A/N: Wow. Andi's first foray into the world of the 1x2 Gundam W fanfiction. It's not a lemon or anything smutty. Andi doesn't write smut well. So I opted for sap and copped out on severe citrus intimidation. Hope you enjoy. This isn't so much a fic as just a sort of rambling example of what happens when Andi listens to too much of her angst music while she's working. Odd things begin to pop up in her brain. So without further ado, "Near Miss", Andi's first 1x2. Enjoy. ^.^

-Near Miss-I don't own Gundam W or any of those lovely boys contained therein. Even as much as I wish I DID own them. T.T

The braided pilot sat in the cell with a scowl on his normally-cheerful face. In here the mask could drop. In here there was no one to talk to but his own shadow. Not that it helped. Caught on a mission in a moment of pure, bull-headed stupidity, searched from head to toe and totally cleaned of all possible escape implements by people who had to pick NOW of all times to smart up, and now likely to never see his friends and comrades again...people he'd tried to keep from growing close to, tried to keep from caring about...

The idea of death was, ironically, not a welcome one. Had it really been such a short time before this that he'd been so uncaring as to whether he lived or died?

Duo let his head thump back against the wall behind himself with a sigh. Most likely he was slated for execution, torture...God only knew what else.

And as he sat in the cell, waiting and praying for what he hoped would be a last chance to survive and flee, he found himself thinking back on the start of this mission and the circumstances that had led him to where he was now.

----------

"Careless."

Duo glared. For some reason, the perfect soldier's short, clipped answers were really bugging the hell out of him lately. "I'm not fuckin' careless, Heero. I just want this over with."

"We've been asked to do a job, Duo," Quatre tried to reason. "Let's make sure we do it right."

Duo fought back the urge to twitch and shout at Sandrock's pilot, knowing it wasn't his fault Heero had been pissing Duo off so easily and so often lately.

Quatre couldn't help but wonder what the problem was, but he saw the look on Duo's face and wisely shut up, knowing further logical arguments would just aggravate his friend further. He went back to his preparations, casting the other pair worried glances every few moments.

"We're going to go in and do this carefully and correctly," Heero stated calmly, the longest sentence he'd uttered since the discussion's beginning.

"We don't have TIME to set every tiny wire. Set the damn timers before hand, just put them where they need to go, and let's get the fuck out of here!"

Wufei shook his head, looking disdainfully at the arguing pair. "We have no time for petty bickering," he stated bluntly. "So whatever problem you two have, deal with it later."

Upon hearing Wufei's calm statement, Duo began to look like his head would explode faster than the devices they were trying to set. He ground his teeth together.

Trowa was busy as their lookout point, guarding their rear with Quatre's help while Wufei took point so that Duo and Heero could work on setting the explosives.

Heero had shaken his head. He couldn't help but be paranoid about each explosive device he ever set. Especially when he'd caused the deaths of civilians once after a miscalculation. "If we slip, innocent people will die."

Another long sentence. Duo swore inwardly. Two in one day was not a good sign. "Fucking whatever," he snarled, taking his part of the mission objectives and darting off down a hallway to complete his task alone. "I'll report back when I'm finished and evacuating," came his angry voice over the radio receiver.

"Duo. Get back here," Heero snarled, more emotion in that single demand than anything. As Quatre looked at the perfect soldier, he realized Heero was afraid for Duo's safety. Terrified...like he knew something was going to go wrong.

Duo didn't answer. "Maxwell, come in," Heero snarled again. Now he was angry. Their mission was no longer one of sabotage and guerilla warfare.

It was now a rescue.

Duo'd gone off by himself, and only moments after Heero's worried demand, had been ambushed, knocked unconscious, his supplies and radio lying in the hallway as the only sign that he'd ever even been there.

----------

Duo sighed again. The Oz cells seem to be made to remind you just how little time you had left on the planet. Fishing around in his pocket, he located the thing they hadn't taken from him - his Preventer ID card.

He looked at it, grimacing at the horrible picture. It seemed the nature of identificational photos to suck, he thought wryly.

He stared at it for a few minutes. It was funny, he reflected then, how a little piece of paper covered in plastic could affect a person's life so deeply. Because of that card, because of the Preventer organization...

He'd remained in contact with the other four pilots after Mariemeia's attempt at world domination. And a couple years after that, they'd all wound up working together in the Preventer organization. It had turned out that the others were as restless as he had been. He thought about his fellow pilots. Wufei...he would never be one to admit that he HAD missed the others. Duo was pretty much convinced it was a matter of "honor" with the Chinese soldier. What with emotion being a "weakness" and all. But Duo was fairly convinced also that he'd seen Wufei smile several times in the past when he thought no one was looking.

Trowa...was a mystery. Trowa was still as enigmatic as ever. The former pilot of Heavyarms barely ever strung three words together in a sentence, and when he DID smile, it was the barest turning up of his lips at the corners in something closer to a smirk than a smile. It was an impish look, and it did nothing to help clear up the mystery that was Trowa.

And Quatre...the Arabian boy was as open with his emotions as Duo himself. He just wasn't as loud about it. Duo wondered to this day how Quatre managed to retain such a sence of absolute innocence even in the face of all they'd been a part of. It was an amazing feat, and more often than not, Duo found himself deeply envious of the blonde boy's talent.

Duo sighed. Then...there was Heero Yuy, the Perfect Soldier. More often than he'd like to think, he found his thoughts turning to Heero. He wasn't sure why, but the steely-eyed boy occupied his mind a great deal of the time. Heero. The perfect soldier, former pilot of Wing Zero, Oz's bane on many an occasion, Mariemeia's downfall. Weapons specialist, saboteur extrodinaire, skilled, gifted fighter...and psychotic, suicidal nutjob. Duo sighed. He couldn't count the number of times he'd seen Heero almost get killed - on purpose, by his own hand - on both hands. Hell, he was sure he couldn't count that number even if he took off both shoes and his socks. And that number equaled the number of times that Duo had felt his heart nearly stop at the thought of the end of the perfect soldier. The number of times he'd fought down panic while he and the others waited for the smoke to clear, waited to find out if Heero would be lifting himself from the broken carcass of whatever it was had just exploded around him...waited to find out if his best friend was dead. He wondered vaguely, his thoughts taking a bitter twist, whether or not Heero was worried about Duo now at all. Or whether he was just glad for the quiet. Probably more likely to be the second one. Duo let his head thump back against the hard wall of his cell once more, staring off into the darkness. He wondered how long it would be until Oz came for him. And vaguely, he wondered what they would do when they did.

----------

"Heero. We can't just leave him there!"

There was no response from the perfect soldier. Heero went about his task despite Quatre's vehement protests, setting the explosives like they'd been sent to do.

"You know as well as the rest of us that we don't have a lot of time before they..." he trailed off, struck by the intensity of Heero's steel-eyed stare.

"He chose to split off. Maxwell can get himself out of that hole," Heero said. He'd been absolutely seething since they'd found Duo's radio and equipment lying in a hallway several meters from where they'd been when he'd split.

Quatre's face shifted into an uncharacteristic scowl. "You KNOW it's not that simple, Heero...if he could have gotten out, he would by now."

Heero stood up, his eyes still hard. "One of these days, that braided idiot is going to get us all killed doing this," he said vehemently. "Rescue him if you want, but I've got work to do."

Quatre was stunned. He'd never seen Heero this angry at Duo before. The pair had of course had their arguments, but there had never been such fury in Heero's voice before.

"Come on, Quatre," Trowa said in his always-quiet voice. "I'll cover you."

Quatre nodded. Wufei went with them. He had no desire to get in Heero's way and risk a loss of the perfect soldier's temper. Stubborn the Chinaman might have been, but stupid he definitely was not.

Heero continued his work for a few more moments and then stood up straight, glaring balefully at the unoffending wall before slamming a fist into it. "Goddamnit, Duo," he murmured quietly, some of the rage slipping from his voice. He hadn't been able to explain his anger to the others.

He was scared. This Oz facility was different than the others. It was a disposal facility. It was where the enemies of Oz wound up when they were slated for "disappearing." He'd been told in their mission briefing. In a separate message, encrypted for his eyes only. That was what terrified him. These bastards, an organization that could make an enemy disappear without a trace - and the reason so many people Heero had known were going missing, no doubt - now had Duo Maxwell as a prisoner. Even just thinking about the possibilities of what might happen to Deathscythe's former pilot made his blood boil and his heart pound. He reached up, one finger to the button of the radio receiver in his ear. "Zero-Four, Zero-Three. Get back here and finish laying the eggs. Going after Zero-Two. Report in when eggs are laid."

"Roger," came Quatre's startled voice. "We'll be back to camp in three."

As soon as they'd returned, Heero set off, gun in hand, to fish Duo out of his mess...and hopefully Heero would get there in time.

----------

Unfortunately, a prompt arrival would not be in Heero's fortune.

Duo was hooked up to something that looked to be part polygraph, part torture chamber. His face was bruised and bleeding, one eye swollen shut; he'd been beaten severely in between the time of his capture and the time of his attachment to the torture device. "Name," said the man at the controls.

"Mary Ann fuckin' Margaret," Duo gritted from between clenched teeth. His witty comeback was rewarded with a harsh electric shock that made his body seize and shudder. He swore as it wore off, blinking rapidly to clear the spots from his vision.

"Name," the man said again.

But Duo never told a lie. Well, they hadn't said WHOSE name Duo had to give. "George Washington." He'd so far disappointed them by refusing to scream no matter how much voltage they'd given him.

Another jolt. "Name."

"James T. Kirk."

A jolt, and then a sigh. "This is pointless," the man said, pressing an intercom button. "He refuses to cooperate."

"And you're surprised by this?" Duo replied hoarsely, lifting his head weakly to gaze with glassy eyes at his torturer. "You've given me SO much motivation." Even as sore and exhausted as he was, Duo couldn't bring himself to pass up a chance to nag at his captors.

"I would think pain is a motivator for almost anything."

"That's where you're wrong. Pain leads to death...and death is MY job." Duo grinned weakly. "Shinigami decides, you know...and you're going to witness it first-hand when I get out of here."

The man smirked. "No one escapes from this facility...unless it's in a pine box." He pressed a button on his panel, and this time Duo did scream. Thousands of volts of electricity surged along Duo's veins, sending fire through every nerve ending the pilot possessed. His eyes were open wide, pupils shrunk to tiny pinpricks in his pain-filled, blue-violet eyes. He screamed until his voice was ragged and hoarse, less a scream and more a tearing, rasping whimper.

After an agony of pain, the man let go of the button, and Duo sagged down against the table he was strapped to. As the Oz soldiers unstrapped him and prepared to cart him back to the cell, he heard the man speak into the intercom again. "Prisoner number three-five-seven-zero-two non-responsive to questioning, and hereby slated for termination at twenty-three hundred hours." As Duo blacked out, the thought came to him. That was little more than half an hour from now. He bid a silent farewell to his friends, apologizing for getting them into this situation in the first place. He couldn't help but note the irony. Death would die at last.

----------

Heero had snapped the necks of three guards in the prison block after pumping them for information concerning Duo. He'd found out that prisoner number three-five-seven-zero-two was due for execution in just under twenty minutes. The revelation had set Heero's heart to racing, the adrenaline pumping through his veins and carrying with it a sense of desperation. If he didn't get Duo out of there in time, his best friend...one of only four people Heero felt he could trust his life with...would die. He scowled, resolute, and picked his way silently through the prison block with perfectly calculated movements, his access successful. He located Duo's cell and picked the lock on the door, letting it swing wide open. He fought back his shock at the scene inside. Duo lay in a crumpled, bleeding heap on the floor of his cell. His face was bruised and swollen, one eye so badly hurt that it was swollen shut. His lip was puffy and split, clothing and hair charred and smoking around the edges. He was also very unconscious and covered in a thin sheen of sweat. Heero holstered his gun and pressed a finger to the button of the radio receiver. "Zero-Three, Zero-Two has been located. Leaving the lair now."

"Acknowledged," came Trowa's quiet voice. "Watchtower active. Proceed with caution."

Heero nodded, breaking the transmission, and knelt beside the braided boy. He was almost afraid to touch him; afraid he'd hurt Duo more. Part of him realized that he'd hurt Duo badly enough already and had no right to add to the pain. He shook his head, dismissing that thought. There was no time for such foolishness. As carefully as possible, he lifted the slightly built form into his arms and darted from the cell, tearing back the way he'd came, down the deserted hallways to the others...and to Heero, a path that might ultimately lead...to salvation.

----------

The first thing that hit Duo's consciousness was the sensation of something cool being pressed against a throbbing ache over his right eye. The second thing that hit Duo's consciousness was the sight, when he opened his left eye, of Heero sitting at his beside rubbing a cold cloth gently over Duo's wounds, cleaning and bandaging with the same care that a mother would have for her child. Duo's cracked lips parted. "Heero..."

"Shh," the perfect soldier soothed. "We're home. Back at the safehouse...Quatre and the others took care of it. The mission was a success."

Duo fought the temptation to fall asleep again, frowning blearily at Heero. He hurt all over, like someone had rubbed a red-hot poker all over his body. Every nerve felt raw and exposed. And that was just physically. Emotionally...waking up seeing Heero tending so gently to his injuries...Duo couldn't help but feel like he'd just been sucker-punched. Was this the same Heero that he'd come to know over a two-and-a-half-year span? The same Heero who used such brief, curt speech with him? The same Heero that couldn't stand Duo's teasing, his jokes, his barbs? He reached up with one bandaged hand and pulled Heero's own hand away from his forehead. "Heero...are you...all right?" The question was out before the braided pilot could pull it back.

"I'm fine, Duo," when Heero spoke again it was with the same quiet, soft voice he'd used to report the mission status; a tone that Duo had never heard before...something gentle. "In much better shape than you are."

Duo grunted. "I was beaten and tortured, Heero...there are old cars in the scrap heap that are in better shape than I am."

"Which is why you should just shut up and get some rest."

Duo sighed, wincing. Damn. Note to self. Lungs hurt. "Heero..." he said the name again. "I...I'm sorry...I shouldn't have split...I could have gotten us all killed."

Heero shook his head. "Don't worry about it. Note for next time. The next mission."

Duo blinked. It might have been the pain, but it seemed like Heero was being a lot more forgiving than he should have been. "Are you sure you're okay? You didn't get hit in the head while we were out there?"

"Yes, Duo. I'm all right...you should rest, you've been through quite a bit." The steely blue eyes were soft; worried. He'd been afraid, the braided boy was slowly coming to realize. He'd been afraid for Duo's life. "We can talk later, when you're feeling well."

Duo nodded. Truth be told, he was having to fight to keep his good eye open; exhaustion had hit him like a ton of bricks and his mind kept threatening to shut down entirely. Mumbling his thanks to the perfect soldier, he stopped fighting the urge and dropped off almost immediately to sleep, head sagging lightly to one side as his body relaxed against the mattress.

Heero finished cleaning the cuts on Duo's face and applied bandages where necessary before sliding back into his chair and pulling a blanket up over himself. He too had been worn out by the mission they'd undertaken, and it was only moments later that the perfect soldier was asleep with his chin drooped forward against his chest.

----------

Duo remained unconscious for two days. The beating and torture he'd been put through had taken such a toll on his body that he'd not so much as moved after falling asleep. Heero had awoken to find Duo muttering in his sleep, and the nightmare Duo was experiencing had gotten so severe that the only thing that had been able to help put a stop to it had wound up being Heero. The perfect soldier had wound up sitting in the bed with his arms tightly around Duo's shoulders. At one point, Duo had begun to weep quietly, his tears soaking through Heero's shirt, hot and wet against his skin. The perfect soldier had sighed and rocked Duo back to sleep, all the while murmuring reassuringly in the boy's ear.

That was how Duo woke up. He blinked the sleep from his eyes - the right one finally deciding to open a slit - and tried to reorient himself against his pillow. The pillow that, oddly enough, felt a lot harder than it had when he'd fallen asleep. His face turned beet red when he realized that Heero was his current pillow, and that Duo had been cradled against him like a weeping child.

Duo waited for the discomfort to set in, for his face to get hot in embarrassment, for the predictable fidgets to begin as he grew more and more uneasy with his current position, and was mildly surprised in the back of his mind when he realized that he was perfectly comfortable right where he was.

"Good morning," Heero said, in tones hushed and appropriate to the early hour. The clock's glowing red face read seven-thirty-two in digital numbers, and the first rays of the morning sunlight were finally reaching the north-facing window. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I got run over with a bus," Duo croaked, "and then somebody picked up the bus and beat me over the head with it."

Heero cracked a faint smile - he'd been loosening up by fractions ever since the five pilots had begun their association together those two and a half years ago - and nodded. "Perfectly understandable considering you were beaten and tortured...do you need something for the pain?"

Duo waved him off. "Nah...it's not THAT bad." He cracked a grin. "You know how I exaggerate."

"For someone who has stated point blank that he never tells a lie, you somehow manage to stretch the truth to fit your means."

"I'm creative."

"Among other things."

Duo's good eye widened slightly. Heero was teasing him? That fact in and of itself was grounds for hell freezing over. "So, uh...Heero. The mission was a success?" he asked, deciding to test things a little.

Heero nodded. "Between Trowa and myself with Quatre and Wufei looking out for us, and the rescue, we got everything done." He paused, and Duo started to let a breath out. Isolated incident. And then Heero spoke again. "Even your half of the work."

If he'd been standing up, Duo would have fallen over. His blue-violet eyes widened. "Heero...are you sure you're feeling all right? You didn't get hit in the head at some point?" He paused. "Or I didn't get hit in the head..." he muttered as a second alternative.

The corners of Heero's lips twitched upward. "I'm fine, Duo. But if you ever scare me like that again, I WILL kill you."

Even through the haze of shock, Duo managed to quip, "That's what you keep telling Relena."

"Yes. But with you I mean it. If you EVER do something that goddamn stupid again, I will put a bullet in your head."

Duo couldn't help but swallow. His mouth was dry, throat closed. When Heero got that look...he meant it. He meant every last word. And Duo couldn't help but ask. "Heero...why?"

"Because it pisses me off when my friends do damn fool things like that," Heero snapped back, though those weren't the words he had planned on saying. The ones he HAD planned on saying had died in his throat. There was too much danger in what would have been said.

But Duo wasn't so naive. "Heero..." he started, trailing off and shaking his head. He'd seen the emotion behind the steely blue eyes even though Heero hadn't said what Duo knew he wanted to. "I'm sorry," he finally whispered. He sat up, and, resting one hand against Heero's face, turned his chin so the perfect soldier was forced to look at him. "And I know."

Heero's eyes widened. The pilot of Wing Zero stared. How could Duo know what he himself hadn't until that mission? When Heero had realized what Duo being in enemy hands on that base meant, his heart had dropped into his shoes. A heart whose existence the perfect solder had never allowed himself to acknowledge. A heart that, for all intents and purposes, may as well have been dead and cold. His resolve broke. "I was terrified, Duo," he mumbled, voice quavering with an uncharacteristic hint of instability. "That place...we were sent to destroy it because it's where they take people like us to make them disappear. It's the place where people like us wind up so we can be quietly killed out of the press's spotlight." The steely eyes grew hard. "And I was angry because I was afraid. I've never been afraid of anything in my life. And the first time I was, I wasn't afraid for myself...I was afraid for you."

Duo had gone very quiet during Heero's trembling explanation. The braided pilot was now staring at the ground, something akin to shame making his face burn.

"If you had gotten killed..." Heero trailed off, shaking his head, a whisper of the impassive mask back on his face. "I would have found a way to bring you back just so I could kill you myself for being so foolish."

It was no secret that Duo was bad at relationships with any hint of depth to them. After losing so many, seeing those he loved at the church and elsewhere taken from him, he'd developed a shell...a protective wall inside to keep himself from getting hurt. It had been a logical, predictable, understandable reaction to an inordinate amount of pain he'd been handed and simply couldn't process. The wall, however, had never come down. Not even when he'd come to realize that the four other boys he'd developed friendships with were just as good at what they did as he was, and therefore likely to be able to stay alive despite horrific odds. He'd spoken with Quatre about it before, during one of his rare introspective moments. The blonde boy had understood. But then, Quatre understood everybody.

Heero had been speaking again. He trailed off when he realized that Duo's thoughts were nowhere near what Heero was saying. He nudged Duo's arm, unable to see the boy's eyes from beneath the curtain of his chestnut bangs. "Are you still in there?" the perfect soldier asked curiously.

Silence was the only reply.

Heero reached out, laying one hand lightly on Duo's shoulder, and almost drew back in shock when he felt the slight, almost imperceptible trembling of the other boy's shoulders. Something crystaline and wet dropped from Duo's face onto the hands that were clenched tightly around the bedsheets, and Heero felt his mouth go dry.

Duo was crying. The wall inside had finally shattered, leaving him raw and exposed to every emotion running rampant through his heart and mind, and he'd been totally unprepared for the intensity of what he felt. More clear tears fell from his eyes, though his sobs made not a single sound.

Heero swallowed. He had not a clue what to do. Duo was the one with the constant smile, the ready pat on the back for whichever one of his friends was down and out, the quick joke to make someone's day just a little lighter. To see him like this...

After a long, stretched moment in time, Heero took a deep breath and pulled Duo back down against his chest. In what he hoped was a comforting gesture, he began to rock slightly back and forth, hoping to soothe the boy's discomfort. He set his chin atop Duo's head, absently stroking his unbound hair. What words he could offer, he wasn't sure. Little did he know that his mere presence alone was a greater balm to Duo's tortured heart than anything anyone could have ever offered.

They sat wordless for what felt like an eternity before the shaking finally slowed, neither one willing to speak and break the silence. Finally, Duo lifted his head, and tossed a sad smile to Heero. "Guess we all crack eventually, right, buddy?"

Heero didn't reply to that. Instead, before Duo could speak again, he'd tilted the braided boy's chin back and placed a gentle, careful kiss to his lips.

Duo's eyes were wide when Heero finally pulled back, the blue-violet orbs holding entire worlds of emotion. His mouth opened, but no sound came out. He cleared his suddenly tight throat and tried to smile. "Maybe I should scare you more often," he murmured.

"Duo Maxwell, I said it once before and I'll say it again...you are going to be the death of me." Heero just shook his head, giving up. Duo was as unchangeable as any mountain and just about as stubborn.

Duo cracked a real smile then, looping his arm around Heero's waist and getting comfortable. There was a trace of undeniable smugness in his eyes when he spoke next. "That's only appropriate, you know. Shinigami can't have you getting killed on someone else's terms."

"I ought to hit you," Heero said. "But I think I'll wait until you're well. It's no fun kicking a cripple."

Duo choked on his retort. That quip was so out of character for Heero that it had caused Duo's train of thought to derail rather spectacularly. He could see the tiny Hazmat crews in his brain giving up, washing their hands of the entire situation, and calling it a day. "Heero, you have SO been around me too long," he mumbled.

Heero nodded in agreement, trying to sound stern when he spoke. "I think so..." but something in his voice betrayed him. "But it could be worse."

"Define worse."

"I could be taking after Wufei."

"Oh please no," Duo said fearfully. "The LAST thing I need is two of him running around. Trying to loosen up one of him is hard enough."

Duo didn't see the little smile that hit the corners of Heero's mouth then. He settled back against Heero's chest, also missing the almost imperceptible darkening of the Japanese boy's face. Duo got comfortable and peered up at his best friend. "So what does this mean for us?"

Heero shook his head, his arms having wound around Duo's middle of their own accord - without, it seemed, waiting for him to figure it out. "I don't know." And he didn't like not knowing.

Duo thought about it for a minute. "One day at a time," he finally murmured. "Why try to overthink things? We just got one thing straight. Let's not screw it up."

Heero thought about this. "One day at a time..." he nodded. "All right."

Duo smiled, sinking back down against Heero as a wave of exhaustion overcame him. He was nowhere near healed from his ordeal, and the short exchange with Heero had sapped what little strength he had left.

"Sleep now," Heero said, as usual knowing just what was going through his friend's mind. "We can talk later."

Duo nodded, lacking the strength to argue. Moments later, his head sagged to the side, breathing deepening and becoming regular and even.

Heero gazed down at him, a thoughtful look in his blue eyes, eyes that had lost the steely mask of protection. The walls had come down, and for once...the hurt wasn't there. Heero had taken the plunge off the metaphorical ledge and had come out of it with an unbroken heart. He couldn't help but be a little dazed by how accepting Duo was. And as he thought about it, he realized that even if there had been nothing from the braided boy in return, he never would have been judged, rejected, turned away...that wasn't who Duo was. Duo was a friend. A confidant. Always accepting of his friends, no matter what. Heero leaned back against the wall behind the bed, cradling the sleeping youth close and feeling oddly protective and perfectly content. There would be other missions, to be sure, but the fear, the anger, the pain...they were all gone. Comforted by that knowledge and the presence of the boy sleeping in his arms, Heero put his head back against the wall and shut his eyes, falling asleep for the first time in two days, finally secure, finally safe...

Finally home.