8-16-2001 (revised)

Note: This may sound weird but this is a story that I should thank A-Chan for. She didn't give me the idea, or help me write it. But I was while I was reading her story "Under A Blood-Red Sky" that this story came to me. For some reason the mood of that story really played a key role for this one. So even though the two are not similar at all, I owe her thanks. It may be a bit angsty, but I hope not too much Even though it takes on a VERY different feel from normal fics, I really hope you will read it anyways and tell me what you think. :) I was listening to Radio Head's Street spirit while I wrote this so the story reflects that.

Title: Hers, yours and mine.
Author: Sony_Mouse Sony_Mouse@hotmail.com
Pairings: 1+2+1, sadly R+1, 3+4+3
Warnings: it's not a Deathfic per say, but yes somebody we all know and love is dead by the intro. Language,
ARCHIVE: Gundam Wing Addiction (http://www.geocities.com/fenris_wolf0/)

************************

He was dead.

Despite everything that Duo was now telling himself, HE... was... dead.

For the second time in Duo's life, that bastard had up and left him for someone else. Before it had been Relena, and now God had won his fancy.

Duo should've been surprised or at least upset, but he wasn't, or so he told himself. He didn't even want to cry.

At that moment in time Duo was devoid of all emotion. Only one solitary thought wormed its way in and out of his mind, He was dead.

Duo sat cross-legged on a wooden chair near a broken window, as moonlight reflected it self off his unnaturally pale features. The room was quiet and dark, but only because the light bulb had also been mysteriously broken. But for the life of him, Duo couldn't remember how these things had become broken. They, along with many other items in his room, were now laying on the ground in pieces, but he was sure, that a mere hour ago, they were still in good working order.

Similarly Duo vaguely recalled owning two chairs in his room, but one of them was now only a bunch of broken splinters, lying on the ground outside, directly below the smashed window.

But Duo wasn't really staring at the window anyway, more like past it; he was somewhere else, in a great void, repeating some words over and over again. HE was dead. His Heero was dead. He was dead...

***************************************

The two police officers turned off into the intersection to pick up their "parcel" that had to be delivered. The first officer, Greg, wasn't looking forward to the job on this bright sunny day, but it had to be done. As they drove on, the wind came in through the windows and tousled his already messy hair. He had his feet up on the dashboard, and was presently eating a bag of sunflower seeds.

It was pretty quiet that day because the entire nation was in mourning over the great loss of its wise leader, Relena Peacecraft. She had created quite a scandal by committing suicide shortly after her beloved husband had done the same thing. True she had waited a few months to do it, but the result was still the same.

The country itself would run fine without her, it had been a good ten years since the war ended, and the government was now stable enough to run itself, and under a democracy this time. Or at least until someone in the family could take over.

No, the problem lay with what the two had left behind, their children. Greg got a disgusted look just thinking about the poor kids. His partner, who was driving the car, looked at him funny, so Greg just spat another seed out the window.

The officer knew he felt the same way. Both Yui kids were royalties without a home or a family. Most thought it would remain this way, but not a day after Relena's death, Heero's ex-lawyer showed up at the doorway waving a will in his left hand. Relena hadn't even thought about making one for her kids. The Queen had been that positive that she would live forever.

As they slowly pulled up to the station, two small figures could be seen standing out in front. Both clinging to small suitcases and trying not to look too scared. Standing above them was a very well known man by the name of Quatre Winner. He smiled warmly at the officers and nudged the children to do likewise.

They didn't budge.

When the car stopped, Quatre grabbed the suitcases and flung them in the backseat of the car. He then helped the two kids to get settled in the back and went to the front of the car to speak with the two officers.

"Listen, I still wasn't able to get a hold of him, but we have direct orders from the will to drop them off at the house anyways."

"Isn't that kinda of child neglect, just leaving them there?"

"Well no, I would stay with them, but I am sure he's home. He just doesn't answer his calls or anything. We've tried several times to get a hold of him, even before the incident, its just that...when he doesn't want to be found, he won't be."

Greg scratched the top of his head unblinking. "And THIS is who we're leaving the kids too. Are you sure this is a bright idea"

"I don't know what to think, but if it was Heero's last wish, then I am going to do my best to uphold it, even if it means that *I* have to raise them on that porch by myself."

"Alright, give me the address and hop in, I'm sure the kids can't WAIT to get to their new home."

Quatre gave Greg and his silent partner a weak smile and then climbed into the back with the two children, a big grin plastered to his face.

"Alright kids, time to meet your new uncle."

**************************

Greg stopped the car in the middle of the street as soon as he saw where they were planning on dropping off the royalty's only heirs.

"Uhhhh Mr. Winner, you have got to be kidding me, we aren't leaving the kids here, are we?"

Looking at the kids and hoping they weren't too upset, Quatre glared at the policeman.

Greg did have a point, the place was in absolute shambles, the car was smashed, the windows were falling off and rust was growing everywhere. The lawn was so high that the kids could hide in it.

"Well yes, and what's wrong with it. It just needs a paint job that's all. Besides you don't need a mansion to be happy, and I'll help him out with as much as he asks for...if he asks for it."

"Yeah well, this may be great for me or my buddy here, but we're talking about the Yui kids. This is no place for royalty or the kids of an ex-Gundam pilot to live."

Quatre was now starting to get mad and spoke against his nature. "This IS the place of an ex-Gundam Pilot, and it will do fine. Heero knew that when he wrote the will."

The two cops gave each other a knowing look and pulled up to the old house. Quatre quickly took command and got the children out of the car and ready for their new home. Grabbing the expensive suitcases, he once again turned to the policemen.

"Thanks for the ride, we'll be in touch about their progress. But could you stay here for a few moments, I might still need you."

Greg nodded slowly and gave Quatre a quick wink to wish him luck. This whole situation really was crazy.

***************************

Quatre practically dragged the unwilling, yet uncomplaining kids up to the door. They had still not spoken a word since the police station, and the youngest, a boy, hadn't said anything since their mother had passed away. It was all very unnerving for Quatre.

He was about to knock on the door when he took one last look at the young boy. He was wearing a small pair of jeans, fit for a five-year-old, a green T-shirt and had short tousled brown hair. He was, in other words, the exact duplicate of his deceased father.

Quatre's heart clenched at the thought, but also realized that this was not something his friend would welcome easily, so he got down on his knees and looked into the small child's eyes to speak with him.

"Hey there, do you have a baseball cap or something?"

The boy said nothing and continued looking at the ground, finding his shoes to be less intimidating then the situation. Giving up, Quatre reached into one of the suitcases and took out a small black baseball cap that he hoped would hide the view of the Prussian blue eyes and messy hair.

"There, now doesn't that look nice." Again the boy didn't respond. "Ok big smiles, Uncle Duo loves big smiles." Or at least he used to, Quatre thought to himself.

He knocked loudly at the door hoping someone would answer it. For all he knew Duo wasn't even alive anymore, but then they could've at least found his body. No Duo was hiding, he knew that much.

After a few more unsuccessful tries with the door, he tried something a little more unorthodox. He barged through it with all his might. The door gave way on the first try; it was just too old to care anymore.

"Come on in, we're home." The eight-year-old girl snorted at the remark and took her brothers hand to follow Uncle Quatre through the door.

Once inside there was no sign that anyone lived there, not even left over food. Though it was obvious that someone hadn't bothered to clean up in a long time. Sighing to himself Quatre didn't even bother to look around the house, he knew he wouldn't find anything. Instead he yelled at the top of his lungs. " Duo get your sorry behind down here. I need to talk to you, it's important."

As expected, no one replied.

"Duo, I'm serious this time. It's no time for games. I have something for you."

Again no reply, Quatre would have even been happy with a "Fuck off!" or a "Leave me the hell alone!" But received no such luck. Realizing once again that he wasn't getting anywhere with this, Quatre decided to use his trump card, the only one he had. "Its about Heero. He left you something."

After waiting for maybe five or then minutes, Quatre was finally convinced that he wasn't going to get a reply from his old friend. But soon after this realization hit him, a lone figure emerged from the shadows. He was wearing an old pair of track pants and a similarly old, smelly, black T-shirt. The young man was abnormally pale and had huge dark bags under his eyes.

He looked over to Quatre and said in an eerily quiet voice. "What is it Quatre? What did Hee-Hee... 'He' leave me."

Quatre was about to reply when Duo noticed the two silent children standing away from Quatre. He gave them a once over and stopped at the youngest. A pained expression crossed his eyes as he glared at the young boy.

The boy's eyes grew wide under the scrutiny and he ran to hide behind his sister.

Duo looked up at Quatre with disgust in his eyes. "You bastard, bringing THEM here to my house. You fucking bastard, how dare you presume... how dare you think that I would even look at HER children."

He started to turn away again but Quatre's pleas stopped him. "She's dead Duo."

Quatre wasn't sure he should be discussing this in front of the children, but he needed them there. His words must have worked because Duo slowly turned around with disbelief in his eyes. "What?"

"She's dead, died shortly after Heero did. I think you can figure out how."

"I don't care why, what's this got to do with...oh no, you can't mean. NO, Quatre NO!"

"Duo stop and listen for a second. It was in his will, he left them to you."

"NO!"

But Quatre didn't give up; at least Duo was staying put for the moment.

"He left them to YOU. And do you know why?"

Looking somewhat nervous and uneasy, Duo threw his arms up into the air.

"I don't care."

"He left them to you because he thought you would make a better parent than he or Relena ever was."

"How the hell would he know that." Duo said, pointing and accusing finger at his old friend." Do I look like the father of the year to you? Well DO I??"

He was screaming now, so Quatre said the only thing he could to calm Duo down. He stepped closer to Duo so that the kids couldn't hear and whispered quietly with tears in his eyes.

"Listen for once, you selfish bastard. Despite what may have happened between you two, he loved you, more than Relena, more then himself and as hard as it is to believe, more than those kids over there. And damn it, he really loved those kids, they were his life."

"Funny thing Heero, always seems to leave the things that he loves behind."

"Oh God Duo, that may be true, but he did love them. And the last thing he wanted was some pampered family raising his kids. There was only one person he could see fit to raise them, and it wasn't even Relena, it was you. So I don't care if you want to or not, you're raising them, and you're going to do a good job too."

Duo stood there stunned for a moment trying to pry his eyes away from the sight of the two children...Heero's children.

Quatre took advantage of this and without warning, ran out the door as fast as he could. Not knowing what he was doing, but was damned if he was going to stay, Duo needed incentive. Jumping into the back seat of the car, he told the two officers to drive off without the kids.

He knew that Duo wouldn't follow them, or try to return the children somehow. He hadn't stepped out of that door in 3 months, and Quatre figured he wasn't about to start now.

Duo would take care of those kids, even if he had to force him to. And Quatre had a feeling he might have to do just that.

************************

As predicted, Duo remained inside the house glaring at the front door. He couldn't believe Quatre had just left the kids here with him. Mumbling to himself he voiced that opinion. "I can't believe he just left you two here."

"Tell me about." A sarcastic voice responded to his comment.

Duo's deadly gaze quickly found the almost trembling girl in front of him. She tried to look proud, but he could tell she really wanted to cry or run, or maybe both. The braided man's mind was so overcome by the situation, he couldn't even figure out what to do.

As much as he wanted to just leave the kids outside on the porch, his long lost humanity wouldn't allow it. Besides he knew Quatre would be back with food and clothes in the morning, and then Duo could give them back.

Glaring at the two kids, Duo didn't even try to disguise his distaste of the situation. "I guess you two royalty get to stay at Hotel Maxwell. I hope its up to the standards that you're used to, and if not, well, that's life...HA, my life. There's food in the fridge, two spare bedrooms, I'm sure you can find them without my help, and a T.V in the living room. No, I don't' know if it works, don't ask!"

The small children looked up at Duo with scared eyes unwilling to say anything. "Ah damn it, you two are about as talkative as your father."

That was what did it, the two kids were now in tears. Scared, hungry, tired and generally not pleased with the situation, they cried as much and as loud as they could.

Duo was not used to talking all that much in the last few years, but he still didn't have the ability to stay quiet when there was people around. Old habits die-hard. " Alright, alright, enough already, stop crying. Now you sound just like you mother." This had the absolutely reverse effect that Duo had been aiming for, and the children began to bawl even more.

Duo tried a few more times to get them to calm down but was even more unsuccessful. He eventually threw his arms up in the air and snapped out loud. "That's it, you're not my problem. You can cry all you want. See if I care." He then turned on his heals leaving the two kids huddled together and crying their little eyes out.

It wasn't until much later that night, that Duo found himself unable to get to sleep. Intense Prussian blue eyes haunted his every thought, and so did the two now quiet kids. With a start he realized that he hadn't even bothered to learn their names. Not that it mattered, because after tomorrow he would never see or hear from them again, he'd make sure of that.

But for the moment, he still couldn't just forget about them. Standing up, Duo grabbed the only blanket in the house, his, and made his way over to one of the spare bedrooms. The two kids lay quietly huddled together with dry puffy eyes, and softly sleeping in the moonlight. It hurt so much to look at them, but at the same time he couldn't tear his eyes away. His breathing started to become haggard, and he realized that he was starting to hyperventilate. He quickly pulled the cover over the small children and ran out of the room as fast as he could.

Later as he lay in his bed, Duo still couldn't get to sleep. He shivered continuously for the rest of the night, but knew it wasn't from the cold.

*********************************

Part 2: YOURS!

 

Duo woke up the next morning with very little sleep and a huge headache. At first he thought it might have been from the alcohol, but quickly realized he hadn't drunk anything strong enough to give him a headache this painful, though he wish he had.

The cause of his pain was nagging him in the back of his mind, but he still couldn't place it. While he pondered over this, Duo heard a small voice from the left side of his room.

Standing there, watching him think, was a small girl with long blond hair and prussian blue eyes.

Her hair was done up in a too familiar sight, two small parts were braided at the front, and tied up at the back. Her mother's old hair style. It was very badly done, and Duo could tell that she was used to having some servant do it.

As he sat there staring at her, she made a second attempt to get his attention. "Ummm we're kinda hungry...could you make us some breakfast?" She knew it had been a bad questions even before she had asked it."

"I told you where the fridge was yesterday."

The small girl sighed slightly then looked up at Duo with a bit of fire in her eyes. " Well there's nothing in it. You can't starve us out, you know."

Duo was taken aback at how she had a hidden wit to her, but just shrugged his shoulders and grinned menacingly. "I can try, can't I!"

She wanted to say something else, but he stopped her with a single look that promised death. "Listen, I don't want you two to starve. I honestly thought that that I still had some food left. Guess I haven't eaten much in awhile, or maybe I ate too much, who knows. Anyway, Quatre will be here soon and he can take you away to get some food."

"Why won't you?"

Duo had to repress the urge to hurl something at the small girl. "Fine I'll give you some money and you can go to the store to buy yourself something."

"I don't know the way. Why can't you take me."

Duo had been sure that these two were the quiet type last night, but he was starting to rethink that as he heard her endless questions. "I don't want to take you to the store, so just take the money and leave."

"You're afraid to go outside aren't you?" This got Duo really mad and he reached over to his nightstand and threw the money at her. "Will you just GO!" She let out a scream and ran out of the room, leaving Duo to slump back against his bed, the same one he had shared with Heero many years ago.

He didn't have long to think before a rock flew in from outside and hit him on the top of his head. It was the same window he hadn't bothered to fix these past three months.

Picking up the rock so that he could throw it outside again, he noticed Quatre standing and smirking on his lawn, or jungle as it was more appropriately classified. "How was last night Duo, kids give you any trouble." Duo practically growled at Quatre while he threw the rock straight back at him, but Quatre dodged it easily.

"Duo, Duo what am I going to do with you. You should learn some more manners with two kids around. Oh and maybe work on your aim, I think you're losing you're touch."

"You little conniving Arabian nightmare, they are not staying here, so I suggest you take them now."

"No"

"Quatre you are not honestly saying that you're going to leave them with me. Ask them yourself, they're miserable, and it's all because of me."

"I have no doubt that you're making them miserable, but I am sure that your sense of right and wrong will kick in sooner or later, and you will start treating them like little gods. All you need to do is get to know them, I bet you STILL don't even know their names."

"I don't want to get to know them OR know their names, it's probably something like Relena and Heero Jr. I am NOT living with a Relena and especially not a Heero."

"Well, then you're in luck, that's not their names, so now you can have no problem living with them. I brought some food with me, I didn't think you would have anything fit for children, and I also got some videos for them to watch. But please take em out, they need some outdoor activities in their lives, the two are almost as lazy as you are, if you can believe it. Tell 'em I love 'em, and I'll be back soon. Good Luck Duo."

"Wait you-you-you get back here. I'm NOT taking care of them."

Quatre pretended not to hear him and reentered his fancy car that was waiting for him. With a little wave out the window he drove off, leaving a screaming Duo in his wake.

Duo was about to turn away when he saw a little figure run out from his front porch and grab the bags on the middle of the lawn. She looked up at Duo and grinned, sticking her tongue out at him before she ran back into the house with her prize.

Deciding he needed to know what was going on, he made his way downstairs muttering over and over again. "They're all against me, I swear they're all against me."

*************

By the time he got downstairs, Duo found the two children pouring milk all over his floor, trying hard to get it into their cereal bowls.

No such luck, Duo whined at the sight.

"Ahhhhhhh my beautiful dirty floors, what have they ever done to you?" The small girl looked up at him with large willful eyes. "Well you weren't going to help us, and I think the milk would do your floors some good."

"Well sorry for living, some of us didn't get raised with butlers and maids to do our housework."

The girl practically slammed down the milk and glared daggers at Duo. "Neither did we, dad wouldn't let us." She then went on to attempt pouring the milk into the almost empty bowls.

Duo swore to himself and bent over the table to grab the milk away from the girl. She tried to protest but he was much stronger than she was. "Here let me do that. I guess you are my guest for today, I could at least try to be nice to you."

Neither the girl of the boy believed at word of it and gave him looks that said as much.

Duo almost smiled at the looks he was now receiving, they were mini-glares their father used to give him. It would almost be adorable if it didn't bring so many painful memories with it.

He walked over to the sink and took out an old smelly cloth, which he then used to clean up the milk. When everything was tidier, he poured the bowls full of new cereal and then added some milk. He even went so far as to take out some dirty glasses, clean them with his shirt and fill them up with Orange Juice. The girl looked weary but the boy dug happily into his food. Glad that there was something to eat after not having had supper last night.

Duo sat down with a loud thump and tried his best to not glare at the children, it wasn't a smile but it wasn't threatening either.

"So I suppose you have names."

The girl rolled her eyes at him. "Yeah, I suppose we do."

"Well then what are they?"

"Since you asked so nicely I'm Elizabeth Peacecraft, and this is Nathaniel Peacecraft."

Duo couldn't help but cringe at not only the formal first names, but also the Peacecraft at the end of them. "And here I was thinking that you two were Yui's kids."

"We are, it's just how it works..."

"Fine, fine, so do you want to know my name?"

"We already know it, Uncle Quatre was yelling it when we first arrived."

"Oh yeah... well I'm Uncle Duo I guess, nice to meet you."

"You're not our Uncle, and I'm not calling you that."

"I am too, and why not?"

Elizabeth gave her "uncle" a funny look before replying. "If you're our uncle, then how come you never showed up at our birthday parties like Uncle Milliardo, and Uncle Quatre, and Trowa?"

The reason was obvious, to anyone who knew Duo personally; he didn't want to be there, but also because he had only known about one of the births. As soon as the first child came, Duo refused to even speak of Heero. He never even found out if it was a girl or not.

"Yeah well, I was busy Lizzy, and I didn't see you showing up for any of MY birthday parties."

"You never invited me! And don't call me Lizzy. I'm going to be your Queen one day, just like my mother."

The conversation almost turned nasty again, but Nathaniel decided at that exact moment to accidentally drop his glass, spilling the precious juice all over the unclean table.

For the millionth time that day, Duo swore under his breath as he got up to fetch the milk towel to clean up the newly spilled juice. He expected the small child to start crying again, but all he did was sit there and wait for Duo to fetch him some more juice.

" There ya go Nate, Maxwell's own moonshine, otherwise known as homemade Orange Juice."

It wasn't really homemade, it had come with the milk in the bag that Quatre had brought, but little Nate smiled sheepishly none the less. "Hey Lizzy, doesn't this boy ever talk?"

Lizzy only curled up a bit and her eyes become sad and moist, her voice barely above a whisper. "Not since mom passed away, not that you'd understand."

Not wanting to argue anymore that day, Duo just shook his head sadly and walked over to the life saving bag of food. Looking for movies, he only found a cartoon based off the life of Queen Relena called "Princess Relena", and some other equally brainwashing cartoon. There was no way he was going to show them these and Quatre knew it. Damn that Quatre was smart. He also wasn't just going to let them run around his house, messing it up more than he had already.

Looking at the young royalty, Duo noticed that they were both finished with their food and was quietly waiting for him to say something. "So what do you want to do now?"

Elizabeth, who was feeling just a bit more comfortable with Duo, mainly because she felt she had something over the lifeless man, jumped to her feet with a bit of joy. "Let's go to the park, I saw one on the way." Her little brother soon was on his feet too, jumping with a big grin on his face and clapping his hands.

"Fine, fine, the park is to the left of the house. Have fun." He waved them off and prepared to go back to whatever it was he did all day alone.

"But...but...Duo, we can't go alone. What if somebody kidnaps us?"

"Then I am sure that some knight in white armor will show up and save you, your family has that luck ya know."

Despite being still weary of Duo, Lizzy was more scared of going to the park alone. Neither she or her brother had ever been alone; their father had always been with them. Then after he left, bodyguards had always followed them around.

"Duo can't you come with us?" A look of fear passed over Duo's eyes and he shook his head.

"Nah, I don't like the sun." Hurt and upset Lizzy fell back into her chair, intent on glaring Duo to death.

"You just don't like us, just like you hate Mom, and you hate Dad, and you hate going outside. What did they every do to you?" Losing his temper again, Duo was about to throw the videocassettes at her when he realized what he was about to do. He had almost harmed a child.

Had he become that cruel and uncaring? He gently placed the cassettes down and lowered his head so that he wasn't staring into either pair of prussian blue eyes.

"You're too young to know."

"Then what did WE ever do to you?" That left Duo speechless. She was right, in her own pissed off eight-year old way, what HAD they ever done against him? Finally looking into their eyes, he spoke with quiet forced words. "You were born...and then you killed me." Turning away from the upset children, Duo ran up the stairs, slamming the door on his way, and locking it soon after. He was afraid to face those eyes for a second more, they would be his undoing, he was certain of it.

**************************

For the rest of the day, Duo didn't leave his room once. Lizzy thought that maybe he was crying, but when she and Nate put their ears to the door, they heard nothing, only the sound of silence. The funny thing was, Lizzy was starting to feel sorry for the bitter adult. She no longer feared him, just felt sad for him. Something must have happened to him to make him this way; or else their Dad wouldn't have given them to him. Maybe that was why he did it, so they could watch over him, he looked like he needed it.

The kids spent the rest of the day wandering in and out of the house, looking for anything of interest. They had found the movies Duo had placed on the counter, but discovered that the TV had been destroyed along time ago.

Feeling the need to go outside they had run around the lawn, playing hide-and-seek for as long as they could. Some of the neighbors had given them strange looks, and others had just warned them to get away from "Crazy Maxwell's place".

At one point Lizzy had looked up to the house windows and saw a dark figure pass one of them, she knew it had to be Duo, but he didn't even cast a look in their direction, she was sure he was in a world of his own.

It wasn't until much later that night that Lizzy realized she couldn't do this on her own. She didn't even know how to take a bath with out someone else's help. It made her sad to realize that Duo might have been right about her and Nathaniel needing other people to do their work.

She changed her clothes and helped get Nathaniel ready for bed, but even the simplest task was very hard for her to accomplish, being so small and everything. But somehow she eventually got it done, and went to tuck herself and her brother into bed.

Things just had to get better; she didn't know what she would do if they didn't.

************************

Not ever 5 hours after that last thought, Elisabeth woke up with Nathaniel kicking her in the back and screaming out loud. He was having another nightmare about their mom's death. It had been Nathaniel who had found the body.

She was about to try and comfort him, but before she could, she realized that their bed was now wet. Nathaniel had wet his pants again. It was normal for a five-year-old, but still annoying. She quickly saved the blanket and woke her younger brother up. But by then she was fresh out of ideas, she didn't know what to do afterwards.

Elizabeth was left with her last resort, DUO!

Quietly creeping down the hallway with her sniffling brother in tow, they made their way to Duo's room. Nate had the blanket tucked snuggly under his arms, dragging it behind them as they walked. She knocked on the huge dark door, and at that moment, felt like it would eat them both whole.

When she received no answer from Duo, she knocked even harder. Again, no answer, but the dark was now starting to get to her. The longer they stayed there, the more scared she became. Banging on the door with all her might she started to cry out Duo's name. "DUO, DUO!!!"

Elizabeth heard a clicking noise, and the door opened with a very tired and worried looking Duo standing at the entrance.

"Wh-wha-what's going on? You guys ok? Is anyone hurt? What's wrong?" Surprising both Duo and herself, she ran up to his legs and hugged him as hard as she could.

"Duo I'm scared, Nathaniel's having his nightmare, and he wet the bed, and I saved the blanket, but it's still so dark and I think there's something in the shadow and I don't wanna be alone."

Duo looked down in shock at the now crying girl. Nate didn't seem to be much better and was sniffling in the corner scared to even move.

Duo looked positively lost, but only for a minute. Before he knew it, some kinda of paternal instinct finally kicked in, and he hoisted up the crying child into his arms. Patting her on the back he comforted her in a soothing voice. "Shhhhhhh it's gonna be ok, it's alright now, I'm here, don't worry, I'm not going anywhere."

He motioned for Nate to approach him, and he did so, dragging the blanket behind him.

Duo took the chance to lay the girl down on his bed while he went to get Nate all cleaned up. By the time he got back, Lizzy was already fast asleep, and Nate was getting very drowsy.

He laid him softly on the bed, wrapped the blanket around the two, and prepared to leave the room. But before he could, he heard a noise from Nate, the young child had tears in his eyes. The boy obviously didn't want Duo to leave, so against everything his feelings were telling him, Duo snuggled up in-between the two children, wrapping his arms around Nate. He slowly drifted off into a peaceful slumber.

************************

The next morning, Duo was the first to wake up. At first, it was just like the previous morning and he didn't know what was going on. He thought he was alone, but could feel two small figures on either side of him.

After realizing who they were, and what had happened, Duo's breath began to quicken just like it had a few nights ago. He could feel himself starting to panic, and threw the covers off himself, trying to get some distance between him and the kids.

The action woke up the both Elizabeth and her brother. They watched in horror, as Duo stated to hyperventilate and then just as quickly, stop breathing all together and collapse to the ground with a loud thud. Both kids screamed and ran for their uncle. Hoping it wasn't too late.

Leaving Nate with Duo, Lizzy ran down the stairs in search of a telephone. Quatre had given her the telephone number the day he dropped them, just incase anything bad happened. As soon as she got a hold of him, she burst in to tears. "Uncle Quatre, it's Duo, he cant' breathe, he fell to the ground and we can't wake him up."

Quatre told the child to stay put and to wait for the ambulance, it would be there soon.

**********************

Milliardo Peacecraft made his way up the stairs in search of room 101. He'd been informed about the accident and made his way over as soon as possible. But he was more concerned about the kids than he was about Duo's well being.

The whole situation pissed off Milliardo to no end. Why HIS Niece and Nephew had to live with a man that couldn't even take care of himself, boggled his mind. He had fought the court's decision, but didn't have much luck, not with Quatre and the other pilots standing firmly behind Heero's wishes 100% of the way.

They had even gone so far as to hide where Duo lived, just to keep the kids away from him. But he hoped that this would be the turning point. Even Quatre couldn't deny what had just happened. With any luck, he was here to pick up the kids for good.

As he made his way down the hall, he spotted Quatre standing in one of the doorways. He wasn't moving or even talking, just standing there and observing the room in silence. Upon closer examination, he noticed that Trowa was also with the ex-pilot, comforting him in every way possible.

He came up to the couple, tapping Quatre lightly on the shoulder and asked about the kids. "So how are they?"

"Oh the kids, they're fine, Still in their Pj's but I couldn't get them to budge, they have too much of their parents in them, stubborn as hell. Duo's doing fine too. He already woke up, and is just resting now. It was an anxiety attack." Quatre sighed. "I guess it was just too much for him."

Milliardo looked at the man oddly. "You mean to say that the kids don't hate him? They're standing by his bedside?"

Quarter turned around and pushed Milliardo out into the hall. "Shh, the kids will hear you. And no they don't hate him. Duo must still have that ability to make everyone love him"

"I think it's just that kids are too trusting." Changing the subject, Milliardo stared Quatre in the eyes. " We have to get them out of there. He is in no position to be taking care of children, and you know it. I don't know what Heero was thinking, but we have to stop this."

Quatre looked uncertain, sure he loved Duo, but Milliardo had a point, this was getting to be too much, it might have been a mistake from the beginning.

"Quatre, I'm their Uncle, at least let me take them home tonight?"

Before Quatre could answer they both heard a very defiant reply from behind them.

"NO!"

Quatre spun around on his heels to stare straight into very familiar glare.

"Elizabeth, what do you mean?"

"We're not leaving him"

"But don't you want to leave that house, and Duo. I'm sure he hasn't been the nicest person to you."

She crossed her arms and held her chin up high, "He's been great when he needed to be. He helped us with our nightmares...a-a-and made us breakfast, even though he didn't want to. He's just sad and lonely. We can't leave him. 'We' have to watch over him. That's what dad wanted all along."

It was Milliardo's turn to knock some reason into the girl. "But honey, it's not your responsibility to watch over a grown man. Wouldn't you rather come live in a clean, warm house with your uncle?"

"He IS our uncle, and dad gave us to him, so we're staying with him. He needs us more than you do."

Trowa walked over to where the commotion was and saw the look of surprise on Quatre's face. The surprise soon transformed into a grin as he turned to address Milliardo.

"Well I'm sorry, but I'm willing to give Duo another chance. He must be getting better. He made them breakfast, BREAKFAST!!! He doesn't even make himself breakfast. We'll give him another chance and see how he does. If it ends up like this again, I promise I will fight your case for their custody."

Mad at the turn of events, and still very worried about his relatives, Milliardo nodded, knowing not what else he could do.

The kids were no longer under custody of the Peacecrafts; their fate now belonged to Maxwell...

********************************

PART 3: MINE!!!!!

 

One of the things Quatre had been unwilling to admit to the former Oz pilot was what had happened when Duo had woken and found himself in a hospital, more to the point, outside of his beloved house. The young man had started to panic, throwing things at the nurses and yelling at Trowa and himself. They were forced to sedate him for his own good, but Quatre was sure he would be fine once they got him home.

So Duo was now more or less sleeping against his will, but Milliardo didn't need to know any of that. Either did the press who were now hounding the ex-pilots for the whereabouts for the Peacecraft children.

Using nighttime as a shield, Quatre had managed to transport Duo into the car, and they were now making their way home, with Duo still knocked out in the back. The kids had once again insisted on coming with him instead of driving with Trowa, so they too joined Duo in the back seat of the car. Both children were on either side of him cuddling up to his unconscious body, as if protecting Duo from the outside world.

Quatre was still cautious about the whole situation, but Elizabeth's words had confirmed his actions. Heero had a reason for doing this, and whether or not Elizabeth's childish theory was what he had had in mind, was beside the point. All that mattered was that it was Heero's wish.

Quatre had been wise and used the time that Duo laid passed out in the hospital to get some cleaning done. He had called practically a whole army to go into the house and sanitize EVERYTHING they could find. It was also a good chance to get the kid's rooms set up. Quatre hadn't had enough time to get anything major, but he was able to purchase a couple of beds, children's blankets, drawers, desks, and other such furniture that they would need, including a brand new TV for downstairs.

As the car pulled up to the driveway, the headlights flashed briefly over the much cleaner house and onto the old broken down car. It had been Duo's favorite car at one time, he had been so proud of it, practically built the thing himself. Heero had only thought Duo was being silly, especially since he had had enough money to buy any car he could ever want, but still Duo insisted.

But now it was once again a piece of crap metal, lying useless in Duo's driveway, still smashed up from the accident that happened so many years before. Quatre didn't know much about the details himself, he just knew that the first time he saw the car this way, Duo had never been the same.

By the time he got the braided ex-pilot settled into bed, had had the kids fed, washed them (it had been 3 days since they had last had a bath), and got them ready for bed, it was way past their bedtime.

Quatre tried to get them excited about sleeping in their new rooms, but it was Elizabeth who refused once again to part with Duo. She claimed to be scared, and didn't want to be left alone. He offered to stay with her while she slept, but she insisted on sleeping in Duo's bed again, even after what had happened the last time.

To Quatre's surprise, she explained that it was the first time in ages that Nathaniel hadn't had any nightmares. The ex-Gundam pilot hadn't even been aware that he was having them in the first place, so against his better judgement, he agreed to let them sleep there.

The kids smiled warmly at the sleeping Duo before climbing into to bed with him. Again taking positions on either side of the young man, and trying to get as close to him as humanly possible. The sight itself was adorable, and Quatre sincerely wondered what Duo could possible have done to earn their affection.

Taking the old, but now washed blanket, he spread it lightly over their bodies and leaned down to kiss the two children on the foreheads, before heading downstairs to his own designated couch.

Before Trowa had left to go home, he had confided in Quatre that this whole situation made him feel like an old man, even though he was only 27. Quatre, who was now 26, couldn't have agreed more.

It had been a long day, and the kids weren't the only ones who were exhausted, he plopped down on the couch and in a matter of seconds, was out like a light.

***************************

Quatre awoke the next morning to sound of someone making breakfast in the kitchen. At first he thought it was one of the kids, but then reality hit him and he realized that Duo was up.

Picking himself off the couch, he quietly made his way to the kitchen and gave a loud gasp as he saw Duo trying to prepare what looked to be a breakfast of bacon and eggs. The table had been set with new, clean plates and glasses for all four of them, and real fresh orange juice had been made. Quatre couldn't believe his eyes. And before Duo noticed him, he demonstrated this by yelling in surprise.

"Duo, what're you doing?"

Duo almost dropped the pan he was holding as he spun around to face the shocked Quatre.

"Shhhhhhhhhhhh! They're still sleeping, you might wake 'em up."

"But-but... what are you doing?"

Just to knock Quatre further off his feet, Duo gave him a wide grin. "What do you think? I'm making breakfast, real breakfast."

"B-b-but, WHY?"

Duo's face lost its mischievous look and became much more solemn. "I guess to say sorry for the way I acted when they first got here...and maybe to say thanks for taking me to the hospital."

Duo placed the eggs aside and pulled up a chair near the table and motioned Quatre to do likewise. "I don't know how to continue right now, this all happened so quickly, but I have to do something. They helped me, watched over me, I even saw them in my bed again this morning. I couldn't scare them off. I, the God of Death, couldn't scare off two small children, not like I did with Heero."

Quatre interrupted him. "You never scared him off."

"Yeah, well either way I ended up alone, and I didn't want that to happen again. In fact I STILL don't want that to happen again, but I can't take it out on them, as much as I want to, and trust me, I want to. After all that I did to them when they first got here, they still want to be with me, how can I compete with that?"

"So you'll keep them?"

Duo quickly got defensive, and waved his hands in the air in an attempt to slow Quatre down. "Now, wait just a minute, I didn't say that, but-but maybe I could try it. I mean you did go through all that trouble to clean my house and I think I owe them something for what they did. Who knows, if they're not afraid of the wrath of Shinigami, then maybe they might survive living with me after all."

Quatre tried once again, " So you'll keep them."

"Quatre, you know what your asking don't you? Your asking me to completely jump being "Dad's old war buddy", skip being a friend, even miss being an Uncle, and be their damn FATHER! I don't know if I can do that. I can only...I can only...I can only promise that I'll give it a shot. I'm sorry but that's the best I can do."

"So you'll keep them!"

Flinging his arms up in defeat, Duo yelled at Quatre. "Yes, yes, you bastard, I'll keep them. Are you happy now?" But Duo wasn't angry, in fact he was now smiling. "I'll give it a try, but only because I'm afraid Heero will come and haunt my nice new clean house if I don't."

Quatre thought to mention that it was more likely that Heero had been haunting Duo these past eight years, but wisely kept his mouth shut. He reached over and patted Duo on the shoulder.

"Good, I'm really proud of you for doing this, and I'm sure he is too."

"Yeah, well just don't expect me to start being Mr. Perfect or anything."

"Duo, I can safely say, I NEVER thought of you as Mr. Perfect." Duo playfully swatted him on the head. He was far from healed or anything close to that, but at least he was trying. And that alone was something Quatre never thought he would see Duo do again.

Duo's smile suddenly vanished almost as quickly as it had appeared when he remembered about his forgotten eggs. "Ahh the food, it'll be all cold." He ran over to the counter and started to reheat them before the kids woke up and demanded something to eat.

Quatre could only stare in silent joy as he watched Duo refry the eggs. It really was a good sight to see. The sunlight was streaking in from the newly fixed windows, and gave Duo's hair an almost angelic look to it. His smile brightened knowing full well that Duo was no angel, but for the moment he was a devil reborn. And that at least, had some hope to it.

Just like his friend, Duo was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even notice a very small child walk into the kitchen and spot the cooking Duo. Nate's tiny mouth broke into a huge smile and he ran up to grab the swaying braid that graced Duo's too thin back. Giving it a giving a good hard tug, he started to laugh as Duo yelped in surprise.

Duo only managed to barely save the eggs before glaring down at the giggling child. The glare quickly turned into a pout when he realized it had absolutely no effect whatsoever on one of Heero's kids, obviously a hereditary trait.

Taking his abused braid out of the five-year-olds evil clutches, Duo whined in his most pathetic voice he could muster. "NAAAAAATE!!!! Gee, I take back everything I ever said about you being like your Mother; you are DEFINATLEY your Father's child."

Nate only continued to giggle as Duo gave up pouting and hoisted the little troublemaker up to the counter to sample some of the fresh eggs that had just been made.

Quatre, who had watched the whole seen, shook his head softly in disbelief. For the most part, their Duo really was coming back.

********************

After making sure they were all settled in, Quatre took his leave to let the three get better aquatinted. For awhile, while he was watching Duo teach Nate how to hold a spoon properly, he was almost convinced that they were going to have no trouble at all getting along. But his illusion quickly vanished, when Elizabeth had finally woken up and come downstairs to tell Duo just how upset she was at him for going to the hospital yesterday.

It had been a sight to see, an eight-year-old yelling at a twenty-six year old about his unhealthy habits. Duo had just stared down at his feet the whole time apologizing before he realized that he was being chewed out by a little kid and started to fight back. Quatre just wished he had brought his tape-recorder, the whole scene was just too funny.

There weren't two children living in this house, there were three.

He got into his car, and taking one last look at the house, made a mental note to call his gardener later, something just had to be done about that front lawn.

*******************

After Quatre had left, Duo fell to the couch exhausted. It had only been an hour and he was already ready to send them back.

After finishing breakfast he had been ready to move on to some other house project, in an attempt to keep himself busy, unfortunately this had gotten him another round of Lizzy's complaints about the way he had lived for the past few years. As far as she knew he had always lived like that. She went on to tell him that he couldn't just leave the dishes there, because he would never get them done.

He had assured her that he would clean them later, but for some odd reason she wasn't convinced. With Nate silently nodding in agreement to everything she said against him, he had reluctantly gone over and washed the dishes, even going so far as to put them away. Duo could almost swear that the girl was in fact the reincarnation of Sister Helen, sent back from the dead to force him to do his chores.

Sitting on the couch, Duo got about a minute of rest before a small chubby hand started tugging at his priest's shirt to get his attention, he'd actually bothered to wear it today. It was Nate, and he was pointing at his own Pajamas, hinting that he wanted to be changed.

Calling Lizzy to him, he picked up the squirming boy, and led his sister upstairs to get them both changed. Getting them changed proved to be a harder task then he had first thought. Every time he turned his head, Nate would run out the door, trying to play hide-and-seek. But after a few escape attempts, Duo finally got the bright idea to just close the door, so that the small boy couldn't make a run for it.

It even took him a full ten minutes just to get Nate out of his pajamas because the boy thought Duo was trying to tickle him, and kept squirming around on the floor, laughing and trying to get away.

Once that was completed, he let them go over to their still unpacked suitcases, and pick out their own clothes, mainly because he didn't know what they should wear. He immediately regretted the decision when he saw what they had picked out. Lizzy's outfit wasn't too bad; she had picked out a nice pair of jeans, with a white shirt to match. Duo could only cringe at the shirt, knowing that it would be any colour but white by the end of the day, but she could at least dress herself, Duo only had to help her reverse the shirt, she had put it on inside out.

Nate on the other hand showed up holding a pair of black pants, a white turtleneck, and a black T-shirt. It was an obvious attempt to try and copy Duo's unique style of clothes.

So Duo spent the next 15 minutes trying to convince Nate that it would be a better idea to wear something else. The argument consisted of him pulling the clothes away from Nate, and Nate retaliating by crying. It was a lose-lose situation, but in the end Duo still got the child to at least agree to wear jeans like his sister's, and only the small black T-shirt with it.

When they were finally finished, Nate jumped to his feet and proudly showed off his snazzy black T-shirt to his older sister, she didn't seem too impressed and was more concerned about getting her like she had had it a few days ago. It had been so badly done that it hadn't even survived running out of Duo's room that morning.

Without a second thought, Duo got up and grabbed the brush from her hand.

"Hey, I can do that by myself."

"I'm sure you can, but I might be able to teach you a few tricks, I know a thing or two about hair."

Looking up and down his long thick rope of chestnut hair, she reluctantly let him style her hair the way she liked it.

"There, now doesn't that look like the way your servants used to do it?'

"I told you already, we didn't have servants."

"Then who did your hair?"

"My mom did! And when she was too busy, Dad would just put it up in a ponytail."

Duo looked mock annoyed at this. "Hey, he let you wear a ponytail??? I was never allowed to wear one, it had to be in a braid or sometimes loose for...uhh never mind."

Realizing what he was just about to admit to Heero's eight-year-old daughter, he quickly shut up and continued to brush the already finished blond hair.

"So what do you two want to do now. Quatre brought lots of games we could play, or we could watch a video, or I could find some fun filled chores to do. Nothing like sweeping the basement to make the hours fly by.

Both children wrinkled their noses and looked at him funny.

"Hmm don't like that idea eh? So what do you suggest?" He regretted the words as soon as he had said them.

Lizzy's eyes lit up and she practically screeched. "Let's go to the park, you said you would take us."

Looking horrified Duo shook his head. "Uh uh, I never said I was taking you two anywhere, and why would you want to go to the park, there are so many nicer things to do. We could learn some mechanics, or maybe I could teach you one hundred and one ways to break into a house, you never know when you might forget your key."

Nate's eyes became all watery and Elizabeth didn't look too far from crying herself. The girl seemed to be an odd mix of Duo's tormenter and a small child completely dependent on him at the same time.

"Ahhhhhh come on, don't cry again. This isn't a nice area; you wouldn't want to go. It was wrong of me to try and send you both before, what if something happened to you. And you know I can't take you. You said it yourself, I'm afraid of going outdoors, sorry but there's no chance in hell I am taking one step out of my house."

Looking up at Duo with wide prussian blue eyes, and pouts that they must have picked up from Duo, Nate silently pleaded as Lizzy, without knowing it, said the only thing that could make him leave that house. "But Daddy used to take us to the park everyday."

"Ahh DAMN IT! Damn it, damn it, damn it. Fine! I'll take you to the park, but if I don't make it back, I want you to know that I warned you. I haven't been outside voluntarily in three months and it's been longer than that since I actually took a walk around the neighborhood. Just stop using my own tricks against me and let me get my coat. I swear I have those pouts trademarked somewhere."

Both children started jumping around for joy and clapping their hands. They were finally going to get to see the park, and Duo, their very own Duo, was taking them.

**********************

As if trying to hide every part of his body, Duo slowly unrolled the arms of his priest's shirt, put on his almost unused baseball cap, pulled on a pair of gloves, and placed sunglasses over his eyes. He was dressed completely in black from head to toe, and looked quite ridiculous. Nate was to the first to see him and broke out into a huge fit of giggles, something he seemed to do a lot around Duo.

"Ummmmm Duo, don't ya think that's too warm for today, I'm just wearing a T-shirt, and so is Nathaniel."

Pouting at the children, Duo reverted to his old smiles that would hide just how nervous he was feeling. "Hey, you're the ones who wanted me to come along, if you think I am too embarrassing, then I just won't come."

"Nah, you just look all weird and stuff."

"Well thanks for your vote of confidence, now let's get this over with." Duo was the first to reach the door but before he could leave the house, he stopped dead in his tracks. There was no way in hell he was going to go through that door.

"You know, I just remembered, I have laundry or something else to do right now, ya think we could do this later?"

They didn't even dignify the comment with a reply as Duo felt too tiny hands on his ass push him out the door. It wasn't that the five-year-old was strong, he just took Duo by surprise, and pushed him off balance, the end result was Duo falling flat on his face outside the door.

Before he could panic, he felt another slightly bigger hand link with his. Looking up he discovered Lizzy's bright prussian blue eyes urging him to continue, and for the first time in ages, he did.

Slowly getting up, he took a huge breath and then tried to move forward. Once he had completed the first step, Duo felt Nate grab his other hand and pull him forward. Knowing that there was no going back now, Duo slowly but surely started to move forward and surprising even himself, made it all the way to the park.

Once there, it was an entirely different story, all his insecurities started to kick in again and he left the children to play on the swings as he ran towards the nearest bench in the shade, offering him some sense of protection by the surrounding trees and darkness.

From there, he was able to watch as the children played amongst themselves. He wanted to join them so much, but something kept him glued to the bench and he was unable to move. Noticing that the kids were happy with him just being there for now, he satisfied himself with just sitting the whole time. But Duo sincerely wondered if he would be able to make it all the way home.

For the most part of the hour, nothing out of the ordinary happened. But unfortunately for Duo, his earlier prediction about the neighborhood had been right. As he sat paralyzed on the bench, his heart stopped when he saw a group of men approach the park and surround the children. He tried to move but being so far away from the safety of his house and the effort to took him just to get to the park in the first place, had left him with no strength to leave the bench. He was scared for the kids, but even more scarred to move.

The gang started to pick on the kids with seminally innocent questions, obviously bringing discomfort to the small children who weren't used to anything of this sort. Very much like Duo, but for different reasons, the kids themselves were afraid to move, fearing that the large men might do something to them.

As Duo watched the group close in on the kids, he felt something in his veins he hadn't felt in a long time. The largest of the men cornered Elisabeth and tried to speak with her. It was obvious that she had replied with some sort of smart-ass comment, because one of the bigger men hit her to the ground soon after, and began to swear at her. It only took one look from her eyes, to get a forgotten fire in Duo's veins to really burn again, and all he could see was red. Before he knew it, some force had once again possessed him and he was off.

Elisabeth started to pick herself up from the ground where she'd fallen; she was scared and didn't know why her Uncle hadn't done anything yet to help them yet. She stole another look in his direction and noticed that he was no longer there. A quick scan of the park revealed that he was nowhere to be seen. Now she was really scared.

The man began approaching her again, and holding her crying brother behind her, she started to whimper along with him.

Just as the man reached for her arm, something quick and black came out of nowhere. There was a blur of motion, and within seconds the entire gang had been beaten and where lying on the ground in obvious pain. Looking up in surprise, she turned to stare into violet-blue eyes that screamed rage. They were so unfamiliar to her, that it took a bit to register that they were Duo's. He didn't seem to notice her, and was yelling at the group of men.

"Don't you EVER, EVER think of touching one of my kids again. Do I make myself clear? If I even hear that you gave them a bad look, you will have to deal with a very pissed off Shinigami. And I personally don't think that you'll survive the experience."

A few of the men nodded in pain, but the others were still unconscious, and didn't get the chance to hear the pleasant speech, though Duo was sure they'd hear it later. Turning to the forgotten kids, he motioned that they should leave.

But instead of compliance, he only saw fear in their eyes. Falling to his knees, Duo let out a sigh and hugged the two close to him. "Don't worry, it's just me. I guess I'm not used to letting go that part of myself. It's been awhile."

Hugging him back, Lizzy raised her tear-streaked eyes and questioned Duo in a shaky voice.

"D-d-duo...Shinigami?"

Duo laughed as he ruffled her once neat hair. "Oh ...well that's just me when I get mad. Don't worry about that though, I wouldn't get like that against you. I'm sorry I didn't help you sooner, but I-I-I, well I couldn't before, but I can now. Lets just not talk about it and go home." Lifting up the sniffling Nate into one of his arms, and taking Lizzy's hand in his other, they made their way back to the house as fast as Duo's feet could take them, practically dragging the still confused girl behind him. If he had his way that would be the last he ever saw of the outside world.

************************************

Part 4: What Was, What Could've Been, and What Happened...
 

In the last few confusing days, Duo had grown to the idea that he would probably never get to hear Nate speak. There was no reason for this idea of his, but it's still what he believed. He also believed that if Nate ever did talk again, it would be the result of another very traumatic experience, like his parents dying, or from many years of expansive therapy. Never in a million years did Duo guess that it would be from the small boy's love of a certain 'superhero'.

It happened right after the park incident, while Duo was getting the kids ready for bed. Duo was trying to get Nate into his pajamas, and had just sent Lizzy to go and brush her teeth. Nate, being his usual self, was wiggling all over the place trying to tease Duo. But the God of Death was having none of it, and was continuously trying to capture the overly hyper child. He honestly wondered if Relena had been like this as a child herself. Somehow he just couldn't see Heero overexcited about anything, especially not getting dressed...now undressed, that was another matter entirely.

As soon as Lizzy had left the room, Nate stopped wiggling and waited a few minutes before jumping up to stand on his toes in an attempt to reach Duo's ears. Duo just sat there confused as to what Nate was up to.

Giving another quick scan of the room, Nate motioned for Duo to lean in and then whispered so quietly that Duo had almost believed it was just his imagination.

"Duo...I won't tell nobody."

Although Duo was very happy that Nate was talking, even if it was only when they were alone, at the same time he had no had no idea what Nate was talking about."

"W-what was that? What won't you tell anyone?"

Nate rolled his eyes at Duo, upset that he had to spell it out for the older man. He once more leaned over to whisper in Duo's ear.

"Your secret identity."

This really took Duo by surprise. He wasn't aware he had one.

"What secret identity?"

By now the young boy was starting to doubt his Uncle's sanity, but continued anyway.

"Shinigami!!! Don't worry, I won't tell the others who you are. You're a super hero just like I was told, and you saved us, just like daddy said you could."

"WHAT!!!"

"Daddy used to tell me stories about Shinigami. But I didn't know YOU were him!"

Nate looked up at his uncle in awe and waited for a response.

Slowly bringing his hands up to his mouth, Duo felt like crying. "H-h-he talked about me."

By now Nate was clapping his hands in glee, just so happy to meet THE Shinigami and brimming with joy

"Yeahhhhhhh, he would say that...that you could kill anyone and...and if they even looked at you, they KNEW that they were dead. And...and that you saved the planet, and him, and that no one knows who you really are, but he does, and that he even met you. MY daddy knew Shinigami, and now I do too!"

Duo tried to answer the boy, but he found that his vocal cords were frozen and it was even hard to move.

All this time, and Heero hadn't forgotten about him, he had even told his kids about their past in the war, sure he had told it like a comic book, but maybe that was just how the kids had interpreted it, but he'd still mentioned him.

Thinking back to the park incident, Duo realized that even Lizzy had known the stories. She had seemed very surprised that he had mentioned Shinigami and himself in one sentence.

All of a sudden Duo had to get out of that room. Nate had stopped talking as soon as Lizzy had returned and the two were climbing into his bed, trying to get comfortable. He told them that he would join them later, but right now he still had some work to do. Wishing them a good night, he left the room, though he knew he wasn't going to have one himself.

As he descended the stairs, he heard the phone ring, which was odd since no one ever phoned him. He ran to pick up the receiver, momentarily forgetting his thoughts about Heero.

"Hello??"

"Wow Duo, this is the first time you've picked up the phone in months."

"Oh Quatre, it's you. I should have known."

"Yeah well I had a message to deliver and I just wanted to check up on you."

"Thanks, it's ok. We went to the park today."

"You DID! That's great, I can't believe you left the house. Congratulations."

"Hey, save that for later. They had to drag me out, and they were even attacked shortly after by neighborhood thugs."

"Thugs?? SO? That's nothing you can't handle."

"Well I almost couldn't, but...well I felt an old feeling in my veins, and fought back."

"HA HA, you don't mean you were Shinigami, do you? Oh boy, I hope you didn't hurt the poor teens too much."

"Don't worry about it, they got what they deserved, and now I have backup bodyguards for the kids. I have a feeling they'll be trying to get on my good side from now on."

"Good for you Duo. This is just great, and goes well with the invitation I have." Duo almost dropped the phone when he heard that.

"The WHAT!!"

"Don't get excited, it's from Milliardo, he is having a formal ball tomorrow, more for the public, and he wants the kids there. It's important that the country sees that their future rulers are ok and being brought up properly. And besides, now that Milliardo is regent until Elizabeth comes of age, he is taking the role to heart. He WANTS a bright future for the country. No more war, never again."

"Nice speech Q, but I'm not going to 'Zech's' public showoff party."

Quatre sighed into the receiver, "Ok here's the deal, the kids are either there to prove to the public AND to the courts that you are taking care of them, or Milliardo has got one more reason to show the judges he'd be a better parent."

"Damn, why didn't you just say so in the first place. FINE, I'll go, but I'm counting on you to get me the clothes and all that junk."

"You're going to dress up?"

"No, but the kids should, they'll want to wear some nice fancy close again. Especially at a ball."

"You sure this is ok?"

"If it has to be done, then fine. I'm just making no promises about my behavior. You know me that much."

"Ok Duo, I'll be here to pick you up at 7:00pm sharp. Oh and thanks."

"For what?"

"For trying. I know this must be hard, so thanks. All of us couldn't be happier to see you up and about again."

"No prob, just don't let it get to your heads. Now I'm tired so good night."

"Night Duo."

Duo heard the other end go dead and listened as the static in the phone slowly grew louder. He didn't know how he was going to manage tomorrow. The things he went through for these kids were starting to scare him.

****************************

An hour later found Duo still not able to get to sleep and sitting on the downstairs couch, in the dark, and staring at the wall.

Everything he had spent the last three months, no the last eight years, trying to forget was slowly coming back to him. And he had Quatre, the last few days, and the kids to blame. Especially Nate and his promise not to tell on him.

He wasn't having another anxiety attack; he had had many in the past, but he was still not taking any of this very well.

All he could do not to start hyperventilating was to glare into the darkness and think of HIM. The one person who with a few words and a few deeds had torn his world into pieces.

The very colour of his eyes, the feel of his skin, the way he spoke, it was all coming back to him. Not that he had every truly forgotten, but he had tried. And now this lost lover was all he could think about.

As the night moved on, Duo thought about what had happened between the two, and more importantly, when it had begun, for him at least. Giving into the painful memories, Duo's head fell into his shaking hands as he whimpered the hated name. "Oh god...Heero..."

***********************

**********************************************

Part 5: Endless Waltz...

P.S. Sorry for the really bad pun…it had to be done

Present Time

 

Lizzy was staring down at the pathetic sight before her... Duo.

He hadn't come upstairs last night, and was now lying sprawled out on the couch with a bottle of some smelly alcohol in his hands.

Huffing to herself, she grabbed the offending bottle, ran outside and threw it as far as her little arms could manage. Going back into the house, she found the still open cabinet that contained all of Duo's alcohol collection, and tacking the bottles one by one, she emptied them into the outside drain before throwing them into the neighbor's garbage can.

She was fond of Duo, and didn't like seeing him act this way, even if she didn't really understand why he did it the first place.

Nate, who had been watching all this from the upstairs window, was squealing with delight. He loved it when his sister was mad at somebody. It always meant a good show, with usually very few words.

Soon afterwards, Lizzy quickly ascended the stairs and grabbed one of the never before used blankets from her bed, before walking downstairs and placing it over Duo's soon-to-be hungover body.

She then found her little brother and dragged him downstairs to their favorite area of the house, the TV room. There was nothing like some good morning cartoons, before Duo woke up.

It was hours later before Duo felt the need to leave his precious couch. He had an incredible hangover, and knew why too. It had seemed like a good idea at the time to get as drunk as possible, an easy way to forget what he was remembering. But in the end it only helped the memories rush back and left him with a hang over that would kill a horse.

Groaning as he got up, he went straight for the kitchen, in search of some more alcohol. Nothing got rid of a hangover faster than just an inch of some hard liquor. After five minutes of searching the cabinet, Duo finally realized it was really empty and not just his imagination, he slumped down to the ground in defeat.

"Oi, the little devils have gotten to my alcohol stash. They're against me, I tell you, they're all against me." But Duo wasn't really mad, just tired. It was better they had hidden the alcohol, then him having to do it himself. He would always just find it again when he felt like crap. They had done him a favour.

Duo chuckled to himself thinking about how proud Quatre would be to hear he had no alcohol in his house anymore. The young Arabian had always joked that it would be his undoing. Well he was wrong, Duo thought bitterly to himself, it had been Heero instead.

Not liking where his thoughts were taking him, Duo quickly remembered about the gathering tonight. He felt his stomach fall at the thought of being in such a public place with so many people, and especially in THAT ballroom of all places. Duo even considered not going, but as soon as the thought came to his head, he heard the laughter of the kids coming form the TV room, and looked up to the now empty alcohol cabinet.

He would go, and he would go for them, he'd lost his whiskey, so they were his only lifelines left. And he wasn't about to lose them to a 'former' enemy.

**************************

Duo attacked the messy brown hair without mercy. If it was the last thing he did, he would bring Nate's hair under-control. After another surprisingly vicious attack, Duo settled the brush down as Nate looked up into Duo's eyes and laughed. The hair had won again.

Putting Nate aside, Duo stood up in frustration. "That's it, I am NOT going to be beat but that inherited messy, uncontrollable hair from hell. If mine can look nice, so can yours."

Running into the nearby bathroom, Duo immerged with a bottle of super hold gel. Sitting Nate between his legs again, Duo squeezed half the bottle into his hand and was about to smear it in Nate's hair when he heard laughing from the side of him.

"Duo, what are you doing??"

Smirking at his laughing friend, Duo pouted for sympathy. " I had to put up with this hair with Heero, but I'm not going to put up with it now."

"I thought you liked his hair?"

"Yeah, well that doesn't mean I like it anymore."

Quatre just started laughing again as Duo tried to grab the squirming Nate, who was running away from Duo's clutches.

"Duo, that really doesn't justify putting half a bottle of gel in a five-year-olds hair. Besides all kids that age have messy hair, I'm sure he'll grow out of it."

Releasing the happy boy, Duo glared up at Quatre. "Sure, just like he'll out grow pulling my braid. Next you'll be trying to tell me that ALL five-year-olds like to pull hair."

"Well, yes they do, but Duo..."

Really joking now, Duo put up his hand for Quatre to stop talking. "Shh Quatre, I have my next victim to take care of. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Lizzy! Time for your hair to get spiked."

Quatre swatted Duo gently on the top of his head. "She's downstairs with Trowa trying to get her dress on, she hates it. It's a nice pink dress. I thought most girls loved pink, but apparently blue's her favorite colour."

Walking to the bathroom sink, Duo began to wash all the gel off his fingers. "Ah don't sweat it Quatre, she's just not happy about going. I asked her earlier, and she said that she had already attended way too many of these stuffy parties. They're boring, there's no other kids, and she has to be on her best behavior. I told her that I agree 100%. But when I said I was coming she changed her mind in a second. I've still got the Maxwell charm on my side."

Before Duo could return to the master bedroom, he heard a loud gasp from the bedroom. "What is it Quatre?"

There standing in the doorway was a very unpleased girl in a bright pink dress. Her arms were crossed and she wore a very familiar pout that before, only Duo could master.

"Speaking of the Maxwell charm, there's one aspect of it now. I thought you said you were never going to share the secret of the "Maxwell Pout" with anyone!"

Duo held up his hands in defense. "I didn't, both her and Nate picked it up on their own. Hey Lizzy come over here, let me brush your hair."

Lizzy walked past Quatre sending him a glare, which she must have picked up from her father. Sitting down between Duo's legs, she let him softly brush her hair.

"Um Duo speaking about the kids, what's with this 'Lizzy' and 'Nate' thing?"

"What! You didn't really think I would call them Elizabeth and Nathaniel did you? Besides they don't mind, do ya Lizzy?"

Turning her face defiantly away from Quatre she agreed with Duo's statement. "Nope!"

"See! She didn't like it at first, but I think she's grown used to it."

"Yep!"

Quatre burst out laughing at the scene before him and gave up the argument. "Okay, okay I give up. It doesn't matter what you call them. I was just asking, that's all."

Finishing with the knots in Lizzy's hair, Duo brought his attention back to her. "So how would you like your hair today? Like how you had it before or up in a bun? Or something else?"

Lizzy played with her hair a bit before bringing up her shy eyes to meet with Duo's. "Can I have it in a braid...like you do?"

Duo dropped his brush before reality hit him once more. A huge grin broke now graced his face. "Sure, in fact braids are what I do best. See Quatre, I told you she liked me."

"Yep!"

"Oh you two are hopeless, just meet us downstairs in five minutes. Lets get this show on the road."

**************************

The whole limo ride over Duo had had his hands gripping the car seats for dear life. Nate was on his lap, and Lizzy was snuggling up beside him, with her small hands cupped over one of his.

By the time they got there, it took both of Quatre and Trowa to literally pull the young man out of the car. As soon as they were clear of the limo, Quatre turned to the driver and told him to drive off. Leaving Duo with no immediate escape rout.

Reverting to his smile, but only as a means to hide his fear, Duo spoke in unconvincing cheerfulness. "I'd say you guys where enjoying this."

Trowa smiled at Duo and told him the truth. "You have no idea how much. We've waited years to be able to force you to some event."

"Well I'm here to please I guess... you sick sadist." Trowa smirked at Duo before taking Quatre's arm in his own and walking up the steps, leaving Duo behind with the kids.

Nate was being held in Duo's arms, and Lizzy still had her hand in Duo's. After waiting five minutes, Lizzy noticed that Duo wasn't moving, nor had any intention of doing so.

"Umm I guess we should be going inside."

Duo remained frozen. "Yeah, inside..."

"It's kinda cold out here...don't ya want to go inside? We don't have to, we could go to the movies instead."

The thought of going into a cramped movie theatre with people crowded around him didn't appeal much to Duo, but neither did this ball."

"Yeah it's cold..."

"C'mon Duo, Uncle Milliardo's inside, he'll want to see us."

At the mention of the regent, Duo found the courage needed to ascend the stairs and enter the mansion, which brought so many bad memories back to him. It wasn't the same palace that the kids had been raised in, but it was the only one Duo had ever seen, the one where he and Heero had...

"Ok lets go, some party's not going to scare Shinigami off. Hell, I invented the word party." Lizzy laughed at Duo's cockiness, while Nate looked worried that Duo had mentioned the secret name Shinigami in public. Leading them on, they entered a part of Duo's past.

***********************************

Once inside it didn't take long for the mass crowd to effect the way Duo was feeling. At the door Milliardo was politely welcoming his guests. But as soon as he spotted the kids, his face broke into a huge grin.

"Ahhhhhhhh Duo, I'm so glad you came. It really means a lot to me that you were willing to bring the kids."

Duo refused to answer as said kids ran up to hug their only living reletive. "UNCLE MILLIARDO!"

"Oh how are my little munchkins doing. Is Duo treating you nicely?"

"Yes Uncle, he's been great. I taught him how to walk outside."

Taking the opportunity to stop Lizzy before she gave away anymore, Duo walked up to his old enemy.

"So 'ZECHS', long time no see. How's the country."

"Please Duo, the war's over, can't you call me Milliardo?"

"No!"

"Well... the country's doing fine. I must admit I am not fond of this type of work, but feel it is my duty to Relena and her children. I can't wait for the day that I may retire and pass it all on to Elizabeth."

"Well Zechs, this conversation is fascinating and all, but I must be going now. Places to go, people to do, you know how it is."

"Yes, yes... I understand. But please try to enjoy the evening. It really is in your honor. To make amends for the past and the present. Enemies becoming friends is how wars are ended."

"Don't mention it, now if you need me, I'll be over at the buffet table. Buh bye Zechsy."

Instead of heading towards the food, Duo found himself searching for the darkest part of the room to hide in. Finding such a place, Duo sat down on the bench and tried to melt into the background, hiding from the offending public.

He thought that the kids would desert him at the first sign any familiar faces, but instead they stayed. Nate in particular looked upset. He was just like when Duo had first met him, eyes looking at his feet, and shy to be near anyone except for Duo.

The braided young man just figured that the familiar people were bringing back bad memories of Nate's dead parents. Why else would he be so solemn? Allowing himself a quick laugh, Duo thought it could just be the Yui genes finally kicking in.

It wasn't long before the invited reporters caught sight of the only children in the room, and recognized them as the heirs to the throne.

Duo could feel his pulse going erratic as the groups tried to crowd in on him and ask too many questions. Again he froze up and stared at them, hoping they would just go away.

Lizzy took the initiative and stood up in front of Duo, crossing her arms, and protecting him against the evil mob.

"Please go away, my uncle does not want to talk to you."

"Sir, sir can you tell us who exactly you are, and if you're raising the kids."

"He's my uncle, now go away."

The reports thought that the eight-year-old was being cute and ignored her as they tried to ask Duo more questions.

"Sir, sir!!"

From behind the mob, a loud voice was heard.

"I believe the young lady told you to leave him alone. If you have any problems understanding her words, I would be happy to clarify them."

Looking at each other, the group of reporters made their getaway, not wanting to aggravate a former Gundam Pilot.

Duo jumped out of his seat and glomped on tohis old friend Wufei. "Wu-man, am I ever happy to see you."

Smirking at his old friend, the war of tongues began. "Well look who it is. Finally decided to join the land of the living. Thinks he can just desert us for a decade and then expect us to have a laugh with him."

"You haven't changed at bit, you know that Wu-man."

"Oh its Wu-man is it. Funny how you can't remember my name after all these years. Now what was yours, was it 02, or BAKA!"

"Awwww you didn't forget me! And you even developed the art of sarcasm. I'm so proud. I feel like my protégé has finally learned a few things."

"KISAMA, Maxwell, where the hell have you been all these years?"

Duo would have answered with some joke but his eyes caught the sight of a horrified Nate, trying not to cry. Lizzy also seemed to be trying to stay calm.

Kneeling down next to the small boy, Duo tried to comfort him. "What's wrong little buddy. Wufei and I were just joking. We always fight like that, it's how we say hello."

While Duo was trying to comfort Nate, Lizzy was still looking at Wufei with that old fire in her eyes. "Why'd you yell at him, and how did you know his name. But why'd you yell at him, what'd he ever do to you?"

Wufei looked surprised at the turn of events and tried to think of a reply. "We're old friends, we-we've always yelled at each other."

"NO! Not Duo, Nate, why'd you yell at Nate."

Both Duo and Wufei turned to the girl in disbelief."

Duo left Nate alone for a moment and put his hand on Lizzy's shoulder. "Wu-man wasn't yelling at Nate, he was yelling at me. Why would you think otherwise?"

Now it was Lizzy's turn to look confused. "B-b-but you said Maxwell...that's Nate's name. It's what Dad used to call him. When we were alone, he called us both by our middle names."

Duo felt like someone had just punched him. Heero had named Nate after him, Nathaniel Maxwell Peacecraft...or Yui. How was it that no one had bothered to mention this little tidbit of information?

In Duo's state of shock, Wufei took over the conversation. "I'm sorry Elizabeth, I didn't mean to offend you or your brother. Duo's last name is also Maxwell, I did not know your father had named Nathaniel after him."

Understanding dawning in both her and her brother's eyes, she smiled back at him. "Oh, we didn't know. Sorry..."

Nate on the other hand was starting to jump all over the place with happiness. HE was named after THE Great Shinigami Man; it was like a dream come true.

Deciding now would be a good time to talk with Duo alone, Wufei convinced the two children into paying some of their other uncles a visit. Lizzy was so embarrassed she was happy to leave, and Nate was too happy to care.

Sitting down beside the still unmoving Duo, he lightly kicked him to get him on his feet. Struggling to stand up, Duo sat down beside Wufei and just shook his head in disbelief.

"Oh Wufei, I think I need a drink, a very, very strong drink."

"I'm guessing you didn't know?"

"No, no one bothered to tell me. There's a lot of things no one's bothered to tell me."

"I don't think it was by choice. I work at the Preventers headquarters, we were in charge of all their documents, and I still didn't know."

Trying to keep a grasp on the situation, Duo turned to face his friend.

"Wufei, can I ask you something?"

"Sure Maxwell, what is it?"

"What was he like before he died? Was he happy, or sad, or did he do anything to show that he was going to kill himself?"

Not wanting to look into Duo's eyes, Wufei turned and glanced at the crowd.

"He was miserable. Every time I came to visit, it was like he had returned to the old Heero, the one who was cold and didn't want to be found... or helped."

"But the kids, the way they talk about him, I would have thought he was a new man."

"Oh with the kids he was. I always thought that Relena would turn out to be the most possessive of the two, but she wasn't, Heero was. From the moment of Elizabeth's birth, Heero took it upon himself to raise her. He never slept in Relena's room unless he had to, which isn't too unusual for royalty, he slept in the same bed as his children. I remember Relena used to complain about it. Every single time I came to visit, Heero spent all the time he could with his kids. And you could watch him from the window, he would be running with them, playing games, and even laughing. Could you imagine, Heero laughing?"

"I've seen it before... "

"Well I hadn't. And as soon as he was away from them, he would returne to the old self. He even refused to let them go to day care, he just didn't trust anyone with his kids, not even Relena."

Duo looked up at Wufei with confused eyes, but didn't stop the man from talking.

"She was jealous of the kids, and of Heero. She wanted to spend more time with both, but couldn't because Heero was always taking them away. He wouldn't even go out with her, because that would mean letting someone else watch after his kids for the night. Looking back, I think he was just afraid they would slip though his fingers... like someone else did. But the kids didn't seem to mind the attention; in fact they loved it. He didn't let them have maids or anything, but he more than made up for that by always being by their side. And whenever the kids were forced from him, usually by Relena, he would come to this very palace for some reason. Relena thought it was because it reminded him of the war, but I'm not to sure, I thought maybe you'd know why. But in the end Relena always loved him, and the kids, so she let it all slide. Probably one of the biggest mistakes she ever made."

Duo could feel the tears threatening to spill over but kept them inside. "D-d-did you see him before he died?"

"Yes, just a few days before, but I don't think you want to hear any of this, it's upsetting you even more."

"No, please, please tell me!"

"From the beginning of the marriage, when every I came to visit, be it for work or just to check up on him, he always asked the same question first, 'How's Duo?' And each time I told him that you were getting worse and worse. The last time I talked to him, he came up to me and asked a different question. "Do you think he'll be ok?" And I told him the truth, though it may have been a bit harsh, and I regret every word of it now, you don't know how much, but I was bitter at the time, we all were, bitter and worried about you."

"What did you say?"

"I told him that I didn't think you'd been ok in a long time, and that I didn't think you were ever going to be ok again. I swear Heero flinched at my words and just stood up with this sad look on his face before leaving the room. I never saw him again."

Duo leaned back against the cold wall, shutting his eyes to prevent the tears from escaping. "Well Wufei, what can I say to that?"

"I don't know."

"I...I think I miss him."

********************************************

Part 6: It's all that I have to give...
 

In Duo's eyes, the night had been more or less a disaster, although he hadn't really been expecting anything else. After his talk with Wufei, Duo's uneasiness in public seemed to subside for the moment. He felt dead inside, and didn't really feel like staying for the rest of the party.

He spent the next half an hour convincing Quatre and Trowa that he had spent enough time at the party and was ready to go home. The kids also seemed to be tired out from the dancing and talking to too many stuffy, boring and usually fat and rich aristocrats.

Saying their farewells, the group left the building and waited patiently for their limo to show up. Nate was tucked in Duo's arms, and was already fast asleep, as Lizzy kept nodding off and leaning against Duo's side. It really would've been a cute sight, if a gloomy cloud hadn't been hanging over Duo's head.

Both Trowa and Quatre tried to strike up various conversations with their once hyper friend, but Duo didn't even bother with a smart-ass comeback. To both young men, he looked simply exhausted.

The ground was wet, as it had been raining, and splashes could be heard as the car drove up to meet them. Without a word Duo entered the car, still carrying Nate, and dragging a sleepy Lizzy behind him. Sharing looks of worry, the two lovers followed Duo's example, hoping to get the story out of him later.

**********************************************

Not even bothering to say good-bye, Duo waved the limo away, giving the two passengers a look saying that he would be ok. Tuning around, he did a quick juggling act as he tried to unlock the door with Nate still unconscious in his arms. But his skills of breaking an entrance prevailed, and the small dysfunctional family soon entered the house, just happy to be home.

It took most of Duo's energy just to get the dead weight Nate into his little blue and white Pajamas and tucked into Duo's bed. What little energy remained, Duo used to help Lizzy into her bright purple and white pajamas, turned off the lights, and climbed into bed with her, still dressed in his infamous priest's outfit.

As soon as his head hit the pillow Duo started to fall asleep. He was truly exhausted, inside and out. But before sleep could take over his weary mind, Duo heard Lizzy's soft voice pipe up beside him.

"Duo... do you have a girlfriend?"

Trying hard not to laugh at the innocent question, Duo rolled over to face his young girl.

"No, I don't, and I never did."

"B-but, didn't you ever want kids?"

"No, I can't say I did. Well maybe I would've, but at the time it just didn't seem very realistic. And I was happy with what I had."

"What was that?"

"My very own lover."

"But I thought you said..."

"It was a guy."

"Oh... I didn't know you could have a boyfriend."

"Sure you can, Trowa and Quatre are boyfriends."

Sounding very disappointed; Lizzy turned her gaze away. "Oh"

Not liking the sound of that, Duo gently reached over and brought Lizzy's eyes to meet his own again.

"What's wrong?"

"I just thought that maybe you would be happy with a girlfriend."

"I could be happy with a boyfriend!"

Getting slightly upset, Lizzy raised her voice, but Duo could hear it was strained. "But you weren't were you, or else why isn't he still here, and why are you so sad? Is it because we came to live here? Did we scare him away when we arrived?"

Stopping her from continuing the heartfelt questions that were way too close to the truth for Duo's comfort, he pulled the upset girl into his warm embrace.

Duo realized that she must have noticed his state of mind the whole evening, and probably blamed herself for somehow being the cause of it. Stroking her light hair, and calming her down with his words, she slowly calmed down.

"Yes I... I was very happy. I'm just sad because I lost the happiness, that's all. But don't you worry. You're not to blame for him leaving me, if anything you'll just make me happy again. Go to sleep, and don't worry about me. It'll be better, I promise."

He kissed her on the forehead and watched as she fell nodded off. Duo soon followed Lizzy's example and fell asleep on his own, truly wondering if things were ever going to be better again.

***********************************************

********************************************* *************************************** ************************************** *********************************************

PRESENT

Quatre walked up to Duo's porch, shielding his eyes from the sun. There sitting quietly on the steps was Duo. He didn't move, or even make a sound at Quatre's presence, Quatre wasn't even sure if he knew that he was there.

"Duo, you ok? I see you made it out of the house today."

Looking up at Quatre, Duo tried to place a grin on his face but failed. "Yeah I'm fine. What's up?"

Sitting down beside Duo, Quatre tried to make himself comfortable. " We were worried about your reaction yesterday. I thought I would just pop on by on check up on you."

"You all seem to be doing that a lot lately."

'Well with the kids it's kinda necessary."

"Yeah the kids..."

"Did it really bother you that much to see that place again?"

"Yeah I guess so, I think what Wufei told me bothered me a bit more, but maybe it was a combination of the two."

"What did Wufei tell you?"

"I don't want to talk about it. You know I've started thinking about HIM a lot lately. I guess I'm just upset about remembering when he left me nine years ago. "

Quatre seemed to consider asking something he had wanted to ask for a long time, and finally decided to give it a shot.

'Duo, there's something that's bothered me about that whole situation."

"What? Heero leaving me, or me turning into an evil hermit."

"That's just it, you didn't turn into an evil hermit nine years ago."

"Didn't I?"

"No, in fact I remember you being completely happy, or at least appearing to be happy for at least a year or so afterwards."

"Well there you have it, I was only appearing to be happy."

"But Duo, that's not it, you were fine, you were hurt, but you were fine. I can't explain it. But I think it has something to do with that car crash."

"Just stop there. I don't want to talk about the car crash. It was my mistake for not repairing the thing properly. Just drop it."

"And you get defensive whenever I bring it up. When you called me that day, I found you unconscious in your house with a broken leg, already set might I add, and your car had been towed. How did you manage to get back to the house, and set your own leg?"

"Look, I learned some things from Heero ok! I don't see what this has to do with Heero leaving me, and that was over a year and a half after Heero left me. Could you just drop it!"

"That's when you changed, you know. It was the day I found you, you were lying unconscious on the ground, and you had had your first anxiety attack. You've never been the same since then, WHY?"

"I was in a car accident, don't you think that's enough reason, maybe it just knocked some sense into me."

"I don't believe you, you're lying."

"I NEVER LIE."

"You never used to, but you do now."

"Please Quatre, just drop it, I don't...I can't handle this right now. Please." Giving into Duo's pleas, he nodded once. Duo wasn't going to tell him now, no matter how much he asked him too.

"Fine Duo, I'm going to go see the kids now. Enjoy the view."

"I will." Duo didn't turn to see Quatre leave; instead his eyes focused on a tree about five blacks down the road. It still had a dent in it from a car crash that took place over eight years ago.

************************************

Part 7: The Years Before Five Last the Rest of Their Lives!
 

It had been two weeks since Quatre's confrontation with Duo, and he was still being jumpy about the subject of Heero. It came to a point where even the kids feared mentioning him around their Uncle. This or course only added to the guilt that Lizzy in particular carried around with her. She felt that it was their being there that upset Duo so much, and Duo's words of assurance weren't quite as believable as the eight-year-old would have liked. But if there was one thing she was going to do, she would remain strong. She simply had to.

Looking over at Duo, she noticed that he was once again lost in his thoughts, and was staring off into nothingness. She felt if she only knew what was bothering him, then maybe she could help. But watching as Duo unconsciously nibbled on the end of his braid, she honestly wondered if he would want it.

************************************

**************************************

PRESENT TIME

It was already midnight and Duo somehow found himself awake. He had been having nightmares about Heero again.

Turning to his side, he reached over to hug Nate closer to himself, but to his great surprise he encountered only blanket.

Starting to panic a bit, Duo got up and began a quick search of the room, looking for any sign of his charge. "Nate? Naaaaaaate! Where are ya' little buddy?"

"Mmmmmmmmmmmm Duoooo, what time is it?"

"Go back to sleep Lizzy, I'm just looking for Nate."

"Oh, he probably just had another nightmare, look for him downstairs." Taking her advice, Duo headed down the stairs in search of the small boy. He found him in the living room, hugging something close to his chest and crying.

"Nate? What's wrong? You had a bad nightmare?"

Nate didn't respond and only cried harder, but reached out his arms to be picked up by Duo.

"It's ok, it's ok. It's only a nightmare. Nothing to worry about."

"I can't stop seeing her."

Surprised that Nate had chosen to talk, Duo sat down on the couch and placed the small boy on his knees.

"Who can't you stop seeing?"

"Mommy." Hugging him closer Duo tried rubbing his back gently in order to sooth the boy down.

"Oh Nate, it must be so hard to lose her at your age."

"I keep seeing the blood, there's always so much of it." This stopped Duo dead in his tracks before he could find his voice again and question the young boy. "The blood? Your mother's blood?"

"I found her. I didn't want to. Elizabeth told me not to hide in the bedroom, but I didn't think she would mind. She wasn't moving, and there was so much blood."

"I didn't know you had found her."

"I just wish I could read. I found a note in mommy's hand. But I couldn't read it, so I ran away." Really looking surprised now, Duo realized that it was in fact a bloody note that Nate had held in his small hands. Taking it gently from his fingers he reached over and turned on one of the lamps.

"Would you like me to read it?" Nate immediately brightened at the suggestion and waited for Duo to unfold the now hardened paper.

Once open, Duo completely forgot about Nate being there, it was in Heero's handwriting. But true to his words, Duo innocuously read the note out loud.

Dear Duo,

My love, my everything, my Duo. I'm so sorry it had to come to this. Please understand that everything I did, I did for you. But sadly I have realized too late, that it was the wrong thing to do.

I shouldn't have left you; I should've stayed.

Even one day more spent with you would have made up for the last decade without your smiling eyes, and cheerful wit. I've tried to forgive myself, but I can't. I've destroyed the one thing that I value more than my own life.

I can only hope that through my actions I can undo some of the severe damage that I have done. I know that Relena won't be far behind me in killing herself. She loved me almost as much as I loved you, but only almost.

So my children, my only other source of infinite joy, will be yours to raise. I don't doubt for a second that you will do a much better job than I could ever have done. I won't ask for forgiveness, because I don't deserve it, but please remember me. I really do love you, with all that makes me whole. Good-bye.

Love your forever,
Heero Yui

Finding the way to his feet, Duo trembled with remorse. His Heero was gone, his wonderful Heero was gone, and he loved him.

Looking down, Duo remembered that Nate had just heard everything he had read out loud. But surprisingly the boy seemed once again content, and only nodded in silent understanding.

Hearing a noise come from the banister, Duo realized that Nate hadn't been the only person to hear the contents of the note. Almost tripping down the stars, Lizzy stood at the bottom, shaking from either sadness or rage, Duo couldn't tell which one.

"It was...you! You...killed him. You killed them. YOU KILLED THEM!" She was now screaming and crying at the same time. "I hate you, I hate you, I HATE YOU!. You killed them, youkilledthem, youkilledthem!"

Finally the overwhelming confrontation of emotions was too much for Duo. Everything that had happened in the last ten years, and the last month, the guilt of chasing Heero away, the blame he kept with him, and the pain of Heero's death all found it's boiling point, and took that moment in time to explode within Duo's tortured soul.

"SHUTUP!!!!! It's your fault he left me in the first place. So just SHUTUP!"

Lizzy's eyes became as wide as saucers, and not sparing a second she turned and ran out the door into the pouring rain, still in her pajamas.

Falling to his knees, Duo began to cry for the first time since before he could remember. It was the first time he had cried for Heero's death. He let out all the pent up emotion, and just cried.

But it wasn't long before he felt a soft tug on his braid. Looking up he stared straight into dark Prussian blue eyes.

With a seriousness that Duo could imagine Heero also having as a child, the small duplicate of his dead lover spoke out loud in a confident voice that was way beyond his years.

"It'll be alright Duo. It'll be alright."

Not even bothering to reply, Duo jumped up and ran out the door as fast as he could to go find the upset girl.

*************************************************

His search took him all the way to the deserted park. And there, sitting on the bench, hugging her knees to her chest and crying, was Lizzy.

"Lizzy...I'm sorry."

She pretended not to hear his words, but answered none the same in sobs. "I'm tired of being strong. I'm sick of it, and I don't want to be strong anymore."

Sitting down next to the shivering girl in her now soaked pajamas; Duo pulled her closer to his still warm body.

"Lizzy..."

"I'm tired of being strong, you get to be depressed and Nate gets to stop talking, but I have to be strong and I'm tired of it."

"Who ever said you had to be strong?"

"My daddy did, right before he left. He came to me and said that he was sorry for leaving, but it had to be done. I told him I didn't understand, but he said I would. But I still don't. And then he told me to be strong, that I had to be for Nate. But I'm sick of being strong Duo. Why can't I be weak?"

"I guess it's not in your genes to be weak. But you don't have to be strong either...you only have to hang on." Lizzy wrapped her arms tightly around Duo, obviously forgetting her harsh words from before.

"Lizzy I'm sorry I yelled at you. I guess now you know that I was with your father. I can't ask for your forgiveness, but I don't want to either. I loved him, and for the first time I'm not ashamed to admit that. But I'm ashamed that I blamed his leaving on you. If even one good thing came out of his leaving, it was you and Nate. Never forget that."

The rain continued to pour all around them, causing the now soft mud to splatter on their already drenched clothing. Picking up the shivering girl, Duo tried to cover her as much as he could, and began to run back the entire way to the house.

And it was on the way back, as the rain continued it's loud assault, that Duo finally felt free.

Jumping in the air, with the girl still in his arms, Duo yelled at the top of his lungs. He laughed, and he splashed in the puddles. Not caring if the neighbors thought him mad.

Kissing the top of the young girl's head, Duo exclaimed to the whole world.

"It's gonna be okay! Do you hear that Heero? It's finally gonna be okay!"

***********************************************

Part 8: You've Got Mail!
 

Dear Heero,

Well sorry it took so long to get back to you with this letter, I've been keeping myself kinda busy lately. But like I always say, "All work and no play, makes Duo a dull, dull boy."

I still have that letter you wrote me, and I always keep it by my bed. So every now and then when I get the urge to hear your thoughts, like every night, I'm able to just reach over and read yours words once, twice or even ten times.

I just wanted to tell you how I've been doing, and how the kids are. After I found your letter, Lizzy and I sort of got into a fight, but we're over it now. We ended up running outside in the rain, and had to stay in bed for a week afterwards recovering from colds. But I think it gave us some time to heal both physically and mentally.

I feel a bit guilty about the whole situation. I mean, here I was moaning and complaining about you leaving me, when these two absolutely amazing children entered my life. And all I could do was moan and complain some more. It hadn't even crossed my mind that they might be feeling a bit guilty too, or needed some help from me.

But like I said, that's all in the past. I now spend every waking hour tending to their needs. I'm surprised to say that they can compete with me in the talking department. Especially Nate, he can talk for hours on end, usually about me needing a costume for my secret identity. Did you have to tell him our past like that? I have a feeling this is my payback for all those years I graced you with my opinions.

Lizzy started up school the other day. She was so scared about going, but held her head up high and walked bravely through those doors. I never knew I could feel so proud for someone other than myself. I think I like this father role, but as soon as she starts dating, then she's your problem again. I won't be having any pre-pubescent slimbags trying to get their greasy hands on my little Lizzy. I knew I kept my Thermal-Scythe lying around for a reason.

You know... I can actually hear you not laughing at my jokes.

While taking care of Nate yesterday, I found him trying to stalk a cat. So for the first time I got to teach him something I know you'll approve of. I give Nate one whole month before he's ready to break into any secret organization undetected. Though my opinion may be a bit biased.

I hope you don't mind me calling them Lizzy and Nate. I mean, you never called them that either. Speaking of which, nice name you gave your son there, Nathaniel Maxwell Yui, definitely the sign of a great man to be. Oh, and as for Lizzy's name, Elizabeth Helen Yui, it doesn't sound that bad either. I'm touched that you would remember me talking about Sister Helen, Lizzy is proof that you actually hung unto my every word, and I thank you for that.

In fact I thank you for them. They really have changed my life for the better.

I still haven't gotten around to telling Quatre about what really happened between us, but I just figured it out myself a month ago, so give me some time. Besides, I still have some questions I need answers to. Like why did Relena have a letter meant for me? And how did she get it? And why doesn't anyone know whe
re you're buried? And where's my cross that you took from me? Did no one notice it, or did you get rid of it ages ago?

Who knows, maybe you're still alive, watching us as we try to move on with our already fragile lives. But I think we can do it, we've made it this far haven't we. And besides, even with you gone, I get to live with the best parts of you, your kids.

It's me who's gonna teach 'em how to play basketball, and help them with their homework, and maybe even one day prepare them for the role of running a country. But it's something I look forward to, and I know you'll be with me every step of the way.

So now that I'm done writing, I'm going to seal this letter up in an envelope, print your name on top, then tear it up into a million pieces and throw it to the wind, where only you can read it. And then I will ask you to wish me Good Luck, cause I'm going to need it.

Now don't think you're rid of me yet. I warned you, there's no escaping me, not even in death. So I'll be with you soon enough, you'll just have to wait a bit. You see, I'm in no hurry to leave, but I do miss you, and now know you missed me too. That alone is reason enough to keep on living. Besides, Lizzy would never let me hear the end of it if I went and tried to kill myself.

So it's so long Heero, till we meet again. The wind may not whisper your name in sorrow, but my lips sure do.

I Love You, Heero Yui. Don't YOU ever forget that!

 
 

OWARI

 

Ok, that's it, that's all she wrote. PLEASE write back to me and tell me what you thought of this part, or the whole story in general. I mentioned to a few people, that if I get enough demand I will be writing a sequel to this (after I get back from my 4 day trip to hell, and after I have written a new part to both U.S.S Wing, and Slamdunk). But again that's only if you want it. I already know what would happen, and have two side-stories already in the works, a long flash back about what Relena thought after the Heero died, and when Nate found her, people wanted to know the gory details, so I'm writing the. Oh and the other side-story is a LEMON, Heero and Duo deserved one, but can you guess when it is?????

 

Ok ok I'm leaving, that's the last of my psycho babble you'll hear from me for at LEAST 4 days. See ya (I'm leaving tomorrow).

Sony_Mouse@hotmail.com