Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing, this is a Fan Fic!!!

OMFG! It's the last chapter of LD!!! AGAIN!!!! Sorry for my mistake the first time. Hopefully this is better! I think it's fixed, if you see anything still wrong, tell me! But none of that misspellings and grammar stuff, I already know about that and you'll just have to deal. Warning: Torture, violence, death, male/male sex

Locked Doors

Part Ten: Forgive Me

Heero had no choice but to grab hold of Duo's wounded shoulder and pull him back as Lawrence/Rann squeezed his trigger with Duo still staring back at him in confusion. Duo let out a sharp hiss of pain but let Heero shove him back behind him, taking his place at point, unable to really fight him with his right arm immobile.

"You killed my Orion then you tracked me down and made me love you! Was that your fucking plan the whole time Duo!? Did it get you off, knowing you had me all to yourself now that Orion was dead?!" Rann kept firing at their corner till his gun clicked empty, then he emptied another magazine shooting at them, thought he thought only Duo was there. His shots were starting to make bigger holes in the building they were hiding behind.

Heero moved Duo further back, but when he went down on his stomach to avoid the holes and Rann's shooting Duo moved right back, changing gun hands. He wasn't as good a shot with his left, but he wasn't bad either. Heero was lined up for the shot, but didn't take it, which might have had something to do with the fact that Rann had started firing again.

"You Fucking Asshole! Get your ass out here!" Rann yelled at him as his bullets kept missing everything but warehouse wall.

"Yeah, I'm really going to come out with you firing everything that's not moving!" Duo yelled back, noticing for the first time that he was losing blood when the effort made him a little dizzy.

The firing instantly stopped Duo froze, was that his cue? Did Lawrence…Rann really think he was just going to walk out and let himself be shoot!?

"Why did you kill him!? He wasn't doing anything? He was just doing his job, trying to survive the war just like the rest of us!" Rann yelled and Duo found himself still fighting to understand where Rann was leading this conversation. "Was it because we were so happy, that we found love even during a war while your Heero just kept going, never stopping once to even glance in your direction!? Is that what it was!? And then when you got rejected after the war you went looking for that happiness! I've got it right, don't I!?" Rann couldn't seem to stop his mouth, all his thoughts were pouring out of his mouth before they were even fully formed. He truly was psychotic, forming half truths and intricate plots in his mind to explain how something as simple as a death during the war had happened.

"But I'm going to get mine, don't you worry! Let's see how you like it when someone you love dies!" And then his voice was gone as well as the shooting and Duo heard a window opening.

"Can you hear me you fucker? You still there, still waiting to see if there's a reason you came all the way out here?!" Rann's voice was cruel and pitched to a degree that showed just how stressed he was.

"Lawrence listen to me…" Duo started, but Rann yelled back at him.

"Rann! It's Rann! Get it right!" Duo wondered if he was anything like this during the war, while Shinigamii had ruled him, allowing him to kill, to go into every mission as if it were his last.

"Rann then, I know what's it like to lose a loved one, I've been there! Can't we just talk about this; I don't even remember killing someone named Orion!" Duo wondered about that as soon as the words left his mouth…had that been the right thing to say? Apparently it hadn't been.

"Fuck You Duo Maxwell! You remember, I know you do! How could you not! He was so beautiful! Just had to get rid of him didn't you! You have no idea how much I've suffered, you couldn't even begin to imagine what I've been through!" Rann screamed at him, his sanity long gone and his voice ragged as emotion boiled through him.

But that last comment had made Duo angry, if there was something he wouldn't abide by, it was people who imagined their lives to be so terrible when there were millions out there far worse off.

"Fuck you right back Lawrence!" Duo stretched out his name, making sure to use it, ignoring Heero's mad gestures. "You think you're the only one who ever shed a tear!? Ever hear of the Maxwell Church Massacre!? I didn't even have a name before that! I was just another nameless orphan! There were hundreds of us!" Duo cursed him again and again in his mind; Kitty was somewhere in there with this maniac! And every second they wasted with this was one more with her in danger. He wouldn't even let his thoughts drift farther than that. Wouldn't consider any other possibilities.

"Shut Up! Just Fucking Shut Up!" Rann yelled back at him and Duo could tell he'd struck a nerve, psychos like this usually didn't like you proving them wrong, destroying the illusion they'd set up for themselves. He'd dealt with more than one during the war and had dislodged many this way, but he also remembered the few who'd flipped out in the other direction, taking his words and using them to fuel their psychosis even further.

It's was Kitty's scream that broke the following silence and successfully cutting off any thought that had been about to enter Duo's mind. She was alive, that was his first thought, his second was, but for how long? And in what condition?

Kitty could curse a mean streak down to hell and back, she knew curses in several languages too and had no problem with sharing her knowledge no matter who was around. Duo had heard her often enough in the garage as she did this or that and it went wrong, causing her to lose skin or even nails to the cause.

But he'd never heard her at a loss for those words, never heard her abandon her very large vocabulary and just scream, not even when they'd first met and she'd taken a full hit of hot oil to the eyes, and that was what made him stop his breathing and his heart thud hard against his chest, fighting to get out. He held his breath until he heard Rann again.

"There you go Duo, your trip wasn't in vain, Miss Kitty is still here with us, and has quite powerful lungs." He laughed and it took all Duo had and a hand from Heero to keep him where he was.

"She better be in one piece Lawrence or I'm going to fucking pull out your entrails and feed them to you before I let you die!" Duo cursed him, perfectly ok with his well thought out threat, and willing to back it one hundred percent.

"Well then, I guess I'll be having a very filling dinner tonight, if you ever get the balls to come out from around your corner Duo." Rann sneered back and Duo felt the bottom of his stomach drop out at the implication.

"Don't listen to him Duo, I'm fine!" Kitty's voice was a gift of sanity, Duo had just been holding the last threads of his mind together when her voice broke through and he felt something new bloom in his chest.

"Shut up you stupid bitch!" Rann yelled back at her and Duo listened to the dull thud as he hit her. It was all sound but it was almost as if Duo could see it before his eyes and the protective and determined swell inside him was mixed with raw hatred. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this bloodlust, the last time he'd wanted to hurt someone so much. It was Heero's touch that cooled him, forced a deadly calm on him. Heero helped him focused and they started to have a very short conversation that was made up of simple hand gestures.

In the end, Heero left Duo, albeit reluctantly, to circle around the other way as fast as he could to come up on Rann's hold from the side. A look around the complex had shown that most of the buildings had three, if not four entrances, one on each side to make things less of a hassle. And it was up to Duo to wait for him to be in position, keeping Rann talking, before they moved together.

"What did you do to her!?" Duo didn't really want to know, was more than willing to wait to find out on his own when he had her far from this place, and he would, but right then he needed a self absorbed, self righteous monologue to occupy Rann while Heero circled.

"You've lost your star mechanic Duo; Kitty won't be fixing anything ever again! If you want to hurt someone, you either take their livelihood or their loved ones. In your case it's your loved ones, in Kitty's case, it's her livelihood. You can't fix cars if you don't have fingers to fix them with!!!" Rann was talking out his open window as Kitty started to scream again but fought to cut herself off.

More than anything, Duo knew how much Kitty loved her job, all that her father had taught her, she had built on. She was a genius with an engine and for all her mistakes and joking, she had a near flawless record. That he would take that away from her showed Duo that not only was he psycho, he was smart and a smart killer with a psychosis was much more dangerous than just your average psycho.

Duo wanted more than anything to get his hands on Rann, to erase him from existence, to go back in time and erase him from there to, from ever having been in his life for even a moment. But, people suffering from psychosis were unpredictable, add smart to that mix and Duo was just going to have to wait for Heero to get the advantage on this guy.

"If only you'd just left me and Orion alone, everything wouldn't have turned out this way, hell, if you'd just left me alone! But you couldn't help yourself could you Duo, if you're miserable you have to bring everyone around you down with you. Can't leave well enough along, Can't let someone else have love when you can't!" Rann started yelling again and started taking pot shots at Duo's hiding place again. Only this time they were one at a time, up and down, side to side, searching for him behind the wall.

Duo counted down in his head and started to stand up as he hit the minute mark. Heero should be there now, would wait to give Duo time to get to his feet and then they would move and this would finally be over! Adrenalin started to pump through him in anticipation of what was about to happen. He just hoped Ember would forgive him if he brought Kitty home somewhat less than whole.

"He was so beautiful…" Rann started to carry on again. "Black hair down his neck, soft and gentle, bright grey eyes, hard and fierce. Short, but so cute, so alive. He was ready to do what it took to win the war too! He made these bullets I'm using now you know; these are the last ones he ever made before you showed up and put a bullet through him!" Duo staggered and stopped, knowing he needed to move soon, but the memory battered him, threw him as it danced before him. It grasped hold of him and started choking him.

It had been towards the end, he'd taken down a silent operation, some arms dealer selling to OZ, selling shit no one had ever seen before, dangerous shit. Weapons that killed in nasty ways, weapons and guns that were made to inflict pain and kill slowly. Weapons that OZ was going to use on civilians!

He'd gone after them with Trowa, the two of them had lain the place to wreck, had seen it destroyed very thoroughly. Left it gutted and wasted like a corpse. And Duo had been running through, killing as many as he could, making sure no one survived to spread this kind of information again, to make sure nothing like this sprung up again elsewhere, faster and smarter and harder to take down. He had been determined to get this all done in one fell swoop!

He'd shot a kid at one point, one with black hair that fell around his ears and neck and into his eyes where it dusted Grey Orbs that glowed with fear and regret. He'd started to beg Duo, started to ask for his life, started to tell Duo how he'd been forced to work here. How it wasn't his fault. And it probably hadn't been, but Duo couldn't afford to believe him. He'd shot him and moved on, joined back up with Trowa and disappeared into the darkness.

Rann was right; he had killed this Orion, if that's what that kids name had been. But it was pure serendipity that had landed him in a relationship with Orion's lover long after the war. But the shock of the whole thing, the pure chance, left him reeling, gasping for air when he should have been getting into position.

"Oh Shit." Duo said with feeling. And he got a laugh out of Rann.

"Oh, now you remember! Now you know what I know; now you know your deed. You cruel fucking SOB! Motherless bastard! You killed him, now you're going to kill me!" Rann took a few shots while talking. "Tell me, when are you planning on killing Ember and Kitty, huh? They're happy, they found love! They fucking rub it in your face everyday!"

"Duo isn't that vindictive you asshole, you are!" Kitty's voice broke his, and Duo could only listen as she got hit again. Not yet, just a few more seconds…wasn't it? Just a little longer…was he going to kill her? Would she be dead before he got there? Another life on his hands, more blood.

"You hurt everyone you get close too, have to make sure everyone is as miserable as you are or dead! What about Heero, Duo? Got his death all planned out?"

"DUO!" Heero's voice snapped him back to reality, back from his thoughts, back from that small suicide, that inner demon he'd been about to set lose. And Duo started running for that closed door, that open window where Rann wasn't facing him anymore.

"What the Fuck!?" Rann was turned away, watching Heero who'd just come in the side door and Duo could have shot him right then, taken him down from behind, shot him in the back of the head. But he hesitated and Rann turned to see him standing there.

Rann got off a few shots, wildly, but ultimately moved away from the door and window, back towards some boxes for cover and Duo ran for the door, keeping low. He'd hesitated to kill, Rann's little speech had gotten to him and he couldn't afford that! Duo opened the door and slipped in, instantly taking the first cover he could, a tar mixer.

He looked around, found Heero hidden on the other side of a workbench and then he saw Kitty. So much blood! That bright candy red that was already drying and going brown. Duo pushed his thoughts away and tired to focus on her condition. She was tied to the workbench Heero was hiding behind. No doubt he was working his way around to get her free of it.

Duo tried not to think of how many fingers would stay behind, lying on that workbench among the readily available tools. But his thoughts were dancing around, unbidden and feral in their clamor. Instead, he whipped away from the two of them and looked back to where he'd seen Rann disappear through the window.

The warehouse was ripe with boxes, of all shapes and sizes, and not just boxes, but crates too, the kind made out of wood that were denser and took bullets better. Duo cursed those boxes silently as he slowed his breathing, trying to hear past Kitty's ragged breath, trying not to notice how much it belied her pain. He already knew Heero would slow his breathing, that kind of reaction just came natural, without a thought, when you shared a past like they did.

And that was how Duo was able to catch Rann's breathing, his shifting as he moved around behind his little fort of boxes. He was desperate now, Duo and Heero had invaded his citadel, and his determined and righteous mission was fading, crumbling with the threat of two Gundam pilots suddenly after his blood and damn close to getting it.

"Rann, it's time to give it up. Just stop. It's over." Duo kept an eye on Heero and Kitty out of the corner of his eye as he started to creep out from behind his own hiding place and move towards Rann's against his better judgment. But Heero wasn't here to stop him this time; he was busy fighting with Kitty's bindings, struggling to get her free from whatever Rann had used to tie her to the workbench.

"NO! Shut up! This isn't over!" Duo froze at his words, he was halfway there, he was crouched, one foot stretched out to take another step closer, exposed with no cover. And from the sound of Rann's voice, he was at that point where desperation left reason and rational thinking behind.

Duo looked up as Rann's movement drew his eyes to where he'd stood up over the boxes and aimed down his gun at the first target he saw. It wasn't Duo.

It was Heero and Kitty, still fighting with packing tape that kept Kitty tied to the spot with thread running through the tape and making it stronger, impossible to rip. Both of them looked up as Rann appeared and Heero's gun wasn't raised, wasn't in either of his hands and Duo knew they were both about to die.

He didn't think twice, all thoughts of Orion and Lawrence left him as he took his shot. He watched Rann's head get hit from the right and then the left side of his face was just gone. Only a bloody mass that resembled raw hamburger was left and then he was falling backwards out of sight.

Everything had lead up to that moment and now it was just over. The whole thing was surreal, even as Kitty was yelling at him, yelling at Heero to get her free, yelling at him some more. Even as he stood there and kept his gun out, despite the knowledge that Rann…no…Lawrence would never get up again. It just didn't feel like he'd just killed someone. Not like it used to, not the self-satisfaction that someone bad was gone from the world, not that guilt that followed the killing and the bloodlust. There was nothing, no guilt, no anger, and no sadness, just a big void of nothing.

And then Kitty was in his face, she was almost even with him in height, so suddenly having the crying, angry, scared, yelling blonde in his vision was startling. She took up his whole field of vision and grabbed at him, even through the pain, trying to get him to say something, trying to make sure he was ok, and that was what finally brought him back to himself.

"Fuck!" He cursed; he looked down at her hands, her hands that were missing fingers…both pinkies and the ring finger on her right hand. Duo was instantly nauseous, not that he hadn't seen injuries like this before, hell, he'd deffinantly seen worse in the war, but these were Kitty's hands…

"HEERO!" Heero was instantly there, and Duo finally realized he had his cell phone out and was talking to someone very rapidly, though he couldn't have told you what Heero was saying, everything was sort of out of focus at the moment. All he could really see at that moment was Kitty's blood everywhere, the missing fingers. He knew that this moment right here, these last few minutes would haunt his dreams and even his waking hours for the rest of his life.

That he hadn't been in time to save Kitty's fingers, that he'd had to shoot Lawrence, that he'd let Heero and Wu Fei down with their investigation. How was it that he hadn't figured out what was going on earlier at all?! The pieces were all there now for him to see.

It was all almost unbearable…but he had no time for any of this. If war time triage had taught him anything it was that lives were lost on the battlefield when luxuries like hospitals and painkillers weren't available, and this was no battlefield! Kitty stood a chance of at least having her fingers back in place, if not some use of them, but that chance lessened the longer they stood there.

Heero's phone snapped shut and Duo looked to him for the next move, it just came natural, from their time together on missions so often, Heero was always in charge unless they were dabbling in Duo's forte. Heero apparently, had already thought everything out ahead of time while Duo was still stuck somewhere around the time where he'd had to shoot Lawrence.

"The police are on their way, get Kitty in your car, I'll bring these," He gestured to her severed fingers, "And call Ember to meet us at the hospital. We'll have to give statements and reports later, but in the light of Kitty's wounds, they're letting us take her to the hospital as long as we stay there until they arrive."

Duo nodded rapidly and settled his arm around Kitty's waist, never mind that she was upset and touchy, at that moment he needed to reassure himself that she was still there, still more or less whole and unharmed, and though her tears were silent, he suspected she needed at least some comfort until he could deliver her into the arms of her lover.

So Heero drove and spoke to Ember while Duo kept hold of Kitty in the back seat, keeping her calm and trying to distract her from the pain. Kitty, though crying and letting out a whimper now and then, was doing really well despite her situation. She didn't complain about the pain nor did she sob, she just sat there, holding her hands above her heart as best she could to lessen the blood pressure.

Heero wasn't driving erratically, but he did seem to be setting aside the speed limit for one that more suited his needs. He didn't weave but he also never got caught at a red light or behind someone driving slowly for more than a few seconds. He kept glancing in the rearview mirror, as worried about Duo as he was about Kitty. He liked Kitty, he liked Ember too, the two women were strong and in such a loving relationship, he couldn't think of a reason why anyone wouldn't like them.

But right then, Duo wasn't looking so good either. Facts kept rushing to the front of his brain as Heero drove. They hadn't eaten, hadn't slept well, and had been under almost constant stress all day, not to mention the whole ordeal looked to be wearing Duo's reserves down, making him pale and shaky even as he kept control over his emotions. Then there was the gun shot through his shoulder. The blood loss. Everything building up inside of him was finding other outlets to escape through and that kept his heart rate up and blood pumping out of him. Heero was determined to be there when all this finally ended; he had an idea that Duo would need something stable to help him through the crash when all this finally ended. It was the least he could do after dragging all of them through this.

Duo might blame himself, it was just how his mind worked, but if Heero traced everything back it was truly his fault, entirely. It had been his want to see Duo that had truly started all of this; not the case, which he had tried to deceive himself into thinking. He could very well have solved this whole thing on his own. That wasn't pride but plain truth. He could have, yet it had been the perfect excuse to see Duo, to get one more chance to fix what he'd let go so wrong. Heero tore his attention back and forth between the rear view mirror and the road until they finally reached the hospital.

Heero pulled around to the ER where Ember and Josh were waiting for them. Ember's hair was half fallen out of her usual bun in a haphazard manner that belied her calm face and stance; As if she were simply waiting for the bus rather than the car with her injured lover. Yet even before the car was stopped, Ember had the door open and was pulling Kitty out of it and towards the hospital.

"Josh!" Heero called, and handed what Duo knew were Kitty's fingers over to the man who promptly followed the two women into the building. And for a brief moment, Duo knew he could wipe everything from his mind right then, if he just gave in he could let numbness wash over him and he could bask in blissful ignorance, just letting everything pass over him while Heero took the reins.

The offer his mind presented was so tempting…too tempting. He shoved those betraying thoughts away and started to just follow Kitty and Ember into the ER when Heero suddenly appeared at his side and got hold of him.

"Your shoulder." Heero reminded him and it was like the pain came rushing back from where it had been hiding inside of him. And then he was dizzy and falling forward. Heero caught him and was talking with someone while practically dragging him along.

Duo tried to think things through, tried to form a time line in his head from where he'd broken up with Lawrence, to when he'd meet Kitty and Ember, to when the first robberies and murders had taken place. Tried to give himself something to concentrate on and stay awake, but all the threads were fraying even more instead of falling into place. He knew it should all make sense, but all he kept thinking about were Kitty's fingers.

"Duo!?" Heero called him back from his thoughts as a nurse appeared to help him onto a gurney.

"Huh?" Duo whipped around, his eyes wide, his shoulders taut in readiness and his arms flexed in anticipation. It made him jerk in pain while someone was cutting his shirt off. Duo almost turned and broke someone's arm, but Heero was there again, taking point.

"Duo, stand down!" It was the only thing Heero could think of right then that might calm the ex pilot down. Duo flinched at the words and then some of the tension held between his shoulder blades started to ease out.

"Sorry." Duo mumbled and relaxed, letting a nurse finish getting his shirt off.

"You can't do anything for Kitty now. It's over." Heero reached out tentatively and grasped Duo's hand. Duo reflexively gripped his hand back, hard. His grip was desperate and Heero was silently glad he'd lost some of the feeling in his hands back during the war otherwise Duo's grip might actually hurt.

Heero gently rubbed his thumb over the back of Duo's hand in a comforting motion, hoping that some stability would at least get Duo thought the next few hours.

"It doesn't feel like it's over." Duo whispered, Heero had barely caught it, the noise of people talking around them almost drowned him out. But Heero heard it, opened his mouth to say something, and then a doctor was there telling him that he had to leave.

Heero gave Duo an apologetic look, want pulling at the edges of his eyes. Duo sighed heavily and nodded. Heero gave his hand one last squeeze and then let himself be ushered out of the room.

He found himself back in the waiting room with the too quiet TVs and the people who stared but didn't look at you. He stationed himself near the door and was trying to ease the tension in his body when his cell phone buzzed in his pocket causing him to jump. Heero looked down at his phone in annoyance only to fine Wu Fei's name on the little screen in front.

Heero realized he was probably keeping tabs on the police and Preventor agents here and had just found out what was going on.

Heero got up to take the call outside, hesitating for a moment and then going out the sliding doors to lean against the rails of the handicap ramp. He'd probably be there for hours before he even heard anything about either Duo or Kitty.

So Heero sorted through what Wu Fei knew from the police reporting back to him and filled in details. It felt so weird to be talking about events that had only happened less than a few hours ago. To be talking about Duo's injury when he was just not getting taken care of a few rooms away.

It was almost as if none of it had happened, as if Duo were sitting in his garage, eavesdropping on Heero as he talked to Wu Fei, trying to hear something about the case despite the fact that he was still so angry at Heero.

Heero hung up with Wu Fei and ran his hands through his hair, biting back his urge to force his way back to Duo's side. He was interrupted from his internal struggle when the police showed up.

Duo was given a local and then told to relax while a doctor patched him up. Easier said than done! Duo was so very anxious about everything right then. Everything felt so surreal and then too real all at once.

Things were either happening too fast or they weren't happening at all. Duo went over the past events in his head. He'd hit Heero, really let go and full out threw his fist into his face, laying him out. Heero had landed flat on his ass and as good as Heero had thought it would feel to hit him, to get back some of his own, to punish Heero for even thinking about leaving Kitty with that killer one more second…it had been empty. Even as he'd walked away from Heero, the same way he'd been left, he'd been so sorry. He'd wanted to run back and take it all back, to ask for forgiveness. To say he hadn't meant it.

His anger for Heero was just gone now. Just like everything else, he just felt so numb. He didn't feel remorse for having to kill Lawrence, but rather, remorse for not feeling remorse. He was scared for Kitty, but he felt so far away from that, not being able to do anything more for her. He was sorry for Ember, that he'd let down his guard and left Kitty to be taken in his place, that he'd had to return Kitty in pieces to her lover.

But they were all distant feelings, numb feelings, not all together there. He had to think too much to feel them and that wasn't right either.

"Duo?" Duo looked up in surprise at Heero standing in front of him, looking at him worriedly. Duo looked around for the doctor and found that he'd already been patched up and bandaged which meant he'd probably passed out at some point. Duo felt a blush wanting to creep up but the lack of blood made him dizzy with the effort.

"Huh?" Duo asked, knowing he had missed something from the look on Heero's face, almost as if Heero was trying not to spook some cornered animal, trying to coax it out of its corner.

"The police are here…" It wasn't a question or a statement, but a little bit of both and a prod. Duo looked past Heero to see the three uniformed men and one woman standing there, looking at him. He couldn't even begin to figure out the looks on their faces, so he didn't try. He just nodded and let the nurses take him to a spare bed in the ER where he could be hooked up to an IV and left with the police for questioning.

It was a little weird to be depending on Heero so much, but he knew he wasn't angry with Heero anymore, and even before that realization, Duo found that he'd always trusted Heero enough to know he would get his job done. That eventually this killer that eluded them would be caught…killed…and that life would be waiting at the end of the tunnel for him when…

That life would be waiting…

Duo stopped talking to the nice police man as he fully understood what it meant for Heero's case to be…over.

"He's gonna leave again…" Duo muttered. Staring past the man taking his statement to the flimsy curtains cutting him off from the rest of the ER in a mock attempt at privacy.

"I'm sorry, what was that Mr. Maxwell?" The man's use of his name snapped Duo back painfully.

"Uh…" Duo stuttered, "Oh, sorry, nothing. Where was I?" Duo stumbled through the rest of his statement, dealing out the facts of his ex-lovers death as quickly as he could. He told the officer how he'd found Kitty, how Heero had tried to help, how Lawrence…how Rann had been about to kill them both.

Duo shivered violently, but hid it as the officer, whatever his name was, finished and went to consult with his other officer buddies, still keeping him and Heero separated. Duo knew what was supposed to happen next, but with Kitty most likely knocked out from anesthesia in the middle of surgery, it was going to happen later rather than sooner.

Technically they could take both him and Heero down to the station, keep them separated until their story was proven true. Duo shivered at the thought, not liking how much all this was throwing him off. Not liking his sudden need for Heero, the need for his presence at least if he couldn't get physical contact.

Duo lay back and turned his head to the side, watching the small gap where the curtains didn't quite close, and staring at the shadows moving through the mesh up near the ceiling, keeping an eye out till someone came back to tell him something, anything.

He was surprised when Heero came through the curtain, his shoulders deflated in almost defeat, until he saw Duo laying on the bed, IV dangling from his arm and desperation on his face. Duo looked up, surprised and a little hopeful.

"I…uh…" Heero faltered and Duo took a few long seconds to marvel at the sound of Heero thrown off his game. "I have to file a report for all of this, send it back to Wu Fei…" He couldn't seem to see where to take things from there, but Duo really didn't need more of an explanation. Heero had thrown around his badge, being a Preventor meant that he was on the same level, if not one up on the police.

Duo nodded, letting Heero know he got what was going on. They weren't going to be carted down to the station after all; they were off the suspects list. In fact, once Heero filled his report the case would probably be closed and stored away. Even as they stood there, unwilling to fill the silence, the authorities were probably announcing to the press that the Bible Beater was dead. That everything was ok now.

Heero stared at Duo, trying to gauge what was going on behind his too wide violet eyes. Duo was raw right now, every thought he had was hidden behind some kind of mask that only showed a blank awareness of what was going on around him. It worried him, worried him in a way he was only beginning to understand.

He'd known he loved Duo, for a long time now it had plagued him, knowing that what he'd done had been cruel and a lie. Knowing that he'd hurt Duo so badly had weighed down on him so long. But what he hadn't known, what being so close to Duo had shown him, was the depth of that love.

Seeing him in such danger, willingly throwing himself into it for the love of a family he'd made for himself away from the rest of the pilots…it brought that love into the light and made a mockery of Heero's understating of it. Even now, he was fighting back an urge so deep to simply gather Duo in his arms and walk away it was almost terrifying. Walk straight to the nearest shuttle and leave for earth and never look back, Duo's protests, and he would have them, be damned.

Heero was trying to find something to say, something that would make this alright while simultaneously fighting that urge to hold Duo when a young woman parted the curtains and cleared her throat. "Um, sorry, but your friend just got out of Surgery and…"

Duo sat up and probably would have tried to stand if Heero hadn't been there to hold him down while Ember was lead to them.

"Is she…?" Duo started to ask. Ember gave him a sad smile coming though the curtains.

"She's ok." Ember gave him a sad smile. She down at him and gathered him into a hug, careful of his shoulder. Duo's shoulders slumped and he hugged her tightly back. "They're…they reattached her fingers." Ember swallowed hard and Duo held her tighter while Heero stood there, awkwardly trying to find somewhere to look. "They don't know…" Ember stumbled on the words, took a breath and started talking again, "They don't know if she'll ever have full use of them again, but we're hopeful."

Duo nodded and breathed in the smell of Ember, it calmed him a little, sense memory allowing him to think of when they all used to live together. If anyone could over come this, it was Kitty.

Heero felt the need to be somewhere else at that moment. He remembered when he used to feel this way all the time, but right then it wasn't because he felt he didn't fit in, it was more that he felt as if he wasn't needed, as if he were impeding on something personal.

He had no warning when Ember suddenly came and threw her arms around him since he'd been looking away. But he suddenly found himself being held as tightly as Duo had just been, with the wetness of Ember's tears soaking into his shirt.

"Thank you." Ember whispered into his shoulder. Heero looked up to find Duo's small smile and his eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "You got her back to me…you saved her!"

Heero suddenly felt a plunging feeling in his stomach. He didn't deserve this thank you, he hadn't brought Kitty back safely, she was less than whole; she was Missing Fingers! It had taken Duo's hitting him to get him in gear!

Heero looked at Duo over Ember's head and saw Duo's eyes widen. It was written all over his face, the sudden anguish that was taking him over, his breath quickened and he needed Ember not to be touching him right then, not to be thanking him.

Duo seemed to understand what Heero was trying to convey to him, he reached out and took Ember's arm, turning her gently away from Heero.

"Are you going to stay here with Kitty?" Duo peered up into her face where Ember was wiping away tears, not noticing Heero's discomfort or Duo's smooth transition on his behalf.

Ember nodded. "Yes, I'll have someone else take care of the hotel for a few days. Are you doing alright?" She suddenly looked down at Duo, eyes full of concern and wary of him.

"I'm fine!" Duo assured her, calling up a smile to give her, rubbing his hands on her shoulders, as if helping to build up her strength. She nodded and let out a big sigh.

"You two should go home when you get the chance; Kitty won't wake up for a while yet. You should get some rest." Ember encouraged them.

"Is that a subtle way of telling me I look like shit?" Duo teased, and only Heero noticed the strain around his eyes.

"No, if you looked like shit I'd tell you." Ember gave him a smile, the most real one she had yet, a little of the tension leaving her face. "You just look dead tired."

Duo laughed and gave Ember the smallest of pushes towards the part in the curtains behind her, a kind of delicate hint and Heero saw it for what it was while Ember simply reacted to it. Most people didn't notice when you did something like this, but Duo more than anyone was successful when pulling it off.

"Go home and get some sleep when they release you." Ember told them, not noticing when Heero didn't look at her again.

"Call me when she wakes up!" Duo called before Ember disappeared back into the ER.

They waited there for a doctor to come around, check on Duo's IV and decided weather they were going to keep Duo overnight. Considering nothing important had been hit by the bullet the doctor gave them his ok as long as Heero and Duo promised that Duo was going to go to bed and rest and take some iron pills. Duo eagerly signed the release papers and Heero got them a ride home.

They didn't talk the whole ride back to the hotel and it was ok, the quiet wasn't strained or uncomfortable, it just was and that was ok. But Heero started to get out of the car at Ember's hotel and suddenly realized he didn't know where Duo lived, hadn't asked so he could drive him there, and Duo was already getting out of the car and probably preparing to walk.

"I'm sorry, if you'll tell me where to go, I didn't even think about it I just…"

Duo cut him off and ducked his head sheepishly. "No it's ok, we're there."

"Where?" Heero asked, confused as Duo came around the car as it pulled away and ran his hand through his bangs.

"Here. I live…here." Duo admitted, feeling not that it had been stupid to keep it from Heero for so long. Would it have been so bad if he'd just told him from the start?

"Oh." Heero didn't know what to say. All this time, he'd been wondering where Duo lived, what kind of place he would have for himself, been waiting at the garage whenever he needed to see Duo, all this time he'd been only floors away.

"Sorry." Duo said quietly to the air between them, "I just…I don't know, I just didn't want…fuck." Duo turned away and felt the strong urge to hit the car tighten his fists. Heero was going to leave, it shouldn't be bothering him, but it was.

He should be thinking of Kitty, of Lawrence, but instead all he could think about was Heero leaving, probably tonight!

"It's alright." Heero misread Duo's frustration and started them walking towards the elevator up from the underground parking. "Where's your room?" Heero asked as they waited for the elevator.

"Next to Ember and Kitty's in the service halls. It's part of the original hotel. They just built on it." Duo stepped into the elevator and that was when it got awkward.

The silence between them was heavy and full of something neither one could get a hold of. Heero wanted to ask Duo something, but couldn't see Duo responding well, not to mention that it was completely the wrong time. But it was Duo who finally spoke as the doors opened to the first floor and Heero was waiting in the elevator to take it up to his suite.

"Wanna come over?" His words were quick and fell all over themselves, he also turned a little red at the surprised look on Heero's face, but he couldn't be alone right now, and he really, really didn't want Heero to leave. At least not tonight, though he knew he was lying to himself when he thought that.

Heero was just as surprised as Duo when he nodded once and stepped off the elevator and it closed behind him, summoned to another floor. They stood there in silence for a moment, as if neither of the believed they were really there, really standing two feet apart, waiting for the other to move, waiting with shallow breath for the other to make the first move.

Heero took a breath to say something and Duo beat it to him, as if Heero's own willingness to bear this small moment had spurred him on to taking it for himself.

"It's just down here…" Duo turned and started walking, concentrating very hard on not tripping or falling or letting his shivering get out of control. He could feel Heero behind him, almost like the man radiated heat and presence just from his eyes on Duo's back or the steps that were just one beat off of his own.

Heero followed Duo through the back hallways of the hotel. More so than last time he noticed how empty they were. Even with all the people working in the hotel it was run so no one lingered where they shouldn't and always seemed to be doing something.

But then maybe he was just trying to focus on something else other than the fact that he was standing outside of Duo's door now, waiting fro him to unlock it.

Duo strove to hide the slight tremble as he opened the door, keys jingling slightly in his hand, and stepped into the dark room. The combination of stress, fatigue, and anxiety had him stretched out so thin that Duo wasn't sure this was even a good idea. But the thought of losing Heero again made him push forward despite all his hang ups.

The fact that Heero smelled so good, even after the day they'd had, didn't help. Duo instantly went to his little kitchen and grabbed a soda. He took a long swallow and relished at the thought that his veins would soon be streaming with caffeine. He used his next swallow to take one of the iron pills he'd been ordered to take. He looked over at Heero who was still standing just inside his door as uncomfortable as ever and raised the can, "Want one?"

"Water?" Heero ventured further into Duo's domain as the braided man got him a cold glass of water. He watched that long length of hair dance against Duo's back as he moved. Little hairs escaping form the intricate knots and dancing around the main body of hair. The way the light played upon it, turning it form just brown to something more that seemed to be spun of wood or spun sand. Surprisingly it was calming, just watching Duo move around, as if no time had passed away from each other, as if they days occurrence's had never happened.

Heero grunted in appreciation when Duo handed him the glass and took a few quick sips. It was cool going down, and until that moment Heero hadn't realized how sore his throat was, how much heat was burning right there. But he couldn't figure out where this sensation was coming from. So he just took larger swallows and attempted to try and cool it down.

Duo watched Heero nervously, now that he had him here, he didn't know what to do. He couldn't really ask Heero to stay the night, it seemed a weird thing to ask Heero to sleep on the couch, but he wasn't all that sure what Heero's response would be if he asked for what he really wanted…

However, Heero did seem to know what to do with the opportunity of quiet time they suddenly had an abundance of.

"I'm sorry." Duo looked up sharply, eyes surprised, curious and suspicious at the same time. Heero stood just outside his small kitchen, suspended between his living room carpet and his kitchen lamination.

"Sorry for what?" Duo asked, not sure wither he should admit that Heero really didn't need to be apologizing anymore.

"That I was willing to sacrifice Kitty for you." Well, there was that…but it was just as confusing as everything else!

"What do you mean "sacrifice Kitty"!?" Duo demanded, astounded at the fact that not only did Heero choose to do this now, but that he chose to word his apology that way. "What you mean is, you're sorry that you made me punch you." Duo tried to smile, tried to bring up a grin that showed it was all water under the bridge; that they didn't have to do this now. But he was too tired to be doing this and it was starting to really show.

"Duo…" Heero knew Duo was intently trying to misunderstand him, and he was grateful for it, but he needed to get this out now, before he left. It was possible he was only going to make this worse, but he couldn't leave without one last attempt. Even if he did know perfectly well that Duo had made his own life here with Kitty and Ember, even if he did know there was a good chance that Duo had long since lost those feelings Heero had tried to destroy in Duo and himself so long ago…

He simply could not lose him again, not like that, not like this, not if there was something he could do about it.

Duo stared back at him, waiting, tired, frail around the edges, but still standing there, violet meeting cobalt, still waiting for him to speak. There like he'd always been till Heero had shoved him away, he'd been there, his best friend, his first friend.

"Duo…I know…I…" All those years…years. Not weeks, not months, but years, he'd let them slip by, even as he'd practiced saying it over and over in his head; he'd never once pursued it. How could he have let years go by!? Not when he loved Duo this much!

"I'm sorry…" they were the only words that would come to him. Duo looked at him, confused, but also…also so surprised, so hopeful even while he was trying to hide it.

Heero put his glass down somewhere to the side, leaving it to either fall or not and took one step towards Duo that seemed to cross depths. They were so close now, a hairs breadth away form each other, a thought might have been enough to bring them together, but the heat radiating off their skin was all that filled the air still between them.

Heero spoke, almost afraid to, his voice coming out a whisper when he'd meant it to be strong and wavering under the weight of all he'd been suppressing for so long.

"Say no…" Duo paused, breath stopping in his chest, his heart pounding, fear tingeing the edges of his hope that shone in his eyes, "Say no and I'll understand, I'll leave and you can go back to…"

"Fuck you Yuy!" Duo cursed him and closed that last inch, throwing himself into Heero's arms without restraint, ready to do anything to erase that utter despair he'd finally noticed for the first time that hung in Heero's eyes, in his shoulders, in the way his hands fisted at his sides and in the way he kept trying to hold himself back.

Their lips met and Duo drank him in, Heero tasted as he'd always thought he would, for all that time he'd watched the pilot so closely, felt him however briefly in passing, smelled his scent lingering in a room. Duo found that Heero was not only everything he had imagined him to be, but more.

He was just as strong as he'd always been, but there was also something new, something gentle that cradled Duo's face in rough hands and caressed him with the curve of a hip. Duo relished in the feel of Heero's body on his, found himself shoved back onto the kitchen counter and pushed down, ravished, he hissed in pain from his shoulder and Heero started to pull away, guilt heavy on his face. Duo swallowed the pain and pulled Heero back, deepening the kiss even as Heero tried to be more careful of his shoulder. They adjusted and Heero's passion rose again.

Heero wanted to touch Duo, wanted to feel his skin, hot and stretched beneath him like a ready feast, but he was hesitant now about Duo's shoulder. He wanted to taste every inch of the braided pilot and he wasn't going to wait one more second. His hands roamed down from where he held Duo to him and found this lithe waist, wired with muscle and hidden beneath a shirt Heero cursed in his head. He found the edge of the scratchy hospital fabric and shoved it up as quickly as he could, without risk, surprising Duo.

Duo found his shirt gone in a moment of struggling and then Heero's hands were on him, searching, testing, and running down his chest and around to his back, pulling him up off the counter and into his arms. Duo let Heero lift him, wrapped his arms tightly around Heero's waist and pressed his groin tight against Heero's stomach, showing him just how happy he was to be there, how eager he was for more.

Heero moved them into Duo's bedroom, eased them down on the bed, burying Duo into the strewn covers and kissing him till he was sure they would both go blind. Duo's hands found Heero's shirt and tugged hard as he moaned into Heero's mouth till they broke away form each other long enough for the item in question to be removed.

Duo scooted further up on the bed, writhing beneath Heero's knees, pulling Heero after him. It was slightly awkward because of his shoulder, Heero followed, but only far enough so that Duo's exposed stomach was suddenly beneath him. He gently kissed Duo's abs, a quick flick of his tongue rewarding him with a sudden noise and quick movement from Duo.

Heero tried again, seeing what would bring moans from Duo, and even what brought a quick jerk and laugh. Heero tasted Duo's skin, bathing himself in the scent of skin, oil and vanilla. Sweat quickly joined the mix and kisses came back, deep and fulfilling.

Duo felt everything filling him quickly, as if he were a cup, but not deep enough. It was as if the whole day were becoming more and more real with each kiss, each touch. He was ready to overflow, could feel it coming and was sure it would spoil this. His pain faded in and out, almost disappearing completely. He didn't want this moment to end with Heero, not ever, and so he tried to hold back, tried to bottle it all up. But the kisses gave way to tears and Duo was suddenly clutching at Heero as if he were the last solid thing on Earth and in the colonies.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god…" Duo heard a voice saying over and over again, and when he heard it, he realized it was his voice saying it, muffled from where his mouth was buried against Heero's neck.

The pain in his shoulder rushed back at the loss of endorphins and it only added to the sudden outburst. He found himself in Heero's lap, held just as tightly as he was holding Heero. His sobs were broken and ragged but Heero was somehow holding him together while everything else shattered around him. His kisses were gentle and more into his hair and neck than anywhere near his lips.

"'m sorry…" Duo muttered, sure this was it, who wanted a weepy bed partner?

"It's alright, I thought this might happen." Heero started to unconsciously rock Duo ever so slightly, instinct making him protective as his eyes scanned the room even while he kissed Duo again.

Duo grunted half a question into Heero's neck, striving to pull back.

"I could tell, today, you were so empty at the hospital, so dark. It was like the real you was trapped behind that damned mask you always wear." Heero explained, feeling the slight fear he'd had for Duo rise up again. "It's alright, please, let it out."

Heero found he couldn't really explain how much this meant to him. Duo had used to come to him with his problems before anyone else, and even if he'd never held him like this before, it was like having a small piece of that back. Duo nodded into Heero's neck, content to remain there, breathing in nothing but Heero and collecting the pieces of himself back up where no one could see.

They sat there while the sun sank outside, throwing the apartment at the bottom of the hotel into dusk. Duo sat gathered up in Heero's arms, warm and safe and eventually the kisses became passionate again; fervent and hot. The skin they had pressed tight against each other wasn't enough.

They quickly helped each other out of the remaining cloths they had on and more touching and exploring followed, still wary of Duo's shoulder, but bolder. Now when they pressed up against each other it was so much more, it wsa what each man had been yearning for without even knowing it.

Duo loved the feel of Heero's hands on him, needed more, and knowing exactly what he wanted now helped him to find the courage to tell Heero that there was lube in the bedside table drawer as the last of his pain drifted off in the wake of a wave of pleasure.

The need and relief that broke on Heero's face at the words encouraged him more, enough so that he didn't balk when Heero's hands drifted down to his tight entrance and began to work him wide enough for what they both wanted. Duo shuddered as Heero's fingers left him long enough to guide himself, hard and ready, to Duo's entrance.

Duo forced himself to relax and fought the hiss that escaped his lips as Heero began to push into him. He looked up to find the most wonderful expression of lust, need, hunger and possessiveness, as well as protectiveness, on Heero's face, poised over him.

Duo wriggled and bowed beneath Heero, helping and hindering at the same time. Heero reigned in his iron clad control and stopped as Duo's ass met his hips, he was now fully sheathed inside of Duo. The feeling of complete belonging was so right, Duo felt full up to the back of his throat and Heero was sure he couldn't move for fear of finishing right then.

"I love you." Heero's voice filled the room and Duo felt tears prickle his eyes again, he'd dreamed of hearing those words. He'd imagined it and longed for it. It was surreal, finally hearing them off of Heero's lips, but it was also so right.

"I've always loved you!" Duo pulled Heero down and captured his lips and Heero started up and slow and gentle rhythm. Rolling his hips and Duo thrusting up to meet him, stroke for stroke.

It was just what they both needed, but over quickly. Their needs too great and one followed the other quickly while they shoved their bodies together, as if they might melt that last barrier of skin and fully become one. Heero shot into Duo, hot and grunting from the force it wrought on this body. Duo came between them a second later, the sensation too much for him to handle. They stayed pressed together, breathing hard and Duo began to feel a pleasant ache below his waist and a not so pleasant one in his shoulder. He really hopped he hadn't pulled his stitches, but suspected they were ok.

Heero pulled out gently, gathering Duo to him, Duo's arms snaking around him, holding him just as closely. They had the whole night, but for now, this was more than enough. Just to hold one another.

Heero sighed contentedly against Duo's ear and could barely believe the man in his arms. There was so much to regret, but there was also so much ahead of them that it was foolish to linger on that now. He knew this, but Duo's thoughts seemed to be in the same place.

"We're even now, right?" Duo broke the silence, wondering how long this moment would have lasted before one of them broke it anyway. "I mean, you decked me, I laid you out. Punch for punch, no more dwelling."

Heero pulled back just far enough to look down at Duo's face. "You can hit me again if it'll make you feel better."

"That's not what I meant. No more hitting." Duo pulled Heero back down and settled for as long as he could before he'd have to go and clean up.

"Ok." Heero agreed.

"Love you." Duo kissed Heero's shoulder, loving the freedom he had to say that just as much as he loved the man beside him.

"I love you." Heero squeezed Duo tightly, swearing to himself that he'd never let years go by again. He could never lose Duo, not ever again.

Duo awoke warm and comfy. He would have gone right back to sleep had he not tried to move. The moment he did Heero's arm tightened around his waist and pain shot through his shoulder, and that was when Duo remembered what had happened and that he wasn't alone in bed.

Duo looked around to find Heero waking, his eyes blinking slowly. Duo wondered if Heero was using a trick he often did, when you stalled for time by doing something mundane very slowly, like blinking. But then Heero smiled at him and pulled him closer against his body.

"Morning." Heero murmured and just laid back, his face pressed tightly against Duo's shoulder with his braid coming undone against his cheek. Heero reveled in the scent that hung in the air around them.

"What time is it?" Duo asked even as he allowed himself to lay back into Heero's arms.

"Don't know." Heero admitted, not really caring anyway. He ran his fingers gently along Duo's arms, marveling at the softness of his skin and the very presence of Duo lying against him. Then concern took over his face as he remembered Duo's shoulder. "How is it?" He asked, guilt coming into his eyes.

"A little sore, but I'm fine." Duo breathed in deeply and sighed. "I wonder how Kitty is…" Heero felt the tension suddenly fill Duo's shoulders.

"I'm sure she's fine." Heero reassured him, smiling to himself at the thought of Ember and Kitty arguing in the hospital much as Heero and Duo used to during the war when Duo had been determined to leave despite doctors orders.

"I think I'll go visit her today. Gotta check on my garage too…" Duo trialed off, knowing he was talking himself into getting out of bed despite the fact that he was very loathe to do so.

Heero moved behind him a small breeze of cold air danced across Duo's back. Duo looked around, propping himself up on his elbow to find Heero digging for something on the floor next to the bed.

He came back up with a cell phone and perched his chin on Duo's good shoulder as he brought it around so Duo could see the tiny screen.

"Eleven o' clock." Duo sighed. "Now I have to get up." He sighed dramatically and Heero snorted against his shoulder as he let Duo pull away from his and roll out of bed.

They took their turns in the bathroom and pulled on jeans. Duo had a new pair while Heero was stuck in the ones he'd worn yesterday. He looked down at them with distrust as he wished for his suitcase which was currently many stories above them.

Duo gave a little snicker. Heero flashed him a small glare and searched for the rest of his cloths around the disheveled room. Duo had redone his hair after Heero had redressed his shoulder and then opened the blinds a little so that the sun streamed in. The lines of light played against Duo's skin and hair as he moved around the room and Heero admired the view, smiling to himself.

"Are you going to file your report soon, the press is probably circling like vultures by now." Duo bent down to retrieve a shirt from the floor, his words calling Heero back from his musings.

"It's likely to be on the news by now. I'll call Wu Fei later and file a report then." Heero said casually, but then noticed that Duo had stood up abruptly with his shit but was just holding it, looking around for something.

Duo snatched up a remote form his bedside table and flipped on the small TV he kept in his bedroom, shirt in one hand remote in the other and changed the channel till he found a woman sitting behind a desk with a little picture of a bloody bible in the upper corner of the screen. The little words running across the bottom of the screen had words like 'Preventors' and 'ex-Gundam Pilots' in it and Duo felt sick to his stomach. He'd always hated being on the news, even after the war. He'd come too used to that being a bad thing. As being exposed. He focused in on the woman's voice as she spoke to the camera and to millions of people on the colonies and on earth.

"Our top story today, the murderer known as the Bible Beater was killed yesterday after kidnapping a young woman on Colony L3. Kitty Phillips is currently safe in the hospital after…" Duo shut off the TV vehemently.

"Of course it's on the news, why wouldn't it be!" Duo cursed the TV and turned back to Heero, about to ask him something that he quickly forgot with Heero's next words.

"Come back to Earth with me!" The words just came out of his mouth out of no where, no warning and now they were hanging in the air between them and the room suddenly went from comfy and new to stressed and thick.

Duo looked at him, confusion and disbelief playing across his face. Heero sat there waiting, watching Duo closely, and searching for something, anything that would clue him into what Duo was thinking. But when he was sure he was catching a glimpse of something, it quickly disappeared under a mask as Duo pulled his shirt over his head gingerly.

"You know what Heero, can I think about it? I have to go check on Kitty and the garage." Duo pulled some socks out of his dresser drawer and pulled them on still standing.

Heero felt something twist in his gut. He stood, looking around for his shirt merely for something to do. He was sure he'd lost it in the living room, but couldn't bring himself to leave the room. Instead he waited until Duo went in their first and followed him numbly, striving not to say anything and almost losing a couple of times.

"What's your room number?" Duo suddenly asked as he was lacing up his boots. Heero told him and found his shirt, pulling it quickly over his head. He didn't ever remember being this uncomfortable undressed in front of Duo before.

"Ok," Duo gave him a smile as he opened the door. "I'll see you when I get back, ok? Don't forget to lock the door." And then he was gone.

Heero cursed himself and felt a strong urge to hit something. He continued looking around for his cloths and tried to ignore the churning in his stomach. "Damn."

Duo closed the door behind him and quickly walked down the hallway for the main lobby. He had the horrible feeling that he was fleeing, running away like a coward. He'd been planning on having breakfast…or lunch, with Heero, had planned on inviting him to go to the hospital with him to visit Kitty. But the moment he'd uttered those words Duo couldn't seem to have gotten out of that room fast enough. Couldn't breathe, couldn't concentrate. It had felt like he'd been cut adrift, everything closing in around him. It was only a little better out here, everything was tilting away from him, all the voices around him were blurred and he couldn't seem to remember getting out the front doors.

Duo stopped just outside the hotel and leaned against the wall. He tilted his head back and turned his face up into the artificial sunlight, breathing slowly and closing his eyes. "Shit."

Duo worried all the way to the hospital. His mind was full to bursting with Heero's question, Kitty's injuries and the case closing being all over the news. He became more focused as he parked at the hospital and followed the directions he'd gotten in a call form Ember earlier that day. It was an effort, but he managed, having had a lot of practice in this department.

He kept picturing Kitty the last time he'd seen her, covered in all that blood. Her hands… Duo pushed away his over active imagination and pulled together a smile for Kitty as he entered her room.

"Hey!" Duo found them back against a window, the first bed empty. Ember was sitting next to he life partner in one of those chairs that always looked more comfortable than it actually was. But Duo had no doubt that he'd been camped out there all night.

"Hi!" Kitty was propped up on pillows; covers tucked up around her chest and her arms lying down at her side, splinted and wrapped up tight. It was as if someone had started her for mummification but only made it up to her elbows.

Duo flinched at the sight, but pashed on. He pulled the other spare chair away from the empty bed and sat down on Kitty's other side. The smell of the hospital, all the IV tubes and wires made him nervous but he tried not to see them.

"So, how're you doing?" Kitty asked, smiling big. "How's the shoulder, heard you got released yesterday, lucky SOB."

"I got released, you didn't, what does that tell you?" Duo chuckled, "What did the doctor say?"

Kitty's eyes wilted a little around the edges as Ember spoke up to answer his question.

"The doctor reattached all her fingers since it was a clean cut and they're hopeful that she'll get back some of her dexterity with physical therapy. We just have to watch her closely for infection." Ember said it all with optimism in her voice but Duo knew the reality and he could see it in Kitty's eyes. He knew of only a few women who were just as strong and just as determined as these two, and if anyone could overcome this kind of obstacle Kitty could.

But she wouldn't hope. She'd surpass her own limits, but she wouldn't set herself up for disappointment. Duo gave her a smile that let her know he knew the score too and Ember frowned at them both, but wisely let it go.

"So, did Heero leave?" Kitty asked, changing the subject non to delicately and making her lover gape at her.

"Kitty! You were supposed to be subtle!" Ember scolded.

"Awe, that's no fun. I want the dirt. I'm injured, I think I deserve to know." Kitty pouted. Ember gave half a laugh and they both looked at Duo who found that he couldn't hold the blush back.

"Oh my God! They had sex!" Kitty exclaimed, and Duo could feel her pointing at him even if she couldn't lift her arm to do it. The accusation in her voice was enough.

"Again, Subtle Kitty, tact! We can't just automatically assume that…" Duo watched as Ember looked up at him mid-gesture and her face changed. "Oh my God, she's right!" Duo balked and blushed deeper. "You have had sex!"

"How do you do that!?" Duo demanded, fighting to get his flaming face under control, wondering why he hadn't just burst into flame yet.

"Women's intuition." Ember said. Kitty nodded solemnly, but it was ruined while she was trying not to laugh. Duo rolled his eyes.

"So, what happened?" Kitty asked.

"Hey, I'm not giving you a play by play scenario!" Duo said indignantly.

"EW!" Ember and Kitty exclaimed together.

"No, no! Just give us the pillow talk, leave out all the rest, please!" Kitty laughed. "Does he love you or was this a fling and he'll be back in a couple of years for more?"

Duo snorted, "Well uh…truth is…he loves me." The elation still caught him off guard and the words were still strange on his tongue, but gods did it feel good to say!

"I knew it!" Ember practically shouted. "Oops, sorry." Ember giggled as a nurse passing by stumbled just outside their door. Kitty snickered and beamed at Duo. "What she means to say is, 'we' knew it."

Duo smiled at them, loving them ever more now than he ever had, which was what made this next part so difficult.

"He asked me to go back to Earth with him." Duo wrung his hands, fighting the urge to run them through his bangs.

"Alright!" Kitty cheered unabashedly, Ember's face lit up just as much, both of them waiting expectantly.

"I haven't given him an answer yet." Both women froze and stared at him, Ember in shock and Kitty in disgusted exasperation.

"Ember, smack him in the back of the head for me? I can't reach him." Kitty asked matter 'o factly.

Ember promptly walked around the hospital bed to where Duo was sitting and brought the back of her hand against the back of his head. Duo tried to duck seeing that she actually meant to do it, but she was quick and ruthless.

"OW! What was that for!?" Duo demanded rubbing the back of his head through his hair.

"Because you're an idiot! If a hot guy says he loves you and says he wants to whisk you away to live happily ever, you say yes!" Kitty strained the last word, her eyebrows almost lost under her bangs they were raised so high.

"What?" Duo couldn't believe what he was hearing, surely kitty of all people would understand why he couldn't just pack everything and leave his home on Heero's whim!

"Duo!" Kitty snapped, getting his attention back from his thought, "You're thinking too hard, I can hear you from here."

Duo sighed. It had been what he'd always wanted to hear, what he'd secretly been waiting for since he'd moved here. So why was it that now that Heero had finally said the right words that he was hesitation so?

"Duo." Ember interrupted, trying a different approach than her lover. "We want you to be happy."

"But I am happy." Duo argued, "Here with you two and ma garage!"

"Duo, we've known you a long time now, years. And in all that time I don't remember ever seeing you really truly happy. You've been happy, you're like family to us, don't get me wrong. But it was more like the kind of happy someone is while they're waiting for that something more."

Duo turned that thought over and over in his mind, testing it out. It was true. It was like he'd been content until Heero had showed up and then for the first time he saw what had been missing all this time.

"Come on Duo. It's not like if you leave we'll never see each other again. I know vacations are a foreign concept to you, but you can come and visit whenever you want!" Kitty gave him a big smile. A smile that plainly said that everything was going to be alright. "So be happy. You love him."

Duo smiled back at her, he couldn't help it. He gave a big sigh and just gave in. "You're right."

"Good." Kitty sat up a little straighter, triumphant even with her hands braced and her hair flat, out of it's usually ponytail. Had it been there, it would have bobbed behind her with authority as it usually did when she was right. "Now, about the garage."

Duo flinched but Kitty didn't pause, just plowed on. "You will of course make me the new manager and we'll hire two more mechanics and we'll find an investor so we can set one up on Earth. We'll start a chain! Work our way from here to Earth until we're everywhere! Just like that coffee place you hate so much!"

Duo's mouth fell open; she'd actually thought this through! Probably for a while now, maybe even ever since Heero had showed up at the garage that first day… Besides, it couldn't be this easy, it just couldn't. These sort of decisions took time, they took work. He couldn't just hand everything over to Kitty and desert her like this! But she was so sure, and Ember was looking just as expectant, she'd probably been in on it from the beginning too!

"Oh come on Duo, you had to have seen this coming." Kitty gave him a sad smile, "I'm not good for much else anymore. I'll never get full use back. Sad but true." Ember looked like she wanted to argue that, but kept silent. And Duo felt a sharp pain in his heart. Kitty lived to fix things. To take them apart and put them back together and see them work again. It was his fault that had been taken away from her.

"And don't you dare go and start blaming yourself for this!" Kitty suddenly barked as if she could read his mind. Duo ducked his head and offered her a small smile.

"That's better." Kitty lay back down. She suddenly looked much smaller and a lot more tired. Duo felt he pain again, but it was much less this time. He could give her the garage; she'd be around the cars, sharing her knowledge, probably take on an apprentice. She'd been fine working under him, happy to have a job she loved and they'd never really acted like boss and employee anyway. Duo had always known she could make it without him if she had to. This was just the next step, for both of them.

"Nap time." Ember sang, Kitty smiled at her sleepily.

"We'll discuss this more later." Kitty promised.

"Yes, the key work there being 'later'." Ember let Duo bend down and give Kitty a half hug then shooed him out. But not before giving him a hug of her own and a whispered "Thank you!"

"No, thank you!" Duo squeezed her back and then turned to go home.

Heero waited up in his room. He ran his hand though his hair again while he ran through a check list in his mind. Everything he'd brought was packed and ready to go. Wu Fei was handling the closing of the case and Duo would be back from visiting Kitty in the hospital soon.

Heero grew more anxious with each minute. Why had he asked Duo that so suddenly? He'd been too rash, too overwhelmed and too eager. You couldn't just asked someone to up and leave their whole life behind just because you asked! Duo had a business here; he had good friends, family. A home.

Of course he wouldn't say yes. Heero hadn't even been planning on asking the moment had just kind of taken over. How could he have been so stupid!? It was a foolish thing to expect everything to fall into place just because Duo had forgiven him. Heero had thought that maybe they could start dating, that eventually he'd work up to the words that had fallen out of his mouth this morning. But the looming suggestion of a long distance relationship had just been too much to bear.

Heero made his decision, he'd give Duo an easy out when he got back, hopefully he hadn't scared Duo off, and they'd start slow. Like he'd meant to. With that decided time seemed to flow like normal again and Heero didn't have long to wait when Duo came back and knocked on his door.

Heero opened the door and was rewarded instantly with a smiling Duo in blue jeans and an untucked button down black shirt. Heero back up and let Duo enter.

"Hey. Kitty's doing great. Her hands will never be the same but I don't think that'll stop her." Duo looked around casually. Heero had no doubt he'd been up here before but the tension in Duo's shoulders didn't go unnoticed when he saw Heero was already packed.

"Duo listen," Heero turned Duo around to look at him, "I wanted to apologize for this morning." He saw the instant panic on Duo's face and quickly amended himself. "I do love you. So Damn Much! It was selfish of me to demand so much from you so quickly." Heero kept talking around the growing lump in his throat. "I'll understand if you…"

"Yes." Duo suddenly interrupted him, cutting of whatever Heero had been about to be so understanding about.

"What?" Heero lost his train of thought, and though his heart still ached to bursting, now he added confusion to the mix and could only gather together enough brain cells to stare back at Duo.

"My answer is yes." Duo's smile was brilliant and his eyes glittered with amusement. "I talked it over with Kitty and she's agreed to take over the garage so that I can…"

This time Heero interrupted, reaching out to snag Duo by the back of the neck and pull him close to capture his lips in a hungry kiss. All doubt and worry washed away from him and what was left filled him to the brim and then overflowed as he kissed Duo. He broke away with difficulty, staring back at Duo, holding his face in his hands.

"Really?!" He demanded.

"Yes really!" Duo laughed, tears dancing in his eyes as he watched a smile bloom on Heero's face, a real true smile. This was what Kitty and Ember had been talking about, this was real happiness; this was true love.

Heero kissed him again, hard and quick. "I love you!"

"I love you too." Duo pulled Heero in for a hug and finally held the man he loved with the promise of forever.

Two years later…

Duo sorted through the mail as he pulled off his coat, he had to get ready for dinner with the other pilots. Heero was already upstairs; Duo could hear him walking around. Duo smiled to himself, the garage was doing great. Heero had been promoted and taken Linton with him, a woman Duo had become instant friends with. She was getting married in the spring.

Duo found a letter from the Hotel Lin on L3 in the pile on the kitchen counter and opened it. He always found it amusing that Kitty loved to write letters so much instead of calling. He indulged her and always wrote back, even if they usually ended up calling each other anyway.

Heero came down the stairs, dressed and wondering where Duo was. He'd heard his partner come in, but he hadn't come up to change yet. Heero found him in the kitchen, coat at his feet, letter in one hand and his other hand covering his mouth and tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Duo?" Heero started to take faster steps towards his lover, worry blossoming in his chest. Duo looked, surprised and then he ran to Heero, throwing himself into the others mans arms. But Heero got a quick look at Duo's face before it had been buried against his neck.

"MM DONNA EBE AMM HNNHLL!" Duo cried into Heero's neck, his words becoming so distorted that Heero hadn't caught any of it.

Heero pulled at Duo, bringing him out at arms length even as Duo laughed and cried at the same time, rubbing at his eyes.

"What?" Heero asked, perplexed.

"I'm Gonna Be An Uncle!" Duo cried and held the letter up for reference. "Kitty's pregnant!" Duo threw his arms around Heero again and laughed as Heero joined him, lifting him up off the ground and spinning.

They were late to dinner, but sharing the news with the other pilots earned them instant forgiveness. Kitty and Ember had been down to visit several times and gotten along well with everyone. Kitty arguing with Duo and Trowa over engines and cars while Ember talked quietly about business with Quatre and Wu Fei with Heero. Then they'd all switch around till the two women were good friends with them all.

"That baby is going to be spoiled rotten." Quatre mused over dinner.

"Especially with so many uncles." Trowa chuckled softly.

"Do you suppose it will be a boy or a girl?" Wu Fei wondered, taking a dessert menu form their waitress and passing it along to the others, ordering some tea for himself.

Duo leaned in close to Heero as he opened the menu. "What do you think…?"

"Oh what?" Heero asked, leaning against Duo and looking at him instead of the pie list.

"…Kids…" Duo smiled shyly.

Heero smiled back, laughter dancing in his eyes. "I think we should try babysitting first."

Duo laughed and ordered his dessert, clutching Heero's hand under the table while the conversation moved on to stuffed animals and bicycles.

They decided to all visit L3 this winter, Duo had to visit L1 anyway to check and see how his garage there was doing. It was just a short trip from there they'd been planning on making anyway.

"Love you." Heero whispered to Duo.

"I know." Duo laughed, "I love you too!"