Disclaimer: I don't own nor profit from my GW stories

Warnings: Yaoi, some language, mild angst, possible NCS

Second Chances
Part 2 - The Last Entry in the Journal of Duo Maxwell
by Dyna Dee

I was formally escorted to my room, which, I was informed, happened to be Heero's permanent home. A shiver of hope went through me when I learned from the stiff-backed butler that I would be rooming with my sometimes lover. I was almost giddy with hope that Heero had asked that I room with him during my stay. You see, we hadn't parted well or communicated over the three months that followed the last battle because..., well, I felt hurt and mad as hell at him. That sucker punch to the gut he gave me when we needed to escape the guards on the colony we, along with Trowa, had saved from being plunged into the Earth was nothing more than a dirty trick, not to mention that it hurt like hell. Somewhere in my mind I knew why he did it, in his own strange way he was trying to protect me. He didn't want me to follow him into any more danger. But dammit, we were partners up to that point, and you just don't count Duo Maxwell out when things get a bit dangerous, that's when I do my best work. But as I looked back in retrospect at his motives, going over and over that day in my mind, and not only from my head, but from my heart, I could only come to the sad conclusion that Heero just didn't trust me, and that leaving me in the hands of the enemy, even if Trowa was there, was a dirty deal. And so I held onto my anger those three long months and kept my distance, keeping track of Heero's health and whereabouts from the newsvids and Quatre, who sent me a regular update on the guys.

I remember standing in front of his bedroom door and turning my thoughts back to the present. The butler knocked on the door, waited, and when he got no reply, he put a key into the keyhole. Before he opened the door, I had decided to let go of the anger and resentment I'd felt about Heero. Having done that, I was not just a little disappointed when I was let into his room to find he wasn't there to greet me.

Once the butler left me alone in Heero's room, I looked around to see it was immaculately clean, that wasn't so surprising, but I also saw a space that didn't remind me at all of my occasional lover. The bed frame, head and footboard, as well as the bedposts were made in a highly glossed, rich mahogany wood. The four tall, fancy-carved bedposts were fashioned to go from a thicker base to gradually bubble up to a small point at the top which ended half way to the ceiling. The bed also had the thickest mattresses I'd ever seen. Even at my present five foot five inch height, I'd have to jump just to get on the damn thing. The furniture around the room: desk, tables and chairs, were also designed in the same dark, glossy wood and had fancy french-styled legs. I guess it was kind of masculine, well maybe not the bedspread which was off white and had pale green leaves that also looked french in design and ran in a pattern of rows down the length of the large queen-sized bed. The bedspread matched the ceiling to floor curtains that hung over the two long windows facing the gardens at the back of the palace. With the fancy gold wainscoting and crown molding, and beautiful paintings of serene landscapes on the walls, the bedroom looked like something that belonged in a palace, so I guess it was a perfect room for a perfect man. It just didn't seem to fit the Heero I knew who liked things straight lined and functional.

I quickly freshened up and dressed in clean black jeans and a fitted, light-grey and ribbed, long sleeved sweater and set out in search of my friends. It took a while, but I found the three of them in the formal gardens to the back of the immense marble building. From the moment I laid eyes on them I knew one thing for sure; I was underdressed. Oh, don't get me wrong, I looked sharp. I've always worn clothes well, thanks to my slim build, but the three guys walking towards me were clothed in dress slacks, long-sleeve shirts and expensive-looking ties.

I held my hands out in a look of surprise as they drew near. "Oh man, no one told me there was a funeral today!" I exclaimed with a smile growing.

I was glad to see a returning smile on the others' faces. I also noticed Quatre and Trowa were walking closer together than what was usually their norm. As my eyes met blondie's, he gave me a knowing wink. I smiled in return, genuinely happy for him and for Trowa. Now the field of possibilities narrowed down to two. I couldn't intrude on the new lovebirds, could I?

Each of the three guys suffered my enthusiastic embrace with different degrees of reciprocation. Quatre has always been a great hugger, Wufei and Trowa were decidedly reserved but politely friendly.

We went into lunch together in one of the palace's smaller dining rooms, finding it nearly full with more of Relena's guest. We found a table near the back corner and got caught up on each other's lives since we parted three months previous. I was working up my courage to ask about Heero when everyone's attention turned to the dinning room's doorway; and there he stood, looking incredibly handsome in a dark blue suit, a crisp white shirt and a very conservative tie. I clearly remember my heart speeding up at the sight of him, but only until I looked to his right and saw Relena, looking poised and regal and dressed in a pale blue suit. She looked beautiful and suddenly much older then the school girl I remembered seeing for the first time two years ago. Her long blonde hair was pulled up into a perfect twist behind her head, and the skirt and short jacket she wore fit her slender figure perfectly, giving her an air of confidence and competence. Together, the couple reeked power and class. My heart faltered so painfully, I was sure everyone around me could hear it grinding to a halt. It was obvious with her arm linked through Heero's that they were one of those power couples you read about in international magazines, the ones who make a difference in the world. Heero looked...complete. I doubted he even needed a friend much less a part-time lover hanging around.

"Duo?" Quatre's voice called my name and made me realize I'd been staring a little too long at the handsome couple and God only knows what my facial expression looked like. I turned to look at the blond and saw an expression of sad compassion on his face. I shook my head and managed to smile back, letting him know I was alright.

"So," I said a little louder than necessary, jittery nerves do that to me, "what's up for the rest of the day?" I asked.

"There's a schedule of events designed to keep us entertained," Wufei replied as he carefully picked at a piece of chicken on his fine china plate. "There's horseback riding, tennis, swimming, a museum tour, billiards and some lawn games."

"Anything for people under fifty?" I asked with sarcasm dripping from my voice.

"This is what people in polite society do to pass the time, Duo," Quatre answered, not unkindly, but in his gentle way of informing me, probably assuming I really didn't know.

"Does nothing appeal to you?" Trowa asked me, one eyebrow raised in a silent challenge.

"Well, swimming's out," I declared. "I can't show up tonight with wet hair." I stretched back in my chair and put both hands behind my head, looking relaxed. "I've never tried horseback riding. That might be interesting."

"Pity the horses." I heard Wufei mumble next to me and I gave him an elbow and a scowling glance.

"Guess I could go out back and attack some balls," I said with a naughty grin on my face, only slightly referring to the lawn bowling I'd seen being played on the flat area of grass beneath Heero's bedroom window. Quatre, having just taken a sip of his lemonade, choked on it and began a coughing fit.

"Duo!" he gasped out in a shocked voice even as Trowa patted his back looking concerned.

I rewarded him with a knowing smile. "Sorry Quatre. Guess I'll leave that to you and Trowa."

The former Heavyarms pilot finally got it and frowned at me. I was about to tell him to lighten up when I felt a firm hand painfully grip my shoulder.

"Hello Duo." Heero's voice called out from above me. I looked up and back with a welcoming smile only to find his deep blue eyes glaring at me.

"What?" I asked. "What'd I do now?" I was genuinely at a loss.

My former lover continued to frown at me. "Can't you behave, especially in a public setting?" he asked.

I was honestly taken aback by his rebuff. "Good to see you too, buddy. How are ya?" I replied, choosing to point out his flawed welcome. His frown deepened, and it was then that I noticed his pointed glance towards Wufei. I followed his line of sight to see my fine Chinese friend nod his head in some sort of secret agreement between the two. Damn, there's nothing I hate more than not knowing what's going on.

"Did you find the room?" Heero also chose a different direction to continue the conversation.

"How could I miss it when a perfect stranger greeted me and showed me the way?" I replied rather peevishly and then added an extra little dig. "You're living quite the high life now aren't ya, Heero? Too good to meet a friend at the door?"

"The hired help and amenities comes with the job," he replied, then dropped this line of questioning as he turned his head to see if Relena was still situated in the chair she'd picked to sit in and have her lunch. "I've got to go, " he said without a look back in my direction.

"Sure, see ya pal," I answered, then turned back towards the table, miffed at the unsatisfying reunion. "And by the way, you look great," I called over my shoulder after him as he stepped away from the table, then added, "on a leash." I didn't wait to see if he reacted, but turned back to my half eaten plate of food. It was going to stay that way as I'd completely lost my appetite.

There seemed to be a couple of tense moments of silence at the table before Wufei finally spoke up. "Are you finished, Duo?"

"I guess." I pushed my plate away from me. "Lost my appetite."

"If you'll wait until I change, we can go to the stables and try horseback riding," he offered generously and completely out of character.

The light bulb went on in my head. Yes, a little slow on the uptake on that one. Heero had asked Wufei to dog my heels and keep me out of trouble. I took in a deep, disappointed breath and let it out slowly, hoping to calm the resentment and anger that was building in me. Though those feelings hurt me deeply, they were easier to deal with than the deep cutting hurt I was trying to hold in check from feeling completely rejected.

"Sure Wu, whatever you want," I replied in a less than an enthusiastic tone.

He stood and looked pleased with himself. "I'll meet you on the front lawn in five minutes," he told me. "A tram will take us up to the Northern pasture."

I nodded and watched as he left the room.

"Duo." Quatre's sympathetic voice called out to me yet again.

"Don't worry about me Quatre." I looked over to see twin looks of concern on his and Trowa's face. "I'll give Wufei an afternoon to remember." I couldn't help but smile crookedly at all the possibilities those words brought to mind.

"Please, Duo." Quatre almost sounded like he was pleading. "Try to behave. It's very important to Heero that we fit in here and everything goes smoothly. Remember, we're supposed to keep as low a profile as possible."

I felt my anger join the other emotions I was struggling with adding fuel to the fire. But instead of giving into it, I stood up, determined to leave instead of saying anything that might cause the scene they were all so anxious to avoid. "You guys really think so little of me, don't you?" I said in a low voice that even I could tell sounded hurt. I then turned my back on them and briskly walked away, back straight and head held high, and completely ignoring his blondness as he called after me.

I made it out of the dining room, down the elegant corridor with the tall walls lined with massive portraits of depressed-looking dead people, and only three feet from the front door before the two of them caught up to me. I ignored Quatre calling my name again and kept walking, appearing completely oblivious of their presence right behind me telling me to stop.

"Duo.. Duo please stop!" Quatre pleaded, but I was offended enough to maintain my stubborn gait.

I made it down the large marble steps before my arm was grabbed and I was forcefully turned around to face a glaring green eye. "Let me go, Trowa," I said through gritted teeth. "You're the one making a scene now."

"You're going to stop and listen to us," he said calmly but with an edge to his voice that let me know he meant it.

I yanked my arm away from his hold and rubbed at the sore muscle. "This was a big mistake," I said to the both of them with a steady glare. "I never should have come here. You've all made it clear you're embarrassed of me. Instead of seeing my friends, I've been met by upper-crust strangers. I never knew until now that snobbery was contagious."

"How can you say that to us?" Trowa asked me, his own anger building beneath his appearance of calm and control. "I'm a lot like you, Duo. A soldier who's killed and is rough around the edges. But I see a need here to act with proper decorum and it's our hope, for Heero's sake, that you'll make the effort too."

"Fine!" I said, anger flaring like heated sparks from my eyes. "I'll do my best for his highness, but believe me, I'm not stupid, I'm seeing exactly where my place is, and it's not here."

I turned abruptly to dramatically stalk off again before I said something I couldn't take back, but was immediately stopped by having two arms come from behind and wrap around my chest, and a body similar in size to my own was pressed up against my back.

"I'm sorry, Duo. Please don't be mad," Quatre whispered into my ear, his face resting against the side of my head and his lips touching my ear lobe as he spoke. "You're my friend, my first lover, please don't be mad at us."

How anyone can stay mad at Quatre I'll never know. He knows just what to say and exactly how to say it. Needless to say, I melted. He must have felt my tense body relax because he loosened his hold just enough to move to the front of me and give me the hug I really needed. For that one moment, I felt cared for, needed, and maybe even loved.

"You guys are making a scene," Trowa said teasingly. Evidently he couldn't hold onto his anger around Quatre either. I reluctantly pulled away from the embrace with a chuckle and stepped back.

"Better?" Quatre asked with a slight, cautious smile.

"Yeah, you button pusher," I replied in a lightly accusing tone to Quatre as I ruffled his neatly combed hair. Though inwardly, I wasn't thrilled to come to the realization that I might have just been manipulated by a master strategist.

I looked up and back at the palace, towards the entrance, and saw Heero standing just outside the grand doorway, frowning down at us. He must have followed the three of us out of the dining room. "Man, what is wrong with him?" I asked in disgust, and my two companions turned to see who I was referring to.

"He's under a lot of pressure," Trowa answered.

"Well it looks like his intestines are tied up in a knot and he needs a double dose of a laxative." I observed dryly, causing the two to share a guilty smile at my comment.

Wufei chose that moment to exit the building behind the unhappy looking Heero, dressed in dark blue jeans and white polo shirt. They exchanged a few words before Heero returned to the palace and Wufei headed for me.

"Well, here comes my date, or should I say watch dog?" I asked out loud, then turned to the two next to me. "What are you guys going to do?"

"Maybe some tennis or lawn bowling," Quatre answered with a twitching smile. "You know, play with some balls."

Trowa pinked up nicely and I barked out a laugh just as Wufei approached with a questioning eyebrow raised, obviously wondering what was so funny.

"Believe me Wu, ya had to be here for it," I told my slightly perplexed but grinning Chinese friend.

And so we parted company for the rest of the afternoon. My appointed guardian, and I actually had a great time. Once we reached what was termed the North Stables, we were given the basic instructions on how to operate a horse. My fine steed was a beauty. He was a sorrel colored quarter horse that stood at sixteen and a half hands high, or so I was informed by the rather haughty, strangely dressed stable man. Both the middle-aged, pompous man and the horse kept shifting their eyes at me as if sizing me up. I decided I liked that in a horse, but I didn't like it in a man who spent his day shoveling horse dung. Who was he to act all high and mighty towards me? I wondered. I pointedly ignored the ignoramus and turned my attention to my friend and his animal. Wufei was given a sturdy buckskin, equally as tall and impressive as my horse, but a lot stockier.

I had to laugh at Wufei, he had this air of experience about him, having ridden a horse once as a child when his parents had taken a trip to China to visit relatives. He must have been a very attentive child as he remembered enough of what he'd learned from that experience years ago to show me now to hold the reins and how to use the stirrups to mount the huge beast. The stuff-shirt barn man told me how to use the reins to turn the horse left or right, to pull back on them in order to stop, and to pull back even further to signal the big fella to step backwards.

Check, check, and double check, I figured this was simple compared to the complexities of operating a gundam. Left, right, back and back further. Easier than driving a car, and I'd been doing that for ages and still didn't have a license. Wufei led me to a path the man had said was a good beginning riding course for us, going through the pasture to a slightly hilly and wooded area. We led the horses out of the fenced area, and seeing a stretch of green pasture laid out in front of me, I turned to Wu with a twinkle of a challenge in my eyes. "Race you to the hill," I said, smiling like an idiot.

"Don't be ridiculous Duo, you....hey!" He shouted out as I soundly kicked my horse's flanks and it bolted, like the mortar shell shot out of a cannon.

At first, it was scary as hell, but then came the rush of adrenaline at having the powerful animal running at top speed across the field with me hanging onto its back. Thankfully, I had the sense to lean forward and grab hold of the long mane along with the reins. "Sorry pal." I yelled towards the horse's ears that looked to be pinned back even as his long neck and head were stretched out while he ran at what seemed to be full speed. I was pretty sure my voice was lost over the sound of hooves pounding into the earth and of Wufei yelling at me from behind, but still I added to my running companion, "I hate to have my hair pulled too, but until you stop, I'm kinda desperate here." My fear of the height and speed of the horse quickly left me, leaving me with my face to the wind, a growing sense of exhilaration, and my body bouncing in a syncopated rhythm to the pounding of the hooves. With all that going on, I remember I had a smile on my face large enough to just about bust my chops.

As the stretch of pasture was coming to an end and we neared the path going up the hill, I remembered the reins in my hands and, while still hunched over the neck of the horse, I awkwardly pulled back. I guess it wasn't enough of a pull to stop the horse because the horse slowed from its run only to go into some sort of quick hopping motion that had my butt bouncing wildly up and down rapidly onto the fine leather saddle. I grabbed the thing the man at the stable referred to as the pommel, and hung on for dear life as the ground was looking pretty far away from way up there. I pictured what I must look like, bouncing uncontrollably on the back of a big ass horse with my braid swishing wildly from side to side and started to laugh.

"Pull the reins back," Wufei yelled from just behind me. I turned my head to give him a big smile only to recognize his almond-shaped eyes were wide with fright. His horse was right behind mine and he was reaching for my reins.

"I got it," I told him, not wanting to be thought of needing to be rescued. I did as he instructed and the horse finally came to a stop, his sides expanding and contracting under my legs as he caught his breath. I looked at my friend with a smile of pure delight on my face. "That was so cool," I told him almost breathlessly.

"Don't you ever do that again, Duo." He sternly warned me.

"What's the big deal? I didn't hurt the horse, did I?" I wondered at his anger at me when we had been getting along so well.

He looked at me, his tense expression softening just a bit. "Horseback riding can be dangerous Duo." He told me. "If you're thrown or fall off, you risk serious injuries."

"I was holding on tight," I said in my own defense.

"If he had tripped on a gopher hole or even just stumbled, you could have been thrown off. People have been killed or paralyzed in such an accident."

I could now see my friend had truly been worried about my welfare. Poor Wu, he wasn't used to Duo-watching. "Sorry, Wu-man, I didn't know. I'll be more careful," I said with all sincerity.

Wufei nodded, seeming satisfied at my word, but then he took up my reins for a while, assuring me it was just to make sure the horse didn't bolt again. Bolt? He hadn't bolted the first time. I'd kicked him just like I'd seen the cowboys in the old movies do and got the same result, a fast running sucker. Maybe Wu didn't know as much about horses as he let on. I shrugged and let it go. We resumed our ride, enjoying the beautiful green landscape and the quiet of the wooded hills that surrounded us. It really was a glorious, early spring afternoon. I remember there was still a coolness in the air, but that the sun was shining brightly down on us and I was more than warm enough in my sweater and jeans.

We took that quiet time, away from other people and distractions of the grand palace, to catch up on a more personal level then before on each other's lives. Wufei told me of his job with the Preventers and how much he was enjoying it and that he had started dating and had found for himself his first real apartment. He was definitely getting his life together and I was glad for him.

In turn, I told him of my job on L-2 and how uncomfortable being back on that colony, with all its painful memories, made me feel. I confessed to him that because of that, plus my lack of interest in a dead-end job, that I'd quit it just before leaving for the party, and I was hoping to live Earthside for a while, maybe go back to school to further my chances at getting a good job, something more fulfilling than junkyard work.

Wufei was not always the best communicator, but he had proved to be a good listener. He took in everything I said and nodded his head every once in a while to show he was listening, but no invitation or advice came from him. Being a good listener seemed to be all he had to give me that day.

We returned to our rooms two hours before the banquet was to begin in order to get ready for the evening's festivities. I was surprised to find my trusty duffel bag had been unpacked and a tuxedo was carefully placed on the fancy bed. Whether it was Quatre or Heero's forethought, I didn't know. I'd just been told in my invitation that everything I'd need for the evening would be provided. It seems whoever made that promise was living up to it, all the way down to the socks and glossy black shoes. Everything looked to be just my size.

I went into the large bathroom and gazed in wonder at the enormous Jacuzzi bathtub. I gasped and felt my heart begin to pump rapidly; I was definitely in love! I spent the next sixty minutes relaxing in a very warm bubble bath, my hair wrapped up in a towel to keep it from getting wet, and the pulsing jets gently massaged my back and sides, aching slightly from the horseback riding. I thought, with a deep sigh, that I could get use to this way of life.

I heard the bedroom outer door open and close, but chose to ignore it until a knock sounded loudly and abruptly on the closed bathroom door.

"Duo?" Heero called out.

"No," I replied in a deep voice with an exaggerated accent. "I am Senior Pepe. What are you doing in my room?" I demanded harshly.

The longer the silence on the other side of the door lasted, the harder I had to fight to keep from laughing.

"Duo!" Heero growled out. "I need to use the bathroom. Are you almost done?"

"You can come in if you want. I'm decent," I called back. Yeah, I called being covered in bubbles decent.

The door swung open and Heero, still dressed in his suit and tie, stopped mid-step and stared at me with wide, startled eyes. "You're in the bath," he stated as he blinked in surprise at me.

"Welcome to Earth, Captain Obvious," I said as I gave him the Vulcan hand sign for peace and prosperity, not knowing if he understood it, only that it made me chuckle.

Now it was my turn to stare as he suddenly turned on his heels to leave the room.

"Hey, what's the matter man?" I called out. "It's not like you've never seen me naked before." Sometimes Heero was so weird.

"I need to use the bathroom," he said, stopping in the doorway and turning to look at me, though his eyes looked at anything but me. "Will you be done soon?"

"Yeah." I leaned forward and pulled the plug to the drain to let the water out and shut off the pulsing jets.

"Hand me a towel?" I asked as I stood and tried to work some of the bubbles from off of my body with equally sudsy hands. I must have looked funny standing there naked but for the large patches of bubbles all over my body and the towel wrapped around my head.

Heero turned to the towel rack and pulled a large dark green one off, then handed it to me. His gaze then fully rested on me for the first time since he entered the room. I pretended not to notice, but I was fully aware that his eyes slowly moved up and down my body. I finished drying off and stepped out of the tub and wrapped the towel around my waist. I was standing close enough to Heero that I could feel the heat radiating from off of his body. "Thanks." I smiled and leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the lips. He didn't pull away or hit me, so I backed up to look for his reaction. His eyes were blazing from either lust or loathing, it was hard to tell.

"Dammit Duo," he snarled just before he grabbed hold of me and kissed me, hard and open mouthed. I'd forgotten just how brutal his kisses could be when he was unexpectedly turned on. I was hoping he'd settle down a little so I could enjoy the moment better, when I suddenly found myself roughly pushed back from him. I stumbled slightly at the unexpected move and blinked in surprise at my former lover who was wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand as if my taste was repugnant to him. "Don't do this to me Duo. Not now," he growled again.

I blinked at him in astonishment. "I was just saying thanks for the towel, sor-ry," I said and moved to get as far away from him as I could; I had some pride after all, and Heero was proving he still had the uncanny ability to hurt me without hardly trying.

A low growl was my only warning when he grabbed me again, swung me around to face him, and held me a scant second before his mouth was devouring mine. I remember thinking at the time that he was kissing me rather desperately, as if l were the lifeline to a drowning man. But then again, my thoughts were a bit scrambled the moment I felt the towel at my waist yanked from off my hips and Heero's hands began questing about my body like a blind man looking for his lost cane.

This isn't what I wanted, I told myself. Well, not right now anyway.

I managed to turn my head to free my mouth. "Heero, we don't have time for this," I said as his lips continued to try to take mine again.

"I'll make time," he mumbled, then pulled back to fix his eyes on me.

"I just took an hour-long bath," I informed him, looking up in his stormy blue eyes. "I don't have time for another." My complaint came out rather breathless. Never let it be said Heero's not a good kisser, not to mention what his more than capable and experienced hands could do to me.

"I'll take care of that too," Heero declared in a husky, bedroom voice as he pulled me close to kiss me stupid once again. Then slowly, he moved down my neck to my chest, kissing my damp skin until he came to rest on his knees. I groaned both with frustration and desire as my head fell back, I felt the towel on my head drop away, leaving my long, loose hair to fall all around me, and both of my eyes closed as I capitulated to him once again. Even as he worked his magic on me, I was mentally flagellating myself. This wasn't how I wanted it to be. I didn't come back to Earth, to this over-inflated party, for a wham, bam, thanks Duo man. I wanted more than sex, I wanted to be cared for, loved, and sheltered, along with some kind of commitment. I needed those things and I didn't care if it was from a friend or a lover. But just as I could never stay mad at Quatre, I didn't have the will to say no to Heero when he wanted me. I cursed myself again for loving him.

I was still braiding my hair when Heero, dressed to the nines in his black tux and a satisfied smile, left the room to escort Relena to the banquet and ball.

"Stupid!" I berated myself in a tone of self loathing only seconds after the door shut behind him. "I shouldn't have come." I always felt low after a quickie with Heero. Don't get me wrong, he always expressed his thanks after our little physically satisfying romps, but then he always turned away and went about his business afterwards. I had this deep need to be held for a long time afterwards and somehow, even though I'm known for my communication skills, I had a hard time telling him that bit of information. Guess I can't blame Heero for not knowing when I didn't tell him, I just always thought that, as a lover, he should know. That small, calloused act, of getting up almost immediately from my side, always made me feel so...empty, and used. And as on other occasions, the fact that we just shared an intimate experience, didn't solicit words of love or devotion from the Perfect Soldier turned bodyguard, and without any expression of those emotions, the act seemed meaningless, almost dirty. It didn't matter I guess that I loved the guy, he apparently just didn't feel the same way about me.

Tying off my braid, I stood in front of the full-length mirror and sighed at my reflection. The dark charcoal-grey tux looked good on me. Whoever chose it matched the cummerbund and tie to the color of my eyes, not an easy feat. It was an odd, unique shade of blue-violet, and I wondered where they ever got such an unusual shade of fabric to make it into such an odd accessory.

I studied my reflection in the mirror, looking for answers to my many questions. I knew I was attractive, I'd have to be the idiot Heero likes to call me if I didn't recognize the looks of appreciation and lust that I got from complete strangers along with those of my acquaintances. With brooding eyes, I frowned at my reflection. I recognized my strengths, my weaknesses, and generally what ticked people off, usually using that knowledge to my advantage. But I couldn't help but ask myself why it was so hard to find someone who could love me? Was it possible for someone to love me? I wondered, suddenly feeling very sad.

My palms itched and I nervously rubbed them against my hip bones, a habit I found myself doing when I'm agitated or nervous. "Just go and have fun," I ordered my reflection. I practiced my Academy Award winning smile to see if I could keep it in place when I really didn't feel like it. Seeing it somewhat intact, I nodded to myself in satisfaction. Taking a deep breath, I held it a moment before slowly expelling it. With the practiced, devil-may-care smile in place, I turned to face the long evening ahead of me.

on to part 3

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