Former Owner

Relena gets what she always wanted.

Warning: A deathfic, don't read if this disturbs you.

Heero was in the kitchen when Relena came in. He didn't remember having given her a key. He had been sleepless and had risen early rather than lie abed. He never slept well alone, and Due was late home. So he'd got up, and not sure what else to do at four o clock in the morning, had decided to bake bread. Duo loved coming home to the smell of freshly baked bread that they would break apart and eat together. They always ate breakfast together, and Heero wouldn't eat it without Duo. "I'm so sorry," she said, and Heero looked at her, trying to find out what she was apologising for. She looked distraught, surely she couldn't be that upset that he was up, at worst he had caught her stalking him. He had thought that she had outgrown it, or Milliardo was right and she'd given him up as a lost cause. "Oh, Heero, I'm so sorry."

"Why are you apologising?" He asked, "I was already awake."

"I'm so sorry," she said, and now he looked closer there were dried tear stains on her cheek. Unlike Heero Relena was not a morning person, she mustn't have slept the night before.

"It's all right," he said, opening his arms to her to offer her a friendly hug. He hadn't hated her in some time, he was too happy with Duo to make such a little thing as Relena affect his happiness. He could offer her comfort.

She almost collapsed into his arms, "I'm so sorry, Heero, I'm so sorry."

"It's all right," he murmured into her hair, "It's all right."

She looked up at him, her blue eyes were full of tears and her lip was quivering, she had wrapped her arms about his waist. "I'm so sorry."

"Heero." Milliardo said from the door. "I'm sorry."

Heero looked at Milliardo, his long blonde hair was pulled back from his face, and like Relena he looked tired. Heero hadn't even noticed the presence of his former enemy in his own kitchen. He had grown soft. "Why is everyone apologising?" Heero asked.

"It's Duo." Milliardo said quietly. "There was an accident."

Heero was glad that Relena had her arms about his waist because it was the only thing that stopped him falling, he collapsed to his knees but she held him steady as he let out a sound that was more animal than human. "I'm so sorry." Relena wept in his ear, "I'm so sorry."

"I identified the body." Milliardo said quietly, his tone was even and bitter. It wasn't something he had ever wanted to do, something in all his life he would never want to tell Heero. "I," the words were gone, he didn't want to keep apologising like Relena, he wanted to say something but he didn't know what. "I thought that they'd phoned you to let you know." He was babbling.

Heero was howling. He couldn't believe it. They were wrong, but he couldn't stop screaming. There was no tears, no pain, just disbelief and the noise pouring from him almost against his own will. His hands were in his hair and he was tugging. No, it wasn't true, it couldn't be true. They were wrong, that was it, Milliardo had been mistaken. He was human, humans made mistakes, he had just got it wrong. Relena kept apologising, why was she crying when Heero couldn't? Relena hadn't loved him, Relena had barely known him.

He was just late, any moment he would walk through the door, he'd look around them and ask why they were having a party without waiting for him. Any time now Heero would hear his bike in the drive. It was just a matter of time. But no matter how much he wanted to believe that he couldn't stop the primal scream that was ripping itself from the back of his throat.

Milliardo crouched beside him. He took him by the hand, "come on, Heero, you need to rest. Duo wouldn't want you to make yourself sick. Come on." And not sure what else to do Heero let his enemy lead him. The war was over, Duo wasn't dead, they were wrong, they hadn't survived the war just for Duo to die in some stupid accident.

Heero let Milliardo put him to bed, he even let the man sit on the bed as he shuddered and shivered, trying to make sense of the emotions roiling within him. Unsure what else to do, he slept.

He dreamt as he always did, of Duo.

He was laying lengthways across the bed with his head pillowed on Heero's stomach. He was toying with the end of his braid. "Hey, Heero," he said turning his head, they were both only wearing shorts and Duo had his feet braced on the mattress and his knees raised. "If we adopt can we have a little girl?"

Heero raised an eyebrow and laughed at him, "sure, and what are we going to call her, will she be Yuy or Maxwell?"

Duo batted him with the end of his braid like it was a whip, "She'd be Maxwell-Yuy of course." He said patiently, but there was a sparkle in his orchid eyes and he was smiling, he reached behind him and twined his fingers with Heero's. "We could call her Relena."

Heero shuddered, "nothing against her but that is a terrible name." He said, using his free hand to cup Duo's face.

"How about Yelena then, it's pretty but she'd understand?" Duo asked. "Or we could call her Mei Lan, Wufei would like that."

"We'd have to ask him." Heero admitted as Duo rolled over unto his side to look up at him, Heero bent down and kissed him, "but you're right, he'd like that."

"I know the perfect name." Duo said bouncing up, he sat so he straddled Heero's stomach and bent down and kissed him lightly, once, twice and then a third name. "Any daughter of ours would have to be called Hope." He smiled again, and his smile was like a supernova burning inside Heero, "we'd call her Hope Mei Lan Yelena Helen Maxwell-Yuy."

Heero laughed, "that's an awfully big name for a little girl."

Heero woke retching.

The phone was ringing in the other room, he could hear Milliardo answer it, his voice deep and calm. Heero didn't know what else to do so he stayed where he was. Relena popped her head around the door and when she saw he was awake sat down on the edge of the bed. She never did anything, she just sat there.

The next few weeks flew by in a blur for Heero. Dr J came at some point and then there was nothing. He learned later that there was a sedative of some kind to force him to sleep. He missed Duo's funeral. He was told it was a lovely service. He was told that he was missed. He never went to the grave but he knew the inscription he had chosen, "I thought without you I would die, you're gone, alone most strangely I live on."

Throughout it all Relena was there, sometimes she held him because he needed to be held, sometimes she stroked his hair, and sometimes she did nothing. He lashed out at her, "it should have been you" he screamed, "it should have been me," but it hadn't been either of them, it had been Duo. Duo who was full of life and love and happiness, Duo who he had loved.

He stopped sleeping except when absolutely necessary because when he slept he dreamt and he dreamt of Duo and he couldn't bear it.

Relena did nothing when he hit her, beating his fists useless against her breast, she just wrapped her arms about him and laid her head against his. Heero came to admire her in that time, not for curing his grief for nothing would ever do that, but for trying when no one else did.

When he slept he dreamt of Duo.

They were lying in bed, almost always when he dreamt of Duo they were in bed, this time they were warmly completely pleased, tired and sleepy. "Hey, Hee-chan." Duo said, kissing his nose carefully, "if I die, I don't want you to mope for too long, a year maybe, and then I want you to find someone else."

Heero kissed him silent, "don't be stupid," he growled, "you're not going to die."

Duo pulled back, "we're at war, love," he said and Heero felt that distinctive flutter in his chest that he only got when Duo called him love, "things happen. I want you to be happy, even without me. And I want you to promise that you won't kill yourself either."

Heero turned and used his body to pin Duo down. "You're not going to die, I won't let you." He kissed him again, loving the taste of him. "Nothing is ever going to take you from me."

"And what if you die, am I supposed to find someone else?" Duo asked, but somewhere it had shifted from being serious to being playful.

"No," Heero said sharply, "you're mine, and I'm not sharing you with anyone else. ever." Duo's laughter had warmed his heart, even if he hadn't been joking.

He woke weeping.

Heero married Relena after just over a year. He never loved her, but he never claimed to. She said she was happy loving him. He closed the apartment that he shared with Duo up, he locked the door and just left it, unable to go in there, unable to sort out Duo's things for charity. He just locked the door and walked away. Duo was never coming back, but the things remembered, each thing in that place had been theirs and was rich with memory even if Heero couldn't bear it.

The wedding was a small affair. People commented that Duo looked distant, Quatre asked if it was too soon. Heero's empty stare almost shattered him. There was nothing left within him. "I owe." He answered, "she wants this."

"No one expects anything of you." Trowa said from the door, his hand on Quatre's shoulder. "Don't rush into anything."

Heero said nothing, he just continued to straighten his tie in the mirror. "Don't do this, Heero." Quatre pleaded, "it's too soon."

Heero turned and his face was full of hate, it was the first expression that they had seen on his face in a year, since Duo's death. He would never heal, they knew that, but he didn't have to do anything. He didn't have to marry Relena. "She wants this." Heero repeated. "She tried, damn it, don't you understand, she tried." His legs buckled under him for a moment. "Don't you think I know that she's not him? Don't you think I want it to be him?" Quatre put his arms around Heero's shoulders but Heero shrugged him away and straightened. "He's dead, Quatre, I'm not. I have to do this."

"You'll never stop loving him." Trowa said quietly. He was always quiet.

"No." Heero said, "she knows that. She says her love is big enough to keep her happy. It's what she always wanted."

"And what do you want, Heero?" Trowa pressed.

"He made me promise." Heero answered, his very heart in his voice, "that I wouldn't die, that I wouldn't be alone. He made me promise."

Quatre looked at Trowa, looking for some reassurance, some rock to cling to. His worst fear was losing him, and in the face of Heero's raw grief that never seemed to fade he was terrified. "I won't question your reasons for doing this," Trowa said, "but is it fair to her?" He asked.

Heero shrugged. "It's what she wants." He answered, "there's nothing of me left that cares, Trowa, I miss him."

"We all miss him." Quatre said, taking Heero's hand and giving it a light squeeze, then he reached over and kissed him on the cheek. "We loved him too, and we love you. Whatever your decision, Heero, we'll never stop loving you."

Heero married Relena regardless. But that night he dreamt of Duo.

Heero was stood behind him where he sat on the bench, he was brushing his hair. Nothing in the world gave him greater pleasure than brushing his hair. He always kept it bound tightly in the braid so it was chinked and tangled easily, it was fine and there was the hint of a curl in it. Duo was almost purring at the touch. Just as Heero loved brushing out his hair Duo loved having his hair brushed. Breakfast was on the tray, they always shared their breakfasts. Heero would wake and go for a run then bring breakfast with him when he came upstairs to shower. They would sit on the bed and share whatever he had bothered to make them. Sometimes it was extravagant with bacon and eggs and sausages and sometimes it was toast. That morning it was fruit salad and there was even a small pot of cream and a French press of coffee.

"You spoil me." Duo laughed, he was always laughing. He loved life and he just laughed with the joy of it. "If I was to spend forever with you I would end up fat." He laughed.

"Then you'd just have to come running with me, koi." He always called Duo koi, love.

"I was thinking," Duo said winking up at him when he leant his head back, "you know how you call me koi, love?" he was smirking and he loved watching that moment of almost discomfort when he called Heero love, that moment when his heart fluttered and his stomach lurched, he felt so blessed that Duo loved him. "I thought of a name for you."

Heero reached down as Duo leant back, and kissed him on both eyes and then on the mouth, "yes?" he asked.

"Hmm," Duo said, savouring that he had been kissed. "Perfect."

Heero woke up to a head of blonde hair that was almost the right colour, almost but not quite. He went into the bathroom and locked the door. He showered for over an hour whilst he sobbed. He didn't want her to see him like this, not now, not after all this time.

Heero made the perfect politician's wife. He entertained and when he did he was urbane and witty. He seemed a different man when the other politicians were around. He laughed at their jokes. He smiled.

When he cleaned away the dishes he looked at his wife, at how she stared at him. "You need to have a child." He said bluntly, when they were alone the mask fell away and he was as he always was, almost absent. "It would help your career."

"Then first thing in the morning we'll see about adoption." She said, turning to walk away.

"Then they will question which of us cannot have children. It's time, Relena." Yet in her bed it was of Duo he dreamed. The long lithe lengths of Duo's flanks and thighs. It was Duo's hair that sprawled across the bed, and it was Duo's eyes that smiled at him.

They called their daughter Faith.

When Relena said she loved him Heero told her that she was wrong.

Their life together was comfortable but Relena knew where she stood, after twenty years of marriage she knew how things were between them. She loved Heero, and in his own way he loved her too, but not like he loved Duo. She went to his grave weekly, she made sure it was perfectly kept, and she laid a rose on it for Heero though he would have hated that she had. He never spoke of Duo, at least not to her.

Quatre and Trowa had adopted a little girl, Heero had asked that they name her for Duo, Noin had told her, they had agreed and called the little girl Hope.

"He'd be happier dead, you know." She said, sitting on the blanket that she laid beside the grave. "I gave up competing with you when you were alive. I tried, Duo, to make him happy." Her voice wasn't sad, just resigned. "He'll never give you up, you should never have made him make that promise." She looked at the name and dates on the tombstone and those strange words, "I thought that without you I would die, you're gone, alone most strangely I live on."

"He dies a little everyday, he forgets and then he makes you coffee then he loses you all over again. I never could compete with that." She sighed, pulling a loose petal off the roses. "I only wanted to make him happy, you know that don't you? I couldn't steal him when you're alive, so I took him now you're dead." She could feel her lashes heavy with tears and the back of her throat ached with tightness. "You never let him go, did you, Duo, he said I owned his heart now, what was left of it." She lowered her eyes, "you're the former owner, Duo, and he loves you, still loves and not loved. Part of me wants to kill him just so he'd be happy with you. He dreams of you every night. He was with you for four years and with me for twenty but yours is the name he calls out. I'm not jealous, I'm resigned. I got what I wanted, Duo, but it was always yours."