|A Night to Remember What Happened Next
Author: Swordy Rides Again PM
Heero's decision is made - the wedding is off and he wants Duo back. But the course of true love never did run smoothly... 1x2, 3x4.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Heero Y. & Duo M. - Chapters: 7 - Words: 21,652 - Reviews: 95 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 10-03-04 - Published: 09-18-04 - id: 2062181
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note – Well, it's done. Thanks for all your reviews and look out for more re-posted Gundam fics soon!
A Night to Remember – What Happened Next.
The morning was soon upon them, kickstarting the world, which rumbled back into existence and destroyed their blissful bedroom-based paradise. Outside the barrier to that chaos, also known as the bedroom door, Duo could hear movement and talking as he slipped out of Heero's arms with a regretful sigh. The voices sounded anxious and Duo then felt bad that he had left his friends the day before with the horrible news of Relena's threats. Seeing Heero still asleep, he quickly pulled on some clothes and tried to tidy up his fringe by raking his fingers through it. He looked rough, but it would have to do.
He opened the bedroom door and was surprised to find the curtains still drawn and the three pilots sat in darkness.
"Guys? Why haven't you opened the…?"
"Don't!" the three men said with almost perfect synchronisation as Duo headed towards the window. He froze in his tracks, his violet eyes reflecting his confusion.
"What's going on, guys?"
Wufei motioned for him to move away from the window. When he did as instructed, Quatre began to explain why they were sat in the darkness.
"There are some reporters outside. About an hour ago there were only one or two, now there are about ten or twelve. One of your neighbours came up a short while ago to say they were asking for you. We've been to the other flats and told everyone that's home not to let them in. Needless to say your neighbours were wanting to know what's going on."
"And what is going on?" Duo asked in frustration, his fingers weaved into his hair before his expression changed, indicating that he had thought of something. "But I bet it's got something to do with Relena."
"You're probably right," Quatre agreed.
"What should we do?" Trowa said, glancing at his anxious lover before his intense green stare moved to Duo.
The American pulled his braid over his shoulder and toyed with the end of it as he shrugged. "She said she was coming back today so I guess we just sit tight and see what happens."
As the hours passed, the crowd outside Duo's building grew steadily larger, the rumble of conversation filtering though into the near silent flat. The intercom buzzed almost constantly but the four pilots ignored it, with Duo periodically checking on Heero to see that the interruption hadn't woken him from his much-needed rest. Fortunately, his medication ensured that he remained oblivious to the buzz of excitement going on outside but as the crowd swelled to over twenty, and then forty the pilots realised that something was going to happen, and soon.
They realised that that 'something' was starting when, several hours later, the murmurs of conversation turned to calling and shouting. The evening dusk was suddenly lit up by a hundred flashbulbs; their glare penetrating through the curtains and causing the four pilots to leave their seats, instinctively wanting to know what had caused the sudden flurry of activity. Their suspicions were answered by some of the shouts that filtered through the general cacophony of noise.
"Queen Relena! Can you tell us what you're doing here in London?"
"Your Majesty! Is this an official visit?"
Trowa moved to wall, pressing his body flat against it. In that position, he managed to look out of the window without disturbing the curtains too much. "She's coming up the steps," he announced to the others.
"We'd better let her in," Duo said flatly, knowing that if they antagonised her by keeping her outside, she would probably blab their secret anyway. Part of him, that little voice that tried to override his conscience, told him that might be a good thing; at least then Heero would have no reason to go with her. But the others… he couldn't do it to them. When the intercom buzzed again, he went over to it and lifted the receiver.
"Duo, it's Relena. Let me in."
Duo bit down on his anger at being ordered around. He didn't respond; merely pressed the button and replaced the receiver. "Here goes," he said to the others, rolling his eyes as they awaited the knock at the door.
When she arrived, she strode into the flat, not surprised or intimidated by the presence of the other pilots. "Brought backup?" she sneered at Duo as he closed the door behind her.
"Relena," Quatre said, stepping forward to assume his role as the peacemaker. "Please tell us what Duo says isn't true. You wouldn't release the identities of the gundam pilots would you?"
Relena cocked her head to one side and smiled. "Dear, sweet Quatre. I'd have thought you if anyone would have understood, being the powerful business man that you are. I can't look weak and I'll do what I can to ensure that I get my own way. The people want a strong ruler, after all."
"They also want a ruler with integrity," Quatre countered angrily.
Relena furnished him with a condescending look before she turned back to Duo. "So have you decided then?"
Duo wanted to smash her face in and make a necklace out of her teeth. Instead, he nodded slowly, filled with self loathing at his powerlessness. "Very clever of you to bring all those journalists. Guess you wanted us to know you were serious, huh?"
"What them?" she said going over to the window and parting the curtains slightly. Instantly, the darkening sky was awash with flashbulbs firing. "I didn't tell them. I can see why you'd think that though." She let the curtains fall back into place and turned to face the assembled men, her pretty features split by an ugly smile.
"So, is Heero mine?"
"He's not a commodity!" Wufei growled in disbelief. "And after everything he did for you, I think he deserves a little more respect, don't you?"
"Heero deserves nothing!" She snapped back. "He's a confused man who should consider himself lucky that I'm prepared to take him back at all."
"Then why do you pursue him when he clearly doesn't want to be with you?" Quatre said quietly, struggling to contain his white-hot anger.
"Because believe it or not, I want to make it work with him. I was attracted to him the moment I saw him and I know he felt the same. Well, until he came along."
"That's ridiculous," Duo interjected rolling his eyes.
"Then why didn't he kill me when he had the chance?" Relena replied triumphantly. "I was a danger to him and his mission. The best thing he could have done was kill me but he didn't."
"Don't we know it," Duo grumbled, causing her to glare at him with ill-disguised contempt.
After a tense pause, broken only by the insistent buzzing of the intercom, Relena addressed her rival once again. "You still haven't answered my question, Duo. Is Heero mine?"
With a leaden heart, Duo opened his mouth to respond.
The braided man swung around at the response spoken simultaneously by his three companions. Each wore a resolute expression that told of the certainty of their decision. Relena studied them for a moment before she shook her head sadly. "Well I guess you leave me no choice," she said, answering the intercom when it buzzed again. "This is Relena, Queen of the Sanque Kingdom," she said to whichever journalist had decided to try their luck. "You can tell everyone waiting out there that there will be an announcement in exactly five minutes that I'm certain none of you will want to miss."
She replaced the receiver and gazed at the four men. "Last chance to change your minds."
"Guys," Duo said ignoring her as he turned to his friends. "I can't let you do this."
"No," Quatre said, checking with Trowa and Wufei, who nodded their approval, before he went on. "This is our decision. We were comrades during the wars and would have done anything to protect each other then so why should now be any different? This is just a different kind of war."
"That need to protect is exactly why I won't let you do this," Duo answered firmly. "There's no other option."
Duo turned to follow the direction of his friends' gazes to see Heero stood at his bedroom door, listening intently to everything that was being said. "Duo's right. This isn't your problem, guys."
"Heero," Wufei said, walking over to his Japanese companion and placing his hands on his shoulders. "If we let her win this time, then who says she won't use the threat of revealing our identities next time she wants something?"
"Come on. Let's get you dressed." The Chinese man smiled, indicating his confidence at what they were about to do. "If we're going to be big news, then we may as well look our best."
The two disappeared into Duo's bedroom leaving Trowa, Quatre and Duo alone with Relena, who glared at the men in disbelief. "What! You're bluffing! Just think what this will do to your lives!"
"It'll be no worse than knowing we'd sent Heero home with you," Quatre replied quietly. When Heero and Wufei emerged, the Chinese man nodded to his companions that they were ready. Heero looked pale but his eyes displayed the fierce determination that he had been famous for during the wars.
"Let's go then," Quatre announced.
Instantly, Relena was in the doorway, blocking their exit. "What do you think you're doing?" Her eyes blazed furiously.
"Calling your bluff," Wufei said flatly as they stepped past her and headed downstairs. "We're going to tell then world that we're the gundam pilots." He paused and offered the shocked looking young woman a wry smile. "Then we'll tell them how the Queen of Sanque tried to blackmail people that would have given their lives to help defend her cause."
"Wait!" she cried. "You can't!"
"Why not?" Wufei replied furiously. "You were going to do it yourself two minutes ago."
The power shift had overwhelmed Relena completely and she didn't respond; each sentence she tried to start, sticking in her throat. In the end, Quatre stepped up to her and shook his head sadly.
"You're a good ruler, Relena. You've done wonderful things to bring peace to the world and Sanque has prospered under your guidance but I fear wielding such power has gone to your head if you think it's acceptable to try and bully people in this way. You need stopping… before you try this with someone who is more easily intimidated than us."
Before she could respond, the front door suddenly opened, exposing them, unprepared for the awaiting journalists. Duo's neighbour, an older lady in her fifties, frowned at him in annoyance as she let herself in. "Mr Maxwell? Do you know what's going on here?" she tried to say, but her voice was drowned out by the frenzied media, sensing that the moment of announcement was here. Not wanting to be part of whatever was going on, she scuttled away up the stairs.
The five men with Relena standing behind them, found themselves blinded by flashbulbs as the mass of bodies surged forward. There were live television cameras and every reporter shouted their question, trying to make themselves heard above the cacophony of voices. Realising they needed to take the lead, particularly with Heero who desperately needed to be back in bed, Wufei stepped forward and signalled for quiet. They would get this over with as quickly as possible and deal with the consequences later, when Heero was better.
"We would like to make an announcement," he said loudly, turning and glancing at Relena, who appeared to too stunned to say anything. Too stunned to tell him to stop. "Every so often, there is speculation as to the identity of the pilots of the gundams that played a part in the wars. We have decided to end this speculation here and now and so we will take this opportunity to reveal our identities. We are the gundam pilots. I am Chang Wufei, the pilot known as 05."
There were murmurs of amazement as the photographers crowded forward to take his picture. Tomorrow, the newspapers would be filled with pictures of the stoic-looking young man stood beside his four companions. Trowa next stepped forward and announced his identity. When Quatre took his place, the journalists seemed to go into a frenzy, already familiar with the famous businessman and wondering what part he could have played in the war.
"My name is Quatre Raberba Winner and I am the pilot known as 04."
"A pilot?" went the murmurs. "Quatre Winner was an actual pilot?"
The reporters excitedly tried to ask him a whole barrage of questions but Quatre pointedly ignored them as Duo stepped forward. In Chiquitos, Greg was serving a customer when one of his colleagues pointed to the television screen behind the bar.
"Hey, isn't that Duo?"
"Duo?" Someone else said. "What's he doing on the news?"
"I though he was sick," Andy the manager said, looking squarely at Greg.
Greg ignored both his boss and the customer now demanding his change. "Turn it up, will you?" he snapped, eager to find out what was going on.
"My name is Duo Maxwell. I was Pilot 02," Duo said, giving a mock salute to the assembled media and the millions watching on TV sets all over the world, although his expression remained solemn. He felt a surge of protectiveness as a pale and exhausted Heero stepped forward and revealed himself to another surge of flashbulbs and frenzied questioning. Everyone remembered 01's instrumental actions during the wars and were stunned to learn this frail individual could be the pilot in question.
"Why have you chosen to reveal your identities?" someone asked, their voice picking through a lull in the noise. The five pilots exchanged glances before Wufei answered, his strong personality marking him out as the spokesperson for them.
"We have recently received a threat from someone who knows our identities. Our punishment for non-compliance was that they would tell the world who we really are. We decided that we didn't want to live with this secret hanging over us any more."
"What does this have to do with Queen Relena?" someone asked.
All eyes were on the blonde, standing behind the five pilots. Her expression was one of defeat; this was the moment where she would be ruined. As she looked up, she caught Duo's eye. Happy? You've won, her eyes seemed to say as she gazed at him, standing protectively next to Heero. She didn't deserve his pity but when he saw her look at Heero, Duo could see that underneath her acidic experience-hardened rudeness, she did truly love him and letting him go was as bad as losing it all. Pain, longing, the realisation that she would never have what she wanted.
For the first time, Duo felt like he was seeing the real Relena; the girl with responsibility thrust onto her from too early an age. Being in love had given her a chance to be a normal teenager and now that was gone. From now on, suitors would always see her as Relena the ruler; who would always be expected to put her royal duties first. She had proved to be a good ruler since she had come to power and suddenly, Duo didn't want to be responsible for taking that away from her too. When he saw Wufei about to answer the reporter's question, he stepped forward quickly, drawing the crowd's attention to him instead.
"Relena is involved…" he said quickly, forcing Wufei into silence as the other pilots watched him curiously. "Because she came to warn us about the threat. The Queen of Sanque has protected our identities since the end of the war and although we will be grateful for everything she has done, we have decided to end our reliance on her. By being open about who we are, we can get on with our lives without worrying that someone will expose us."
He could feel the others looking at him but he ignored their stares. "That's all we're prepared to say now so I suggest you all go home. Thank you."
He turned and started to usher the others back in the front door, Relena too. Once safely inside, Wufei turned to the braided man, still holding Heero gently by the elbow. "What happened then, Duo? I thought we were…"
"Leave it, Wufei, please? Look, can you guys take Heero up to my flat. I want to talk to Relena."
Quatre now took the lead, sensing that this was something that Duo needed to deal with on his own. He nudged Wufei, who put his arm around the weary Japanese man's shoulders and guided him up the stairs. Before long, the braided ex-pilot was alone in the hallway with the woman who had sabotaged his future with no hint of regret.
"Why did you do that, Duo?" she asked, watching him warily. "Why did you not take the opportunity to ruin me? You would have won. You already have Heero and you could have finished me as a respected leader."
He shrugged, not entirely sure himself. "It isn't about winning and losing Relena; it never was. I love Heero and always have. I lost him because he was confused and people took advantage of that. I don't blame you for that. Heero is a strong individual and capable of making his own decisions and he ultimately decided to push me away, just as he decided that he now regretted that decision and wanted us to try again. I've never made him do anything, Relena."
The girl ruler studied him for a moment before she lowered her eyes. "I know. And yet somehow, you've always had a hold over him. Even during the wars, the brief moments I got with him were spent listening to him talk about you. He was always trying to figure you out. It was obvious even then that he loved you; he just didn't realise it."
Duo nodded, appreciating her honesty as he started up the stairs.
"I wanted him to love me in the same way," she went on. "I wanted him to look at me the way he looked at you. I thought if I got you apart, his love for you would fade in time. Although he agreed to marry me in the end, I knew he didn't really love me. It was always about you, Duo."
There was a moment of silence as the two rivals for the Japanese man's feelings regarded each other. "So what happens now?" Relena asked quietly, tucking a loose lock of hair behind her ear.
Duo shrugged. "Nothing. I'm not interested in blackmailing you, Relena. I just want to get on with my life in peace." He rolled his eyes. "Not that that's likely with the whole world finding out we're gundam pilots."
Duo was surprised when Relena looked genuinely contrite. "I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I guess I'm not as mature as I like to think I am."
"It doesn't matter," Duo said, suddenly eager to get back to Heero. "It'll die down eventually. Goodbye Relena. I hope you find someone who truly makes you happy."
He left her on the stairs as he entered his flat and closed the door behind him. The others were waiting, their expressions anxious about what had happened. For his part, Duo felt guilty; they'd been forced into a confession and he had let their enemy get away scot-free. He wouldn't blame them for being angry with him. Heero was nowhere to be seen; presumably the pale-faced invalid had been sent back to bed the moment they were inside.
"Are you okay, Duo?" Quatre asked, clearly concerned that the braided man had been gone a while. "Where's Relena?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, she's gone," he replied distractedly. "Look, guys. I'm really sorry about what just happened back there. I dunno… despite all her bitching, I could just tell she really did love Heero. I know what it's like to lose someone you love, so ruining her reputation too just seemed like kicking her when she was down." He frowned suddenly. "Jeez, I can't believe I'm defending her." Violet eyes lifted, prepared for anger.
"Duo, it's okay," Quatre said firmly, placing a hand on Duo's shoulder as Trowa and Wufei nodded their agreement.
"But your business," he argued, looking first at Quatre then to Trowa before he gestured to Wufei. "Your job at Preventers."
Quatre was shaking his head. "To be honest, I've always hated the secrecy. I'm glad we'll be able to do business on an honest footing now."
Trowa was agreeing as Wufei stepped forward to reassure their troubled friend. "As for my job; I'd already decided to step down from field work when we'd started trying for a baby. I can't put myself in dangerous situations anymore if I've got a family to think of. My transfer request is ready to be submitted as soon as I'm back in work."
Duo studied them for a moment, needing to know they weren't just trying to make him feel better. When he saw no sign of deception he smiled.
"Thanks, guys. I guess we need to show 'em that we're not ashamed of what we were so… will someone be able to look after Heero if I go back to work tomorrow?"
There were three simultaneous nods as Quatre answered. "I don't think any of us has anything to rush home for," he said glancing at Wufei who agreed, before stating that Sally had gone staying at her sister's for the week. "We'll stay and ride this one out together, okay?"
Duo's grin widened at the offer of support. Once again, he was hit by how much he had missed his friends while he'd been hiding from them.
"Well, I'm gonna go see Heero. Help yourself to food and stuff." He started walking towards the bedroom before he paused at the door and turned back to face them. "Thanks again, guys," he said, a grateful smile gracing his handsome features. "It means everything to know that I've got friends like you."
When he entered the bedroom, Heero was awake. The Japanese man smiled, his face illuminated by the soft glow from the bedside lamp. "Duo? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Duo soothed, sitting down and taking Heero's hands in his. "How're you feeling?"
"A little better. What's going on? Is Relena still here?"
"No; she left a short while ago. There are still some reporters outside but they're starting to get bored. They'll be gone soon."
"You did a very noble thing, Duo." Heero said earnestly, his dark eyes sincere.
"Relena didn't deserve your compassion, but you showed that you're a better person than she is."
Duo shrugged, slightly embarrassed by the compliment. "She did love you, Heero. She just had a weird way of showing it."
Heero nodded, before he opened his arms, inviting Duo in. The braided man couldn't resist; savouring Heero's unique scent and the strength and masculinity of his embrace.
"Do you think she loved me as much as you do?" Heero asked, a slightly teasing note in his voice.
Duo lifted his head, his violet eyes twinkling above his smile. "Heero Yuy, I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer."
The Japanese man chuckled as Duo lay back down on his chest. "How are the guys?" he asked after several moments of silence.
"They seem okay." Duo explained what the other pilots had told him; about how they felt comfortable with their identities being revealed. "They're good guys."
"They are," Heero agreed, giving Duo a squeeze. "I feel so lucky having such great friends and you back in my life too."
The Japanese man felt Duo nod against his chest and it wasn't long before the American's breathing told him the other man had gone to sleep. In the silent room, Heero mentally counted his blessings that such an amazing coincidence had brought the two of them together again. He eventually drifted off to sleep with those thoughts, knowing his life was about to begin again, with the man that truly belonged at his side. He didn't doubt the next few months would be difficult, living under the scrutiny of the media, who were certain to be obsessed with their every movement, but if they were days spent with Duo, then it would be worth the stress.