So I absolutely hated this story after I wrote it, but I decided to put it up anyway. Then, less than a day after I posted it, I got a glorious review from a very kind soul who really liked the story... so, Daphne Pessanha, this is for you... I'm really touched that you liked this story so much. I hope that this chapter doesn't let you down.

And no, I still don't own them... double poop.

Strange Ways

It wasn't until Heero rounded the corner away from Maxwell that he let himself crumble against the wall. Cradling his head in his hands, his thoughts wandered to how many times he'd wished he could kiss Duo and explain to the braided boy how much he loved him, but it couldn't happen... and now that he knew Duo felt the same, it broke his heart.

/ I've got strange ways

But it won't take long my friend

I'm telling you someday baby I'll be gone./

Nothing could come of it, no matter how hard he wished for it. They were in the middle of a war, and that was no place for romance. He didn't have to do the math to know that his chances of escaping the war alive were slim to none, why start something to only have it end in heartbreak? So he bided his time, trying his best to ignore and discourage Maxwell in his efforts to befriend him. It was agony and torture to do so, when all he wanted was to keep Duo next to him forever. It just wasn't meant to be.

/I've got no one

But it won't take long my friend

I'm telling you someday baby I'll be gone./

Heero had been alone for as long as he could remember. Certainly Dr J. had trained him, as had Odin Lowe, but they were mentors, men who stole his childhood from him and thrown him into a very adult world of murder and war. He'd never had friends, nor comrades... not until Duo came storming into his life.

(I'm telling you someday I'll be gone)

It was kinda funny if you thought about, which Heero did often. The first time he'd met Duo, he got shot. But instead of leaving Heero to rot in a hospital, Duo'd sprung him, sweeping him away from harm. Ever since then, it was as if Duo could read his mind. They worked flawlessly together – an unbeatable team that had OZ trembling, but on a deeper level, Duo knew whenever Heero was hurt, whether physically or emotionally, it didn't matter. Even when Heero tried his best hide if, the God of Death saw right through him, offering a lop-sided grin or an arm around the shoulder.

/God bless you
For being by my side when I fell through

You could hear me
You've got Internet gateways through my world./

You know, for a God of Death, Duo was life itself. He bounced everywhere, quirking a devil-may-care grin and oozing cocky confidence. It was impossible to not notice him. It was impossible to ignore him. It was frustrating, wanting to be free like him, to be free with him, but knowing that he just couldn't. So he lived like a sponge, soaking in all the Duo he could before... well, before the end.

/God bless you
I'm feeliing all the force you're closing in./

He comforted himself with the thought that Duo didn't care for him the way that Heero wanted. He'd told himself time and time again that Duo was straight and not interested just to keep his heart from thundering out of his chest when Duo'd wrap an arm around him. That thought was the glue that held his mask in place, and Duo just peeled it away.

Did Duo know what he'd just done? He'd just torn apart every defense Heero'd had? Heero stared in awe at his hands as they trembled. He felt bare and exposed. That kiss... it had been like sucking on a nine volt battery. His lips were still tingling. He hadn't known what to do when he'd been cornered by the one thing he wanted most and feared most in this world.

/Take it easy

You dock at my side when I'm on fire./

Hitting him wasn't really a reaction, more of a reflex, and Heero regretted it with every fiber of his soul. What else was he to have done? It was better to stop him now, keep him from getting anymore attached than he already was.

(But he was attached!) his heart screamed at him.

(Nothing can come of it, it would only cause him pain.) He though back logically, trying very hard to not hurt.

(By punching him in the face? By turning him down and breaking his heart? What pain did you save him from? You don't know for certain you'll die, and even if you do, wouldn't you want to be with Duo until the end? Isn't that love? Go to him... tell him how wrong you were. Save him, Heero, he's in pain.)

It was like manacles were suddenly released from his soul. It was love. It was love that he felt for Duo, and it was love, wanting to be with some one until the end, no matter how grim things get. He stood suddenly from the wall, his heart beating a fierce tattoo in his chest, his mind racing with his epiphany. He only hoped that he hadn't ruined his chance.

Coming back around the corner of the hall once more, he saw Duo still laying right where he'd left him. His eyes were empty and dull, and his face was horrifyingly blank. Just the sight of him made Heero's heart break.

Kneeling next to the prone body of Death himself, he rested a warm, yet shaky hand on Duo's shoulder. He searched his mind for the right words to say, a way to explain himself, but nothing came to mind, so he simply opened his mouth, hoping that somehow the truth would surface.

"I've got strange ways..." His voice seemed to startle Duo, bringing wide, frightened, violet eyes to his own. He tried to speak more gently, his voice barely above a whisper, "Sometimes, I lose it," (I lose) "Don't know where I'm going." (don't know) "But I do hope you follow all the way."

It didn't seem possible, but Duo's eyes widened more, a pale hand reaching to touch Heero's own. A thousand questions swam in those eyes, and Heero didn't know where to begin, so he followed his heart and let his emotions guide him. "You've been a mystery to me since I met you, and no matter how hard I tried, I could never figure you out. No matter how I treated you, you kept coming back, refusing to give up on me. You weren't afraid of me. You always knew when I needed you, never giving up even when I pushed you away. You knew me better than I knew myself."

He searched Duo's eyes, trying to find some sign that his words were sinking in, but nothing surfaced, just confusion and pain. He had to turn his own eyes away from Duo's – they were too painful to look at, but he pressed on. He had to say his peace, even if Duo didn't want him anymore, he had to say it. "The day I realized I loved you scared me. I wasn't supposed to feel. But you made me, and I, well, I liked it. But I couldn't tell you, you couldn't know because I'm not supposed to survive. I'm not going to survive this war. I didn't want to hurt you," he turned his eyes back to Duo's, bringing a gentle hand to his face, tracing the already swelling cheekbone, "but I did anyway, didn't I?"

/God bless you
For being by my side when I fell through

You could hear me
You've got Internet gateways through my world./

"What changed?"

Heero blinked in surprise at the sound of Duo's voice, but he managed to answer him solidly, "I did. You changed me. You don't know it, but you're turning what was stone into a heart. I can't ignore it anymore, Duo. I love you."

A sad smile fell gracefully onto Duo's face, "I love you too, Heero. I have for a long time."

Heero couldn't restrain himself any longer, and let his head swoop to Duo's, brushing his lips gently across that sad smile, asking for permission, asking for forgiveness. Duo returned the kiss tenderly, and both boys suddenly felt strangely complete, as if they'd stumbled across some piece that they'd never known was missing.

When Duo pulled away, the mischievous look was back in his eyes, weak, but back. His voice came out lightly, but it held a great deal of seriousness, "I swear though, Yuy. You hit me one more time and I'll get Quatre to go Zero-System on your ass." He smiled warmly, and his eyes softened as he continued, "We're friends, Heero, and I love you. If the war takes us, it takes us. We knew that walking in. We can only enjoy what we have and hope we can keep it. Please don't shut me out again."

"I won't, I promise."

Hey look! It ended all happy-like. I was beginning to think I was cursed to write sad stories for a while there. Anyway.. I hope that I didn't ruin it or let anyone down. I did the best I could