Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and all it's drop dead gorgeous bishounen don't belong to me. -.- Sigh.
Altered Warnings for this chapter: Shounen ai, AU, 1+2, plenty of blood, angst, graphic violence, and at least some form of death. *shrugs*
Night of the New Moon
Part 8 "No Fury…"
Sofie came running through the patio doors still in her nightclothes as Wufei and Okada neared the back of the Inn. "Good heavens! Quickly, inside!" She opened both doors and stood back allowing them to walk through with their heavily injured burden. Sofie took one look toward the cliffs and raised a hand over her mouth. She closed her eyes and addressed Okada as he passed her, "did 'she' do this?" Okada shook his head, "apparently Wufei was right. The man was after their lives and Heero had to defend himself."
She opened her eyes but didn't dare look back outside. Taking a deep breath, she walked inside and closed the doors behind her. Quickly moving ahead of them, she kneeled in front of Heero. "Can you tell me where you've been injured, Heero-san?" Even as she asked, her eyes were roaming over his body, taking in his condition, assessing his injuries at a glance before she would allow herself to examine him properly. When Heero nodded and began relaying his long list of injuries, Wufei caught Okada's eye. "We'll have to dispose of the body." Okada was silent several moments before he sighed.
"No, I cannot do that. I cannot have something like that on my conscience." Wufei paused, mulling that over. "… Would the police believe the ghost had done this? Or suicide? You understand we can't afford to tell them the truth." Okada smiled humorlessly, "what with everything that's happened here in the past… they'll believe anything I tell them." Wufei nodded and was momentarily surprised when he felt Heero lifted from his grasp. Sofie had pushed him aside and taken Heero into her arms. "We'll take him to his room for now but he will need a hospital."
"Iie," Heero began. Okada looked at him, "Heero's right, there is broken glass all over his room…" Heero glanced in Wufei's direction and even through his pain-fogged mind he was able to see the wheels turning behind the Chinese boy's eyes. "Wufei…" Wufei looked up to Heero after a moment and nodded. "Okada-san, please modify your log." Okada turned to him in surprise. "I need it to read that Heero and I left before the bounty hunter's arrival. If the authorities are as familiar with the rising of this ghost as you say, they might find holes in our story if we tell them she was responsible for this death so long after the new moon. You need to tell them that this was a suicide."
Okada nodded but Sofie frowned and shifted Heero in her arms. The bullet wound on his calf was still bleeding and she seemed eager to get moving. "If you two were not here when this happened then what of Heero? I don't want to move him from the Inn until I've examined him and if we're getting the police involved, we need to notify them quickly." She looked back toward the doors but what she hadn't said was clear. It would be far too suspicious if the body was left there for too long. "Can you treat him?" She glanced back to Wufei and frowned again. "For now, but he needs a hospital." Wufei shook his head. "Too risky." He turned to Okada, "they won't search the Inn will they?"
Okada shook his head. "Then take him to the basement and do what you can," he said turning back to Sofie. "We'll figure something out later if Heero needs more attention." Sofie nodded, albeit reluctantly, and rushed off with Heero drifting in her arms. "Wufei?" Okada looked at him almost as if he'd never seen him before. Wufei turned back to him, all business. "Get Relena. If it's to protect Heero, I know she'll agree. Make something up between the two of you and make sure Sofie is aware of the details. I'll go into the hunter's room and remove anything suspicious."
Okada nodded and Wufei started to walk down the hall but slowed suddenly and stopped. "… They'll want you to close the Inn won't they? They won't care whether or not it was her doing." He didn't turn around to look at Okada as he said it. Okada began walking toward the porch, "… hai. But I need it to be this way… maybe it's better this way." Wufei listened mutely as Okada opened the door and stepped out onto the porch to retrieve Relena. When the doors closed Wufei ran down the hall. They had business to take care of.
Wufei entered the bounty hunter's former room and began searching every inch of it for anything suspicious. After pulling a Beretta from under the mattress and two knives from inside the nightstand, he inspected the duffle that had been carelessly left on the bed. The hunter's entire arsenal appeared to be inside, along with a wallet full of fake ID's. Remembering which name Okada told him was in the log, he removed all other ID's and left the wallet on the nightstand. Dumping the gun and knives into the duffle, he walked over to the desk where a suitcase was laid out along side a laptop.
He searched the suitcase, removing another small gun and two floppy disks from the inside before he closed it. Sitting in the desk chair, Wufei opened the laptop and hacked his way into the system with ease. His expression darkened when he began looking through the files saved onto the hard drive. There was detailed information on all the Gundam pilots, including information taken (or perhaps given) from OZ, as well as information tracking Relena Peacecraft's movements from far before the bounty had been issued. The laptop also appeared to be connected to a wireless network that was sharing information.
Despite the implications, he knew that even if another bounty hunter with this information caught up with them soon, he now had an open door to their systems. He wasn't about to make it easy for them. Wufei quickly checked the disks and grinned. Apparently the bounty hunter had done a bit of digging and discovered the identity of the bounty's client. There was enough damaging information on the Romefeller officials here that Wufei felt satisfied they would soon be out of danger.
Wufei closed the laptop, grabbed the disks and slunk the duffle bag full of firearms over his shoulder. Quickly leaving the room, he rushed up the stairs to his room and burst through his door. Throwing the other items onto his bed, he opened the hunter's laptop on his dresser and went to the closet to retrieve his own things. Opening his bag, Wufei removed a red disk and threw it onto the dresser next to the laptop. Rushing back he pulled up a chair and established a secure connection to the colonies as fast as he could.
Within moments a vid window popped up with Master O's surprised face looking in. "Wufei? I didn't expect to hear from you for some time yet." Wufei sat back with a sigh and told him everything that been happening since his last contact... conveniently omitting Heero from the events. "… and if the information on this disk were to fall into the hands of the media, Romefeller would be ruined." Master O smiled not entirely innocently. "I'll make sure the information gets to where it needs to be." Wufei nodded and inserted the disk into the laptop. "Uploading information now." They waited until the information cleared and Master O nodded back to Wufei. "Will you need me to find another place for you in the meantime?"
Wufei shook his head, "not quite yet. I've got… some unfinished business here." Master O was silent a moment but nodded again and said, "If that is the case then I will be expecting to hear from you again soon. Out." His vid window winked out and Wufei removed the disk from the laptop and went to put it in his bag. He walked back to the dresser and grabbed the red disk he'd thrown onto it earlier. Inserting it into the A drive of the hunters computer, he reconnected to the network he'd just discovered and began uploading the virus from his disk.
While he waited for the upload to complete, he recovered all articles of clothing he'd placed in the drawers of his dresser or had lying about and stuffed them hurriedly into his travel bag. He laid that on his bed and left to the room next door. The door to Heero's room had been shot up near the handle and pushed all the way open. His room was a mess of glass and snow that had blown in through the broken patio doors. Wufei was glad to see Heero had had the sense to put his own travel bag into the closet, and it was therefore untouched. He zipped it open and quickly grabbed Heero's few meager belongings, stuffing them inside. He returned to his room shortly to find the upload had been successful and allowed himself a satisfied smirk. That would most definitely slow down the rest of the hunters on the network.
Wufei opened the basement door and walked down the stairs. He looked over the iron railing below him to see Relena sitting on a large box, facing Okada as he discussed something with her. Further behind them, Sofie knelt on the dusty floor and tended to Heero. She'd pulled an old mattress from out of somewhere and covered it with fresh sheets. Heero lay over them, stripped to his boxers and heavily bandaged. Sofie had just finished bandaging the wound on Heero's temple when she looked up to see him step onto the basement floor. Wufei was carrying Heero's and his duffle bags each over one shoulder. The hunter's duffle and laptop were in his arms. One look at Wufei however, and Sofie's eyes widened.
"Wufei!" Cursing softly she got up and nearly knocked Okada over as she rushed to him. She gave him a murderous glare as she yanked one of the duffle bags from his shoulder and he winced. "What the hell do you think you're doing?? Just because you're not falling down dead doesn't mean you have to abuse yourself like this." She grabbed his good arm and yanked him over to Heero's makeshift bed. Wufei pulled his arm out of her grasp and dumped his things at the foot of the mattress. "What is wrong with you, woman? I too have things I needed to take care of!"
She forcefully sat him down near Heero's feet and began unbuttoning his shirt. "You could've asked for help... an injured arm and you still think you can be lifting heavy things like this… and without so much as a bandage??" Once she'd undone his shirt half way, she yanked the collar down over his left shoulder and pulled his arm out none too gently. Wufei hissed. The dried blood had plastered the sleeve of his shirt to part of the wound and she'd peeled it off rather quickly as she removed his arm from the ruined shirt. Wufei glanced at the sleeve and noticed with some surprise that he'd bled over it so badly it looked as if he'd dyed the sleeve red. When…?
Wufei glanced back at Sofie as she began cleaning the wound and realized why she'd been so angry. He'd been so preoccupied with stabilizing the situation, instinctively slipping into the mind he'd needed as a Gundam Pilot, that he'd forgotten about and completely ignored his wounds. He winced and glanced back to his arm only to receive another surprise. The wound… was much bigger than he'd thought it was. "It looks as if the bullet only grazed you but it did quite a bit of damage as it passed. I want you to lay off it for a while and leave the heavy lifting to someone else."
Sofie finished bandaging his arm and sat back. She frowned at it and then to Heero, who lay quietly on the bed, and said, "I don't like this. It's the best I can do but you and Heero are going to need a hospital." She watched as Heero's face twisted into a grimace momentarily and he finally drifted off. "I'll need you to wake him once every hour, just to be certain. If that bullet had been just an inch to the left…" Wufei looked at the bandage around the other ex-pilot's head. She was right, they did need better help than this. Heero was ill and had a bullet in his calf. Wufei may not have had a bullet in his arm but the wound still hurt like a bitch.
It really said something about how tired Heero had to be to fall asleep in his condition. Wufei wasn't sure he'd be able to do it. He looked back to his newly acquired laptop and it hit him. "I know a way for us to get help without being discovered. I know someone who might be willing…" Sofie brightened considerably, "Medical attention?" Wufei nodded. "Excellent! See about that quickly. I have to go upstairs and wash up before the police get here." She was, of course, referring to the blood stains on her night dress from attending to their wounds. Sofie got up and headed for the door. At the foot of the steps, Okada placed a hand over her arm. "I've explained the details to Relena and she's agreed." Sofie nodded soberly and continued.
Okada finally turned to Wufei, "You will stay here with Heero I presume?" Wufei nodded. "I cleared out our rooms upstairs. If they go up there, I suppose you can tell them the storm blew the glass in and just hope they don't notice the door." He sighed and massaged his temple with his good hand. He was getting a headache. "You've called the police already then?" Okada grunted a silent affirmative to this, "ah, after I retrieved Darlian-san from the cliff. They'll be a while in getting here because of the snow storm." Wufei then shifted his gaze to Relena. He gave her a silent glare as she stared off into nothingness silently. At least by backing their story, she would finally come in useful.
Okada eyed Wufei worriedly, "you'll be alright?" "Aa," Wufei said nodding and glanced sidelong at Heero. "I'm not the one we have to worry about." Okada was silent a moment before he sighed. "I'll be heading upstairs now," said he rather tiredly. He passed in front of Relena which seemed to snap her out of her daze. She watched as Okada began the climb up the stairs and looked at Heero. She almost seemed to hesitate for a moment before she got up and started walking toward the mattress. Wufei glared at her as she approached, "you should go upstairs with Okada and meet the police."
She ignored him and stopped beside the mattress. Sofie had draped a blanket up to the too pale skin of Heero's chest. The golden cross dangled innocently from his neck, lying sidelong over his pillow. She stared at it a moment and reached out for it. The edge of a large blade rose an inch from her nose in a split second and she gasped, taking a step back. "…Did you hear me? You shouldn't be seen rising from the basement when they get here. It could put us all at risk." Relena looked at Wufei, "but… Heero's hurt…" "…all the more reason he doesn't need to see your face when he wakes up." She looked affronted. "W-who are you to decide anything for Heero?!"
Wufei's glare darkened, "If you'll remember, we only survived this war because we knew what had to be done for ourselves and our allies. Heero needs to rest. You will only *prove* you're a nuisance by hovering about and doing nothing useful." She was so offended, all she managed to do was stare at him for a moment. But Wufei watched as the look on her face turned to desperation, "I… I just wanted…" Wufei sighed internally and stood up, advancing on her with his sword still raised. "Get lost, woman. You annoy me." He colored the statement with a malice he was really too tired to feel but Relena seemed to get the picture. She turned around slowly and headed toward the stairs, giving Heero a last lingering look.
Wufei looked up at Okada who'd paused at the top of the stairs. The Inn keeper quickly opened the door and walked through but Wufei had caught the look of mild surprise on his face and knew he'd seen everything. This time, he did sigh. He simply didn't have the patience to humor that woman any more… and as long as Heero couldn't fend her off, he would do it for him. He looked at Heero's feverish, fitfully sleeping face and wondered when he'd become so protective of his friend… because friend he was. When Relena finally made it to the top and closed the door behind her Wufei collapsed at the end of Heero's mattress and pulled the laptop onto his lap.
He opened it and began establishing the secure connection he would need. He glanced sidelong at the other boy and silently hoped Heero would forgive him. He'd done so much to remain cut off from the others and deserved his privacy if that's what he wanted… but Wufei had run out of options. The laptop beeped to tell him the connection had been established and Wufei waited for it to be accepted. If this didn't work, he'd have to leave an e-mail message and he wasn't too happy about that idea. There was no telling how often he … Wufei's train of thought came to a halt when a vid window popped up on the screen and Quatre's wide, excited eyes met his own for the first time in weeks.
"Wufei! I'm so glad you're alright! I've been looking everywhere for you since the contract was announced. I was able to find Trowa but you and Heero were missing for so long I was beginning to fear the worst. Not even Doctor J can find Heero. Where have you…" "Quatre." A pained smile covered Wufei's face and it was that more than Wufei's interruption that quieted him. "It's nice to see you too. Heero is here with me." Quatre brightened, "How are the two of you?" Wufei sobered, "not good. That's what I'm calling about… we need your help." Quatre straightened and adopted a business like demeanor. "Explain," and Wufei did. He explained everything that had happened, ending with their current predicament and Heero's condition.
Quatre was stunned. "My god … of course I'll help you. Where are you right now?" Wufei gave him their exact location. "That's perfect. We're not far; Trowa and I are staying in one of my family's estates outside New York. We own a private hospital there. I can get you tended to no questions asked." Relief washed over him, "how soon can you be here?" Wufei asked. "I'll have a couple helicopters sent to the Inn immediately. I'll be going personally. It's still early so we may make it before noon…" Wufei glanced at his watch. He wasn't surprised to see it read one in the morning. "Can you wait a few hours? The police are not here yet and I don't know how long it will take them to clear out."
Quatre nodded, "how long can Heero hold out?" Wufei looked at the former pilot of Wing. Blood was seeping through the bandage around his head, it would need changing soon. Heero's face was pale with the exception of a slight feverish flush over his cheeks but he was still sleeping, undisturbed. It occurred to him that the bandage on his leg might also need changing soon. He turned back to Quatre, "his life isn't in danger." Quatre frowned. "That's not comforting. I'll send the helicopters at noon instead. We'll be there before nightfall." Wufei nodded. "I appreciate this." The Winner heir smiled in the vid window, "I'm glad to see you again, even under the circumstances and it's really no trouble."
Wufei nodded his thanks, "there's one last thing I have to ask. Can you keep Heero's whereabouts from the scientists? Heero is aware that Doctor J is looking for him and he would prefer not to be found. Master O doesn't know." Quatre didn't look in the least surprised, "I understand. Trowa and I will be the last to know until he chooses otherwise." "Arigatou, Quatre." Quatre smiled, "no thanks needed. See you in a few hours." Quatre's window winked out and Wufei canceled the connection. He closed the laptop and slipped it into his travel bag.
"Duo…" Wufei's head jerked back to Heero but the boy was still asleep. Heero shifted, grimacing in his sleep and then quieted. Wufei looked on in amazement. Even now, in pain and asleep, he called out for him. The Chinese boy leaned forward to rest his arms against his thighs as he looked at Heero with something akin to wonder. He was willing to go through all this because he'd found something worth holding onto. Something he hadn't been ordered to protect or value, but something he wanted to protect and value.
He looked away and gazed blankly at the dusty floor in front of him. Images of the people he'd valued and lost during the war flashed before his eyes. The war had stolen his family, his home... all the people he cared about. He closed his eyes when his memories brought him back to a grassy field and revealed the deceptively gentle face of the only woman in his life. He hoped Heero knew just how lucky he was. Because even if the one person who had managed to find a place in his heart had died long ago… Heero still had the chance to be with that important person. Maybe… maybe that was the real reason Wufei had stayed. To help his friend keep… what Wufei himself could not have.
"Suicide? A man's face is laying all over the cliff and I'm to believe he *wanted* to die that way??" Okada crossed his arms and nodded. The policeman, whose nametag read 'Bill', looked at Okada incredulously for moment before he shook his head and sighed deeply. He flipped through his notepad until he reached a previous page, "and this young lady was your only other guest?" "That's right." Relena chimed in, "and I saw everything. I looked out the window and saw him walk to the edge, and kill himself." Okada leaned slightly towards her and whispered, "you're window doesn't overlook the cove, Darlian-san." She smiled a bit, "I didn't say which window." The policeman yawned still looking through his notepad and failed to notice the exchange. He didn't really seem concerned with the minor details.
"You didn't see any strange apparitions or anything of the sort around Mr. … Jones when he shot himself?" Okada looked pointedly at her. "Of course not. I … don't believe in ghosts." She replied. That caught the man's attention and he raised a bushy eyebrow at her. "That so?" He looked at Okada and grinned. "You're losing your touch, old man. I thought you managed to convince them all." Relena blinked. He was making jokes… there was a dead man with his face missing outside and the nice policeman was cracking jokes. Okada smiled back politely. "Maybe I am getting a little rusty."
A policewoman entered the lobby from behind them carrying a trash bag with the hunter's things. "Nothing in the room but a…" She raised a hand to her mouth and yawned, "excuse me. Nothing but a suitcase and keys for the parked car outside, chief." She seemed rather tired and annoyed to be there. The policeman nodded to her and she made for the front entrance, grumbling about the hour under her breath. Relena raised an eyebrow and Bill the policeman noticed, "you'll have to excuse her, miss. Five in the morning means the nightshift was just about over and coffee doesn't get brewed until six." Relena immediately smiled and waved a hand, "So um… what happens now?"
Bill sighed and closed the notepad. "Nothing," he looked very deliberately at Okada, "… it was a suicide after all." Okada's face betrayed nothing but Relena was aware that he had tensed slightly. Sofie, who had been standing aside silently after giving her account of what happened, rubbed Okada's back soothingly and addressed the policeman with accusation in her voice, "don't you believe what we're saying? Or do you think one of us killed him?" Bill looked at Sofie with some alarm, "No no! Of course not Sofia dear. I know none of you are capable of such a gruesome murder!" Relena watched the two suspiciously. Did they know each other?
"Then why were you looking at Okada like that?" Bill the policeman smiled painfully; pacifyingly. "You don't miss one, do you Sofia. It isn't that I believe Okada capable of murder…" he looked at the Inn keeper then, "… it's that I *do* believe him capable of slightly modifying the truth in order to protect something." Okada didn't have to try hard to sound affronted but he was quite tense and schooled his features into a subtle mask as his thoughts drifted down to the boys bellow them. "… and what is that supposed to mean?" Bill pocketed his notepad and turned as if to go. "It means that you have two weeks to shut this place down. We warned you if there was another death then this is what would happen."
Okada was so relieved that his voice came out surprised, "that's it? You think I'm trying to protect the Inn?" The policeman looked at him as if he'd asked a stupid question, "off the record, yes, I do." Sofie glared. "I hope you can prove that." Bill gave her long suffering look, "of course not, dear. That's why it's off the record. Okada has a witness and there's no real proof anything else happened but this really has to stop." Sofie crossed her arms, "I've asked you not to call me that. We're not married anymore." Bill nodded regretfully, "as you keep reminding me." He glanced at Okada, "I'm sorry Kenji, but we can't allow the Inn to stay open after this. There may be no proof that an apparition or second party was responsible but it doesn't change the fact that there's a dead man on Inn property."
"But…!" Relena began angrily. "I understand," the Inn keeper said, cutting her off. Bill nodded, "I'm glad we have an understanding then. We will be finished outside in a couple hours and the coroner should be on his way soon. I will be back in one week to see how matters are coming along." He glanced at Relena, "your young guest should be gone by then. Good day." He walked out the front doors and Sofie looked at Okada worriedly, "I'm so sorry about this…" Okada shook his head wearing a sad smile, "I knew this would happen when I called them." She seemed surprised, "but then why…"
Okada's gaze turned to the East Wing hall that led to the basement door. "I refuse to allow what happened to them, happen to anyone else. It wasn't just the bounty hunter. They came here seeking safety and received a threat greater than they could handle because it wasn't something they could fight or control … It's better this way, with the Inn closing. As a matter of fact, I should have done this sooner." Sofie looked at him with a little surprise and something else. "Okada…"
She knew how much this Inn meant to him. The decision to do this must not have come easily. She shifted her gaze to Relena and vaguely felt some distant alarm settle in her stomach. Relena was also staring at the East Wing hall but with an expression so blank and eyes so uncharacteristically distant that she knew there had to be something troubling girl. Sofie's gaze fell upon the old leather bound book Relena clutched against her chest and somehow didn't believe that what was troubling her had anything to do with the Inn closing.
"Going back down there won't do you a bit of good, Relena. He's got his guard dog by his side and besides, do you really want to lower yourself to begging him for his affection?" The disembodied voice came from several feet away but the icy wind that ran down Relena's spine as the girl spoke carried her voice to Relena's ears alone. Relena clutched the leather bound diary closer, "I… I wasn't going to…" she whispered. A hand fell on her shoulder and she jumped. Sofie looked at her with some concern, "are you alright, dear?" Relena tore her eyes away from the hall and managed to spread a benign smile across her face.
"Hai," she answered. Sofie smiled and turned to Okada, "I'm going get some breakfast cooked. If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen." The Inn keeper nodded to her and she walked past Relena toward the East Wing. The icy patch of air near Relena moved out of the way as the cook walked by. Relena hesitated and then began walking toward the hall after her when Okada's voice caught her, "Darlian-san, I wondered if you could be so kind as to help me clean up Heero's room before somebody notices?" Relena looked at him and the soft voice hissed in her ear again, "Hmph. You see? Even the bloody Inn Keeper is trying to keep you from seeing him again. They're all working against you, *all* of them."
Relena swallowed hard and struggled to keep the pseudo smile from faltering. "Uh … hai. I'll be up soon. I just need a minute." Okada hesitated but nodded and started up the stairs. Relena began walking down the hallway but as she approached the basement door, a ghostly apparition took shape in front of it, arms crossed and glare determined. "Now is not the time for this, Relena. You will not accomplish anything by going down there just yet. You can't even know if he's conscious." She stopped in front of Selena's ghost. "I… I have to hear it from him. I won't… I can't believe it…" A smile that was half sinister and half pity wormed its way onto Selena's face. She reached out a ghostly hand to Relena's cheek and Relena winced at the icy touch.
"I know it's difficult to accept but why would I lie to you? You and I are kindred spirits. I'm only here to help you and you must want my help deep down or why did you bring me up here?" Selena gave her diary a loving caress through Relena's fingers. Relena took an involuntary step back. "I'm … I'm not so sure that…" She paused when Selena swayed weightlessly around her to embrace her from behind. "Come now, you do remember our little discussion outside don't you? I thought I had opened your eyes." Relena froze as the memories came back to her. She'd held some hope that the things Selena had told her might not be true… but perhaps, she was wrong…
------ About four hours ago ------
Selena grinned at her, resting her head against her hand and pointing with her other one, "That wouldn't happen to be my diary you're holding, would it?" Relena looked at the diary in her hands and then back to the ghost in front of her. "Y-yours..?" But Selena was staring at the small leather bound book in her hands. "I haven't seen it in a long time, where did you find it?" Relena stared a moment. She couldn't believe it… a ghost was talking to her. "Who are you..?" Selena frowned when her question went ignored. "My name is Selena and that," she pointed, "is my diary you've been reading."
The former Queen of the World took a step back, "H-how did you…" "…know you were reading it?" Selena grinned, "I've been watching you from afar, sweet heart." She shrugged, "the best I can from this vantage point." Relena's eyes widened, "you've what??" This time, Selena schooled her features into friendly innocence. "I've seen how horribly you're treated, and by that guy you like too… it's a pity he doesn't know a good catch when he sees one." That stopped her. Relena looked at her curiously and somewhat suspiciously. "Wait… there's supposed to be a ghost killing people here…"
Selena's smile was an artful mask of innocent humor, "you're not dead yet are you? There are lots of ghosts in old places like this and I'm not the only one here. Whoever said that killer ghost had to be me?" Relena blinked, "then, it's not you..?" Selena placed a hand over her chest and gave the girl in front of her a frightened, half insulted look. "Of course not! Do you honestly think I look like I'm capable of hurting anyone?" Relena considered that and took a few steps closer, avoiding the blood seeping through the snow, and kneeled in front of the cliff edge. "Then why are you here?" Selena glanced at the spot she choose, "don't get too close, now. I died after falling from that very spot. It was… an accident." Relena closed her free hand over the safety railing that spanned the edge of the cliff along side Inn property.
The ghostly apparition that looked so much like her, raised a pair of identical cornflower blue eyes to look directly into her own. "I came here because you did. I finally have the chance to talk to you and I didn't want to waste it. I want to help you." Relena raised an eyebrow, "help? How so?" The dead girl's gaze shifted to the three men who were still walking toward the porch. "You love him so much and so deeply and yet he doesn't seem to return your feelings; doesn't know how to appreciate the great well of emotion you hold for him…" Relena blinked and suddenly it all came back to her. The pain she'd seen turned to words as she read the diary and saw what happened to this poor girl as her love went unreciprocated.
"Wait," she said as the last pages of the diary came to mind. "Just what kind of help are you offering? In your diary, you said you were ready to kill Katsuhiro for not loving you back." Selena's glare barely contained the fiery rage that sprung up within, "don't you dare presume to understand my feelings just because you read a few words in an old book!" Relena fell back in surprise and Selena raised a hand to her mouth, catching herself before she did anything else to give herself away. "I-I'm sorry… it's just still painful…" She sighed but it was only for show as she wasn't really breathing, "… and it was a mistake…" She looked apologetically at Relena, "Don't you think that the hundreds of years I've spent here are enough to realize the err of my ways?"
She looked away and smiled inwardly when she noticed Relena taking interest in her story again. "I understand now how foolish I was. I only regret that I will never have a second chance with Katsuhiro… However, this is precisely the reason I've come to you. Because I see the same events taking place in your life and I see you suffering as I have suffered." She reached out tentatively past the cliff edge to touch Relena's hand. When her hand didn't fade she darted a quick glance to the diary Relena was holding, 'so that's how he did it…' she mused. Selena's face looked into her counterpart's with false sincerity, "I want to prevent you from being hurt as I was."
Relena's brows furrowed and she glanced back toward the Inn. Heero and the others were just making it inside. "H-Heero wouldn't hurt me. He loves…" "He does not." Relena's attention darted back to the ghost and she drew her hand away. Her eyes her wide and defensive. "How would you know?" She frowned, "I've only just met you." Selena shook her head, "but I haven't only just met you, or him. Haven't I told you already? I've been watching the Inn. Do you honestly think the attitude he gives you is love?" Relena wasn't thrown, "that's just the way he is. I've accepted that." It was Selena who frowned this time, "He's rude to you, he runs from you, he tries to avoid you, his friend is horrible to you and he does nothing about it. Are you about to tell me that he's just playing 'hard to get'?"
Relena opened her mouth and then closed it. It was something she had tried to avoid thinking about… "Besides," Selena continued, "did you ever consider that he might be interested in someone else?" Relena blinked and drew herself back as if affronted. "He would never do such a thing." The ghost before her was unimpressed, "why? Because he's so in love with you?" Relena paused, speechless once again. For the first time, doubts began to surface in her mind. "… but, even if… who would he…" "Isn't it obvious?" Relena drew her gaze back to Selena. Selena's expression was sympathetic and not entirely false. "You know who it is… who *he* is. You met him yesterday morning, didn't you?" Relena's eyes widened. She remembered…
"You asked him what he was doing, being so familiar with Ka… with Heero. Because of what you saw that morning during sunrise…" Selena trailed off deliberately and watched as the realization finally struck her living counterpart. As if to finalize the matter she added, "you can't even be sure he likes girls." Relena's eyes went impossibly wide and she started shaking her head absently even as everything began to fall into place in her mind. Tears welled up in her eyes, "it's not true." Selena was silent a moment. "It is… but it doesn't have to be." Relena gave her a helpless, teary gaze and in the back of her ghostly mind, she knew she had her. Her voice was heavy with sympathy when she said, "I can help you."
Relena looked a question at her. "Look into your own memories." Selena started, "To deny that your Heero has fallen under that retched boy's love spell is to deny what your own eyes have shown you. But all is not lost. If you want Heero to be yours, I can make him yours. All I need is for you to let me in," and she reached out a hand to Relena expectantly. Relena drew herself back farther on instinct. "How can *you* make Heero love me if what you said is true? If he really loves someone else." Selena tried desperately to keep the frustration out of her voice, "I'm a ghost, ne? The person Heero loves is a ghost as well. I know about these things; I'm from the same world and I could sever the ties that unite them," she lied.
Selena leaned over the edge, onto the cliff surface and reached out her hand again. "Trust me, I will help you win your true love back." Relena looked at the outstretched hand hesitantly. "At what price?" Selena's hand fell away and she gave her a look of determination. 'Not as stupid as I thought, are you?' She sat on the edge of the cliff and smoothed out her ghostly dress. "I'm not asking you to pay a price. All I need is your permission to enter your body temporarily. Once you let me in, I will be able fix your problems with your beloved." Relena stood up. The snow was seeping into her clothes, soaking her and she was getting cold. "I'll… think about it. I have to be going inside now…"
"No, wait!" She couldn't leave now. Selena was almost frantic. There was no guarantee she would come back, she had to finish this now. Relena looked at her again and was surprised to see ghostly tears within the other girl's eyes. "Please don't leave me alone. Won't you take me with you? At least until you've thought it over?" Relena was silent a long moment before she heard Okada's voice calling her from the patio. The battle on Relena's face finally gave way to sympathy and she nodded. "Ok," she said finally. "You can come with me." Selena smiled more to herself than to Relena. "Just keep my diary with you as long as I'm near you or I could be in danger, ne?" Relena nodded and turned to walk toward the waiting Inn Keeper. The ghost got up with a self satisfied smirk once Relena's back was turned. Making sure she was at the right distance, Selena kept herself invisible and followed.
Selena backed away and crossed her arms over her chest as Relena reached out to the door knob in front of her. She hesitated, "Not yet…?" Selena smiled. "Wait until he's had time to rest. This thing Okada wants you to do, despite being an obvious diversionary tactic, might allow you time to think as well." Relena's hand fell away from the knob. "Hai, you're right." She turned around and began to make her way back to the lobby. Selena glared sidelong at the door before she followed Relena. That troublesome Chinese boy… He might end up getting in the way. Neither Relena or herself might have much chance of getting anywhere near Heero if something was not done about him…
Heero remained still as Sofie changed his dressings a few hours later. "The police have all gone by now, so it's safe to go upstairs, Wufei. *You,*" she said to Heero, "will be staying here. I don't want you moving around too much in your condition." She finished bandaging his forehead and moved over to Wufei. "You said you were going to find yourselves some proper medical attention?" Heero's quiet gaze darted to Wufei and his eyes narrowed silently. Wufei picked it up in his peripheral vision but his expression remained neutral when he answered. "Hai, I contacted a friend of ours and he agreed to help us."
Wufei glanced at his watch, "He should be sending his people here for us by now. They will most likely arrive before sunset." Wufei did glance at Heero then but Heero didn't say anything. Sofie took Wufei's injured arm and began removing the soiled dressing. "How will they be getting here?" "Helicopter." She looked surprised and smiled vaguely. "Really? That isn't very subtle. Will they be coming up the coastline then?" Wufei nodded, "most likely." Heero glanced off to the side and brought a hand up to the bandage around his head. He adjusted it slightly and winced. Sofie noticed.
"I know that must be a lot more painful than you're letting on, Heero. I was going into town to get you some medicine for that fever as soon as I was done here. I'll be sure to pick up a few painkillers as well." Heero nodded his thanks but remained silent. No one spoke until she was finished re-bandaging Wufei's arm. She closed her first aid kit and got up. "Well, if you get hungry I set aside some of yesterday's stu for both of you in the kitchen. I'll be back as soon as I can so that I can cook you boys something nice before you leave." Wufei nodded to her, "arigatou." She smiled to him, "take care of yourselves while I'm gone."
They watched her until she was all the way up the stairs and through the basement door. Wufei braced himself for Heero's reaction. "Was it Quatre?" Still not looking at him, Wufei nodded. He was surprised to hear a sigh of what could only be relief behind him and he turned. Heero was leaning against the wall his mattress was set against. The feeling he gave off was both relieved and tired. "He won't tell them." Wufei shook his head, feeling somewhat relieved himself. "No, he won't." Heero raised his hand to the chain around his neck and tugged at it until the cross fell into his hand. He toyed with it absently and asked, "What did you say to him?"
Wufei watched him and couldn't help the small wave of guilt that struck him, "Nearly everything from the moment you and I ran into each other." The hand stopped, "nearly?" A pause. "I told him what he needed to know." After a moment Heero nodded. "… and he'll be here before sunset?" Wufei's gaze drifted away guiltily and he searched the rest of the basement for something of interest, "hai." There were some paintings that had been removed from a large box not too far away. The ones resting against it had their backs to him but the one that had been laid on top seemed to be face up. He couldn't quite see it from where he sat but he didn't get up to look. Instead he allowed himself to imagine that for it to be the only painting facing up, it must be quite lovely.
Sofie walked down the hallway and nearly bumped into Okada in the lobby as he came back down the stairs. "Oh, Okada, good. I'm going into town for a bit to pick up a few things for Heero. I should be back soon but there's something in the kitchen to tide you and Ms. Relena over until I get back. I hope to be back in time to get something done before they leave…" "Wait, the boys are leaving? Already?" he asked. "Oh, that's right, you don't know yet. Wufei just told me he contacted a friend who'll be picking them up in a few hours. He didn't tell me where they're headed but he said they'd be getting medical attention so I'm totally in agreement with this..."
Okada blinked. Somehow, he wasn't sure the boys would wait for her approval if they set their mind to something. But he bit back the comment and covered it with a pleasant smile as she continued, "… be only half an hour at most ok?" He nodded to her as she took her coat from the coat rack near the front desk and made her way out. "Drive safely, Sofie." She nodded to him and closed the door behind her, still shrugging into her coat. Relena paused on the landing before the first floor, having heard everything. Her eyes were slowly widening… "He's leaving…?" An angry chill crawled up her spine and she ran back up the stairs toward her room.
Sofie ran across the empty parking lot to her car as the wind blew snow into her face. Quickly getting out her keys, she unlocked the door and hurried inside. As soon as she closed the car door she breathed a sigh of relief. It almost felt as if a storm was picking up. She cranked up the car and pulled out of the Inn parking lot. As she made it onto the dirt road leading to the town a few miles away, she turned on the lights and windshield wipers, only remembering the radio out of habit. "… snow storm I've seen in years, coming down the coast from Canada. It may still seem early in the year for this but we suggest residents of northern New England to stay indoors…" Sofie gave the radio a nervous glance before she turned it back to the road. Her mind drifted to the discussion she'd just had with Wufei and the help that was supposed to be coming for them. This did not sound good…
"No! Absolutely not!" Heero was still sitting on the old mattress Sofie had found for him. He was resting his back against the wall. A still hand clutched at the cross that dangled from a chain around his neck. He wasn't looking at Wufei. Wufei on the other hand was standing, glaring spectacularly at Heero. After Sofie left they'd had a few hours silence in which he had tried to meditate and failed miserably because he knew the conversation they'd begun was not over. When Heero had finally decided to speak, it had been to say precisely what Wufei feared he would. Heero actually hesitated before saying, "I… won't be able to make it all the way on my own." He admitted.
Wufei made to fold his arms over his chest and winced. His injured arm still rested out of the ruined sleeve of the formerly white shirt. He sighed and slipped the shirt collar off his other shoulder, letting it fall to the ground. "More reason for you to stay put. The last thing you need is to be in even worse shape by the time Quatre gets here which, may I add, should be any time now." He stepped out of the shirt and left it on the ground. Heero watched Wufei bend down and begin rummaging through his travel bag for a fresh one. "I have to tell him," Heero's voice was determined.
Wufei sighed, "*I'll* tell him." He sat on the edge of the mattress and pulled out the clean shirt. "Be reasonable. The only thing you might accomplish by going into the cove as you are now is to injure yourself further." Heero frowned, "which is why I asked you to help me." Wufei looked him squarely in the face, "and I refused." The former pilot of Altron then turned away from his friend and began unbuttoning the shirt on his lap. The gesture was done in the hope that Heero would see he was finished discussing the matter. Wufei was temporarily relieved when he heard nothing from Heero's end of the mattress. He pulled the sleeve over his injured arm carefully and then shrugged into the other sleeve with ease.
As he began buttoning up the long white Chinese shirt, movement from the other end of the mattress caught his attention. His eyes widened when he saw Heero struggling to stand up, "what the hell are you doing??" Heero steadied himself against the wall and then pushed off in order to start walking toward the stairs. "If you refuse to help me, I'll go to him on my own." He winced painfully when he put weight on his injured leg and it gave way beneath him. Wufei scrambled up and was quick enough to catch him before he fell on it. "You idiot, didn't you just say that you'd never make it on your own??" Wufei said as he lowered both of them back onto the mattress.
Heero glared at the floor, "you don't understand, I can't leave without seeing him again." Wufei froze with Heero still in his arms. He looked back to the basement door that Sofie left cracked open. Sunlight was still streaming in from outside. "It doesn't look like the sun will set for some time yet. Even if you went out there now, before Quatre gets here, you wouldn't be able to see him." At those words Heero unconsciously began to lean into Wufei a little heavier. "It doesn't matter. Day or night… it doesn't change that he's still there. If I go to him now, at least I'll be able to … to tell him… and he'll be able to hear me."
Wufei sobered considerably. 'To tell him… tell him what, I wonder…' because all of a sudden this didn't sound like it was about Heero leaving anymore. They both knew he would come back as soon as he was well again. If it was just 'goodbye' or 'see you later', it wouldn't mean this much… would it? And then Wufei remembered a pain within himself. 'Goodbye' had been too unbearable a word to say but … but he'd never gotten the opportunity to say anything else. "Meilan…" Heero gave him an inquiring look, but Wufei just shook his head, "…I'll take you as far as the slope. Even if we made it into the cove, with your injured leg and my bad arm, there's no way we would manage to climb back out." Heero's face brightened into something resembling a smile and he nodded, "Aa."
"This is unacceptable, Relena! You *can't* allow him to leave!" Relena was pacing in her room as the ghostly Selena hollered not two feet away. "We're not finished with him yet!" "I know!" Relena yelled back as she stopped to argue desperately with her double. "but Heero lives his own life! Even if I asked him to stay a little longer he would make the decision based on what *he* thinks is right!" Her gaze lowered and her voice became less angry and more worried, "Besides he's injured, he needs that medical attention…" Selena growled, "He's strong enough! That other woman here has been patching him up hasn't she??"
Relena frowned to herself, "even if he didn't leave, we can't keep staying here forever. The Inn's going to close very soon and he would need to move on anyway… it's what he always does." Selena sneered, "Not this time." Relena looked a question at her and she smiled sinisterly. "Did you forget, dear? Heero is in love with the spirit of the cove. You're right, he's injured so he might leave… for a while. But he would come back and suffer these same injuries again, perhaps even worse." Relena made a small gasping sound, "wha-what do you mean?"
"If I'm not mistaken, there are people after your beloved's life," she said leaning closer to Relena. "Isn't it logical to believe that others might follow the same trail here and find him when he returns?" Relena raised a hand over her mouth as the horror of that thought sank in. "H-how could I help him…" she said it to herself but Selena didn't miss the opportunity. "I've already told you what you could do." She raised her clenched hands to her chest in an overdramatic feminine gesture and gave her living twin a gentle smile, "I could help you. I have the power to protect your dear Heero should he ever need of it. I can seal a bond between you the likes of which you've only dreamed of. I could make him yours forever if only you would let me in…"
Relena faltered, "you could protect him?" Her ghostly gentle smile widened, "through you, of course." Relena was still hesitating and Selena frowned inwardly. She had her at the edge… if only she could find a way to push her off… and then she had it. Selena took a step back, as if giving up. "…and here I thought Heero was the most important thing to you. I thought you loved him." "I do!" Relena challenged. Selena looked at her as if disappointed, "but you allow Heero to continue in the company of a murdering ghost. You allow him to fall in love with that monster and then you are prepared to sit back and watch as that awful ghost catches him in an unguarded moment and kills him like he's done to so many others."
Relena's eyes grew impossibly wide, "t-that's the ghost that's been killing people here??" Selena gave her a vaguely surprised look, "didn't you know? And here I thought you just didn't care. No doubt Heero will try to see him again before he leaves too…" Relena moved forward and closed the distance between them. The sheer proximity caught Selena off guard and she solidified just in time for Relena to clutch the sleeves of her dress. "Please, help me! If Heero tells him he's leaving… he might just..!" Selena couldn't help the grin that spread across her features but she quickly disguised it with gentleness and understanding.
She pushed Relena's hands away and took a couple steps back to lose her sudden solidity. She would need to be in spirit form for this… "So, you *are* the woman I thought you were after all. Does this mean that you agree to my request? You were never mine so you understand that I need your specific permission." Relena didn't hesitate to wonder what that meant. She nodded immediately, "Hai, you have my permission." When Relena uttered these words, Selena's mask crumbled. She grinned ominously, "good girl." Without hesitation she rushed at Relena, twisted in the air and fell through her skin.
Relena gasped and fell to her knees as that cold wind seeped into her heart and took all control away. She shivered violently and bent forward as if to fall but her hands hit the floor first and she leaned on them for a few moments before her breath stilled and her heart calmed. One pale hand rose slowly off the floor and clutched at her chest through her clothes. A slow but sinister smile curled her lips and she laughed, quietly at first but then with all of her strength. With that dark laughter Relena raised her head to the light of the window beside her, "Foolish girl …"
Wufei helped Heero up the last step, acting as a human crutch. He readjusted his good arm around Heero's waist as they walked through the basement door and into the hallway of the East Wing. Getting up there had taken longer than expected because in his haste, Heero had apparently forgotten he needed clothes to go outside. Sofie had stripped him down to his boxers when she'd been bandaging him and because the dressings would need occasional replacement, he hadn't bothered to get dressed afterward.
Getting Heero dressed however, had been a battle all on its own. The tank and jacket had been easy enough but the jeans Heero usually wore were close fitting and raising them over the impressive wound on Heero's calf had proven difficult if not painful.
Wufei had finally decided to give Heero a pair of his roomier white pants. It didn't look like the best matching outfit he'd ever worn but Heero, ever the practical one, hadn't complained. On the contrary, he'd been grateful. Wufei mused to himself that it was better this way because despite running the risk of losing yet another article of clothing, blood would show up right away against the white fabric and would let him know when Heero'd had enough… although he hoped it wouldn't come to that.
After they got him dressed, Heero slipped his gun into the back of his borrowed pants, although he wasn't sure how many bullets he had left. Placing the sword on his right side where it would be easily accessible by his uninjured left arm, Wufei picked the both of them up and began helping Heero up the flight of stairs.
Wufei looked around as they entered the lobby. The Inn almost looked deserted. Okada was no where to be seen, which he thought might actually be a good thing for now because if he saw them like this… it would become much more difficult for them to get to the cove. Relena had seemingly disappeared too, but he mused that that was even better. "It's still snowing." Wufei glanced at Heero and then followed his gaze to the windows at the front of the lobby.
The snow was coming down hard although the wind seemed to be a lot more forgiving then the last storm he'd been out in. Suppressing a chill at the memory he pushed them forward and hoped they wouldn't have to be outside for too long. They were severely underdressed for the weather.
"Perhaps that's why Sofie isn't back yet." Wufei blinked. He'd completely forgotten about her. But looking down at Heero and taking in the sweat and the slightly flushed face, he stopped. Of course Heero wouldn't have forgotten. Painkillers weren't the only thing he was waiting for. Heero had carried himself so well that Wufei had completely forgotten his fever.
Heero gave him a suspicious glance when they stopped, "what is it?" Wufei glanced back to the East Wing. "I shouldn't have brought you up here. Forget your injuries, with your fever…" "Wufei," he glanced back and Heero's glare caught him and held him, "I'm well aware of my condition but this is *my* choice. I thought you and I understood each other well enough for you to respect that."
Wufei just let that determined gaze hold him for a few moments. He did understand… but he didn't have to like it. With great effort on the part of his conscience, Wufei pushed them forward. The minute they entered the West Wing of the Inn, pounding footsteps behind them signaled someone was coming. Wufei paused and glanced over his shoulder.
Relena had rushed down the main staircase and ran into the East Wing without so much as a glance their way. "No doubt going to the basement." Heero said, also looking over his shoulder. Wufei nodded, "then lets keep going before she notices us." Wufei moved them down the long hallway and into the lounge.
He grabbed the keys to the patio doors from the bar counter as they passed and unlocked the doors. Sticking the keys in his pocket he pushed the doors open and led them into the cold, late autumn weather. Once they were outside, Heero was quick to look into the sky but with the growing number of clouds pouring snow down on them, it was beginning to get dark prematurely and he couldn't tell how far the sun was from setting.
Wufei noticed the move out of the corner of his eye, "We're almost there." He said reassuringly, and Heero nodded in response. They walked through the thick blanket of snow beneath them in silence and were half way to their destination when a noise behind them alerted them to another presence outside. "Hee~ro!" Heero's eyebrow twitched. "Keep walking," he said. Wufei didn't have to be told twice.
They played deaf until a door closed and footsteps in the snow told them she had come outside and was following them. Wufei sighed, "we should see what she wants. Unless you want an audience." Heero's frown deepened but he didn't say anything. Wufei interpreted that as a 'yes' and kept them going until they had reached the slope.
He turned them around to find Relena catching up to them and took a deep breath. "Yes, Relena? Did you need something?" Relena stopped just five feet away. Her eyes flickered to the sword at his side and to his occupied arms before she smiled benignly at him. It was the first indication Wufei got that something was wrong.
The second was that although she was still wearing her regular shirt and skirt out in this weather, the light jacket she'd hastily donned was hitched up at the back… "I just wondered if I could talk to Heero in private, that's all." "Anything you need to say, you can say in front of Wufei." Heero answered without an ounce of subtlety or patients.
Relena's benign smile fell around the edges but she recovered quickly, giving Heero a self-conscious kind of smile instead. "Perhaps if it could be just you and me… it wouldn't be so embarrassing." 'All that's missing is the blush', Wufei thought unimpressed. "Really, and here I thought you were rushing out to tell Heero to get back inside." Relena blinked, "Oh …oh, I was!" she faltered. "… I just meant I would like the chance to help Heero back myself." She added swiftly.
Wufei however, hadn't missed a beat. He glanced at the suspicious frown on Heero's face and guessed that he apparently hadn't either. "What's tucked into the back of your skirt, Relena." Wufei blinked. No subtlety indeed… But this was not something Relena had been expecting and a sharp intake of breath on her part made Wufei certain that something wasn't right about her. From the moment she'd approached them he'd felt an eerie cold sensation he hadn't been able to explain.
Heero must've been picking up on something wrong as well because he let go of Wufei and moved to stand on his own. Wufei let him when he saw the look on Heero's face. Heero was addressing an 'enemy' for the first time since the war and when you speak to an enemy, you do not show weakness. Wufei looked back to Relena and took in the cold smile with inward alarm. Outwardly he gave Relena a calm, guarded look. This was most definitely not the Relena they knew. "Why, I don't know what you're talking about." She said taking in their separation with subtle disappointment.
Wufei moved away from Heero to try to get a better angle to see her back from, but she turned slightly toward him and grinned as if to say he'd been obvious. Wufei's frown deepened. He couldn't explain what was happening at that moment other than he felt ready for an attack but… from *Relena*? The girl who had steadfastly claimed pacifism throughout the war despite the odds against her? Wufei glanced at Heero to see that he'd drawn his gun and was pointing it at her, "Go back inside, Relena." Relena raised an eyebrow, "well, if you're preparing to shoot me then I guess the jig is up. I didn't think I'd make a convincing Relena, anyway." She grinned, "she's too stupid for my tastes."
They both froze. Relena grinned and reached behind her to slowly pull a cleaver from the waistband of her skirt. She caressed it lovingly before she looked back to the boy in front of her and said, "Katsuhiro. It's been so long, my love…" Heero was looking at her with open disgust. Wufei however looked at her with a wide eyed shock. He shivered as chills that had nothing to do with the cold crawled down his spine. "He's not…" he began. "Katsuhiro hides within that body!" Relena… no, Selena screamed as she pointed with her free hand. She turned back to Heero whose equally wide and horrified gaze told her that he too realized what was happening now.
She smiled nostalgically, "Oh how happy we were… how happy we could've been." Suddenly she glared and her grip on the cleaver tightened, "How dare you ruin what I'd worked so hard for?!" Heero was so unsettled that he took a step back. That step dislodged a few stones beneath him and they fell into the cove bellow. He gave the ground a quick glance, noticing that he was far too close to the edge for comfort. Relena noticed the glance and took it to mean something else. She laughed, "The sun has not yet set, my love! There is no way *he* can help you now!" Heero glared at her as she laughed. He made to take a step forward but put too much weight on the injured leg and staggered.
Wufei made to go back to him but Relena took a step toward him and he unsheathed his sword, ready for her. She stopped and grinned at him, "the meddlesome Chinese boy by my Katsuhiro's side. How did I know I'd have to deal with you first." She said flatly. The safety clicking off a gun was what brought their attention back to Heero. "Back off and go back inside," Wufei was mildly surprised to hear the usually unemotional Heero say this with a voice full of the deepest loathing. Relena straightened and spread her arms wide, "Go on, shoot me. I've searched this one's memories and you have threatened but never been able to shoot this girl before." She said confidently.
"I will not repeat myself," was Heero's only answer. Her grin grew dark and ignoring Wufei completely, she charged at Heero. There was the sound of a gun firing and Selena screamed as the bullet hit her host body in the chest. Consumed with rage she cried, "I will not be thwarted again!" and threw the cleaver before she collapsed. Heero gasped slightly as the cleaver struck him above the chest. The momentum threw him off balance and as he moved to take a step back the ground disappeared beneath his feet and he fell. "Heero!" Wufei ran to the spot where Heero had fallen but he was too late. Heero tumbled to the ground below and slid to a stop along the snow at the bottom of the cove.
"Heero!!" Wufei called again but Heero didn't move. "Katsuhiro's n-not the one… you need to worry… about…" said a breathy voice behind him. Wufei turned with lightning speed and raised the blade of his sword against Relena's neck. Blood was trickling down the side of her mouth but she was smiling. "I'm not finished with you either." She said to him, her face barely a foot away. Wufei glared at her and pushed the blade farther. Blood began seeping onto the polished steel from the fresh wound on her neck. She looked at it with mock surprise, "would you kill this body?" He took a step forward which forced her to take a step back, "I'd do anything necessary to keep us alive."
"Hmm…" she said moving her throat side to side, making the wound larger. She closed her eyes as if the sensation were pleasurable. It unsettled Wufei that other than placing a hand over the bullet wound on her chest, she wasn't showing any sign that any of these injuries bothered her. "… How noble…" she said opening her eyes again. "But I can't let you continue to interfere. Katsuhiro has to die and seeing as how I'm still not free, the task is not yet complete." Wufei growled low in his throat, "and you think it'll be that easy to get by me in the state you're in?" She smiled as if he'd made the observation of the day.
"You're right. This body is pretty useless to me with a hole in it, weaponless, and you in my way. I should have never wasted so much time trying to acquire it when I could've been trying a different tactic." She raised a hand to his face but Wufei grabbed it with his free hand before it made contact. The wound on his right arm ached but he ignored the pain and kept her arm still. Her smile was unwavering, "Relena was never mine so I had to wait for her permission but you… You were mine before, and you will be mine again." Wufei gasped in horror when Selena's ghost burst forward from Relena's body and smiled sweetly from inches away. She moved forward as if to kiss him and he screamed.
Wufei's scream echoed along the cliffs, jarring Heero out of unconsciousness. He opened his eyes slowly and then squinted as the occasional snow flake fell around his eyes. "Wufei…?" A slow feeling of alarm began forming in the pit of his stomach. In all the time he had known him, he'd never heard Wufei make such a sound. He looked up into the sky but it was dark; the clouds were now obscuring the sky completely. If he didn't know better, he could've thought it to be night already… but Duo would have been here by now. He glanced off to the cloudy horizon and silently urged the sun to hurry.
Heero struggled to raise his head and soon wished he hadn't. He'd managed to slide quite far from the slope with the aid of the wet snow that was now soaking into his clothes. Neither Wufei or Re... Selena were anywhere to be seen so he assumed they must still be at the top. But he couldn't see it very well because his vision was half obscured by the cleaver sticking out of his shoulder. Resting his head back against the snow he closed his eyes and tried to asses his condition.
The bandage around his head had come off almost completely and the stinging on his temple told him the wound had reopened. A new pain in his left arm told him he had likely broken it on the rocks at the bottom of the slope. He didn't need to look at his leg to know that wound had reopened as well. The agonizing pain and warm wet sensation was enough indication of that. It was the fresh wound on his shoulder that worried him the most.
The cleaver had snapped clean through his collarbone and logged there. It was painful… The combined pain of his injuries was so overwhelming that it was difficult to think and just as difficult to breathe. He couldn't tell how bad the damage was but he new that if he didn't get back inside for help, he'd either bleed to death or die of hypothermia.
With that thought to motivate him he reached up for the cleaver with his uninjured arm only to gasp as his collarbone shifted against the blade and he dropped the arm onto his stomach. 'Damnit,' he thought half frustrated with his predicament. Just then, a rustling sound caught his attention and he looked back to the slope in time to make out Relena's body tumble over the top. She fell bonelessly and slid to a stop not too far away, as still as death.
"Are you alright?" someone called to him. Upon hearing that voice, Heero glanced away from Relena in time to see Wufei sliding carefully down the slope. Relief washed over him. Wufei slid to the bottom and started to walk over to where Heero lay. He stopped and kneeled beside Heero, looking him over. "Well, you're not dead yet..." he said as if impressed by the array of Heero's injuries. Heero couldn't tell if he was serious or joking. One casual glance to the side however and Heero's relief proved to be short lived.
Wufei was kneeling down beside him, resting his left arm over one knee. His right hand was holding his sword which he'd stuck into the ground as he knelt. Heero noted that Wufei was using the sword for support, putting weight on his injured arm as if he didn't feel it. He knew Wufei well enough by now to know that he was a talented swordsman no matter what hand he used but for practicalities sake, if one was injured, his sword never left his good hand. "What's wrong?" Wufei asked, noting Heero's drifting gaze. "Nothing," he replied, "… just wondering if Doctor J has gotten lost. He should have been here by now to pick us up." Wufei nodded slowly, "I'm sure he won't be long now."
Heero nodded back and inwardly cursed himself for dropping his gun when he fell. "Can you move?" Wufei asked. Heero thought wildly, against the pain clouding his mind… he had to do something. "Iie, I can't." Wufei's eyes settled on the cleaver, "then I suppose the first thing we should do is remove this." He took his hand from the sword hilt and grabbed the cleaver. Without so much as a warning, he yanked it out. Heero gasped painfully and bit back a scream as he brought a hand to the wound. Tears escaped his eyes and he gazed back up at Wufei who was very obviously struggling to hold back an expression of extreme delight.
Wufei looked at the cleaver and then to the sword as if hesitating while Heero struggled to control his breathing, 'debate as long as you need to…' He thought angrily as fresh blood soaked the front of his denim jacket. Wufei eventually glanced back to him and tossed the cleaver over the rocks. It splashed as it hit the water and sank beneath the waves. Heero finally couldn't take the charade any more. "How long are you going to pretend?" Wufei glanced back at him with mild surprise. "Nani?" Heero struggled to keep his wits against the pain and glared at him for little more reason than stirring up his anger helped him focus.
"I know you're not Wufei. You couldn't possibly think you would fool me for long." Wufei/Selena's gaze grew cold and decided that was his cue to stand up. He pulled the sword out of the ground and regarded Heero icily, "Well, apparently this is as far as I will be taking it." Wufei's gaze became suddenly enraged, "If you know him well enough to have discovered me this quickly you two must be close. Was this one your lover too?? How many would you mock me with, Katsuhiro?!" Wufei raised the sword above Heero, poised to strike the final blow.
Heero was unusually still as he looked up at Wufei… who he knew not to be in control. This was it. He had no tricks up his sleeve, no escape planned, he couldn't even move for the pain and his only back-up was preparing to kill him. "Answer me!" Wufei screamed from above him. Heero stared and gave him/her the obvious reply. "My name," he paused wincing as a strong jolt of pain stabbed through his shoulder, "is *Heero*." Wufei's face became a mask of rage. "Wrong answer." He raised the sword high above the injured ex-pilot and with a last look of malignant delight brought it down over his chest.
A single gun shot rang off the cliffs and Wufei's blade stopped inches above Heero's heart. His would-be murderer froze and Heero stared as thin rivers of red spiraled down Wufei's sleeve. Wufei straightened and looked behind him in shock. When he moved, Heero saw it but could hardly believe it. She was standing a few feet away, blood from the bullet wound was trailing down her shirt. Relena's hands were unsteady and her grip on Heero's gun was amateurish but she'd managed to shoot Wufei in his already injured arm. Wufei quickly recovered from his surprise. "You… meddlesome brat." He growled.
Relena staggered and looked on in fright as Wufei stalked over to her. She raised the gun and shot again but the bullet missed. She took an unsteady step back, poised to fire again but Wufei caught the hand that held the gun and forced it skyward. Using his other hand, he stabbed her through the stomach with his sword. Her eyes widened and she coughed blood. She gazed almost pleadingly into Wufei's emotionless eyes and his response was to push the blade deeper. She choked on her scream when he pulled it free and she collapsed at his feet, silent.
Wufei had barely turned around when a fist collided with his face and sent him flying into the sand. Duo stood above him, shaking and staring wildly at Wufei. Wufei sat up slowly and leered at him from the snowy ground. "I wondered when you'd be showing up." Wufei's grin was cocky, confident; even as he used his sleeve to wipe away the blood from his injured lip. "You…" Duo growled. He was shaking in rage and there was the promise of pain in his voice. "I…" Wufei mocked, "have been playing with your pet mortals all day long while you coward away in the safety of your cove. *I* am the cause of Katsuhiro's renewed suffering and *I*," he laughed, "am finally about to see to his end."
"Like hell," When Duo's fist flew again Selena/Wufei was ready for it. He grabbed Duo's arms, rolled onto his back and kicked against Duo's abdomen, flipping him over. Duo cried out as his body hit the jagged icy rocks behind them. Wufei picked up his sword and got up quickly. He thrust the blade toward Duo's chest but Duo rolled out of the way and tackled his feet. Wufei cursed and fell backwards hitting the back of his head against a rock hidden by the snow. Wufei gasped, momentarily stunned. Duo seized the opportunity to return to spirit form and plunged his hand into Wufei's chest.
"How dare you…" his voice was dark as he braced his other hand against Wufei's shoulder, "…endanger the lives of the people I've come to care about." Wufei made a small choking sound and his eyes shut tightly as if he were in pain. "How dare you use Wufei!" Duo struggled to pull his hand from Wufei's chest. It slowly began to come free and tightly held in it's grip was the ghostly front of a woman's dress. "And how dare you touch my Heero!!" He gave a strong tug and Selena's head and chest came free of Wufei's body.
She got one look at him and attacked him in a fit of rage. "He's mine!" She screamed, forgetting the unconscious Wufei. She tackled him and they were both in physical form when they hit the ground. Selena wrapped her hands around his neck and squeezed with all her might. Duo struggled to pull her hands from his throat and threw his weight into her in the hopes of over powering her. She rolled beneath him but she did the same and when she was above him again, she straddled him and put all her weight into her grip. Duo tried to gasp for breath but couldn't. Although he was dead and did not need the air, having a physical body again made him crave it desperately and the pain of strangulation was no less intense.
Duo finally managed to loosen the grip of one of her hands and took in a short breath, "I won't… let you kill him." She growled and struggled to push her fingers into his throat where she knew it to be the most painful. "He's the only way I'll ever be free of this place! Just because you choose to sacrifice your freedom to stay with him doesn't mean I have to be sympathetic." She said it with disgust but Duo's confusion was evident beneath his anger, "what the hell… are… you talking about??" Selena blinked. She let go of him all at once and scuttled backwards in the snow and sand several feet before she simply stopped and stared.
Duo gasped for breath and filled his lungs with the cold frigged air. He looked to his side and was shocked to realize they had tumbled right next to Heero. Heero had struggled into a sitting position almost as if ready to come to Duo's defense… When Selena moved away, however, and Duo was no longer in immediate danger, the fire Duo caught in Heero's eyes went out and whatever strength he'd conjured up to help the violet-eyed spirit left him. Duo rushed behind him and caught Heero as he collapsed. The former pilot made a small pained sound when his injured shoulder hit Duo's chest.
Duo held him carefully, protectively, and looked at Selena … who was staring back at them … in amusement. "You… you don't know…" she gave a small chuckle equal parts disbelief and delight. "You're not being self sacrificing or noble, you just didn't know." And she laughed outright this time; loud enough that it echoed against the cliffs and brought a foul taste to Duo's mouth. Duo glared as Heero merely listened and struggled to breathe. A low humming filled the night sky and all three gazes moved skyward. Selena frowned, "What the hell is that noise." The grin that came to Heero's face was shadowed by his pain but it was clearer in his voice, "Helicopters."
Duo frowned, "flying machines?" Heero leaned into Duo's arms and managed to nod once, glad that it was one movement that didn't bring him more pain. "Hai… they're coming to help us." It was Duo's turn to feel relieved. He looked Heero over with something akin to desperation, "I've never seen anything this severe. You're so badly injured…" There was something in his voice Heero couldn't or simply didn't have the strength to identify, "they… they will be able to help this, right?" A small shadowed smile crawled onto Heero's face, "I hope so."
Selena snorted, "you'll be dead by the time they get here." She reached behind her and stood up, pointing the forgotten gun at Heero's chest. Duo's eyes widened and he cursed himself for leaving it where Relena had dropped it. But there was nothing he could do now. So as the sounds of the helicopters drew nearer, Duo pulled Heero closer and wrapped as much of his body around him as he could. Selena was untouched by his attempts to act as a human shield. In fact she looked down at them with a look of victory tainted by malice. Heero winced painfully at Duo's renewed grip, no longer bothering to guard his features. He grit his teeth and shut his eyes tight against the pain.
She giggled insanely, "why bother protecting him? He's just going to die anyway. He was always going to die. My only regret is that it took this long." Duo let his glare answer for him. He allowed his anger to mask his panic because he didn't know what to do. The helicopters grew louder and as they drew nearer, they stirred up the sand and snow around them. Spotlights flashed into the cove, passing over them as the choppers flew overhead.
Selena yelled to be heard above the noise. "What's the matter, Duo? Still can't bare to face the truth? That perhaps for all his foolishness, you really didn't mean anything to him? Your precious Katsuhiro never returned for you after you died. Even after you waited years, centuries, he only came back *now*… and you run groveling to his feet," a laugh, "even I had more pride in myself than that!"
Duo's face darkened, "how many times must you be told?? This isn't Katsuhiro!" But she wasn't listening. "… and even now! After all this time, neither of you has said a word! And you still wonder why you are here??" Heero's eyes opened slowly. He carefully turned his head toward Selena, surprising Duo who loosened his grip enough to let Heero face her again. Still leaning heavily against Duo's chest, Heero gave her a calculated look, "what do you know about Duo's imprisonment to this place?" She grinned, "oh I think it's hilarious that he still doesn't know the reason. Mine was obvious from the beginning but his … he's been wondering for centuries and getting no where."
She looked down on them smugly, "Men… you all make things like these so difficult. But then, I suppose I feel somewhat satisfied that it never happened. Katsuhiro should belong only to me. In life…" her voice suddenly darkened, "and in death." Duo was shaking his head, "what are you talking about…" Heero bowed his head into Duo's chest and sighed as realization struck him. It was so simple… "You never said it to each other, did you." Duo blinked and looked down at him. "…said…" One of Duo's hands had fallen to Heero's waist. Heero reached up with the arm he was sure was broken and placed his hand over the spirit's, "… said you loved him."
Duo's eyes flew wide. Heero looked into his face, "for all the understanding you held between you that this was how you felt… you never actually said it to each other." He felt the shiver that passed through Duo's body; felt his arms weaken around him, and knew he was right. There were voices above the sounds of the helicopters now. Several voices that were growing louder as they approached. Selena spared a quick glance to the top of the slope behind her before she turned back to Heero and sneered, "that's enough," and shot him. "No!!" Duo screamed. He held on desperately to Heero as he felt the boy's body first jerk at the force of the bullet and then go slack in his arms. In the space over Heero's chest where his jacket fell open, a red spot blossomed through the fabric of his once green tank.
Selena fired again but growled when the gun did not go off. She fired again and again but the only noise that greeted her was the clicking of an empty chamber. Instead she threw the gun at them in anger and it flew passed them. But Duo was ignoring her. He held Heero in his arms and could not help the tears that fell from his wide eyes. "Heero…" he said in a small voice. Heero swallowed hard and squinted at him as he struggled to keep him in focus. "Heero…" Duo looked at him dumbfounded for a few moments before his shaking hand came up and covered the fresh wound as if to stop the bleeding. He began shaking his head and struggled with a weak smile, "Heero… you'll be ok."
Heero looked into his face and all he could think was how much he wanted to touch it… but one arm was pinned against Duo's chest and the other ached too much to raise. Then he thought to kiss it but couldn't muster up the strength to move. That's when it dawned on him that he wasn't going to live through this one. The thought brought several conflicting emotions to his attention. He found it ironic that after all his training and all he did in the war, he was fated to die now… after the war's end and at the hands of someone who was already dead. Ever since it's beginning however, he'd been prepared to die for his cause.
A cause, come to think of it, that had nothing to do with what he really wanted. He mused that he'd never truly been allowed to want… but that had never been important until now. Because now he did want something… and it was staring him in the face, dropping tears upon his cheeks, and saying his name again and again. So he smiled up at the first thing he had allowed himself to want. He smiled because he had finally found something worth living for… and even worth dying for. He smiled because that thought brought him a sense of peace, and because he would be able to keep his promise after all. "I love you…" Heero said with the last of his strength, and closed his eyes.
"No…" Duo whispered, choking back a sob. He closed his eyes and held Heero to him, "no…" "Yes!" Selena screamed. Duo's head snapped up and he glared at her with the most intense hatred he'd ever felt. He glared ready to kill her, and knowing he could, when he stopped himself and stared. Selena was glowing faintly. Tiny red veins of light were moving up her arms. 'That's right…' Duo thought in realization, 'she's free…' She stared at her arms in elation as the veins widened and disappeared up her sleeves. She laughed, "fool! I have finally bested you! I'm fr…" she hesitated when the tiny veins reached her neck and peaked out of the fabric of her dress. She brought a hand to her neck and gasped as if she couldn't breathe.
"No… something's not …" The veins continued to expand and crawled into her face. She screamed and scratched at them as if they burned. They covered her face completely, turning her skin into translucent red light and she began disintegrating before Duo's very eyes. Duo stared at her spirit with dead eyes as the other world claimed her and sent her where she belonged. He slowly turned his gaze back to the face that rested against his chest and forgot all about Selena. He no longer heard the noise of helicopters or of men now sliding down the slope. The men who were rushing to aid a young boy of sixteen who was already dead.
Duo lowered Heero's body onto the snowy beach and caressed his still face in silence. The hand that moved across the still warm skin left a red smudge in its wake and the sight of it brought fresh tears to Duo's eyes. Never had he felt any emotion so deeply as what he felt for Heero and his loss became a pain so great that he did not know what to do with himself. So he breathed in and said what he should've said long ago, "I love you too." But there was no response.
Duo lay down next to him, curling up beside him and cried. He did not notice when the medics descended upon the cove in a frantic swarm. He did not notice when the flame of another life in the cove flickered and gave out. And he did not notice when that life spilled from it's body in small, white, invisible veins that reached out and searched the cove to claim the dead…
Quatre passed the front desk as he walked down the sterile grey halls of his private New York hospital. He'd become quite familiar with the place, having spent every available moment there for the past week since answering Wufei's call for help. It was noon and he'd seized the opportunity to get away from his work and pay another visit. He reached the elevator doors and waited with the crowd until the bell chimed and the doors opened. He was surprised to find Wufei stepping out. He smiled, "Wufei! I was just coming up to see you. I didn't know you were already up and about."
Wufei smiled back at him. Quatre worried too much sometimes, but he mused that it really was one of his endearing qualities. Out of all the pilots, he'd arguably been the most sensitive; the most emotional. Quatre had allowed himself to be so openly caring despite the things they had to do and see, and Wufei had never been able to figure out how he'd managed it. It was one of the many reasons the ex-Sandrock pilot had earned his respect. "I wasn't all that physically injured." He replied.
Quatre frowned just slightly. "You were shot twice in the same arm." Said arm was currently in a sling. Wufei shrugged, "it's healing." He looked back towards the elevator, "besides, my arm is nothing compared to Heero's injuries." Quatre also looked toward the elevator as if he could see Heero's room through it. "How is he?" Wufei was silent a moment, "he hasn't woken up yet but his fever's down and he's stable… it's a miracle he's not dead. The paramedics were barely in time to revive him." He was silent a moment before his gaze returned to Quatre, "I was just coming down to get Duo something to eat. He's been dead so long he seems to forget that his body needs nourishment now."
"Yes, I wanted to ask you about that. Was… he really dead?" Wufei nodded, "I'm not sure how it happened even though I saw it myself. Just as I was waking up and the paramedics were arriving there was a light… I don't know, I can't explain it. I thought he was going to move on…" He shook his head, "I suppose the only way to know what happened is to ask him but he hasn't spoken very much since he got here." Quatre seemed to consider this, "…and you trust him?" Wufei surprised himself by nodding immediately. "Yeah, I do."
Quatre looked surprised too. "I think," Wufei continued, "that he genuinely cares about Heero. He hasn't left his bedside all week. He barely eats and if he sleeps I haven't seen it." He paused a moment, "I think Heero needed someone like that and even after all this, I don't regret staying with him." Although still somewhat surprised by Wufei's resolve he smiled and nodded to himself, "Then I can be happy for Heero… but I'll be relieved when he wakes." Quatre motioned down the hall towards the cafeteria. "Why don't I go with you. I'm sure you could use an extra hand." He said it looking at Wufei's heavily bandaged arm. Wufei smiled, "sure."
In a dark room on the ninth floor, two chairs were pulled up next to a small uniform hospital bed. The bed's occupant lay still, breathing steadily in his sleep. His cool hand was held between two warm ones that belonged to the only other person in the room. Duo sat in one of the chairs next to Heero's bed. His head tilted forward slightly and his half lidded eyes gazed only at the hand within his. He blinked slowly and fought the sleep that was determined to claim him. After hundreds of years without having to yield to the physical limitations of a living body, Duo had forgotten how difficult it was to simply remain awake when tired.
But he refused to sleep. What if Heero woke while he was away? He needed to be here… needed to. His head began lolling forward and he almost missed the slightest movement of Heero's fingers. That small movement brought the exhausted boy back from the edge of sleep and he looked straight into his lovers face. "Heero..?" he whispered. The fingers trembled again, and then wrapped themselves around his hand. Heero's head shifted on the pillow and his eyes opened. Duo found himself unable to do anything but grip Heero's hand back. He held that hand as if his, or Heero's, life depended on that connection.
But the smile that began forming on Heero's face at the sight of him died before it lived. "I thought you were free…" Duo's eyes shined with an otherworldly glow despite the darkness of the room. He reached out and caressed the side of Heero's face, brushing his bangs aside and the tears that lit up his eyes fell down his cheeks. "I am." He said softly. Heero frowned, not understanding. Then his eyes caught something and his gaze moved to the nightstand. Sunlight from behind the blinds reflected innocently off the cross Duo had given him. His gaze moved back to Duo's very real hand in his, "how…"
"Relena." Duo replied. Heero's slight frown deepened. "If she had not died there and then, I would have moved on…" Duo said. "Her desire to be with you was so great that she wished it to be so in whatever way possible. When her body began to fail her, her ki left her… and sought me out." Duo gestured to his chest, "it came in through my old wound and made my spirit body real." He paused, "she gave me her life so that I could live it in her place… with you." Heero looked stunned. Duo smiled sadly, "I'm sure she had help from the cove, same as I did."
He sat back and gazed at the ceiling, "I managed to manipulate my energy enough to become spirit again so that I could pull Selena from Wufei's body." He looked back at Heero and smiled, "the energy of that cove was never something I'd been able to control. But I guess… maybe it all happened… because I needed it to happen." Heero stared for a moment and finally nodded. He was too tired to do anything but agree. "Where is Wufei?" Heero said, reminded of him by Duo's earlier statement. "He's down getting some lunch. He's alright. He's been sitting with me every once in a while to wait for you."
Heero nodded and yawned. Duo's hand returned to his cheek and Heero closed his eyes to that comforting touch. "I'm… I'm sorry I didn't get to you before all this happened." Duo's voice was small and strained. Heero opened his eyes to find fresh tears building up in those of his love's. Heero carefully raised his uninjured arm and laid that hand over the one on his cheek. He held it as tightly as he could and gazed into Duo's face, "don't apologize to me… when you're the reason I'm still alive." The tears fell but Duo smiled and nodded.
Behind the smile, Heero saw the bags beneath Duo's eyes and realized he must've been waiting for him to awaken for a long time. "How long have I been sleeping?" Duo wiped the tears away and said, "a week." That seemed to settle it. Heero tugged on his hand and Duo seemed to understand. He carefully crawled into bed next to Heero and Heero held the sleep deprived boy with his good arm. Duo fell asleep almost at once.
Heero took the opportunity to gaze into the sleeping face of the spirit who'd been given a second chance. "I would do it all again. Know that." He said quietly. Duo's only answer was to curl up closer. Heero sighed softly and closed his eyes to the sight of his lover's beautiful sleeping face. Confident that when he awoke again later that day and everyday after, his face would be there to greet him.