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

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

Second Chances
Part 16
by Dyna Dee

From the Journal of Maximilian Duo Peacecraft

From the moment I came to myself in the hospital, after Marcus Standish kidnaped me from my hospital room, I knew my life had suddenly changed for the better, again. Don't ask me how I knew, because no one can know or understand those changes unless they've been the former recipient of a second chance.

The first thing I was aware of was the sound of people talking quietly, their voices soft, carrying nothing other than a low murmuring sound. The next few sensations I felt included the fact that I was warm, not burning up with the blazing heat that had nearly consumed my body and brain for what seemed endless days, but a cozy, comfortable warmth of being wrapped up in your favorite blanket. I felt arms around me, not holding me down, but tenderly cradling me. The comforting sound of a steady heart beat within a solid chest came from under my left ear and the familiar smell I'd come to know as Heero's was breathed in, giving me wonderful reassurance that I was being protected.

I was content for that moment, feeling all was right in my world. Then into my sluggish mind came the sensation of pain. My right ear suddenly felt like it had been drilled with a jack hammer and I became aware that my body and limbs felt heavy and my right butt cheek hurt like it had been caught in a vice. Suddenly, images of Marcus came to mind, of him kissing me, taping my mouth and carrying me from my hospital bed down the stairwell and into a janitor's closet. I remember not wanting to slip to the floor and holding on to the cold, metal shelves for support. And then I remembered his hands; oh God, he touched me.

I heard myself gasp in reaction to my returning memory, my heart started racing in my chest because of it and my hand clutched at the material covering my lover's chest.

"Shh, it's alright, Duo. I've got you now." Heero's sleep filled voice carried into my panic and softened its edges.

"Is he awake?" I heard Wufei ask, his voice deep with concern.

"Yes," I answered in a sleep-roughened voice and slowly blinked my heavy eyelids open.

Wufei's face was less than a foot away from mine and I would have jumped, startled from the close proximity, but I was just too weak to move. His hand reached out and came to rest on my forehead. It was wondrously cool to the touch and more tender than I thought my Chinese friend could be. Pulling his hand away, he smiled at me. "Your fever's down," he said with a look of relief on his face.

Heero's arms, wrapped around me, tightened just slightly into a hug.

"How did I get back here?" I asked, confused at what had happened in the janitor's closet.

"I came back from taking Heero to my house and instituted a search when I discovered you were gone," Wufei reported. "I found you and Marcus in the janitor's room on the next floor down."

"Did you kill the bastard?" I asked as a shudder went through my body at the thought of Marcus having me so helpless and at his mercy again.

The room went silent for a moment and I became alarmed. "He didn't get away did he? He's not going to come after me again, is he?" I knew I was beginning to panic at the thought that he might find some way around my defenses yet again to become my tormentor or carry out on his threats to have Heero murdered.

"No, he didn't get away." Heero's voice rumbled under my ear and I felt his hand petting my braided hair. I wanted to lift my head to look into his eyes, but it was just too damn heavy. I realized once again just how weak I was as a result of the long, high fever.

"Is he in custody?"


I looked to Wufei as I couldn't lift my head to see Heero, his dark eyes seemed troubled. I then noticed that those eyes that I was focusing on were turned to Heero, exchanging some sort of silent communication. Damn, I've always hated it when they did that.

"How much do you remember?" Wufei asked me. He then turned and by the scrape of the legs of the chair I could tell he was bringing one close to the bed so he could sit down. As he did, I could see that we weren't alone. Milliardo was also in the room, but slightly behind Wufei. His worried eyes were fastened on me.

"Hey pops," I said, trying hard for the joking tone I always put in that teasing greeting, but failed because my voice sounded as tired as I felt.

The tall blond man who had been my friend and mentor for three years moved closer to the bed and studied me. "How are you Max?" he asked, his face and voice were somber.

"I don't know," I answered truthfully. Everyone's tense attention was beginning to put my senses on alert that something was terribly wrong.

Heero's hand began to stroke my arm. "If you feel up to it, can you tell us what you remember?" he asked. I could tell they all wanted to know what happened, but instead of pushing, Heero's tone and manner was gentle and reassuring.

I closed my eyes in order to concentrate. "I woke up with his hand over my mouth and his voice in my ear." I began in a quiet voice.

Wufei leaned forward, folding his arms to rest on the bed, he then bent to rest his chin on them. Now that he was closer, I realized he had dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep and felt guilty knowing that I was the cause of it. "Go on, Duo. What else do you remember?"

I swallowed, not liking where my memories were taking me. "Marcus replaced his hand with his mouth and he kissed me, hard." I felt Heero's body stiffen beneath me but his hand kept moving on my arm, urging me to continue. "I could hear the sound of tape being peeled off from a roll, and the moment he lifted his mouth from mine, he put the masking tape over my mouth to keep me from calling for help."

Wufei nodded, knowing about the tape.

"I tried to fight him off, but I was too weak, and I realized then that he knew it too and thought it was funny. I decided to play into my weakness, letting him think I was totally helpless and, when the time was right, I planned on using whatever strength I had to surprise him and escape or at least alert someone, if that was possible."

"Then someone opened the door, or maybe that came later, I can't be sure, and I thought I was going to be saved, but a woman's voice told him to hurry up. He had an accomplice that must have tipped him off that I was alone."

"A woman's voice, you're sure?" Wufei asked, a deep frown forming on his tired face.

I gave a slight nod, feeling weariness overcoming me.

"Did you see her?"

"No, the light was out in the room so she was barely a silhouette in the doorway, but she was obviously keeping watch."

My throat was dry and I started to cough. Milliardo came to my rescue with a cup of water and a straw. Heero sat up, pulling me up with him, and held me to make it easier to drink, which I did just as fast as I could suck it greedily through the pink and white striped plastic straw. When I was done, everyone settled back down and waited for me to continue. The bed was raised and for the first time since I'd awakened, I was able to look into Heero's eyes. The emotions swirling in them seemed a mixture of deep love and worry. I felt an overwhelming need to remove that look of worry from them so I could selfishly see only love reflected in the beautiful blue eyes when they gazed into mine. Heero must have sensed my need because, regardless of the fact that there were two other people in the room, heterosexual men at that, he leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips, lingering for just a moment before pulling back. We didn't need words at the moment to express our love for each other.

The sound of someone clearing his voice brought the two of us back to an awareness of our surroundings. I smiled a bit sheepishly at the other two men in the room and was glad to not see them frowning in disapproval. In fact, both of them had amused smiles on their faces.

Heero and I resettled back down into my pillows and Wufei leaned towards the bed again. "Go on Duo," he said. "You left off saying you would reserve what energy you had to escape."

I nodded. "He threw back the blankets and saw that I was hooked up to a catheter and the I.V." I looked up at them perplexed. "I remember the I.V., but when did someone hook me up to a catheter and I not know it? I mean, geeze." I was embarrassed at the thought of some touching me in order to attach one of those devices on me.

"It was after your seizure. It was necessary in your condition and for the fact that you were going into surgery." Heero supplied the answer. I could only nod as I had no recollection of that time.

"Marcus had a knife and cut the catheter tube and pulled the I.V. out of my arm. He then picked me up and took me out of here and down the stairs. I remember a storage room, a janitor's closet." I paused to let my mind go over those unsettling moments. "He stood me against a shelf of some kind and I just remember focusing on staying on my feet knowing that if I collapsed onto the floor that it would leave me too vulnerable to an attack." Again I swallowed hard as memories rushed back, in a strained whisper I continued. "He was touching me and talking to me, threatening me and Heero if I pressed charges and testified against him, and then his hand went down my back." A shiver of revulsion shot through my body as I recalled his hands sliding down to my bottom. "He grabbed me so hard that I almost lost my footing. He kept saying things, I'm not sure of now, but I do remember his hand moving up to my sore ear." Shutting his eyes, Duo's body shuddered. "He grabbed hold of it to cause me pain, and I think that's when I passed out," I told them, and that's where my memory of the kidnaping ended.

There was an air of expectancy in the room. "You don't remember anything else?" Wufei asked, looking skeptical.

I closed my eyes, knowing they wanted me to remember more, but only remembering a fleeting ghost of a memory, more like a feeling that my moment had come, my one chance to escape Marcus and what he was doing to me. That was all I had to go on. I told them that, then clutched at Heero, knowing I was missing something important.

"What happened?" I asked, not really sure I wanted to know. Did Marcus violate me? I did a mental check on my body but could only feel heavy lethargy in my limbs and the throbbing ache of my ear and a much duller ache on the right cheek of my bottom.

"I found you ten minutes after I discovered you were gone." Wufei began, his voice cautious and, when I opened my eyes, I could see him visually consulting with Heero just before his dark eyes turned back to mine. "I found you lying unconscious on top of Marcus," he continued. "And Marcus was laying on his back, dead. Evidently you found enough strength to defend yourself and took the one moment of opportunity to do so."

Heero's arms went around me, giving me the feeling of being secure, but more questions filled my mind. "I killed him?" I asked, not seeing how I could have done it in my present state of weakness.

"Yes." Wufei answered, and over his shoulder I could see the worry on Milliardo's face.

"Am I in trouble with the law?" My voice trembled slightly as fear started to climb into bed with me and Heero.

It was now Wufei's turn to offer some comfort. "It seems like a pretty clear cut case of self defense to me," he began. "You were incapacitated and Marcus had a restraining order against him. He clearly was set out to break the law and bring you further harm. I don't think any justifiable charges could be brought against you."

The room went still as I took it all in. I felt an ache in my heart and tried to express my feelings. "I thought that killing was behind me. That I buried it along with the street kid and the gundam pilot." I spoke listlessly, feeling a heavy weight of despair within me that I still had the ability and instincts to kill.

"You are who you are, Max." Milliardo spoke up as he stepped forward and sat on the edge of the bed by Heero's legs. "You didn't lose the child from L-2, nor the rough and ready gundam pilot when you became Maximilian Peacecraft. You just polished up the war-torn child and forged the reckless teenager into the man you wanted to become, the man you were truly destined to be. You wouldn't be the loving person you are to your family and friends if you denied the other parts of you. And when you needed them the most, the strength of the homeless child and the gutsy pilot came to your rescue. Those are the parts of you that saved you from Marcus."

I gave my adopted father, my friend, a watery smile, thanking him for understanding and trying to help me in reconciling those parts of myself.

Then I heard Heero's voice speak next to me, his lips moving against my hair. "It was the rowdy, devil-may-care pilot that I fell in love with. Duo Maxwell, the sometimes obnoxious, impulsive teenager in the priest's getup that took hold of my heart and gave me hope, love and friendship. If he wasn't within you still, I don't know how I could love you so much. Don't push him away completely Duo, because I still need him, and I'm certain that you do too."

I nodded, realizing that what both he and Milliardo were saying was true. I was a combination of all three personalities: the little boy who was hungry for food and love and some kind of home; the teenage boy who had the instincts of a street fighter and the biting sense of humor that masked most of his true hurt and need, and the proper son of an influential family, who could enter a large room with confidence, converse politely with ninety year old women, dance the waltz, know which fork or spoon to use in a nine course dinner and keep my mouth shut when necessary. I was all of them combined in my twenty-year-old body that just happened to be exhausted. But even though I was too tired to do anything for myself for a couple of days, I did manage to begin to reconcile my past with my present and future.

Before I could gather the energy to say what I was feeling, the four of us heard a commotion out in the hospital corridor, directly outside my closed door. Voices were raised, not in shouting, but in disagreement. Suddenly, the door burst open and two people literally threw themselves past what looked to be a harried policeman attempting to block their entry.

"No one is allowed entry to this room," the uniformed officer told the newcomers as he followed them into the room.

"I told you," Quatre said in an angry, adamant huff. "We're family, and there's no way you're keeping us from them."

Trowa stood behind his lover with an amused smile on his face. He looked from the flabbergasted man in the doorway to the four sitting on or lying in the bed watching the scene playing out before them. Then with the same smile on his face, he shrugged his shoulders and patted Quatre's back to calm him.

"It's alright." Wufei stood up from his chair and went to correct the situation. Trowa then wandered over to the bed, his smile slipping as he took in the exhausted faces of his three friends.

"I'm sorry," he said, directing his comments to Heero and Duo. "If we had been here we might have prevented this from happening."

"You've been around Quatre too long." Heero yawned as he spoke. "It's not your fault that this happened."

Trowa opened his mouth to say more but was stopped when his lover. Having finished dealing with the obstinate guard that had refused their entrance to the room, Quatre literally threw himself onto the bed and wrapped his arms around both of the semi-reclining occupants.

Wufei looked to Trowa, wondering what the hell the Arabian was doing. But his legally bound lover only smiled lovingly at the scene before him.

"I'm okay, Quatre. Don't worry so much." I managed to say despite strands of silky blond hair in my mouth and a few tickling my nose.

Quatre pulled back and gave me a look that was filled with pain. After silently gazing at each other for a moment, my blond friend cupped my face in his hands and leaned forward to kiss me full on the lips, lingering for several seconds, just enough to get Heero riled.

When he pulled back, he rested his forehead against mine. "Promise me Duo that you'll settle down with Heero and live a normal and safe life. No more drama, okay? I want you to promise me this because I think I can feel the grey hairs pushing out though my scalp as we speak. You're aging me my friend, so I can't image what you're doing to Heero."

He was right, and I had every intention of keeping my word as I gave him the promise he was seeking. It was actually quite funny to watch his face when it suddenly came to him what he'd just done on impulse and the possible ramifications. In realizing he'd given me a pretty nice kiss in front of my lover, known in the past to be possessive and jealous, he looked up nervously at Heero to see the familiar frown on his face that he always received when he was too affectionate with me. Wanting to smooth it over, he shifted a little, brought both of his hand up and put them on both of Heero's cheeks, just as he had mine, and repeated the action by kissing my lover in the exact same manner as I had been kissed moments before. Heero's eyes were wide with shock when Quatre finally pulled away, causing Trowa, Milliardo, Wufei and I to laugh out loud.

Lu, May and Relena entered the room about then, and plans for my release from the hospital began.

I was allowed to leave the hospital a week after my fever had dropped and my family had me out the back door of the hospital in the middle of the night to avoid the many newspaper and television reporters who were camped out in the lobby of the hospital and around the front entrance. They were all hoping to get a picture of the Peacecraft boy who had been sexually assaulted by the son of another socially prominent family, who had been caught in the act and beaten up by the victim's boyfriend, then hospitalized and put under arrest on scandalous charges that rocked the upper class society the Peacecraft and Standish families belonged to. When the press learned that Marcus was then found dead in a janitor's closet, killed by his very ill and weak victim after he had been kidnaped by him, well, let's just say it was the kind of news that sold papers and magazines. As the story was told through police reports and in a local news report, it sounded like a real-life soap opera or a movie of the week plot, too tempting for the news agencies to pass by, and the press and public became rabid for all the details.

Heero and I stayed at my former home with my parents, sister and a staff that waited hand and foot on us until some of my strength returned. I had plastic surgery on my once infected ear and unless you're up close, you can't tell there's been work done on it.

It's now been three months since that night in Marcus Standish's home and I can almost say I'm over it. Sometimes it seems like a bad, fading dream and at other times it's the cause of nightmares. Several times I woke up with a shout, shaking with the desperation to escape the memory of cruel hands and teeth. It's helped a lot that when I wake up with these night terrors, Heero is always there at my side, his arms are around me, his comforting words and soft kisses cause the dark memories and bad dreams to evaporate, much like the fog that covers the valley below our mountain-side home that dissipates under the warmth of the sun shining down on it. Without a doubt Heero is my sun.

For the first month after I was released from the hospital following my surgery, I retreated with Heero to the house on the hill, our home. It was my sanctuary from the clambering press and the stares of stranger with looks of sympathy and/or disgust. I healed physically and emotionally with the love and care of my family and friends, who visited so frequently that it seemed they lived with us, and also with the help of a therapist Sally recommended.

My first trip back into Sanq was the day I picked up my books for school. Heero and Milliardo were at my side as moral support and protection from any unwanted advances or criticism by the press or public.

The day after Marcus's kidnaping attempt, Heero typed up his resignation and gave it to Relena, who cried. I tried to talk him out of it, but he said he'd had one dream come true when I came back to him and thought it was a good enough sign that maybe there were more dreams to be had. He's going to major in Architectural Engineering when the fall semester starts.

Is it possible to love a person more with each passing day? At the risk of sounding mushy or feminine I'd have to say that I've become a believer that our love has grown beyond even my expectations. Heero is everything to me. And despite the fact that we're living together and with each other all the time, he continues to "date" me as he initially intended when I told him to win me. I find notes around the house addressed to me asking if I'll go with him for a hike, a picnic, a ride in the car or out to dinner or a movie. He used to strive to be the perfect soldier, but now he is striving and more than succeeding at being the perfect lover.

As for my family, they couldn't be more supportive. In fact, next week they're throwing a huge party for Heero and I where we will officially sign the papers making us legal and binding partners for life. May wanted to call the party a wedding and our partnership a marriage, but I told her a wedding ceremony and a marriage would always be in my mind the traditional joining of a man and his wife, male and female. It was a tradition started long before people of the same sex began to openly become couples, that I didn't want to take away from that institution with what Heero and I have. I told her we are anything but traditional and we weren't getting married, but we were celebrating a legal and emotional joining of souls. She seemed to like that explanation and let go of the idea of us walking down an isle with grooms and flower bouquets.

Relena and Wufei seemed to have really hit it off. Who knew Heero could be such a great matchmaker? Wufei intimated to Heero that he admired Relena greatly and felt they might have a future together. All it took was one look at the dreamy-eyed Relena to see she felt the same way. Wufei has changed. He's become softer around the edges and wears his hair down now when he's not working.

Quatre and Trowa have been hanging around a lot. They asked us a week ago if they would be intruding on our space if they bought a plot of land on the other side of the mountain and built a house there. Quatre's eyes danced with excitement saying they could enjoy the morning sunrise from their side of the mountain and the magnificent sunsets over the ocean from our home. The sale goes into escrow tomorrow.

"Duo, are you ready yet?" Heero's voice came from the bedroom and his footsteps alerted the journal writer to hurry and finish his task.

"Yeah, just a minute," he replied, then put his pen back on the paper.

So all is well with Heero and I and our friends. Life is better than I ever dreamed it could be. All the pain and hurt from the past have been long forgiven and forgotten, healed by genuine love and concern for each other. I'm amazed at the second chances I've received, and with Heero by my side I intend to show those who have given me those second chances that I was worth it.

This is the last journal entry of Maximilian Duo Peacecraft. When I open a new journal, it will be in the name of Maximilian Duo Peacecraft-Yuy. Yeah, believe me, I know it's a long name. But in accepting my past as part of my present and future, I decided to keep the names Maximilian and Peacecraft for my family, owing so much to Mill and Lu for giving me a chance to know what a family truly is along with genuine love, concern and a future. I will proudly bear their family name.

As my name changes once again, I find that I can't leave behind the name Duo, though only my war-time buddies call me that now. I need to keep it for the street kid in me, to remember my ties to those who died too young and tragically. Besides, there's nothing in heaven or on earth that can thrill me as much as Heero saying my name in a deep, husky voice filled with need and desire. Nope, I gotta keep the name he calls me in moments of passion. I've given up the name Maxwell, though Maximilian is very close. But as I look to the mantle of our fireplace, to the glass case that holds my yard long braid cut three years ago, I remember well the people who died at the hands of the Alliance, of gentle hands braiding that very hair, and that the long length represented years of hunger, loneliness, need and grief. I needed to put that part of my past aside to begin again, but I know that I can never really forget it.

Soon, I'll take on the last name of Yuy, and happily. Heero is my future, and in taking his name I'm showing my determination to stay with him always and make our union of souls work. I'm signing off for the last time as Maximilian Duo Peacecraft

With a sigh of contentment at a job completed, the braided haired young man closed his journal and turned his head to look at his companion who had been appreciatively watching him for the last few minutes while leaning against the corner of the hallway and the living room walls with his arms folded over his chest and a smile on his face.

Duo stood and walked toward the person he thought the most handsome man he'd ever known. As he drew closer, he could see within his lover's eyes that the sentiment was returned.

"Why do Quatre and Trowa have to have such a fancy celebration of their second anniversary?" Duo asked, not feeling comfortable in the fitted, formal suit he was wearing.

"Because Quatre's a Winner. It's expected of him because of his name and position. Plus," Heero added with an amused smile, "he likes to show Trowa off as much as possible."

"I know the feeling," Duo replied in a husky voice, then leaned forward to receive Heero's hungry kiss. Their arms quickly wrapped around each other, holding tightly, and things started to get heated very quickly. To Duo's disappointment, Heero ended the kiss and stepped back.

"Oh no you don't," Heero gently scolded his lover with a chuckle and a smile. "We can't be late this time. We'll never hear the end of the teasing if we show up late again."

Duo pouted, mostly for Heero's benefit because he knew he liked it. "Then you better make it up to me later," he said saucily.

With a naughty grin, Heero answered, "I will," telling his lover without further words that when he did make it up, it would be very, very good.

Author's Note: Well, that's the end of that. Hope you enjoyed it!


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