Disclaimers: Don't own any part of Gundam Wing nor it's characters. Merely borrowing them for a little torture.
Warnings: Shounen-ai, OOCs, angst (I think)
Life Altering Decisions
It was finally over.
The war, everything, it was finally over.
It ended with Mariemaia. At least, that's what Duo Maxwell hoped. If God was good, maybe peace could reign for once and he could live a normal life for once in his seventeen years. He hand wandered on its own accord to the gold cross underneath his shirt. It was for them he fought, flying Gundams, taking lives, embracing Shinigami. It was for the innocent and he hoped after this incident, the innocents would understand why he did it, why all the Gundam pilots did it.
The Deathscythe pilot sat outside Heero Yuy's hospital room, wondering if it was his place anymore to be inside that room. Heero had injuries from the incident, but nothing life threatening. He would heal, with rest and plenty of tender loving care. Heero, the thought plunged Duo into a dark depression. He had lost Heero, lost the one thing that brought him through this mess of a life so far. Brought him through the damned war and he had betrayed that love. Maybe that's the reason Heero sucker punched him? Left him with Trowa?
Duo squeezed his eyes tightly shut, remembering what had happened the last time they had made love. No, he didn't want to remember.
"Duo?" Relena Peacecraft peeked out of the doorway. "He's asking for you." There was something written all over her face. Something that told Duo she knew.
The Deathscythe pilot thought he would spontaneously combust. What was Heero going around telling other people what happened in their bedroom? Getting up reluctantly, Duo dragged his feet as he walked slowly into the dimly lit hospital room. If he had it any other way, he would have bolted out of there and flying off on Deathscythe without another thought. Except, Deathscythe was no longer at his disposal. He and the rest of the pilots had decided to destroy them. After all, who needs weapons of mass destruction in peace time?
Heero looked pale but his eyes were burning brightly. He managed a smile when he saw Duo and the braided pilot felt his guilt up a notch. That was the smile Heero always wore around him. Like he was extremely pleased to see Duo. It was their secret smile.
"Feeling better?" Duo asked, edging closer to the bed.
The Wing pilot nodded and held out his hand, offering it to the other boy.
Duo gave Relena a surreptitious glance before taking it and squeezing it tightly. The contact was welcome and the tightness around Duo's heart eased a little. At least this proved Heero didn't hate him. He didn't know what to do if the Japanese pilot was to cut him out of his life.
"I'm sorry," Duo muttered softly, not wanting Relena to hear how he screwed up. He sat down gingerly at the edge of the bed, taking in how tired Heero still looked.
Heero pulled him a little closer. "It's alright, Duo. I don't blame you."
"How can you not? I blame myself," Duo blurted, springing up from his seat. "I called out another person's name when we made love. Why the hell aren't you castrating me right now?" He felt a hand on his shoulder and he jumped. Shit, he had forgotten Relena was in the room. Feeling the instantaneous flush on his already over heated skin, he thought he had finally combusted. Since he was smoking or anything, he guessed not yet.
"Duo, we don't blame you," she told the braided pilot evenly.
We? Duo felt his brain working on overdrive and overheating. We? What just exactly was this we? He took turns gaping at Heero then Relena then at Heero again, his brain finally short circuiting. He managed an intelligent, "Huh?"
Relena gifted him a soft smile. "We wanted to speak with you."
"Together," Heero nodded, but Duo could see him trying to stay awake. The doctors must have doped up Heero pretty badly. How could Heero had accepted being shot full of drugs?
Duo had to remind himself that they were no longer at war and certain things were acceptable now. Relena pushed him down onto the bed again and Heero moved his hand over the braided pilot's.
"I screwed up," Duo said by way of apology. "I screwed up so badly." He looked away, not wanting to meet anyone's gaze.
He heard Heero sighing heavily. "I may be pretty unemotional sometimes, but I sure as hell am not blind, baka. You've had a crush on Wufei for as long as I can remember."
The Deathscythe pilot's head came up. "You… knew?" He was at a loss for words. The next thought that hit him was, Oh God, was he that transparent? Did Wufei know?
One side of Heero's mouth lifted in a lopsided smile. "For a long time now," he repeated. "And if you weren't so wrapped up in 'Oh shits' you might have heard my own guilty admission as well."
Duo's mind did a 'what the hell' flip. Then his mouth did it as well. "What the hell?" He took turns staring at a sheepish Heero and a faintly blushing Relena. A faint memory cut through the jumble of self recriminations. Suddenly, an impish grin that was more at home on his handsome face appeared but soon disappeared as he quickly schooled his face into a frown. "You were making love to me and you thought I was a woman?"
"Hey, with hair like that…" Heero returned, smiling.
"Then why did you…" Duo trailed off, unable to finish his question. He was sure he was as red as Relena was at the moment. "I mean…"
Heero shifted uncomfortably. "Honestly? I love you."
If Duo was surprised before, he was now blown out of his mind. "But you… I mean…. I thought…"
"Halt the presses," Relena joked. "Duo Maxwell is rendered speechless."
Duo threw the girl a glare worthy of Heero Yuy. "You would be too if your lover starts screaming another person's name in the throes of ecstasy then tell you he loves you." The boy decided that red looked better on Relena than pink. He didn't know so many places could turn red from embarrassment all at once.
"I'm not in love with you. You're my best friend, Duo," Heero explained, clearly amused at the banter between the two, and relieved as well. These were two people that he couldn't imagine life without and it would have been difficult if they didn't get along.
"Maybe your best lover as well?" Duo tilted his head with an impish smile and was rewarded with a pillow in the face from an increasingly drowsy Heero and a slap on the back of the head from a giggling Relena. He turned serious. "I'm sorry."
Heero covered Duo's hand. "Nothing to apologise for. We are still friends right? Even if we can't be a couple?" He was beginning to get heavy lidded and the words came out slightly slurred.
Feeling immensely relieved, Duo grinned. "We are a couple alright, a couple of bleeding idiots." He won a laugh from the other two in the room and was a little guilty when Heero winced. "Sorry."
"Are you going to tell Wufei?" Relena asked softly.
Duo shrugged. "I don't know. I'm not sure if he swings that way." He stared critically at Heero. "Thank you," he leaned over and embraced his sleepy friend, planting a final kiss on his lips. "For old times sake." Then he was all business. "Alright Yuy, you need to rest." He got up and left the couple alone.
He left the room with a lighter heart. He smiled suddenly. Who would have thought Heero Yuy was actually heterosexual? He remembered how turned off the Wing pilot was of Relena with her constant stalking of him. Not to mention all the times he caught his often roommate checking out his rear. If he was truly honest with himself, it was the war that brought them together. Heero had been right, they loved each other, but Duo highly doubt he was in love with the Wing pilot. It had been purely a satisfaction of a physical need while their camaraderie had satisfied their emotional one. Over time, the distinction had blurred and the two of them had gotten confused. When they had finally gotten back together after a year and a half of separation, Duo realised the emotion he felt for Heero had been different and he had dreamt more of the Chinese pilot that his own convenient lover.
That had brought above him yelling Wufei's name when Heero brought them both to a satisfying climax a few nights back. It caused another worry. Now that he was sure how he felt about Heero and Wufei, did Wufei feel the same about him? There had been looks exchanged but it could mean anything. Besides, during the first war Heero and him never did much to keep their relationship a secret. More than anything, Duo had always thought Wufei was interested in girls more often than not. The Chinese pilot had received a lot of not so veiled invitations from his fellow students during their time of going undercover in schools. Duo had joked that girls liked his tight little ponytail.
Duo squared his shoulders, coming to a decision. Why not give it a shot? It couldn't hurt anything. But, he thought worriedly, he might just lose Wufei as a friend. Of all the things, he couldn't lose his friendship. Unknown to the braided pilot, his musings and his feet had brought him to a small room where two very familiar figures had disappeared into.
Wufei and Sally, he thought. Not knowing why, Duo hastened his steps to follow after the two. He was about to knock on the door when the sight before him froze him to the spot. Wufei and Sally were locked in an embrace.
Apparently, he doesn't swing that way, Duo thought a little forlornly and quietly made a quick exit. Well, at least he didn't make a fool of himself and more importantly, he wouldn't lose Wufei as a friend by shooting his mouth off. Straight guys were usually uncomfortable around gay men, especially those that just confessed their love for them.
No, this secret, if Heero Yuy knew how to keep his mouth shut, and he better had, will follow him to his grave.
"Why are you leaving, Duo?" Trowa asked. The pilots had congregated in one of Quatre Winner's many homes after finally disposing of their Gundams.
Duo felt an odd pain at watching an old friend disappeared into the fiery depths of the sun. It had been like losing a part of himself. And for a long while, Deathscythe was a part of him, his partner. He was truly alone now. Heero had declined a position with the newly set up Preventors and was a full time staff on Vice Foreign Minister Darlian-Peacecraft's workforce. Duo smiled, thinking that Heero's major duties were protecting the Vice Foreign Minister and warming her bed. He would get twin knocks on his head if either Heero or Relena were to hear that. So far, none of the other pilots were aware of the break up of Yuy-Maxwell and by mutual agreement; it will remain that way for a while. Duo just couldn't handle all the questions that will be forthcoming with that announcement.
"I just want a shot at normal life, you know," Duo explained, hoping that his friend would understand.
Trowa and Wufei had opted to take up positions with the Preventors, while Quatre obviously needed to fill the void left by his father. Heero was working at making Vice Foreign Minister Darlian-Peacecraft to Vice Foreign Minister Darlian-Peacecraft-Yuy. That and making sure no one kills her. Difficult work, that. The braided pilot wasn't sure he really wanted anything like that. Quatre had, of course, offered him a position at Winner Industries, but if Duo was being honest to himself, he wasn't qualified just now to hold any sort of position in his friend's company. He was a soldier, and unless the position called for stealth and killing thousands, he was under qualified. Besides, he wanted a shot at normalcy of life and more than anything, he wanted an education. Something to fill the void his childhood had created.
The thought of classrooms, fraternity houses, annoying lecturers and freshmen orientation began to be more appealing the longer he dwelled on it. His training with Dr G had left him with more than enough knowledge to make it into college and then some, but his finances were still a problem. He had some money saved from working with Hilde at the scrap yard, but that wasn't quite enough to see him through four years of school.
"What has you thinking so hard you ignore the rest of us?" Heero draped a shoulder around his one time lover. They still worked to maintain outward appearances, at least until Duo left. The Japanese pilot hadn't questioned Duo's decision on this, but accepted it as something Duo wanted.
Duo smiled sheepishly. "I was just thinking about how I want to get into school versus how much money I have sitting in the bank."
The ever benevolent, not to mention obscenely wealthy Quatre Winner jumped in. "I'd be happy to…" A hand on his arm stopped the rest of the offer as a knowing Trowa correctly interpreted the stubborn set of Duo's jaw.
"Thank, Q-man, but I think I need to do this on my own."
Wufei spoke up for the first time since the conversation began. "Somehow you being in school is not what I envisioned for you."
"And what did you envision for me, Wufei?" Duo snapped a little bitterly. "Think an idiot like me can't make it through college?" It hurt, it really hurt that Wufei would think that his sometimes mindless chatter and cheerfulness were actually from a lack of grey matter. It hurt that the one person he had actually tried to impress saw him as nothing more than a mindless clown. Court jester. Class idiot.
The others were clearly shocked. Even Heero, who had in the past seen many facets of the mystery of Duo Maxwell.
"D… Maxwell, that's not what I meant," Wufei hurried to placate but from the indrawn brow and the furrow in Duo's forehead, whatever the Chinese man said would be completely lost.
Duo stood up. "I don't care what you meant. I've had enough of your condescending attitude during the war." He felt Heero's warning touch on his shoulder. The ex-Wing pilot was braced to restrain him in the event Duo decided to deck Wufei.
Heero didn't know what had happened between Duo and Wufei, but mistakenly assumed the Chinese soldier had rejected his former lover, thus creating the bitterness he felt within the normally cheerful Duo. Unfortunately, Heero knew that most of the time, the laughter and the joking were merely a carefully constructed mask. He had seen Duo in some awfully dark moments that belied the ever present smiles.
"Maxwell," Wufei tried to get a word in but an irate Duo wouldn't let him.
"Forget it," Duo threw his hands up in resignation and stalked out of the house, leaving three very confused pilots and one very guilty Chinese man. The braided boy knew he was probably over reacting, but remembering Wufei and the doctor in that embrace, then sitting opposite him, mocking his dreams. Something had snapped, completely and totally.
"Duo, damn it, wait up!" Heero came hurtling out of the house in a rush.
Duo swung around, his long braid following in a chestnut arc. He stood there waiting for Heero to catch up to him. "What?" He sighed when Heero was next to him, breathing heavily.
"What was that?" The Japanese pilot motioned towards the house, towards the horrible scene that kept replaying itself in Duo's mind like an old movie.
"What was what?" Duo growled, linking his hands together and tucking it behind his neck.
Heero shook his head admonishingly at him. "We are not playing twenty questions. At least twenty questions from you. Why didn't you want me to tell them about us?"
"There is no us," Duo muttered, petulantly. He was grabbed by the shoulder and forcefully turned around. No matter how strong he was, Heero was infinitely stronger. After all, he had a different type of training from Duo.
"What happened between you and Wufei?" Heero demanded. If anyone can get an answer from Duo and cut through all his evasions, Heero Yuy would be the one.
Duo turned his head away. "Nothing," he muttered, dropping his hands to his sides.
"That's quite apparent," Heero chided and tried a different tactic. "Why didn't anything happen? Didn't you tell Wufei how you felt?"
"He's with Sally, alright? Will you stop it with the third degree?" Duo blurted, shrugging Heero's hands away.
"He told you that?" Heero asked quietly.
Duo felt Heero was like a dog after a bone with this. "I saw them together in a room not far from yours at the hospital. Nothing was clearer than that picture." His tone indicated that was all he had to say on this subject.
"That didn't warrant your attacking him just now," Heero had an undertone of displeasure.
The braided boy felt his shoulders slump with defeat. "I just wanted to impress him, but what did he think of me? He thought I was nothing more than what I showed them. He didn't even bother to see below the surface."
Heero stared at Duo's drooped posture for long moments before pulling the dejected boy into a warm hug. "You make it so hard for anyone to see below the surface, Duo," he murmured against Duo's soft hair, one hand stroking the length of his braid. It was a calming technique he had worked out during the war.
"He didn't even try," Duo told him, burying his face into Heero's shoulder. "He didn't even try."
From deep within the house, Wufei stared at the embracing couple.
My first try at a 2x5x2. Need to know how badly I did.
Also, I am putting a request for a beta. Mine has been really busy and it is not fair to burden her further. If anyone is interested, drop me a mail. Should be able to give a quick turn around time, will beta almost exclusively AU and bear to read non-con pairings. I also write 1x2x2 a lot. Anyone willing to help?