A/N: This was written while I listened to 'From the Goddess' by Robert Gass, drifting to me from my roommate's computer. She and I had just returned from helping a friend lay to rest a kitten. This was my response to the whole thing, I think. Several months later, I've decided to share it with all of you.
This is from two points of view, Trowa's and Duo's. Despite what it looks like, it's not yaoi/shounen ai in the least, so don't get any ideas ;) I don't own the characters, just the story.

The Bounds of Friendship


I didn't realize until it was too late that you cared. You succeeded where I failed in the tests and bounds of friendship.

I didn't know I could ask for help.. and that it would be there. So I went off on my own. I thought no one would notice. I /hoped/ no one would notice. You came to find me.

~~

I don't remember when it was that I found out that I was dying. It was before the wars ended. I don't know what it was that I had, all I know was that it was killing me, slowly.

After it was all over, and we went our own ways, I thought about everyone a lot. I worried about Quatre and how he was coping with WEI. I worried about where WuFei would go to. I wondered how Heero would deal with Relena. Then I wondered where you would go.

Catherine fussed over me when I returned. Once she was sure I wasn't missing any vital organs or appendages, she let me be. I kept training.. and kept performing, and kept thinking. Then I heard from Quatre. We kept in touch for a while after that. I heard from WuFei who ended up visiting with Sally. I heard from Heero and Relena- in the form of a wedding invitation. I didn't hear from you. I saw you at the wedding though.

I was surprised to see everyone dressed in tails. I was impressed, though I was no different. Quatre, I was used to seeing in something like that.. Heero looked very different than the pilot I knew, as did WuFei. I almost laughed when I saw you though, Duo. You and Hilde look wonderful together, I want you to know that. I hoped I'd see a wedding.. or at least an engagement announcement soon.

Seeing you as Best Man in Heero's wedding floored me. I slipped off quietly about midway through the reception when I saw everyone in a small knot. I heard from no one the rest of the month.

By that month's end, I was getting worse. I had to finally admit I was sick when I passed out while walking a tightrope during an afternoon performance.

When I was finally released from the hospital, Catherine kept such a close eye on me, I felt like I did before I slipped off to follow Quatre before I regained my memories.

No one knew. And the silence among us stretched on.

I felt it coming a week before you found me. I told Catherine I'd received word from Quatre, and was going to visit him.

I found my way to Earth somehow instead. How you found me I'll never know. How you /knew/... You knew what I suffered.. and you had the cure with you. You never told me how, and I never asked.

You and Hilde were wonderful to me for that month, and I can never thank you enough. I don't know how you knew, and I don't know why you looked.

Catherine and Quatre were worried sick. Even Heero and WuFei came to L3 to find out what was going on. But you.. you kept my secret, Duo. I thank you my friend.

~~

I'm sorry, though.. it just wasn't enough, Duo. You who came through that night ... You who sought me out, who knew my secret.

I've escaped again. It's come back. I'm sorry. The cure wasn't the cure, and it's past my time. You'll know where to find me, Duo.. Where the storms rage, and the snow never touches. Where you found me once before.

~~ ~~

I held the letter in my fingers, my hand trembling. Hilde stood behind me, her hand on my shoulder.

"I'll go contact the others," she offered, then turned to do it.

"No. Not yet.. Let me go first.. I'll contact you when I have the situation confirmed," I replied, my voice low. Hilde nodded in reply.

I was on the first shuttle to Earth the next morning. It hurt, and I kept wondering if he had told the others... but I knew better. For some reason, he wanted me to be there. I wasn't going to deny the request. He and I never had much time to talk, but I felt something in him.. he and I had a bond somewhere. Probably our childhoods.

Whatever it was, I went.

I found him, standing in the middle of a clearing in a forest, near where I had found him before. A storm raged that night, and as I approached, I heard him, murmuring something in French. His arms were stretched up to the sky as the lightning streaked across the darkness.

When I reached him, and rested a hand on his shoulder, he turned to look at me. His eyes were devoid of the emptiness they were usually filled with. I had seen him in storms before, and his eyes lit up. He loved them. As he turned, he smiled at me. A true smile.

"You came," he murmured, and a flash followed by a sharp clap of thunder struck as I nodded.

"I can't go on like this, Duo," he said to me. "It's just to painful. I wanted it to be you who stayed with me in my last hours.. You are Shinigami... and I will trust my life in no one else's hands but yours."

"Trowa," I murmured in protest. He shook his head.

"It will take me soon if you don't." He pressed a small syringe into my hand. I recognized the drug within.

"Cyan-" I looked at him, and he nodded.

"Please, Duo."

I couldn't deny the plea in his eyes. I nodded. He handed me a tube then, containing several sheets of paper. "There's one for each of you, and my will. Catherine is the executor."

Once the tube was tucked away safely, I pulled him into an embrace. He returned it shakily, then stepped back. He looked away as I made the injection, and recapped the needle for disposal. He looked back, and smiled, his tears mingled with the rain.

"Thank you, Duo. There is no truer test of friendship."

And with that he was gone.

~~ ~~

Duo stared at his hands. "I can't say more, since I didn't really know him. Those few moments though.. I felt like he was a kindred spirit." He looked up at the small group assembled. "He was so quiet, but, he made such an impact on each of us."

The others nodded. As Duo joined the others, he paused to look at 'Trowa'. He reached up and placed a red rose, so dark it was nearly black into one of the still hands, joining the white one Heero had placed, the pink one Quatre placed, and the yellow one from WuFei.

~Go in peace, Nanashi. May you have a proper name in your next life.~

~~

One year later, the cry of a newborn baby boy punctuated the silence. Relena looked at Hilde and Duo, and smiled. "It's a boy, Hilde, Duo. Congratulations."

~Owari~