Dedicated to winddancer1981, who has been nagging me. Also to Dragonborn Crystal, who probably won't read this on my site ( ) and all those who have waited for FOREVER for me to finally finish this story.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine. Duh.
Warning: The end. LE GASP!
The next day was an explosion of activity.
Everyone and their uncle seemed to need to see Duo. The other Gundam pilots raced in the minute visiting hours opened, Wufei griping that he hadn't been woken up immediately to be told the news. Trowa was the one consoling him, because Quatre was practically a blubbering mass of hysterics. He took over mother-henning Duo once they entered.
Then came the storm – Commander Une, Sally Po, Noin and even Zechs. Each of them stayed to inform Duo that he had a job waiting for him at Preventors if he was interested. Duo only stared for a while. "No more fighting," he whispered.
"All right," Commander Une pounced. "We have plenty of other areas. Hacking, technical maintenance, and software security. Hell, you could be a damn mechanic if you wanted."
Duo blinked for a few minutes, assimilating all that. "I don't want to be a mechanic," he said finally.
"Good. Because I don't want to waste you."
"Huh." Duo smiled. "I'll think about it."
Une smiled in triumph, knowing she'd won him over. Duo stuck out his tongue at her.
Only Duo, Heero mused, could get away with doing that.
Then more came in. It was like a freaking rampage. Howard had somehow found out about Duo's little escapade, as had Hilde. Howard only saw the kid was okay, talked for a bit, and left. Not Hilde. That girl came in with tears running down her cheeks.
"Duo," she wailed, "what were you thinking?"
"I wasn't," Duo replied, and then had tried to comfort her.
There was no comforting her. She'd rounded on Heero and Wufei – mostly Heero, since Wufei was in a wheelchair – and had accused him of trying to get Duo killed. Heero had looked down, unable to argue. This was when Howard had slunk out.
"Hilde, that's enough," Duo said firmly. Hilde turned to him in a heartbeat, forgetting Heero's existence.
"Duo... I know how you feel, but..." She gave Heero a furtive glance. Heero could almost feel the heat scorch his skin.
"No, it's not his fault. He tried to make me return to my house."
Hilde just kind of... withered. "Duo, were you trying to get yourself killed?"
"I had to help Diane." Heero noticed Duo's eyes slide slightly to the left. He wasn't answering her question, Heero realized. Because he'd been contemplating it. Heero's hands began to shake.
And then, as if on cue, Diane walked in.
Her eyes caught on Duo, lying shocked and silent on the hospital bed. She stood there for a moment, just staring.
Then, with a small cry, she launched herself over to the bed and kissed Duo's cheek. Her shoulders shook slightly – she was crying.
"Diane, everything's okay," Duo tried to reassure. He was obviously uncomfortable with the woman's tears.
"Oh, Duo," she wailed, "I'm so sorry!" She seemed to be struggling with herself, as if trying not to cry. "But... I was... so scared..." And she dissolved into sobs right there at the side of Duo's bed.
Hilde was there to lay her arms around the woman and coo to her. The men were all distinctly uncomfortable. Zechs seemed to need to be somewhere then, and Noin loyally followed him out. Commander Une smiled and led Sally Po out, both of them glancing back at Duo with a little smile on their faces.
Diane wiped her tears away – a useless attempt, since they were still leaking out her eyes. "Oh, Duo," she sighed. And hiccuped. "I was so worried about you! I thought you'd been..." And the tears started falling all over again. "And when you didn't come in... and it was just Mr. Yuy and that sweet Trowa guy..." Duo winced at the soft wail that escaped Diane's lips. "I thought that the bullet had..."
Duo's hand fluttered up uselessly. He didn't have the strength to get up and hug her, so Hilde did it for him. "But it didn't," he reassured. "You saved me. If it weren't for you, I'd be dead."
"Oh, but Duo, if it weren't for you I may have given up all hope!" Diane said emphatically. "Dear Mr. Yuy and Mr. Chang were kind, but... you were so nice to me..." She hugged herself. "You made me feel like I wasn't dirty."
Duo made a weird sound. Heero winced, remembering his first sight of her as he'd entered Jocker's room.
"You gave me strength," she whispered.
Hilde seemed well aware of how uncomfortable Duo was getting and squared her shoulders. "Come on, dear," she crooned, "he understands now."
Diane nodded. "I just... needed you to know." She smiled softly through her tears. Her hand came up to gently touch his cheek. "Dear Duo," she sighed, "you are so very precious."
Heero saw a suspicious shine in Duo's eyes as he replied. "Thank you." His voice was rough.
Hilde helped Diane out of the room. Duo watched her leave with a strange glint in his eye.
"Duo?" Quatre called out softly.
"Quatre," Duo said just as quietly. "May I have a minute alone?"
Everyone was quiet for a second before Wufei snorted. "No."
Duo glared at him.
Wufei raised an eyebrow. "Besides, I do believe that Heero has something to say."
This time it was Heero's turn to glare at his partner. Wufei only raised his eyebrows. Duo turned to Heero quizzically. Heero could only sigh. He did need to say it, if only because he'd promised himself. And he knew damn well that Wufei would make good on his threat and tell the braided man himself. "Duo, I have to tell you something."
Duo could only watch as Heero struggled with words. "Yeah?"
Wufei snorted at the exchange, sharing a knowing grin with Quatre. Trowa looked far too amused. Heero wanted to punch all of them. He imagined it with relish. "I..." His heart thumped oddly. He, who could usually not only control his heartbeat but also his brain waves, was practically panting. How could he possibly do this?
"Five more seconds, Yuy," Chang growled.
Heero was going to hit the guy. He didn't care that he was in a wheelchair. Nonetheless, he snapped his eyes up to meet Duo's and ground it out. "I love you."
Duo's eyes widened in shock. "What?"
Chang only sighed. "This is where you admit you love him too, Maxwell."
Duo shot Wufei a dirty look. Then he just turned back to Heero, eyes a bit lost. "What?" he repeated.
Heero steeled himself. "I love you, Duo. I have for... since the war. But I never..." He shook his head. "Wufei's wrong, isn't he?" he said sadly. "You don't think of me like that."
Duo was just gaping like a fish.
Heero felt a spike lance him somewhere very deep in his chest. "I knew it, but I just had to... I had sworn I would say it, if only I got the chance to." Heero had to close his eyes.
The silence that descended over them was suffocating. Wufei, again, decided to speak up. "I'm not wrong, you bastard," he said smugly. "Look."
Heero's brow furrowed and his eyes opened. He immediately saw the tears running down Duo's face. "Duo?"
"You bastard," Duo choked. "Why didn't you ever...?"
The pain became even stronger as hope strengthened the spike that prodded him. "Do you...?"
A huge grin broke out on Duo's face, almost blinding him. "Yes. Yes! I thought..."
"Oh, thank God," Heero sighed, moving to kneel by Duo's side and carefully cupping his face. "Thank God." And he lightly touched his lips to Duo's.
Duo's breath left on a stuttering sigh. "Heero," he whispered.
Wufei crowed. "It's about fucking time!"
"Shut up, Wufei," Heero ordered amicably, his lips never leaving Duo's. And he strengthened the touch so that talk was impossible.
It wasn't deep. But it was more than enough.
It took Duo all of two days to start griping at everyone to let him leave the hospital. Heero came and stayed with him throughout the day, only leaving for necessary purposes. The nights lasted long. Too long. Duo felt like his heart had taken wings. It kept itself right underneath his skin, trying to burst free.
He'd never known he could feel so free, so incredibly joyous. His dreams had become reality. It was evident whenever Heero looked at him, his eyes unmasked for the first time. Now Duo could understand the dinner he'd had with this man, why he'd seemed so different during the mission. Heero's mask was easily controlled for him, unlike Duo's. Heero had shown him his true self that evening at the restaurant. And here it was again, the real Heero, looking at him with unrestrained love in his eyes.
Granted, Heero was the most irritating obstacle in his way of getting the hell out of the hospital, but Duo now knew why. It wasn't obligation. It wasn't duty. Heero hovered over him, seeming to read his needs in his eyes. A mother-hen. He'd thought Quatre could be irritating. Heero had him beat.
Then again, Heero admitted that his heart had stopped beating once. Heero, he supposed, had a right to hover.
Wufei, of course, wouldn't leave them the fuck alone. Whenever he stopped by, he always had to point out how stupid the both of them were. Trowa was silent, but his one eye said it all. He was amused by the entire situation. Quatre, on the other hand, was a bundle of joyous energy. He was practically bouncing off the walls in happiness.
"I'm so happy for you guys!" he kept saying. The words seemed almost pasted on the walls by now. Oddly, the thought made Duo smile.
But his thoughts had eventually turned to the clones, and he couldn't help but think about them. It was during the third afternoon, with only Heero in the room, that he mused his thoughts. "I wonder if those clones could rest in peace."
Heero grunted, seemingly surprised by his sudden broach of the subject. "Possibly. They could never really find peace in life."
Duo mused on that. "They were never allowed to have emotions."
"They never did." But Duo could hear the doubt in Heero's voice.
"No," Duo argued. "They did. They wouldn't have been lovers if they hadn't. They wouldn't have hated us so much."
Heero grunted again. "My clone..." he hesitated. "My clone asked me why I followed my emotions. Why I... why I loved you. Wufei's clone killed him for it."
This time it was Duo's turn to grunt in surprise. Then he thought about it. "You know... maybe the doctors had it all wrong."
"I mean," Duo explained, "maybe emotions really do make us stronger? And maybe there's no such thing as an emotionless person."
Heero was silent for a time. "I agree. I was trained to be emotionless, but it wasn't possible. I couldn't turn my back on what I felt. But at least I'd known that I was supposed to feel. They never knew."
Duo could only sigh. "So what makes us strong? What makes us real? Our bodies? Our emotions? Our thoughts?"
"I don't know," Heero answered. "But... I feel real right now." Heero's hand slipped into Duo's.
Duo smiled. His hand, almost of its own accord, moved to entwine their fingers. "Yeah. Me too."
Hope you enjoyed. No sex, but I felt like throwing that in there would be lame. They seemed to be moving at a good pace as they were. The lemon would be frivolous and would leave things hurried. And if you thought I'd end everything with things miraculously perfect, think again. Life isn't like that. But at least everyone's moving forward together now...
Tell me what you think? I know this may have been a little fast...
End Note: I am considering doing a sequel, mostly because there have been a few people asking for one. I also plan to update everywhere much faster, since I want to get as much written as possible before I have to worry about such things as jobs and rents and everything – you know, while I still have it fairly easy as a college student. But this decision has to be all yours... otherwise the story ends here.