by Dev-Aki Basaa
Duo picked up another alloy drop and brought it up
close to his eyes, scanning for the engraved MP
He scribbled it down, in triplicate, on the various
forms clipped to a board he had perched on his lap.
His wrist twinged again, cramping. The pain was
nothing, really, and easy to ignore in light of his
splitting headache. Duo tossed the drop into the
appropriate bin and raised his free hand to rub over
the knot that had formed on his forehead. A regular
goose egg growing off his noggin. He winced at the
touch, jerking his fingers away from his skin, his
face screwed up in discomfort. Damned scraps bin,
toppling over on him. Damned pile of alloy to be
Damned fucking day.
Hilde kept avoiding him like he had a disease or
something, and really, he couldn't blame her after the
way he'd snapped at her. Now he had no one to talk to
(his own damned fault), plenty to gripe about and
worst of all - and this was the crux of his extreme
foul mood - he hadn't heard from Heero in at least
five days. Yeah, maybe it was just a vid-phone call,
but that's all he had and he'd take every last ounce
of contact he could squeeze out of Yuy. Of course,
they were just friends - friends who wanted to be far
more to each other than the occasional call and the
very rare visit. They wanted more than putting every
emotion they felt for each other into handshakes and
trite words like, 'how have you been?' - all things
friends say and do, all a guise to what they really
Going more than a day without hearing from Heero made
his life seem that much more pointless and empty.
And maybe the call this morning from Quatre hadn't
helped matters. Just another update to tell him how
miserable everyone was. Wufei had been injured
*again* in a Preventer's assignment and the
scuttlebutt said they were considering taking him off
the active roster, claiming mental distress which is
just another way to say wacko. Duo shook his head and
scribbled down the next MP number, 6-55-39. Gods, if
they did that, it would kill Wufei. He needed that
activity; he needed to go a little nuts in the field
sometimes. Didn't anyone understand that?
Another alloy drop chinked in the bin.
Well, no, they didn't. How stupid. If they did, he'd
still be at Preventers himself, not Honorably
Discharged for Mental Distress. Bastards. What did
they know? Hopefully Wufei will have the good sense
to not take the desk job they were bound to offer and
just leave the organization altogether, as he had.
The desk job. That's what would really sink the knife
deep in Wufei's chest. Damned shame. Maybe Hilde
could find room for another ex-Gundam pilot, former
Preventer psycho at the Salvage yard as she had for
Another alloy drop chinked in the bin.
Maybe not. Wufei would find his niche. At least, Duo
really hoped he did.
But it hadn't been just Wufei. Quatre was just as
miserable in his own way, even if he avoided
discussing it. He had looked awful, dark circles
under his eyes, gaunt cheeks, lifeless eyes.
Still no word from Trowa. Duo suspected Quatre kept a
stake-out posted at Catherine's grave, thinking if
Trowa were to surface, that'd be the first place he'd
go. The memory of Trowa at the funeral came to the
fore of Duo's mind, though he tried to block it out.
He'd never seen anyone look so lost, so hopeless. It
had just been a freak, tragic accident at the circus.
Trowa had been away, visiting Quatre, so there was
nothing he could have done, but he'd had that look
about him, one that said, 'it should have been me.'
Not long after, he'd said goodbye to Quatre without
the poor guy realizing it was a goodbye until too
late. Now it'd been a year and still not one
goddamned sign of him. Well the man was a master
infiltrator; he could hide in plain sight. Duo had
once joked that he was probably on Quatre's staff and
they didn't even know it. Quatre had tried to laugh,
but some things were just too painful.
Fuck that - it seemed like everything these days was
just too painful.
Duo threw the next alloy drop into the bin, feeling
some satisfaction for the echoing bang it caused when
it slammed against the side. Where were the happy
endings, huh? Where were the hero's spoils of war?
All they had were lives none of them wanted and some
stigma of being fucked in the head. Even Quatre, head
of the largest and most successful colony construction
company, struggled with his own Board of Directors
constantly questioning his ideas. Why? Because
weren't all the former Gundam pilots crazy? After
some stupid and completely false television expose on
the Zero System a year ago, the public seemed to think
they were all ticking time bombs. So, yeah, maybe
they saw things differently from the general public
because of the life they'd led. Maybe he and Wufei
had a no-holds-barred attitude towards being a
Preventer. It didn't justify the bullshit they had to
contend with in their lives. He didn't deserve to be
treated like a cracked eggshell.
The only one who didn't get the same kind of grief the
rest of them had was Heero because he'd been all
sensible and married well.
But that was just a lie too. Duo knew. He was
unhappy; just as miserable and unhappy as the rest of
them and it wasn't goddamned fair!
"Duo! If you throw ONE more of those alloys into the
bin I'm going come over there and wrap your braid
around your neck so tight you'll have to look sideways
to see your dick!"
Duo nodded to himself - yeah, he'd pissed Hilde off
good. At least she didn't treat him with kid gloves;
that was refreshing. Who knows, maybe this would be a
good place for Wufei too. He'd probably find yelling
matches with Hilde to be cathartic.
A shout carried over the mountains of alloy that
surrounded Duo, echoing in his valley of metal. He
only shrugged in response; it was an argument he'd
heard far too often.
"No!" one of his fellow employees yelled - sounded
like Kale. "I'm not letting you pass. He doesn't
want to be interviewed."
Would the press ever leave them alone?
"I'm not here to interview him."
Duo's attention piqued at the calm familiarity of that
"Yeah, that's what they all say," Kale said, his tone
edged with his sarcasm.
Duo tossed aside the clipboard and bolted from his
spot, scrambling up the alloy pile. His footing
slipped as drops rolled under his feet and broke away,
tumbling down the pile. He climbed as best he could
and fell to his knees at the peak, peering down at the
exchange before him.
"Get lost!" It was indeed Kale and he was scowling
and yelling at a highly un-amused Heero Yuy.
Heero and Kale turned towards him.
"Duo." Heero marched passed a shocked Kale, giving a
slight shove as their shoulders brushed. He climbed
up to the top of Duo's pile, the eagerness of his
expression freezing Duo in his spot. He was shocked
to see him, surprised by the light in his eyes. Heero
stumbled to the crest, steadied his feet on the alloy
drops, then reached down and grabbed Duo by his
shoulders, pulling him up and drawing him close.
"What are you doing here," Duo asked, overwhelmed to
be wrapped in Heero's arms. They'd only embraced once
before, when they'd realized how they'd felt for each
other. It had been one of the greatest and worst
moments of Duo's life.
"I'm free," Heero answered, his hand rubbing a gentle
circle across Duo's back.
"It's over - Relena and I," he explained further.
"She'll be sending me the paperwork to make it
official, but as far as we're concerned, she's
released me. She wants me to be happy, so that's why
I'm here with you."
"Be happy..." Duo echoed in a whisper. It didn't seem
possible. Life had tricked and cheated him over and
over again, stealing from him every glimpse of true
happiness he'd ever found. He'd watched it be ripped
from the hands of those he loved. Duo snorted a
little. "What's that?"
Heero smiled, his arms sliding down to curl around
Duo's waist. "What I'm going to use every resource at
my disposal to make you."
That dark jaded part of Duo wanted to scoff still.
Life, so far, had been too cruel for him to think he'd
ever find happiness. He'd stopped expecting it. But
looking into Heero's eyes, hearing the strength behind
his words... He couldn't help it, he believed him.
The joy at that realization seemed to explode in his
chest and radiate throughout his body. He circled his
arms around Heero's waist, feeling hope take root in
"It's really over? She must be devastated."
Heero's expression fell and he dropped his chin a
little. "Yes, she is," he said and Duo knew it must
have been a hard talk to bring this about. "But I
think she also realized that she never had what she
thought she'd found."
"Shit." Duo felt bad for her. Really. Even for all
the bitter, hateful things he'd said about her when he
crawled into his cold empty bed at night, dreaming of
Heero and knowing *she* was the one in his arms - he
understood the pain she must be feeling, reality
having just slapped her in the face.
Duo buried himself in Heero's embrace, feeling his
warmth bleed into him, drugging him with Heero's heat
and scent, so heady he could sink into it and never
emerge. He didn't want to let go; maybe now, he
didn't have to.
Somewhere behind them, Duo could hear Hilde chastise
Kale. "What's that matter with you? Can't you even
recognize Heero Yuy!? He's only all over the news,
you moron." It made him chuckle at first, but then he
held Heero that much tighter to him. The media would
have a field day with this, but at least they'd be
going through it together.
After a long pleasant moment of enjoying each other's
embrace and hearing Hilde shoo off her other employees
to give them some privacy, Heero spoke, his voice
sounding intensely serious.
"Everything's going to change," he said and Duo lifted
his head to see Heero staring off, a distant, glazed
look in his eyes. He then looked back to Duo, a smile
spreading across his face. "But only for the better,"
he added. "Always for the better. For you, for me,
for all of us."
Duo quirked a brow and swallowed the instinctual,
derisive snort that rose in his throat. No more of
that. "That's a nice dream and, you know, I actually
think if anyone can pull it off, you can." And he
meant it, with all his heart. "What's your big plan?"
"We'll travel," Heero told him.
Heero nodded with conviction, tightening his hold on
Duo. "Yes, we'll start a business where neither of us
ever has to sit still. Maybe investigating, maybe
bounty hunting," he shrugged, "whatever - as long as
its you and me and we're out there doing something
worthwhile." He reached up and brushed the bangs off
Duo's forehead, his fingers lingering across his skin,
even brushing Duo's goose egg, but it didn't seem to
hurt when he touched it. "We'll pull Wufei in, give
him the job he deserves. Forget Preventers and their
inability to understand what it means to be a former
Gundam pilot." Then Heero's grin widened. "And our
first assignment will be for Quatre. We'll find Trowa
and bring him home. Because this," he trailed his
fingers down to touch Duo's cheek, his thumb rubbing
across Duo's lips, "friendship, camaraderie, love -
this is home. I am home."
Duo threw his head back and laughed, full bellied and
brimming with joy. He was amazed that such a sound of
delight could come out of him. Was this really him?
Did he really feel such life welling inside for the
first time since before he cared to remember? Duo
shook his head at himself and focused on Heero again.
"Sounds damn fine, Yuy. I'll follow you to the ends
of the Universe - you know that."
Heero nodded again. "Yes, I do and I love you for
Duo smiled, losing himself in the gorgeous blue eyes
before him. He'd already lost to the wonderful
feeling in his chest that continued to grow. "So this
is what being happy feels like, huh?"
Heero leaned in close. "Get used to it," he told him
and then captured his lips.
Their first kiss already told of the passion building
between them, a fire they'd tempered with platonic
friendship, staving off the pain of what they'd
believed to be their hopeless circumstances.
Nothing seemed hopeless now.
Now they felt as if they could take on the world -
they'd done it once before. Happiness for themselves
and their friends seemed just as worthy a cause as any
they'd had - and a cause that was long in coming.
After all, to the victor go the spoils.