Take A Bow
"Duo, I'm HOME!" Hilde shouted, tossing the keys on the kitchen counter. Her ears perked for the rattling around their small junkyard house, but not hearing him. Curiously narrowing her eyes, she walked to his door and knocked. Not getting anything, she slowly opened the door, just in case he was indecent. "Duo?" She softly called. No answer. Her lips pursed. 'Backyard.' She immediately thought. It was the only other place he normally WAS anymore. With a small regrettable sigh, she closed his door quietly. Leaning against it through momentary forlorn, one hand covered her face. Sorrow almost made her cry, but she forced it down. She knew that the day would come when Duo left for good, leaving her alone again. 'Story of my life.' She thought depressingly. Shaking her head, she pushed from the door and went out back.

"DUO!" She loudly called, hearing tools hitting metal. The noise stopped a second later.

"Is that YOU, Hilde?" He called out, hidden amongst the metal piles. Her eyes rolled to the makeshift sky.

"No, it's Oz!" She sarcastically announced. "YES it's me!" She took a few steps toward the small racket he made, stopping when IT stopped.

"You KNOW babe," He started loudly, his form far back in the lengthy yard, "that's NOT cool! Not for ME!" He grinned wryly the closer he got. She felt her heart melt somewhat, but pasted on a smug smile.

"Oh yea? So what're you gonna DO about it?" She challenged, crossing arms over her chest defiantly.

He stopped before her, one brow rose in thought. "This." He simply announced, his greasy hands swiping across her face. She shouted in surprise, jerking backwards. She staggered and fell over a loose rock in the dirt, hitting the ground. Duo laughed above her, gaining a small scowl from her dirty face. "Oh SEXY!" He mocked, putting those greasy hands on the hips of his black priest's garments. His lengthy braid moved slightly from movement.

"Yea, yea." She mumbled, picking herself off. Dusting her pants clean, one hand went to her face. "What IS this stuff anyway?" She wondered, experimentally smelling it. It seemed familiar.

"Grease from my Deathsycthe." He answered absently, grabbing a rag from his back pocket to clean his hands. Her shoulders drooped minusculy. She looked at his deterred attention, seeing the playfulness lift somewhat. She always KNEW he held that as a mask over his face, hiding his true thoughts. But every time she tried confronting him over it, he always popped on a jovial grin and denied it.

She mentally shook herself. "Well I just wanted to let you know I was home. Did you eat lunch?" She asked, grabbing his rag to clean her face. But it didn't do much good; most of it was covered in grease already. She already PLANNED on having him clean those clothes HIMSELF. No way in HELL would she do that!

"Naw...I've been out here for a WHILE." One hand scratched the crown of his head while he looked at the 'field'. "Kind of lost track of time..."

She snorted lightly. "I'm not surprised. All you DO is come out here!" She shook her head, mostly toward her inward thoughts. "Well," She said with false cheerfulness, "why don't you come in for a while... Get something to eat! And CLEAN UP while you're at it. You'll have PLENTY of time to fix up your Gundam later."

Duo turned back to Hilde, giving her a strange look. "You're sure BOSSY today girlie." He cracked sarcastically. "What makes you think I'll listen to YOU?" One hand reached out and poked her stomach. She shivered involuntarily.

Knowing he wouldn't take HER playfulness with the same notion she took HIS, her hand wrapped around his. "Well I DO cook for you, you know." She smiled triumphantly, knowing she'd won.

His shoulders slumped, admitting defeat. "Point well taken." He withdrew his hand, stretching both over his head. "Ah, that felt good! Guess I HAVE been working on ol' scythe too much haven't I? I SUPPOSE I could use a break." Chuckling through a tender look at his supposed carefree nature, she turned to the backdoor, knowing he'd follow.


Later after dinner, Hilde managed to keep Duo inside and away from that infernal machine. She only had to argue that she wasn't going to wash his clothes if he got them any dirtier. But, had she KNOWN he was going to hog the tv, she would've LET him go outside. One of her programs was on, one she wanted to SEE. But he wasn't about to give up the remote, such is the typical male... "Duo, GIVE it to me!" She nearly ordered, shaking her open palm again. He only slapped it in response, grinning widely. "I MEAN it. There's a program I want to watch tonight!"

"But you SAID you never get to see me anymore." He pouted, sticking his lower lip out. She ALMOST caved, if not for keeping up her side of the argument.

Without thinking, her hand shot out and tugged on it. "You deserved it." She muttered when he whined. "And I DIDN'T say that, you put words in my mouth. I basically told you I wasn't going to do your laundry if you kept working outside."

"But babe, I NEED to get my Gundam in working shape in case I get another mission." He argued, leaning against the couch casually. She leaned on the opposite direction, not buying his laid-back response.

"Big deal. Go without doing one killing spree for ONE DAY." She retorted, frowning. He frowned back, before popping his usual smile on his face.

"You say potato, I say French fries." He joked. She cracked a small smile at the lame attempt, but as usual, his 'happy smile' didn't reach his eyes.

Her head lolled back to the armrest. "FINE!" She consented. "What do YOU want to watch?" She asked, considering him. She was really in no mood to argue with him. She NEVER was.

"I dunno, why don't YOU pick something?" He stated, tossing the controls at her. She didn't bother hiding her growl, quickly leaning forward to pounce on him. But he was a Gundam pilot for a REASON, easily evading her attack. "I'll just be in my ROOM then!" He taunted, taking off before she could go after him. His door had a LOCK after all.

Now thankfully alone, she stared at the tv with no real want to see her once coveted show. She was too worried about Duo's slip, as usual. It seemed all she DID was worry about him, not that HE seemed to care. He just saw her as his roommate, cook, and Laundromat. She leaned against the couch heavily. 'Oh Duo,' She thought contrite, 'there's so much under your nose... If only you'd LOOK.'

Take a bow this night is over
This masquerade is getting older

Lights are low, the curtain's down

There's no one here, there's no one here, there's no one in the crowd

He spent yet another afternoon outside. He argued that he wanted to get some more repairs done while the weather was nice. She HAD to consent, knowing that the reports said for rain the rest of the week. There hadn't been any scheduled the beginning half, so newscasters let the colonists know ahead of time.

Particularly bored, with plenty of time until dinner, she slipped on sandals and headed for the backdoor. She knew to be careful with broken pieces of metal and bare feet from past instances. There wasn't exactly enough money to go around getting tetanus shots all the time. Feet now covered, she longed for Duo's company. But if nothing else, maybe a chance to help him fix up his Gundam. She hadn't served Oz and learned NOTHING about mobile suits. Even if his design were a little more high tech than most MS's, she would consider it a challenge.

Not bothering to call his name, she wandered past the stocked piles of miscellaneous junk. Some of the metal had been pulled aside, smaller piles dotting the walkways. Apparently he'd been able to find some to use. She looked around with a small amount of amusement. He'd been able to keep the PILES in a cleaner stack than his room, go figure... She smiled wryly, though only until she spotted him. Even though his back was to her, she could still see a small tenseness to his shoulders. Even the way he worked or gripped a wrench told her he wasn't as carefree as he showed her. Her brow knitted upward slightly, continuing to stare sadly.

She always KNEW he wasn't as happy as he tried making everyone BELIEVE he was. She didn't know much about him, even though she tried getting a few snips here and there. He just wouldn't talk about his past, not letting her in on his mysteriousness. Every time she asked, he always turned the attention to her, or physically picked on her until she left. She wondered if he even KNEW he was doing it, but knew differently. Why ELSE would he be so adamant about changing the subject from his past whenever she brought it up?

She walked a few more steps toward the hulk he SOMEHOW concealed in the yard, trying to be as quiet as possible. She stared at his Gundam, partially in awe at the design and astounded he could FIT something of that size amidst all the junk they had. She stood behind a particularly close, and large, junk pile, feeling curious just to stare at him. She almost wondered if Duo KNEW he was being watched, since he would occasionally look around the yard. She wondered if he KNEW it was here, but figured there was more than just herself to catch his attention.

She'd seen it though, that look on his face. It mostly resided in his eyes, hardly shown on any other facial feature. That frustrated and overworked look. Having spent enough time observing him, she KNEW he wasn't overworked from his Gundam alone. He KNEW he could stop at any time and come inside, but that wasn't the situation. He was overworked by the entire war and the stress each mission brought.

Her face drooped, eyes closing in grief. She almost wished the circumstances were different, that their entire MEETING was different. But she would never have met him if not for the war; its ONLY saving grace and positive attribute. The rest she cursed the longer she stared at Duo's face. She longed to go over and hold him, to try and take that look away. But he wouldn't take her emotions with the same conviction that SHE did, so she held back...as ALWAYS.

She turned back to the house when she couldn't stand watching the serious look on his face anymore. It just didn't seem like DUO. 'But then,' She countered, 'how well do you KNOW him? He's not ALWAYS happy-go-lucky.' Knowing she was right, she sighed quietly. Oh she was AWARE it was mostly an act to keep her from worrying about him. But she saw right through most of it, even the faces he let slip from time to time. She tried reassuring him that he needn't pretend around her, but he just denied feeling anything but upbeat.

Her route back to the house was the same as when she arrived; quiet. She didn't want Duo to get distracted by her, not while he was working so hard. Her eyes watered against her will. 'But then, when he leaves, that's most likely it.' She sadly thought. One hand slowly reached for the knob, as if all her strength was zapped. 'You know he won't come back if the war hits another waiting period. He'll argue that he'll want to keep me 'safe'.' Safe. She hadn't known of that word since the Federation and Oz struck up. Since she joined Oz with the hopes of fighting to END the war and return peace.

She walked aimlessly to the front of the house, eyes not locking on anything too long. It always DID depress her whenever she thought about Duo and when he'd leave. She was so TIRED of being alone, of not having a friend to be with as much as she was with Duo. Even when he was outside all day, he was still at home. That was the most comfortable feeling; to know you had someone to be with all the time.

But, as much as she felt for Duo, she never let it show. Right now, he was too preoccupied with the war. She would probably die of shock if he ACTUALLY asked what she felt toward him. 'But,' She thought darkly, 'he'd have to hold HIMSELF in a little higher standing before I could tell him how I feel.' She KNEW Duo didn't care too much for his life, even if he acted differently on the outside. Otherwise, why would he pilot a Gundam and fight missions that held such a high danger level? He was such a contradiction. Feeling such animosity towards things in life, yet only showing jovialness on the outside.

Say your lines, but do you feel them?

Do you mean what you say when there's no one around, no one around

Watching you, watching me

One lonely star, one lonely star you don't know who you are

A day passed and the rain had yet to give up. Duo tapped a few fingers on his pants absently, wishing he had tools in his grasp. He was ALMOST FINISHED with a few specific parts of Deathsycthe, but the rain started heavy from the beginning and he had to come in. The non-stop, fast tappity-tap sounded throughout the house.

"Duo, STOP." Hilde softly ordered, never looking up from her book.

His longing gaze moved from the window to her face. It seemed so peaceful. He wished HE was like that sometimes. "Sorry." He mumbled, clasping his hands together awkwardly. It still didn't help the antsy feeling he had, as if something was going to happen soon.

'No,' He figured, 'you're just being paranoid again.' Like he always was during the war, as if Oz were watching him. But that wasn't true, he hid the Gundam well enough, NO one would find it.

He stood on a bored impulse. "Whatcha reading?" He asked pleasantly, stopping behind the chair to peek. Her head tilted up, meeting his eyes. Part of her bangs covered her face, almost covering one eye demurely. He blinked at how pretty and mysterious it made her look, then discarded the thought.

One hand dipped to her book, taking it from her while keeping her place. "Do you MIND?" She shot out, not at all peeved. ANYTHING to keep him from making that stupid noise! She could hardly concentrate on the novel she once held.

He looked at the cover with a small smile. "Not if YOU don't." He joked back, that smile widening. She couldn't help but smile back slightly, resting her eyes in the meantime. She looked around the room briefly before resting her head on the back of the armchair. Her gaze locked with Duo's face, inches above hers. She felt that flutter to her heart, that small burst of adrenaline from his closeness. Her gaze transfixed on what she could see of his violet eyes, almost like they'd trapped her blue eyes.

Becoming disinterested with the small summary on the book's front page, he looked down to hand Hilde her book back. His eyes locked with her, his hand freezing. She was staring so intensely at him it almost made his mouth go dry. What was she DOING? "Hilde?" He asked, his brow furrowing in confusion. "Something wrong babe?" There was a fire in her eyes like none he'd ever seen before. Maybe something was wrong... "You feeling okay?" One hand went to her forehead, finding it cool.

She mentally sighed, but looked away with a small reassuring nod. So clueless, yet so caring at the same time. She felt the urge to give a cry of frustration, and an even LARGER urge to tell him she cared about him and was looking at him out of LOVE. But he'd probably freak out, or deny that she felt anything for him... And she didn't want to jeopardize their friendship by saying it either. She knew Duo was a little touchy with some topics, one reason she'd always kept quiet. But, would she know how he felt if she never said anything? She bit her inner lip, indecisive. "Duo," She faltered, her adrenaline surging, "you know I love ya right?" She asked, smiling at him.

He looked back quickly with wide eyes. But he smiled widely when he saw HER smile. She was just playing, he figured. One hand ruffled her hair. "Aw, you're such a bud Hilde!" He responded affectionately.

Not what she wanted to hear though. Her smile faltered somewhat, turning timid and weak. A bud, that's all he considered her. If he cared for her anymore than that, the look in his eyes would've been proof enough. But all she saw was playfulness and pleasantries. 'A friend,' She sadly thought, taking her book back with a numb hand, 'that's all I'll ever be considered as.'

"I'm going to go raid the fridge, okay Hilde?" He asked, already heading for the kitchen.

"Yea..." She responded, trying to keep her voice even. She felt tears sting her eyes and hoped he would leave quicker so she could compose herself.

His head stuck out from the hallway, smiling that pleasant grin. "You're not COMPLAINING?" His eyes widened comically. "I'm HURT! You ALWAYS tell me not to spoil my dinner!" His mouth dropped foolishly before he smiled. "YOU want anything?"

'You maybe?' She thought, looking at the book intensely.

"I'm fine." She answered softly.

"Alright..." He slowly drawled, his head disappearing.

Now alone, the book immediately dropped to her lap, one hand covering her upper face, hiding her eyes. Those cursed tears gathered even farther, hearing how his voice was. Her chin wobbled slightly, even through attempts to hide it. He was totally unaffected with her inadvertent declaration of love only moments ago. She felt a small sob work its way from her throat and tried to hide it. Crying in his presence was not going to win his love. But...she was ALWAYS strong and easy-going around him, even when he played around a little more than necessary. It hurt to know he didn't know what he was doing to her, or didn't even bother ACKNOWLEDGING it.

"Hey Hilde, I think we need to go shopping tomorrow!" His voice suddenly shouted. Her head shot up, a tear spilling over her cheek. "We're out of a few goodies!" His voice started drifting closer to the living room. Feeling panicked, she shot off the couch, dodging other furniture on her escape to her room. She didn't want him to know she cried over him. She also didn't really want to SEE him right now. She just wanted to wallow a little bit in self-misery. "Hilde?"

His head popped out from the wall again, blinking in surprise that she seemed to have disappeared. The only evidence she left behind was her book, laying facedown in the chair. "Huh, where'd she go?" He murmured out loud, looking around. Walking to the chair, he picked up the book. Grabbing her bookmark, he set it in the open page, looking at the cover. "Well ol' War And Peace , you'll have to go back on the shelf until she's finished with you." He softly joked to the book, setting it on the makeshift bookcase.

I've always been in love with you, always with you

I guess you've always known it's true, you know it's true

You took my love for granted, why oh why

This show is over say goodbye

Say goodbye, bye-bye, say goodbye

"Hey Hilde, can I get this?" Duo asked, bounding to the cart like a child.

"Duo, how many times to I have to TELL you, I cook, and what I DON'T need I don't BUY. So...NO." She nearly lectured. He gave a childlike pout, his shoulders slumping somewhat. She sighed in mild frustration, a hand resting against her forehead. Never again would she ask Duo to help her grocery shop. But it was just so lonely doing the chore by herself. Especially carrying everything the few blocks back to the house. Grocery shopping was for couples to do together... "Just this ONCE." She softly caved. He smiled brightly and set the cookies in the cart.

She couldn't help but smile at the way he acted, like a well-mannered two-year old sitting in the front of the cart. She almost wondered if she should let him SIT in the front of the cart; that way he wouldn't wander off so much. At least with kids in carts, their arms didn't reach so far as Duo's did... And with area to roam, his sticky fingers found all KINDS of goodies she normally never bought. She was wondering if she should've brought a LEASH to hook him to. Such a stupid idea, and funny picture, made her smile slightly.

"Well now that you've gotten YOUR treat, go find me these few things and EARN those cookies. We'll also get OUT of here quicker." She handed him the list and pointed, eyeing him so he understood. Taking it from his sight, he stood back and saluted before nearly bounding away. Her head shook, utterly amused. "Duo," She murmured to herself, "you don't realize how childishly cute you act sometimes." Humorously chuckling, and mood graciously lifted, she pushed the cart along, hoping to get finished.


She'd gotten nearly everything on her cart but those two items she'd sent Duo to fetch, almost half an hour ago. He hadn't returned and she was wondering what was taking him. She KNEW there weren't TOO many brands he could choose from, so he must've gotten lost. She smirked, humphing slightly. 'Never send a boy to do a woman's job.' She thought smugly. She scowled slightly, fighting a smile. 'But NOW I have to go FIND him.' Marking over the last item she set in the cart, she set the list in her back pocket and started looking.

It was only five isles later that she spotted him, along with something she DIDN'T want to see. But, she forced herself to not overreact. It worked, until the woman stocker Duo stood next to smiled brightly, one hand briefly touching his upper arm. Jealousy and spite flared so bad she clutched the handlebars to the cart so tightly her knuckles almost turned white. Anger soon followed, but she forced it from her eyes when he turned her way, carrying both items she sent him to fetch.

When he set both items in the cart, she gave him a strange look. "What was THAT all about?" She queried. He smiled bashfully and ducked his head, scratching it.

"Well I couldn't find one of those things you asked me to get so I asked that girl back there." One thumb jerked behind him. "So I asked and we got to talking. She was still there when I found everything so I just walked back up and thanked her for her help." His sheepish smile widened a little more. "She asked me out." He muttered softly, so low she didn't think she heard it. She didn't WANT to've heard it. She didn't want to know his answer, other than a flat out NO.

One eyebrow rose as they made their way to the checkout. "And what did you SAY?" She asked, trying to keep malice from her voice. He didn't say anything, only walked next to her placidly. Her other brow rose in suspicious shock. "Duo Maxwell, you didn't AGREE to go out with her, DID YOU?" She accused stunned.

He turned to her, almost beseechingly. "Well she was SO POLITE! I couldn't just say NO!" He nearly pleaded, arguing on his behalf. She broke their gaze, staring straight ahead. Jealousy and malevolence beat down on her emotions until she felt she wanted to go hit something. Anger and frustration mixed in, creating a dangerous combination. "You're not...MAD, are you?" He asked curiously, eyeing her skeptically.

She unclenched her jaw, realizing it was showing. She couldn't keep all those hateful emotions from her eyes, but she wasn't looking at him either. "No." She said, forcing a somewhat cheerful exterior. "It's your life Duo. You do what you want." Perhaps, too cheery and patronizing, but she didn't give a damn! She wanted to yell and scream like a little toddler having a temper tantrum that SHE was HIS! She wanted to berate Duo for accepting to take out a STRANGER when he could've had HER all to his own! Hell, they LIVED together for God's sakes! "Shall we go home now?" She asked, pushing the cart ahead of him without further talk. She didn't even want to see his FACE right now, so the less, the better!


The sun had almost set when Duo stepped out of his room, wearing something OTHER than his normal priest's garments. She looked up when he entered the living room, having taken to her book for something to do. She hadn't even gotten past the page she was on, maybe not even the second line. She was still thinking about that girl he was taking out, what they would do and say. It was driving her NUTS.

"So babe, how do I look?" He asked, holding his arms out. He stood in the archway on the other side of the room.

Her breath caught in her throat. He looked simply handsome. Though still wearing black jeans, he wore a deep blue shirt that complimented his eyes. Damp bangs hung over his eyes a little more from his shower. He looked so cute; it took almost all her physical AND mental strength to not run to him right there. "You look good." She nearly breathed, trying to find words to describe him. He smiled widely, looking down at himself.

"Yea...guess I DO look a little 'good', don't I?" He smugly commented. Almost SEEING his ego inflate, she felt a quick jab to keep it down.

"Well too bad your little 'date' isn't going to last long outside." Hilde commented, almost TOO happily. She looked at the nearest window. "It's still not going to let up for another day or so."

"Ah, got the problem fixed right over here." He denied genially, walking to the closet. After grabbing a windbreaker to keep his clothes mostly dry, he pulled a large umbrella from its holder. "See? We'll stay nice and dry!" He waved it like a prize in front of her face. She only saw that he was taunting her somehow, playing with her emotions. She could CLEARLY see those two huddling together under the umbrella, shoulders touching to stay dry. She quickly looked down at her book, feeling that rage surface again.

"Yea well, have fun then." She almost curtly responded.

His head tilted slightly, one hand scratching it MOST confused. She'd acted strangely ever since they got HOME... He smiled slightly, mentally shaking himself from the past. He didn't TRY to understand Hilde; he just LIVED with her. "Well, I'm OFF!" He humorously proclaimed. She nodded silently, feeling those accursed tears start forming. "No wild parties while I can't attend or I'll have to get retribution on your ass!" He chuckled at his own joke and bowed ludicrously, heading for the front door.

After the door shut, she dropped the book with a heavy sigh. "Don't have TOO much fun now..." She whispered sadly, covering her face with a hand. "Oh Duo..."

Make them laugh, it comes so easy

When you get to the part where you're breaking my heart

Breaking my heart

Hide behind your smile

All the world loves a clown

Just make em smile the whole world loves a clown

The rain had stopped since Duo's date and hadn't returned since. He'd gone on another one with the 'polite girl' last night, saying that she was fun to be around. Hilde tried thinking it as two friends hanging out, but a small pink lipstick print on his cheek told her otherwise. 'Hanging out' didn't include wearing lipstick, at least not in HER book.

She sighed and hugged her pillow even tighter in the darkness. 'I might as well face it,' She thought in resignation, 'Duo was never mine and will probably never BE mine.' Self-pity followed that all too miserable and unwanted thought. Two dates; they'd gone on two dates, and planned on another. She couldn't hide from the truth anymore. She wanted Duo and even told him she loved him, but he didn't return her sentiments.

Silent tears coursed down her cheeks, soaking into her pillow. Her face finally relieved hidden emotions of their tether, anguish showing in the darkness. Her room housed MANY sad and dark emotions that dealt with Duo; it was the only place she felt safe to let them out. Now, tears and sadness melted into the walls, creating less than wanted memories.

She didn't WANT to be JUST his friend. She didn't WANT to be a partner or companion. She wanted to be his girlfriend, and possibly his lover. She'd NEVER felt this way to ANYONE like she felt toward Duo... And that's why it hurt so bad. If she could've found someone to DULL the pain and sorrow, it wouldn't have been so bad. But, she had her heart set on someone who was not hers.

Unable to handle being alone anymore, or at least in her room, she nearly shot off the bed, clearing her tears as she went. Grasping the handle, she quietly opened the door and tiptoed down the hall. She paused at Duo's closed door, one hand stopping in front of the wood as if to touch HIM and not the confinements to his body. She always wondered what his body felt like, what his SKIN felt like. She wanted to touch his face, but would never be so brazen if he never felt anything back.

Slowly turning, almost like she was deciding on something, she turned from his room, heading for the front door. She quietly opened that as well, not wanting Duo to worry. She didn't think she would have the strength to explain her problems to him now, not when she was feeling all this. It would be too much, she would cave and tell him everything. PLEAD with him not to see that woman and go out with her instead. 'No,' She vowed weakly, 'I can't do that.' She wouldn't decide his life for him.

She gingerly sat on the front steps, being careful to find a dry spot. The rain may have stopped, but the continuous rain puddled everywhere. Mists sprouted up in the early morning, not allowing the concrete to totally dry. She didn't even feel the cool air that surrounded her, not even when the generator blew it over exposed skin. Crouching together, her head rested on her knees, bringing that thankful darkness.

Oh, how she wished to change her life, and NOT be sitting on the front steps feeling sorry she so fully loved one untouchable man. That alone brought more tears to her eyes, a few spilling over old tracks.

She was just tired of it all, of seeing that friendly look in his eyes when she wanted to see passion and love. She wanted to kiss his lips for hours. She wanted his arms to wrap around her body and hold her close in his bed, sharing body heat during the night. She wanted to hear him sleep and feel his breath on her ear as he slept behind her. But most of all, she wanted to hear that she was MORE than a friend. She wanted him to admit that he at least CARED about her damn it!


She gasped loudly, jumping a mile. Hands quickly wiped her hands discreetly, furiously wondering WHY he was up. She thought she'd been quiet enough! Perhaps, not ENOUGH, enough... "Duo." She shakily responded, quickly fixing her voice. She cleared her throat, as if that had been the problem. If only it WAS... "What're you doing UP?" She asked, like nothing was wrong. She turned, pasting on a smile as she looked up at him. His head tilted, that adorable braid of his tangled from sleep. His pajamas were also wrinkled, the shirt he recently donned left open, exposing his chest. Her eyes remained glued to that open skin, tortured once again. He often wore sweatpants when he slept, but never a shirt. But whenever he was up, he would put one on as he was now, leaving it unbuttoned.

He slowly ambled over and sat on the steps next to her. "I could ask you the same thing babe." He muttered, yawning soon afterwards. "What're YOU doing up?" He countered, staring at her sleepily.

She looked at her toes, wiggling them self-consciously. "Couldn't sleep." She whispered, mentally fearing his appearance. It was a plague unto itself, but also a blessing. If only she could tell him everything, to make him understand! But not having the nerve, she just wished he'd go back into the house so she could deal with everything, alone as she always had.

"Why?" He wondered softly. She fought from clenching her jaw in sudden frustration.

'JUST GO AWAY DUO!' She mentally screamed. She was two seconds away from loudly crying at it all, at all the unfair hands life dealt her. Fate was so CRUEL sometimes...

"I just couldn't." She answered. "Probably woke up in the middle of the night." She rambled softly, trying to throw him off track.

One hand wrapped around her shoulders, pulling her closer. "Aw Hilde." He softly murmured. His chin rested on the top of her head. "It's okay babe. I couldn't really sleep either." He confided. He smiled slightly. He didn't really sleep fitfully anymore, having been assaulted with dreams of his past every so often. It taught him to catnap more than actually sleep. He just happened to be awake when she tiptoed past his room. He only waited until the front door opened to follow her, after he made sure everything was okay of course.

His body heat surrounded her. She tried pulling it inside her mind, tucking this elated feeling to cherish forever. It was one of the few she would ever have. She couldn't fight the small smile that popped up, feeling too happy to be angry or sad. Duo was holding her by his own choice. Granted it may not've been EXACTLY what she wanted, but she was going to take what she COULD. "Thanks Duo." She whispered contentedly.

One hand came up and ruffled her hair slowly. "Anything to help ya kid." He whispered. "I'll be there to help any way I can Hilde. You know that right?" His head removed itself, tilting as he stared toward her face.

Not meeting his gaze, directing it with the dark sidewalk, she nodded almost thoughtfully. "I know." She whispered back dishearten. She wished he would've added that he cared, THAT being the reason he would've always been there.

"Come on." He sleepily commented. "Let's both get back to bed shall we?" He stood awkwardly, the concrete not the COMFIEST thing to sit on for too long. His hand extended toward her, Hilde taking it after a second. He held the door open for her, locking it after they entered the warm house again.

She stopped a little after his door, turning to him. "Good night Duo. Sweet dreams." She whispered, smiling kindly. He paused in the doorway, leaning backwards somewhat to see her better.

"Nighty night to you TOO bud." He answered, tearing asunder another corner of her heart. Her smile dropped the instant his door shut, her head following soon after.

'Please don't call me that Duo.' She softly pleaded. 'Call me anything but bud, buddy, or friend...' She leaned against the door, once again in her room. 'I know what I have to do now. It's all clear...' She stared at the dark ceiling, tears silently burning her face. It WAS clear now, the choice she had to make, the roll she needed to fulfill. She WAS going to solely be Duo's friend, even if it pained her to do so. But, she wasn't going to stay here to do so. She would be his friend from afar, and love him from even farther. 'My heart will heal.' She thought sadly. Her eyes looked toward the closet, a small plan forming. 'With time. But...I need to get away from him to ALLOW it time...'


The day of Duo's date, she started packing. It didn't take very long actually. Standing in the center of her room, with the excuse she wanted to get rid of a few unwanted clothes, she eyed the few bags on her bed. 'That's all I REALLY need.' She figured thoughtfully. Far away footsteps sounded throughout the house, momentarily making her wary. She relaxed only when they disappeared onto the other side of the house. He was preparing for his third date. SHE was preparing for her departure.

Her eyes closed; saddened she was going to ACTUALLY do this. But, her resolve had hardened throughout the few days that passed. She wasn't going to back down when the choice for a new life loomed before her. It ALMOST seemed too tempting to leave Duo alone to his own devices and live her own life again. 'But to be ALONE is not something I will readily accept.' She thought, going to her packing. In fact, she didn't want to be alone, but she had no choice. 'At least WHERE I will be going won't be so lonesome.' She figured, the thought bringing no comfort.

Two hours later, she sat in that same chair, flipping through channels for the last time. She figured to lead as normal a life as she possibly could before leaving. She turned the tv off the second Duo walked into the room again, hands on his hips.

"Do I look good again this time Hilde?" He asked, eyeing his attire. She looked at his choice of clothing, silently agreeing with him. Though her heart was breaking, she couldn't keep herself in her chair, as she tried telling herself to do.

"You look VERY nice Duo." She softly agreed, nodding slightly. She stopped before him nervously, looking at the floor momentarily.

"Hilde?" He asked, his head turning to one side. "Something wrong?" He curiously wondered. Without words, her arms looped around his waist in a loose hug. He was startled only momentarily before hugging her back. When she let go, he gave her a goofy smile. "What was THAT for?" He asked, chuckling slightly.

She managed a small, pained smile. "I just wanted to hug you goodbye." She murmured, silently cursing herself for the slip.

He laughed briefly. "Hilde, babe, I'm not going to be gone LONG..." He explained.

'No, but I will be.' She silently denied. She only smiled a little more on the outside.

"I know, but I just wanted to hug you before you left." She explained softly. He looked at her strangely, but shook his head of the matter.

"Well, you do what you WANT then." He quickly looked at the watch on his wrist. "I'm going to head out. I'll see you later." He said.

"Much later." She whispered inaudibly. He looked at her oddly, wondering what was going ON with her. He only shook him head again, grabbing his coat from the closet. He stopped in the doorway with a smile, one she didn't return. She only waved her final parting. "Bye Duo." She said sadly, silently wishing him a safe journey in life. She ingrained his face and body to memory, wondering if this was the last time she would EVER see him again. He opened the door, locking it behind him.

Waiting almost an excruciating minute while he left the house, she darted for her room immediately afterwards. Turning the lights on and locking the door in case Duo returned for some reason, she sat in front of a recently positioned mirror, grabbing the scissors. Combing through her bangs, she cut about two or three inches from them and the back of her hair, shortening the whole thing a little more.

After the entire process was finished, she looked at herself, seeing a slight change to her face. 'It's a start.' It didn't end there though. Grabbing a small case from the dresser, she opened each side and pulled out colored contacts. Depositing each in her eye, she looked at her new brown eyes. She had WANTED green, but brown was such a common color and she didn't want to stick out in any way.

After cleaning up everything and throwing all incrimination away, she stood in front of the mirror, eyeing her changed appearance. 'Not a whole lot of difference, but an improvement.' She figured thoughtfully. She always had those lengthy bangs nearly over her eyes, this way would allow her to see better. They now ended just above her eyebrows, the ends of her hair a meager few inches from her scalp. She didn't REALLY want to cut her hair THAT much, but figured a 'crew cut' was better when she rejoined Oz.

Grabbing the few bags she packed earlier, along with the shuttle ticket and letter to Duo off her nightstand, she stopped in the doorway. Looking at her room one last time, she ingrained that to memory as well before shutting the lights off, closing the door softly behind her. She wandered through the house, and even Duo's room, before she unlocked the front door and opened it. Dropping her bags in the doorway to prop it open, she eyed the letter and ticket in her hand. 'I can either back out now and explain my new appearance, or go through with this.' She paused to weigh both options. It was SO tempting to stay with Duo, even if it hurt incredibly to do so. But leaving him AND the life they'd built was the other road in front of her. All she had to do was walk out that door... YES she would miss Duo inconceivably, but she ALWAYS knew he'd leave to fight missions someday. It was just a matter of time. SHE was just leaving first.

Walking to the kitchen, she left the note on the table, along with her house key. She didn't really care about the scrap yard, and she didn't plan on coming back to it. Duo could claim it as his, as she stipulated in her letter. Finality within her grasp, she went to the front door and shut it slowly, really going through with everything. 'Goodbye Duo. I love you.' She thought dejectedly, walking down the sidewalk to the shuttle station.

Wish you well, I cannot stay

You deserve an award for the roll that you played, roll that you played

No more masquerade, you're one lonely star

One lonely star, you don't know who you are

It was almost eleven when Duo strolled inside, not thinking anything different about the front door. He figured Hilde left it open for him while she was in another part of the house. But a few of the lights were off and he wondered if she was asleep. He looked around curiously. "Hilde?" He softly called, hoping not to wake her up if she WAS asleep. "Hilde..." He drawled, one hand next to his mouth. He smiled slightly, heading for the hallway. "You won't BELIEVE this babe, I had THE BEST time tonight! Cathy is pretty cool. Wanna know what we talked about?" He stopped in the kitchen, not finding anything but the lights on. He looked around, hands on his hips. "Well...THAT'S strange. She NEVER leaves the lights on." He muttered to himself. He eyed something on the table, his name in black ink. Tilting his head curiously, he sat at the table and picked it up. The house key clanked onto the wood a second later. He picked it up slowly, looking at it strangely. There was an indescribable uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach, as if something were VERY wrong. He stood quickly and started in his questioning search of the house, ending it in her bedroom. All lights were off, but when he went in he spotted a few of her things gone. He didn't think too much of it with her earlier explanation. Going through a few things in her room found three travel bags missing as well. 'Was she getting rid of those TOO?' He wondered. That uncomfortable feeling in his stomach grew; worry shooting adrenaline through his body. Something, SOMEWHERE, wasn't right about the situation. There HAD to have been something else he was missing here! Something Hilde hadn't told him earlier. He quickly opened the letter, as if that would be an explanation to her whereabouts and the change to her room.

My dearest Duo,

I know you're wondering where I am by now, but you shouldn't. Even though you might return early, I won't be in the house. I'm not even anywhere in the vicinity of the NEIGHBORHOOD. I'm GONE Duo...

This isn't easy for me to do. I've done PLENTY of thinking during the past few days and I came to an all too horrible truth. You don't think of me as anything other than a friend. To anyone else, that wouldn't be so bad, having someone so unique and great as their friend to cherish. But I didn't WANT to be your friend Duo. I wanted there to be something MORE between us. I even TOLD you I loved you not too long ago. Do you remember my words? I didn't mean them to be a jest or ANY kind of trick, even though YOU took it that way.

I can't stand living with you, knowing you don't think of me as anything more. It hurts me greatly when you pick on me the way you've done; the dates you've gone out on. I wanted to yell at you for going out with some stranger, but I can't and WON'T. It's YOUR life and YOU are sole responsible for it. I can only wish that you'd see me in a new light, but I've done TOO MUCH hoping I guess.

I wish things could've been different. I might falter and return to you down the road, still wishing that you'd be mine. But, I have to accept the facts as they are and go on with my life. I stayed there for YOU Duo. The scrap yard is yours now; I have no use for it other than a place to stay. I don't really feel I HAVE a home. 'Home is where the heart is' as they say. But I don't have the heart to stay there anymore. Now, I will find my own path, and I wish for you to find YOURS. Don't try and find me, even if this letter jogs something in your heart. I don't want this occurrence, and my absence, to create any feelings you might have buried in your heart. Don't look for me Duo, I NEED to do this.

I wish you well in life, a SAFE life. I will never stop thinking about you, even though I might try to, to help heal my broken heart. But even though I might get over you in the time we're apart, I will ALWAYS love you Duo Maxwell. Even if I've never been able to tell you, due to the fact that I KNOW you wouldn't feel the same. The actions you've done during the past week proved that much to me.

If fate is kind, maybe we'll meet again someday. If that DOES happen, I know I won't turn away from you Duo. I won't be so scornful to turn my back on my one true love.

Hilde Schebeiker

The letter fluttered to the ground, his fingers too numb to hold it anymore. He couldn't believe what he just read. He snatched the letter up and looked it over again and again, trying to figure out if she was playing some sick joke on him. But she wouldn't BE that cruel. His eyes squeezed shut painfully, emptiness searing his brain.

The silence that encompassed his ears only confirmed the following; she WAS gone. Gone someplace that she wouldn't tell him about, because she didn't want to come back. She didn't want to stay in the place they lived in to be with him. His eyes opened slowly, burning with unshed tears. "Why Hilde?" He whispered tearily. His heart ached painfully, as if it was about to explode. "Why?" He KNEW why, but that didn't make it any better. He wished to find her and make her explain EVERYTHING, every reason she figured it best to leave him alone.

'Alone again.' He thought forlornly, a tear running down his face. He didn't bother wiping it away, even when more followed. He sat on her bed for countless minutes, trying to deal with the fact that his only friend was gone. She left him alone, as he was alone in the past. 'Why?' He wondered, yet again. It wouldn't be the LAST time he would wonder that either.

I've always been in love with you, always with you

I guess you've always known it's true, you know it's true

You took my love for granted, why oh why

This show is over say, goodbye

Say goodbye, bye-bye, say goodbye

During the following weeks, he busied himself entirely with fixing his Gundam, having given up on his brief dating life. He didn't WANT company, and he didn't bother calling back the new friend he'd come to know. He didn't want anything other than Hilde back in front of him again, apologizing for leaving him by himself. He wanted to see her again, even if it WAS just as friends. She WAS right though, something DID trigger inside his heart at her nonexistence. He just wanted to be near her, whether as friends or mayhap something else. He didn't quite understand it, but he didn't bother dissecting the fact. It was irrelevant anyway; Hilde was gone.

He stood from his Gundam and stretched, looking toward the house. The sun almost started setting, the program casting afternoon shadows everywhere. He nearly wondered when Hilde was going to come out and scold him for staying outside too long, but shook his head sadly when he remembered THIS was REALITY. Sitting back down with a small sigh, he slowly started working on his Gundam again, having nothing ELSE to do. At least he was almost finished, the ONLY good piece of news he had to satisfy his heart.


She awoke from the bunker, stretching her arms. Looking around at the other female coworkers, she immediately wondered how Duo was doing. 'Forget him.' She commanded firmly. It happened each morning, followed by the same two words. She had been gone for weeks, but had yet to break herself of the habitual thinking and worrying about Duo. She got up from her bed, heading for the shower.

After dressing in the provided uniform, she walked alongside her female companions, feeling a little out of place. She had never been around so much estrogen in so long. It was still a somewhat foreign feeling to hear high-pitched voices instead of Duo's delightful tenor. 'FORGET about him!' She forcefully reminded herself. Mentally shaking herself, she blanked her mind to keep from thinking of Duo. A seemingly hard task.

Arriving in the hanger, she donned khaki coveralls before heading to the MS she had yet to finish. It was late when she went to bed last night, but she hadn't finished repairs. Floating in front of it, she headed for her toolkit. She tossed back a welcome to those that greeted her good morning, smiling slightly. She rubbed her eyes, the contacts bugging her just a little. She hadn't been able to take them out or risk exposure, but they still bugged her somewhat. She was only able to take them out when was totally alone, letting air to her eyes only once in a while. Still, it said brown eyes on her doctored records, and brown eyes it would STAY.

'Another day, another couple dozen mobile suits to fix.' She figured dully, grabbing a wrench.

I've always been in love with you, always with you

I guess you've always known it's true, you know it's true

You took my love for granted, why oh why

This show is over say, goodbye

Say goodbye, bye-bye, say goodbye

Say goodbye

As Hilde predicted, fate WAS kind to both of them. The space base was attacked by his Gundam, Deathsycthe tearing into the hanger. She was thankfully in an air radiated station, taking a small break before heading back out. She was still in shock throughout it all, even as she watched him through the cameras. It had been an entire MONTH since she'd laid eyes on his face. She felt sorry for leaving, seeing the haggard person she was now witnessing through the vid-cams as he entered the secure areas.

Shouts for evacuation loomed in her ears, but her body still stayed frozen. She hadn't forgotten him, hadn't been able to dumb her feelings down in the slightest. Love rushed through her as strong as ever, choking her throat. "Mary!" Someone yelled. "MARY! Let's GO!" They were calling her, but she just couldn't respond. To someone else, it would've looked like she was frozen in fear. But to her, she was frozen with the need to see his face on those monitors, to try and locate him so she could see him again and again. But, hadn't she told him, AND herself, that she was going to heal? To FORGET him?

A hand grabbed her arm; those voices still a ways away from her recognition. It was as if everything were happening in slow motion, like she wasn't Mary Baker but Hilde Schebeiker once again. Noises outside grabbed her attention, eyeing the door as it was kicked in. The male coworkers stepped in front of her and the other woman in the room, as if to protect all from Shinigami in the doorway. She eyed him hungrily, one hand absently going to her hair. It had grown, of course, in the past month. The only difference was her forged identity and eyes. Her face hadn't changed enough for him to NOT recognize her.

He seemed to as well, once the initial roll of The Great Destroyer wore off. He stood still in shock, mouth gaping open for a split second as their eyes locked. He recovered enough to dodge the bullets her female companion shot at him, rushing those in the room. He took out the men, knocking the woman to the other side of the room, though not hurting her. That left only the two of them in the room conscious, staring each other down.

"Hilde?!" He finally breathed. He sized up the coveralls and backwards cap that covered her hair. Those telltale bangs stuck out from the hole. But something was different about her; something besides the clothes she wore.

"Duo..." She breathed, physically saying his name for the first time in a month. Something flickered in his eyes, something she didn't want to see, not anymore. She didn't want to feel anything for him again; she wanted to get on with her life. She thought she was finally doing so, but one look at his gaunt face told her entirely different.

"IN THERE!" Someone shouted. Both gazes quickly shot to the open doorway, gaping open threateningly.

Dark violet eyes met blue. "We need to talk." He said seriously. Everything seemed sped up after that. Guards rushed to the door, stopping in the doorway when they saw what happened to their friend. Duo's arm was wrapped around Hilde's neck, a gun to her temple. "MOVE!" He venomously threatened. "Or I shoot!" It was an empty promise they didn't know about, but one they obeyed. He would NEVER shoot Hilde to save his OWN life, even as the situation presented right now.

"Do as he says!" Someone commanded. "He's got Mary hostage!"

"Mary?" He whispered confused.

"It's okay guys." Hilde placated. She slowly walked in step with Duo, reveling in the feel of his body after so long. The last time they'd touched was the night she left. "Do as he says."

"MARY?" He repeated in her ear, still keeping his glare on the others.

"My name now Duo." She discreetly whispered back. "There's a lot I changed after I left." She softly explained.

"All the MORE reason we need to talk." He whispered back harshly. She felt a fearful shiver run through her, but knew he had EVERY RIGHT to be mad.


"So tell me NOW, while we still have a few minutes, WHY you left." He ordered, pacing in front of her in the dark room.

She stood in front of him timidly, wringing her hands slightly. She didn't want to go through this now, not when she thought she was back on the road to recovery. She hadn't thought of Duo in two days, but now he showed up in her life. She should've KNOWN that reassigning with Oz again was asking for it. She breathed a small sigh. Oh WELL...

"You know why I left Duo." She softly stated. "I told you in the letter."

"But that letter is BULLSHIT!" He nearly shouted, forcing himself to speak in hushed tones. Someone might be listening, even if they DID lose the guards. It still wouldn't take long for Oz to find him. He mildly wondered how Deathsycthe was holding up. He sighed when she visibly cringed, feeling guilty. "Look Hilde-"

"Mary." She softly, yet firmly, corrected. She looked him in the eye. "I'm MARY BAKER now Duo. That's what my records say." His head shook slightly.

"Fine...MARY...you didn't HAVE to leave. I didn't WANT you to go. Did you even ask ME about any of that?" Hands flailed in the air, extremely frustrated.

She looked at the ground again. "If I told you I loved you again Duo, what would you have said?" She felt a little anger and held onto that, getting the nerve to look him in the face again. "Would you have denied it, or accepted it?" She took a hateful step forward.

Their rolls changed. "Well...I..." He sighed, head bowing in resignation. "I've never really THOUGHT about it Hi...Mary. You never SEEMED to show anything BUT friendship. That day you DID tell me you loved me, I figured you were just playing around! Or meant it totally different!" He stopped in front of her. "How was I to know you seriously loved me? You never SAID anything!"

"And what would you've done if I DID say it?" She repeated. His mouth gaped open and closed a few times as he scrambled for an answer.

"Well...I always considered you a friend Hilde." He softly answered, looking at the floor guiltily. "I never really bothered thinking DIFFERENT."

One hand touched his cheek, even though she told herself she'd regret doing so later. "And now you know why I never told you Duo." She whispered, tears shining in her eyes. But they didn't fall and her voice wasn't sad. It was only speaking from acceptance she'd painfully found a long time ago. "I left because my heart couldn't stand all you kept throwing at it. YES you DIDN'T know, and that may've been MY fault. But I spared us BOTH the uncomfortableness in case you DIDN'T return my love. I ALSO left to start a new life for myself, a life AWAY from you." She stepped back, slowly pacing.

"Maybe going back to Oz was the wrong way to stay away from you, but it was familiar and I was almost eagerly accepted again. I took to repairing Mobile Suits, something I'm good at." She looked at him briefly, hoping they could stay lost long enough so she could finally put their minds at ease. "I don't plan on escaping with you Duo. I'm satisfied with the life I have now." She walked to him, lightly holding his hands with hers. "I'm finally healing. After all the time of thinking about you and wishing I wasn't. And now that I think I'm finally OVER you, you show up and throw my world upside-down again." She stopped with a small sigh, seeing tears swimming in his beautiful eyes. "I KNOW this isn't what you wanna HEAR Duo," She took that independent step back, "but I don't want to be with you anymore."

She felt a tear fall over her cheek as she took another step backwards to the door. "I will never stop LOVING you. I CAN'T stop loving you." Her foot went backward again. "Let that be your comfort." Another step. "I told you I wouldn't turn my back on you." She gave a small smile. "I'll go one way, you go the other. I'm sure that most of the staff and guards are on the other side of the base where there's still air." Another; she nearly reached the door. "I'll tell them I managed to escape, but not without chase. I know this base very well, they'll believe me. I'll tell the guards I managed to lose you and you ended back up in the hanger." Her hand slowly reached backward, feeling for the knob. "I'll lead you down the hall that's quickest back to your Gundam." Her fingers grasped it, slowly turning it.

He couldn't BELIEVE she was DOING this! She didn't want to come back with him, to assume her old name. For all she cared, Hilde Schebeiker was DEAD now. He felt that hollow part in his heart widen painfully. It hurt to breath, his throat convulsing through poorly held tears. "Hilde..." He whispered tearily. Her head ducked to the floor slowly, her body gradually turning to the door. Turning her back to him, making good with her word. He rushed to her, wrapping his arms around her waist to keep her from leaving, from leaving him ALONE again. "Don't leave me alone again Hilde." He softly pleaded, a few tears streaming from his face. "I've been alone for so long, even BEFORE you came into my life. When you were around, I had someone to be with. Even IF I thought of you as my friend." He sniffed softly. "Please don't leave it like this." He whispered. "Come with me, BE with me again."

She SO EASILY could've said yes and fled with him, to pretend she was captured. She could've taken out those brown contacts and assumed her original name. BUT, she was resolved to live a life that didn't revolve around him. Even if her heart was breaking to do so. "Duo." She whispered tearily. Her throat shuddered, making it hard to get words out. "What I say stands. I know it hurts, but now you know the pain I went through for so long." She didn't WANT it to come out that way, but it HAD and there was no taking back those words. "You know how I feel, but time has changed things. I know you still don't love me or you would've said it by now, shown it in some way."

He grabbed her shoulders, spinning her toward him. He was desperate at this point, willing to do anything. Brain whirring, his lips pressed against hers harshly, most desperately. When he pulled back, they were both in a fog. Hilde had wanted that ever since she realized what she felt for Duo. But now, it took such frantic instances for him to kiss her. She regained her senses, touching her lips lightly. A goodbye kiss, that's all she'd deem it as. Even IF she would never forget their first kiss. "Duo." She whispered sullenly. His fog lifted, head bowing sadly.

"I know." He whispered tearily, realizing his most hopeless attempt hadn't changed anything.

All the world is a stage, world is a stage

And everyone has their part, has their part

But how was I to know which way the story'd go?

How was I to know you'd break

You'd break, you'd break, you'd break

You'd break my heart

"Mary are you okay?!" People rushed to her, hands touching her arms to make sure she wasn't hurt. She smiled softly. "I'm fine. I lost him." She turned to the hallway she ran through. One hand pointed with her. "But I think he escaped. I was able to break his hold, but he chased me down corridor nine." She looked to the floor. "That leads back to the hanger." For effect, she ducked her head in guilt, guilt she didn't feel. "I let him escape. I'm sorry, I failed Oz." "Nonsense!" A guard venomously denied. One hand patted her shoulder, consoling her. "You're alive and that's all that counts! Every life is precious and we need everyone we can find to repair the Mobile Suits." His gaze turned grave, thinking of their ruined suits. "Though we'll need to start repairing the HANGER to allow for airflow." People nodded in agreement, thoughts of their new task spread out before them.


Deathsycthe floated half a mile away from the base, still in view. Sad eyes never left the com-screen, a few tears floating around him. He just couldn't LEAVE it like this, but she'd left him no CHOICE. His eyes closed, seeing Hilde Schebeiker as well as MARY Baker. The names were so similar, but her choice unique. When he asked about it before he left, she had a very interesting answer for him.

"So why MARY?" He wondered, running after her. She looked back at him briefly before keeping an eye on where they were going. "I can understand Baker, a close second to your REAL name..."

"Mary was the mother of Christ, a God in a way." She loudly explained. "I figured it almost appropriate since I physically and emotionally cared about you so much. I was nearly YOUR mother in a way...I might as well have been mother to a Shinigami." One pair of feet stopped slapping down the corridor, pausing her own running. She stopped and turned to Duo, finding him a few paces away. She knew the explanation would hurt, as well as flatter, but she didn't have time to console him as she wished. "Come on Duo." She softly urged. "I don't want you getting caught when there's a war to fight."

"But you're on the enemy's side!" He haggardly argued. She looked at him kindly.

"I don't see it as right or wrong. I see it as a new life for myself. I joined Oz LONG before I even KNEW you. I returned to the familiarity and stability it gave me DURING that time. It helped me regain confidence in a few things I lacked for a long time." She turned and started slowly running again, not explaining anything else. They'd spent too much time talking already.

His eyes slowly opened, looking at the space base shrouded by stars. His eyes watered again, a few floating from tortured violet orbs. "Hilde...no MARY..." He whispered emptily. A gloved hand slowly rose to cover the mildly small screen. "I DO love you, even though it WAS as a friend..." Having said it, something small in his heart stopped aching. "I will ALWAYS love you as well, even if it isn't the same way YOU'D return it." There was no problem with loving a friend in HIS book, so long as the OTHER felt the SAME. But, THAT instance didn't APPLY here. His sadly eyes dropped to the buttons on the consol.

Taking time out of the failed mission, he flew away from the base, leaving it intact. His original mission was to find the base and destroy it, one less repair base for Oz. But, knowing Hilde was onboard...he wouldn't have done it even if the professor KILLED him. Even though they were only friends, Hilde meant the WORLD to him.

I've always been in love with you, I've always been in love with you

Guess you've always known

You took my love for granted, why oh why

The show is over, say goodbye

It'd been nearly two weeks since that incident and the base was nearly fully up and running, as if the attack never happened. She was thankful to keep busy almost every hour of the day. It helped somewhat to keep her mind off Duo, even if he WAS the reason she was fixing the outside of the base.

Stopping for a small rest, she looked out at the stars, mildly wondering what he was doing right now. 'Are you fighting RIGHT NOW Duo?' She wondered thoughtfully. Her gaze locked with thousands of stars around her. She couldn't help BUT wonder about her one true love. 'Don't kill too many people Duo. Let them live to see another day, even if they ARE your enemy...'

"Mary?" The voice sounded through the helmet's communicator. Her gaze slowly turned to those around her, seeing someone wave to gain her attention. "You okay? You kind of spaced out." She smiled humorlessly.

"Bad pun." She softly joked, gaining a few chuckles from her coworkers. "Just giving my arms a rest is all. Staring at the stars." Her gaze carefully turned around again. "We're turned to this hulk all day long, we forget the beauty that's all around us." Her moving speech turned a few heads, gaining a few agreements.

"Even so," Came the supervisor's voice, "we need to get the crack sealed so we can get air in the hanger again. It's been too long and I'm assuming those cursed Gundams have wiped out a good number of Mobile Suits."

Her head bowed momentarily before the welder started up again, a little anger driving it along. 'The only thing cursed around HERE is this OPERATION.' She thought heatedly, mentally telling off her supervisor. 'If we could only just GET ALONG with everyone else on Earth and the colonies. Things would've been DIFFERENT.'

Indeed, but even though, she would've never met Duo due to the colonies and Earth never waging war. She wouldn't have wanted that. She would've still wanted the war to happen, even at the cost of others. For Duo was her first love, her first TRUE love. He was even a GOOD friend to her before THAT. But he taught her what love WAS, and she would never forget that. Even if he never DID return her sentiments after all this time. She felt her heart expand, but not hurting her with isolation. The time away, the busy time apart, DID give her time to heal. She was a little better than their last parting.

'I'll ALWAYS love you Duo. I know fate will step in again, just like it did before. Fate wanted us to have closure, to heal.' She smiled slightly, feeling grateful tears well up. 'Fate's kind that way, I guess. And now you know where I live, just in case you need to come back.' She didn't know if she ever WOULD leave with him, especially if he came back with the sole purpose of 'kidnapping' her. But it WOULD be nice to see him again... It would be nice to talk to him, even to see how he was holding up.

She mentally sighed. 'Even after all this time Duo Maxwell, I still WORRY about you.' But, love was funny that way. Space and time separated the two, but love didn't buy that, didn't play that way. For love is all knowing, all encompassing. Love had its own rules to go by, eternal rules that outlasted space and time. It lived in the heart, something that coveted everything. A single organ with the power to bestow the most blessed, and horrid, of emotions in a single beat. Something with that much power didn't take time into consideration.

I've always been in love with you, always with you

I guess you've always known it's true, you know it's true

You took my love for granted, why oh why

This show is over say, goodbye

Say goodbye, bye-bye, say goodbye

Welcome back! As is my custom now, I'd like to say thanks where it's due...and keep incrimination off me. And although it's NOT Thanksgiving, I'd STILL like to thank Madonna ANYWAY. THANX!!! ;)

I've gotten a LOT of reviews on this fic. Mostly from people blowing their nose as they read, lol. What can I say, I was listening to the song and the melochaly notes made me do it! lol But it's good anyway, ain't it? A lot have asked, AND demanded, that I do a sequel. After reading the reviews, I went home that night listening to music and thought I COULD do it. (What can I say, the readers inspired me. No lie!) I picked out a few song lyrics that I figured would best fit what I have in my head, but getting it all typed out is going to be the deal I need to work on. That and getting my muse to work WITH me is another pointer. I'm done with creating as many songfics as I can handle right NOW... I've mostly been working on the six part sagas to get them done. (Along with recreating a chapter that got deleted ::sighs::)

But I'm sure I can swing ONE MORE songfic. And don't worry, this one will be a LITTLE angsty, maybe have a little humor (one can NOT put those two together), and of COURSE romance! And for all of you who demanded a sequel, all I can tell you is I have a VAGUE idea of what I'm going to do. And Duo WILL get the girl after all his hard work...but what he'll DO I can't exactly say. I can't even give you a spoiler because not even I know what is gonna happen! What can I say, the music moves me...

As I've told a few that I've responded back to on their reviews...the last meeting on the ship reminded me of my ex! But I didn't see it until I reread it to proof what I'd done. Some of it was a little too scary to the truth, but too good to NOT use the angst. ;) Sometimes real life angst is always the best to use, ne?

See ya on the flipside!