DISCLAIMER: I don't own gundam wing or any of it's characters

DISCLAIMER: I don't own gundam wing or any of it's characters. I don't even own my car so don't sue me*_*

Bittersweet

By: Lara Winner

I never knew I loved him.

Funny how I didn't see that one coming. Day in day out I watched him, joked with him, even confided in him and I never knew the reason why. Well, I thought we were just friends. See, I met him at a time in my life when what I needed was a friend. Just a true friend who wouldn't judge me and who would listen to my complaints along with my hopes. And that was what he gave me, a friend.

Until last week every thing was fine. I blissfully had no clue just how quickly things were going to change. It wasn't like I had set my sights on him. I mean he was like a brother to me. Just the thought of anything happening would have made me laugh but now it just floors me. I can't help but wonder what to do now. Deep down a part of me wishes I'd never gotten into this mess.

I guess I should say what got it all started. He called me up saying he had some movies and if I wanted I could come over and watch them with him. I agreed because we don't really get to hang out together much anymore. We both had to work in the morning so I said I wouldn't be staying late. I even thought about not going because I was tired, now I don't know if going was good thing or bad thing.

The first thing that threw me off was his appearance when he came to the door. He was barefoot, his braid was disarrayed, he was wearing jeans and his shirt was hanging open. That was the first time I'd ever seen him look so sexy and my heart almost slammed through my chest. Okay, I did live with him briefly but that was just for two months and we were kids at the time with a war to worry about. Right now though it was just him, me and the cozy glow of the TV flickering in the dark living room. He looked so kicked back I asked him if he really wanted company half-hoping he'd say no because I was suddenly unsure of myself and just what the hell was happening.

He insisted I stay so instead I curled up and made myself comfortable on the couch every now and then glancing at him through the corner of my eye. He propped himself on the floor and for a while we watched the TV in silence. But as expected by anyone who knows Duo he couldn't keep quiet for too long and we started talking. I still don't know how the topic came up but at some point we ended up talking about the future. He told me about his plans to one day move to earth and how he liked the idea of having a family and settling down but he wasn't sure that was something he'd have the opportunity at. I followed by saying that he just needed time and he would find the right person. He laughed dryly and shrugged away the comment. Then he asked me about my thoughts and I told him that I wanted to settle down one day but not right now. I barely had myself together at the moment the last thing I needed was to bring someone else into the mess.

By now he was sitting directly in front of me on the floor using my crossed legs as pillow so he could look up at me. I looked down at him thinking he looked so cute with that half smile on his face and those big violet eyes of his sparkling at me reflecting the light of the TV. Curiously he asked me if I was lonely not having anyone and I shook my head explaining that I had my friends and I really wasn't sure if I could handle a relationship at the moment. Unlike him I wasn't experienced in dealing with the opposite sex and I knew I was safer living in my own secluded little world. I just found the idea of letting someone that close to me terrifying. I mean the heart is a fragile thing indeed and I was little intimidated at though of giving mine control.

He just nodded his head saying that he wasn't looking for anyone either because he was tired of having everything he worked for blowing up in his face. I could sympathize. I was the one there to hold his hand when he had to pull himself back together and I was the one who backed him up when it was time for him to make a choice. I was there through all the breakups and I learned a lot watching him go through all the motions and I still didn't think I was ready for my turn at that.

Form there the conversation turned more general again and we actually caught the tail end of the movie but it didn't make sense. Before I could open my mouth and tell him that I needed to get home he was already putting in another movie so I let it go. What was the worst that could happen, I would be half-dead at work and so would he. Since I'm his boss the idea was kind of ironic.

When he came back to the couch instead of claiming his previous spot on the floor he sprawled out beside me flopping his head on my lap. When I looked at him questioningly he just grinned saying I was in the way so I'd have to be his pillow. I looked away toward the TV hoping he didn't notice the way I blushed at his words. I didn't know why but the thought of having him so close sent my heart pounding and this warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach. I guess I realized that this was the first time in the whole three years the I'd known him that were touching in an almost flirtatious manner. At least he was, I wasn't sure what to make of any of it.

He had no clue what he was doing to me. He had his head turned watching the TV completely oblivious to the confusion he was arousing with in me. I watched the screen too not really seeing what was going on in front of me. His braid was just lying across my lap so giving into the temptation I pulled the band off. Absently I started playing with his hair, running my fingers through it.

I felt him turn his head to look up at me and I didn't dare look down. Instead I let his silky hair slip through my fingers enjoying the soft almost purring noses he made as he voiced his contentment. I don't remember how long we stayed that way. All I do know is that one minute he was laying down almost asleep in my lap and the next he was sitting straight up beside me chiding me for almost putting him to sleep.

I promptly apologized with an insolent smile letting him now that I wasn't sorry in the least. His response was a devilish smirk as he turned me around and began massaging his hands over my back. There was no way I could protest. Within seconds he had me limp and relaxed and basically putty in his hands. He moved his fingers expertly, pressing in all the right spots working the kinks out of my tense muscles with the flat palms of his hands. I whimpered softly leaning back into his touch. My head fell forward and I didn't think I could open my eyes if I tried.

That was when his hands slipped under my shirt. Instantly my eyes popped open and my breath caught in my throat. I thought he would notice the way I went completely stiff but he ignored it. After a moment I relaxed as I realized that he was only continuing the massage. Still there was no way I could ignore the feel of his warm rough fingers moving over my skin in such an intimate manner. It felt delicious and it made me hot and giddy at the same time. However I jerked to my senses when I felt his warm breath brush the back of my neck.

I didn't realize that our bodies were so close. I didn't realize that I was almost sitting in his lap or that his fingers were toying with my bra strap teasingly. The only thing I could focus on was the fact that his harsh yet soft breaths were filling my ears and I was on the verge turning around and jumping him right there on the couch.

It was a sobering thought and I belatedly scooted away to a safer distance but even that was too close. He started to apologize and for some strange reason that made me angry. I knew we were both tired and under normal circumstances this would've never happened. And before this became any more uncomfortable I knew I needed to leave.

He walked me to the door unusually silent. Despite my confusion and fear I knew I couldn't leave him with this tension between us. On impulse I hugged him whispering goodbye and that I'd see him tomorrow. He hugged me back and as we pulled away our eyes met. I wanted to kiss him so bad. Our lips were mere inches apart and the look in his violet eyes almost left me breathless. I think he was thinking the same thing but instead he grinned and steeped back to my relief and frustration.

Needless to say I never got any sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes I'd see his face. Every time I thought about it I began to get nervous as I realized just what this meant. I was beginning to fall in love with the braided baka.

Now I'm sitting here at my desk staring at my computer screen not even seeing the numbers before me and I still can't get him out of my head. It's been a week since that night and I really haven't talked to him with the exception of our usual hellos and good-byes. I smile to myself as I hear his voice drift in from the garage. And yet even as I smile I hear a certain feminine voice and I force myself to block them both out of my mind all together. The last think I needed right now was to think of Duo and his newest pet.

The only consolation that I have is that he seems to have forgotten all about that night. I can still be his friend and he'll never know that I'm just another conquest of his. I think that's the one reason I am his best friend. I never worshiped him for his looks or his charm. I saw him as kid like myself, a kid just trying to get by. It wasn't easy to earn his respect and I would be damned before I ever resorted to becoming one of his brainless doting admirers. This was a secret that I'd take to the grave.

And as far as this new flavor of the week, I'll still be here when he finds out he's tired of her or she realized that he's not as charming as he seems. And for the first time I'll pretend that I'm sorry it didn't work and I'll say all the right things and I'll play my part because I can't do anything else. He's already a big part of my life but I'd be a fool to make him the center of it. Yet I think that maybe he already is.

With a sigh I shutdown the computer and turn off the small lamp on my desk. The last rays of the evening sun cast a lazy glow in my small office and the corners become draped in shadows. I can clearly hear the mixture of voices and machinery still humming in the air as Duo and the others begin to pick up everything and call it a day. One by one the voices drift away and everything finally becomes silent. I breathe easily as I realize that I'm alone now.

I rest my elbows on the desk and drop my head in my hands. I'm so tired. I'm so confused. I'm so scared. The only place I feel safe is alone in my little shell where I hide from the rest of the world. But Duo knows me. He knows how to look past my masks and he can crack my shell any time he wants to. I'm just so scared he'll know, he'll look in my eyes and he'll know, and then I will loose my best friend.

"Wake up sweetheart!"

My head jerks up as Duo's voice shatters the still quiet. I curse silently knowing I didn't hear him coming. My voice is barely above a whisper as I ask, "What are you still doing here?"

"Waiting for you to get a move on."

"Why?"

He shrugs as he leans against the doorframe obviously not moving till I drag myself from my chair. Resuming my original position I close my eyes as I mutter, "I'm leaving in a little bit. Go home."

"I would but there is something important I have to do first and I need your help so get your ass up." He answered cheerily.

At that point I raise my head just enough to meet his eyes. He had to be kidding. Did he really think I looked like I was in the mood to do anything? I didn't even feel like getting out of my chair and it was on my mind to tell him just that when he pulled out the heavy artillery.

"Please!" He pouted leveling me with his infamous puppy eyes.

Just for that I was already opening my mouth to say no when I realized that I couldn't avoid him. I wasn't saying no because I was tired. I was saying no because I was afraid to be alone with him. I was acting worse than child, I could do this. I was stronger than my emotions and now was my chance to prove it. With a sigh I ask, "Does this involve anything remotely like work?"

"Nope." He grinned.

Resigning myself to this I grab my purse and I follow him out to his car. He motions of me to get in and I obey not asking questions. I settle in the passenger seat and he guns the gas pulling off reminding me why I usually do the driving. Ten minutes later he pulls the car to a stop in front of his favorite restaurant and I roll my eyes asking, "This is what you need my help with?"

"No. I need advice but I'm hungry so I figure I'd do the logical thing and talk to you while we eat. Look dinners on me okay. You get a free meal out of the deal so just relax babe."

I can't help but laugh as I follow him into the restaurant. He grins at me over his shoulder and I look down before he can see me blush in pleasure. We are seated almost instantly and I bury myself in my menu as it suddenly hits me as to why he wants to talk to me. There is only one reason Duo Maxwell ever comes to me for advice and that's when it involves a woman. He taps his menu against mine and I brace myself as I lower it to the table. Faking my best smile I say as neutral as possible, "So what is your dilemma this time or should I say who?"

"Jump right to the point, huh?" He chuckles then with sigh he looks up at me again appearing a little worried. "Your gonna laugh when I ask you this but……How do I get a really special girl to go out with me?"

I stare at him for a moment dumbfounded. Mr. I've-dated-every-girl-on-L2 is asking me for tips on asking a girl out. He was right. I laughed out of pure surprise. At my reaction he winced before holding up his hand saying, "Wait let me explain. See, she's not my usual type and I have no idea how to approach her."

Smiling I assure him, "Just do what you always do. Tell her a few jokes, make her think she's has your undivided attention, put on a little charm and trust me she'll be eating out of the palm of your hand."

"I can't do that."

"Why?" I ask not bothering to hide my confusion.

"She doesn't take me seriously as it is. If I tried that shit she'd see right through it. Like I said I don't know how to approach her." He mumbled sadly.

Now I'm determined to get to the bottom of this. First, I want to know who she is so I can secretly hate her guts. Secondly, I want to know how any girl could not fall for Duo. Three, I had to give her dibs for finally putting Shinigami in his place. Of course just as I'm about to open my mouth the waitress comes to get out orders.

We both order our usual and wait till she leaves to finish our conversation. The minute she's gone I begin the inquisition. "I think I know who she is. Trust me, you already have Kimmy throwing herself at you. If you can't see it then you need a wake up call."

"Kimmy? Uh-uh, no way babe. I can barely put up with her during work hours let alone date her. Geez, I know I'm bad when I start rambling but do you know she actually pulled me aside and spent twenty minutes telling me all about the way to condition my hair. I wanted to strangle her. No better yet take Deathscythe and SWOOSH!" As he spoke he moved his arm across the table in a swiping motion and I couldn't help but laugh. I was relieved that I was wrong about Kimmy. The girl was a bit of an airhead in my opinion too.

"Well if it's not Kimmy then who is she?" I asked. At his suddenly startled expression I raised a brow curiously.

"Um… I'd rather not say right now. Just trust me okay." He replied as his smile faded and his expression turned serious once again.

This wasn't the first time he'd done this and I sighed. He'd tell me eventually or I'd guess, one of the two. "Okay, well do I even know her?"

"Yeah, you know her but that's beside the point right now." He sighed leaning back in his chair. Smiling slightly he amended, "I'm just looking for your opinion here. She's a lot like you, of course you are in a class all your own, but any ideas you could give me would be great."

I glared at him as he chuckled. I knew he was teasing, he always said stuff like that to me, but this time I couldn't help but take it for face value. I wasn't a girl in his eyes. I was just Hilde, his dependable buddy. He didn't see me as anything but one of the guys with the insight benefits of being a female.

Forcing a smile I rested my chin on my palm as I idly stirred my coke with the straw. He must have bought the façade because he propped his chin on his laced fingers and waited impatiently for my answer. So I debated it carefully knowing I was going to be completely honest. "Duo, if she's anything like me then don't make such a big deal about it, just ask her. I'm going to tell you a little secret. Being charming is cute and sexy but honesty gets you further than a smooth tongue will. Any girl would rather you be straight forward about something like this."

"There one little problem. She's not interested in me." He said softly, so softly I almost didn't hear him.

Realizing why this was out of his league I bit back a smile. If I was lucky I could convince him to move on. Poor Duo. This was probably the first girl to ever turn him down. Even as the thought hit I realized I needed to specify if this was stated fact or just his observation. "Do you know that for sure?"

"No but I think I'm reading her right. I'm just going by little things she says to me."

"So you never asked her?" I questioned, a little confused that Duo of all people was insecure while dealing with a girl.

"Not outright but I got the message loud and clear." He said dully.

"If she's not interested then find someone who is. There are a lot of girls out there who would love to go out with you." I know I'm one of 'em, I added silently.

"But you know me babe, I love a good challenge. I have to try just to see if I can, ya know." He grinned.

"If you're doing this just to prove a point then you really are an asshole." I snapped. I regarded him coldly as his grin faltered. His little comment pissed me off. I knew Duo and I knew he was usually fair but sometimes he was a typical male chauvinistic pig. I wouldn't put it past him to wear down this girl's defenses and then get tired of her the minute he had the upper hand. I'd seen him do that to quite a few girls. But then again, I'd seen quite a few girls do it to him too. He always said 'nothing fair in love and war' and I guess its true. He never was one to play by the rules.

"Sorry, that came out wrong. I didn't mean it that way, honest." He muttered looking away form my scorching gaze. When I didn't comment he peeked up at me and insisted, "All I'm trying to say is that I'm going to give this my best shot and if it doesn't work then so be it. I really like her, I have for a long time. I just never seem to have the nerve to tell her."

Mollified by his words I tried again, "If you would just tell me who she is I could probably find out for you."

"Thanks but no thanks. I need to do this myself."

"Well in that case, the only advice I can give you is just tell her. Just ask her out and if she turns you down then you'll know. Its better to know, one way or the other." I answer softly. He looks at me curiously, his eyes searching mine for only a moment, and yet my heart is ready to explode.

To my relief he looks away as the waitress arrives with our dinner. He begins to eat with his usual gusto and it gives me time to contemplate what I have just done. Despite everything inside of me begging me not to I just gave him my consent to pursue this new girl. I'm not hungry so I push the food around my plate trying desperately to act like nothing's wrong. He likes this girl. He likes her a lot, I can tell. And I know I'm dying a little bit inside because it hurts. God I wish I had stayed home that night. None of this would have happened, none of it.

I force myself to take a bite of food when I realize he's watching me. Usually these french-fries are my favorite but right now they taste like cardboard as I swallow hard. I know I'm on the verge of crying, of just flopping my head down on the table and releasing all the stress that has built up in me during the last week. But he's still looking at me, now slightly concerned, so I muster all the physical discipline I possibly can and I clear my head. If I can just play it off till I get home I'll be fine.

"Are you alright?"

I give him my best reassuring smile as I lie through my teeth. "Yeah, I've just had this killer headache all day."

He goes back to eating and I make a show of consuming something. By the time he pays the bill and we leave my nerves are shot to hell. I can barely wait to be alone so I can lick my wounds in private. I didn't think it could be so hard to act happy but I was wrong. The entire drive back to the shop had my head spinning in circles. I fucked up. Falling for him was a complete mistake. Every time someone new enters his life I'll have to stand and watch. I'm his best friend. He'll expect me to be there, to be happy for him. And I don't think I can do it.

He kills the engine and looks over at me. For a split second time stops and I want to remember him just as looks at this moment with his eyes sparkling and his lips curved in a wicked grin. The streetlights set his face in shadows making him look even more sinful. Before I make a complete fool of myself I smile slightly and press a quick peck to his cheek. Then I fumble with the door so like a bat out of hell I can make a mad dash for my car. I can feel the tears rising and I need to get away.

I'm half way to my car when I hear him call out my name but I don't turn around. My hands begin to shake as I try to unlock my door. I can hear his footsteps echo off the pavement as he jogs over to me. I feel cornered, trapped. I need to get away.

Suddenly I felt his hand grip my arm and turn me around to face him. Not thinking I react out of fear, terrified that if he looks at me right now he'll know everything. Angrily I jerk out of his grip hissing, "What now?"

Instantly he releases me raising his hands in a supplicating gesture. I peek up at his face and he's frowning at me. I flush in embarrassment as I realize how mean that sounded. He even takes a step away as he questions wearily, "What the hell is up with you?"

I open my mouth to say goodbye and ignore his question but nothing comes out. What can I say to that? Oh I'm extremely jealous of girl whose name I don't even know and by the way I'm in love with you. Yeah, I could be honest and then he'd have me committed. Actually he'd probably say he was sorry and then avoid me from now on. Either way I don't want to take the chance so instead I look up at him miserably.

The thing that surprises me is he looks just as miserable. My heart twists as I take note of the slight pout of his lips and the dull frustration in his eyes. I know he's waiting for a response of some sort so I look away muttering, "I'm sorry."

"Is there something I'm missing here? You've been a major bitch this past week and I'm not the only one to notice. If something is wrong just tell me."

I know he's confused about my sudden change of attitude and I don't blame him. But I don't know how to explain what's going on without giving myself away. I know I sound completely lame but I can't help but offer another weak apology. If I say anything else I know I'll say too much. "It's nothing really. PMS ya know."

"Right." He smirks in disbelief. His voice has lost some of its anger now and I find it hard not to smile as he says, "This is me you're talking to, babe. I've seen you at your worst remember."

"No need to remind me." I say smiling. He relaxes a little and moves to stand beside me leaning against my car door. I can't tell if the movement is innocent or if he's purposely preventing me from reaching the sanctuary of my car. The thought sparks my ire but I keep my mouth shut. I can do this, I have to.

"So your not gonna tell me what's wrong." He sighed.

"I'm fine Duo. I'm a little tired and a little stressed but everything is okay, really." I say trying not to sound too earnest.

At my response he quirks a brow in question as he asks, "So this had nothing to do with what we talked about earlier."

I can literally feel the blood drain from my face as his words sink in. Oh god, he figured it out. SHIT! I keep my face expressionless as I turn my gaze out over the dark parking lot. Tonelessly I ask, "What do you mean?"

"Don't play stupid Hilde cuz your not. You know damn well why I needed to talk to you. If you have a problem with it I wish you would just tell me." He answers bitterly, the venom in his voice taking me completely by surprise.

I feel my cheeks turn scarlet red. So I didn't play it off as well as I thought. I don't think I've ever been so embarrassed in all my life. And to make entire situation worse he's angry at me. This time I can feel the tears rising and I know there is no stopping them. "I'm sorry if I can't be happy for you." I choke, my voice wavering to my utter humiliation.

Through the corner of my eye I see him glance sharply at me. "What?"

At the honest confusion in his voice I risk a peek up at his befuddled expression. I feel my throat close as I try to repeat my words. I blink rapidly trying to clear my eyes but the tears won't be stopped as they stream silently down my white cheeks. Ever so gently I feel his fingers against the side of my face forcing me to look up into his eyes. His voice is so soft despite its edge as he asks, "What does being happy for me have to do with…"

He stops mid-sentence confusing me even more. Suddenly he grins sheepishly, all the annoyance leaving his violet eyes as his cheeks turn a pale shade of pink. "You didn't get it, did you?" He asks, already knowing the answer.

"Get what?"

His blush deepens as he looks down. Almost nervously he laughs, "I…well.. I thought…"

Regaining a little of my composure I wait for him to elaborate but instead he looks away. Unable to take anymore I feel the last of my patience snap. Angrily I demand, "You thought what Duo? What didn't I get?"

He shifts in his spot, the insignificant movement is the only indication I have that he's nervous. Again I'm thrown off. He swallows hard then looks at me, his expression indescribable. I'm not sure I want to hear what he has to say but I need to know where he's coming from.

"I'm doing this all wrong. I thought you caught on but I guess you didn't and now you have no clue what I'm talking about and the funny thing is neither do I, well not really because I usually don't have any trouble doing this-"

"Duo…"

"Will you go out with me?"

It takes me a full minute before I realize what he said. It takes another few seconds before I'm able to stutter, "What are you doing?"

"Taking your advice. You said I should just ask so I did." He says softly. Despite the show of confidence I could see the stiff set of his shoulders and uncertainty beginning to creep into his eyes. His uncertainty seemed to be all the clarity I needed.

I nod my head still speechless. I can feel my cheeks heat up as I realize that I'm the one he wants now. I'm the one who has his attention and affections. And I'm still amazed that he didn't have the guts to tell me, which makes me feel stupid for not catching on to the real reason for our little talk. And even as these thoughts are running through my head he pulls me into a gentle hug and I relax into his arms loving the feel of having him this close.

Closing my eyes I just hold onto him afraid to let go. I'm scared that I will open my eyes and this will all be a dream. I'm also scared that we're crossing a line that might not allow us to go back. It's true, you can't be lovers if you can't be friends but nothing comes with a guarantee. If we don't work out then I might loose him all together and I can't bear the thought of that. We need to talk about all this, just not right now. I don't want to ruin the moment.

I smile to myself as I realize that it doesn't matter that were standing outside my car or that were in the middle an empty parking lot or that his headlights are shinning directly on us. Nothing in the world matters right now but us. It's an amazing feeling and I press closer against him feeling his heart pounding in the same erratic rhythm as mine. I shiver as his warm breath brushes my ear and his fingertips stray under my shirt burning my skin with their faint touch. I don't think anything else could be closer to heaven.

I'm lost in him till his quiet voice snaps me back into reality. "There's one more thing you need to know."

"What's that?" I ask, my voice muffled against his cotton shirt.

"I lied when I said I liked you. I think I'm in love with you."

I lean back in his arms looking up at his face in wonder. The intensity in his eyes surprises me and I can't help but whisper, "You really mean that?"

"Yeah. I just never could tell you. Look you don't have to feel the same just give me a chance, that all I'm ask-"

Before he can finish I press my finger against his lips silencing his nervous rambling. I smile softly as I reply, "You don't have to say anything."

Then to my surprise as well as his I lean up pressing my lips to his. He pulls me closer as I wrap my arms around his neck. The kiss is sweet, our lips moving together softly. I don't think either one of us is sure just how far we should take this but we don't want to let go either. Reluctantly I pull back dragging in a deep breath. Laughing form the sheer giddy feeling filling me, I look into his eyes speaking from my heart as I say, "I love you too."

A.N.- I'm back!!!! This is just a little something I was inspired to write, you can thank my muse Nimby for the sap trip. I needed a happy DxH story and you know how the saying goes, you want to get something done you've got to do it yourself. I haven't forgotten about my other stories either, I'm working on them. Thanks for reading and remember I love ya guys!!!!!*_*