******* WARNING *******
*** YAOI implications, 1x2/2x1, possibly Relena
Heh... been buried by Real Life(tm) for the last several weeks, but I have finally resurfaced. <pant gasp wheeze> And I'm SO behind on all the terrific fics that has been posted recently. ^_^;
<wince> This is the *third* repost of this story, but I did make some important changes this time around. Really, I did! The original version was designed to be a stand-alone story, but I've made a few changes (mostly in the last third of this part) in order to get a smoother transition to the next part. ^_^ The main change is in the tone of the conversation between Relena and Duo, which is now a bit more serious. Hope you like it!
You can find the original version of "Trinity" at:
A Gundam Wing fanfic by Madamhydra
Part 1 (revised)
Short Disclaimer: (Full Disclaimers at the end)
Gundam Wing is copyright of its respective creators and all distributors of their work and used without permission.
She had read the reports and watched the videos, but there was nothing like seeing things with one's own eyes. With the help of the best experts she could employ, she followed and observed Duo Maxwell as he went about his daily business.
In the late afternoon, she found herself standing outside Duo's apartment, trying to gather the courage to give one of the most important talks in her life. Failure was not an option. She *had* to succeed.
When she had tossed into the merciless arena of politics at the young age of fifteen, she only felt contempt for Maxwell, dismissing him as frivolous, shallow, and the possesser of a tastelessly macabre sense of humor. It was easy to think of him as just some hotshot young street punk with little education, less class, and no discipline. But after a long hard year of dealing with some of the most treacherous and vicious people she had ever had the misfortune to encounter -- people who kept all their lies and ugliness hidden behind well cultivated masks of breeding and sophistication -- Relena Peacecraft had come to appreciate Maxwell's true merits.
The door opened and the former Deathscythe pilot stood in the doorway. Despite all the losses he had suffered, the last year had been extremely kind to him. He still had that beguiling mixture of quirky cheerfulness, but the cuteness was gradually transforming into a beguiling sort of masculine beauty. He wore mostly black, just like before. His expression was not particularly welcoming, but that was understandable. Before he could speak, she quickly said, "I need to talk to you. Alone."
A quick glance around the hall confirmed that no one accompanied her, so he shrugged and stepped aside to let her enter. She gazed at the sunny and surprising spacious loft apartment. Contrary to her expectations, the apartment was rather clean and tidy, but also looked comfortably lived-in. Its decor was functional, but amusingly eclectic, rather like its young seventeen year old owner.
"You look surprised," Duo comment with a faint grin. "Did you expect me to be hanging out in some dirty, rat-infested flophouse or something like that? Believe me, I had enough of that when I was growing up."
"It's not as messy as I thought it would be. I mean, I remember your dorm rooms...."
Duo chuckled. "Oh yeah, with all the clothes, books, empty food containers, and stuff strewn all over the place?" When she nodded, he said, "Well, I'm not a neat freak, but I'm really not that sloppy."
"You mean you were deliberately making a mess?"
He shrugged. "Yeah. I did it just to get a rise out of Heero. Getting him mad at me was better than being totally ignored," Duo said in a wistful voice. Abruptly changing topics, he said, "Like some coffee?"
"Yes, thank you."
They were soon settled on the sitting area around the coffee table, which was formed from a roughly polished slab of dark blue marble. The blue was almost the exact shade of Heero's eyes. Relena wondered if the choice of color had been deliberate or unconscious on Duo's part. After a few sips, she murmured, "I'm sorry to hear about Hilde."
Duo's expression tightened. "Yeah. We both managed to survive the war and that sort of crap, and then she gets killed by some two-bit, strung out junkie desperate for a fix."
"So I heard."
"A botched holdup at a warehouse and the next thing you know, the moron's shooting everything in sight and everything goes up in a huge fireball. Forty-seven people dead, hundreds injured." Duo cocked his head slightly. "But I don't think you took time out from your hectic schedule to offer your condolences."
"If you don't mind me asking... were you and Hilde...?" Seeing Duo's faint frown, Relena hastily said, "Maxwell...."
"Call me Duo, okay?"
"All right. Duo, I know our last meeting can hardly be called friendly, but I have a rather important reason for asking about Hilde."
He gave her the same wary, skeptical look he gave her before, then shrugged.
"Hilde was only two weeks away from getting married when she died."
Relena looked surprisingly upset. "I didn't realize that you and she were...."
"No, not to me. One of our customers. He came around to get some equipment repaired. The next thing I knew, he was popping up every other day. I figured out what was going on when he started with the flowers," he said with a wry grin. "It was bizarre. For some reason, he treated me as Hilde's older brother or something, even though Hilde and I were pretty much the same age. Peter was a sweet guy and he was head-over-heels in love with her. He would have made her a terrific husband."
"Oh, I see." After another sip from her coffee mug, Relena said, "What happened to him?"
"He died in the explosion. His family owned the warehouse and Hilde had simply gone to pick him up for a lunch date."
As Relena groped for something else to say, Duo said coolly, "Am I correct in assuming that you had people following me around all day?"
"How did you...?" Relena shook her head. "Forget I asked. I shouldn't be surprised that you noticed."
"Your men were good, but I'm better," Duo said with that familiar little smirk of his.
"Why the interest?"
"I've been trying to figure out the type of person you really are."
"Relena, I'm flattered, but you could have simply asked. You should know that I love to chatter."
She snorted delicately. "It took a long time, but I finally realized that while you can talk a lot, you actually don't say all that much, especially about yourself."
"My, you *have* grown perceptive over the last year."
Her expression tensed. "It's a matter of survival. Some of the people I'm forced to deal with...."
"Oh ho! I see reality's finally jumped up and bitten you on the ass."
Relena give him a slightly cynical smile. "That's one way of putting it, and in more ways than one."
"So, what did you learn about me?" Duo said, leaning forward on the sofa with his eyes gleaming with curiosity.
"You're surprisingly wealthy and you give large amounts to various charities. If you don't mind me asking, where on earth did you accumulate all that money?"
"Hacked most of it out of various OZ accounts, shuffled and laundered it until it was untraceable, then dumped it into several anonymous accounts," Duo replied with a casual shrug. "Standard operating procedure. We all did it."
"And the donations?"
"When the war ended, I had loads of excess cash sitting around. It wasn't as if I could just return the stuff to its rightful owners and I hated to let it sit around doing nothing, so I passed it on some people and organizations who could really use it. No big deal. What else?"
"Hmmm." Relena tapped her index finger absently on the coffee cup, then said, "I saw you playing basketball around lunch time with some of the younger teenagers and children around the neighborhood." She gave him a speculative look. "The children like to talk to you."
He chuckled. "Well, I guess it's because they know that I'm not going to get all prissy or shocked regardless of what they tell me. It's sort of a matter of 'been there, done it'. Besides, I like to listen to them and since I'm my own boss, I can afford to take long lunches."
"And you have the reputation of giving the children very practical, if rather unorthodox advice," she said with a faint smile.
Duo shrugged carelessly. "Whatever works, you know. Sometimes rules were meant to be broken."
He put his coffee mug on the table and said decisively, "Let's cut the chit-chat, Relena. You didn't take time out from your busy schedule just to try my coffee. What are you doing here and what do you want?"
Relena stared down at her mug clutched in her hands. Finally, she said very softly, "Duo... do you believe that people can die of a broken heart?"
He stared at her for a long moment, then said slowly, "People say it's possible, but personally I have my doubts."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm still alive, aren't I?" he said starkly. "If people really died of broken hearts...." Duo leaned back on the sofa and said, "Forgive me for changing the subject, but lots of really unpleasant shit happened the *last* time you and I had a discussion about love."
"I'm sorry, but that's exactly why I'm here. To talk about love. And Heero."
"Come again?" Duo said with a mixture of irritation and confusion.
"I need to talk to about Heero's feelings... or rather, his lack of them."
He glared at her. "You've got some nerve, Relena. Don't tell me that you expect ME, of all people, to give you romantic advice about dealing with Heero!"
She threw up her hands as if to fend off Duo's hostile stare and said hastily, "Wait. This is coming out all wrong. Let's try this again. I know that Heero left you because of me... because of a choice I forced him to make. It was simple -- it was either you or me."
Duo said flatly, "And he chose you."
Relena took a deep breath and said evenly, "Yes. But I realize now that I had no right to use his sense of honor to blackmail him into making such a choice. It was wrong of me and I'm sorry."
"Glad you finally realize it, Relena, and I appreciate you telling me that. But it doesn't change the fact that Heero chose to honor his perceived obligation to you at the expense of our relationship." He put the coffee mug down on the table hard. "I was perfectly willing to handle all the shit you might have dealt out, but it was Heero who sent me away." Duo's eyes darkened at the memory. "He told me that I was a distraction, a liability to his new 'mission'. He told me that he had something important to do and that he didn't want to 'waste his energy' dealing with the problems my presence was certain to cause."
When Relena opened her mouth, Duo held up his hand and added, "Sorry, to more accurate, I should say that he didn't want me *enough* or care *enough* to deal with any complications that might have resulted from our relationship." He gave her a bitter look. "Do you have any idea what it feels like to be told that you're not worth a little effort? That you're basically good enough to fuck, but not good enough to love?"
She couldn't face the haunting pain lurking in Duo's gaze. Staring at the floor, Relena said softly, "No. I don't. I've been many things, but I don't think I've ever been considered as worthless."
"Believe me, it's not a feeling that one forgets. You asked me about why I like chatting with the kids around here? I do it because when I was young, two people took the time to listen to and sometimes even defend a grubby street brat. It made all the difference in the world to me, especially when things got really rough. So nowadays when I have the chance, I try to lend a willing ear to other kids if they need it. It's the only way I have to repay what Father Maxwell and Sister Helen did for me."
"The only way? Then they're...."
"Dead? Yeah, years ago." Duo shook off the old memories and said with a sour smile, "When he made his choice and told me to go away, I finally found out just what I meant to him. Apparently not friggin' much."
Relena's fingers knotted in her lap as she whispered, "I'm sorry."
"Sorry? For what?"
"I had no idea that making you leave would hurt you so much. I thought...."
"I know what you thought. You called me a decadent hedonist who was solely interested in corrupting Heero and using him for -- and I quote -- 'cheap sexual gratification'."
Relena felt her face flush with acute embarrassment at the memory.
"Oh God, I was so blind back then...."
Duo gave her a suspicious look. "What's with all the apologies, Relena? It's pretty obvious that you're not here to gloat, so why did you go through all this trouble to find me?"
She took a moment to gather up her courage, then looked up. "Duo, I'm here because... because I wanted to find out whether you were interested... whether you'd be willing to give Heero another chance."
Duo gave her a dumbfounded stare before blurting out, "You want to know WHAT!? Relena, YOU were the one who made it blatantly clear that you didn't want me anywhere near *your* precious Heero!"
"I know. And... again, I'm sorry. A year ago, I didn't understand what you meant to Heero. You see, after the Mariemeia incident, Heero had become so much more... well, 'human' is the only way I can describe it.... He was starting to show all those emotions he had previously kept buried inside him. I was certain that it was only a matter of time before he got around to showing that he really cared about ME. I thought that if I got you out of the picture, Heero would gradually recognize and express those feelings. But I was terribly wrong."
Duo gave her a worried frown and rose to his feet. He demanded sharply, "Terribly.... What's happened?"
"After you disappeared, he... shut down. Totally. Emotionally speaking, I mean."
Duo froze, then said softly, "You know that Heero's never been the most demonstrative person...."
"But this is totally different! It wasn't bad in the beginning, right after you left. I thought that it was just a phase he was going through. But instead of eventually opening himself up, he kept closing himself down even more." Relena buried her face in her hands and her shoulders shook.
"God, Duo! You have no idea how Heero's been acting these last several months! Before, at least he expressed *some* feelings, even if it was just annoyance or impatience. But now, there's been absolutely NOTHING. No anger, no sadness, no happiness... not even a sense of satisfaction for accomplishing a mission. No matter how efficiently he acts on the outside, it's like he's DEAD on the inside! It's horrible!"
Visibly upset, Duo ran a hand through his bangs and said, "Oh bloody hell...." He paced back and forth a few times, then spun around to face her. "But I don't understand what this had to do with me, Relena...."
She took a deep breath and clenched her fists before blurting out, "Because I can't reach him anymore!"
Evading her desperate blue gaze, Duo said slowly, "Surely Trowa and Quatre, or even Wufei...."
"I've already been in touch with them! They tried their best, but it didn't work." She shook her head in frustration. "Oh, he was perfectly polite to them... and perfectly detached! You're the only one left who has even the faintest chance of reaching him!"
Duo shook his head slowly and said in an eerily empty tone of voice, "Heero made it abundantly clear to me just what I meant to him... that is to say, not a whole hell of a lot. What makes you think he'll pay any attention to ME?"
Relena jumped to her feet and stalked over to Duo. Grabbing his shoulders she said sharply, "You mean a great deal more to Heero than any of us ever imagined. After you disappeared, I think he started to realize just much you meant to him, as well as realizing just how badly he hurt you. I don't know exactly what happened between the two of you at your last meeting, but I can guess from what you've told me that it was... very ugly."
"Oh yeah...." He exhaled heavily. "I tried so damn hard to make him see... to convince him not to push me away... but he still... he still kept on...."
Relena watched as Duo rubbed his arms and hunched his shoulders in an unconscious defensive gesture.
She bit her lip, before continuing. "As I was saying, after you left, I think he realize what he had lost. I suppose... I suppose that shutting down all his emotions was the only way he knew of coping with the pain of losing you...."
Only half-listening to Relena's words, Duo whispered almost to himself, "All he had to do was ask me to come back. I probably would have been as mad as hell... probably would have made him jump through a couple of hoops, but I would have forgiven him... eventually."
Relena uttered a pained sigh and said quietly, "Maybe he's never been taught to expect forgiveness."
He looked at her, then laughed bitterly. "Oh, you're probably right. The concept of making mistakes and being forgiven for them isn't exactly an important part of a terrorist's curriculum. Being a terrorist is a rather unforgivable and unforgiving sort of job. SHIT!" Duo smacked himself on the forehead. "Stupid, stupid, stupid! Here I've been waiting and hoping that Heero would come looking for me when I should have known better! The one time that I decide that I've had enough and refuse to go running after him...!"
"Don't blame yourself, Duo. You had every reason to be upset, especially with your past." When he gave a sharp look, she said softly, "Yes, I know what happened during the plague... and a little about what happened after the Maxwell Church Massacre... how you survived. Not everything, but enough to get a good idea of what sort of childhood you've had."
"I see," he said in dangerously even tones. "And what do you plan to do with that information?"
For a moment, she looked confused, then she blurted out, "No! I have no intention of using it against you in any way! But like I said before, I needed to understand the type of person you really are and to do that, I needed to know about your past."
"Why?" Duo snapped tersely.
"I'll explain later. What I meant to say was that it was just bad luck that Heero happened to pick the worst possible way to force you to leave. I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt you so badly."
She shook her head urgently. "No. This whole mess is basically my fault, because I had to be selfish. I thought that driving the two of you apart would be the best thing for Heero, but I was lying to myself all along. I didn't do it for him -- I did it for myself, because I was jealous of you. Deep inside, I knew that I had no chance with Heero as long as you were around, so I had to get rid of you one way or another. And once you were gone, I kept telling myself that he'd get over you eventually, but... but while I was busy deluding myself that things would eventually work out in my favor, Heero's condition was getting steadily worse. And now I'm afraid that I've waited too long."
She reached out and grabbed Duo's clenched fist with both hands.
"Duo, you're my last hope. If anyone can reach Heero, it's you. The pain of losing you made him shut off all his emotions. The fact that Heero blames himself for driving you away so harshly only makes things worse. If you come back to him... if you tell him that you forgive him, maybe Heero will allow himself to feel again. Only you can give him the forgiveness he needs, because you're the one who he hurt. *I* can't do that. No one else can. That's why I needed to find out what you were really like, Duo. I needed to know if you were the type of person who was capable of giving Heero what he needs."
He gave her a long, hard look, as if to judge her sincerity and truthfulness.
"What's with the sudden change of attitude, Relena? One moment, I'm a pest who's not fit to lick Heero's boots and now I'm his destined soul mate?"
She winced, then replied, "But it's not a sudden change of attitude, at least not for me. I've been struggling with this dilemma for a long, long time. But I've run out of excuses and I've also run out of options. And so here I am, asking you for help."
Gently pulling free from her grasp, Duo turned to stare out the window. As the silence lengthened, Relena quietly returned to the sofa as she awaited his decision. Finally, he turned back to her.
"Assuming that your idea works and I manage to convince Heero to stop cutting himself from everyone... then what? What do you expect from me, Relena? Do you want me to tell Heero, 'Gee, I forgive you for making me feel like a some damn whore, so stop feeling so bad, be happy, and have a good life with Relena'?" he said in a voice razor-edged with sarcasm. "Once he's back to normal -- or as close to normal as Heero is likely to get -- what do you want me to do? Turn around and gracefully exit the picture?"
With a slow shake of her head, she said, "No. Heero is never going to be mine. I'll just have to accept that. I might have his professional loyalty, but I'll never have his heart and soul. Nothing I do will ever change that." She got up and walked over to Duo. Standing before him, she took a deep breath and looked him directly in the eye before continuing.
"I used to think that you were nothing more than an annoying, common street hoodlum of no breeding. But after my experiences this last year, I now realize that the mere possession of social status, money, and fancy manners guarantees *nothing* about a person's abilities, their dedication, or their honesty."
Relena reached out and tentatively touched Duo's cheek with a manicured finger.
"And after learning about your past and seeing the person you've become, I now understand that there's nothing at all common about you, Duo Maxwell."
Her gaze did not waver as she added softly, "If being with you makes Heero happy and whole, then I'll welcome your presence, whether you choose to simply be his friend... or whether you choose to be his lover."
As he stared at her with stunned violet eyes, his mouth agape, Relena turned and walked back to the sofa. As she picked up her purse and fiddled with the strap to cover her flustered state of mind, she said briskly, "Heero should be back at the hotel by now. Will you come with me?"
Duo closed his mouth, then said thoughtfully, "You know, I could get to really like this new you."
She gave him a faint, wistful smile. "I've talked to millions about love, understanding, acceptance... about making sacrifices for the good of others. But up until now, I've never bothered to practice what I preached in my own personal life."
Duo cocked his head slightly, then said in a barely audible murmur, "Oh, I don't know. It might not be such a big sacrifice as you think."
Relena blinked, unsure that she had heard Duo correctly. Shoving that puzzle aside, she asked with unaccustomed anxiety, "Do you think we can really save Heero from himself?"
Duo grinned impishly. "It's a fine time to start second-guessing yourself, Relena."
"It's just that... well... you really are my last hope," she replied quietly. "If you can't reach him...."
"Relena, knowing how stubborn Heero can be, our job isn't going to be easy." Duo's violet eyes darkened. "But believe me when I say that this time around, I'm not going to give up on him without one hell of a fight."
He said evenly, "You said that both you and Heero are to blame for this situation. Well, some of the blame is also mine." As Relena opened her mouth to protest, Duo shook his head firmly and continued, "You might have been manipulative and selfish, Heero might have tried to push me away, but I chose to give up and leave him. So whatever happened to Heero is partially my fault, too. I owe it to him to help him heal. After all the shit we've been through, I'm not about to allow Heero to curl up and commit emotional suicide."
Keeper of Duo's Dark Side ~~~ Duo no Seishi
Co-Keeper of Duo's Scythe & Bat Wings (w/ Death)
Co-Keeper of Little Grim Reaper Duo (w/ Kitsune)
Keeper of Saitoh's Sex Life ~~~ Saitoh no Koibito
The Full Disclaimer
All rights and privileges to Shin Kidousenki Gundam Wing are trademarks and property of Sunrise, Bandai, Sotsu Agency, and associated parties. The characters of these works are used WITHOUT permission for the purpose of entertainment only. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.
Original portion of the fiction included here is considered to be the sole property and copyrighted to the author.