Stars in Glass Jars
GW Duo/Hilde fic by Serena

I don't own this stuff! So sue me! The average settlement is 68,000 dollars.

They said Death never slept. But she knew better. Right now the seas could have boiled, wind could have leveled the little town house, they could have dropped the bomb, and still nothing could have lifted the heavy lashes from those violet eyes.
She watched his compact muscular chest rise and fall in the gentle rhythm of sleep. She could feel the power in him when she touched him, could feel in him the strength that sustained his fight. But she didn't touch him often. She was wary of him, and he of her, despite their easygoing natures. There was always something causing them to keep their distance.
Standing over him too long was not such a good idea, because he had a primal, almost preternatural instinct for knowing when someone was to close, and sleep was as vulnerable as he ever got. His eyes shot open; suddenly he was in a sitting position, backed up against he headboard and searching under the pillow for the pistol she'd thoughtfully removed.
She waited for him to wake up fully. He did, stretching his arms above his head and yawning, a jaw-cracking yawn that made her wince. "Hilde? What's the matter? What're you doin' in here? Where's my gun?"
Not "Whazz the matta? Whersh my gun?" but close.
"I took it away. You make me nervous when you've got that gun. You're too jumpy-you're gonna end up shooting the paperboy. I'll come home one day and we'll have a dead gardener."
Death blinked. "You don't have a gardener."
Uh, oh-she'd made him angry, insulted his pride. The God of Death didn't go around shooting gardeners. He was too good at his job for such a mistake. Unless the gardener in question worked for OZ, of course.
She'd worked for OZ once. That was how she'd met him, had her first brush with Death. She sighed. She'd never have thought he would have ended up in her house, in her bed, the only sleep Death ever got. Who would have believed it? He followed me home, can I keep him? She giggled at the thought.
"What're you laughing at?" He was still annoyed.
And in that moment, watching his hair fall into his eyes, watching his brows quirk just that little bit, watching the light play across his elfin face and seep into the darkness of his eyes, Hilde Schbeiker realized she wasn't afraid of Death. She wanted everything those eyes promised. She wanted to tell him that if he ever needed arms to hold him, hers were open. She wanted to sleep next to him knowing that there was always danger of him plunging a knife through her heart while she lay slumbering next to him.
She was betting Death's kiss would taste of all those things. However, she knew nothing of Death's kiss...
She reached out to tap Death's lips-and Duo Maxwell blinked and started back.
That was another thing that made her keep her distance-every time she worked up the courage to touch him, even something simple like brushing his unruly bangs out of his eyes, he reared back. Not as if he was wary of her and wanted her to stay away, but as if he was... if he was afraid she was going to hit him.
Perhaps that was why she wasn't afraid of him, because he was afraid of himself. He was scared enough for both of them. What she didn't understand was why. Seeing under the mask was one thing. Comprehending it was something else again.
"Well, if you're not gonna say anything, could you let me sleep awhile? I had a long night."
She knew that. Duo often had nightmares, bad ones from the impression that she got. He woke up wide-eyed and sweating, growling or murmuring half-sentences from dreams he just missed remembering.
Duo settled down again, his eyelashes sliding down to cover the violet pools. "Don't you worry, Hilde," he murmured. "If anything happens, I can protect us both if necessary..."
Hilde smiled and waited for his breathing to slow to a deep, regular rhythm. She watched his eyelashes flutter on his pale cheeks for a while, then carefully tucked the comforter around the sleeping boy.

Hilde Schbeiker had a weakness for French bread. On the best days, she would time it just right, buy bread and danish and muffins while they were still warm and breathe in the scents all the way home. This was one of those mornings.
She fumbled to put her keys on the key rack, listening to the white-noise sound of running water from deeper into the little town house. She could tell from the change of sound when the water was pelting down on bare skin instead of mildewed tiles. Then the sound tapered to a stop. Hilde put the bags down on the kitchen counter and knocked on the wall. "Duo?"
The bathroom door was half-open. Steam billowed into the hallway, looking like ghosts escaping to heaven. And then, emerging like a vision through the gray mist, was Duo, his naked flesh still slick with water, his hair long and loose and wet behind him.
Hilde would have loved to stay she didn't stare, was better, more mature, than that. But there was no way to help staring; somehow she couldn't move.
He wasn't ashamed in the least, and oddly enough that made sense to Hilde's fogged brain; why should Death be ashamed of his own body? Why should Death be ashamed of anything? Why should he care that she was staring?
And she was staring, staring at the water beading on his shoulders, watching the way the lines of his pale perfect body turned into each other. A terrible hunger was rising in her, a need to lick the water from his skin, to fall to her knees and adore him as one might a god.
"I didn't hear you come in." He said it calmly, neutrally. His expression didn't change at all, just the wide-open innocence that usually marked his elfin face.
The god was speaking to her. Why didn't she go to him? Why didn't she embrace him, let him embrace her? She was cold. She was so very cold, and she wanted his head, his light.
She wanted to say something-Duo...but she couldn't; her tongue was stuck in her mouth.
And then, all too abruptly, he turned, with that beautiful Duo shrug that meant everything and nothing, his wet hair swinging behind him.
He looked just as good from behind.
When the door shut again, Hilde leaned against the wall and sighed. Sometimes, I think you want me to touch you, she thought. But how can I, when you're so far out of reach?

He was so quiet was the problem, she realized once late after was shading into evening-thanks to the dimming of the colony's overhead lights.
He was so quiet. Duo was best known for his maddening chatter. He'd argue with you over what he thought the clouds looked like. He'd ramble for hours about the patterns on your carpet or the reflection of the moon in the water. He'd talk for a day about how he didn't have anything to talk about.
But now, today, trying to hold a conversation, any conversation with his was like trying to get a stone to sing. He sat as still as ice, as silent as... silent as Death.
It was a bad analogy-anyone who'd met Duo knew that the God of Death was anything but silent. But for some reason, as Hilde watched, it seemed to fit.
It didn't go the way she'd planned it. She'd planned to wait for him to tell her. She'd planned to be cool about it, to let him share his thoughts if he wanted to. She most definitely had not planned to slam her hands down on the kitchen table as she was now doing, had not planned simply to spit, "All right, Duo, give."
He looked up from his glass with a innocent violet eyes. "Hn?"
"I know something's bothering you. I just don't know what. All I know is that if you don't revert back to your chatterbox self soon, I'm going to go crazy!"
That was not at all how she'd planned it.
But Duo smiled. "Maybe you should enjoy the silence," he laughed.
Hilde bit her lip, not amused. "Duo, talk to me..."
"So, how about those Gundams? You think they're gonna win this war, or what?"
She slammed her hands down on the table again as she stood. "Fine. Joke about it. You're a fraud, Duo, and I can see right through you. If you don't want to tell me, that's just fine."
But it wasn't just fine, and there was no way to tell him that. Somehow the words she wanted to say to him eluded her when he was near. So she would leave.
She didn't turn back, even as she heard him startled into speech. "Hilde? Hey, Hilde, what's the matter? Where are you going?"
"Out." This punctuated with the slamming of the door.
It seemed that for blocks she heard him calling her name.

He likes that stupid Gundam more than he likes me anyway, Hilde reasoned an hour later. He tells dirty jokes to a hunk of metal that'll probably end up being the death of him, but he can't tell a warm, living, breathing woman what's causing his sorrow.
Stars in glass jars, that was what she was really thinking of. It was pointless to try to keep Duo in her life, useless, stupid.
I just want to help you, you stupid jerk, she thought again. But you did what you always do-you ran.
"I may run and hide, but I never tell a lie." Duo's creed, his own description of himself.
"Duo...don't hide from me," Hilde whispered, her eyes closed.
"What'd you say?"
Startled, Hilde turned. Her brows snapped together across the bridge of her nose. "Go away."
"Hilde-" Duo put his hands out in an imploring gesture, his chest heaving a little because he'd followed her all the way out here.
"Forget it, Maxwell. You had your chance. Now I want you to leave me alone."
He sighed. "I can't leave you by yourself. It'll be dark soon."
"I'm not afraid of the dark," Hilde said, losing her patience.
"You ought to be afraid of the dark, Hilde. There's things out in the dark that none of us can understand." His violet eyes flashed as he said this.
"Like what? Like you?" She reached for him but he evaded her nimbly. She tried again. "I will touch you!" she hissed, cupping his face in both of her hands. Wearing her anger like armor, she drew her face close to his and whispered, "Are you afraid of the dark, Duo?"
He didn't answer-she didn't let him. Instead, she lifted her head the last few centimeters, closing the space between them, pressing her lips to his.
Her heart shuddered, as if a cold knife had entered it. She thought she heard ice melting. Her right hand clenched and unclenched at his braid, but she couldn't feel herself controlling it.
She tasted smoke, the smoke that rises from an abandoned battlefield five minutes after the fighting stops. She felt what it was like to have a gold cross' clasp tangled in the little almost-curls at the nape of Duo's neck where the hair kind of went every which way. She felt how hard his muscles were against her, despite how slim he was.
She heard alarms going off on every side of her, telling her to be alert. She felt what it was like to wear a bruise on skin as fair as Duo's was. She saw the difference between looking at the moon from Earth and looking at it from space. She felt what it was like to be a flower at the exact moment it opened, to be a kitten right after its birth, blind and a mess. She tasted blood in her mouth, mixing with the sting of tears falling on a face that had seen too much for its years.
Her knees were weak. But some she was held up. Duo was supporting her, Duo who was so strong. He held her-she, who had hurled angry words at him like stones, had disturbed him so many times when all he had wanted to do was enjoy the silence...
Her knees were so weak.
"When the time comes, Hilde," Duo whispered, "I'll hold you."
At first she wasn't sure if he'd actually said anything. Then she wasn't sure exactly what he meant. When what time came? But it didn't matter. He was holding her now. That was what mattered.
Suddenly the world sprang back to life around them. A coffee shop let out little puffs of cacophony as the door swung back and forth and people came and went. A cat sprinted across the street. Cars went rushing by. No one had noticed the braided boy by the lamppost kissing a girl.
"Let's go home, Duo," she sighed into the lapel of his jacket.
He shuffled his feet. Hilde giggled at the sight and the thought-Death shuffling his feet.
"Listen, Hilde, about before. What I didn't tell you...when I was in the Wing Zero-"
She placed a finger on his lips. "Shh. Forget it, Duo."
He looked beautifully, wonderfully confused. "But Hilde-"
She didn't need to know, not anymore. She couldn't even remember why it had been so important in the first place. All she knew now was that she'd tasted Death's kiss and wanted more. She stroked his lips gently, felt him tremble ever so slightly at her touch. He tried again, speaking against her fingers, to explain. It sent shivers through her body. "Shh. Let's just go home." She reached for his hand.
He took it. "All right."
The stars had never looked so bright.

"We've got no choice but to fight him. At least we can say we ranked humanity a little higher than he does." -Sally Po

I've been dredging up old stuff to post...I felt I should expand and post something other than Big O fics, even though I'm hopelessly in love with that series and probably always will be. Feedback please.