DISCLAIMER: I don't own gundam wing or any of its characters. I don't even own my car so don't sue me*_*
By: Lara Winner
Pacing Peacemillion's bright corridor Duo jerked out of his panicked thoughts as the double doors leading to the OR opened. Sally's expression gave nothing away as she faced him. Fighting the fear twisting his insides he demanded, "How is she?"
The young woman placed a comforting hand on his shoulder as she said, "Her condition is fine. However…. Duo," she paused not meeting his eyes, her somber voice grating on his already frayed nerves, "Hilde is your girlfriend correct?"
"I'm sorry Duo." Sally whispered sadly. "Hilde was pregnant. The trauma sustained to her abdominal region was quite severe causing her to miscarry. She was only a few months along. I'm sure she didn't know."
Taking in the news Duo's eyes widened yet he couldn't utter a word. Hot tears began to course silently down his cheeks as he turned away toward the window. Swallowing hard past the lump lodged in his throat he looked out at the bright stars dotting the inky depths of space. Oh God Hilde…
"Shut up stupid clock" she muttered.
Closing her eyes against the harsh lights of the hospital room Hilde curled on her side trying to stop the tormenting thoughts whirling in her head. The relentless ticking of the clock was slowly driving her insane. She needed some sort of distraction, something to save her from the deep melancholy mood that gripped her.
For the hundredth time she slid her hand over her flat stomach. Biting her lip, willing the tears away she rubbed the area wondering how she didn't realize there was a life growing inside her. But she never had any of the signs... no nausea, no sickness, she didn't even miss her cycle... It hadn't been normal but it never occurred to her that she was pregnant.
Duo was upset. He admitted that he didn't want a kid right now but the thought still hurt him deeply. Every time he visited her he tried to act cheerful but she could see the strain it put on him. It was putting a strain on her as well. Not only was she hurt over loosing her baby but she couldn't stop the tiny traitorous spark of relief she felt or the guilt and self loathing that came with it.
It all came down to the one secret she harbored…the thing she'd never confided in anyone…the one secret that almost came back to haunt her…
Her eyes snapped open as vivid memories flooded her head. She felt herself begin to shake slightly as they continued without her consent….
She had been so lonely that night. So had he. What happened wasn't planned. The thought hadn't even crossed her mind till she felt his hands settle on her hips, till she felt his lips brush hers with an unspoken need for human contact. It had been so easy to pretend for that endless moment that she was wanted and needed. It felt so good not to think of Duo, of Oz and what had landed her in the private quarters of General Kushrenada in the fist place….
"You don't love me, do you?" she had asked with the naivete` of a child once the act was done.
"No…But you don't love me either, am I right?" He countered.
No, she hadn't loved him. Then she hadn't known what real love was. The only thing she did know was desperation and the suffocating feeling of being so unbelievably alone…
But that night carried it's own demons with it. Treize Kushrenada was dead and her unborn child could very well have been his.
Now it all seemed so…sad. She'd given a small piece of herself to him that night. She hadn't known then if she'd ever see Duo again. And she couldn't deny Treize's words when he'd mocked her saying…. "I can't help but feel some pity for you. Sacrificing everything for a terrorist…Not to mention that he doesn't seem to feel the urge to come and take you with him…" She tried to deny his reasoning but, she knew, all the while she that knew Duo hadn't thought twice about letting her die. She really hadn't known anything about him then, had she? Just what he'd told her to convert her to his cause, everything beyond that was a mystery.
She had put her blind faith in Deathscythe's pilot. She had betrayed everything she stood for by following him. And when she was left to face the consequences, she was alone; without an ally and without the hope of salvation. How could she have known back then that Duo would become a major part of her life? That she would grow to love him with all her heart? And how was she to know that he would one-day feel the same?
She would never regret that night with Treize but it taught her the difference between emotional and physical needs. And she couldn't help but think it had been a welcome reminder for the 'mighty' general too. Even in the darkness she had seen the light enter his eyes when she mentioned Lady Une. Though he never confirmed her assumption with words he really hadn't needed to.
Almost as if summoned by her thoughts a light rapping sounded on the door. She called for the person to enter, her voice hoarse as she brushed the tears from her eyes quickly. Expecting Duo or Sally or even Quatre, Hilde literally fought to keep her jaw from dropping as the very last person she expected or wanted to see entered her room.
"Hello Miss. Schbieker." The tall lithe brunette greeted politely.
She couldn't help but stare as the irony of her thoughts and the entire situation hit her with stunning force. It took her a moment to find her voice. Over the pounding of her heart she barely heard her own lame whisper, "Hi. Colonel Une."
"No need to be so formal, after all Oz has been officially disbanded… May I?" The woman asked, her voice clipped yet soft as she motioned to the chair beside Hilde's bed. Her brown eyes sparkled with an amused glimmer, almost as if she were mentally measuring Hilde and found her lacking.
Feeling her cheeks turn scarlet, Hilde hastily stammered, "By all means, have a seat."
For a moment neither of them said anything and Hilde felt her hands begin to tremble as the tension that slowly began to fill the small room became almost pliable. Outside she appeared calm but inside her thoughts were going into a maelstrom of conflicting directions. To hide her confusion and vulnerability she lowered her eyes from the older woman's steady, unrevealing gaze.
"I came here to meet the young girl everyone seems to be talking about." She smiled slightly at Hilde's startled expression, "You've created quite a stir with your courageous efforts."
"I didn't do anything special."
Une shook her head and smiled again, "You're humble too. Interesting trait to find in a soldier. Our generation seems too be confident for their own good." Crossing her legs primly she settled back in the hard plastic chair. "It took a lot courage for you to pull this off by yourself. Why did you bother to risk your life?"
Despite Une's innocently curious question Hilde felt her hackles rise. This woman was cornering her, trying to trap her with her own words. Weighing her answer carefully she sighed, "I had to do something to help. I knew the risk I was taking and I choose to fight for the right thing."
"And what is the right thing Miss. Schbieker?" She asked, one delicate brow arching in question.
Hilde watched Une warily as she looked away toward the window. Her brown eyes looked misty, a haunting longing taking shape in their depths as they roamed over the brilliant stars. She could almost pity Une. Now that there was no longer a war, now that peace was finally achieved what was left for everyone now. In there own minds they'd become redundant soldiers. Damn she was starting to sound melodramatic but she even felt it a little herself. When she tried to picture the future she couldn't imagine it without mobile suits and the constant threat of something looming in the distance.
Une's voice was husky, almost scratchy as she whispered, "Peace is an impossible achievement. There will always be another storm that threatens to wash away the calm we give our blood to achieve. It's an inevitability that we can't ignore."
"Someone once told me that you can't be blamed for having tried, only for having failed." Hilde said softly as she pondered Une's cryptic words.
Une stiffened and Hilde paled as she realized just where she'd heard those words. She couldn't stop the guilty expression that flashed across her face. Stupid Hilde! Stupid stupid stupid… She knew. One look at Une's stricken expression said she knew what transpired that night. Of all the times for her to stick her foot in her mouth it had to be now. Deciding not to delay the inevitable she asked quietly, "You didn't come here to applaud my efforts did you?"
"No I didn't." Une agreed looking down at her clasped hands.
Biting her lip nervously Hilde sat up as best she could despite her stiff, bruised muscles. Trying to steady her frayed nerves she desperately searched for something to say. Oh God… "I know what you're thinking an-"
"I didn't come here to call you down or question you. I know what went on and I understand better than you think." Dragging in a deep breath Une composed herself as well as she could before meeting Hilde's gaze again. Her eyes misted with tears as she spoke softly. "I loved him. I tried to meet his standards and I strove to exceed his every expectation. I made him the center of all my achievements. Sometimes I tended to forget that he was only human too."
"I thought you two were close?" Hilde asked uncertainly, knowing it wasn't her place to pry.
"He was my commanding officer and on rare occasions we were lovers. It wasn't a relationship by standard terms. His Excellency was a very guarded man. I'm sure you know that, after all you did spend the night in his bed. You can't get much closer to a person can you?"
"I suppose not." She choked.
"In case you're wondering… No I wasn't any more faithful to him than he was to me. One thing he and I both learned is that emotions run deeper than any action or words can convey. What I felt for him was something special but it wasn't a commitment. How could we make each other promises we knew would be impossible to keep? We are vessels of imperfection are we not?"
Nodding her head Hilde couldn't help but see the reasoning behind Une's point of view. The emotion of love was something all together different than any physical caresses or verbal vows of devotion. She had known when Treize touched her he wasn't thinking of her, that he wasn't lost in his need for her. He was lost in the moment of physical pleasure and nothing more. She had never pretended that it was anything else because she didn't want it to be. It was enough just as it was.
Sighing, Hilde felt the hot scalding tears fill her eyes. "We just needed to forget. It was sex, not love. I've learned the difference and I know what you feel for him. I'm sorry he died… and… with all my heart I'm sorry that you have to live with that."
For the first time since their conversation began Hilde noticed a genuine smile curve Une's lips. Her own pale cheeks were wet with tears as reached out and gently clasped Hilde's hand. "You have enough suffering of your own to deal with. Believe it or not I didn't come to talk of Treize either."
Hilde could only stare at her wide-eyed.
"Forgive me for saying this but I had to meet you. I wanted to see what had him so intrigued that he would offer you mercy when he was harsher with people who'd committed lesser crimes. Not everyone understood Treize's honor, not even I at times, but I'm beginning to see what he saw in you. You are true to your ideals. His Excellency would have been most impressed with your efforts. I feel you should know that, though under the circumstances I'm sure it does little to comfort you. I only came here to offer my condolences for your loss."
Looking down, away from Une's sympathetic gaze, she couldn't stop the tears from coming harder. "I didn't know I was pregnant. Whether the child was Duo's or his wouldn't have mattered. I'd have loved my baby no matter what."
"I'm sure you would have Hilde." She replied squeezing the younger girls' hand in reassurance. Almost as an after thought she asked, "May I call you Hilde?"
Wiping at her puffy eyes she smiled slightly, "Yeah. Thank you… for coming to visit me Colonel."
"Please, call me Une." She said with a soft smile.
Needing someone to understand Hilde smiled back knowing that she wasn't entirely alone, atleast one person understood. Ironic it was the last person she would have ever thought…
However, neither girl noticed the shadow that suddenly whirled away from its position just beyond the ajar wooden door.
Glancing down at his watch Duo sighed. Walking down the dimly lit corridor he took his time, not in any real rush to get to his destination. However, he'd put it off all day. It was time to face exactly what was eating him up inside.
It was now night-cycle on MO II. Everyone else had long since headed to their quarters for the night. Still, the thought of trying to sleep and knowing he was only going to end up staring at the ceiling all night prompted this action. Although seeing the time he doubted it would do much good. Hilde was probably asleep. He almost hoped she was.
His eyes landed on her door and he felt his stomach lurch. Had it only been a few hours ago he had stood there and listened to their conversation? God it might as well have been minutes. He could once again feel the pressure of tears trying to rise up behind his eyes. He gritted his teeth together pushing the feeling back down. He'd be damned before he'd ever shed another tear for her. Fuck! Why did he have to choose then to go see her? He hadn't intended to eavesdrop on their conversation but he became frozen to the spot when Lady Une casually mentioned Hilde sharing Treize Kushrenada's bed.
He had prayed for a split second that she'd deny it. He had wanted so badly to think that she would never do that. That she was different, she wasn't like the majority of women he knew. And the only answer she gave was confirmation. "You can't get much closer to a person can you?" "I suppose not."
Damn her! Damn her to hell!
Steeling his spine, he forced the hurt and the rage away. He didn't come to start a fight. He didn't come here to insult her or anything like that. He just came to ask her one question. He needed an answer before his thoughts drove him crazy. Beyond that he wasn't thinking or planning or anything. God help him it was taking everything in him to face her. He couldn't let himself be blinded again. But he had the awful feeling if she started crying he'd cave….
He opened the door quietly as possible. The room was lit by the small bedside lamp and instantly his eyes landed on her still form. Silently he crept toward the bed knowing better but unable to help it. She was asleep, her hands curled beneath her chin and her soft even breaths the only sound besides the frantic pounding of his heart ringing in his ears. It was a sin for someone to look so innocent. He tried to keep his thoughts focused, he tried to stop the tiny wave of pain that seemed to radiate through his chest at the sight of her. He loved her despite it all…. He shook his head firmly. She was a liar damn it. He couldn't let his emotions rule him anymore. This was the last time. He'd find a way to stop feeling stupid emotions like love, even if it killed him.
Giving into logic he turned back toward the door. Before he made a complete ass out of himself he needed to leave. He could feel his composure slipping-
He cursed silently, squeezing his eyes shut as he fought the urge to slam his fist into the wall. Taking a deep breath he pulled himself together enough to loosen his death grip on the brass doorknob and turn to meet her deceiving guileless blue eyes. Her smile was so inviting as she reached out a hand toward him, he had to stop himself from moving over to her side. Instead he leaned back against the wall stuffing his clenched hands in his pockets as a bitter smile twisted his lips. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up baby."
"Its okay." She grinned. Her smile faltered a little and she looked at him curiously when he made no move to come closer. After a moment she looked away saying, "You must have been busy. You didn't come by at all today. Is everything alright?"
Mentally he snapped, just fucking peachy… "Yeah, everything's fine. I dropped by earlier but you had a visitor. You two seemed to be in a pretty deep conversation and I didn't want to interrupt. After that I didn't make it back this way, I had more important stuff to do." He said lightly, noticing the way she stiffened at his careless remark.
He didn't mistake the hurt that seemed to flash across her face. Feeling sick with himself, he looked down at the floor. As the silence stretched out he knew he had to get it over with. His heart didn't want to know, he really was afraid of the answer she'd give, but his head was demanding an answer. Pushing everything away but his calm focus he refused to look at her. "There something I need to ask you?"
"Sure." She whispered.
He fought the urge to smile smugly at the nervousness in her voice. She'd thought he'd never find out. What a joke! His voice turned dangerously soft and his eyes cold as steel as he asked, "Were you fucking Treize all along or did you do it just to get out of OZ in one piece?"
She gasped and his fury roared to life at the pain that seemed to shine in her eyes. She looked panicked, stricken, her voice breaking as she pleaded with him, "Duo please, it wasn't like that. It was never supposed to happen."
"Why did you do it? I mean, for God's sake don't have any pride?" He hissed.
He tried to ignore the tears that began making their way down her pale cheeks. Her tiny body seemed to tremble as she looked up at him, her eyes begging him to understand as she reasoned, "That was before us. It was just one night. What does it matter now?"
"It matters to me Hilde!" He yelled, banging his fists into the wall angrily. Hot tears filled his eyes as he looked at her knowing she could read him, read just how badly she'd hurt him. "I knew you weren't a virgin and I didn't care, hell neither was I. But all this time I've been going out of my mind thinking that you lost my kid…" He paused as his own voice wavered. Taking a deep breath he choked, "How could you look me in the eye and not even warn me? You knew all along it could've been his and you never said a word. I had a right to know."
Silence met his outburst and all at once the anger seemed to drain out of him leaving nothing but pain. Leaning against the wall he slid to the floor as his energy deserted him. He pressed his palms to his closed eyes, willing the tears not to fall. He could hear her crying, the soft choked sobs tearing at him even more. He was so tired. Everything seemed to be falling apart around him and there was nothing he could do. What was done was done.
"Why didn't you tell me?" He whispered hoarsely.
"I.. God.. I didn't know how." She cried softly.
"Don't give me that crap. If you had been honest with me I would've tried to understand." He snapped leaning his head back against the wall. He watched through his bangs knowing she couldn't read his expression.
"Really Duo? I don't think so. You'd have come to the same assumptions you have now. I'm a slut and a whore. Well I didn't fuck my way out of Oz. I was willing to die and you were willing to let me."
"What does that mean?" He asked angrily.
Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears, their turbulent depths showing him just a part of everything she was keeping bottled inside. Her choked voice was filled with hurt mirroring exactly what he felt in his heart. Despite his anger he could block out her words. "Where were you when I was facing my commanders, when I was being interrogated night and day? What do you think I was thinking? I gave up everything yet I knew nothing about you. I didn't even think I'd ever see you again. Ya know, the whole time all I was trying to do was live up to what I imagined you'd expect of me but its kind of hard to keep your determination when everyone is against you and the one person constantly on your mind is no where around. Then I find myself face to face with General Kushrenada and the only think I know is that he's just as alone and lost as I am. We just wanted to forget that we were alone, just for a little while… I was afraid you'd hate me so I never told you. I never saw him again after that night so I didn't see a reason to tell you." She looked away, her voice dropping barely above a whisper, "After I lost the baby how was I supposed to explain then? You tell me because God knows I couldn't deliberately hurt you like that."
He tried but he couldn't deny her words. He wasn't there when she needed him and in truth he'd never thought twice about helping her. He too assumed they'd never see each other again. Her explanation was understandable. Still it didn't make the hollow feeling go away. He thought he knew her. Now he felt like she was a stranger all over again. He knew she was right. There really wasn't a need for him to know, it would've only added salt to an open wound, yet logic didn't take away the stabbing sense betrayal.
"Yeah me too." He muttered bitterly.
"What can I do to make you understand?" She asked softly. The look in her eyes was so intense, so lost, he had to look away.
"I don't know Hilde. I don't know anything anymore." He sighed, blinking back tears once again.
"I love you. You have to believe me when I say that." She demanded desperately.
"I want to damn it. I want to so bad but…" Rising to his feet he walked over to the window and looked out over the endless expanse of the stars, needing something to distract him. Ironically he realized just how lonely each star looked twinkling in the sky million miles away from each other. For being in the same room with her he might as well have been across the universe.
He didn't turn around as he heard the mattress squeaked softly. He didn't acknowledge the sound of her light footsteps as she crossed the floor toward him hesitantly. Maybe it really wasn't betrayal he was feeling. If he trusted what she'd said she really hadn't lied and it was none of his business who she'd been with before him. And he could even see why she didn't say after her miscarriage. What was the point then? The child was already… dea-
Swallowing hard he couldn't complete the thought. Whether the baby was his or not didn't matter. The kid deserved a chance to live just like everyone else. And if he was feeling the loss this bad he couldn't help but wonder what it was doing to Hilde. His gaze shifted and he caught sight of her reflection where she stood not far from the end of the bed. He loved her. No matter how bad she hurt him he had a feeling he always would. But it also went both ways and right now he was hurting her too. God, the whole situation was so fucked he wasn't sure it could be fixed.
Still, he couldn't walk away. Just looking at her right now he knew he didn't have it in him. She looked so small and vulnerable, so alone. She was the picture of what he felt. He could get over this right? It wouldn't happen over night but he could put it behind him. She never gave him any reason to doubt her before and if their positions were reversed he'd want her to try and understand. Shit, he'd had his share of one-nighters. He couldn't blame her. Of course he hadn't slept with the enemy either… He paused mid thought and suddenly smiled at the irony. Hilde was a former soldier of Oz. By everyone else's terms he was sleeping with the enemy.
He turned from the window, his smile fading along with the anger he'd felt all day. He raised his eyes to hers seeing her fear and pain glaring back at him. If he pushed everything aside and really looked at her he could see the hell she was going through. It shouldn't have to hurt like this. Tentatively he reached out his hand to her saying with that one action what he couldn't say with words. He was going to try because she needed him to.
Despite the physical pain she threw herself into his arms holding onto him for dear life. He returned the embrace holding onto her just as tightly, then suddenly she was crying, sobbing so hard her entire body shook with the force of her tears. "I'm sorry. Oh God I'm so sorry."
"Ssshhhh." He whispered. Awkwardly he stroked her hair feeling a little at odds. He'd never had to comfort anyone before. Then again he'd never been this crazy about anyone before either. With a sigh he pressed a small kiss to her temple hoping he wouldn't make it any worse. "Don't babe. Come on, stop crying."
After a few moments she sniffed and leaned away a little. He looked down at her and smiled slightly. Her eyes were all red and puffy, her cheeks were flushed and wet, and her bottom lip trembled as if she were going to burst into tears again any second. Praying she didn't, he wiped at her cheeks, his touch gentle. When he stopped she buried her face in his neck again, her voice muffled against his skin, "I love you."
"I know." Closing his eyes he knew he'd already forgiven her. How did the saying go… Only fools fall in love... He smiled. Yeah, he was fool all right, and he couldn't change it for the life of him. Resting his head on hers he answered with all honesty. "I love you too.
A.N.- This is for Little green who asked me to write a sequel to her story "Not Love" I don't think this meager offering does her story any justice but she approved so here it is. I hope that everyone had a happy and safe New Year. Okay, I'm off to try my hand at Saba's Happy Hilde contest. Wish me luck cuz with all these talented writers out there I'm gonna need it. *_*
As always, take care and I luv ya guys. Thanks for reading!!! *_*