Can you repeat

Can you repeat?

By Asuka Kureru

Gundam Wing

POV (Duo)

Disclaimer: not mine, don't hit. Me return nice pilots when well played with them. Almost whole, even. And practically not nibbled. Why do you complain again?

Notes: Even if I like 'em, I was slightly annoyed by these tons of fics where it's always Duo that loves Heero secretly and Heero who realizes slowly that maybe, there can be more. Turnabout is fair play, ne? ^___^

This was intended as a continuation for another fic of mine, from Heero's POV, who dealt with the slow awakening of Heero's heart (gosh this phrase's so biutifuuul ^______^) and stopped just when he decided to tell Duo about his feelings, but seeing the size of the thing, I don't intend of translating anytime soon. Well, you don't need it to understand this one.

Oh, and I kinda have the right to make big grammar or tense mistakes 'cause I'm kinda French, so… I'd really appreciate if you told me, if I used the wrong word or turn of phrase or tense, things like that. It can only help me to get better, no?

o O @ o O @ O o @ O o

-"Can you repeat?"

I blink, stupidly. I'm certainly not quite awake yet.

Heero is standing in front of me, beside my bed. I look at him, eyes slightly bulging. There's no way I really heard what I believe I heard.

-"Excuse-me, I'm not quite awake…" I add with a nervous smile. "Can you repeat, please?"

He opens his mouth. This time, I make sure to read carefully on his lips, if by chance a strange air distortion changed what he said the last time on it's journey between his mouth and my ear.

The mouth says the same thing my ears heard the first time, another time.

-"WHAT?!" I exclaim.

I'm too stunned at the moment to care about the way my words can touch him just right now.

He repeats again, and this time, it's even lower, like a whisper. Eyes downcast, already turning heels toward the door, he prepares his flight. But after all, I didn't give him reasons to think I accept that he stays. But it wasn't by nastiness, it's just because…Of all the think he could've said, this one wasn't even in the extremely-highly-unlikely-even-in-a-million-years-and-with-the-hangover-from-hell list.

-"I… I love you, Duo…"

I can't react and stay here looking at him, mouth open, round eyes, a perfect fish out of the water. No, no, this isn't at all a Yuyesque answer, that. I'm going to kill you, for example, it's a good one. Or shut up, Duo. This one too, it's a good one coming from him. Or you baka. Things like that.

He turns heels and goes to the door. Shocked out of my stupor, I throw an arm toward him, hold him back by the wrist. He turns round, face deliberately devoid of all emotion. Like the expression he always wears, a mix of indifference and annoyance which shouts: let me alone if you don't want to die of a horrible death, I'm much better alone anyway. Exactly like always, even the scowl. What does make me understand that it's only a mask? Only the remembrance of what he just said? Or something at the bottom of his eyes, maybe… There! it's that, it's his eyes. The ice broke and now I can see underneath a crowd of feelings which press, melt.

I believed he was totally devoid of any emotion. They were especially well repressed, you could say.

The one dominating is… Suffering. Distress. Why?

Oh my god, I'm so stupid, he thinks I rejected him … And he hurts so bad, I can't let him like that. Heero is my best friend after all, I refuse to let him when he just dropped his armor just for me. He gave me such a big opening in his shell and I could hurt him so much with only a careless word… Oh lord, for a moment I'm afraid I'll finish him off.

-"I… don't know what to say," I admit, eyes downcast; but I don't let go of his wrist.

If I let go of him, he's start to run and then, I'll never see him again … not this real Heero I see for the first time, the real one, the one who feels. Only this puppet of a little soldier. He'll act like nothing ever happened and he'll die slowly inside his shell …

-"I… Heero… It's just… I don't wanna reject you, but …"

-"I know, you don't feel the same way", he answers, voice low, without looking at me. "I didn't expect that."

-"It's not that!!! Heero, I don't even know what I'm feeling at this moment!! You took me by surprise, ok? Give me a little time to… To record what you just said, 'kay? I'm just havin' a hard time to…"

I make wild movements with my other hand, but I don't let go of his wrist. He still has this kicked-and-abandoned-puppy look. And he doesn't stop one second to calculate the distance which separates him from the door.

-"Listen, let me some time to think of what you just said and, tonight, we'll talk of that, would you?" I suggest in a soft voice.

Never would I use this kind of voice with him normally, well, never with a more than eight-years old… but he seems so frail suddenly, so innocent, that I can't do otherwise than take Father Maxwell's voice, the one he has when he calmed the new orphans who had nightmares. Anything else a micro-bit harsher would be ill taken.

He nods at my proposal, but I can easily see it's because he panics and regret what he said, and would agree to anything as long as he can flee out of here and never have to look at me in the eyes again.

Sighing, I let him go … stopping him the second he puts his hand on the doorknob.

-"Heero… You caught me unaware. Just let me a little time. But anyway, don't begin to think I will hate you for that, OK? You're my friend and you'll be my friend never mind what happens. Agreed?"

He nods silently then opens the door and closes it behind himself, quiet like a shadow. I don't know if what I said has really imprinted in his skull that I well know for being rather hard, but by any means I'll have done what I could to limit the hurt… I let myself fall back first on my pillow, my thoughts beginning a mad dance around my skull.

Heero is my partner only because of an order, otherwise never would he have associated with a badly disciplined baka like me. Heero is the best hacker in the world; he's always scotched to his laptop like if nothing else mattered. Heero is a bloody good pilot; the best, in fact, and he doesn't think of my pride before rubbing it in my face with the cold contempt of the one who honestly don't care. Heero is the only person who never ever smiles to my jokes. Heero is ice-cold, non emotional, non expressive. Heero is a killer, one of the deadliest and most intelligent people in the world. Heero only opens his mouth in my presence to ask me to shut up and let him alone, or brief me on a mission, if really necessary. Heero doesn't have a LIFE besides the mission.

Heero loves me.

He loves me. Me.

What did I do to deserve this unexpected gift ? I don't understand.

o O @ o O @ O o @ O o

Finally, I skip school. I'm so stuck on this morning that I can't think of anything else than my comrade's confession. I go and lay down under a tree, arms behind my head, and I think. And I think a little bit more. Then a little more.

The evening comes and my brains are ready to trickle out by my ears.

Soon he will finish his lessons. I return to the dormitory. And I wait.

o O @ o O @ O o @ O o

And I wait.

o O @ o O @ O o @ O o

-"If you tried waiting me to sleep so that you wouldn't have to talk with me, you failed."

For a second, Heero freezes and looks near sheepish, before slipping in the darkened room. It's at this moment I realize exactly how much he's tense and nervous. But we have to talk, and we will talk. I promised him we'd do it ; I never lie.

I tap the bed besides me. A correct distance I think, not so far he thinks I reject him, not too near neither. Normally I don't give a damn, I love contacts, I touch and hug everyone, but now isn't the moment.

-"Here, come and sit beside me", I ask in my best special-emotional-Heero voice.

He obeys, but doesn't look at me. I catch his chin, turn his face towards me, firmly.

-"Heero, look at me, please."

He tries, I can see he tries. But his shame is too strong and his eyes stay downcast … Even if he doesn't take his chin off my hand.

I take off my hand, slowly. I always have to find the middle of the road with him in this moment, and to think that before I was certain he didn't give a damn for anything under the label "emotional matters"… But at this level, he doesn't have any self-confidence, that I can see. If I were to take off my hand too fast, he would think he disgusts me. It's not true.

-"Hey, could you tell me why did I begun to interest you? I'd like to understand you better …" I ask him. "I admit I have to know you less well than I thought, if I never saw that… I mean, I knew you liked me, at least a little… Hey, you never killed me! I KNEW I succeeded in going past your defenses and that you saw me near like a friend… But there were times I wondered if I didn't know that the same way Relena just knows that you luuuuv her, you see what I mean? You never give any clues …"

Heero winces. I hit a nerve. Then he doesn't like the little princess?

-"Heero… Why me? Why not Relena?"

-"She doesn't know me at all. We're not from the same world. She would never know me; and I have no desire to know her."

-"Ok then, why not Quatre? He would understand, and he's so kind… Or Trowa, you understand each other so well! and he doesn't talk as much as me," I add apart.

He smiles, a little.

-"I wouldn't dare to break them apart", he whispers, and I stay here staring at him, flabbergasted.

He just said a joke. I let loose a little laugh, more surprised than anything else.

Then he begins his story.

-"It began like simple curiosity … I didn't understand you. I don't understand you yet, I have to say. But… I couldn't understand how you did. You're a soldier, you kill people, you do things extremely dangerous, needing maximum concentration and talent, and… you're always playing the clown part, joking, laughing, like if you didn't have a care in the world… I didn't understand how you could even succeed with so carefree a comportment. I told myself you counted only on your luck, and that soon, you wouldn't have any left and you'd be killed … And it would be well earned. I despised you at this period, you didn't inspire me much respect then."

Head downcast, he looks at me between his dark lashes and I nod, to let him know I'm not offended.

-"Then… You didn't get killed. You continued to fight and you continued to succeed. And I began to observe you from nearer. I realized that even if you seemed to count only on your luck, you were in fact more professional than that… and I began to respect you a little more. To distrust you too. I'm dangerous and I show it. You're dangerous and nobody would ever imagine that; it gave you an advantage. I felt like there was a competition between us. It was stupid of course… But you were too mysterious to let me judge exactly where you stand, then, I couldn't know just where you were in comparison to me. It became one of my few hobbies, to observe you, to dissect your actions and words … But you never let anything out. I spent hours listening to you and you never said anything remotely important… Never a slip. Not a thing who could have clued me on what was behind… Behind the mask."

I shake, imperceptibly. All this time he was observing me …? And I never saw a thing, anything at all… Yeah, I felt him watching me, but he does that with everyone who's near him, he concentrates on everybody, it's one of his perfect soldier tricks, always aware of his surroundings; I never realized he gave me that much more attention… Maybe because we're always together. Because I'm always trying to force my way behind his frozen eyes, to discover the hot-blooded human behind… And he did the exact same thing.

All this time we were trying to see past the other's mask and we never realized the other was doing the same.

-"You let your emotions go free, but your thoughts … I was under the impression you were thinking on thirty levels at the same time; you're always jumping from a subject to another without apparent logic and I didn't understand, I was so frustrated … I got mad at you, several times. I'd never been mad against someone before. Annoyed, yes, but mad… You had succeed in breaking down my defenses and I didn't understand how. And in spite of all the times I pushed you back, you kept returning, trying again, offering me friendship, me who didn't ever know it could really exist, and you never asked for anything in return… I felt strange. I searched for a trap, nonstop. There was inevitably a trap somewhere, inevitably. But you opened your emotions to me and you authorized me to hurt you without asking for anything in exchange and I… I don't know. And after the anger, there were other things. Surprise, several times. When you prepared breakfast for me because you knew I wouldn't have the time to do so before a mission, or that you stayed awake waiting for me just that so you could check on me … And… gratitude, I think… I don't know, I don't know, it was… Other things, other… feelings… I thoughts they were all long dead."

My lower lip is shivering now. I was hoping he would appreciate the friendship I offered him, I was hoping he would warm up … But I thought it didn't work. That I'd need ages before entirely wearing out his shell. Never would I have thought I'd reached so deep in him. If I had know before, I… What would I have done? I don't know if I'd have changed all that. I mean, it's what I wanted, no? Teach him to feel anew? I succeeded, farther than my wildest hopes.

How has he evolved so discreetly from no emotions at all to such an intensity?

I begin to understand, slowly. He repressed them for so long, when they were let loose, it was like they were new. Not worn yet.

-"Then this night…You remember, after the mission with Trowa? When you explained to us why you called yourself Shinigami, when you talked of your past… I was… astounded. I mean, that you were intelligent and dangerous, I knew already, I understood that before, but that you suffered so much, I'd never have guessed … You're always such an optimist, always laughing … You crossed Hell and yet you are willing to give your heart; like that, even when he's been broken so much times before … You didn't fear to be hurt another time. It… I don't know, it felt strange here," he said putting his hand under his ribs.

He shakes his head, and his hair flies in his eyes, messily.

-"And this night, when I saw you sleeping curled up under the window, under the moonlight… You never let yourself cry when you're awake, but … You were crying, Duo, you were crying in your sleep, and I knew that the next day you'd smile and joke the same way as before. And that, in a way, you wouldn't pretend. I believe it was this night … That I began to want to protect you, protect your heart. Except, I didn't know how", he laughs, bitterly.

I close my eyes, briefly. Oh yes, he really observed me from close. I remember this night. I couldn't stand it anymore, I broke down. Normally I always manage to keep the others pilots at least a little entertained … But this time I was in too deep to continue the act. It's not that I always act, no, but when times are hard, there's the need of at least one to cheer up the others and give them back a little bit of optimistic view, no?

Except this night, the school where we stayed at the last weeks had been leveled to the ground. With all the friends I made in … The girls I got out with … The boys with whom I played basket … It hurt. It always hurt more when it's people your age. Even more so when you know them. And I broke down, too tired to care anymore, but they just stared at me and then let me alone. I thought they didn't care. At least, I thought that Trowa didn't know what to do, emotionally handicapped, and that Heero didn't give a shit, totally feelings-amputated. It nearly hurt as much as the rest.

-"It's this night I fell in love with you", he whispers.

He shuts up, eyes glued to his hands. I'd never would have dreamed he could speak for so long. It pleases me so much that he forced himself. But in my opinion, he kept that bottled in for so long that he was beginning to saturate; Once I got him going…

He seems so lonely, so frail … I put an arm around his shoulders.

-"Thank you for explaining, Heero. Thanks."

I kiss him on the cheek, softly. Maybe I don't love him like he loves me, but I like him very much. And I feel so much tenderness just now.

He tenses under my arm, and a moment, I wonder if I didn't make a mistake. He moves, but restrains himself. I understand that he would like to return the gesture but that he doesn't dare, afraid that the meaning of the hug isn't the same with him and with me.

-"Duo…"

His voice is strained by emotion.

-"Hmm?"

-"Duo, it isn't only platonic… The pull I feel toward you, it's not just morally…"

I blush a little and loosen my hug. It's probably my hip against his that embarrass him. I move back.

Bloody hell, even his neck is scarlet.

-"Heero, I understand that you… would …want me, it's not so bad", I say, but my voice is a little strained too.

-"It doesn't disgust you?" he asks, in the little voice of a very little boy. "I don't know how to stop that…"

-"Don't try then. You have the right to think of what you want, after all it's your head … It's normal for a teenager, y'know."

-"Usually, boys don't like to know that other boys… I mean, I know you never would…You're heterosexual after all…"

I can't prevent it, I laugh in my hand.

-"Heero, Heero… What makes you think that?" I ask, kinda amused.

He looks at me, stunned. He's lovely with his blue eyes opened like that and his mouth half-opened. He seems to be twelve.

-"But… All these girls you dated?"

-"I'm bisexual, Heero. I like the two the same. If you see me more often with girls than boys, it's just because there are less boys willing to date me than girls; moreover, I can be affectionate in public with a girl, but not with a guy. My men, I hide them. It would make me stand out too much; and I would have problems in class; you know how can be some kind of people on this matter…"

-"Oh…"

-"And you, Heero?"

He shakes his head, then tries to redirect his thoughts toward this new subject, more embarrassing but less dangerous.

-"I don't know at all."

-"You don't know if you're gay or hetero?" I repeat, dumbly.

-"The only boys I mix with, it's you four; the only girl I mix with sometimes, it's Relena, he adds with an aggravated scowl. If I … If I think of you physically, it's because I l…"

He freezes on the word.

-"I know…" I encourage him. "And?"

He looks at me, glad that he doesn't have to push himself to say the word, then continue. After the way he speaks, slowly, weighting carefully his words, I'm sure he never thought of this like that, that he formulates along his thinking.

-"…Then I don't know if I think of you like that and not of, let's say Relena because I'm really homosexual, or if it's just… Just you. I'm fairly certain that if Relena doesn't appeals me, it's before all because she's who she is, not because she's a girl", he adds, slightly pouting.

It's too much; I start to laugh. He glares at me, outraged.

-"I don't laugh at you", I assure him between two giggles. "It's just… And she chases you since she first saw you! Poor girl, she'll be so devastated if she hears that!"

He scowls even more than before and turns his head. I think he believes I'm making fun of him.

-"Heero, what you just said, it could be understood like : I'd rather turn fag than date Relena. Do you imagine how it's flattering for a girl?"

He has the littlest half-smirk and I give him a playful punch in the arm.

-"Shees, what a bruise to her ego!!"

He shakes his head, disapproving, but he still has this little smirk on the lips, almost a real smile. Shit, he seems so much more approachable like that. More human. He looks awfully good. I told him already, before, that he has a beautiful face, when this innocent asked me what the girls of our class saw in him that made them behave so strangely; but here I'm positive. If they ever saw him like that, they wouldn't satisfy themselves with smiles and giggles on his way, and tons of love letters and proposals. They would kidnap him to go rape him somewhere. I wouldn't mind myself.

What am I thinking? Yes, I'm bi, yes, I find Heero cute and really really well muscled, even more than that. Shit, this guy is a Greek god. But he's my best friend and I refuse to take advantage of his feelings for me just to jump his bones. If I date him, it will be serious. I can't spoil our friendship and his so new heart for a casual fling.

-"Duo… What will happen now?" he asks.

His tone is one of a child that expects a blow in a second.

I don't ask "How?" even if I really want to. It would just be buying some time, and you are always more sincere when you didn't have time to think. Heero doesn't deserve less than my absolute sincerity.

-"I don't know … But in all cases, we stay friends like before. Shit, it will be even better than before. I don't expect you to be always like this evening, but don't even think that you'll be able to evade my questions now that I know you're perfectly able to speak more than ten words in a row…"

-"Duo, it isn't… What I'm asking", he answers, whispering.

I brush back my bangs with both hands.

-"I don't know if I can date you, Heero. What I feel for you, it's friendship, sincere friendship. One can love someone with friendship near as strong as with pure, "True" love. You're someone extremely precious for me. Only, I don't know at all if it can become more. I never thought of you like that. Maybe yes, maybe no, I don't know at all."

I caress his cheek, slowly. His face is so near I feel his bangs brushing against my forehead.

-"I care too much for you to spoil our friendship just for a fling. So, as long as I won't be sure I love you like you love me, I think we'll stay at this level. I refuse to take advantage of you. It's true that you're beautiful, inside and out, and that I like you very much, but …"

I don't know how to make him understand that no, I'm not trying to politely dismiss him.

-"You know, I feel like you gave me a treasure. You gave me your heart, and it's so frail I'm terrified by just thinking of damaging it… As long as I can't give you mine in exchange, it won't be fair for you. Do you understand? I'm sure you don't want less than that either."

He nods, but he doesn't seems to be really convinced. He looks so sad...

-"It's what I repeat to myself, sometimes," he answers, voice low. "That my love doesn't mean a thing if I don't have yours in exchange. Other times, I just think I'd be so happy just to be able to pretend. Because it would be better than nothing. Just to be able to dream …"

-"Heero…"

I hug him, tight. There's such a great suffering in his voice… I'm feeling like a real bitch. He wants me, he wants me so much… No, it's more than just that. He needs me. Will I be such an egoist and refuse him what he needs just because I don't feel this need?

-"Oh, Heero, If you…"

He puts a finger on my lips.

-"You're right … It's better like that. I don't want you to pretend just out of pity. I don't want your pity. I won't content myself with less than your whole heart."

And suddenly he bursts in tears. And pounces in my arms so strongly I fall flat on my back on the bed, and that I stay here, looking at the ceiling, stunned, listening to his sobs, feeling his body shiver against mine, his tears soaking my tee-shirt. He buries his face in my neck, his lips searching for my skin, stammering words I don't understand. The violence of his emotions made him return to his first language, but anyway, the syllabus he succeeds in pronouncing are so mixed up they become incoherent.

And here, I do something really stupid. I panic.

-"Heero?! Heero!! Stop it, pal, stop it!! Calm down, boy, it's all right!" I tell him, rubbing his back, a little too fast.

I don't know what to do. God, he's crying again, he's crying in my neck, like a child, defenseless, hurting. The tears have entirely soaked through my tee-shirt and it continues, but I don't give a damn. His arms close around me, as if he was drowning. And in a way he is.

-"Heero, please!! Heero, stop it!" I beg him, but he doesn't hear me.

It hurts me so much to hear his heart-wrenching sobs … And I'm sure it's my fault. I didn't want to hurt him, but I should have known it was an illusion, I always hurt everybody who dare to touch me. I wasn't careful enough, it's my fault, I should have said another thing, another way…

-"Suki da, suki da", he repeats, and there I understand his words. "Ai shiteru, Duo … I love you, I love you, I love you", he repeats again, a litany of love words, so full of emotion it hurts.

He begins to kiss me, a kiss after each desperate " I love you ", in the neck first, then on each square inch he can reach. My cheeks, my eyelids, my forehead, the end of my nose, all that's in his reach. And I'm still praying him to stop crying, with a voice that cracks, too.

-"All will be all right, Heero all will be all right… Calm down, Heero, all will be all right…"

I cry too and I didn't even feel it, so sure that the dampness on my cheeks was from him. He didn't touch my lips, afraid maybe to take too much of what I didn't offer him, to pass the point where he can't return.

His face is inches from mine and he looks at me between his swollen eyelids, his sticky dark eyelashes.

-"…Duo…?"

-"All will be alright", I repeat still rubbing his back in circular motions. "All's gotta be alright… Heero," I whisper, before freeing my arm to un-stick slowly his bangs from his forehead and to put them back.

My hand slips behind his skull and I kiss him gently on his closed lips, chastely. I pull his head in my neck's hollow a second time, and I close my arms around him. He tenses briefly, before letting go, too tired to resist anymore.

-"Shhh, I'm here…"

We stay immobile for a long time. So long a time that finally, we fall asleep, still in each other's arms.

o O @ o O @ O o @ O o

The morning after, the position didn't change much. Besides he rolled on his side and we're as of now both on the side, we're still hugging tight, and his face is pressed against my throat. His legs are tangled with mine. My face is all tears-swollen. I suppose his too.

He begins to wake up, I can feel it. I hug him tighter; I don't want him to let me. It's too comfy to move.

-"Heero…" I murmur in his hair, really softly.

They smell like my own shampoo. It stings my heart funny.

-"Heero," I try again, and this time I feel him react to my call, even if he's struggling not to move. Is he, too, afraid of breaking the moment?

It's my turn to let go of the mask, of the hurtful secrets.

-"You know, you're the first person ever that said me that …" I whisper. "Said it seriously I mean. There has just been Sister Helen before you, nobody else … She was the sister responsible of the orphanage, my only true mother… My biologic mother didn't love me, she abandoned me as soon as she thought the allocations didn't compensate for my presence anymore."

His hold on my sides tightens, and I thank him by caressing his hair. It's hard to talk of that, but it's the least I can do.

-"I've been a street rat for nearly as long as I remember, before being taken in by the orphanage. Sister Helen was submerged by work and I annoyed her with my pranks, father Maxwell too… I knew they loved me but they never had the time to tell me so … And I was always fighting. Then they had to punish me. And I was jealous of the other children, they were so many … And after all I felt bad for being jealous. I was under the impression I was disappointing them, I didn't deserve them. Solo, he was the leader of my gang before the orphanage, he had other things to do… He was hardened by the street, he didn't believe in futility like that."

His hand moves in circles on my back, like mine yesterday.

-"I never ask anyone to tell me what they feels toward me because deep down I believe that nobody could tell me and believe it, and you give me those words … It goes straight to my heart, you know, Heero, Really. I… Thank you."

He doesn't answer, he just moves back a little and stares at me right in the eye. My lower lip shivers under the memory.

-"Please… Tell me again…"

He stares at me for an eternity before leaning toward my ear.

-" I love you, Duo…" he says to me with a strength and a determination that I didn't hear yesterday.

Ended, the despair in his voice. I accepted his feelings and even if I don't give them back, he knows I'm far from rejecting them.

-"Thank you", I whisper. "You know, Heero… I don't know if I'll be able to love you like you deserve, but… I swear to you I'll try. I'll try with all my strength."

He leaps back and looks at me, stunned. I daresay he never ever thought he deserved to be loved. I feel my protection instinct wake up.

-"I love you, Duo," he repeats, but this time, very firmly. "I love you."

He regained his self-trust, his pride. He isn't ashamed of his feelings any longer …

When he cuddles me and hides his head in my neck with a little whisper, and then goes back to sleep, trusting, I wonder if it will really be such a great difficulty.

~owari~

Sap. Argh. I'm so ashamed. Sorry if I used words that don't have the good meaning or give the sentence a strange ring, there are lots of words who look like French ones but don't mean the same thing at all…

Feedback please?