Love, Love Changes Everything
by Dyna Dee
Did you know Duo Maxwell can sing? Your wince tells me you've heard a sample of his songs, but no, I mean did you know he can really sing?
Now I know that just about anyone who has ever met our out-going, gregarious friend from L-2 knows that he sings, most annoyingly so. In fact, when I first became acquainted with him, he was robustly singing from the inside of his gundam a song he later told me was from an ancient cartoon called Popeye the Sailor Man. I realized at the time that the lyrics had to have been changed, but he informed me after the fact that they were "pretty damn close." It went something like...
"I'm Duo the sweeper lad
The streets I have called my pad
I'm strong to the finish
'Cause I won't eat no spinach.
I'm Duo the hell bent lad."
It was really awful, but it did seemed to amuse him. I think over the time I've known him I heard about twenty different versions of the same song.
Duo sings a lot, mostly jingles from television shows and commercials or some nearly unintelligible rock song. We've even heard him sing the sea chanties he learned from his time with Howard and the sweepers, his voice mimicking a gruff sailor. They were extremely ribald tunes that made all of us blush with embarrassment at their suggestive themes. Heero and Wufei somehow extracted a promise out of him into not repeating those again in our presence. Not that we were prudes by any means. I'd heard some of them before from the mercenaries I'd grown up with, but with Quatre and Wufei present they just seemed wrong. I must confess though, that when we were alone on a mission together, I shared the songs I'd learned from the mercenaries with Duo, and his eyes sparkled with amusement. It was then I learned that he had something akin to a photographic memory. He had instant recall and amazingly recited the songs back to me, word for word, and note for note.
It didn't take long for me to discover that Duo's songs and his singing became a way for him to express his true emotions, and they became sort a barometer for the rest of us to gage his mood and needs and address them accordingly. Dark brooding songs indicated a troubled mind and the need for a listening ear. A bright, cheerful song indicated he was having a pretty good day, and a clear heads up to some in-coming mischief.
*Sighs* But today, my mind goes back to the day we all learned that Duo could really sing. Up to that point, he had somehow managed to hide his beautiful tenor voice from us. This one particular day, several years ago, was quite a turning point in our all of our lives. Not only did we learn of Duo's exceptional vocal talents, but also that he and Heero's relationship was more than what they tried to project to us as being just friends.
To tell you some background, it had come to the attention of Quatre, Wufei, and I that Duo and Heero seemed to be just a bit more than just buddies. They hadn't been overt in any way that would lead anyone to think that they were lovers, but the evidence before us started to add up. The two of them always shared a room and as many missions as possible, and when they were in the safehouse, they were either with each other or looking for the other. They seemed to always be seeking each other out, if not physically, then with their eyes. We all noticed the constant little touches that might occur in daily life with friends, but their's lingered just a little longer than necessary as eyes locked with silent messages the rest of us were not suppose to see or understand. They took care of each other when either one of them was wounded, and no one could deny the withering glare Heero gave anyone who seemed overly interested in the attractive American, male or female. Duo, on the other hand, displayed obvious signs of jealousy when Relena latched onto Heero's arm and looked dreamily into his eyes. On those occasions he became petulant and argumentative.
The signs were all there, but the two seemed hesitant to tell us that any such relationship existed, maybe deeming it too personal to speak openly about, or afraid of our reactions. Whatever the reason, we chose to bide our time and our curiosity and wait until they were ready. So the situation stood by the old adage, "Don't ask, don't tell." We didn't ask, and they didn't tell. Not that it really mattered to us. I asked Wufei once if a male/male relationship among the pilots would bother him, and he merely shrugged and shook his head, much to my surprise. "It's not love, in any form, that we should fight against," he told me. "but the evil and hate within us that corrode mankind."
I should have known he'd say that, but we were still new in our acquaintance, and I hadn't learned of the thoughtful scholar that he is beneath the surface of the warrior. It's funny, as I think about it now, after the Eve Wars he told me that he had thought at the time we spoke on this subject, that we were talking about myself and Quatre and not Duo and Heero. You see, at that point in time, Quatre and I were still questioning ourselves in regards to the strong feelings we felt towards each other, and we cautiously watched Heero and Duo as they struggled to contain their obvious feelings for each other from becoming public knowledge. Looking back, I think we may have been as obvious to the others about our deep-felt feelings for each other as we thought Heero and Duo were, even though we weren't involved yet.
Then the day came that things were revealed for what they really were. It started out well enough, waking up peacefully on a Saturday morning to a shared breakfast, followed by a raucous game of basketball in the park across the street. Upon returning for a quick clean up, Duo announced that he and Heero were going to get a bite to eat and take in a movie and asked if any of us wanted to join them.
The three of us shared a knowing look, and understood, silently, that we'd bow out so the two could have some quiet time together. We each declined and Duo looked appropriately disappointed, but Heero, standing just behind him, seemed to smile, ever so slightly.
Well over an hour later, we settled into the living room with our bowls of rice and stir-fried vegetables when, much to our surprise, we heard the sound of feet hitting heavily on the wooden porch of the safehouse. We looked to the door in time to see Duo fly through the door and with a fling of his arm, he forcefully slammed the wooden door shut, knocking one of the three square panes of glass from out of its frame near the top of the door. We only got a quick glimpse his face for a moment as he turned, ignoring the broken glass on the hardwood floor and us, and bolted up the stairs. His trade mark grin was gone, replaced by a look of hurt, his forehead pinched unhappily together, and his lips pressed tightly into a thin line as he struggled to bite back his emotions. We listened as the sound of his rapid footsteps took him to the end of the hallway to the bathroom, and the slamming of yet another door. In the rickety house we were staying in, the old pipes had a tendency to rattle when turned on fully, which is what they did at that moment with such ferocity that we thought it would shake the house down. Duo was taking refuge in the shower, a habit we knew that was typical when he was faced with something that hurt or disturbed him.
The three of us exchanged worried glances, knowing the other two pilots must have had a serious disagreement. Quatre moved to stand, setting his bowl of food down on the coffee table. "I'll clean up the glass." he offered.
"No." Wufei said with a hand up to stop the every helpful blonde. "Let Heero see how upset Duo is. He is capable of cleaning up his own messes."
Quatre agreed and settled back down as the three of us waited as he ate our lunch.
Ten minutes later, Heero quietly opened the front door to the house, his face a mask of stoicism, as always. He stopped to look at the broken glass on the wood floor, then up to the broken glass square in the door, and then slowly, he turned his head up to the direction Duo had fled. His ears picked out the sound of water running and muffled singing.
With a sigh audible to the three of us, he gently shut the door and with slightly slumped shoulders went to the kitchen. A moment later he returned, a broom, dust pan, and a paper bag in hand. In no time, the floor was swept clean of the glass shards. Heero straightened from his task, and only then did he look at the three of us silently watching him. I will never forget the look on his face at that moment. He had always prided himself on schooling his emotions, holding them in check, almost to the point of denying he even had them. But that afternoon, his face bore the look of a lost boy. He clearly was near to bursting with some inner need. Whether it was for help, advice, or comfort, we didn't know. Yet after a moment, it looked like the Perfect Soldier in him won out again. Without being able to unleash the torment inside of him, he turned and slowly trudged up the stairs, his steps slow and even, as if following in step to the beat of a dirge.
We sat in silence, a dark feeling had come over all of us as a result of the other two being at odds with each other. Faintly, we could hear a voice sing angrily above us.
"What should we do?" Wufei asked with his voice low.
Quatre shrugged as he looked towards the stairs. He clearly wanted to go mend the rift between our two friends.
I was about to suggest we just leave them alone for the time being, when the sound of the voice singing in anger stopped. We waited to see if we could hear any sound other then the faint sound of the shower running; voices speaking, a door opening, the water stopping, anything. Then suddenly, a new sound floated down to us, so different from what we were accustomed to. A rich tenor voice sung words not understood at that distance, but the tone and emotion of the music immediately drew the three of us to our feet. In single file we silently climbed the stairs, the voice drawing us like the rats in a fairy tale story that followed the magical tune from the piper in the story of the Pied Piper from Hamelin. At the top of the landing Heero came into view. He was sitting on the brown carpeted floor in front of the bathroom door, his back and head rested up against it, and his eyes were closed in concentration. He heard our near-silent footfalls, and with eyes still shuttered, motioned with his finger to his lips that we should remain silent.
The water from the showerhead and the hum of the ancient pipes was the only accompaniment to the long-haired boy's voice. The sound of it was beauty in itself. His notes were sure and in a pure tone and pitch that is rarely matched. Then suddenly the magical voice stopped, causing us all to sigh with regret. Then, as if he was considering what else to sing, he began again. Yet now, not only did his wonderful voice touch all of us in that dimly lit hallway, but the words of the song he'd chosen, and the emotion behind it, struck our battle-weary hearts as well. He sang clear and true,
Love, love changes everything
hands and faces, clear blue sky.
The three of us edged closer to the door, careful not to step on Heero, who hadn't moved.
Love, love changes everything,
how you live and how you die.
I heard Quatre gasp, and his eyes closed. He was obviously feeling Duo's inner pain and longing.
Love can make a summer fly,
or a night seem like a lifetime.
Wufei was the next to succumb. He bowed his head and his eyes closed as he became lost in the song and in a memory.
Yes, love, love changes everything
now I tremble at your name.
I remembered where I'd first heard this song. It was in one of the schools we'd stayed in for a short time. The theater group had put on a play called Aspects of Love, by Andrew Lloyd Weber. The song and play were ancient, but the words were timeless. Duo attended that performance with Quatre and I, and we were all taken with the song and its lyrics, but I never gave it more than a passing thought as the singer did only a fair job of singing it, and he was certainly far below the level of singing voice I was listening to just then.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
Heero stood and joined the three of us as we huddled closer to the door, not wanting to miss a word or note as Duo continued.
Love, love changes everything,
days are longer, words mean more.
Love, love changes everything,
pain is deeper than before.
At this point, Duo paused for a moment, and we heard his voice waver and he sniffed before he continued.
Love will turn your world around,
and that world is lost forever.
Yes, love, love changes everything,
Brings you glory, brings you shame.
Heero visibly stiffened at the words, and took in a sharp intake of breath.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
The voice behind the door then shifted slightly to a higher, more dramatic key and Duo's voice rang out with emotion.
Off into the world we go
planning futures, shaping years.
Love burst in and suddenly
all our wisdom disappears.
Love makes fools of everyone
All the rules we make are broken.
Heero's hand went to the door knob, but I reached out to stop him. I needed to hear the end of the song. He turned his head to look at me, questioningly, and then his eyes shifted to the others, seeing we were all caught up in Duo's heartfelt song.
Yes love, love changes everyone
live or perish in it's flame
Nothing in this world will ever be the same.
Then his voice rang true as it hit the high tenor note at the ending of the next line.
Love will never, ever let you
be...... the..... same.
The last note faded, leaving each of us holding our breath and fighting back tears. It was to date, the most beautiful song I had ever heard.
Instead of applause, the only sound that followed the stellar, unintentional performance, was the sound of muffled, near silent crying and loud sniffing. I put my hand on Heero's shoulder and his deep blue eyes met mine again.
"Make it right." I whispered.
His deep blue eyes widened for a fraction of a moment, then, with a solemn look on his face, he nodded. I let go of his shoulder and he turned and opened the unlocked door. From my position I could see Duo's shape through the fogged shower door. He was crouched in the corner, on the floor of the shower, his knees drawn up to his chest, and his wet hair covered his white body like a sheltering blanket. Heero shut the door quickly, yet I still heard him speak softly and with more gentleness and emotion than I'd ever heard from him before as he said, "I'm sorry, Duo."
As the door clicked shut, the three of us quickly made our way down the stairs where we sat silently with our minds full of the song and what thoughts and memories it bought to each of us. I think it was then that I knew what I felt for Quatre, and that loving him had changed everything about me. I would never be the same now, with or without his love, he had changed my life by just being in it. It was true, what the song said, that when love bursts in, all the rules and plans for the future are irrevocably changed forever, and I shouldn't be afraid of it, but embrace it. I looked up to see Quatre looking at me thoughtfully, and I hoped he was thinking and feeling what I was. He smiled shyly at me.
After a moment, he shifted his gaze to Wufei, hoping to include him in the coming conversation. "Did either of you know he could sing like that?" he asked.
We both shook our heads, it seems we were all taken by surprise.
"I don't think I've ever heard anything quite as stirring before." Wufei whispered.
After about five minutes, we heard the shower shut off and a few minutes after that came the sound of the bathroom door being opened, and then a bedroom door opened and shut.
"I hope they made up." Quatre said with a worried look on his face.
"They did." I answered, feeling it was the only answer to the song Duo had sung to express his feelings, and knew in some way that it had touched Heero's heart as well as ours.
They didn't reappear for the remainder of the day or evening. The three of us were halfway through breakfast the next day when they entered the kitchen together. Heero stood just ahead of Duo, where the braided boy seemed strategically placed just behind his shoulder, as if the Wing Pilot was protecting him. Heero's face had a look of determination on it, and Duo looked worried, his smile gone, and his eyes averted from ours.
Heero took a deep breath, let it out, then turned to find Duo's hand. He clasped it tightly and brought it forward to clutch it to his chest. His movement pulled Duo forward so that his chest was now pressed firmly against his back as he turned to look address us.
I knew what was coming, we all did. And to be truthful, we could have made this moment much easier by just telling them we knew about their relationship. But we didn't. I think we all sensed how important this moment was to our friends, so we patiently waited.
"I love Duo." Heero stated plainly but with conviction. "and he loves me. We're together.... like... a couple."
It was then that Duo looked up with timidity to see what our reactions would be.
"We know." Wufei answered casually, and we were rewarded by two shocked faces.
"But... how?' Duo's voice hitched as he asked us in disbelief.
"Just little things." Quatre reassured them quickly. "Nothing anyone else would notice."
"So,.... you don't have a problem with it?" Heero asked, raising one eyebrow questioningly.
I took the initiative to stand and extended my hand to Heero and then to Duo. "I'm glad." I told them. "You're good for each other."
Quatre embraced them both with watery eyes, stating his wishes for their happiness. He moved back to his chair as Wufei approached them to give his well wishes. It was then that Quatre's eyes met mine. A look of happy longing and hope seemed to pass between us and was broken only when Duo enthusiastically hugged Heero and announced that he was starving. We never knew what their argument was about because it just didn't seem to matter anymore.
No, that wasn't the only time I heard Duo sing, nor the last of that song either. The second time I heard that particular song was in a hospital room. It was five days after the downfall of Barton's attempted coup when Heero was finally released from the rooms of Critical Care to a private room, thanks to Quatre. The three of us hovered over Duo during those first three days as he'd been refused admittance to Heero as per the rules of the critical care unit. Only legal relatives could be admitted to seriously injured patients in this part of the hospital, and as Heero and Duo's relationship was known only to the five of us, Duo hesitated to announce that he was Heero's significant other.
Relena, however, always seemed able to skirt around the rules laid down for the rest of us mortals. We watched from our vigilant position just out side the designated "Critical Care, Hospital Personnel Only" area's double doors for those first three day as Relena, led by the top administrative honcho of the hospital, floated past us on the air of self-importance, a polite wave of her hand, and a slight nod of concern in our direction as she was led through the double doors to Heero's bedside.
On the third day of our wait out side those doors, Duo stood from his chair at Relena's daily approach, and watched with a numb look on his face as the double doors closed behind her. His body began to tremble and he turned. As I was the nearest of the pilots to him, he was on me in a New York minute, pressing himself to my chest and buried his head into the crook of my neck seeking comfort. I looked to Quatre and received a nod of approval as I folded my arms around my smaller friend and held him securely against me as I whispered words of comfort and encouragement into his ear, giving him shelter and the comfort that Heero couldn't provide at the moment.
We stood like that for several minutes before I eased the both of us back to our seats. I turned Duo to sit close to me, and angled his body so I held him in my arms against my chest, his head resting on my shoulder, supporting him as he rested. His body and mind were exhausted from his vigil, his head and face turned inward towards my chest and his legs were curled up on the cushions. Ten minutes later, the double doors opened. Relena emerged with a petulant pout on her face, looking as if her favorite toy had been taken away, as the hospital administrator led her out of the Intensive Care unit explaining, once again, that there was a time limit on visitation to this particular patient. She paused as she neared us, seeing Duo resting in my arms, she raised her delicately arched eyebrow in question. I returned her curious gaze, knowing my eyes would show nothing of how I felt about her at that moment, and only revealing that I was protecting my friend as he slept. Thinking back, I believe that those were quite possibly the longest three days of our lives.
Things changed after Heero, still comatose, was relocated to his new room on the fourth day. We saw to it that Duo had plenty of alone time with his lover. As mutually agreed, one of us always stood guard over them, determined the two would be safe and never left completely alone in their vulnerable state.
It was my shift, and I'd just relieved Quatre with a quick kiss and an suggestion to him to rest while he could. Wufei would relieve me in six hours, and I would return to be with him in our hotel room for a short time.
I silently entered the room and watched as Duo slept in his chair next to Heero's bed. His head rested on the mattress, next to Heero's shoulder. There was a blanket loosely covering his shoulder and back, no doubt Quatre's thoughtful gesture. I spent the time pacing and reading, and as Duo woke, he briefly acknowledged my presence, then immediately turned his attention to the silent Japanese boy on the bed. He began to speak to him, words of endearment, meant only for Heero. I quietly left the room, easing the door closed without letting it close completely, I wanted to be able hear him call out to me if I was needed.
I stood outside the door for approximately ten minutes when my ears picked up a new sound, foreign to the hospital, and realized that the beautiful singing voice I'd scarcely heard during the war was being heard again. And the voice softly carried the song that had touched our hearts in the hallway of a safehouse long ago. This time, though, there was a soft pleading tone to his voice. Duo's words and perfect notes floated like a welcomed, soothing breeze in the desert into the sterile and empty corridor of the hospital, and suddenly it seemed as if everything paused, listening to the song.
Love, love changes everything....
I closed my eyes and immersed my senses into it, letting the ambiance of the song and emotions the song emitted fill my senses.
I was so caught up into it, that I failed to realize someone had silently come down the hallway to stand behind me as the words,
Love, love changes everyone
now I tremble at your name.
I head a small gasp and turned my head to see Relena standing behind me, a look of bewilderment on her face. Her eyes met mine, and her lips moved to question the song and singer. Before she could utter a word, I put my finger to her lips, silencing her.
She stood behind my shoulder, silent during the remainder of the song. The hallway paused in silent approval for a few moments after the song had finished. I could hear the soft murmur of Duo's voice talking softly to Heero once again. Silently, I pushed the door open, allowing Relena a glimpse of what love really was, not fairy tale dreams of heros and princesses living happily ever after, just because that's how everyone with romantic ideas thought it should be, but rather a love born of struggle, triumph, dedication, and loyalty. A love born of need, desire, and trust.
Duo, unaware of anything or anyone other than the boy on the bed, held onto Heero's hand as he spoked ardently.
"Please, Heero. Don't leave me alone like this. You promised you wouldn't leave me like everyone else. You promised to be with me as we try to reclaim our lives and find our own peace. You said you loved me enough to live." He paused as he kissed the cool hand he held tightly between his own two hands. "I promise you Heero," he began again in a serious tone. "If you leave me, I'll be only moments behind you. I can't lose anyone else that I love. I just can't live through that again. If you leave, I'll follow. Just as I have from the moment we met."
Relena slowly pulled her head out of the doorway and turned around the corner to plant her back against the wall of the hallway. Her eyes were shut tightly, her face a mask of pain and chest moved up and down quickly to match the rapidity of her breathing.
I silently shut the door to Hero's room and faced her.
"How long?" she asked in a strained whisper.
"Almost since they first met." I answered. "The rest of us didn't know for a while ourselves."
A tear escaped the corner of her eye. "I've been played for a fool." she said quietly, her breath hitching as he tried to fight back her emotions. After all the chasing she'd done after Heero and the hopes she'd built up in her self-delusion that he cared for her when he didn't kill her, the pain of the dream she'd held onto for so long crumbled at last, and it was evident by the look on her grief stricken face. Her shoulders slumped and her body trembled as she lost all control of her tightly held dignity.
At that moment, I felt sorry for her. I'd had very little contact with her during the war, but Duo had confided in Quatre and I about the disdainful looks she gave him and the dismissive, condescending attitude he'd endured from her when he had to be in her presence, usually when she managed to track Heero down, just to be near him. I disliked her from what I'd heard and how she treated Duo. Yet, now, seeing her heartbreak, I found myself feeling sorry for her and felt the need to offer a token of comfort. Guess Quatre's altruistic nature was rubbing off on me.
"Relena," I began softly so as to not disturb any of the other patients. "No one played you for a fool. Think about it. Did Heero ever really encourage you?"
Her eyes napped open in challenge. "Of course he did. He protected me, and though he said he would, he couldn't kill me. He gave me a teddy bear for my birthday, and we've talked and enjoyed each other's company." she insisted.
"Really?" I interrupted. "Or was he just being polite?"
Her eyebrows lowered and she frowned at she thought. "I know he cares about me, just like I care about him." she stated firmly.
"I'm sure he does care about you." I replied, and braved reaching out my hand to touch her upper arm in a reassuring manner. "But he loves Duo. He can never feel for you as he does for Duo."
I noticed her shoulders stiffen and she hastily brushed aside a tear that escaped from her right eye. "I'll fight for him if I have to." she declared. "What can Duo offer him that I can't? I can give Heero anything he wants, a home, children, love." Her voice rose as she spoke.
"He loves and wants Duo." I said firmly, trying not be unkind as I realized she spoke out of her own pain. "Did you hear Duo in there?" I asked, pointing to the door. "He will gladly die to be with Heero. Could you do that? Do you love him enough to follow him to the grave?"
Relena's eyes widened for a moment before she shut them and sighed deeply. "No, I don't think I could do that." she answered in a defeated voice.
"Then if you truly care for Heero, don't fight them, but help them." I beseeched her. "Accept them and their love for each other, because there are many who would gladly and openly despise and hurt them because of that love. They have both suffered two life times worth of hurt and pain, Relena. Don't they deserve to find some happiness, to enjoy whatever peace they can find? They've found the promise of that in each other. Would you really want to destroy that?"
"It just hurts so much." she whispered as her hand came up to lay against her chest over her heart.
"I know." I told her. "But it will ease, especially if you can accept the truth and go on. Heero and Duo aren't the only ones who deserve to find happiness."
She looked up at me with eyes filled with unshed tears. A shaky smile of gratitude slowly grew. She reached over and caught up my hand. "Thank you Trowa, for your kindness. This has really been a shock and I never suspected. I knew they were close friends, but...." she shook her head and smiled in a self deprecating way. "How naive can you get?" he looked up at me a bit sheepishly. "Though I did have a fleeting question about you and Duo when you held him the other day as he slept."
I nodded and answered. "No, I was just offering comfort." I paused and then decided to add to the day's revelations. "I'm with Quatre." I told her.
Her eyes widened in shock. "With?" she asked.
"We're lovers." I clarified the term for her.
The stunned look on her face lasted for one silent moment.
"Wufei?" she asked in a little, tight voice.
"I'm pretty sure he's straight." I replied with a smile.
She gave me a crooked smile. "Well, with his oh-so-familiar castigating comments on the female gender, I had to ask."
I nodded with an equally amused smile.
"Well," she sniffed back her tears and absentmindedly brushed her hands against her skirt. "I should go. I have some things to think about."
I nodded. "Why not come back tomorrow during regular vising hours to visit both of them?" I asked, hoping to encourage her to do the right thing.
"I... I don't know. I need to..... come to terms with this."
"I understand." It had been a shock after all.
"Thank you again, Trowa." she said sincerely, then turned and walked quietly down the sterile hospital corridor.
That song, sung that day had turned another heart around, which led to today, when we'll be privileged to hear Duo sing it again.
"Trowa!" Wufei's voice calls out and I sheepishly look up at him. "Have you been bending Sally's ear again?" he asks in a feigned scold. Somehow he can't help but smile at the odd sentence he's never uttered before. After all, I am considered the quiet one of the five pilots. But I smirk back as he's right again. Must be both Duo and Quatre's influence on me, I've become a regular verbal font of over-flowing knowledge lately.
"He's just been telling me of Duo's singing and how a particular song has been meaningful in his and Heero's relationship." Sally replied with a melting smile. "It's a very romantic story." she sighed, something she didn't usually do.
"And you've heard it several times before, haven't you?" Wufei challenged her with a glint of humor in his dark eyes.
She shrugged. "Yes, but it's one I don't mind hearing over and over again. And it is most appropriate today, isn't it?"
Wufei nodded. "Yes, and that's why I'm here to collect Trowa, they're about to start."
I nod and stand. "Thank you Sally for letting me jabber on." I feel my face blushing at having done something usually so uncharacteristic of me. Must be the happiness we all feel on this day and what I secretly have planned for later.
The ceremony was beautiful. I stood by Duo and Quatre's side, Wufei and Relena next to Heero, as our two friends, dressed in light grey morning suits, exchanged life vows before the large gathering of guests in the Sanq Ballroom decorated in a victual garden full of blooming spring flowers, becoming a legally bonded couple. The happiness on their faces was undeniable as well as the joy and love they felt for this moment and each other.
After the ceremony, the guests are moved out of doors to the immaculate and beautiful gardens of the Sanq Palace. There are nearly five hundred people present, most of them dignitaries from Earth and the Colonies who feel a continued respect for both the pilots. The wedding is a gift from Relena to her two close friends. I look up to see her dressed simply but beautifully in a soft grey, tea-length gown talking to her new head of security. Both definitely look interested in the other.
I audibly sigh, reflecting back to the moments before, knowing I'll always carry with me the moment when our two friends pledged themselves to each other. As Duo turned to face Heero, he promised to be his friend, his confidant, heart and home, and promised his fidelity to Heero for the rest of their lives. Even from my slightly disadvantaged position, I could see the tremulous smile he gave his Japanese lover as he quickly wiped away the suspicious water that had gathered in his eyes.
Heero reached out and took Duo's right hand in his, giving the appearance of a hand shake, and pledged his life and love to his braided partner, as well as his devotion and fidelity, and vowed to protect him from his nightmares and fears as he placed his heart in his lover's hand.
They shared a private smile and released their joined hands.
The presiding magistrate spoke a moment about the importance of always remembering this day, and the reasons they stood there before all those witnesses, to pledge themselves to each other.
They exchanged rings, handed to them by their Quatre and Wufei, then faced each other.
"I now pronounce you legally and lawfully partners for life." the older man announced.
Then, instead of a kiss, sensitive that some in attendance might be uncomfortable with it, Heero held up his left hand, palm facing Duo at the height of his shoulder. Duo smiled and raised his right hand and placed his palm against it. Then, with a slight shifting of their palms, they folded their fingers down, clasping their hands together tightly, a symbol of being inseparable.
"What we have joined together this day," the magistrate announced, his eyes sparkling with delight. "Let no man put asunder." He smiled broadly at the two and then to the audience. "I now present you the Maxwell-Yuy's, Duo and Heero.
The two couldn't escape the stage without a quick and fierce embrace by the four of us standing with them on the raised and beautifully decorated stage before they walked down the isle, hands still clasped.
One thing that Quatre and I do very well is plan a party, which is why we gifted our friends with the reception. Food and drink was only the best and was served as if there were no end in sight.
As we sit at the front table, raised on a dias for all to see, Wufei stands and gives a wonderful toast to our two friends as Relena and Duo and Quatre, and many of the guests dab happy tears from their eyes. The meal commences with a stringed quartet serenading the entire joining party. Our attention turns to Heero, and he stands and thanks everyone for coming to share the second happiest day in his life, the first one being the day he discovered that Duo loved him.
Instead of the traditional cake that was served at weddings, the catering crew has quite a time passing out the ice cream sundays that Duo loved before they were melted. There were no complaints on the deviation from tradition as the sound of silver spoons tapping against the glass dishes was heard. As it's is being served and eaten, Duo stands and approaches the microphone, just to the side of the table where we are seated. The moment I've been waiting for has arrived. The string musicians, having been cued by his appearance, turn to a new sheet of music and collectively nod to the braided young man that they are ready. All attention is now focused on the handsome young man who turns to face his guests, slightly blushing.
"Some very good friends of ours," he smiled at the four of us and Relena, "have persuaded me to sing a song to you that means a lot to Heero and myself. It's very appropriate for this day, as in our life, love changed everything." He looked directly at Heero and gave him a brilliant smile.
At that moment the instruments give the first bold notes of introduction to the song and Duo's beautiful voice lifts as he gifts us with his talent and the meaningful song I'd only heard twice before.
Love, love changes everything
Hands and faces, clear blue sky.
The audience is as enraptured as we are as they watched the young man with happiness brimming in his eyes as he sings the words of his heart. It seems to me that every time Duo sings this song something good has happened in its wake. I hoped today was no exception. As he sings the last refrain,
Love will never, ever let you
be.... the.... same."
ending on a high clear note, the appreciative and completely blown away audience erupts into a cacophony of cheer, shouts, and applause.
Duo blushes even more, and gives us a slight bow before quickly returning to his seat situated closely next to Heero, who proudly puts his arm around the singer's shoulder for a half hug.
"That was amazing... again." Quatre says with his eyes shining suspiciously bright as leans against me.
Taking what courage I can muster, knowing this is the moment I've been waiting for, when I put the past behind me and take full charge of my future, I bend my head and whisper in his ear so that only he could hear my words. "Do you think he'll give us an encore performance of that song?" I ask.
Quatre turns his head and smiles up at me. "I'm sure he can be persuaded the next time he and Heero come to visit us, if we ask." he answers confidently.
"Do you think he would sing it at our joining celebration?" I asked looking a bit more anxiously into his big blue eyes as they widened in surprise.
"O.. our... joining?" he whispers, as if he's misunderstood me and moves to turn to face me fully.
I nod my head and take up his hand. "If you'll have me Quatre, I'll be by your side for the rest of our lives."
"Oh, Trowa." his eyes shimmer with emotion, and I can see his face crumble as he throws caution, and the public in general, to the wind and flings himself out of his chair and onto me, wrapping his arms tightly around my shoulders as his face becomes buried into my neck. Holding him this close, I can feel him trembling against, and I'm guessing that he's crying, I hope out of happiness.
"Is this a yes or a no." I whisper, aware that all eyes at the table and probably the entire reception party have turned to curiously watch us.
"Yes!" Quatre cries out clearly then sniffs loudly. Then softly, so that I'm the only one who can hear him, says, "I've waited forever for this moment Trowa, and I'd begun to believe that you'd never ask. Of course I will. You're everything to me."
"Trowa?" Hero's concerned voice calls out to me, and I look up, over the shock of blond hair, to see the others looking at us worriedly.
I smile at them, instantly reassuring them all is well. "Will you guys be available to attend another joining ceremony in a couple of months?" I ask.
Our table erupts with felicitations, back slapping, and cheerful laughter. I can't wait to ask Duo if he will sing that song again at our ceremony, for indeed, love changes everything.
Okay, quite a bit of sap. The great thing about fic writing is that when life sucks, you can write a better one, with a happy ending. Besides, everyone needs a little romance once in a while, right? Plus, I adore this song.