper.

While he always thought Duo to be an attractive person, Heero was breathless at how beautiful and radiant he had become. It never ceased to amaze him that he was fortunate enough to be with such a gorgeous creature.

Breaking from his thoughts, he remembered his boyfriend's question. Grinning widely, Heero answered, "Trowa gave me a car! All I have to do is fix it up."

His eyes widening, Duo beamed, "That's great!" Leaning in quickly, he kissed his partner's lips fully before taking his hand and pulling him into the kitchen, laughing, "Come on. Let's get some wine from the cellar that we can have at dinner to celebrate!"

With their celebration dinner and cake that Noin made especially for the happy announcement finished, the family filed out from the dining room. Between their full bellies and the soft buzz from the wine that they drank, everyone was moving pretty slowly, but they were happy.

Sighing deeply, Duo appraised the reddening sky through the living room window. "Well, I better get ready to light the-" His words were cut off by a soft knock on the door. With a small frown, he thought aloud, "I wasn't expecting anyone over tonight." He headed for the entranceway with Heero close behind.

When he opened the door, the lighthouse keeper's eyes widened at the sight before him. Her arms wrapped tightly around her waist, Sally bit her lip when her bloodshot eyes met his. "Duo, I'm sorry to bother you like this," she managed in little more than a whisper.

Quickly opening the door completely, Duo stepped out onto the porch to take hold of her shoulders. "What is it, Sal?" he asked quietly.

Moaning quietly, Sally swallowed hard before whispering, "It's Septum… H-he died this afternoon."

 

Part 22:

[Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me]
-Lyrics to the hymn `Abide With Me'

His violet eyes widening, Duo's mind reeled over the news that Sally passed on. Instantly, his throat turned dry and he struggled to swallow. A gentle hand rested on the small of his back in support and when he refocused on his surroundings, he did not realize until then that he had made a couple of paced back from the door.

"Duo," the voice belonging to the hand on his back spoke softly, the concern evident. Turning his head to meet the deep cobalt eyes that watched him worriedly, he noticed that Heero had paled in his own hearing of Sally's announcement.

Quickly shaking his head to clear his thoughts, the braided lighthouse keeper smiled warmly to his boyfriend and reassured him in a surprisingly confident voice, "I'm okay. Thank you." He looked back to his ex-girlfriend as she slowly stepped into the cabin, her eyes still reddened and puffy.

Stepping forward, Duo wrapped her tightly in his arms and whispered, "Thank you for coming to tell me in person, Sal." When he pulled back to look into her shocked and widened eyes, he grinned and nodded, "It's all right. Better this than him having to keep suffering the way he was, right?"

A glance to his right showed Noin, Zechs and Solo standing up with concerned and saddened looks as they stood ready to offer any support that they could give. Looking to everyone around him, Duo laughed, "Come on, everyone. We all knew that this was coming, so it's no real surprise."

Noin stepped forward as she swallowed hard to keep her own voice so steady. "Are you sure that you're okay, Duo? One of us could fill in with looking after the lighthouse tonight to give you some time if you like."

Waving his hand, Duo snorted, "Nah. I got it, mom. Thanks for the offer, though." He walked past the stunned crowd gathered and headed to the front door as he announced, "Better get up there soon, the sky's getting pretty red out there."

Quickly recovering from his surprise, Heero watched his partner open the door and called, "I'll be up there in a little bit." No matter how well the braided young man took the news of his father's death, he knew that he needed his space-even if it was only for a short while.

The violet eyes that turned back to meet his worried gaze flashed, only for a second, a glimpse of pain that the lighthouse keeper had been holding back. Masking what his slip revealed with a bright smile again, Duo nodded, "Sounds good." He turned and waved to the rest of the party gathered, "Have a good night, everyone. See you bright and early in the morning." And with a wink, he stepped out onto the porch closed the door after him.

For a long moment, Heero, Sally and Duo's family stood in silence as they stared at the closed door. Sighing deeply, Solo ran a hand through his blonde bangs and frowned deeply, "I didn't expect him to take it so well. I thought…"

"He's just looking for some kind of normalcy right now to cope," Noin stopped him as she shook her head.

Zechs stepped forward and nodded, "Your mother is right. Eventually, he'll be ready to talk and until then, we best not push him. And when he is ready to talk, we'll be here for him." Solo nodded firmly at that, the resolve to look after his brother overriding any other emotion in his blue eyes.

She turned and smiled brightly at the distraught doctor that she had come to know over the years. Resting a hand on her shoulder, the young mother offered, "Come on, Sally. You look like you could use some tea."

At that, Sally wiped the last of her tears away and grinned in relief, "Thank you, Noin. That sounds wonderful right now." Together, the two young women walked off towards the kitchen as they spoke quietly.

Taking a deep breath, the young sailor announced quietly, "I'm going to call Hilde, Trowa and the others to tell them about what happened. I'm sure that they'll want to know and given Sally's state right now, I'm sure that she's not looking forward to broaching the subject again with all of them."

Zechs sighed deeply and replied, "Good idea, Heero. The more support that Duo can get right now, the better. Solo and I will be on standby here in case he changes his mind about staying up at the lighthouse all night." All too happy to be there for his brother, Solo nodded fervently beside the tall man.

With a small smile, Heero nodded, "Thanks." Satisfied with their plans, the stepfather and stepson-to-be walked off together towards the kitchen to give him some space in calling upon his friends.

As Solo walked past, he patted the young sailor's shoulder. When their eyes met, he said quietly, "Take good care of him. He can be pretty tough and stubborn, but I know that little brother of mine pretty well. He's having a harder time with this than he's letting on."

Nodding firmly, Heero gave a firm and solemn nod as he vowed quietly, "I will." His words seemed to serve their purpose of reassurance to the blonde young man as he visibly relaxed and gave a small smile of appreciation before following after Zechs.

Dry washing his face with his hands, the Japanese teenager moved to the living room and sat at the couch before the vidphone. Sighing deeply as he opened the small screen, he prepared for his volunteered task. As he dialed the first number, he silently hoped to finish as soon as possible so that he could check up on Duo.

* * * * * *

It was already dark by the time Heero climbed to the lighthouse observation room. Looking through the window panes, he found his partner outside. The long braid behind him swayed back and forth on the strong breeze as he gazed up to the stars. Despite the chill of the night, Duo stood in a light, red T-shirt and blue jeans that would have done little to protect him from the coolness attributed by their altitude.

With a deep frown, the young sailor removed one of the brown blankets from the bed that they had shared for several weeks. Clutching it in his hand, Heero stepped out onto the gallery. At the sound of him opening the glass door, Duo pushed himself up from the railing to straighten as he turned to meet his boyfriend's concerned cobalt eyes.

Silently, Heero opened the blanket and gently rested it over the American's shoulders. His hands closing the warm wool around his frame, Duo trembled slightly in recognition of how cold he actually was. He had been so numb the last couple of hours that he never took notice until then. "Thanks," he managed quietly with a small smile.

"You looked like you could use it," the sailor replied simply with a lopsided smile. "I called Quatre and the others. They all send their best and will be here first thing tomorrow to check up on you since they knew you were working up here tonight."

The relief was evident as Duo nodded, "Thanks for getting a hold of them." Another chill ran through him, but just as before, it was not because of the breeze. Without even thinking, he pulled the blanket all the tighter around him.

Gently brushing back the long bangs to reveal his brilliant violet eyes, Heero asked quietly, "You okay?"

For a moment, the braided young man hesitated to answer, his smile fading. He turned to look out to the vast ocean as the wide beams of light continued spinning over them. Swallowing hard, he did not look back but nodded, "I think so."

A chuckle of amusement rumbled in Duo's chest as he shook his head, "I mean, I've been preparing for this for a long time. It's not like I can really have expected there to be word of some miracle that the cancer stopped spreading. As much as that bastard smoked for as long as I knew him, there wasn't any chance of that."

Heero nodded, remaining silent as he patiently allowed his partner to get out what he was feeling. There was another long pause before Duo, still looking out to the sea, whispered, "And to think that there was some damned part of me that kept hoping that his knowing he didn't have much time left would have made him change."

In the distance, a large white ship turned towards its port safely with the aid of the lighthouse and slowly drifted in. As he watched the vessel, Duo spoke softly, "Every day, I kept waiting for that call out of the blue that he forgave me and wanted me back in his life." His last words broke off as his voice cracked with emotion that he had been holding back.

Slowly turning back to meet his boyfriend's gaze as he wiped at his own eyes, the braided young man laughed, "I feel so selfish for that. After all that Heero and Noin did for me over the years, I still hoped that my actual father would care enough to check in on me. Maybe I was just expecting too much."

Unable to stay quiet any longer, Heero's hand gripped the cold railing and he stepped forward until they were almost touching. Paying no mind to the wind as it tussled with his hair, he insisted quietly, "That's not being selfish. Yes, what Heero and Noin did for you was wonderful, but it still doesn't take away the fact that Septum was your actual father. It's understandable that you would want him to take some interest in your wellbeing."

With a sharp, bitter laugh, the lighthouse keeper gave a smile that did not reach his eyes. "A lot of good that did me, considering the message that he sent by not trying to reach me when he knew that the end was close." Quickly turning on his heels with narrowed eyes and clenched fists, he screamed out to the heavens and the ocean, "Well, you can rot in Hell for all I care, too, you bastard!"

Biting his suddenly trembling lip, Duo held onto the railing for support as his legs shook beneath him. Even as he spoke the words, he knew that he could never mean them. Septum was still his father, for better or worse. As enraged as he wanted to be, in the end, he knew that he couldn't stand by it. When he looked back up at the sailor, it was evident even in Heero's worried eyes that he knew the same.

Slowly steadying himself on trembling legs, there were large tears in the braided teenager's eyes as he whimpered and whispered brokenly, "Why didn't he love me, Heero?"

His cobalt eyes widening with a sharp gasp at the desperate question, Heero thought that his heart was going to shatter. "Oh, Duo," he breathed as he closed the small distance between them to pull him into a tight embrace.

The damn holding back Duo's grief fell away as he clung onto the young sailor, sobbing into his shoulder. When it seemed that the young man in his arms was calming after a long moment, the Japanese youth kissed the top of his braided head. "For what it's worth," he said quietly against his hair, "I love you, Duo."

Gasping sharply, the lighthouse keeper pulled back to gaze at him with wide eyes. It had been the first time either of them had the courage to say those words. His face soaked in tears, Duo smiled warmly and breathed, "I love you, too." Slowly, they leaned to share a chaste kiss that sealed their declaration.

When their lips separated, Duo sighed deeply and rested his head on his partner's shoulder. "Could you hold me a while longer?" he asked softly.

Heero rested his chin atop his braided head as he tightened his arms around the young man in his arms. "I'll hold you as long as you let me," he promised in little more than a whisper. At that, Duo tightened his own hold as his eyes drifted closed with a few stray tears rolling down his face.

They stayed in silence for a time, just listening to the rolling waves beneath them and the soft whistle of the breeze.

 

Part 23:

[Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free
Black-bird fly
Black-bird fly, into the light of a dark black night]
-Lyrics to `Blackbird' performed by Paul McCartney

Quietly opening the door to the cabin, Heero stepped aside for Duo to enter before him. Already, the smells of breakfast cooking filled the air. Walking from the kitchen, Noin smiled warmly to her red-eyed son as she opened her arms to him.

The lighthouse keeper smiled back at her as he all but fell into her arms, wrapping his own tightly around her. Gently kissing his head, the young woman whispered, "Good morning." Heero remained a few feet back, smiling when Noin winked to him as she held her son.

Grateful that she did not press to see how he was feeling, Duo returned the greeting in kind before pulling back. "Breakfast smells great, mom," he complimented sincerely. His stomach grumbled lightly in anticipation after the emotional evening the night prior had strained nearly all of his energy.

Her smile widening, Noin shrugged, "Why, thank you, but I can't take full credit for this one." She waved her hand for the pair to follow her to the kitchen. Looking over his shoulder, Duo frowned to his boyfriend in confusion at what she had meant. With a shrug of his own, Heero shook his head as he followed.

When they entered the kitchen, the two young men gazed on the scene that greeted them with wide eyes. Standing at the counters and oven were Sally, Wufei, Trowa, Hilde, Quatre and Catherine as they made an assembly line while cooking a meal that could feed an army. Standing close were Zechs and Solo, large plates in hand to gather up the pancakes, meats and other foods as they were finished.

At hearing the others enter, the band of friends looked up from their work to give him warm smiles and a chorus of `hello's.' Blinking his wide violet eyes, the braided young man sputtered, "W-what's all of this for?"

Shrugging, Hilde flipped another pancake on the grill and answered, "Well, we all took the day off today so that we could spend time with you and your family. Along with that, we'll be taking care of all of the cooking today so you don't have to worry about it." The others in the assembly line grinned and nodded to the surprised lighthouse keeper.

With small tears in his eyes, Duo shook his head, "But Trowa, what about your shop? And your family business, Quatre? And Sal?"

The tall Latin mechanic turned away from the grill on the counter to fold his arms and reply, "I had Joe take over for the day." Looking to the sailor, he smirked, "And I'm giving you the rest of the week off, too." Heero's eyes widened anew as his mouth opened to protest when Trowa held his hand up and insisted, "Don't worry. We'll be fine handling the work load until you get back on Monday."

A small smile tugged at the Japanese youth's lips as he nodded firmly, "All right. Thank you, Trowa."

Quatre continued to check the slices of ham and bacon that he was cooking as he commented, "We all could afford some time off from our jobs, Duo. This is more important than my staying at my office working on accounts."

Nodding, Sally added, "Early this morning, I called in Doctor Harrison to take my patients today. He was more than understanding, considering the circumstances." With a wink to Catherine, she stated, "And I wasn't about to have Catherine go into work today when she wanted to be here, as well."

The said redhead filled one of the plates that Solo handed to her and grinned, "That's right. So stop worrying about us and what we `should' be doing. We're doing just that now by being here and helping out."

Duo looked from Heero back to the others as his mouth opened and closed. "I-I don't know what to say," he whispered when he finally found his voice.

At that, Wufei snorted, "You don't have to say anything, Duo. Just sit down and relax for a change." He looked over to Noin and smirked, "That goes for you, too, Misses Yuy." Taking up one of the full plates along with Zechs and Solo, he set it in the middle of the table in the adjacent dining room along with the other heaping trays of food.

Noin chuckled deeply, "Oh, all right." She gently took Duo's wrist to lead him and Heero into the dining room to take their seats. As the others began to fill the room, she leaned close to her son's ear and whispered, "I'm proud of you, you know. You must have made quite an impact on your friends for them to go out of their way to do all of this."

Swallowing the lump that had been forming in his throat, Duo fought the small tears filling his eyes. On his other side, Heero smiled warmly at him and squeezed his shoulder. With the cooking finished, the remainder of the `family' took their seats. Gazing at the concerned and smiling faces, the lighthouse keeper told them in a quiet, broken voice, "I can't thank you enough for this, guys."

Their smiles warming, his friends all nodded or gave some gesture of understanding. "You would do the same for any one of us and it's our pleasure," Sally reassured him with a wink. On that sentiment, the gathered family filled their plates and started enjoying their quiet breakfast.

* * * * * *

Between the large breakfast, lunch and dinner that his friends had made during their stay, there were going to be plenty of leftovers to feed the residents of the cabin for at least a couple of days. Nearly all of the rooms had flower displays that had been sent in condolences to the beloved lighthouse keeper on light of his loss; and the deliveries showed no sign of stopping anytime soon.

While Septum, himself, was not the most liked person on the island, few people did not know or love Duo. It had been very overwhelming to him to see how many people had him in their thoughts and prayers. With a small smile, he smelled the large rose bouquet that Sylvia Noventa and her family had sent. The small sympathy card remained in the display, just as all of the others stayed in their arrangements. There would be another day to read the sentiments… when he was ready.

The front door opened and Heero stepped into the living room with a mechanic book under his arm. At seeing his partner smelling the flowers from a yellow tulip display that he had not seen before, he smiled, "That's a new one."

Straightening, Duo turned quickly to face him and grinned. With a gesture to the arrangement, he nodded, "It just got here about an hour ago. The Frasier family sent them. Years ago, I helped their little girl get her cat out of their tree when I was passing by. They were good friends of my mother too." Shaking his head in wonder as he looked to the display, he said quietly, "I can't believe that they remembered me after all this time."

"Well, you're pretty hard to forget," Heero replied softly as he lowered his book to hug his boyfriend from behind. Leaning back into him, Duo closed his eyes with a hum of content, resting the back of his head on the sailor's shoulder. Gently kissing the exposed neck, the Japanese teenager lightly nipped at the skin with a few playful bites where he knew that it would tickle thanks to prior experience.

Duo laughed and tried to break free of his partner's hold. Chuckling deeply, Heero help on tight enough to keep the lighthouse keeper in his arms to get a couple more bites. When he finally turned to face the sailor, the American kissed him lightly on the lips before hugging him tightly. Looking to the book on the small coffee table, he pulled away to pick it up and asked, "How is the research coming?"

Heero shrugged, "Not too bad. When I visited the shop to have a better look at the car this morning, I think I found the problems that it's having. With any luck, I might have it running in a few weeks. I'll finally have a chance to work on it during my lunch when I get back to work on Monday."

With a nod, Duo smiled, "That's great. I know you're anxious to get back there." Biting his lip, he swallowed hard and his smile faded. Their eyes locked once again and he breathed, "Thank you for taking Trowa's offer to stick around here this week. Between you and my family, here, I wouldn't be doing so well right now."

Lightly wiping away the stray tear that ran down the lighthouse keeper's face, Heero cupped his cheek. Smiling lovingly, he whispered, "Despite how you may think that I would rather be working, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than right here with you."

A small, relieved laugh bubbled from Duo's chest as he leaned into his boyfriend's touch. "Thank you," he finally managed with a sincere grin that reached his eyes. Leaning in, Heero pressed their lips together in a gentle kiss.

The sound of footsteps approaching broke the pair as they turned to watch Zechs entering the room. In his hand, he held the daily newspaper. With a solemn nod to his stepson-to-be, he frowned deeply, "I just thought that you should know the paper announced the location and date for the funeral."

His violet eyes widening at that, Duo blinked before replying, "Oh. Okay. Thanks, Zechs." Lowering the paper onto the coffee table along with Heero's book, the tall man nodded once more before stepping from the room.

Silence hung in the living room as the braided young man stared at the folded newspaper, his eyes unreadable. Finally, after a long pause, he shook his head and announced firmly, "I won't be going. I can't." Biting his lip once more, he looked up to the cobalt eyes watching him and frowned, "Am I terrible for that?"

"No," Heero answered reassuringly as he shook his own head slowly. "Whatever you want to do, you have to make sure it's the right thing for yourself. No one has the right to judge you, or your decision."

Relief filled the lighthouse keeper's eyes and he nodded, if a little unsure of himself, "Yea. You're right." Running a hand through his long bangs, he sighed, "I think I'm going to get a shower before heating something up for dinner."

Well aware that a shower was his partner's way of relaxing, Heero grinned, "All right." He headed over to the table to pick up his book again and stated, "I'll busy myself with more research, then." He gave Duo another kiss, making him grin widely before he made his way from the room.

Waiting in the doorway of the living room, the sailor watched as his boyfriend disappeared up the stairs. Once he was alone, Heero quickly moved back to the table to take up the news paper. Unfolding it, he looked up the obituary section.

* * * * * *

Officer Une was just about to close her office for the day when her fax machine came to life. Sighing deeply, she rolled her eyes with a mumbled, "Figures." She lowered her uniform coat and headed over to the machine.

As she took up the cover page, she grinned, "Well it's about bloody time." Quickly, she walked over to her desk to call an internal number. When the familiar voice greeted, she asked, "Treize, is Wufei still here?"

The smile was evident in his voice as he answered, "No, my dear. He stepped out for the night. He's going to be stationed with the second district for the next couple days." She could envision the lopsided curve of his grin as he commented, "But, you know, I'm always willing to assist you."

"Sorry," the brunette officer chuckled deeply. "But it's just a report that Wufei had requested. I'll put it in a file for him to collect when he's back in." Her lips tugging up, she smirked, "But I'll take a rain check on that offer." Before the young man had a chance to respond, she hung up the telephone.

Collecting the pile of papers that came in, she stacked and sealed them away in a yellow envelope. Writing `Wufei Chang' on the front of the envelope, Une put the report on her desk. Turning out her office light, she closed her office door after her.

 

Part 24:

[The bright light is lying down
Earth and the sea and the sky
Is at rest with the ocean
And the days go by]
-Lyrics to `Planets of the Universe' performed by Stevie Nicks

Opening the closet in his bedroom, Heero took out the nicest shirt and black slacks that he owned. The pressed gray shirt was simple, but dressy enough for the occasion. Finishing the look were his shiny, black dress shoes. When he was dressed, he appraised himself in the mirror above his dresser. Running a hand through his unruly hair, he was satisfied enough with his appearance and stepped from the room.

Duo was already out at the lighthouse going about his chores with the assistance of Zechs and Solo. As he descended the stairs, the young sailor felt bad at not being forthcoming with his plans to his partner, but he couldn't bring himself to broach the subject. Noin was the only person that he felt comfortable going to.

Quietly waiting by the front door, the young mother smiled, "You clean up well." In her simple, motherly ways, she helped the Japanese youth straighten the front of his shirt.

With a small smile, Heero nodded his appreciation. "Thanks for covering for me," he said quietly. His smile faded as he looked away. "I don't want to keep this from Duo."

A small smile tugged at Noin's lips as she shrugged, "I understand why you are. When the time's right, I know that you'll tell him." Reassured by that, Heero turned and hugged the young woman tightly. Gently kissing his head as she held him, she whispered, "You better get going. The service starts in less than a half hour."

Gently pulling back, Heero swallowed hard as he tried to muster the last of his courage to carry his plans out. With one last grin of gratitude to Noin, he turned and focused on putting one foot in front of the other as he stepped outside.

* * * * * *

Sighing deeply, Heero stared up to the tall, white steeple of Saint David's Church. The Friday morning was lovely, as predicted by the weatherman the day prior. There was a steady, warm breeze that was also right on schedule. Despite the quaint, welcoming picture that the church made, the young sailor couldn't help but tug nervously at the collar of his simple, gray shirt.

With a deep breath, Heero knew that he was only stalling from what he knew he had to do. As he straightened, he breathed out in a deep sigh. Running a hand through his blowing, unruly hair, the Japanese youth climbed the front steps to the tall, white doors. His hand gripped on the gold handlebar, he pulled the door open and stepped quietly inside.

The funeral service was already well underway. Slowly stepping into the main room, Heero watched as the balding priest in his green robes stood before the opened casket to shake the gold incense chalice, its smoke rising into the air. Several people, nearly all of them in black, filled the first five isles on either side of the church. Occasionally, over the chanting of the priest, there was a small whimper or sniffle from the small crowd.

Contenting himself to watching from afar, the young sailor slipping into the last pew at the right of the church. The awkwardness at being at the funeral subsided before long as he listened to the sermon. Keeping his focus on the ceremony itself, Heero settled comfortable in his seat as he went completely unnoticed by any of Septum's surviving relatives. There was a surreal sense of peace that he had not expected.

At the conclusion of the funeral, Heero stepped out of Saint David's and followed the procession to the graveyard from a safe distance. As he watched the remainder of the funeral from the bottom of the hill where Septum was to be buried, he witnessed the lowering of the casket into the ground. Finally, after a few more prayers and words from the family, the small crowd parted from the grassy hill. Tears were dried and hands were held as the gathered family moved back to their cars.

When the last limo drove off, the sailor climbed the abandoned hill. It would be at least an hour before the crew would be arriving to bury the hole that had been dug up. That was what Heero was counting on for this moment. While before he had been debating on going through with this, he knew this was something that he needed to do.

Reaching the top of the hill, he read the simple tombstone at the head of the grave. `Septum Trent Loving Husband, Brother and Son AC158-AC201' Even in death, Septum refused to have it recognized that he was a father. And that had solidified Heero's resolve, his blood boiling and his fists clenching at his sides.

As he looked down to the casket at the bottom of the deep hole before him, the Japanese teenager frowned deeply, "I'm here on behalf of your son. At first, he was debating whether or not to come here, but seeing how you and your family wrote him off even after you passed on, I'm glad that he didn't."

His hands relaxing a bit at his sides, Heero chuckled deeply and shook his head, "You know, as angry as I want to be with you for all of the pain that you caused Duo with how you so easily erased him from your life, I'm actually starting to realized that I feel bad for you more than I am mad at you. You had a gift and you willingly threw it away. Most parents would kill for the chance to raise someone like your son, but you tossed him aside. He loved you, and loves you still, but that just wasn't enough for you."

Small tears filled Heero's eyes as he said brokenly, "Your son gave me a reason to live again, when I lost everything. Even if I could remember everything about my past, I know that I would never have known anyone as caring or wonderful as your son." A few stray tears rolled down his face as he went on, "He saved my life by doing more than just pulling me from the ocean when I crashed here."

Roughly, he wiped his tears away with his eyes still staring down to the casket. "And I am far from the only person who knows how good a person Duo is," the sailor stated quietly. "There is hardly a person on this island who wouldn't go out of their way to take care of him, protect him and all because they know he would do the same for them without thinking twice.

"If that doesn't say something about him, I don't know what else would." He laughed bitterly, "But you gave up the opportunity to know that time and time again."

One of his fisted hands eased to run through his hair as he continued, "Wherever you are, I hope that you finally realize what you gave up and that you see what a mistake that was. I hope that you go on to see how happy Duo is, and has been without your help. And I swear that as long as it's within my power, he'll continue to be happy and loved the way that you could never make him."

Swallowing hard, Heero wiped at the last of his tears before concluding in a small whisper, "You never deserved such a special person in your life. I don't know what I did to deserve him in mine… but unlike you, I'm grateful for it and I won't be taking it for granted." He lowered his head and put his hands in his pockets as he turned away from the grave.

When he turned fully, he gasped sharply as his cobalt eyes widened. The lone person standing at the bottom of the hill looked up at him with an unreadable expression. "Wufei," Heero greeted with a firm nod as he slowly climbed down to stand before him.

Quickly looking away, the Chinese officer roughly cleared his throat to reply with a broken, "Heero." He cautiously wiped at his eyes without the sailor noticing before he turned back to meet his gaze. "Does Duo know that you're here?" he asked.

The sailor bit his lip and shook his head, "No. I didn't think that it was very appropriate to tell him. Eventually, I will… when he's ready to hear it." At that, Wufei gave a satisfied nod, but remained quiet. With a nervous, deep chuckle, Heero commented, "I certainly wasn't expecting to find you here this morning."

Gesturing to the top of the hill, Wufei replied, "I was coming to pay my respects, if that's what you could call it." He smirked and looked to the Japanese teenaged from the corner of his eye. "You beat me to it," he said quietly.

Heero resisted the urge to pull at the collar that felt like it was strangling him again. With a small shrug, he stated, "It's just something that I had to do."

There was a long moment of silence between the two young men that always had a tense friendship from the beginning. Finally, still looking up to the tombstone at the top of the hill, Wufei began, "Duo's always been like a brother to me. He's the reason Sally and I got together and she's the best thing that I have in my life. I always swore to look after him, keep him from anyone that could hurt him the way that his father did." His words drifted into little more than a whisper and he lowered his head.

Slowly raising his head at last, he met the cobalt eyes matching him. With a small smile, he extended his hand and told him, "You're a good man, Yuy. I'm glad that Duo finally has someone in his life that loves him the way that you do."

Blinking in surprise, Heero returned the friendly smile and shook his hand firmly with an appreciative nod. Wufei looked to his watch and offered, "I still have an hour before I have to visit the station. Why don't we go get something for lunch?"

"I'd like that," Heero answered.

* * * * * *

"There you are," Officer Une grinned to Wufei as he entered her office later that afternoon. "How are things with the other station?"

With a snort, the Chinese young man shrugged, "No more news on that side of the island than there is here. Treize told me that you had tried to get a hold of me before I left a couple days ago."

Her brown eyes brightening, the young woman opened one of her desk drawers. Rising from her seat, she leaned forward to hand over the large yellow envelope. Officer Une grinned, "I believe that you've been waiting for this."

Wufei's black eyes widened at the comment and quickly looked down to the envelope with his name on it. "The missing person report," he realized aloud, unable to believe that he might actually be holding the answer to the questions that had plagued him for months. Une smiled and nodded excitedly.

A wide smile tugged at the Chinese officer's lips. Quickly rounding the desk, he lightly pecked the young woman on the cheek with an elated, "Thank you," before all but running from the office with the file in hand.

Treize looked up as his partner entered their shared office. At the look of anticipation on Wufei's face as he stared at the envelope in his hands, he stated, "Ah. The elusive missing person report. So we finally learn the identity of Odin."

"Yea," the raven-haired officer replied quietly, not really hearing him as he sat at his desk across from his partner's. Without looking, he opened one of his small drawers to remove the envelope opener there. For a long time, he sat there with the opener ready to cut through the fold.

Chuckling deeply, Treize asked, "Well? Aren't you going to open it?"

Wufei remained still as he thought back to that early afternoon at the graveyard. It was a great conflict for him-finally having the answers that he wanted regarding the sailor and knowing the stranger's good-hearted intentions for Duo. Had he been given the report even the day prior, he would have already torn through the envelope and revealed Heero's real identity.

It was his hesitancy that made up his mind.

The Chinese officer slowly lowered the letter opener and reopened his drawer. Opening the small box of matches there, he struck one of the small sticks against his desk. With the small flame, Wufei burnt the corners of the large envelope before dropping the burning report into the tin trashcan beside his desk. When there were only ashes left, he doused the flames with his bottle of water.

Blinking his wide eyes, Treize's shocked face melted into a small smile as he nodded firmly, "Good man."

With a deep grumble, Wufei glared at him, "Yea, yea. Just get back to work." The taller agent chuckled deeply in amusement but did as ordered. Focusing on his own pile of work, the dark-haired young man smiled in amusement to himself.

 

Part 25:

[Keep the candle burning
All it takes is one steady heart
In a world that's turning
Shine a light and pierce the dark]
-Lyrics to `Keep the Candle Burning' Performed by Point of Grace

The wait was a great deal more difficult to handle than he thought it would be. Sighing deeply, Wufei ran a hand over his black hair down to its ponytail as he paced the floor of the living room anxiously. There were a million reasons to keep his lapse in judgment to himself, he destroyed the proof of his deceit and no one was any the wiser of his actions. But the guilt was at gnawing away at him ever since he looked though Sally's private records.

One of the things that the Chinese officer always respected of his lover was her honesty in their relationship. The very least that he could do was return the favor. He was not about to do was compromise the trust that they had.

Nearly jumping at the sound of the front door opening, Wufei turned on his heels to watch as his lover entered. Smiling warmly at him as she closed the door behind her, Sally removed the hood of her wet, green raincoat and greeted, "Hi, love. How was work today?"

Wufei swallowed hard when she approached after hanging her coat to kiss his cheek. Lightly returning the gesture before she pulled away, he forced a grin and shrugged, "Oh, it was a typical Friday. It was nice to get back to the station. Someone has to keep Treize in line. I'm the only one who seems to be capable of that."

The braided doctor chuckled deeply and sank back into the soft cushions of their brown couch. Kicking off her shoes, she sighed deeply in content, "I've been waiting to do that all day. It's the first time I've been off my feet in hours."

His dark eyes widening, Wufei took the opportunity to, hopefully, soften the blow that would undoubtedly fall on him. Quickly sitting beside his girlfriend, he helped stretch her out on the sofa and began massaging her feet. Sally blinked in surprise at him, but smiled warmly in appreciation before lowering her head on the armrest behind her. Closing her eyes, she sighed deeply once more at the attention her throbbing feet were receiving.

After caring for his lover's feet, Wufei finally swallowed hard and began quietly, "Sally..." The words caught in his throat for a moment, as if they themselves were afraid of what would happen when they were exposed. Lowering her feet to the floor, the young woman smiled encouragingly. With a deep breath, he finally frowned deeply, "There's something that I need to tell you."

Sally lowered her feet and straightened with concern in her eyes. Frowning deeply, she asked, "What is it?" Their eyes meeting, Wufei's mouth opened and closed in his vain hope of finding his voice once more. Gently rested her hands on his shoulders, the young woman smiled reassuringly, "Whatever it is, you know you can tell me. We promised to always be open and honest with each other, right."

When the Chinese officer lowered his gaze from her in uncertainty, Sally smirked, "So long as this won't be another `I'm actually gay' talk like the one that I had with Duo, we're fine." She chuckled deeply and with a raised eyebrow, she commented, "A girl can only take that announcement so often, you know."

Despite her attempts to lighten the mood, Wufei could do little more than laugh quietly. Slowly meeting her gaze again, he sighed deeply, "A few weeks ago, one of the days that I was able to pick you up at the hospital after your shift, I… I did something that I shouldn't have." Her smile quickly fading, Sally blinked in confusion.

Throwing caution to the wind, the raven-haired policeman shook his head and blurted out, "I found Heero's medical file on your desk and I looked through it. I found a name that you wrote down in your notes and used it in my investigation in finding his real identity. There was a match in the missing persons report, but I burned the file this afternoon because I couldn't go through with it."

Nearly panting at the end of his hurried admission, Wufei froze when he took in how rigid his lover was as she sat beside him. Her back straight, her eyes wide and her fists clenched into tight fists in her lap, Sally's face slowly turned red. Snapping from her shock, the braided doctor glared heatedly at the young man and shrieked, "You did what!"

All but jumping to her feet, she paced before the couch but kept her eyes on the cowering officer. "Damn it, Wufei," she yelled, "You know that I take the trust and confidential relationship that I have with my patients seriously!

"I know that you've been Hell-bent to find out who he is, but you know that you never should have touched those records! How could you do that to me?" The haze of her rage slowly faded as the remainder of the confession replayed in her mind.

Pausing before Wufei, his head lowered so that he could study the white carpet, Sally's eyes widened anew. "You found a match and you destroyed the file?" she asked quietly, the disbelief wrapped around her voice.

With a deep sigh, her lover raised his head to peer into her surprised eyes and nodded, "I couldn't go through with it, Sal." Wufei rubbed his hands together nervously and shrugged, "And that's not just because I felt guilty over how I got the information in the first place." Biting his lip, he frowned deeply and said quietly, "This morning, I ran into Heero at Septum's grave and I realized that I was wrong to make the assumptions I have."

A small smile tugged at Sally's lips. Tilting her head, she inquired, "I'm sorry, but did you just say that you were wrong? I can't recall a time that those words ever came out of your mouth, I must have misheard you."

Rolling his eyes, Wufei answered in a cleared voice, "I was wrong." His frustration vanished and his eyes filled with sincerity matched in his voice as he said quietly, "I couldn't keep this from you. And I am so, very sorry for what I did." Taking her hands in his, he pressed his lips to them before looking back up to her. In little more than a whisper, he begged, "Please forgive my lack of better judgment."

Unable to hold onto her anger after the heartfelt plea, Sally pulled him into his feet and kissed his lips gently. "Forgiven," she reassured softly when she pulled back to meet his hope-filled gaze. "I know that wasn't easy for you to come clean, or for you to finally put an end to your search, and I appreciate the fact that you did both."

With a deep sigh of relief, Wufei threw his arms around her tightly with a wide grin. "Thank you," was all that he could manage brokenly in her ear. He leaned his head to give a much more passionate kiss to better express his appreciation.

At the kiss's end, Sally smirked at the Chinese officer. "Let's get dinner started." leading the way to the kitchen with her lover close behind, she looked back with mischief in her eyes. "Oh, and don't think that you're getting off that easy," she warned. "I think that you've earned at least a week of sleeping on the couch." Quickly pecking her stunned partner's cheek, she chuckled deeply.

Left to stand alone in the living room, Wufei watched the braided doctor walk off. A small smirk tugged his own lips. Shaking his head, he chuckled deeply to himself and all but ran after her. The sentence was more than relaxed when it came to fitting his crime. There would be no argument from him over the arrangement.

In the end, Wufei knew that he would gladly sleep on the couch for the rest of his days if it meant that he would be so fortunate to stay in Sally's good graces.

* * * * * *

Climbing the stairs that led to the lantern room, Heero looked up to the scene that awaited him in the round quarters. Just outside, the hollow patter of the rain against the metal gallery filled the air along with the gentle swishing of the revolving mirrors. The thick, dark rain clouds that blanketed the sky kept the sun hidden, but the red shade to them was enough of a sign that the sunset was nearing its end.

His back turned slightly to the young sailor, Duo just finished lighting the tall wick with the long match in his steady hand. When the flame caught to burn the wax, he smiled as he always did at the sight, his violet eyes glowing in the light.

As he pulled back and closed the glass door to the lantern, Duo blew out the match in his hand. Slowly turning his head to look into the cobalt eyes watching him, the American grinned, "Hey. Took care of whatever it was that you needed to take care of?"

Returning the grin, Heero nodded, "Yea. Sorry that it took me so long to get back." He closed the distance between them to hold the lighthouse keeper tightly to him, kissing his cheek before resting his head on his shoulder.

While the braided young man wrapped his own arms around him, the sailor thought back to that afternoon at the graveyard. The whole experience had taken a grater toll on him emotionally than he had counted on. After the lunch that he had with Wufei, he just walked around town to clear his head. It was not until the first signs of the sun making its journey below the horizon when he realized the time and hurried back home.

…Home.

It almost seemed a surreal thing for Heero to actually have a place that he could call home. Such a simple word with such a profound meaning. He certainly had come a long way over the months since waking with no memory of who he was, or of anything from his past, to finally feeling that he was where he belonged. Small tears filled his eyes as he continued to hold his savior in his arms, overwhelmed once more that day as he thought of how blessed he had been to get a second chance at life.

After a long silence, Duo finally pulled back and looked once more into his boyfriend's eyes. With a deep breath, he frowned deeply, "Wufei called me a while ago to tell me where you ended up going."

His cobalt eyes widening at that, Heero stiffened and his mouth opened to quickly explain why he had not been forthcoming with him as to his plans. The lighthouse keeper gently placed his fingers over the Japanese youth's lips to keep him from speaking.

Biting his lip, the braided American's eyes filled with tears as he continued, "He told me what you said to Septum. He thought that I had the right to know. Considering the source, you must have made quite an impact on him that he would feel compelled to tell me about it." A watery smile spread on his mouth and he breathed, "You really do love me, don't you?"

"Of course," Heero nodded with a small grin of relief at having not upset his partner. "I meant every word that I said." Gently cupping the side of the lighthouse keeper's face, he leaned in to seal his conviction with a gentle kiss.

Slowly, the kiss deepened and heated. Hands roamed beneath clothes for the first time while moans and whimpers left the melding pair. Somehow, feet moved on their own accord to move them down to the observation room and before long, they sank into the bed. Desire that had been a controlled thing finally broke free.

Everything around them had been forgotten as clothes pooled onto the floor. Caresses and kisses only grew more urgent in their dance. And at long last, they found release in their growing passion. Their strength gone, they stretched out on the bed and held each other close with their hearts racing and lungs gasping for air.

Duo's urgency to keep his post was all but forgotten as he fought his violet eyes from closing, his head resting on the sailor's shoulder. He smiled when his lover leaned his head to kiss his forehead tenderly, a hand brushing through his sweat-soaked bangs.

"I'll keep watch tonight," Heero whispered reassuringly. At that, Duo sighed deeply and allowed his eyes to drift closed to fall into a deep slumber soon after. Smiling to himself as he watched his sleeping partner, the Japanese sailor continued to lightly run his fingers over the arm wrapped tightly around his waist.

Lulled by the soft pattering of the rain outside, he finally joined the lighthouse keeper into peaceful slumber. Even in his sleep, Heero dreamed of waking to the new possibilities that he had to look forward to, finally looking forward to tomorrow.

 

Part 26

[Give me all of your dreams
And let me go along on your way
Give me all of your prayers to sing
And I'll turn the night into the skylight of day]
-Lyrics to `Heaven Can Wait' performed by Meatloaf

Sighing deeply, Heero turned shifted onto his side as he fought the call to wake. His eyes remained closed as he reached out to the other side of the bed. When his hand fell on the cool and empty sheets there, his cobalt eyes finally blinked open. Quickly sitting up, he gazed around the empty observation room in concern.

Outside, the dark sky's rain clouds had cleared away to reveal its millions of twinkling stars. In the far distance ahead, the first sign of light was just beginning to rise over the horizon.

When there was no sign of his lover through the clear glass that enclosed the round room, Heero looked down to notice that Duo had managed to clean him off as he slept. A small smile tugged at the sailor's lips in thinking of the care that his partner would have taken to see that he was not disturbed.

Leaning over the side of the bed, he reached down underneath to turned off the emergency radio that was left on in the event of an accident. It was just one of the many provisions that Heero had insisted that Duo get when they started dating so that he would finally get a descent night's sleep. While reluctant at first, the lighthouse keeper was soon very grateful to have the handy little device. Having it certainly made the American more comfortable to turn in, knowing that he would be alerted at the first sign of trouble.

As he reached for his red boxers, Heero noted the pile of closed mixed with his own. His small smile grew in the relief of knowing that Duo would not have gone far. Slipping his boxers over his bare hips and pulling on his pair of socks, he rose from the bed to climb the stairs leading to the lantern room.

Once up there, he quickly found his lover out on the deep green balcony. With a small smile in relief at the sight of the other young man, the sailor walked around the still glowing lamp and avoided the revolving mirrors as he moved towards the glass doors.

Before stepping out onto the gallery, Heero took a moment to simply watch the lighthouse keeper gazing out to the sunrise. The picture painted before him left him still as his breath hitched in his throat.

Duo stood with one of the white sheets from the bed wrapped around him, his hair still loose from the night before. In the dark, it was difficult for the sailor to appreciate how the long and wavy tresses fell about when his lover did not have it pulled back in his standard braid. The light breeze caused the long strands to float around the lighthouse keeper to make him look like a mystical creature with sparkling violet eyes staring out in thought and wonder to the sun that was slowly creeping over the horizon.

Even if he did not have his memory back, Heero was certain that he had never seen anything more beautiful before. It was an image that he quickly locked away in his mind where he could return to it whenever he wanted-silently willing to never forget it.

Reluctant to break the spell that was cast before him, the sailor's need to hold the enchanting being in fear that he might disappear outweighed his wish to simply watch any longer. Stepping through one of the glass doors and onto the gallery, Heero made sure steps towards his lover to close the distance between them quickly.

At the soft creaking of the door opening, Duo turned and smiled brilliantly at his partner. "Hey," he said quietly just as the Japanese young man wrapped his arms around him tightly. Sighing deeply, he closed his eyes and rested his head on a strong shoulder.

Gently kissing the head resting on him, Heero smiled back and whispered in kind, "Hey." He loosened his arms enough to look down to the grinning face and asked with concern in his voice, "I didn't…" His words stopped in his suddenly dry throat.

Shaking his head, a frown deepened on the sailor's face and he winced at the thought of his question being answered with a `yes.' The lighthouse keeper had lifted his head to gaze up at him with worry in his own eyes.

Heero finally took a deep breath before managing, "I didn't hurt you, did I?" Inside, his stomach was in knots at the thought of possibly bringing the creature in his arms any pain. Intentional or not, hurting him in any way was just something that he would never forgive himself for.

Those fears were quickly remedied when Duo chuckled deeply. Lightly kissing the tip of his partner's nose, he reassured him softly, "I'm fine." His small smile grew as he shrugged, "Better than fine, actually." Tiling his head, his own smile faded and he bit his lip before inquiring, "You don't have any regrets, do-?"

Quickly cutting him off, Heero laughed and shook his head, "Absolutely not!" Pulling his love's frame up against his own with one arm, he caressed the heart-shaped face watching him with his free hand and smiled sincerely, "Duo, what happened last night was wonderful. I could never have any regrets at making love to you."

The brilliant smile on the lighthouse keeper's face quickly returned as he nodded firmly, "Good." He leaned in to claim the Japanese youth's lips with his own in a heated kiss. Opening his own arms, he wrapped the sheet around the both of them as he returned the tight embrace.

When the kiss ended, both participants panting heavily for air, Duo grinned, "Why don't we go down to the beach after breakfast? Just the two of us? Summer isn't going to be here much longer, so we might as well get some time in to enjoy it, right?"

Heero chuckled deeply, "That sounds like a great idea." Looking out to the ocean to watch the sun finally starting to come into view, he commented, "From the looks of things, it'll be a nice day for it."

"Great!" Duo exclaimed before leaning in to give a chase kiss. With the sky lightening over them, he pulled back and winked, "It'll only take me a few minutes to shut things down here if you want to head back home to clean up and get ready."

Nodding, the sailor replied, "All right. I'll get breakfast started, too." That said, he kissed his lover's forehead before hesitantly pulling away from their tight embrace. Wrapping the sheet back around his body, the light house keeper watched his departure with a wistful smile before looking back out to the sunrise.

* * * * * *

After a brief clean up in the bathroom adjacent to his bedroom, Heero finished splashing his face with cool water. Sighing deeply, he reached for the small towel he put at the side of the sink, he dried himself and straightened. As he lowered the towel to fold it once more, he opened the medical cabinet behind the round mirror before him as he did every morning.

Sitting along with the toothpaste, hairbrush and other little upkeep items sat the bottle of pills that Sally had given him almost a month prior. With a deep sigh, Heero took the half-filled bottle into his hand and removed it from the cabinet.

It had been a couple of weeks since he took any of he pills out of the lack of flashes from his past- the longest time that he had ever gone without anything that came back to haunt him. That had been the reason why he stopped taking the medicine that the braided doctor had given him. Perhaps he never would regain his full memory back.

…At least, that was what he had hoped.

Returning the bottle to the shelf, Heero removed the toothpaste tube and toothbrush to finish his morning routine. The bottle forgotten once more, he closed the medicine cabinet and stepped from the bathroom to head downstairs.

* * * * * *

"Man, this has been nice," Duo sighed contentedly as he sat atop his towel, wringing out his soaked braid. Lowering himself onto his back, he looking up to the clear sky with his arms folded behind his head. Beside him, an equally damp Heero was lying out on his stomach on his own towel as he hummed his agreement.

Several miles down the shoreline, the lighthouse tower rose over the treacherous rocky cliff side in the distance as a constant witness to all that happened on the remote island. All around, other residents were lounging on the safe and sandy beach or surfing and swimming in the ocean to enjoy the hot summer afternoon. White-tipped sails of boats in many different shapes and sizes drifted out along the sea.

One of those boats floated into the long dock a few yards to the boys' right. His violet eyes widening, Duo sat up and watched as the vessel slowed and finally settled to a stop. The lone sailor jumped from the craft to tie his small boat to one of the rigs before all but running down the dock and onto the beach.

With a laugh, the braided lighthouse keeper rose to his feet and waved excitedly to the approaching man. "Hey, Howie!" he called. Turning, Heero sat up on his towel to watch as a scrawny, white-haired man with large sunglasses walked up with a bright smile.

"I thought that my old eyes were playing tricks on me when I spotted you as I pulled in," the man chuckled deeply. He accepted the offered hand of the braided youth and pulled him in to a one-armed hug. "How the hell are `ya, kid?" he asked with a wide grin as he smacked the lighthouse keeper's shoulder when they parted. The wide smile on the old sailor's face faded and he cleared his throat before saying quietly, "I'm sorry about the news on Septum."

Shrugging, Duo replied, "Oh, well I'm all right." His own smile returned as Heero rose to his to stand beside him. Making hand gestures between the two strangers as he met his lover's gaze, he grinned, "Heero, this is Howard. He owns one of the largest marinas here and cares for dozens of different ships at his place. He's been a family friend to the Yuy's for years."

Heero smiled warmly and shook hands with the old man and nodded firmly, "Nice to meet you. I'm-"

Howard cut him off with a widely smiled, "Heero Yuy. The poor bastard that crashed out here in the middle of nowhere." Raising his sunglasses to rest atop his head, he winked a sunken-in eye, "Word around here travels fast, as I'm sure you know by now."

The young sailor and lighthouse keeper laughed and shook his head in amusement as they ended their firm handshake. "Actually, I don't think that I'm so unfortunate," Heero commented sincerely. He turned to see the brilliant smile that his sentiment made on his partner's face. "Quite the opposite, actually," he concluded when he looked back to the old man.

A wide, satisfied smile tugged at Howard's lips as he folded his arms as he said, "Well, it's nice to finally meet you, young man."

Duo patted the white-haired sailor's back and told his lover, "My father owned three boats of his own that he would take out every now and then. Before he passed on, he gave them over to Howie, here, knowing that they would never be in better hands at his marina." Howard snorted and waved off the last statement nonchalantly.

His cobalt eyes widening, Heero looked to the braided young man blinked in surprise, "I never knew that your father sailed as well."

Seeing the interest in the Japanese sailor's eyes, Howard smirked, "Well, Yuy saw that the ships were in Duo's name. I just look after them." He turned to the violet eyes watching him and shrugged, "They're still in excellent shape and ready for sailing whenever you finally decide to stop by. We haven't seen you at the marina this whole warm season."

Duo gave him a light glare of warning as he responded, "Well, all things considered, I didn't think it was appropriate." He gestured to his lover and Howard's eyes widened in realization as he mentally hit himself and grinned sheepishly to the young sailor with a bow of his head.

At the exchange, Heero's heart swelled once more in knowing how Duo was trying to protect him. In all honesty, he never had an interest in being near a boat after learning of his accident. Most of his nightmares involved drowning or being crushed against jagged rocks since waking at the hospital.

Despite his initial fears… something had changed. Swallowing to dampen his dry throat, Heero forced a small smile and announced, "Actually, I wouldn't mind taking a look at those boats if we could."

 

Part 27

[There's a ship out on the ocean at the mercy of the sea
It's been tossed about, lost and broken, wandering aimlessly;
And God somehow, you know that ship is me
'Cause there's a lighthouse in the harbor shining faithfully
Pouring its light out across the water for this sinking soul to see]
-Lyrics to `When You Come Back To Me Again' performed by Garth Brooks

Throwing open the double wooden doors to his grand, enclosed marina, Howard grinned widely, "Welcome to my realm, boys!" He walked ahead of the young pair and down the middle of the three long docks with boats tied at both ends.

His cobalt eyes widening, Heero scanned the impressive layout as he and Duo followed after the white-haired man. Floating in the chest-high water were the dozens of crafts left to the old man's care. They varied in just about every shape, size and design imaginable-the largest big enough to comfortably fit a group of five. All around, the crew of the ship house worked at caring for their clients' prized vessels.

With an impressed grin, Duo commented, "You've expanded this place quite a bit. I'm glad that the business has been growing for you and the Sweepers, here." At the odd name, Heero turned his head to give his lover an uncertain look. At that, the lighthouse keeper smirked, "That's what Howie calls his hired hands because they usually have to sweep up the mess that the owners of their crafts make before them bring them in." The sailor chuckled deeply at the explanation before admiring his surroundings once more.

At that, Howard looked over his shoulder and snorted, "You'd be surprised how little people know when it comes to taking care of their boats." He grinned and shrugged, "But then again, I get to do something that I love, so I can't really complain." They were near the end of the long deck when the old man stopped. "Here we are," he announced with outstretched arms.

Lowering his gaze from examining the high steeple-shaped ceiling, Heero looked on the three boats bobbing on the smaller waves that rolled in. Hitched side-by-side on the right end of the dock by their bows (1), the three crafts sat from smallest to largest. A smile of pride tugged at Duo's lips as he watched the three vessels. Pointing from the smaller craft on up, he said, "These are Haven, Torrent and Atlantis."

The simple sailboat had a red deck and base with its sails wrapped tightly around their posts. For a simple sailboat, it was easily one of the largest of its kind- that Heero could recall from his research- and could fit a handful of people comfortably. Only slightly bigger and also without a wheel to guide it, the medium boat had an array of abstract waves painted to stretch along its white sides for an appealing look.

It was the largest boat, the Atlantis, that captured Heero's attention. Completely white, the craft had an upper deck and large steering wheel at the starboard end (2) near the bow. His cobalt eyes widening anew, the young sailor slowly approached the boat. When he neared the vessel, he gently rested a hand on the bobbing bow. Looking back to the others, he asked quietly, "Could we climb aboard for a look?" Howard's friendly grin returned as he nodded firmly before rounding the bow to lead the way up the side stairway.

When they stepped onto the top deck, Heero took in the four-seated gathering area. Heading directly for the steering wheel in the right corner there, he slowly reached up to wrap his hands at either end of the silver metal. Instantly, a rush of familiarity rushed over him as he gasped sharply with wide eyes. Suddenly, everything around him began to crack at the seams and wood splintered into the air as a large whole bore into the planks at his feet to reveal the ocean water below.

Crying out in panic, the Japanese sailor released the wheel and ran to the stern (3). Quickly placing his hands on the edge to hang over the side a bit, Heero struggled to catch his breath as sweat rolled down his face. He was vaguely aware of Duo crying his name in worry while he tried to remember how to breathe. A gentle hand fell on his shoulder to squeeze it.

Duo watched his lover as he tried to keep himself from panicking. Shaking his head, he cursed softly to himself and squeezed Heero's shoulder once more. With a deep frown, he raised his head and told the concerned old man quietly, "I should have known this was a bad idea. He's had nightmares involving his accident ever since he came here."

That wasn't the only reason for his lapse, Heero knew. The Atlantis was fashioned so much like the boat that he had crashed in. While his nightmares involved drowning and being thrust against rocks, he never had a vivid image of the craft carrying him before then. He could see the tall, deep blue sails that aided the motors and the padded seats in the gathering at the top of the deck. It was all crystal clear to him.

As he continued to lean over the side of the boat, the young sailor looked down to the stern. The black lettering amongst a painted grey wing read `The Seagull' in a slanted script. At the sight, Heero's cobalt eyes narrowed before closing as he shook his head. When he opened his eyes again, the painted bird wing was replaced by a shimmering city of gold with the bold black letters spelling out `Atlantis.'

Biting his lip, Duo called out again, "Heero?" When his lover finally straightened himself on shaking legs, he carefully wrapped an arm around his waist to steady him only to become more alarmed when he found how wet with sweat the young sailor was. Lifting and turning his head, his partner met his gaze. It was the calm that he found in those cobalt eyes that put the lighthouse keeper at ease with a small sigh of relief. Finally able to find his voice, he asked softly, "Are you all right?"

Heero gave him a small smile and nodded quietly, "I'll be okay. Just got caught up with my fears, I guess." gently squeezing the hand on his hip, he whispered, "Thanks." Duo nodded before releasing his lover as the Japanese youth wiped at his drenched face.

Suddenly appearing from the lower deck, Howard held out a glass of cool water. "You sure you're all right, there?" he asked in concern. As Heero accepted the cup with a small word of thanks, the old man frowned deeply, "Maybe you should sit down for a little bit."

After a long gulp from the water, the young sailor shook his head, "I'm fine, really." He finished his drink and grinned, "Actually, I wouldn't mind coming back to go out for a sail." Both Duo's and Howard's eyes widened on him. Before either could protest, Heero told them, "I won't be able to get over my fears if I don't confront them."

Laughing, the old man slapped the stunned lighthouse keeper on the back and exclaimed, "I like this kid! Good head on his shoulders." With a wide smile, he smacked Heero on the shoulder and told him, "I'll be more than happy to take you two out when you're up to it." He was rewarded with a grateful grin from the sailor at that.

Duo sighed deeply, his shoulder sagging. As happy as he was at Heero's wish to get over his fears, he still couldn't help but want to protect him from anything that might hurt him. Looking out to the open bay doors, he saw that she sky was beginning to change shades as a sure sign that the sun was beginning to set.

"Well, we better get going," the braided young man suggested. "Best get back to the lighthouse before it gets too late." That said, he led the way towards the walkway at the side of the ship.

Just as Heero moved to follow, Howard took hold of his arm to stop him. When the Japanese sailor looked up at him, the white-haired man raised his sunglasses so that their gazed truly met. "You be sure to take good care of that kid," he told him quietly. He smiled slyly when Heero's eyes widened. "It's pretty obvious how you feel about each other," the old man commented.

Gesturing to where Duo disappeared, Howard continued, "I promised that boy's dying father that I would keep an eye on him in his place. That boy is like family to me so I don't want to see him getting hurt." He tilted his head and raised a white eyebrow as he stated, "Now, I like you. Just see that it stays that way."

A wide smile tugged at Heero's lips and he nodded, "Yes, sir" He stretched out his free hand and said sincerely, "It's been nice meeting you, Howard."

The old man accepted the hand in a firm shake as he chuckled deeply. "You be sure to call me when you want to go sailing," Howard called to the young man as he ran after the lighthouse keeper.

Glancing over his shoulder, Heero grinned widely and waved back, "I will. Thank you." He descended down the side of the craft. Howard shook his head in amusement before taking his time to leave the vessel.

Quickly catching up with his lover at the other end of the dock, Heero walked beside the American. Taking the braided teenager's hand into his own, he squeezed it and spoke quietly, "Thank you for understanding, Duo. I know that you're worried about my going out to sea, but this is something that I need to do."

Slowly looking over to meet his partner's gaze, a small grin spread on Duo's face and he squeezed the hand holding his. In little more than a whisper, he replied, "I know, Heero. And I certainly don't want to smother you." He looked away and frowned, "But I can't help but worry at least a bit."

Not caring about the Sweepers walking and working about around them, Heero leaned in to kiss his partner's cheek. He grinned at the wide-eyed glance the gesture earned him. "Thank you for caring about me enough to worry," he said gently. At that, the sincere and brilliant smile that he fell in love with illuminated the lighthouse keeper's face. "Will you be there when I get the nerve to go out?" the sailor asked.

"Of course," Duo answered with another squeeze of his hand.

* * * * * *

One day later…

At the start of the new week, Wufei sighed deeply as he walked into his office. Treize looked up from the newspaper that he was reading with his feet kicked up on his desk as he leaned back in his seat. Tilting his head, the tall man appraised the sluggish movement of his partner while moving to his own desk.

With a lopsided smirk, he inquired, "Rough weekend?"

Growling deeply, the Chinese officer replied, "Rough couple nights of sleep on the couch. I ended up telling Sally about how I got Odin's name."

Treize lowered his feet from his desk and sat straight with a proud grin. "You're a better man than I," he stated as he raised his mug of coffee in the form of a toast. As he took his seat, the raven-haired policeman shook his head and snorted.

No sooner had Wufei sat firmly in his seat did his phone start to ring. Grumbling, he rubbed his temples and sighed deeply, "And so it starts." He took up the receiver and greeted, "Officer Chang."

A young woman's voice spoke over the other line, "Hello, Officer. I believe that you were the one that contacted the directory of missing people to follow up a possible link to an accident victim on your island."

His dark eyes widening, the Chinese young man straightened. `Oh God,' he thought to himself. He had never thought of the possibility of someone on the other end of his search hoping for a lead.

Swallowing hard, he scrambled to think of a way to cover up his mistake. Roughly clearing his throat, the dark-haired agent responded, "W-Well, yes, I was but I believe that we made a mistake as there was no match to the description of the person we have here."

There was a heavy, wrenching sigh of despair from the caller. "Might I ask who is calling so that I could refer you to another agency that might help you in your search?" Wufei asked, waving off his partner who was watching him in interest.

After a small sniffle, the young woman answered, "My name is Dorothy Catalonia. Odin Low's fiancée."

 

(1) The front, pointy end of the boat. I finally found a webpage that is helping me!
(2) The right side of the boat if you're standing on it and looking ahead.
(3) The back of the boat. (or as I like to call it, the ass end!)

 

Part 28

[When I'm lost in the rain,
In your eyes I know I'll find the light to light my way.
And when I'm scared and losing ground;
When my world is going crazy, you can turn it all around]
-Lyrics to `I Turn To You' performed by Christina Aguilera

Nearly dropping the receiver in his hand, Wufei's eyes widened to their near limit. Unable to breathe, his mouth opened and closed until he finally croaked, "F-fiancée?" At that, Treize choked on the mouthful of coffee that he was drinking. Quickly reaching for a napkin from his desk, he wiped his mouth of the drops that managed to sneak out.

Over the line, the young woman replied, "Yes. Odin vanished not long before we were to be wed." There was a hint of uncertainty in her tone as she asked, "You do know Odin Lowe, do you not? His father, Odin Lowe Senior is Senator of Massachusetts. He's going to be running for President of the Earth Sphere next term."

All but jumping to his feet, Wufei covered the receiver. His eyes still wide and his face paling, he mouthed to his recovering partner, `Oh my God.' Treize waved with both hands at him with a glare of warning to continue the conversation, lest the caller become suspicious.

Uncovering the receiver, the Chinese pilot cleared his throat and replied, "I am sorry, Miss Catalonia. We live on a very remote island, here on Horizon Cove, and we are detached from any news that takes place stateside. It took months to make any headway in receiving reports of missing persons from there in trying to identify the accident victim.

"I wish that I had better news for you, but the person that we had found is not Odin Lowe. With only a first name to go by, we will have our work cut out for us in finding his true identity. I was only recently made aware of how popular a name Odin is nowadays."

Slowly taking his seat once more, Wufei stated, "I want you to know, however, that I will pass word along of your fiancé's disappearance. I am very sorry for your loss and will do whatever I can to help."

There was a longsuffering sigh of despair. "I see," Dorothy answered, the deep frown of disappointment and grief evident in her voice. "Thank you very much for your time, Officer Chang. I would greatly appreciate any assistance that you may be able to offer. Good day to you, sir."

"Good day," Wufei responded, amazed at how steady his voice had remained. Carefully setting the receiver down, he waited for the click as it settled into its hub before he was able to take a deep and calming breath. His dark eyes widening once more, he jumped back to his feet and shouted, "Jesus Christ! I am so fucked!"

Lowering the coffee that was quickly cooling in his hand, Treize rose from his own seat to round his desk. As he closed their office door, he winced, "You might want to keep from sharing that little tidbit with the whole division." His partner was already sitting once more, quickly typing away at his keyboard as his large eyes stared at his large monitor when the blonde officer stood before his desk.

Slightly bending at the waist to try and see the screen, the tall man asked, "Besides the fact that Duo's lover has a fiancée, what else did you get from that call that has you so worried?" His answer came in the form of his friend turning the screen so that he could see the newspaper article from an Internet page that had been pulled up.

As he excitedly pointed to the screen, Wufei cried, "This is what has me so worried!" `Senator Lowe's Son Missing- Presidential Hopeful Launches Wide Search' was the headline on the newspaper article. The image amidst the text was a college mug shot of the young Odin Lowe-Heero Yuy.

His own eyes widening, Treize straightened as he exclaimed, "You are so fucked!"

Grumbling, the Chinese policeman rubbed his face with both hands and muttered in frustration, "I know. I know." Reluctantly lowering his hands, he looked up to his partner and good friend with a pleading look. "What the hell do I do?" he more moaned than asked.

With a rough swallow, Treize thought for a moment before shaking his head, "Nothing. You covered yourself well in that conversation. All you can do is let this pass. Heero, well Odin, has been missing for months so it's only a matter of time before the search is called off."

The tall young man raised a hand to point at the other officer with a warning glare. "That kid ran away for some reason. Whatever that was, just let it be now. There won't be any good in trying to dig into this any deeper than you already are."

"Right," Wufei instantly agreed, fervently nodding his head. "I'll just be happy when this whole thing blows over."

 

Hanging up her phone, Dorothy frowned deeply to herself. Her blue eyes narrowing slightly as she gazed to the receiver, she hummed to herself in thought before walking from her private living quarters.

Just as she stepped out into the hall, the blonde young woman was greeted by one of the estate servants. The brunette woman bowed her head and adjusted her grey uniform as she straightened again with bright brown eyes. Smiling, Dorothy told her gently, "Janice, you know there's no need to bow to me. I do, however, need your help."

The servant nodded and grinned, "Of course, Miss Dorothy."

"I will be doing quite a bit of research in the study," the blue-eyed girl stated. "Please see that my dinner is brought there, as I will most likely be preoccupied for most the night. I also wish not to be disturbed while I am working."

At that, Janice nodded firmly, "Of course." She turned on her thin heels as Dorothy thanked her quietly and walked down the hall to see that the rest of the staff was advised of her mistress's requests.

Smirking to herself, Dorothy turned to walk down the other corridor. "Now," she said quietly, "I must learn more about this Horizon Cove."

* * * * * *

Trowa smiled to himself as he walked to the beater of a car that was at the far corner of his shop. The pair of feet sticking out from the bottom of the vehicle gave away the location of the young sailor that he was looking for. His friend had been working on the car for the near entirety of his lunch break.

Gently tapping on the rusted hood, the Latin mechanic shouted over the noise of the shop, "Hey, Heero." With a grunt of acknowledgement, the Japanese young man slid out on the roller bed from beneath the car. Smirking at the smudge-covered face, the shop owner asked, "How's it coming along?"

As Heero rose to his feet, he removed the cloth and shrugged, "She needs a lot of work, but I should have it running in a few weeks." He winced before stating, "There are quite a few parts that I'm going to need."

With a nonchalant wave of his hand, Trowa reassured him, "No problem. I wouldn't want you using old parts on this thing, only to have them give you problems. Just make a list of what you need and I'll make an order."

Grinning widely, the sailor nodded sincerely, "Thanks, Trowa. You're really going out of your way with this, and I really appreciate it."

"Well, I'm hoping that all of this means you'll keep working here," the tall young man laughed. "You're one of the best mechanics I have on staff, and we really need the extra pair of hands around here."

Shaking his head, Heero chuckled deeply, only to stop when a young woman in a sky blue sundress with long blonde hair that fell past her waist stopped just outside of the shop's open doors to stop with her back to the mechanics inside.

His cobalt eyes widening, he gasped softly as he watched the slender girl. Her hair, straight and shining in the sunlight, blew gently around her. When she turned, those familiar blue eyes and warm smile fell on him. "Hello, Odin," the familiar voice greeted. "I've been looking all over for you."

"Heero," Trowa's voice called through his vision. "Heero, are you all right?" Jolting back to the present, the Japanese sailor blinked in surprise and shook his head before looking to his concerned friend.

When he looked back to the girl, Heero noted that she had never looked back at him as she worked at pinning the flyer in her hand to the lamppost just outside the shop and on the busy sidewalk. As she turned and walked away, her profile was nothing like the blonde young woman he had envisioned.

Breaking the silence, Trowa's frown deepened in concern as he asked again, "Are you all right, man?"

Finally forcing himself to take a deep breath, Heero flashed him a reassuring smile and answered, "Sorry, I was too busy trying to read the flyer that girl was putting up." At the sagging shoulders and relieved look on Trowa's face, he mentally sighed in relief, himself. He raised his head back to the flyer as to try and further prove his quickly thought excuse.

In bold letters at the top of the yellow flyer were the words `HORIZON CAPE GALA' along with the images of a Ferris wheel and firework graphics. At the bottom, in smaller print were the details on when and where.

A smile grew on the shop owner's face as he explained, "It's an annual fair that we have here one of the last weekends before the fall. We have a carnival, amusement park rides and a huge dance in the center of town." Squinting his emerald eye to read the finer print, he announced, "Looks like it'll be the following weekend."

His gaze widening, Trowa grinned from ear-to-ear as he quickly turned to face his friend. "It's been years since Duo went to that gala and dance. You should ask him out. I'm sure that someone in his family wouldn't mind watching over the lighthouse for a little while until you get back."

While he knew that finding a suitable replacement would not be a problem, and as much as he had to admit that the thought of attending the gala sounded like fun, Heero swallowed hard. "I-I don't know how to dance."

"No problem," a young woman's voice interrupted. The pair of mechanics nearly jumped as they looked up to the unnoticed new arrival. With a wide smile, Hilde shrugged, "Trowa did mention that I'm a dance instructor, didn't he? I'd be more than happy to help. We've been trying for years to get Duo to attend this dance, and now we finally have a reason for him to go."

Smirking, Trowa raised an eyebrow to his friend. "She doesn't take no for an answer easily, pal," he warned. "Best submit before somebody gets hurt."

The short-haired girl tilted her head in silent question. Heero finally held up his hands and chuckled deeply, "All right. When can we get started?"

* * * * * *

Later that evening…

Dorothy sighed deeply as she finally shut her computer down in the large study of her estate. The officer certainly had been telling the truth of the island's remoteness. It had taken a great deal of research to find anything on its location and layout.

A quick mental run of her agenda for the next few weeks and she smiled to herself. Taking up her cell phone, she opened it and dialed a number that she knew by heart. When there was an answer, the blonde girl grinned, "Yes, I would like to make arrangements for a flight to the coast at the end of the month."

 

Part 29

[Up here in the city feels like things are closing in
The sunsets just my light bulb burning out…
Oh my sweet Carolina, what compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition- may you one day carry me home]
-Lyrics to `Oh My Sweet Carolina' performed by Elton John and Ryan Adams

She could feel her legs giving out from under her. As she did, she wished that she had taken the advice to sit down before being broadsided. Aimlessly, her hands waved around her in a blind search for something to at least lean on as she continued to stare numbly at the monitor. Thankfully, her right hand found the wooden chair behind her. Slowly, holding the back of the chair for support, she settled herself down with a breathed, "My God."

Frowning deeply, Wufei turned away from the screen as he turned his own seat to face the braided doctor. "My sentiment exactly," he sighed deeply while running a hand over his head in frustration at not being able to find anything better to say that moment.

For her part, Sally could only sit stiffly, her eyes locked on the image of the young man she had known as Heero displayed on her computer monitor. Briefly, she scanned the text of the article surrounding the disappearance of Senator Odin Lowe's only son. Included in the story were the accounts of the missing young man's fiancé and how they were to wed not long before he vanished.

With a deep sigh, the doctor dry washed her face with her hands as she muttered, "I don't believe this. He's the son of a Senator and was engaged to a judge's daughter." She lowered her hands and shook her head, "He had everything that he could have wanted. What could have made him run away from all of that?"

"I've been wondering the same thing, myself," her lover replied, resting his hands on her knees to squeeze them in support. "Just goes to show that all the money in the world can't buy you everything, I suppose," Wufei shrugged. Turning once more, he closed the site displaying the newspaper article.

When he looked back to the young woman, the Chinese officer stated quietly, "What are we going to do now that we know this?" Taking her hands in his, he bit his lip before saying, "You know Duo better than I, or any of our friends. I was trying to spare him having to learn of Heero's previous life, but its your call if you think that we should be upfront with him."

Her skin turning lighter and greener by the minute, Sally rubbed her arms as if to warm them. Finally, she shook her head once more and answered in little more than a whisper, "Nothing. I know that Duo would never forgive me for not telling him about this… but…"

Small tears filled the braided doctor's eyes and she whimpered, "He's lost so much already. I won't be the one that takes what he has with Heero away on top of it all. I just don't have it in me. I love him too much to do that."

Gently wrapping his arms tightly around his lover's shaking body, Wufei kissed her cheek and rocked her gently. "He doesn't have to know," he tried to reassure her as he rested his head on her shoulder. "I went against all of the rules by not being forthcoming with Dorothy when she called, but it was something I had to do."

Slowly regaining her bearings, Sally sniffled and pulled back enough to dry her eyes with both hands. "It's only a matter of time, though," she frowned worriedly. "Heero is slowly remembering his past. It may be months, weeks, years or days- but he'll remember everything eventually. And what then?"

There was a long silence between the pair as they watched each other. Taking a shaky breath, Sally resolved, "No. I still won't be the one that tears them apart. Did you see how thrilled he was when Heero asked him out to the gala next weekend? I couldn't put an end to his being sincerely happy for he first time in years."

Blinking her widening eyes, she continued, "And who knows? Maybe by then time he remembers his past, Heero would have cemented enough of a relationship with Duo by then that everything will work out." A small, sad smile tugged at her mouth at Wufei's uncertain gaze. "I know, I know. Wishful thinking."

With another squeeze to the doctor's leg, the Chinese young man suggested, "Let's just let things be. There's still time to think things out to how to handle this." The corner of his mouth pulled up in a time smirk. "And maybe your wish might not be so far fetched in the end."

Roughly wiping the last stray tear from her face, Sally chuckled bitterly, "One can only hope." Her smile fading, she tilted her head and asked, "Now are you sure that you convinced Dorothy that Odin was not the missing sailor we found here?"

Wufei gave a surprised look and answered with his own question, "You don't believe me? Of course she would have believed me."

At that, Sally smirked, "Well, no offense, love, but you're a pretty shitty liar. Why else do you think you were paired with Treize? That man could convince a person that the sky was red if he wanted to."

Sputtering at the notion, the raven-haired officer glowered, "I am not that bad of a liar." Unable to help herself, the doctor's head fell back as she dissolved into hysterics. When she finally calmed, she dried her eyes once more and shook her head in amusement at that mock glare she was receiving.

Quickly glancing at the wall clock behind her, the braided young woman suggested with a weary sigh, "Come on. It's getting late." As she rose from her seat, Wufei watched her departure with wide and hope-filled eyes. Looking over her shoulder, Sally gave him a warm smile and stated, "I could use some company in our bed tonight. I'll give you a one-night reprieve for this week."

All but jumping from his seat, Wufei grinned widely as he caught up to his lover to follow her into their room.

* * * * * *

The next two weeks went by in a blur of activity on the island in preparation of the gala to take place. Much to Heero's joy, Noin and Zechs were more than happy to watch the lighthouse until he and Duo returned that evening. When that was taken care of, the American was more than happy to accept his lover's invitation.

Nervously appraising himself in the mirror, Duo examined the red, sleeveless T-shirt and deep blue jeans that he chose to wear for the festivities. He played with the end of his braid nervously as he stepped into his black sneakers. When he was satisfied that everything seemed in place, he stepped out of the bathroom.

It wasn't the thought of being on a date with Heero that had the lighthouse keeper nervous that morning. It was the reactions that they might get for being out at such a public event as a couple. While he was used to a few looks from the residents whenever he was in town, Duo was concerned that it might scare the sailor off a bit.

Rising from the couch that she and Zechs were sitting on in the living room when her son stepped downstairs, Noin smiled warmly, "Well, you look quite handsome." The tall blonde remained seated but gave his son-in-law to be a firm nod and small grin of his own. As she approached the young man, she stated, "Solo will catch up with you and your friends when we get into town a little later."

With a small bite of his lip, Duo frowned, "Are you both sure that you don't mind watching the lighthouse until Heero and I get back tonight? I hate the thought of either of you missing out on the fair for our sakes."

Noin snorted and waved her hand nonchalantly, "The fair will be going on all day, so we won't miss the whole event. And as loudly as they play the music at the dance, we'll hear it from here." She chuckled deeply, "Besides, it's been some time since Zechs and I had a quiet evening with just the two of us." Gently cupping her son's face, she told him quietly, "You just make sure to have a good time."

Smiling brightly, Duo whispered, "Thanks, Mom." That said, he pecked her cheek gently. Outside, a car horn filled the air. The unfamiliar tone of the horn had everyone walking quickly to the front door. Stepping out onto the front porch along with Noin and Zechs, the lighthouse keeper broke out into a wide grin as he shouted, "You fixed it!"

Heero stood just before the cabin, leaning against the hood of his shimmering, new red car that he fixed up over the last two weeks. With a proud smile, he nodded and patted the shining metal of his bumper. "Yep," he replied. "The new parts came in early this week, so I was able to get it working in no time."

Jumping off the porch with an excited shout, Duo threw his arms around his lover tightly and rewarded him with a fiery kiss. When they pulled back panting, Heero grinned, "Ready?" His own smile threatening to split his face, the lighthouse keeper nodded.

"Have fun, you, two!" Zechs called as he and Noin smiled and waved the pair off as they got into their car.

 

After a crystal clear day filled with carnival rides, games, music, food and other fair activities, the sun finally began to set over the horizon. Sighing deeply in content, Duo leaned into his partner's side as they walked arm-in-arm along the crowded town center along with their friends close around them.

Despite the few looks that they received throughout the day, the American was pleasantly surprised that none of it deterred Heero from displaying any of his affections towards him. If anything, it only emboldened his lover. He leaned in close enough to whisper over the noise around them, "Thank you for inviting me to this. It's been years since I've been out for this."

Chuckling deeply in satisfaction, Heero lightly kissed his temple and whispered back, "You're quite welcome." He had to admit that he had more than his own fun that day at the fair. And after more than a week of practicing, and Hilde's patience, he even felt ready for the evening dance that was coming up shortly.

When he looked up, the sailor spotted Sally and Wufei watching him before quickly looking ahead when their gazes met. Frowning deeply to himself, Heero focused on moving easily through the crowd. It seemed like all day the pair had been watching him for some reason. Mentally shrugging the notion off, he convinced himself that he must have been over analyzing them. In all honesty, ever since Trowa caught him staring at the blonde girl outside of the shop, the Japanese youth was on edge.

He was certain that he was just imagining things.

 

When the crowd gathered at the immense gazebo that had been built at the very center of the square at nightfall, the band played a wide variety of songs for the guests to dance to. In the distance, high over everyone, the lighthouse's rays glowed and spun in their own dance.

At the slow dances, Duo had been especially thrilled to learn that Heero had taken up dancing lessons with Hilde just for the occasion. As she danced with Trowa, the tomboy would give her pupil a reassuring wink when he looked to her for encouragement that he was following the steps right.

The whole day was even better than the lighthouse keeper could have hoped. And he got to enjoy it with the person he loved to only make the event all the sweeter. Heero gently spun his partner in another turn as the waltz continued. Chuckling deeply when he came close again, Duo claimed his lover's lips for a firm kiss.

Slowly opening his eyes, the braided young man whispered, "Thank you for such a wonderful day, Heero."

His eyes shining and wistful, the sailor grinned, "My pleasure, Dorothy." The person in his arms stiffened and where bright blue eyes framed by blonde hair were watching him, a few brown wisps of hair, freed from the braid they had been pulled in, blew on the gentle breeze to drift before a horrified pair of violets.

With a sharp gasp, Heero seized up- himself- with wide eyes in realization of what he had uttered. "Oh God," was all that he could breathe.

While all time seemed to stop around the frozen pair, the band played on.

 

Part 30

[I can't light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I'm growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life]
-Lyrics to `Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me' performed by Elton John

The music from the band at the center of the gazebo faded into the background for Heero as his lover's arms fell limply to his sides. His violet eyes were still wide with shock and fear at hearing the name uttered by the sailor after their kiss. Slowly shaking his head and blinking his own wide eye, the Japanese youth breathed, "Duo… I…"

"Dorothy?" the lighthouse keeper whispered brokenly. With small tears pooling his gaze, he let out a small whimper and whispered, "Oh God, there is someone else." Quickly, he turned and walked past the couples still dancing around them as he made his way through the large entrance of the dance floor.

Running after him, Heero cried, "Duo! Wait!" Several people stopped to watch the sailor as he ran after his fleeing partner. Sally, Wufei, Quatre, Catherine, Trowa and Hilde were all dancing close to the pair at the interruption. With concern in their eyes, they quickly followed their friends out into the streets.

Duo wiped at his eyes as he walked quickly down the empty blocks. Satisfied that they were alone, he turned on his heels to face the sailor running up towards him. As he slowed before him, Heero bent forward to catch his breath and panted heavily, "Duo?"

Under the light of a street lamp, the braided lighthouse keeper swallowed roughly past the lump blocking his voice. "I'm sorry, Heero," he managed in little more than a whisper. He cleared his throat and stated a bit more clearly, "Sally told me that there was a chance you would regain your memories. It was the reason I tried to keep from falling for you in case there was someone else waiting, hoping for you to return home to them-" His voice broke off with a sharp sob and he looked away.

Biting his lip to keep from tearing up at the sight of his distraught lover, Heero ran a hand through his unruly hair. The guilt of his secrets gripped him, threatened to break him apart. With a deep breath, he looked to the braided youth and told him softly, "I never wanted you to find out this way."

At that, Duo's head turned in a quick snap to meet the regretful cobalt gaze watching him. His violet eyes wide with shock that quickly turned to realization and melted into harnessed rage. With a warning glare, he growled deeply, "Find out this way? So you started remembering your past before tonight and you never told me?"

Heero's mouth opened and closed in a vain hope that he could find the right words to say at that moment. Instead of his own voice speaking up, someone behind him stated quietly, "He didn't know what to make of the visions, Duo."

Turning back, the pair watched in surprise as Sally and Wufei walked quickly towards them. The braided doctor met the stunned gaze of her ex-boyfriend with eyes that shimmered under the full moonlight as she approached. Equally shocked, Heero remained still as the young woman stood beside him with a defiant expression on her face despite the tears that threatened to fall.

"Y-You knew, Sal?" was all that the lighthouse keeper could manage.

With a firm nod, she replied, "He mentioned to me that he had seen images of a girl that seemed familiar to him. Because he wasn't sure how he knew her or how they were linked in his past, he did not want to tell you until he knew for himself."

Throwing his arms in the air, Duo laughed bitterly, "Well, considering he remembered her name after we kissed, I guess that we pretty much cleared their connection up, haven't we!?" He focused his anger back on his lover and demanded, "Anything else that you came to recall that you're not telling me?"

His stomach in knots, Heero lowered his head and answered, "Just that my first name is Odin and apparently my boat was named the Seagull. All of my other flashes involve people that I can't see too clearly, or I hear voices that sound familiar."

Gently resting a hand on the Japanese teenager's shoulder, Sally frowned sadly to her braided friend, "Duo, I truly believe that Heero had every intention of telling you. He swore as much to me."

Snorting at that, the lighthouse keeper rolled his eyes and remarked snidely, "That makes me feel so much better." He slowly walked up to his lover until they were inches apart with his eyes still narrowed. As he spoke, however, his glare faded and his eyed filled with loss as he questioned, "How am I supposed to trust you after all of this? What if you actually do remember this Dorothy and you're just not telling me?"

It took a couple swallows for Heero to rid his throat of the knot there before he could reply quietly, "You have every right to question me, Duo. But I swear that I've told you everything I know right now. It's been killing me to talk to you about this before now, but I just didn't know how."

Lightly glaring at her boyfriend standing at her other side, Sally told her friends, "Well, we all have done our fair share of keeping things from each other. It's about time that we all came clean." Wufei paled and looked down to the street as if trying to mentally form a hold there that he could crawl in. Elbowing him, the doctor growled, "Tell them."

As he reluctantly raised his head, the Chinese young man sighed deeply. Looking from one confused face to the other, Wufei admitted, "I found Heero's medical records in Sally's office one afternoon and looked through it when I found the name Odin and used it to try to find him in the missing persons' reports."

Their eyes wide with disgust and fury, Heero and Duo shouted as one, "What!?"

Wincing, Wufei raised his hands and nodded, "I know. I know. I'm sorry." He focused his attention on the sailor and frowned, "It was before our talk after Septum's funeral when I was hell bent on finding out who the hell you were. The method I used was wrong and I'm terribly sorry." At the sincere apology, Heero's anger ebbed a bit. While he still did not look entirely thrilled, he did give the policeman a firm nod of appreciation.

After taking a deep breath, the raven-haired officer looked back between his two friends and sighed deeply, "I never actually read the file. But… not long ago, I received a call from a Dorothy Catalonia at the station after she was informed that there was a search for any missing persons by the name of Odin. I told her that the Odin she was looking for did not fit the description of the person we found here and that was the end of our communication."

His legs nearly giving out, Duo whimpered while an equally stunned Heero stiffened. "We were able to find out who you are and where you're from," Wufei finally stated, his eyes locked with the wide cobalt watching him. "You're the son of Senator Odin Lowe Senior, a candidate for the next Presidential election in the States." His frown drew deeper as he announced quietly, "And apparently, this Dorothy Catalonia was your fiancée that you were to marry soon after you disappeared."

In hearing his worst fears confirmed, Duo bit back a sharp sob and wrapped his arms tightly around his waist while fighting off the wave of nausea that overtook him. Blindly reaching, he found the lamppost beside him to support himself. His skin paling, Heero shook his head and whispered, "I-I don't remember. It's not bringing anything back." With his eyes thinning, he shouted in frustration from one face to the next, "That's not who I am anymore!"

"But it's who you were," the lighthouse keeper managed weakly as he continued to lean against the lamppost. Staring ahead with unfocused violet eyes, he said softly, "And nothing can change that."

Quickly closing the distance between them, Heero gently cupped his lover's face and gently turned his head until their eyes locked. "You're my home now," he vowed brokenly as tears filled his cobalt eyes. "Whoever this Odin Lowe was, he's gone now. Even if my memory were to come back, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here with you."

With tears rolling down his face, Duo shook his head and whispered, "You don't know that. Dorothy obviously meant something to you for you to be prepared to marry her. And she obviously loves you if she's still looking for you."

It was all too much for Heero-learning so much about who he was while trying to hold his new world together as it fell apart around him. A sharp sob choked out of him and he breathed, "But I need you."

Covering his face with his hands, Duo shook violently as he cried. Quickly wrapping his arms tightly around his lover, Heero kissed his head and gently rocked him. Sally bit her lip as she wiped at the tears running down her own face while Wufei rested a supportive hand on her shoulder.

Finally, Duo pulled back, sniffing, "I can't… I need time. This is all too much for one night to have to deal with like this." Pain-filled and shimmering violet looked up to the face watching him and he frowned deeply, "I need to think this out. Between the secrets and now this news, I don't know what's harder to handle right now."

Quickly wiping at his own eyes, Heero nodded and replied gently, "Okay. I'll give you all the space that you need."

Squeezing the lighthouse keeper's hands in his own, the sailor told him, "But I swear to you that I didn't mean to hurt you." Duo nodded, though it was one that was not all too convincing that he believed his words. His emotionally-drained gaze looked to a guilty looking Sally and Wufei as they silently pleaded their own forgiveness for their parts in the deception.

"There they are!" the familiar voice of a young woman called. The four joined in the middle of the street were quickly joined with the remainder of their `family' as they came out from all around. Panting heavily as she approached, Catherine looked to the red-eyed couple under the streetlight and frowned in concern, "Is everything all right?"

At that, Wufei raised a hand to the worried group gathered around. "Later," he told them simply. With a reassuring smile, he suggested, "You all better head back to the square before the dance ends. We'll catch up in a little while." Slowly, Trowa, Hilde, Quatre and Catherine filed back out and on their way down the block with concerned looks over their shoulders from time to time until they were out of sight.

Once they were alone once more, Sally offered to the couple, "Heero, you're more than welcome to stay in our spare room for a while, if you need some time. I'll ride with you to show you the way to our place."

Picking up on her cue, Wufei added to the lighthouse keeper, "And I can give you a ride home." Somewhat easing at the offer, Duo flashed the smallest of smiles in appreciation. He bit his lip and squeezed the hands holding his own before letting go.

Despite how it pained him to have to part with his braided partner, the Japanese sailor knew that staying with him was not the best of decisions. Straightening his sagging shoulders, Heero turned to the young couple and gave them a firm nod. With the doctor and officer in the lead, the small group walked down the streets to where their cars waited.

When they reached his car at last, Heero reached for Duo's hand just as he was about to walk past with Wufei. Freezing at the contact, the braided American turned his tired eyes to his partner. Nervously biting his lip, the sailor pulled him into a tight embrace and whispered into the lighthouse keeper's ear, "I love you."

Slowly easing in his arms, Duo hesitantly reached up to return the hug as he rested his forehead against a firm shoulder. "I love you, too," he finally muttered back. When they separated, he turned away without looking back as Wufei led him further down the street.

As he watched his lover walking off, the sailor wiped another stray tear that was rolling down his cheek. He knew that he would wait however long it took for Duo to forgive him and to trust that he had no intentions of leaving.

He would wait… even if it might kill him.