Disclaimer: Gundam Wing doesn't belong to me and I'm makeing no money from this. Also the name and two sentances of the story are taken from the song I'm Not Leaving by The Gentlemen and, no, I don't own The Gentlemen.

A/N: Again this story links into Photos, no prizes for guessing which first time it relates to!

Smile Back At Me

By Corralero

Thud. Thud. Thud. Pause. Swish. Thud.

"Hey man!"

Thud. Thud.

Heero paused briefly at the sound of Duo's greeting before re-sighting on the basketball hoop before him.

Swish. Thud.

"Couldn't wait ta start, huh?"

Thud. Thud. Swish.

"You're late."

Duo rolled his eyes from his position on the floor where he was rapidly re-tying his trainers.

"Geeze, Hee-man, lighten up, will ya. It's only five past. Not like it's a mission or nothin'."

"Hn."

He sprang up, neatly intercepting Heero's shot at the hoop and was off, dribbling up the court. Heero gave chase, marking him closely as the agile boy spun low to the ground, bouncing the ball between his legs.

Thud. Thud. Thud. Swish.

Laughter rang out. "Bad luck, Hee-man." Heero turned away stolidly, walking back to the centre of the court, catching Duo's pass easily. Duo bounced on the balls of his feet, grinning.

"Ready?"

"Hn."

In truth, Heero was irritated and more than a little puzzled, although he wasn't about to admit that. He failed to understand why exactly Duo insisted upon doing this what seemed to be every other day, when they had more than enough to content with. But Duo cajoled and teased and begged and pestered him each time until he got nothing done and it became easier to simply go alone with Maxwell's plan, albeit in bad humour.

They played on in silence in the humid noon air until they finally flopped, panting on to the hot tarmac.

"Talkin' 'bout missions," Duo suddenly spoke as though their last exchange had been twenty seconds ago, not twenty minuets, "How's that mission go last night?"

Heero scowled, his face darkening as he stood again restlessly.

"I failed." He replied shortly. Duo stood, clapping his hands, indicating for the ball. Heero threw it hard thud but Duo caught it easily and threw it back.

Thud.

"Failed? Congrats, Heero. Didn' think ya knew that word." His voice was faintly mocking and Heero threw the ball to him again savagely, feeling the tension and anger with himself rise again.

Thud.

"I underestimated the conference attendance rates." His voice sounded harsh. The ball came back to him.

Thud.

"So an assassination? No hassle then. Ya know ya'll get another shot. Literally."

Thud.

Duo winced slightly as he caught the fast-flung ball Heero directed at him at the other pilot snapped, "There might not be another time, baka!"

He threw the ball back casually.

Thud.

"'Cause there'll be." He replied lazily and something in Heero snapped and he slammed the ball down hard on to the concrete between them. It rebounded high and fell uncaught to slowly thud thud thud away into silence as Heero yelled across at the smirking braided boy.

"You speak as if we had time, had everything, on our side. We don't. We cannot afford mistakes. We must be…"

"Perfect?" Duo's eyebrow quirked upwards sardonically. "Fightin' a losin' battle then, aren't we."

Heero glared across the gap, then suddenly allowed his shoulders to slump as waves of tiredness wash over him. He was exhausted from all the late nights, the planning, the stresses and strains that had led to nothing on account of his own weaknesses. And now he stood here with this fool, this baka, when he still had so much to do.

"Why are we doing this?" He whispered, levelling his glare at the basketball that had rolled to rest against his foot. Duo's slender hands gripped his shoulders in a reassuring, brotherly fashion as he ducked his head to look up into Heero's troubled bowed face.

"Coz ya need it. I don' know if ya want me, but I'm here anyway. Gotta smile ta give ya an' I'm not leavin' 'till ya smilin' back at me." He said seriously. Heero looked into his friend's handsome face. It wasn't mocking now but smiling, concern in his violet eyes. Heero let out a long sigh as he scrubbed a calloused hand over his face. Strangely enough he felt better, as if the slender hands which removed themselves from his shoulders alleviated the weight that had been pressing them down. They shoved at him, jokingly. He felt tired but healthily so. Exercise induced. He would sleep well tonight. Slowly he bent to pick up the ball near his foot.

Duo stretched, reaching his hands behind his back in satisfaction. Mission complete, as Heero would say, although technically Heero hadn't smiled soo…

"Duo!"

Thud.

The barked warning came too late as the basketball slammed hard into his exposed midriff. Stars erupted as he collapsed on to the concrete, gasping like a fish out of water as he tried to drag air into his winded lungs. Inwardly horrified at his mistake, Heero sprinted to Duo's side, helping him to regain control over his breath or lack of. Eventually Duo sat up and to Heero's amazement the crazy baka was giggling breathlessly. As Heero looked blankly at him, he gasped out,

"Heero, what weapon did ya use last night?"

"A 46 Zureg sniper riffle." Heero answered in confusion, "Why?"

"Don' bother next time. Just use the basketball an' ya'll be fine." Duo giggled.

For a moment Heero's face remained impassive as the comment registered, then Duo's head jerked upward in surprise as laughter reached his ears. Not the half crazed, battle fuelled laughter that reached him in the cockpit of Deathscythe but a warm, rich, natural laughter, rising up from Heero's long denied heart. Duo grinned with good-natured pleasure and for once Heero smiled back, extending a hand to pull him upwards.

They left the basketball court as any pair of teenage boys would, laughing, faces flushed and eyes bright from exercise. And really, Duo thought, as he swung the gate shut behind them, that was why they did this, every other day, every now and then, until the war was over, until there was peace and healing, until Heero smiled back at him.

The End


Author's Note: Hey guys. Just to say, I was over the moon with the response A Convesation of Clowns recived! Thank you so much for all your comments, I was so glad the whole suspense thing worked out - you have no idea how long I had to fiddle around with all that timing stuff, I'm crap with numbers so I'm sure I made it way harder than it should have been! I was please to hard that the style was refreshing as well. I hope this one lives up to people's expectations. It's the first time - oddly enough - that I've writen Heero and Duo together, so I hope it comes out ok.

Oh the name and the idea of the piece is inspired by a band called The Gentlemen. They're brand new, from Sheffield and are awsome. Check them out at I'm working on one chaptered story which takes a, hopefully, intersting and creative look at the end of the war, including all the boys and focusing on Duo. It's getting rather nasty, but should be different. I'm also quite far along in writing an AU piece but I'm trying very hard to avoid the cliche story lines I keep on reading. So far Trowa and Duo are figuring heavily, along with Treize. Let me know what you think!

Don't know if any of them will read this, but thanks to the Lord of the Ring's people who reviewed In A Name. Again, was staggered at the response. Finduilas88 - Thanks for the fab criticism, which was gratefully received! And I'm so glad you saw the key idea to the plot, was a little worried noone had! Rugi - Cheers! And I'm chuffed you liked the characterisation so much! Lilan - I'm sorry my interpretation of Denethor was not to your liking, unfortunatley this is the way I picture the book-verse Denethor Guilty look. However I do know there are lots of other writers out there who picture him much more sympathically. In particular I would recomend Evendim. I hope that you enjoyed my story despite this?

Crikey - well done to anyone who got to the end of this Author's Note!

Corralero