Disclaimer: I don't own the GW characters – am just borrowing to torment for my amusement

Warnings: yaoi, romance, a nice Relena, a little bit angsty and sappy

Pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5xS, RxOC

A/N: After the positive response for the first two chapters of Domino I thought I'd post a one-shot while I work on editing Domino. This is inspired by the song Handwritten by the Gaslight Anthem if anyone is interested…

Handwritten

The apartment felt cold as he entered, the summer was becoming autumn and there was a slight chill to the air. Heero turned the light on to illuminate the large lounge, kitchen and dining area and dropped his duffle by the door as he locked it behind him.

He rifled through the letters he'd collected in his mail box – looking quickly at the envelopes to establish which were bills, which were junk and which he could be bothered open. One stood out, the only one where the address was handwritten, the script untidy but recognisable. He turned over the envelope to see if there happened to be a return address but that idea was stupid. Duo didn't leave forwarding addresses. Nor did he leave a number or email address to contact him. When these letters arrived, as infrequently as they did, they were untraceable and had the wrong postmark on it – Heero noticed the postmark was from South Africa. He shrugged. In all possibilities, Duo could be in South Africa – he'd once expressed the idea of going cage diving with great white sharks and Heero's preference for factual programming and the Discovery Channel had told him that it was possible to cage dive with great white sharks there. But it could simply be a rouse. He never knew with Duo. He placed the letter unopened on the counter and shrugged off his thick black coat before heading to get changed out of his formal work clothes.

His apartment was sparsely decorated and dusty. There was a smell in the air that told of the long period of abandonment. Sometimes he wondered why he kept the place. Relena often did. He had a room in the Peacecraft home – in fact, it was less a room than his own self-contained apartment in a wing of the house. However, he kept the apartment so that from time to time, he could get away from work. Relena may hate for Heero to call her such but despite the deep affection he had for the girl and her beautiful daughter, and the lack of affection for the stupid husband, her family was his job. He was more than a bodyguard, he was the head of the security, and to Relena a dear friend and confidant but in the end, Heero needed a little space away from her family.

He sighed as he removed the suit jacket and the tie, throwing them on the floor of his bedroom, before removing the suit trousers and grabbing a loose fitting v neck t shirt and a loose pair of jeans – he removed his socks, walking barefoot on the cold wooden floors, feeling the layer of dust being disturbed under his steps. He looked at himself briefly in the mirror and ran his fingers through his unruly hair and made his way to the kitchen to see what food could be consumed.

The fridge was empty. Heero had known the last time he was home that he would be on a long diplomatic trip with Relena to the colonies and therefore had thrown away everything that could rot or go bad. He should have picked up milk and some essentials on the way home but he'd merely made sure that they were in the house safely before he got into his own car and drove the short way home. He had no energy for visiting a store. Instead, he found some freeze dried noodles and decided they would do, boiling some water to put them in and walked over to the turn on the television as background noise. He turned on a 24 news channel and then returned to the kitchen and the letter he'd left on the counter.

Duo. He'd tried not to think about him recently knowing that it was best that way. But he couldn't help the flutter that had happened in his chest at the familiar writing in the pile of uninteresting mail. He reached for it and then stopped himself. Heero felt tired and wanted to rest – he didn't want his evening to be spent thinking about the braided man when he'd spent so much time in constant demand and on edge for so long. He ignored it and served himself the noodles, ignoring the bland taste.

'Hn, I've eaten worse,' he thought.

As much as he tried not to think about a certain fellow pilot, Heero found his mind wandering as he sat alone in his apartment. He had not been alone for months. His time spent protecting Relena was fraught – it was not Relena, she was quite charming and Madison, her now eighteen month year old daughter was quite the entertainer or even her husband, Edward who irritated Heero by not taking his wives security seriously. Instead it was the constant threats, the continued moving around and the constant checking of evacuation plans and potential dangers. His job had always been difficult, Relena being so in demand but in recent years the threats had become more malicious.

Indeed, the threats to Madison's life and disturbed him more than anything. He was very fond of the little girl with bright blue eyes and a small shock of blonde hair. She was every bit Relena's daughter – commanding the attention of an entire room with a new word and her ability to make anyone smile. The cries of "eeoo" seemed like they were still ringing in his ears and the occasional giggles when he lifted her up, or threw her around, or held her upside down. Edward disapproved of his behaviour with her. Relena told him to stop being so boring. It seemed that Edward thought rough and tumble with a former Gundam pilot was inappropriate but Relena would encourage it, squashing the concerns of her husband and trusting the man who had saved her life more times than she could count with the most precious person in her life.

It seemed Relena had the upper hand in that relationship though that had been apparent at their wedding. Relena had refused to obey the slightly pompous British count and even refused his name. Heero admired her for it as she had developed into a confident politician and mother.

He tried to relax and not think of Relena and her family. Miller, his deputy was more than capable to do any bodyguard duties and the team of staff Heero had assembled were exemplary. In a way it was a relief to be alone as this was one of the few vacation periods he'd had since he'd taken the job and he was tired. It would be a relief to only have to think of his own welfare.

After a long mission, Heero felt older than his twenty six years. In other ways he felt immature. As well as Relena, the other friends and allies he'd amassed had settled well into civilian life. He'd been there when Sally had made an honest man of Wufei Chang and had managed to say congratulations at the news of the expected arrival of their first born due in a few months' time – a girl, much to Wufei's initial annoyance. Duo had teased him mercilessly at the last reunion of the five formers pilots but it was only that – teasing. The harshness and ranting had gone and Wufei was a much calmer man now and had gone through promotion after promotion at the Preventers. Heero saw him from time to time, paths crossing intermittently when the Preventers provided additional security to Relena and her family.

It seemed everyone around Heero had started making the mature decision to either marry or bring lives into the world. He managed to be there at these events and smile and even hold the occasional baby but it did make him feel slightly left behind. Not that be wanted a squawking baby or a wedding but at least a mature and functional relationship now that he was able to reciprocate feelings.

Now that finally Quatre and Trowa had married, it looked like the only two war veterans who had not settled down were him and a certain ex-Deathscythe pilot. Finally deciding he should look at the letter, Heero walked over and opened it.

He shook his head. "Learn to write legibly," he said to himself.

Duo's writing was scratchy and barely readable. If Heero hadn't seen it before, he may have difficulty but he'd received these notes – they were too short to be called letters – many times and knew vaguely what letters he was trying to form.

Hey 'Ro,

I'm travelling through Sanc – thought I'd drop by.

See you soon

Duo

It was brief. For someone who talked so much, his letters were always short. Heero had amassed quite a collection over the years. It was nearly ten years since they'd been together but Duo had always kept in touch in his own unique way. Heero had a shoe box of all the notes, all the postcards, all the photographs with notes on the back. Sometimes he thought about the relationship they'd had early on and how it had failed so spectacularly. He'd been too unavailable and angry, Duo had been too rebellious and reckless – one would push the other and the other would push back. Heero would never sugar coat what had happened between them – they'd both been very hurt by the war and they were both very young and angry. He'd loved him, he knew that much, but he'd never been able to express his feelings for Duo effectively and the day that Duo just walked out had been a relief. It meant they didn't have to pretend that they worked together – yes, the physical aspect of their relationship had always worked but once they were no longer horny teenagers that were afraid of dying, cracks had begun show.

However, they'd never truly moved on from one another. They saw each other from time to time and easily fell back into bed with one another. It wasn't something they told their friends as Heero was sure they would think of it as more than it was. They'd think they were getting back together but that was not the case and occasionally screwing each other senseless a few times a year did not make a relationship.

They saw each other infrequently as Duo was always off doing something crazy and was never in one place long enough. Heero knew he returned to the Sweepers when he ran out of cash and worked for Howard for as long as he could stay in one place. The American was restless – and he moved on quickly. It always seemed as though he was looking for some new adventure or something more and on not finding it he looked for something else. He turned up when he was needed – he had arrived days after Madison's birth with pink clothes, he'd appeared at Wufei's wedding without prompting, he'd been Quatre's best man and bitched all day about the powder blue suits they'd been made to wear.

Duo always appeared at big moments with an easy smile and a congratulations but Heero saw behind that. He always had. As much as he was the centre of attention, ready to be generous, ready to make a joke or tease Wufei, he was always gone quickly, disappearing into the night like the way he arrived. Heero was used to it.

He scowled at the letter. This time he was visiting Sanc and his apartment. This time it wasn't some random hotel room or a closet at a wedding venue. Heero didn't know whether that meant something or not. He shrugged and took the letter over to the glass coffee table.

A shelf underneath the table was where Heero kept two old shoe boxes. One was full of Duo's notes and the other was full of his letters and notes in response. Despite his tiredness, Heero didn't feel like sleeping so he got out a pen and paper. He'd done this before, a therapist had suggested it who'd he'd seen after the war and he wrote back to Duo. He'd done this many times, the letters, telling him how he felt and random things until tiredness finally overcame him. He left the papers on the coffee table and padded to his room, flopping down into the cool sheets and dropping off into a restless sleep.

Heero's sleep was disturbed and he tossed and turned, his mind full of images of a certain young man until a noise forced him fully awake. The noise would have been barely audible to anyone else yet Heero could hear due to his acute sense of hearing from Doctor J's unknown tinkering and years of training. Heero could hear the shuffles of paper and the move of cardboard boxes on the coffee table. He reached under his pillow, checking the small hand gun was working and loaded before padding slowly out of his bedroom to the rest of the apartment. He looked out of his room and along the small corridor leading from his living area to his bedroom and bathroom. A light was on in the living area and he could see a black duffle by the door, along with a pair of beat up black Converse and a leather jacket had been thrown on one of the stools next to the kitchen counter. Quickly, Heero approached the living room, holding the gun despite knowing who his intruder was – maybe he just wanted to shock him – perhaps some of former Deathscythe's pilot's humour had rubbed off on him in all the years but he rounded the corner, pointing the weapon at the man sat on his couch.

"Duo," he said softly.

The braided man jumped slightly, raising both hands in the air in mock surrender. "Jesus, 'Ro, you scared me."

Heero lowered the gun. "This is my apartment – how did you get in?"

"I picked the locks."

"What about the security system?"

"I deactivated it – old habits die hard I guess. I thought you were expecting me – I sent you a note."

"Yes, I expected you at a sensible hour where you might call beforehand."

Duo shrugged. "That's not my style."

Heero rolled his eyes and placed the gun on the counter top but then his eyes drifted to what Duo was doing – not only had he broken into his apartment without his consent but he was sat at the coffee table with the boxes. The box of all his handwritten letters. Every single one. And it looked like he'd been reading for a while.

"Duo… did you read them?"

"Yeah," he said knowing perhaps he'd crossed a line with Heero that perhaps couldn't be fixed by a bout of makeup sex.

Heero didn't glare or shout, he simply crossed his arms over his chest in a slightly defensive position, a position that Duo often adopted himself.

"I was told to write a journal by a therapist. I found it difficult to keep. I found writing to you easier."

"But you didn't send any of them."

"I never knew where you were."

"You could've sent them to Howard."

"Maybe I didn't want you to read them."

Duo rose to his feet, reaching out for the letter Heero had been writing before he'd given into sleep.

"Madison sounds like loads of fun. You seem to really love her."

Heero nodded, feeling a slight redness rise to his cheeks. Of course, the letters described all the little moments he'd been a part of in Madison's life. It included everything from Madison's arrival when Edward had been unavailable on a diplomatic trip and it had been Heero who had taken Relena to the hospital, it had been him who'd held the baby before the father and from that moment, he'd adored her. He'd said that in one of those letters. He'd also written of her learning to walk and then run, of her learning to say his name though it sounded like "Eeoo" rather than Heero.

"She's becoming a little person," he said simply. "It's fascinating."

"And man, thanks for saying about the speech, I kinda thought everybody hated it when it wasn't the humourfest they were expecting."

"I thought it was genuine and thoughtful."

The speech in question had been Duo's best man speech for Quatre and Trowa's wedding, a speech that perhaps had the weight of expectation and that Wufei had threatened to leave the room for. Duo had made jokes – the only crude thing being a reference to former acrobat's bendiness but it had been quite restrained. It was the first time Heero had seen Duo be genuine in years – he'd been delighted at his friends finally ignoring the disapproval of most of the Winner sister's and the board members of Winner Corp. And Heero had written about that day. The last time they'd been together before Duo had disappeared again. And it was last time that he'd seen a little of the Duo he'd known in the war, a mischievous grin and a slightly scary look in his eyes that then led to sex in a coat closet.

Duo smiled slightly, his head slightly bowed and his bangs covering his eyes so they were unreadable. "I kinda thought since only five of the sisters agreed with the marriage, it wasn't the time to bring up the cockpit story."

A smirk crossed Heero's face – he knew the cockpit story and knew it wasn't a story for general consumption. Duo had told it Wufei once and caused the Chinese man to choke on a beer.

"It was appropriate."

Duo's eyes drifted to the letter in his hands – the letter Heero had written last night and Heero couldn't help feeling a knot in his stomach develop.

"So you don't think I smile like I used to?"

"You still smile…but it's not as easy as when you were younger."

"Maybe I'm not that same kid."

"I'm not the same boy you met ten years ago."

Duo laughed, his eyes drifting to the gun on the table. "Heh, some things don't change, though?"

"Once a soldier," Heero replied with a shrug.

Indigo eyes looked back at the letter. "You like that I'm spontaneous."

"I like the man who writes to tell me he's been sky diving, or bungee jumped, or taken up snowboarding or roadied for a band."

"And the man who persuades you to screw in a closet at your best friend's wedding?"

"I like that too."

Heero smiled as Duo stepped forward, his socked feet making no noise on the wooden floor. It had been a stupid idea and it had been suspicious that the two of them had disappeared for half an hour and returned looking slightly more dishevelled in the awful powder blue suits. Trowa had given Heero a look that said a million words – while they had tried to keep their intimate meetings secret, some of their friends were perhaps more perceptive than they had given them credit for.

"You're in love with the way that I love the night."

"I like the way you love the stars. How you like rainy nights and how…"

Duo had bridged the gap between them and put a finger over Heero's mouth.

"You didn't say like, 'Ro, you said you're in love with the way I love the night. The words were in love."

"I meant-"

"No, I don't want to know what you think you meant – what did you really mean?"

Heero ran a hand through his unruly hair, suddenly more uncomfortable in front of Duo than any time in his life. "I don't know. I've never loved anyone."

"Apart from Madison."

"She's different."

"Well, she's cute and doesn't talk back."

"I think that seeing everyone else happy has made me realise I don't want what we have."

There was a hurt look in Duo's eyes and he started to move away but Heero grabbed his wrist, wrapping his fingers round his scarred skin.

"I don't want to see you every few months. I don't want to wonder where you are – I think I want something more than that. I think I can do that now."

Duo looked up, his eyes meeting Heero's fully. "I don't know if I can."

"I think you can."

"Really?"

"Who's the first of us to congratulate people? Who's the first to buy baby clothes?"

"Yeah but I visit and then I go back to running. You know that."

"Maybe you need a reason to stay in one place."

"We tried it once before 'Ro."

"We were sixteen… it's nearly ten years ago."

Duo blinked and closed the remaining distance between them, his lips brushing the taller man's in a gentle ghost of a kiss, nothing like the usual impatience, nothing like the moments of lust that had seemed to colour the relationship they had – for a second Heero closed his eyes but an awful thought passed through his mind. The kiss was so gentle… perhaps this was goodbye.

What had Trowa said at the wedding reception? Heero had joined the quiet man at the side of the dance floor as he watched Quatre dance with one of the approving sisters while Duo had taken the heavily pregnant Sally. The former Heavyarms pilot had given him a look that suggested he was well aware of where he and Duo had been and Heero merely scowled back – despite being who he considered to be his best friend, he certainly did not want Trowa's advice. But he'd given it anyway. For a man so quiet, Heero never understood how he always managed to say something so profound and meaningful.

"You need to decide."

"Decide?"

"Whether you want to be together or not. You can't continue as you are." His hand rested gently on Heero's shoulder. "Someone once told me to act on my emotions, I think you need to take your own advice," Trowa said quietly as he walked way to join Quatre on the dance floor

And that's what he had do. He had to take the advice he'd given all those years ago. He put his arms around Duo, his fingers finding the belt loops of his jeans and pulling him close without any resistance. Heero deepened the kiss but gently, he didn't want things to go how it usually happened and Duo seemed to understand, gently kissing back, his eyes closed and a hand buried in Heero's dark hair.

Reluctantly Heero let go, his hands releasing Duo but the braided man didn't pull away. Instead, his forehead gently rested against Heero's own, he could feel his breath on his skin.

"Maybe I'm done with adventures."

"Maybe we can do some together."

Duo laughed. "Yeah, and you can take me to see Madison. I only remember the little squishy baby and plus I'm kinda jealous of the kid, she must be pretty amazing if she broke the ice man."

"She didn't."

"Huh?"

"There are more words on the back of the paper."

Duo was still holding the piece of paper but it was slightly creased as he'd screwed it up during the kiss. He unfolded it, turning it over. Heero could feel Duo's breath hitch and for a second he thought he felt him move away. He thought that defences would go back up, the jokes, the smirk and the disappearing act.

"Shit," Duo said quietly, the profanity another trademark defence. He crumpled up the note letting it drop to the floor and raised his hand to Heero's cheek, his hand rough from battles and years of his adrenalin junky lifestyle. "Guess I should say something back."

"You don't have to. We don't have to talk at all."

Duo chuckled huskily. "I like that plan."

Heero leaned and kissed him, guiding him towards his room and forgetting about all those letters… all those words and all the times he'd tried to put into words what he felt about the man currently kissing him back. The letter, unsent but read, was now a ball on the floor. The words on the back were unspoken but as Heero broke off the kiss and looked into very blue eyes, he knew he didn't have to say it as Duo knew.

He knew.

I love you because you made me human.