Sitting next to her bed, hand holding hers, Duo looked at Hilde's peaceful face worriedly. Now that the war was over, he allowed himself to finally worry about her.

His emotions knocked him for a loop after he saw her again in the COM of his Gundam after so long. His heart bled for how bad she looked, but unable to do anything.

He hated feeling useless, hated it with a PASSION. Right now he felt that anger deep in his veins. It boiled under his skin, making him want to yell and scream, mostly toward the person unconscious before him.

He heaved a heavy sigh. He couldn't be mad at her, mostly at the choice she took to help him and the others. Her words rang in his head, almost playing with him. Her pained voice taunted his heart, that familiar pinging growing stronger.

He first felt it when he saw her and carried her battered mobile suit into Peacemillion's hanger. He did everything but pry the cockpit open with his bare hands in his haste to check on her safety. Now that he was able to take the time and reflect, he could see how his actions and emotions meshed together, even if he didn't recognize it at the time.

The second time the small flame of love burned in his heart was when he returned to check up on her, only to discover she was lost in the crowd. He nearly throttled Sally, but kept a shaky front up. No one but him knew just how anxious he was to see her.

Hilde, if she was conscious, would've probably fainted at the serious look in his eyes. She once joked that if he was ever serious about ANYTHING, she'd probably fall unconscious. If it was any other occurrence but now, he probably would've laughed himself silly. Except that NOW was no laughing matter!

He sighed and stood from the chair by her bed. Restlessly pacing, hands tightly clasped behind his back, he stared at the dark floor as he started wearing a hole in it. There was very little light in the room; he didn't want lights on in case she woke up. He didn't want her uncomfortable in the slightest.

The dark had ALWAYS been his friend, but it wasn't anymore.

His mind jumped back to so long ago, when she denied going with him. He never really heard from her again, even though he kept a small watchful eye on her, when he was able.

He somewhat prided himself on his ability to safely hack into Oz's files and find her, even though her name changed every so often.

He smiled slightly. She must've known him well enough to know he would check up on her, even though she figured it wasn't out of love.

His grin dropped as that worried love in his heart flared. It stopped being a friendly concern shortly before he joined up with Peacemillion. After THAT, he was only kidding himself. He only told himself it was out of friendship, since she figured all HE saw her as was a friend.

Her form shifted quietly and he rushed to her side, taking her hand again. "Hilde?" He desperately whispered. "Hilde, love, can you HEAR me??" Wide, expectant eyes kept in line with her face, but it didn't change. Her eyes never opened; her mouth didn't move. She simply shifted in her coma.

Sighing heavily, trying to hold tears at bay, he slumped in a different chair a little further from her bed. Worrying about her was exhausting work, but a tireless one all the same. It was a total irony in his mind. He was tired from worry, but still continued to do so. How could he NOT worry? She was his best friend, even more so than the other four, not to mention someone he loved.

The first time he put the word and her name in the same sentence, he felt a small bout of fear, but also contentment. To know he was in love with his best friend scared him, but also put him at peace. He wondered if it was how she felt when SHE first realized it. After he pushed the fear aside, it all became clear. The only problem was; he was so busy with missions that he never had time to locate her, to try and TELL her.

He figured it would either knock her for a loop, or she STILL wouldn't believe his intentions were anything less than friendship.

His lips tingled from their first kiss. Probably a bad move, he figured, but back then he was desperate to keep her presence near. She was his lifeline to normality in every sense of the word and to lose that, meant he'd become Shinigami all over again. After accepting that Shinigami was all he was EVER good at, he embraced the title wholeheartedly. Now that the war was over, he needed Hilde to help him become normal again. He needed her to love him and show him the way to be what he once was.


Days passed, but she had yet to wake up. He stayed by her bed as much as Sally would allow him, until she got Wufei and Trowa to drag him outside for some exercise and food. Even though the other pilots had worries of their own to attend to, he was still grateful they hung around. He used Wufei's seemingly endless supply of strength and courage to get through the days that passed.

During that, they left for Earth, since it was the closest place. Sally wanted to get Hilde out of such conditions, maybe help her to wake and see what she was missing. He couldn't argue, but he wasn't able to go WITH. He was needed to help clean up the area, mostly using his Gundam to do so. It angered him greatly because with ALL of them there, he was still needed. After realizing his selfishness, he begrudgingly stayed behind.

He watched helplessly as her shuttle took off. Tears stung his eyes, but he forced them back. Gripping the control sticks in Deathsycthe, he turned to the small mission in front of him. He resolved to get it done as effectively and quickly as possible. He didn't want to be away from Hilde for too long. Even if she was physically near him for a short while, he hadn't talked to her in a while. Talked like they USED to, joked around like they USED to. He longed for something like that again, something he couldn't get with the other pilots.


The cleanup took too long, took WAY too long. After two weeks of almost non-stop preparations for destroying what weapons they could, he was almost fed up with his beloved Gundam and the others. All he wanted to do was see Hilde again. He didn't even have the time to find out where Sally took her. It frustrated him so bad to finish, and he pushed himself almost harder than Heero. He just wanted to complete everything and get to Earth! He wanted to find where Sally went and continue his vigil.

He started dreaming of what he would say when she woke up. He wondered if he would be ABLE to find the guts to tell her 'I love you'.

He doubted it. One look in those baby blues and he would melt. His legs and mouth would be inoperative. He smiled slightly at the picture he thought of, an unusable pile of pathetic humanity at the side of her bed. He chuckled softly.

We had a life, we had a love

But you don't know what you got till you lose it

After the shuttle took off for Earth, his hand hardly stopped that impatient tapping over one knee. He was excited and scared at the same time. Adrenaline at seeing Hilde's beautiful face floated through his veins, almost rendering him in a dreamlike state.

A gleeful smile popped up as he purposely ignored the protests of other occupants over his annoying action. He was too happy to see Hilde he didn't really realize what he was doing. Or that the smile on his face was genuine and reached his eyes.

After the long, torturous destination closed and the shuttle landed, he nearly bounded from his seat, running down a few in his rush to leave and start his search. Getting off the bottom step positioned a new problem. How he would go about DOING that!

Everything paused for a second as he realized his mistake. His lips thoughtfully pursed. He could always hack into a hotel computer and log himself into a room for a while, but that was dishonest and basically lying. He didn't have any money. Turning to the others walking down, he smiled sheepishly as Relena walked down.

"Hey Relena!" He called. She smiled when they were face to face. He explained his problem and what he wanted to do, and what he needed. Basically a roof over his head and a computer he could use to search. She allowed him to stay with her briefly, rendering him utterly grateful.

It took him a few more weeks to locate Hilde, mostly since he spent some of his time hanging with Relena and normal activities. He didn't want her to think he PURPOSELY ignored her! He spent a good number of hours sleeping, trying to regain what he was unable to do in the war. That alone built up stagnating time.

Another part, one he was unable to do while he searched the computer world, was thinking of what he wanted to SAY to Hilde when they met up again. A good portion of the day was stuck in his own thoughts, stuck in past happenings and conversations.

He looked at their last meeting on Oz's mobile suit factory so long ago, analyzing it and where he went wrong. Every time he looked back on that unfortunate meeting, his heart swelled with love at some actions he previously missed. The disguised name, her almost inability to resist going with him, the soft looks she gave him. What was etched the most clearest in his mind was the shocked look after he burst into the control room. Her eyes showed just how happy she was to see him again. Even though it shone regret, he assumed it was mostly at herself, since she left to get away and heal.


When he did locate Hilde, he found it was a long ways away. He knew he could hitchhike if need be, but Relena said she wouldn't allow him to do that. She lent him a bike and plenty of money to fuel it as he searched. When he asked why she helped such a poor fool as himself, she smiled kindly and responded she KNEW he loved Hilde and his eagerness to get back to Hilde touched her. She believed in true love and helped him because she knew they belonged together.

He started the bike and sped off, feeling a little sad at leaving his friend behind. He didn't have too many friends, but what he DID have, he cherished greatly. He believed without friends, the world was a gloomy place to live in. He could verify that by his time with and without Hilde in it.

We had a life, we had a love

But you don't know what you got till you lose it

Well that was then and this is now

And I want you back

After walking through the hospital doors, he searched out the front desk. Propping both arms on the high counter, he flashed a young woman a grin to lower her defenses. "Hi," He greeted, "I was hoping you could help me. I'm looking for someone I believe is admitted here. Name's Hilde Schebeiker." A grin appeared. He was so in love, and he KNEW it. Even saying her name made his eyes light up.

One hand lowered out of her sight as he crossed a few fingers, hoping she was here. Even if he knew she was here, he hoped she hadn't been transferred for some reason while he journeyed. Such a problem would probably put him behind another week or so.

His doubts were quickly cast aside when he realized she was still in residence. Thanking the woman again and again, he nearly ran for the elevators. That impatient tapping began again as the slow elevator painfully took its time. He almost pushed the nearest key and took the stairs, but it dinged. He startled from his thoughts in wonder that he was able to dissuade his mind that long! Shaking his head from it all, he quickly exited.

His eyes jerked around, trying to locate her room. He went halfway down the hall before coming to it. Standing in front of the closed door felt like walking before some looming battle. He was going to go in and, if Hilde was awake, tell her he loved her.

He bit his lip and looked at the carpeted floor uncertainly. What if she didn't BELIEVE him? She knew Duo Maxwell didn't lie! He hadn't lied to her in the entire time they'd known each other!

His head quickly shook all bad thoughts from his head. If she still loved him, which he betted she did, she would be able to forgive him. If he was REALLY lucky, maybe she would even have FAITH in him again! He could only hope. Taking a deep breath for courage, he gripped the handle and opened the door.

He felt all the expectations and worries come crashing down among relief. She was still asleep! His head bowed in sudden weariness and foolishness for everything he worried about and felt. Here he was, thinking everything he had, and she was STILL in a coma!

He quickly walked to the end of her bed, picking up her chart. He was skeptical that she could be in a coma after so long. He figured it'd been an entire month since he last looked at her. He couldn't understand it; she should've been STABLE enough by then!

His eyes looked over the writings, understanding very little. He wished Sally was around! If she was, she wasn't NEXT to him! And that was where he NEEDED her, explaining the doctor mumbo-jumbo in his hands!

Putting it back with a quiet sigh, he looked at her face. He drank in her beauty, never moving away. Oh how he longed to stay where he was all day and look at her. He was content enough to do so...if he didn't have the MORE burning urge to find a doctor!

Regrettably looking away, he left the room quietly. He went to the main station and asked if anyone knew of Sally. He was thankful when they DID, but she wasn't in right now. His head bowed at the constant irony that kept facing him. He asked for a different doctor that would know what was going on with Hilde, but they all shook off his question. Sally requested to be the ONLY one to tend to Hilde.

Feeling MORE than frustrated that he couldn't get a simple explanation met, he asked if anyone could read Hilde's charts for him. But he was only told that her information was for family members only. Almost ready to scream, he was about to say that he WAS family, but stopped. It would almost be a lie, if he wasn't the only family she HAD.

Dishearten, he sullenly agreed to wait for Sally to come. The only problem was, it wouldn't be for hours! Left to wait, thankfully during visiting hours, he trudged back to her room.

Sitting a chair next to her bed, he continued to watch her face and think. All the words he so carefully thought up flew from his mind as he looked. Even if it hadn't, he couldn't even figure himself saying them. 'Then what DO I say?' His mind thought and thought of a way to apologize for all that he put her through, but he couldn't really find a good way to put it.

How many times can I say I'm sorry? How many times?

Oh yes I'm sorry

Hilde woke to the dead of night, something she'd been surrounded in for far to long. A small bout of sudden irritation enveloped her, but it all changed in an instant. Someone else was in the room with her! Fear overcame her before she instantly placed the sound.

Eyes slowly turned, widening as they landed on Duo's slumbering form. She quickly wondered how long he was sitting there, and HOW she didn't notice while she was asleep. Duo was loud; even his QUIET manner was bound to wake her up!

She slowly propped herself up on the pillows behind her. What little of the moon that filtered in through the drawn curtains allowed her to see his peaceful face. It was the first she'd seen since their meeting during the war, and even longer since they lived together. She rarely got to see this side since he hid everything under that happy mask. 'Well,' She instantly corrected, 'he didn't hide his ANGER from you, did he?' She recalled the words he spoke to her before she passed out. She couldn't forget them; they haunted her dreams almost everyday since.

She almost thought he hated her, especially since she refused to go with him so long ago. But she knew that wasn't true. She KNEW Duo enough to see the deep concern as he looked at her through the screen in his Gundam. He was more WORRIED about her than angry. Even if he WAS both.

She resentfully looked away, feeling the bittersweet irony. 'NOW he's worried about me.' After all they'd BEEN through...he always said she could take care of herself. It was why he left her alone whenever he worked on his Gundam in the yard. He knew she'd been trained by Oz and reminded her often of their first meeting. He hardly worried, and if he did, he didn't SAY anything. But at that time, through his violet eyes, he'd shone more worry than she ever sawin their ENTIRE friendship.

Needless to say, it torked her GREATLY. She couldn't understand the how and why he suddenly had a change of heart, but abandoned the thoughts that plagued her. She came to grips with his choice long ago, and eventually accepted it. The long time away even managed to help dumb down some of her feelings. Too bad seeing him brought them all up again!

She sighed heavily and leaned against the pillows, staring at the ceiling. She thought she was okay now, knowing she would only be his friend. She had come to grips with that thought. That didn't mean it didn't still HURT though.

Whenever she warred with the emotions that begged her to go back, she always asked that side of her WHY. WHY go back and endure heartache after heartache? She made her choice, going back to him wouldn't HELP her any. It would only prove just how weak she was. Trying to get the information to him during the war was a prime example. She resolved to stay away from him and anything that had to do with him, even if she did go back to Oz and change her name to do it. But when she found out they were in need of help, when Duo Maxwell was in need of help, she jumped at the chance. Getting on board Libra wasn't a problem. She learned a lot from Oz and from watching Duo's skill with computers.

'And look where I ended up.' She cynically thought, looking around the hospital room. She had almost died, and figured Duo BLAMED her for it. After she woke up and thought about it, she dissuaded herself differently. If only she could've read into his eyes a little more, if she had the time... She would've been able to see what she THOUGHT she saw there.

Her head shook, purposely taking her away from that impossible possibility. He would NEVER love her...not his BUDDY, his PAL. She felt like crying already, even from all the time she spent healing. She hadn't changed! She could spend ten YEARS away from Duo, take one look at his face, and fall right back where she was!

"GOD I'm pathetic." She whispered; teeth tightly clenched.

Duo shifted slightly in his sleep and she fearfully looked at him, not wanting him to wake up. Yes, she knew, she WAS pathetic, a COWARD. She hadn't the guts to tell Duo she loved him before she left the first time and she didn't have the guts to face him again. In a way, her coma was a blessed relief from seeing him worry over his FRIEND.

She DESPISED that word and everything it stood for! All her friends were female; she barely kept anything above a common courtesy with any other male co-worker. She didn't want friendship. She didn't want to needlessly fall into ANOTHER one-sided relationship, and she also kept hoping that Duo would proclaim his love. Even though she knew the latter was in vain.

Totally disgusted for being so emotionally weak, she carefully slid from the bed, aware she was still healing. But, a good month had gone by, from what Sally told her, and her injuries were healing. She was able to walk around for brief periods, mostly for the exercise and physical rejuvenation.

Sliding into the hospital slippers by her bed, she slowly shuffled out of the room, the door clicking shut behind her. Maybe something to do would help get her mind off him. But she knew the ONLY way for Duo to get out of her thoughts, was to remove himself from her physically. And right now, she longed to see him again, even in THESE circumstances. She didn't really know WHY he was around after so long, but didn't know his side yet.

She shuffled to the nurse's station to say hi, part of her mind not really wanting Duo's explanation. She had enough of his answers in the past, most of them painful to the heart to hear. She would just have to remind herself that she was his friend, nothing MORE. It didn't stop the small swell of tears in her eyes though.

How can something so good go so bad?

How can something so right go so wrong?

Well I don't know, I don't have all the answers

Something in Duo's mind registered a small click from nearby. Groggily opening his eyes, struggling from sleep, he spotted the empty bed. It took him a second to remember where he was before panic set in. He jumped up from the seat and rushed to the bed, touching the sheets as if they held answers to Hilde's whereabouts.

Numerous situations came to mind, most of them not GOOD. He wondered if she was dead and they carted her body out in the middle of the night. He quickly cast that aside with a hasty thought. She COULDN'T be dead! Not his Hilde! She was a fighter! There was no way she was dead! Besides, there would be no way he'd sleep through something like THAT!

The next thing he figured was surgery. But, sleeping through something like that, not to mention none of the nurses or doctors waking him, was ALSO cast away. He knew one of them would wake him to remove him from her room. Then...what HAPPENED?

He wondered if Sally had come to get her. But if she had, why didn't she WAKE him?? He felt a quick bout of frustration and anger. His fists beat on the bed in helplessness for not knowing what was going on. He quickly paused when Hilde's unique smell floated through his nose. On impulse, unable to control himself, he sank to his knees and grabbed the sheets. They met his nose as he inhaled. His face moved to her pillow, smelling shampoo from what she used so long ago.

He ingrained the smell in his head, along with telling himself to get off the FLOOR! If Hilde came back somehow, he didn't want to be seen kneeling by her bed, smelling used sheets!

He blushed slightly from his lovey-dovey actions and stood, shaking himself. He had to think here! If Hilde was gone, then it had to've been on her OWN terms. He raced back to what Sally told him.

"She's been here for a month and three days." Sally reported, aimlessly reading the chart.

"But, how come she hasn't woken UP yet?" He asked, worriedly looking at the bed.

Sally chuckled softly, shaking her head. "Duo," She humorously chided, "Hilde's merely ASLEEP!"

"Then how come she hasn't woken UP yet?" He repeated, feeling the blow to his pride. He could've known that, but he was unable to read her accursed chart!

"I gave her something earlier to help her sleep. The matter of her internal injuries is JUST a little uncomfortable for her. She asked me to give her something." Sally looked at her watch briefly, calculating the hours since she'd given Hilde her medicine. "I left since she was going to sleep for a while. That's the BEST thing for her right now. She should wake up sometime in the next few hours, if I'm right. If not, get some sleep YOURSELF." She playfully ordered, clapping him on the shoulder.

He did fall asleep, though he tried NOT to. He just journeyed too long and far; weariness caught up, even though he figured he could outride it. And Hilde STILL woke up without him knowing! He didn't even get to say what he wanted to say!

Saying a few choice words, he pivoted and headed for the door, feeling a little angry. She was still healing, how DARE she get out of that bed before she was well?? Grinding his teeth in agitation, he purposely fought for control to keep from slamming the door closed.

Looking down both sides of the hallway didn't give him one clue. He felt that helpless feeling encompass him again and felt like hitting something. He didn't LIKE feeling that when matters of such urgency surrounded him!

Violet narrowed, both playful and annoyed. He gave himself a new mission, the one before telling Hilde how he felt. Marching down one side of the hall, eyes searching, he was fully intent on finding and strapping her to that bed, if need be!

He looked a while over the entire floor, also thinking of what he was going to say. He knew 'I'm sorry' was the foremost thing, along with ordering her back to bed. He smiled slightly at his uncomplicated thinking. When dealing with Hilde, he needed a better approach. He needed to be firm, but determined. If he stared at her lips or eyes for too long, he was liable to back down and let her have her way.

And I want you back

How many times can I say I'm sorry? How many times?

Hilde took another sip of the hot cider in her hands, glad not EVERY hospital lived up to its name when providing bad food. This place seemed the only exception. She smiled tiredly, intent on finishing the drink that warmed her and get back to bed. She was just thankful there were elevators in the place; walking steps was NOT something she wanted to do at the moment. She was more liable to use the table and chair as a means of bed before walking three flights to her room!

Smiling again, she took another drink, enjoying the quiet. It was a welcome change from the ringing phones at the nurse's station, along with their chatter. Even though she hadn't known anything but sleep in such a long time, she was quickly becoming accustomed to the quiet that always surrounded her. It was a FAR cry from all the noise during her Oz days, and dealing with Duo constantly.

Her good mood dimmed greatly, wondering what would happen to them next. Now knowing she needed MORE time away in order get over him, she wondered how she was going to face him without breaking down. She didn't want to beg and she didn't want to yell. Yelling never did anything but entice Duo into an argument. She wasn't healed enough for that.

She knew the best thing to do would be to treat Duo in the same manner that HE always treated HER in. Casual and cool. Be his friend and nothing else, part of her said. Too bad her mind never listened to her heart!

She sighed heavily, unable to make a decision. 'I only hope the meeting goes better than my THOUGHTS.'

She finished the cider and stood to throw it away, even though she spied workers lingering around. She didn't like ANYONE waiting on her when she still had some strength to move around. Save for being stuck in bed to sleep, healing was SO annoying! But she wasn't able to do anything to up the process and get moving around again. If she DID, Sally would've shot her.

She smirked and moved to the doors, covering a yawn. 'Maybe a FEW more hours sleep will help.' A small muscle spasm in her leg paused her step and she grimaced. 'Provided my body LETS me sleep.' She added darkly.

She shuffled a little ways to the elevator, hearing it ding. Seeing the green up arrow, conveniently where she wanted to go, she hurried to it as quickly as she could. The elevator opened a few feet before she was near it. She almost wondered why, but was bowled over and given the answer. She fell backwards, landing heavily and VERY painfully on her rear. She cried out in surprise and pain, slumping onto the floor. The person above her quickly moved away.

"HILDE?? Ohmygod, I'm SO sorry!"

Her eyes closed with the realization of what just happened. BESIDES Duo falling on her and aggravating her injuries, they were now face to face again, and she didn't know what she wanted to say. If she wanted to say ANYTHING, she wasn't exactly ready to face him again. Her emotions were too scattered; she needed time to collect them and PROPERLY face him.

Duo quickly extended a hand, cursing himself under his breath. He found Hilde and only managed to hurt her once again! He could tell by the way she lay on the floor and the pain edged in her face. Since she didn't open her eyes yet, he grasped her hand and gently tugged her up. Her eyes flew open and he sheepishly grinned, feeling like an utter stranger instead of her best friend. Even so, she allowed him to help her off the ground.

He took in her body, finding it thinner than when he last stood next to her. But he figured that was natural, since she hadn't had a good meal in a while. Grasping her hand, he looked into blue, not really knowing what he was doing. "Are you okay?"

He recognized the action as one he did before, when he wanted to find out what was wrong. And he had her undivided attention from the familiar action, even IF something seemed to be troubling her. "I didn't hurt you TOO bad, did I? I didn't know you'd be on this floor, but I wanted to look anyway." He smiled bashfully and looked at the ground. "I didn't figure I needed to watch where I was going."

She looked into his eyes, even though they were half hidden by his bangs. She didn't really know how to take his statements, since her skin burned as he touched her hand. He STILL had the power to turn her emotions upside down, and all he had to do was hold her hand! Even if he didn't realize what he was doing, he still affected her greatly.

She wondered HOW to answer, since she found a double meaning to almost all his words. How did she answer to her being 'okay'? 'No I'm not Duo. Your skin unnerves me. Please let go before I lose control and kiss you?' She spat out, keeping an outward composure. NOT an option!!

As to the question of whether he HURT her...she almost laughed. If she answered that like she WANTED to, she'd hurt him even more than he did HER. And, as much as she wanted to tell him off sometimes, she couldn't do it. She couldn't hurt him as he had her because she loved him too much. Try as she might deny it, she DID.

'So, let's see. YES you hurt me Duo, even though you didn't know it at first. Not to mention jarring my injuries and yelling at me for trying to help you out of love, you put my heart AND emotions through the wringer more times than I want to count.' No, that wouldn't do at ALL. And although Duo didn't lie, SHE certainly did, if she could lie to him!

Realizing the uncomfortable air around them, she sighed quietly. "That's okay Duo, you didn't KNOW I'd be here." She softly answered. "I was just going back up to my room and get some sleep."

After the gleefulness of hearing her soft, pain-riddled voice, he remembered his anger that she was out of bed in the FIRST place. He quickly let go of her and positioned hands on his hips in motherly irritation. "As you SHOULD!" He cajoled. A finger wagged in her face. "You're not healed yet! What do you think you're doing out of BED?! Go and get BACK upstairs!!"

He really didn't understand where the sudden urge to carry her back to bed came from, but the idea was inviting nonetheless. Too bad he didn't figure she'd ALLOW him to carry her upstairs.

She almost laughed at his sudden mother hen attitude. It was rather funny to hear Duo scold her for being out of bed when she was able to do so. She wasn't an INVALID for god sakes!

After the shock of hearing his outburst, indignation flared. How DARE he presume to order her around! He hardly gave a damn about her in the FIRST place! So why was he being so concerned NOW?

She met his gaze, blue eyes smoldering. She didn't bother hiding the emotions, figuring he should be put in his place before he tried to push his luck any FURTHER.

"I've been resting nearly a straight MONTH Duo!" She shouted in the quiet, defiantly crossing her arms. "I've been told by Sally, who is a licensed DOCTOR mind you, that I need to get SOME exercise to get my strength back. So don't PRESUME to think I'm as injured as I was, OR try and order me around like you KNOW better! SALLY is my doctor, and I'll stick to HER orders, THANK you very much!"

She slowly shuffled past, feeling more tired as she stood. She needed to get back to bed and get some sleep. Also, arguing with Duo was NEVER on her high priority list, even IF she wanted to yell at him sometimes...

Blinking in shock at her biting comments, he nearly missed the elevator she didn't bother holding open. Whirling around, he was forced to slide his body in sideways to keep from getting crushed by the metal doors. Blue stayed on one of the walls, arms crossing again. She was PURPOSELY ignoring him, that much he knew. Leaning against the wall with a sigh, he looked above the door for her floor number. If he was going to say anything to get past her temper, he had to do so NOW.

"Look Hilde," He softly started, mind whirling, "I'm SORRY for trying to order you around. It's just...I still picture you in a coma back in space!" One hand scrubbed his face, disturbing emotions coming back. It scared him to know he almost lost her, someone he'd come to LOVE. "Waking up and seeing your empty bed terrified me! I didn't know what'd happen to you. I KNOW you're irritated with this place and with all this forced bed rest, but you're not healed enough to be about and you KNOW it. I was just worried, and MAYBE a little angry that you try to do so much when you very well KNOW you're not capable of it is all." His peace said, and hoping the apology was enough, he waited with held breath.

If she could've groaned, she WOULD have. His remorseful voice and stance quickly shot down her anger, try as she might to hold onto it. He always DID have a knack for calming her down...

She grit her teeth as frustration surged again. There she went AGAIN! After all that time she spent trying to get back on track with her emotions and he oh so casually tossed them into a frenzy again! She was SICK of it!

But, he DID know her well enough to be correct. She WAS tired of being unable to fend for herself, but did more than what she was unable. At least for long periods of time anyway...

Her shoulders slumped slightly, knowing he was watching her. She didn't know how long she would harbor this battle of emotions, but hoped ONE side would make up its mind soon! She was TIRED of being put into an emotional tornado every time she was near him or thought of him.

She ALSO realized how petty she was suddenly acting. If she was REALLY Duo's friend, regardless of how she felt, she shouldn't be acting like she was. Bottom line was, friends supported and CARED for each other, something SHE wasn't doing! She just wished he'd disappear and kept thinking all sorts of cynical things when it came to his name. If she was REALLY his friend, she should put all that stuff aside and...well she should ANSWER him FIRST!

She sighed quietly at her own stupidity. She didn't bother looking at him, keeping blue trained on the wall. She didn't want her eyes to betray her at whatever she was about to say. "Well I DID leave without telling you. I suppose I should've done THAT, but then you wouldn't have let me leave anyway." She smiled sarcastically. She was speaking as if Duo still had a handle on her life. "You're right in knowing that I'm annoyed with being here. But I AM able to move about SOME of the time. So as long as I CAN, you're not going to stop me."

"But you accept my apology?" He asked offhandedly.

She looked at him strangely, seeing the hope in his eyes. Blue eyes dropped to the carpet underneath. The elevator finally dinged and the doors slowly slid open. "Yes." She softly answered, moving for the doors.

Duo smiled widely and hurried to catch up and not be left behind. It'd happen far too much for his liking, he wasn't going to let it happen anymore!

Oh you know, you can run and you can hide

But I'm not leaving less you come with me

We had our problems but I'm on your side

You're all I need, please believe in me

During the weeks that followed her recovery, she could NOT get rid of Duo! If he wasn't sitting in a chair on either side of her bed, he roamed the hospital for something to do. There was hardly a moment's quiet. It SERIOUSLY uneased her, since she was used to being around anyone BUT Duo. She was trying to get passed him, and he wouldn't LET her! Not when he was always close by.

She was mostly torn between feeling touched at his genuine, UNEXPECTED, concern and worry...and also wanting to rip his HEAD off, since he hardly allowed her to get out of bed when he was around. He always waited on her hand and foot, never tiring.

He would rarely let her go to the BATHROOM by herself, taking her hand and helping her from the bed and a mere five feet and back. That part was THE most embarrassing, since she had a feeling the walls weren't as soundproof as she'd like them to be. Even though it was a natural occurrence, knowing Duo heard everything in the quiet hospital room just made her uncomfortable for some reason.

She was pretty sure she was making it worse than it was, but her emotions weren't HELPING any!

Even though there was never a moment's peace, they rarely talked. Duo mostly sat on the window's ledge and talked about whatever he saw outside five floors down, describing the Earth's sky. Even if she didn't need to hear what was going on in the outside world, for all she cared about was recovery, she found his voice soothing. She just stared at the ceiling, propped up by many pillows, watching the afternoon sun pass through her room while he talked. It wasn't the MOST relaxing times they'd spend together, but it was SOME.

Try as she might to treat him with common friendly courtesy or subtly ignore him, those old feelings still flared a lot. She couldn't HELP it; he was always around! She never got time to try and deal with them again properly, to find a way to go through each and package it away in her heart. It was both annoying and soothing. She told herself she didn't want to go through everything again and here she was, but love wasn't something she really wanted to let GO of...

I only wanted someone to love

But something happened on the way to heaven

You got a hold of me and wouldn't let go

Another week passed. Duo stayed by her side with the promise of wanting to explain EVERYTHING, but he kept chickening out. Each morning he woke to her sleeping face, the words edging closer on his tongue, just waiting to be spoken. He knew his mind was berating him for being such a coward, but how COULD he be so straightforward? She almost acted like they were total strangers!

It was saddening to know his once best friend thought of him as such. Now that he figured things could get back to normal, everything was on the opposite ends of the spectrum!

He sighed, watching the steam that made up his breath rise in the early morning. He sometimes went to the roof to think about his choices in life, and what was happening. He also left Hilde's room, which wasn't often, to give her some privacy before she chewed him out! He knew her well enough to know when her patience was growing thin. He knew he was on thin ice, for whatever reason THAT was, and didn't push it.

There were times when he didn't WANT to leave and regrettably did, but he never strayed too far for too long. He didn't want to see her up and around in case she tried.

He smirked, looking down to the street. She tried that, shooing him from the room and making a break for it when he was out of eyesight. When he came back and found her gone, he nearly tore the entire hospital apart trying to find her.

His eyes closed in amusement. They nearly came to blows, if nurses hadn't come between them. After that, she locked her door for two hours before allowing him in.

Sally didn't take it well EITHER, giving him a lecture on her well-being. Saying that if he rose her blood pressure high enough, she would go right back down the ladder! THAT did an effective enough job of scaring him to keep his temper quiet.

Walking around aimlessly, shoes crunching over the gravel, he pondered what they'd do when she was well enough to leave. Would they BOTH go back to L-2 and live together again? He hoped so! He hadn't discussed anything that had to do with them, or what would happen when she left. He was waiting for the chance, and courage, to strike up the conversation.

He wasn't impatient to know, just FRIGHTENED. What would she say if he asked her to come back with him? AGAIN? He was scared she'd say no and go stay with Sally, if the elder woman offered. He loved her too much now to let her go. What would he do if she said no??

His jaw clenched as sorrow hit. 'I don't want to say goodbye.' He realized sullenly, still staring down at street ten stories below. Everyone seemed like tiny ants below. He felt content at such an altitude; it reminded him of being in Deathsycthe's cockpit.

Arms crossed with a wistful smile. He missed the trusty Gundam, missed his partner terribly. They'd been through so much together! Seen so many things, been to so many places... 'Met so many PEOPLE.' He added, thinking of Hilde again.

There wasn't a time when he DIDN'T think of her. She filled his head with her beauty and personality. He LIKED being next to her side; it reminded him of old times. Violet turned away from the street, looking mournfully at the sky. Those old times were what she ran away from. She didn't WANT his friendship; he knew that now. And now, she brushed him off, acted like he did long ago.

He wondered if she knew HE knew the way she acted. He could see it; she wasn't THAT good an actress. He spent too much time with Hilde, knew her thoughts and desires, all her hopes and dreams. He knew what she favored in life, what her hobbies were. He knew what made her tick, her feelings for him. The only problem was, she didn't know the latter about HIM.

He was too chicken to admit it. He was still Hilde's friend and THAT part was comfortable. He knew where he stood, knew where to draw the line. With LOVING Hilde, everything was so unexpected! He liked being in control of things, or knowing what to do; it was what half his life was drawn by. Control and planning things out had always been familiar...

Shaking himself of his past, he walked to the door, vowing to forget all that. If he wanted Hilde, he had to FIGHT for her! She had to know he was MORE than willing to show her he'd changed. He didn't bother changing for people, but made an exception with her. He wanted something concrete in his life, and she was it.

'But, how do I go about SAYING it?' He furiously wondered. He kept going through the same process with one small detail always being left out. The answer to his QUESTIONS!

And I want you back

How many times can I say I'm sorry? How many times?

Oh yes I'm sorry, sorry

So much time passed, and she was FINALLY ready to leave. She'd been ready to leave for a while, but not with Sally blocking her way out. That woman held her release papers just out of reach over her head, not allowing her to leave until the doctor FELT she was healed. It sucked BIG time!

Changing into an extra set of clothes Sally bought her, she looked into the mirror and smiled. The clothes fit her a lot better than when Duo first went shopping for her. Her eyes squeezed shut with a small grimace. She resolved to stop THINKING about him, and what happened? He was STILL in her thoughts almost every hour of the day!

Heaving a sigh with a small shake of her head, she left the room and turned the bathroom lights off. This would be the LAST time she would ever set foot inside, thank GOD! She was so SICK of hospitals, funny enough. But right now, she was at a crossroads and she wasn't laughing.

Duo stood before her, leaning against a wall, eyes diverted somewhere else. When she clicked the door shut, they swung her way, holding her in place. She met his eyes and felt her heart pick up. This wasn't the same Duo Maxwell ten minutes ago... His eyes seemed troubled, or bogged down with thought of something serious.

She brushed it off forcefully, moving to the door. "You ready to go?" She asked evenly, slowly turning the knob. She didn't know why, but she felt uneasy for some reason. It was as if a heavy foreboding suddenly settled over her, in the entire room. She wondered if Duo caused it...

"In a second." He answered softly, suddenly behind her. She jumped and whirled around, finding him not even a foot away. Her eyes widened swiftly from his close proximity. He was WAY too close for her comfort level. Her arms suddenly itched to move and rest over his shoulders, to feel his arms around her waist. She mentally berated herself, but held his eyes steadfast. She didn't want him to know he affected her. But she couldn't help that small step backward, one that drove the doorknob against her back, reminding her it was still there.

"Yes?" She asked evenly, unable to fight the adrenaline running through her. Her heart started pounding from whatever he was about to do, even though she started lecturing herself that she was only his friend, as he was to her.

"I'm going back to L-2." He answered softly.

She blinked, wondering where this was going. He bit his lip gently, and she forced her eyes to stay put, to not watch the tempting spectacle. She almost wondered what he seemed so nervous about. Duo Maxwell didn't GET nervous.

"Will you come back with me?"

Her jaw clenched, fighting to say an immediate 'no'. But L-2 was her HOME, even if Duo was still around. Why should she leave her home because HE lived there? Other than she'd see his face around the city every so often and the swish of his braid would make her heart pick up speed... She mentally sighed at her pitiful nature.

She realized the déjà vu of the whole situation. Although the danger wasn't around, his OFFER still was. He wanted her to live with him again, be his friend and confidant. He wanted his friend around, to watch while he dated other girls, something that pained her terribly.

She didn't want to let him unintentionally walk all over her again, and just let it happen. But, if they lived together, she didn't want to speak her mind and let things become uncomfortable, even if they were now. She didn't want to wish things were the way she used to feel, the way she STILL felt. She wanted to be with Duo so BADLY, but wouldn't change it for one tiny little fear.

She didn't want to hear him deny her and her heart break, even more so than it already had. If she could keep her one heart's desire quiet, she wouldn't risk changing their friendship and him openly breaking her heart. She wouldn't scare him off and lose the gift of being his friend.

All she felt was due to misgivings and wishes. Duo NEVER had a reason to think anything different before she left. If her heart was broken, it was all HER doing, wanting him so badly in the past that she unintentionally expected and wished for more.

The strong part of her welled up. Why should SHE cower down, when it was her home he stayed in? If he was going back to L-2, she figured he would go back there, since he had no where else to go. Even though she TOLD him to keep the scrap yard, she didn't sell it. She merely LEFT.

Her eyes hardened and he seemed to back down. She felt a small power from making him cower and feel insecure about something for once. She was that way for too long; it was time he felt something like that! Maybe she WOULD go live with him, just to show him she wasn't intimidated or agitated by him.

"Why?" She casually asked, still staring at those beautiful eyes.

They averted to the carpet and his cheerful mask sprung back up. "Well I'm not FORCING you to...GEEZ." He joked, rubbing the back of his head nervously. "I just figured that since the war is over, and you have no where ELSE to live, that you'd want to live with me again." He winked quickly, that smile changing to something else. If he was insinuating something, he was SORELY mistaken!

Her eyes narrowed slightly, but only momentarily. "Why NOT?" She shrugged easily. "It is my HOME after all." She pointedly said, emphasizing who would live with who.

His smile changed once again, though his stance changed differently. He seemed troubled by something, but she wasn't going to think about it. She did MORE than enough worrying about Duo's safety and acceptance that it almost drove her insane. She was going to worry about HER for once.

Leaning forward, ignoring the heat she felt from his body, she turned and opened the door. All the thoughts and feelings she just endured seemed miles away with every step she took to the nurse's office. 'Let's get this OVER with.' She nearly retorted, not looking back.

He stood in the doorway, utterly baffled at her exit. His eyes narrowed in utter oddity at what just happened. He didn't really EXPECT that kind of answer out of her, or the emotions from her eyes. She seemed downright PISSED, which he could understand to SOME extent. He was basically asking her to live with him, feeling the way she did.

A smile popped up when his brain processed what just happened. She was coming HOME! More than ecstatic, he rushed through the door to catch up with her. He wanted to make sure she wouldn't go back on her word, inwardly afraid she'd leave and go looking for Sally somehow.

Oh you know

You can run and you can hide

But I'm not leaving less you come with me

We had our problems but I'm on your side

You're all I need, please believe me

Opening the door after so long, she stopped short of the doorway, looking around. The quiet seemed nonexistent as memories rushed past her ears and through her eyes. She was HOME.

"Hey babe, you going to stand there all day?"

One hand clamped over her shoulder and she startled from her thoughts, whirling around. He was mere inches from her face and her eyes widened on instinct.

Shaking herself slightly, she stepped back. "I was just taking everything in again." She muttered softly, looking at the floor to compose herself. Turning abruptly, she wandered around her old residency. Nostalgia plastered itself across her face as she took in all the furniture, still in the same place. Everything was covered with dust or grime from being so unused, but there were no sheets to protect anything.

Turning around, she found Duo following at a small distance. She looked at him in accusation. "You haven't been cleaning up around here before you left, HAVE you?" She retorted, quickly positioning hands on hips.

He smiled sheepishly and looked at the ground. After she continued to pointedly stare, he looked at her. "Oh give me a BREAK Hilde!" He whined. "I haven't been here in MONTHS! This place would've been dirtier if I hadn't cleaned up ANYWAY!" He looked at her, silently asking for pity. Not seeing any, he edged forward. Her chin rose slightly. "Oh come ON! You know I was NEVER good at cleaning anyhow."

"That's no EXCUSE." She answered evenly. Turning again, she continued her trek to the kitchen. "But it gives me something to do now..." She dug under the sink cabinet, finding all the cleaning supplies exactly where she left them. She could tell because of the small spots they left amongst the old wood. She set everything behind her, figuring she was going to need all of it.

Duo leaned against the kitchen archway, crossing his arms as he watched her. He couldn't figure out what she was feeling, and it kind of unnerved him. Right now was when he needed to predict how she'd react. It would give him time to think up a correct response to stay on her good side. Right now was their most shaky time. They could swing either way; be actual strangers, or good friends once again. He picked the latter, but figured she'd want the former. At least, until he was able to crack her shell.

He walked around the house, leaving her to her mutterings at what she was going to delve through first. He hadn't been around in so long, he almost FORGOT everything. Well, he knew that wasn't likely, but it was always POSSIBLE. There were just some things he'd like to forget, and some memories around here were a few on his list.

He opened the door to his room, leaning on the archway, staring at the dim area. The sun was starting to set, creating shadows with aide from sparse furniture around. Here was where he slept and talked with Hilde sometimes. Memories of their play suddenly sprouted, translucent figures from old times. He watched the happy instances with sad eyes, wondering if their present would be so gracious. He didn't know if it would ever be again. The two ghosts seemed like utterly different people.

Squeezing his eyes shut, a tear started gathering in a corner. He quickly wiped it away before anymore gathered or Hilde saw. He didn't want her knowing he cried over her, not that he hadn't before. It was just something he didn't make known. Taking a deep breath, he turned and closed the door slowly.

They say you can't take it with you when you go

And I believe it

Then taking what I got, or being here with you

You know I, I'd rather leave it

Things seemed to get back to normal, but only on the surface. Hilde took to the books, trying to wade through whatever he tried marking down during her absence. Duo, in turn, busied himself in the yard. He did so for two reasons; to keep his hands and mind busy, and to stay away from Hilde until he could think.

The two were so uncomfortable with each other, tension almost repelled the two! Hilde was most discomforted around him, which he was TRYING to understand. He knew that feeling the way she did would be hard to just pick up where they left off. It was awkward, but it was mostly HER problem.

He too felt a little awkward, mostly trying to show a little more than friendship. He didn't want to scare her with sudden declarations of love, he knew that now. He could see the error in past thoughts at just blurting out how he felt. She would deny he ever said such things, that was clear.

He knew his heart couldn't take it if she denied him, even though he so rightly DESERVED it. He had done so in the eye for an eye and all.

But he also knew that she'd stung him once by LEAVING, and that somewhat made up for him unintentionally hurting her in the past. He sat back on the dirt and idly stared at the broken machine under him. Was this how she felt during the war? He wanted to leave the yard and see her, but knew they were both busy.

One hand touched his jaw, smudging it. Were these circumstances happening again, with turned tables? His eyes lowered hurtfully. 'Maybe SO.' He thought sadly.

We had a life, we had a love

But you don't know what you got till you lose it

Well that was then, this is now

After two more days of the same constant routine, he was about ready to scream in frustration. He was trying so hard to be understanding and give her the space she needed, but she was pushing him away in the process. He KNEW she was doing it, by the way she would hardly speak to him, hardly look him in the eye.

She kept doing it, even through dinner. After their silent meal finished, she cleared the table. He almost figured she took a vow of silence with the way she kept acting. But that wasn't true and he knew she was either trying to figure something out or sort out her feelings. He betted both by the nervous posture she held when she walked by.

Shaking his head in silent helplessness, he left the kitchen. Plopping heavily on the couch, he turned the tv on, mostly for the noise. He hardly watched it anymore, since he was so busy with work and all. Plus the whole situation held most to all his attention. He didn't really have time to do anything else.

A short time later, she gently sat next to him, as if afraid to gain his attention. Misery and frustration welled up, but he forced it down. He didn't want to fight with her, not NOW.

He snuck peaks at her face, seeing it void of any emotion. It just didn't seem like the Hilde he knew. He almost wondered if she was as miserable as HE was, knowing she loved him, but didn't do anything about it. He knew that was how he felt.

Hilde watched the screen with disinterested eyes. She could feel Duo's presence a mere foot away and cursed herself for sitting so close. But she didn't want to edge away and make it KNOWN that she was unable to handle his body so near hers.

She hadn't really figured out how to act, and it put her on edge. She was unable to make up her mind. She KNEW it was a bad idea to move back in with him. His constant appearances in her daily life weren't making her emotions settle down! They kept flaring up and brought all those old hopes and dreams with them. It was so easy to go right back into their old banter, but her heart wouldn't take that again. Her PRIDE wouldn't take that again! Plus, she knew he'd be a little stunned at her sudden turnaround.

So she hardly spoke, busied herself with work and other things around the house. Most of it helped to put everything back in its proper working order, even if she thought very little. It was a blissful release from all that thinking and feeling, giving her something ELSE to concentrate on. The only problem was, it had to stop sometime. And when it DID, she was no closer to her original goal, trying to find peace with herself.

After what seemed an eternity of noise from the tv and silence between two best friends, he couldn't TAKE it anymore. He had tried and TRIED, but it wasn't good enough for him! If she had a problem, they needed to talk about it, not IGNORE it! He did so for too long, maybe from the start. Back when he realized he loved her, or even DURING the war, when he only checked up on her with a computer. What he should've done was find her and talked to her; no shouting, just an honest TALK. They were acting like strangers, they almost WERE strangers. And the more they let the silence and the unspoken problem wedge itself between them, they would CONTINUE to be so.

"I can't STAND this anymore." He suddenly grit out. He meant for Hilde to hear, but she seemed not to. Nearly throwing the control down with a sudden rush of aggravation, he turned. "I can't STAND THIS!" He repeated. She eyed him, not saying anything. It only irked him even more. "This has got to STOP!" He nearly ordered, almost glaring.

"What?" She asked, eyeing him innocently. He stood, walking around the living room to try and relieve his anger.

"THIS!" He shouted, hands flailing around. "YOU, ME! Whatever it is that you're GOING through! It's got to STOP!" He stood before her, resting hands on his hips in irritation. "We need to talk about this."

She nearly looked like a deer caught in a pair of headlights; as if she was facing her oncoming doom. No! They COULDN'T talk about it! Her mind gave a meek cry and she almost shrank into the couch to avoid his onslaught at their invisible problem. She didn't WANT to talk about it, not yet! She hadn't recovered from his personality assaulting hers after so long!

She wasn't comfortable with acting like they had during the war. She didn't know if she'd EVER be, but she resolved to do that. It would just take TIME.

But time wasn't something Duo was willing to give. Granted, he'd been understanding since their arrival at home, but he needed to see how much she needed to get past!

She knew he was aware by now that she felt something, mostly since she wrote it in the letter she left. She could see he was trying to be patient with her distance by sneaking looks at his eyes from time to time. There was a mysterious longing and apparent frustration held there, amidst other things she didn't understand.

He stood over her still, nearly glaring at her. She wished the floor would open up and let her drop through. She wished to be ANYWHERE except where she was!

That's when it hit her that she wanted to run away, AGAIN. The strong side of her asked her why. She had been able to take charge of the house again, putting Duo in his place THAT way. But the emotional side of her continued to beg for leave. It clenched her muscles to run, but she firmly stayed put. There was no way she would get far, not with him standing right in front of her. She wouldn't even be able to jump the couch before he did and tackled her. She KNEW he would do it too; when Duo Maxwell met something head on, he was VERY persistent!

"Why?" She asked, almost pleaded. "Why can't you just go back to watching tv?"

He blinked, feeling the air leave his sails. She was giving him a way out, an almost PLEADING way out. She was nearly begging him to leave it alone. But he figured that was what she wanted. CONFRONTATION. He wondered why, after so many months, that NOW she wanted to let everything stagnate. Before, she almost seemed to want to tell him something. Although he missed it before, looking back now, it was MORE than clear in her eyes. He also read into the mysterious parting she gave before she left the first time.

His head shook forcefully, denying her request. "No. I'm not going to IGNORE this anymore." He plopped down on the couch and she almost instinctively moved away. His eyes showed a little hurt, but he quickly masked it, feeling anger grow. "I'm TIRED of this! You ignore me like I'm some STRANGER in your home. I'm NOT. I'm your BEST FRIEND!" He nearly shouted.

His mouth clamped shut upon seeing the hurt and sadness in her eyes, even though they looked somewhere else to hide it. He immediately knew that was the utter WRONG thing to say!

"I know." She whispered, fighting tears. Try as she might get past it, hearing those two words from his lips brought back everything. All her hopes and wishes for a relationship and all the sadness and depression that there never was one. She hadn't changed one bit. Leaving hadn't helped at ALL! Everything she did was in vain.

Her eyes closed in realization of her grave mistake. She figured leaving was for the best, that it would help her when they met up again, if it ever happened. At the time it was a good idea, but now she knew she was WRONG. She was wrong to EVER think that being away from Duo would change her for the better. The ONLY thing she'd ever done was put him out of her mind. None of her feelings changed.

She suddenly realized one major thing. She never tried to get into another relationship with another man. She always told herself that she didn't want another heartbreak. But it was all a lie; she was just waiting for Duo to come find her again, even though she never thought of that happening. She was waiting for him confess his love and come after her, to sweep her in his arms and take her away from it all.

But, she didn't figure that would EVER happen. She was only his friend, nothing MORE. And she figured she'd accepted that. 'Apparently NOT.' She thought, wishing to cover her face.

"That's not what I meant Hilde and you KNOW it." He denied after a tense pause. Anger turned to minute urgency; he needed to make her UNDERSTAND! He couldn't lose her AGAIN! He went through too much to find her in the FIRST place!

Her chin rested over her hands, elbows over her knees. Her gaze locked on something, but he didn't bother to see what. He continued to stare, but she never met his eyes, never answered him.

To his continuing sadness, tears gathered in her eyes. Even though the lighting was bad, and her bangs kept a good portion of it from her face, those blue orbs glittered regardless. His worst fear came true; he made her cry. He NEVER wanted to see Hilde cry, but here he was, saying something wrong.

"LOOK at me Hilde." He softly begged, fighting to keep from moving his hands. He longed to cup her face and turn it himself, but he didn't want to force anything. He NEEDED to keep an accepting head about it all or they would NEVER achieve anything. "PLEASE."

Try as she might to fight it, her head slowly turned, jaw resting over her hands. Her head was just too weighted down for her neck to hold it up. His blurry face suddenly cleared as a tear fell. She made no move to brush it away, not caring anymore. She didn't care if he saw her cry, she'd done so much over him ALREADY. She was just so tried of having to hide EVERYTHING. She was weary of pretending they were only friends, when she wanted him to love her back. She was tired of trying to HOPE!

She stared into his sorrowful eyes, feeling the tear trail down her skin, another falling shortly after. She didn't blink, continuing to stare. She waited with growing anger and irritation for him to speak, but he kept staring at her. She wondered if he was staring at her tears, but made no move to clear them. Why BOTHER? She was THROUGH with pretending and trying. If she had it her way, she would've been gone and start over somehow.

"What?" She whispered harshly. Her throat convulsed and she tried to swallow, but found it impossible. Her emotions were baring their ugly heads, and he was going to get the full onslaught, damned be the consequences! She was going to FINALLY show him all the numerous emotions she kept locked away. She just hoped he could handle it.

Feeling her animosity unnerve him, his eyes shot to the couch between them. He swallowed harshly, wishing there was a better way he could've started. But, no backing out NOW... "I'm sorry." He softly answered.

And I want you back

How many times can I say I'm sorry? How many times?

Oh yes I'm sorry, yes I'm sorry

Her heart lurched. After so LONG of wanting to hear those words, for whatever they stood for, she didn't want to NOW. She didn't WANT his apology! Hostility surged and she felt the overwhelming urge to HIT something.

'After SO LONG! Why didn't he say it BEFORE?!' The emotional side demanded. 'BEFORE you left and he got dramatic??'

She decided right then and there, that she had enough. "NOW you say that." She spat out hoarsely. Her muscles jerked her upright to leave. To get away and find the peace of mind she sought out.

She didn't get far. She was maybe a step away from the couch, when a hand grabbed her arm. Her head swung back, meeting Duo's hurt glare. She realized that maybe leaving when he was being honest, for ONCE, was not the best way to go about things. But she did ENOUGH patronizing of HIS feelings in the past and she was done. She was through with it all and tired of being so NICE! Right now she was feeling a wrath so unlike her it almost SCARED her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, most likely all the times her heart had been let down, openly embraced the rage and empowered it to heighten.

"Don't you walk AWAY when I'm trying to TALK to you." He grit out, clenching his jaw. He couldn't describe the fury and sting that settled in his heart. It ached like no other, but also burned and fueled his anger at her behavior. He couldn't even TALK to her anymore, without her turning away! It was ALL going to stop!

He stood, still gripping her arm. She tugged lightly to get away, but he held fast. She wasn't going anywhere, not while they had things to discuss. He only pulled her arm closer, nearly holding it to his chest.

"We're not THROUGH here! I'm TRYING to APOLOGIZE to you Hilde, damn it!" He hissed out. He couldn't contain his anger, and some part of him didn't WANT to. He was more than fed up with her ignoring him, when they were friends and roommates. Positions like that were supposed to have hold understanding.

Her eyes blazed with an unfurled fury that almost rivaled his. She knew things were going to get ugly, whatever happened. Their anger levels were too high, but he wouldn't let go. Not even when she tried pulling away would he let go. She compromised by standing at a safe enough distance, her arm almost straight. But he held onto her wrist and she was forced to stay relatively close to keep the pain at bay.

"WHY?" She hissed. His eyes narrowed, demanding her to continue. "Why now, after SO LONG??"

"Why WOULD I need to apologize to you?" He taunted back softly.

Blue narrowed to slits. "FUCK you. YOU KNOW WHY!" Her voice rose through gritted teeth, jaw clenching sporadically. "You KNEW how I felt Duo. So WHY apologize now, when THEN would've been so much better!"

He finally let go of her wrist, but she didn't bother moving. She was going to stand her ground and defend herself for what it was going to take.

"WHY?" He stepped away and threw his hands in the air. "Why did I need to apologize then, when I had NO clue how you FELT?! We were FRIENDS back then Hilde! You never told me a damn THING!!"

She fought a fearful shiver from the tone in his voice. But she never let fear show and it only increased her anger, mostly at herself for letting him still get to her. "Were you THAT blind that you couldn't read the signs?" She jeered. "How could you've NOT known I liked you?? Are ALL men that STUPID?!"

He strode up to her, stopping an inch or two from her face. "Men are NOT stupid!" He growled back. "I didn't BOTHER looking because I was FINE with you being my friend! How did I know DIFFERENT? You never TOLD me!"

"And what would you've DONE? Huh?! I didn't want to take the chance that you DENY me that ONE hope I kept locked away!" A finger poked at his chest harshly. "I KNOW you Duo! You would've acted TOTALLY awkward around me! It would've been like we are NOW! So HOW can you defend yourself, when NOTHING would've changed??"

"I CAN defend myself, because YOU'RE not being fair!" He challenged back. "How do YOU know I would've acted that way?"

"Oh PLEASE!" She scorned, waving a hand. "I've lived with you day and night for too long, I KNOW your personality! But it seems you didn't pay too much attention to MINE." She scoffed, looking harshly at the ground.

"Spare me the self-pity act!" He tossed back. Blue jerked up and narrowed dangerously again. She glared at him coldly, hands itching to slap him. "Why do you think I said something NOW? Because I know how YOU act! You're acting this way BECAUSE you still like me, but the rooming situation isn't letting you deal! If you STILL like me, why don't you ADMIT it?? And to YOURSELF for God sakes!"

She blinked wide eyes, aware she looked foolish, physically AND emotionally. He was right, though she was loathed to admit it. She wasn't aware he was so observant, since he wasn't in the past. She quickly recovered from his blow and glared at him. "And what would I do?? Let my heart get broken AGAIN?" His eyes widened a little and she sneered. "Yea, THAT'S right! You broke my heart, Duo Maxwell. And all I had to do was LOVE you!"

His eyes widened even more. He blinked in shock, feeling any comeback die in his throat. She LOVED him?! He figured she just really liked him! One reason he never mentioned the word. He never considered the actual depth of her feelings! Her arms crossed self-righteously as she figured herself the victor.

"There, I SAID it. Are you HAPPY? I laid my deepest vice out in the open! And what're you going to do about it?? Turn me down, like I KNOW you will? Because I'm your bud, your pal, your confident, your...FRIEND." She spat the word, exhaling a quick breath. "I HATE that word Duo!" She gritted out. "I disliked it ever being CONNECTED with my name! You know why? BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!"

Her gaze turned sorrowful and she turned away, shoulders dropping. "Oh, I THOUGHT it was nothing at first. I figured you were the first person that really CARED, even if it was as friends." She started pacing in agitation, hands behind her back, eyes trained on the floor. He watched her, struck dumb to do much else. "After I couldn't ignore it, I tried to HIDE it. That didn't help. In fact, it made things WORSE. EVERYTHING you did only drew me nearer."

She stopped suddenly and covered her face with both hands. "Ignoring it did no good; trying to get by it did no good. I was STUCK. Like turned to love somehow, but there wasn't ANYTHING I could've done to get it gone. It festered and grew, like an almost unwanted tumor. YES I loved you, and it HURT, but I didn't want to get rid of it. I NEVER loved before; you were my FIRST. That made it even WORSE. It was such a bittersweet feeling to be AROUND you all the time, even though I could never HAVE you."

Her hands shot down and she glared at him through teary eyes, some already down her face. "THAT'S why I left! I couldn't be near you and not HAVE you! Why do you think I went back to Oz? I KNEW they weren't the answer, but they were the only option left!"

Oh you know

You can run and you can hide

But I'm not leaving less you come with me

We had our problems but I'm on your side

You're all I need, please believe me

Silence stretched out between the two. She continued glaring at him, but he just couldn't find words. The anger left and now all he felt was the need to comfort and explain. Now was the time to tell her how he felt. If only he could make his legs and mouth MOVE!

After a while, she softly snorted, slowly turning away. "The talkative Duo Maxwell," She muttered sarcastically, "unable to find the WORDS." Her head raised, as if looking upward at something. "That's rather FUNNY." She almost wistfully answered.

Feeling the blow to his pride quickly pulled him from his stupor. He took a step forward, even though she never turned around to face him. "That's not FAIR." He softly stuttered, no anger dwelling anymore. As if it never existed.

"IS it?" She softly challenged, hands resting over her waist as she hugged herself. Her head lowered slowly. "I often wonder what exactly is FAIR. NOTHING seems to be fair anymore. Not this HOUSE; not my LIFE; not our SITUATION. I can't live in a place where I'll be taunted by memories of YOU, and I can't live on L-2 because YOU live here." She sighed quietly. "It seems I can't live ANYWHERE without you finding me."

Her head shook slowly. He took another step until he was an arm's length away, able to touch her if he wanted to. But now was not his time, she was barely aware he was near. "All that time I spent in Oz didn't change me. I only THOUGHT it did." She whispered.

Her head shook again, hanging even lower. "I needed to get away from you to clear my head; so I could try and understand everything. I needed to clarify my feelings and deal with them. So I could get OVER you." Her head slowly lifted, but she had yet to look at him.

His jaw clenched in realization of what she tried to do. FORGET him.

"But that moment you stepped onto that asteroid made me realize how gone I was. I would NEVER be able to change; I feel the way I do and NOTHING will change that." She sniffled quietly.

He felt his heart break, but also the hope that blossomed. If she STILL felt that way, even now, then there WAS a chance! He quietly closed the distance, standing directly behind her. "Why would you try and get over me?" He quietly asked, looking at her.

She jumped and whirled around, tears falling from her eyes. His jaw clenched in sorrow. He seriously looked into her eyes, feeling bad for making her cry, for seeing that look of misery on her beautiful face. Her lips pressed together tightly, almost afraid to speak. "Do you think I'd WANT you to?"

Her eyes widened, mouth gaping open slightly.

"You don't think that all that time apart changed you, but it did something to ME." His hands slowly moved, resting over her shoulders. A kind smile tilted his lips as he tenderly looked into those eyes he loved. "Time passed, but I didn't realize what it was. Even AFTER I continued checking up on you, I never came to grips with it. The first time I felt ANYTHING, was when you tried to get us the disk. You nearly died; that SCARED something inside me. I got my first taste of life without you. PERIOD." A hand moved, one finger lightly touching the bottom of her chin. "Do you think I WANT that?" He emotionally whispered.

She couldn't think, couldn't answer. Her mind was spinning at a frenzied pace from what he was insinuating. In that moment, she wasn't sure she WANTED to hear it. Doubts still crept through her mind. He could've been talking about her being one of his only friends, not wanting to leave that. It laced sorrow on her heart, but part of her cast it aside. She did so, only by seeing the emotions in his eyes. What she saw was more than friendship. It was what she always HOPED to see from him before she left.

Knowing he was waiting for her to answer, she could only dumbly shake her head, feeling their skin brush together.

"Although I thought of you as a friend on that asteroid, it KILLED me to read that letter." He continued. "It hurt greatly to know you left me. I don't WANT you to leave me." His face inched closer unconsciously. She forced her body to be still, wanting to hear more. Her ears almost BEGGED for him to continue and get to the heart of the matter. She didn't want anything to happen physically until he gave her the answers she so wished to hear.

"What are you trying to SAY?" She whispered, almost inaudibly. Her voice nearly failed her and she marveled she was able to speak that loud.

He smiled kindly, that hand running over her face. Her eyes fluttered somewhat. She peered through hooded lids, feeling content with such an action. "I'm saying that I never want you to leave again, because I LOVE you." He answered softly.

A tear fell. After what seemed an eternity of waiting and fantasizing about those words from his lips, actually HAPPENED. She couldn't contain her joy; tears flowed from her eyes. A small smile tilted her lips as her eyes closed. She felt so complete; there was no other way to DESCRIBE it.

His hand ran over her skin again, his thumb rubbing over her tears. "Ever since I saw you on that screen, saw how badly you were injured, I knew I loved you. I needed to protect you, to have you NEAR me. When you were in that coma on Peacemillion, I kept wondering how I would apologize and tell you. But you left, and that never happened. I found you again, only to find that you acted toward me as I did to you." Her eyes opened guiltily as his saddened. "When I admitted everything to myself, I just HAD to find a way to let you know, to make you believe me."

She felt an overwhelming urge to tell him how he could show her. Something she fantasized about since she admitted she loved him. She just wondered if her voice would hold up! That smile edged up. Her tears stopped, but happiness overflowed. "You can kiss me with all the love you feel." She whispered. He smiled slightly, touching their lips lightly.

Her arms snaked up to his neck, comfortably resting there. His hands wound around her waist, pulling her closer. Her body molded against his and he deepened the kiss. She accepted him, accepted his love. He did as instructed and passionately kissed her. Certainly not their first, but DEFINITELY not their LAST.

You can run and you can hide

But I'm not leaving till it's all over

We had our problems but I'm on your side

You're all I need, please believe in me