At the Farm

by leejeeg

Oneshot

Don't own, don't sue, blah, blah, blah-and I am assuming the reader is familiar w/ GW. If not-sorry.

Duo discovers why Heero left Preventer unexpectedly.

Some angst, romance, and farm talk.

Duo's Pov

A.N. I have had this on my comp for quite some time. It is of course, slightly influenced by my experience as a farm tour guide. Evidently I am hell bent on exploring the get-together genre until it collapses in defeat.

I wasn't sure I had the right address. My little scrap of legal paper read 45-77 but I did not see anything that looked like a museum. Maybe I wrote it down wrong-hearing from him after all this time had knocked me off balance.

It was nine months ago. Nine months ago that I lost my best friend and Preventer lost its top agent, Heero Yuy.

Not lost in the six feet under sense, just in the sense that he just up and quit out of the clear blue sky. Without a word to any of us. Well, he told Une. She said he came to her office and handed her his last case file and a neatly typed, concisely worded resignation letter. She was unable to dissuade him from quitting. By the time I had found out about it Heero was gone. His apartment, sparse as it was was vacated and the landlord paid for the remainder of the lease.

I knew if Heero did not want to be found I wouldn't find him, but I tried anyway, fear of him doing something drastic (read: suicidal) spurring me to action.

The guys tried to help-Quatre in particular since he has all kinds of connections but finding Heero proved to be impossible. I even turned to my last resort-Relena Peacecraft, who never had trouble homing in on Heero when it was most inconvenient. Heero had managed to elude her as well, and for that I was not sorry, not in the least.

Then, about a week and a half ago I got an email from him. I was relieved, angry and confused all at once. On the one hand, I was happy to hear from him, that he hadn't done anything drastic. On the other hand, I was thoroughly pissed off. Why couldn't he just at least have said goodbye, if he had to leave? Never mind the fact that my-well, all of our feelings were hurt when he left so abruptly. Chang and Barton were not as upset as Quatre and I, but still.

I stopped and surveyed my surroundings. You can breed the boy out of the soldier, but you cannot breed the soldier out of the boy. Huh? It made more sense inside my head. At any rate once I was confident that there was no immediate danger afoot I relented, conceding defeat and asked a passerby, "excuse me, can you tell me where this," I showed an older woman my slip of paper, "is?"

She glanced at the paper and smiled. I took a moment to really look at her and filed it away in my memory for later. She was in her 60's, wiry blond hair gone to gray. Her face was somewhat wrinkled but her eyes were clear and bright, gray-blue, and sharp. This was no addled senior. The most striking thing about her was her attire: blue denim overalls, pink cotton shirt and a straw hat with feathers, buttons and pins in various incarnations: bumble bee, cow, butterfly. I wondered at such a strangely dressed person. "You're standing right in front of it, young man. Can I help you?"

Standing in front...of what? I looked around again. I was so intent upon locating Heero that I had failed to notice that I was standing at the outside gate of what appeared to be a farm. A farm museum? This can't be right, I thought. "Um-yeah, well, I was looking for a friend of mine, but I think maybe I am mistaken." Or maybe Heero was getting even for my past pranks and this was just an odd joke on his part. The lady, still smiling asked, "What's your friend's name?"

I hesitated because clearly she did not recognize the famous Shinigami, pilot 02 of MS Deathscythe Hell and I was unsure if I should out Heero, particularly since I was convinced there was no way he could be here. As I was formulating my response I spied a familiar figure several yards away, arms laden with several long, flat, boxes. Heero. "There-there, he is," I stammered.

"Oh! You are a friend of Heero's," she exclaimed. "How nice. Heero!" she called out, "a friend of yours is here."

So he had given his name after all. Strange. I was more confused than ever now. I began to wonder if perhaps this was an elaborate Preventer sting and Heero hadn't really quit at all.

Heero made his way to the gate. I was frozen in place, just watching him, transfixed by the sight of him after all this time. He was still incredibly handsome, fit physique, untamed chocolate mop and those eyes-still that ocean blue-cerulean I think it's called. I was merely retaining my observational ability; no need to read into my perception of my best friend, okay?

Heero had come from a building off to the left side of the road that led into this farm. He carefully put the boxes down and smiled at me. "Duo," he said, sounding quite happy to see me, "how are you?"

"Uh..." yes, that was my articulate response. The older woman walked over and bent toward the flat boxes. "Are these my seed trays, Heero?"

He looked at her as if she had just materialized. "Oh-yeah Betty, you needed three, right?" He indicated the trays holding small green planter boxes and some kind of fragrant plants.

"Yes. These look good. Did Frances make these up? Because they should be damp-not soaking or anything. You know the kids are going to plant Spanish oregano today, and oh, my-I hope we have a little extra, just in case because..."

"It's all there, Betty. Uh-Duo, let me show you around," he said abruptly, motioning for me to follow. We walked down the asphalt road until we came to a goat pen. "That was Betty," Heero said.

"So I gathered." Finally-I was wondering when coherent speech would return to me. Heero chuckled a little and words cannot describe my utter amazement. "Betty is one of the workshop instructors and she tends to go off on numerous tangents. I don't like being rude but sometimes I just have to walk away."

You don't like to be rude? The guy who once tore up a party invitation right in front of Relena Peacecraft's face? To a party she was giving? Stop the planet-I'd like to get off.

I decide the best thing to do is get right to the point. "Heero-what are you doing here? It's been months since you left Preventer, your friends...what are you doing?"

He shrugged a bit, obviously discomfited by my questions. "I found something that gives my life meaning."

I looked around, truly perplexed. "What?"

He waved his arm expansively. "This, Duo, the farm."

"Okay," I said, confused.

Heero looked away from me as an older red-haired lady approached us. "Heero-can you set up more chairs in the barn? We're short by twelve."

"Sure. Right away, Merle."

"Duo, Maxwell?" The lady named Merle said.

"Yes, ma'am."

She smiled brightly. "You're Heero's friend-he's told us a lot about you. Nice to see you here." And she walked off, absorbed in the clipboard she carried. "That was Merle-she's the education director," Heero informed me. "I'll be back as soon as I am able. Don't leave, okay? Take a walk around-look at the animals."

I looked around marveling at the green expanse. In the distance I could see what appeared to be rolling fields, planting fields. Nothing like this had been seen since Pre-Colony. It was amazing. I wondered what was growing there. I walked along until I came to a long fenced off area. Sheep grazed behind the confines of the wood fence, bleating contentedly. There were several white ones with a few grays and more brown scattered among them. One came to the fence and I had the overwhelming urge to pet it. It's wool was thick and matted with bits of dried leaves, twigs and debris. It bleated at me and I suspected that I was being asked for food. "Sorry boy-I don't have anything for you."

"Actually, Beatrice is a female."

I turned to find that Heero had returned. "Beatrice?" I grinned. "How do you know?"

"No horns," he replied. "Rams have horns."

I had to assume from this information that this pen only contained females. I did not know about the horns. L2 was not the place to learn such things.

"Plus, just look underneath," he winked. Heero winked at me. He winked. Okay, mind officially blown, now. I just stared at the sheep. "Huh." I really needed to get a hold on my vocabulary, and now, dammit! "What's growing in the field?"

"Different things-corn, spinach, chili peppers, kale; marigolds, which incidentally are a natural pesticide. The kale is sold to restaurants."

"Wow. I wondered how that stuff grew-we didn't get much of it on L2. Most of the fruit and vegetables come from the hydropons." Hydropons were these sonic labs that these foods were grown in, I confess I did not know how it worked.

"Come with me-my group did not show today so I clocked out. I can give you a tour if you like."

An hour later Heero walked with me to the front gate. He gave me the same tour that students of field trips get and I admit I was impressed, by his knowledge and by his poise and how articulate he was. I wondered if it was just because it was me, or did the kids get to see this side of Heero as well.

Heero was regarding me with a look I can only describe as shy. "Where are you staying Duo?"

"Oh-at the Brown Inn Motel."

"Are you staying long?"

"Yeah, well I kinda took a leave of absence."

"Nani?" Heero sounded very surprised and it made me wonder why. Did I come off as a workaholic, or did he just wonder why I had come? His email, while informative hadn't exactly been an invitation. I shelved that thought and told him the truth. He had a right to know. "About that," I laughed nervously, "Une demanded that I go on leave so that I could see you and persuade you to come back. But-but, that's not why I'm here," I stammered seeing the look of disappointment on his face. "I wanted to know if you were okay. I don't care about Une's agenda." That coaxed a miniscule smile out of him. "Hey Heero," I said, feeling a little braver, "let's get something to eat and talk, okay?"

The smile grew. "I would like that."

The restaurant wasn't as much a restaurant as it was an eatery. The food was good and when the salads arrived Heero informed me that the lettuce came from the farm. "It's very good," I said between bites. "Ne, Heero, I was really impressed by you earlier. You sure seem to know a lot about farming. How did you come to hear about the farm anyway?"

"I came across an internet ad."

"What? Get out of here!"

"It's true. I came down and Merle recognized me right away. She asked a few questions and then hired me on the spot. I had to 'shadow' a few of the other guides for a couple of weeks but basically Merle has a sink or swim philosophy."

I chuckled at the thought of Heero walking around learning how to give guided tours to kids. "Well you certainly seem to have learned the material. I know all sorts of things about farm animals, the Dutch Colonials and sustainable farming now."

Heero had taken me around the farm and explained all sorts of things. Sustainable farming, for example, integrates three main goals: environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. In other words, growing produce must take into account present needs as well as the future needs of generations to come. And that means something called "stewardship" of natural resources. What I gleaned from this is that organic planting comes into play-natural fertilizer, pesticides-no dangerous additives or chemicals. I remember reading something a while ago about hormones in cattle in the BC era. Boys and men were developing small breasts from it and certain cancers had been linked to the hormone usage. Shortly after, I guess is when people started to realize that we really are what we eat.

I also learned about farm animals. I was fascinated by all the chicken facts Heero knew; never gave it much thought, but what a relief it was to learn that eggs from the store are not aborted chickens. I learned much except what I really wanted to know.

We got into Heero's car after dinner and to my surprise he asked me if I wanted to go to his place. My heart rate sped up at the implication of such a question, even though I knew I was being stupid. Heero had never given me any reason to hope for more than friendship. I did not even have the first clue about his orientation but his attachment to Relena gave me pause. That did not stop me from accepting his invitation-it fit into my plans neatly.

I was not going to try and convince Heero to come back to Preventer, he'd more than earned the right to do as he wished. I was there to find out what those wishes were and figure out how I could insinuate myself into them. All right, I will admit it: for some time now I have been enamored of my best friend, yes that's right, I am in love with Heero Yuy.

Heero was living in a small apartment building, on the second floor. I believe these were referred to as garden apartments. I touched the worn red brick face as we headed in, you don't see much of this kind of construction these days. I also noted before we went in the excellent condition of the ground floor garden. There was a profusion of blossoms, red and yellow roses, peonies, and lovely little pansies. I think-my horticultural knowledge is not extensive.

I followed Heero up a single flight of stairs only to be impressed once again. The stairs opened up into a large room, tastefully furnished in creams, tans, and melon-shaded furniture. There was a rust colored wall to wall carpet that made me want to remove my shoes and wander barefoot. There were the smaller rooms of the kitchen and dining room to my right and further back at least one bedroom, I assumed. Heero had a low wall unit with a large vid screen hung on the wall, and there were books strewn about the place. "This is really nice Heero," I said sincerely. He smiled at me; I tried to remember if I had ever seen him smile as much as this before and found I could not. It was a joy to see.

"Drink?" Heero offered me a glass of wine. "We make it at the farm-um, do you like it?"

I took a tentative sip; I'm really not much of a wine drinker. It was fairly dry, something I'm not fond of in wine. "It's not bad," I said. Heero's grin widened. "But it's not too good either, huh? I know you never lie, Duo."

I think I may have blushed a little at that. "Well...I..."

"I remember, you never liked wine much, not even the fancy stuff that Quatre drinks. That's okay, you don't have to finish it..." he said but I was in the process of gulping it down.

"A vineyard is hard to maintain-each vine requires individual attention and-"

"Heero, " I interrupted, "I would love to hear all about it but, could we take a break from agriculture 101, for a little while. I want to talk, okay?"

He nodded sheepishly. He went over to the sofa with his own glass of wine and I followed. "What is going on with you-I mean you left without any explanation. We were plenty worried Heero. Quatre was very upset and Trowa is mad at you for upsetting Quatre. Wufei is just annoyed about the increase in work since you left but I think it's an act to cover up how much he misses you. Although he'd cut my tongue out with his katana to hear me say so."

"And you? Were you upset Duo?"

I rolled my eyes at him. "What do you think, genius? I thought we were best friends." There I answered but didn't answer at the same time. Yeah, I don't lie I just evade. Heero poured us more wine. I drank it down in one gulp again, vaguely aware that I was after some Dutch courage. Heero stood and walked over to the window. "It was that last case-Drucker."

"Ah." The Drucker case was a rough one-we tracked down and arrested a child serial killer. This bastard had murdered at least eleven kids. I'd had a lot of trouble sleeping until that monster was sentenced.

"You know, you get tired of all the ugly in the world. Not that it wasn't important to me to put a stop to it, but...I've had enough, Duo."

The tone in his voice was defiant, as if he expected me to reprimand him or argue. "I know. Sometimes I feel like that too."

He turned abruptly. "Yes! I just thought that if I had to do this even five more years down the road I was going to lose the humanity I fought so hard to regain, flush all your and Relena's hard work down the drain. I was beginning to lose my soul. All I wanted was to have some peace, to learn how to live-make things grow."

Ah. Hence the farm. Heero wanted to see the other side of life, the one that was nature in all its glory. "Exactly," he replied to my shocked face; I hadn't realized I'd voiced my understanding aloud. "I actually have fun most of the time, teaching children about the colonial way of life-I mean Pre-Colony colonial," he chuckled. "Sometimes they are so wide-eyed and amazed by the animals. The workshops are great too-they learn about something, like honeybees for example, and then they do a related craft. Did you know that honeybees pollinate a third of the entire earthsphere's food supply?"

I laughed in turn. He couldn't seem to turn off tour guide mode. I think he realized it from the expression on my face. "Sorry. I get enthusiastic."

I shook my head. "No, don't be-I think it's great. You look happy."

"I am," he agreed. Then he got a strange expression, one of confusion and...regret? "It's not perfect. There is something absent in my life."

"Oh yeah? What?"

"Romance."

Well I was not expecting that answer and you could've knocked me over with a feather. "Isn't Relena-uh, I mean aren't you two..."

"No!" he said adamantly and with a grimace besides.

"But you devoted so much time and effort protecting her. I know you stopped body guarding her, but," I shrugged, "I thought that was just so there wouldn't be a conflict of interest."

"No, Duo. It was never like that-how could it be when I have always been besotted by someone else?"

I grunted. "Besotted?" I'm not sure I know what that means."

"It means I'm in love. But I have never had the courage to admit it to the person I care for."

"Why," I asked sulkily. Boy this conversation was going south quickly. Heero in love? Shoot me now.

"Because I don't think the feeling is mutual. It's um, scary admitting these kinds of feelings."

"Tell me about it," I muttered.

"I don't know what to do," he admitted softly. "I am glad you came after me Duo. I was too afraid to let you know my plans before I was sure it was what I wanted. And then enough time passed that I was unsure if you even wanted to see me again."

Huh? The swift change in topic threw me for a loop. "Being friends means understanding, Heero. Okay, my feelings were a little hurt that you took off like that but I don't care what you do as long as you are satisfied with it. I did not come here to try and get you to come back. I can see how good this has been for you. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

"Duo," he said and grabbed me into a tight hug. But the contact was too much for me. To actually be in his arms, feeling as I did, it was too intense and I began to tremble. I squirmed out of his hold. "Don't."

"Why? Am I doing something wrong?"

"Just...don't."

Heero looked stricken. "See? I just don't know what to do!"

"What are you talking about, Heero? It was just a hug...I just-"

"But that's just it!"

I could not believe how agitated he was suddenly. "What's just it? I don't understand..."

"I want more from you-I have always wanted more. I-you are the one Duo, you are the one I am in love with."

Oh. Ah. What? "What?"

He looked down at me with a sorrowful expression. "I love you. I know you don't reciprocate my feelings. That was one of the reasons I left. It was too painful to be with you day after day, my feelings growing and knowing you did not feel it."

Perhaps one would think that I would be jumping up and down and yelling "yippee!" One would be wrong. I sat there in shock. I thought maybe I had wandered into a strange dream and upon waking would discover that I was still in bed, in my apartment in Brussels instead of at Heero's. I looked up at Heero when I realized I had been lost in thought/shock for a few minutes. Heero looked positively heartbroken. "Heero, I'm sorry..."

"It's all right, forget I said anything."

"No-I mean..."

"Forget it!" he snapped.

I stood and grabbed him by the arms. I could have easily earned a body slam against the wall but I have always been immune to Heero's threats of bodily harm. "You big dumb baka! I'm trying to tell you...I love you too."

Heero's face went through a number of comical contortions settling on an ecstatic smile. "Why have we been so stupid?" he said while he pulled me closer. I just smiled at him and said," let's end the stupidity here, hmm? Kiss me ya big lug."

I won't describe in detail our first kiss or our first time together except to say, yum.

It's been a couple of months since I found Heero at the farm. I relocated to the Preventer office in America-Island New York which is conveniently close to the farm and Heero, and I now work part-time at the farm with Heero, giving barnyard tours and teaching kids about the importance of agriculture and where their food comes from. I can tell you a lot about honeybees and how eggs are produced, but I can tell you even more about embracing happiness and how it's never too late to find your heart.