by Dyna Dee
It's early Sunday morning on the Colony L-4, and following my habitual daily routine, I'm up before everyone in the house and in my downstairs office at six a.m. I treasure the morning's quiet. It's the only uninterrupted time of my day when I can truly focus on the tasks needing extra time and full attention. I discovered during the wars that my mind is clear of the usual daily clutter when I first awaken, and I can give my full attention to reports or other work related tasks that falls under my job as the Head of Customer Relations for my family's corporation with a fresh mind and no phones or interruptions to disturb my concentration.
This morning, as usual, I pick up the morning paper on the front door step and make my way through the silent and still house to the kitchen. As the kitchen staff have Sunday mornings off, I make myself some tea and two crumpets, slathering both with gobs of butter and orange marmalade. With the paper under my arm, the cup of tea on a saucer in one hand and the plate of crumpets in the other, I make my way to my office.
I've always liked this particular room in the house with its comfortable furniture, dark red walls and a large desk that takes up most of the back wall. Behind it is a fine, deep-red leather chair that fits my body to comfortable perfection. There's a phenomenal sound system installed with speakers in each corner of the room, and a stack of classical CD's to help ease my mind on stressful days.
I've left my lovers sleeping contentedly upstairs in our over-sized bed. They are more than used to my rising early and I'm glad it doesn't disrupt their slumber in the slightest anymore. Just the thought of the two of them brings a contented smile to my face. I am a lucky and happy man to not only know and love two wonderful people, but to have their love in return.
Opening the paper, I go first find the business section, purposely putting the comics aside to read later; a habit I picked up from Duo. After a few bites of my tasty crumpet and jelly, I bring my full cup of tea to my lips, appreciating the peppermint aroma that is carried by the steam to my nose. The sudden ringing of my private line in the stillness of the house startles me and I flinch. In doing so, I spill some of the hot beverage onto my lap.
Setting the cup down quickly into its saucer, I stand up and pull off my thick robe. It's a good thing the house rules are that pajamas have to be worn outside the bedroom, otherwise I'd be standing there in all my pale glory. Thank the merciful heavens for thick robes. Setting the damp robe aside, I sit back down and hope that whoever it is that's calling this early on a Sunday morning had better have a damn good reason for it.
Pressing the button for audio only, I answer the call with a simple, irritated hello.
"I instantly recognize Duo's voice, and that something is wrong. I check the panel and see that Duo has visual, so with a touch of a button I activate the viewing screen and can see with my own two eyes that my hearing had been right. Something is definitely wrong because Duo looks like hell.
"Duo, what's the matter? Are you alright?" I ask anxiously.
Eyes that are red-rimmed and dark circled look back at me on the screen, Duo's face is etched with pain, and in seeing that, it makes me selfishly grateful for a brief moment that Duo isn't in close proximity as I'm sure his pain would echo unbearably through me. Duo usually has a huge tolerance for physical and mental pain, but it looks now like something serious has happened to affect him this way.
"I quit," Duo replies in a resigned voice, and those two words and his emotion-filled eyes tell me all I need to know for the moment. Those were the same words Wufei had used when Trowa and I embraced him on the roof of the Preventer building. I always cringe when I think about the pain our lover had been in up to that point and for some time after. Before that pain-filled day we hadn't been involved romantically with Wufei, but Trowa had I had seen in our frequent visits to Earth that things weren't well with our Chinese friend and it would only be a matter of time before he snapped. A few bad cases and a shuttle full of guilt from the two wars we'd been in had sent the emotionally charged Preventer to the very edge and attempting suicide.
We had discussed what to do in the eventuality that one or any of our friends might need help or support. We jointly came to the conclusion that we would do anything to help any of them. I had the resources to help, and we both had the wherewithal to handle any emotional needs as well. There has always been an odd but definite fierce bond forged between the five of us Gundam pilots during the wars that cemented us all together emotionally, whether we liked each other or not. I didn't know if it was because we were all so young, in repeated dangerous situations with a common mission goal and suffering, or not. Whatever it was, it was strong enough so that, while holding Wufei on the Preventer's rooftop, and feeling the torrent of emotions thundering within him, I felt prompted to promise him a home, a new job away from law enforcing, and love, offered freely from Trowa and myself. It was with great relief that he'd accepted the offer, and he had done it simply and with dignity by turning to the other people who had followed them to the roof and telling them, "I quit".
In December, after the fiasco on Christmas Day with Heero and his lover, Duo was found by Trowa sitting in the corner of his room, literally pulling his hair out. The three of us knew of Duo's indefatigable and unrequited love for Heero, but we'd not been aware of just how much he'd been suffering until that moment. Duo has always been the master of hiding his feelings behind a smile, even with those he considers his closest friends. Along with my lovers, I led Duo to the office I'm now sitting in and sat Duo down for a long talk. With all openness and honesty and on behalf of my lovers, I offered Duo the same shelter as I had offered Wufei. This phone call and Duo's simple statement tells me that he was taking us up on the offer.
"Where are you? Do you need me to arrange a shuttle?" I ask him.
Duo shakes his head and winces slightly at the movement and I can only guess he has a good sized headache. "I'm at a bus terminal," he answers in a strained voice. "I don't want my movements traced so I'll use a fake I.D. to get a flight to L-4."
I'm sitting on the edge of my chair, studying my friend on the screen when a thought pops into my head. "Wait Duo." I turn to my computer and boot it up. "If I remember right, I have a shuttle coming up with a couple of company employees who are returning tonight from a symposium, let me check on it." I turn only after Duo nods and proceed to pull up the necessary data.
Turning back to my tired and worn-out looking friend, I give him the information I've found. "Do you think you can make it to Luxemburg by five this evening?" I ask.
Duo checks the time on his wrist watch, then nods. "If I can get a hopper flight from here, I can be there in a few hours," he answers.
"I'll contact them immediately and they'll be waiting for you. The shuttle will be at gate 23, and will stay there until your arrival. There will be no records to trace this way," I add, and begin to look up the shuttle pilot's contact number.
"Thanks Quatre." Duo says it so wearily, that I looked back at the screen to recognize the signs of exhaustion on his face.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?" I ask, concerned at his present physical and mental state.
"I've just had enough, Quatre," Duo replies, sounding and looking sadly defeated. "I just can't take it any more."
"Then come quickly. We'll be waiting for you at the shuttle dock, alright?"
The brown braided head nods and the connection is severed.
I sit back in my chair and close my eyes. I need to tell Trowa and Wufei that there might be a shift in our relationships again. But I don't think either of them will mind as Duo is their friend as well as mine. He's our comrade and he's in pain. We had discussed this after our chat with Duo on Christmas Day and I know they will join me and do whatever they can to help him. Duo is ours by way of that odd connection as much as we are his. Now we only have to convince him of that fact and keep him from hurting himself on the path of becoming whole again.
At precisely eleven forty five p.m., the Winner Corporation's private shuttle carrying Duo entered the docking bay. After it's secured, the passengers that I watch disembark are people I'm familiar with from the company headquarters. They greet me politely and I nod to them in turn, managing a slight smile for each of them, then turn my head back to the gate to look for Duo.
Except for the crew members, he is the last passenger to leave the shuttle. His eyes, looking dark rimmed and tired, search the small terminal until they find me. With an acknowledging nod of his head, he then gives me a token smile. I can tell how much that smile costs him, his eyes clearly display his pain while his mouth lies for him by keeping up the false grin.
"You look tired," I tell him as we draw near to each other, my concern growing at his haggard appearance .
"I am. Thanks for meeting me," he says quietly and subdued. "I don't think I have the energy to call a taxi."
"Let's get you home then," I say and start to move towards the exit, motioning for him to follow. But after a few steps, I notice that his feet haven't moved from the spot where I left a moment ago, I look over my shoulder and turn back to him. "Duo?" I ask approaching him again. "Are you okay?"
Instead of answering with words, my braided friend lunges forward and I open my arms just in time to receive his fierce hug. "Tell me it's gonna be okay, Trowa." Duo asks softly, his quiet voice pleading for me to answer him positively as his grip on my body is a tight as a drowning man's handhold onto a lifesaver.
I reach up automatically to return the hug, my hands rubbing soothing circles on his back. I know exactly how he feels, all of us former gundam pilots have felt those moment of desperation, not knowing if we could go on or not. "Quatre, Wufei and I are committed to seeing that it is Duo. We've got your back now and, though we've always been here for you, this is truly the first time you've needed us enough to reach back."
Duo holds on if not tighter. "I had my gun pressed against Heero's forehead, Trowa. And it was so tempting...I almost pulled the trigger."
"But you didn't do it, did you?" I ask in a soothing tone. "You went to the edge but pulled back just in time. Now let us help you stand back from it completely." Duo pulls away from me, just slightly, and I search his uncertain eyes. They're still blood shot and pulled down with exhaustion and dry of any trace of tears. Reaching my right hand up, I gently touch his face, my fingers rest against his fair cheek, and not for the first time do I feel awed by the beauty of the smaller man in front of me. "Can you trust us Duo?" I ask, knowing his trust is the foundation for whatever relationship he might seek from us.
"I always have, you know?" His eyes look into mine, so full of need and trust.
I smile and nod, then lower my hand from his face and take his elbow to lead him to the car I have waiting outside. "We've all taken the next couple of days off to be with you and help you get settled," I tell him.
Duo tilts his head and looks aside at me. "You guys don't have to do that," he says honestly. "I'm not suicidal or anything, just emotionally sucked dry."
I nod, understanding completely. I had felt the same way after the war, and it was only Quatre's efforts that pulled me out of my cold shell and emotional insecurities. I've learned what true and selfless love is at the small and tender hands of my Arabian lover. Having rescued me from my nightmares and my troubled past, he's taught me to turn that around, to use my past hurt to recognize another's pain and try to help ease it, especially in the lives of our friends.
The car is parked outside in Quatre's reserved space and, after I open it, Duo tosses his two bags into the trunk, then we both climb into our proper seats. I key in my hand print on the black square placed in the dashboard of the car to start it, then direct the computer to take us back home. Duo drops his head back on the top of his seat and closes his eyes and the rest of the drive home is accomplished in silence.
The short drive takes only ten minutes, and as I latch onto Duo's elbow to support him, I lead him up the stairs and to the front door. I key in the security code on the front panel, still holding his arm and I can feel his body starting to tremble under my hand. "What's the matter?" I ask him with growing concern.
Exhausted eyes looked up into mine. "I'm just so damn tired Tro, I feel like I'm going to drop right here and sleep for a week."
"You can sleep as long as you want to, Duo. And when you feel ready to get up, you'll have a whole new life here for you, one I hope you'll learn to be as happy with as Wufei and I have."
Those words must have meant a lot to the lost soul I stand next to, because as I spoke them, I could see Duo's eyes fill with unshed moisture and then he nods his head. "Thanks," he whispers, and then lowers his eyelids. I turn to reach for the door knob and open the large front door to the mansion I call home and gently lead him in.
The lights are still on and I know Quatre and Wufei were waiting for me to return with Duo. We've been anxious all day for his arrival, especially after Quatre related to us the state he'd seen Duo in on the vid screen. As we step through the door, I'm pleased but not surprised to see the two standing side by side in the foyer waiting to greet us. Quatre takes one look at Duo then quickly approaches him and gently enfolds the emotionally hurt young man into his compassionate arms.
"Oh, Duo," he whispers, his face wincing at the emotional pain he feels emanating off our friend. Duo's arms come up and circle around Quatre's slender body and the two friends just stand and hold each other for several moments. When Duo's arms drop, Quatre steps back so they can speak face to face.
With a gentle smile, Quatre holds out his hand. "Welcome home, Duo," he says with warmth and sincerity.
"Thanks, Quat." We all watch Duo struggling to smile, and he only half succeeds as he stretched out his hand and placed it and his future into the blond's more than capable care.
"Come on, you're tired. Do you want to shower or have something to eat before bed?" Quatre inquires thoughtfully, always a good host.
Duo shakes his head. "I'm really too tired to do anything," he replies with a deep yawn.
"Then I'll have Wufei escort you to your room. We'll talk whenever you feel like it, okay?"
"I appreciate it," Duo mumbles, looking like he is about ready to collapse.
Quatre turns his head to glance at Wufei and gives him a significant look. Our Chinese lover nods back with a slight smile then steps forward. Picking up Duo's bags near his feet, he puts his arm around the slender shoulders and steers the exhausted young man towards the staircase while Quatre and I bid them both goodnight.
My blond lover turns into me and wraps his arms around my waist, hugging me tightly. "He's in so much pain, Trowa. I don't know how he bears it," he whispered emotionally into my chest.
"He's here now and we'll do what we can to help him," I say softly, trying to console him. I don't want Quatre to know pain or hurt any more, but with his space heart it's almost impossible to shield him from the pain others suffer and that he feels their emotions so deeply. I hold him close, wishing I could forever shelter his kind soul while knowing I can't, not completely.
"It's late, let's go to bed so we can be rested to deal with whatever happens tomorrow," I whisper into the silky blond hair resting just below my cheek.
"Yes, Duo's in capable hands tonight. We'll deal with everything else tomorrow, when he wakes up," he replies. And with that said, we move together to turn out the lights, then make our way up the grand staircase and with arms wrapped around each other, enter the master suite.
I lead Duo up the grand staircase towards the bedroom that had always been his whenever he's visited. With my arm around his shoulders guiding him along, I maneuver him into the dark but familiar room and flip the switch on the wall that turns on the lights. Then moving towards the direction of the adjoining bathroom, I turn on that light and return to the immobile figure, standing with his shoulders slumped with exhaustion and gently push him forward.
"Go ahead and wash up and I'll wait here to see you get into bed and not fall asleep on the floor in there," I tease him. But my dry sense of humor is lost on the fatigued man and I can't help but wonder how long it has been since he's slept.
Two minutes later he came out with his face washed and teeth brushed. He stands mutely before me waiting to be told what to do. I go to him and ease off his jacket and begin to unbutton his shirt. He stands listlessly before me and I know he's completely emotionally and physically drained for him to just stand there and let me undress him. But when I come to the button on the waistband of his jeans, I pause with hesitation, not wanting to be presumptuous.
"I'll do it," he says, his pale cheeks pinking with a blush I've rarely ever seen on him. I stand by and wait patiently until he's standing in his boxers and undershirt, then point him to the bed that I have already turned down. "Climb in," I tell him, and he dutifully complies. It isn't until I begin to crawl in with him that he truly realizes what's happening.
"W..what are ya d.. d.. doing Wu?" he stutters.
"I'm keeping you company," I answer in a matter of fact tone of voice.
"Um... I.. a... don't think I'm ready for this yet." He trips over his words with trepidation written on his face. "I know you guys are probably under the impression that I was ready to jump into your bed, and when I called Quatre this morning I was determined to. But..., but now I'm just not sure if I can do that right away."
"Shhh," I put my fingertips over his fast moving lips. "No one expects anything from you, Duo. We made you an offer at Christmas, the same offer that was given to me when I was about to put myself out of my misery." I look into his face to see if he is absorbing anything I am saying while in his current exhausted state. "You can make as much or as little of the offer that you want to." I continue. "It's up to you how far you want your relationship with us to go. We can be lovers or just the best of friends if that is what you need and want. Whatever you decided, we are here for you." I finish speaking and see a skeptical look on his face and a raised, questioning eyebrow and realize I'll need to spell it out a bit more for him.
"Listen, Duo," I patiently begin again. "When I was brought here by Trowa and Quatre, after my feeble attempt at suicide, I had a couple of really bad hours, no," I amended, "make that days. On that first night here, the three of us went to sleep together because they were afraid to let me be alone. I was put in the middle of Quatre and Trowa's bed and they guarded my sleep, sleeping near me, sheltering me on both sides so that I would know that I wasn't alone. It was more comforting than I can express to you, Duo. And from that night on, I have never been nor felt alone, other than when I'm out of town. Because of that, and the very fact that Trowa and Quatre genuinely love me and I love them, I was saved from my past, my guilt, and my nightmares. And so in return for my life being made whole again, I asked to be the one to guard your sleep tonight, and that's all. I think if you even subconsciously know a friend is near, that you aren't alone anymore, you'll sleep more restfully, like I did back then."
Duo looks up at me with his beautiful, expressive eyes. "You really mean to just sleep next to me?" he asks timidly and in a way I find unusual for him and much too endearing.
"Yes," I answer with a slight smile of reassurance. "Will you let me give to you the rest and security that was given to me?"
He hesitates only a moment before he scoots over to make more room for me. "Okay," he says. "But I have to warn you, I haven't slept in a bed with another person in a long time and I have some really hellish dreams sometimes."
"I hadn't either before I came here, but it only took a night or two for me to never want to sleep alone again," I tell him with all honesty.
We both settled into our places and even though we're not touching, I know that he lays stiff and nervous beside me. "You need to relax Duo or you'll never go to sleep," I gently admonish.
"I know," he sighs, deeply weary. "This is just strange for me, and I think I'm too tired to sleep. Sounds stupid, doesn't it?"
"No, not at all. Here," I turn onto my side to look directly at him. "Turn on your side facing away from me."
With a leery eye, he does as I asked, though he moved almost reluctantly. I spoon my body up behind him and place my arms around him, holding his back against my chest, his head on my lower arm. We slightly adjust our positions once again to gain some comfort, then settle down. He's still rigid.
"Alright, we'll try an old relaxing technique to calm your mind and body," I tell him. "I'm going to call out to you a body part and I want you to relax it, mentally and physically loosen the muscles until they feel like dead weight, one limb or body part at a time," I say, hoping this will work in getting him to relax enough for him to get his much needed sleep. "First, I want you to relax your toes, let all the tension go out of them." After a moment he nods, telling me he has complied with my instructions. "Now your feet, let them fall heavy against the mattress." After several moments he nods again. We then moved upward, relaxing his legs, his fingers and hand, then his arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, eyes, and then his mind. Moments later I'm rewarded in hearing his breathing following a sleeping pattern and, feeling quite satisfied with myself, I allow myself to drift off to sleep, enjoying the soft floral scent of his hair that rests against my face, and the feel of the smaller, compact and warm body, so much like Quatre's, resting trustingly in my arms. My last thoughts are those of satisfied relief that Duo is here, that he came to us in his hour of need, and that somehow, things are going to be alright.
"I can't believe this," I mutter angrily, concentrating on the information scrolling down on my computer screen. "Who the hell did this and how can I have him arrested?" I growl out unhappily. I jump slightly at an unexpected and acerbic voice speaking in an abrupt manner to me from the doorway of my new office.
"Who are you and what are you doing on Agent Maxwell's computer?" The person I can almost see in my peripheral vision challenges me from the open doorway to my small office. I sigh deeply; great, here's another one.
"Agent Maxwell is gone, I'm his replacement," I answer without looking away from the screen at yet another Preventer employee inquiring about the obviously popular young man who had once worked from this room. "And no," I snap, anticipating the next question, "I don't know where he went or any other of the one hundred questions I've been asked about him since I transferred here two and a half weeks ago." Well, I guess I could have been more friendly, but my voice comes out as it usually does, inferring that I'm bored, which I am, from the repetition of having answered the same questions over and over again.
There's a tone of bewildered hurt in that voice and as I recognize it, I manage to tear my eyes away from the offensive screen to see a young, part-Asian and handsome agent with a mop of unruly dark brown hair, standing in the doorway. The deep blue eyes seem to be searching the room as if he will find evidence of the other agent. I now recognize the person who had been described to me in great detail when I first started here and was assigned to this room.
"You're Yuy, aren't you?" I ask, absently straightening the desk name plate that displays my name, Agent Brian White. Seeing a spot on it, I lift it up and polish the finger print off with my shirt sleeve, then set it back down and reposition it. Only then do I look up again.
Piercing blue eyes have returned to me and I can't help the shiver that goes up my spine at the intensity of the young man's gaze. Damn, but they're recruiting them younger and younger. This guy looks to be at least fifteen years younger than I am, and trim to boot. I need to get in the gym and exercise the beer belly off of my middle. The young agent merely nods his head in reply to my question as to his identity.
"I was told that if you ever stopped by to inquire about Maxwell that I was to direct you to Director Une's office," I tell him then grumble, "I think everyone in the entire building has been here, and you're the last, I hope." Getting no reply, I look with curiosity at the other Preventer and note the blank expression on his face. "I'm guessing you weren't particularly close to him, were you? Seems like the guy had a ton of friends in the office and the asshole was insensitive enough to leave without letting anyone know. Oh well, far be it from me to judge," I say, then studying the other agent further, I take in the fact that his uniform is perfectly ironed and crisp looking, even after several hours of work. Yeah, I'm envious.
I can almost swear that Agent Yuy is glaring at me. Guess he didn't like something I said. I watch as he rudely turns on his heel and leaves the doorway without a word in response.
"Geeze, I wonder what his problem is?" I grump out loud, wondering at the younger man's rudeness as he leaves the room. With a huff of disgust, I look back at my computer screen and resume my work with some degree of frustration. Whoever this Agent Maxwell was, he sure screwed up this computer. Even though it was reported to have been wiped clear of the previous agent's documents and work, I discovered a week later, after imputing information regarding my newly assigned cases, that a small cartoon caricature of the Gundam Deathscythe Hell randomly appears on the screen and hacks at whatever page is on the screen until it's unreadable. I take the time to think a few very bad thoughts about Agent Duo Maxwell as I dig in and try once again to find and delete the irritating and damaging program.
I was in the middle of speaking to Noin when I looked up at a new intrusion into my office. Heero just burst through the door without a knock on the door of going through my secretary for permission to enter. The look on his face is down right frightening, and I know an uncomfortable meeting between the two of us is about to occur. "If you'll excuse us for a minute, Lu, I need to speak with Heero," I tell the raven haired woman who is my best friend. Lucretia Noin looks at Heero, with his famous glare in full working order, gives him an uncertain smile of greeting, then quickly leaves the room.
"Where is he?" Heero demands, a look of desperate anxiousness in his eyes.
"He's gone, Heero," I reply simply, keeping my voice calm in an effort to keep Heero subdued.
"I know that," he spits out. "I want to know where he's gone to."
Moving slowly back to my desk and sitting in my chair, I remind myself that I'm a very capable and confident woman, I can deal with this angry and dangerous individual calmly and rationally. After all, I have been expecting his visit for the past few weeks. I rest my arms on the chair's armrests, and look up at him questioningly. "Why Heero? Why is it so important for you to know where Duo's gone when you haven't even realized he's been gone until now? He left three weeks ago and you never even noticed."
"We had a disagreement and I was giving him time and space to get over it. I want to make it right between us," Heero answers in a short, clipped voice.
"Well, I heard that there was a little bit more to it than that, but that's alright, I know the truth. And for that very reason, I'm not telling you where he's gone. It was Duo's choice to leave and make a fresh start, one away from you, Heero. I think I owe it to him to respect his wishes that you not be told."
"He was very upset. He had his gun in his hand when I last saw him." Heero replies, and I think he's secretly hoping that if he sounds desperate enough, I'll let something slip. He should know better than that. I wasn't born yesterday and I've dealt with Duo Maxwell for several years, and believe me, that young man put me through the paces enough time to be able to spot anyone's ploy to get something from me in any manner of ways.
"Yes, he was very upset," I reply. "He came back here the night you two fought in the car and resigned. I've never seen him filled with such cold anger before. It was very disturbing." I take just a moment to observe one of the agency's finest agents. I already lost two of three former gundam pilots that worked for me for personal, emotional reasons, and I'll be damned if I'm going to lose another because I failed to be responsive to his emotional problems, like I failed with Wufei and Duo. I had known they were both going through a rough time, and though Duo accepted the medical assistance for his depression, it hadn't been enough to help that young man deal with Heero's continual distancing and he adamantly refused to have a third party intervention between himself and his best friend. "Sit down Agent Yuy." I motion to the chair that sits in front of my tidy desk.
Regardless of the stubborn spark in Heero's eye, he complies.
"Heero," I begin by saying his name with concern. "I wouldn't let Duo resign until he sat down and told me what had upset him so much. We spoke of you."
Agent Yuy's knuckles turn white as he grips the arm rests of his chair. "Duo had no right to speak to you regarding my personal life."
"Maybe so." I sit back into my comfortable chair and keep a careful watch on the very young and possibly emotionally disturbed young man in front of me. "But he did, and now I'm concerned, too."
"Don't be. My personal life does not reflect on my work here at the Preventers. I'm making my own decision for once in my life and I'll not be brought to regret that freedom by people with narrow minds." He glares at me, regardless of the fact that I'm his superior officer, and speaks to me in a vehement tone of voice.
"Narrow minds have nothing to do with this Heero. I'm not passing judgment on your being sexually active. However, if what Duo said was true, you're definitely showing signs of addiction. Can you possibly go without sexual contact for more than a day or two?"
"I'm in a relationship, I don't have to," he answers in his usual logical manner.
"Yes, I've heard about your boyfriend, and not only from Duo. Is there an underlying reason why he looks just like your best friend?"
"As Duo clearly pointed out, we're not best friends and you're not a psychiatrist."
I narrow my eyes at the insubordination coming from the young man sitting stiffly before me. "No, and I can only recommend that you see one to figure out why you're doing the things you do," I reply in a cool tone. "I understand you've alienated yourself from the other pilots with your lifestyle and companion, and that worries me Heero. Your relationship with the others seemed to be important to all of you once. Are you truly going to be okay without them in your life?"
Heero stands suddenly from his seat, indicating he's done conversing with me. "I've been without Duo for three weeks and I haven't missed him at all. I'll be fine," he states firmly. He then turns to leave the room when I stop him with a parting comment.
"I'll be watching your work Heero, and if I find your lifestyle affecting your job performance, I'll force you to seek help or you'll lose your job."
Suddenly, and not for the first time, I feel much too young to be in such a vaulted position as the head of the world's peacekeeping organization. I sigh deeply as Heero all but stomps out the door and into my secretary's office on his way out. I've discharged part of my promise to Duo before he left of talking to Heero and suggesting he get counseling. Closing my eyes I can still picture Duo, red faced and livid. It was strange, when reflecting back, that I remember thinking that Duo had looked breathtakingly handsome in such a highly agitated state. His large, blue-violet eyes were flashing with anger and his fair cheeks were flushed with color. I had just finished up and was leaving for the day when he'd burst into my office and announced his was quitting his position. It had taken some patience and twenty minutes to get him to settle down enough to sit and speak rationally to me. What I'd heard that night was still surprising, if not shocking.
Convincing him that I wouldn't let him resign without a plausible explanation, the young man, only twenty years old but with a lifetime of hardship and heartache, began ranting about his stupidity and then about Heero. It didn't take long to put two and two together and realize that Duo had fallen in love with his friend.
"How long have you been in love with him, Duo?" I'd asked him, and his head jerked up in surprise.
Suddenly his shoulder's slumped and he hung his head. It was a side of Duo Maxwell that I rarely saw, he looked vulnerable, young, hurt and insecure.
"Since the first war," he answered, almost in a whisper that still managed to carry his feelings of embarrassment at his confession. "I tried to hide it, to deny it, but I just couldn't. But when I told Heero how I felt, he told me he didn't feel the same about me. I'm sure you think I'm an idiot for not letting him go sooner, I know I feel like one now."
"No, not at all, Duo. The heart sometimes lead us down painful paths, and it takes us a while to learn from our mistakes." I answered and smiled at him, reassuring him of the fact that I still held him in high esteem.
It was then that Duo looked up at me with surprise, and with a little more coaxing, his words came tumbling out, painfully at times, as his need to have someone listen to him took over his earlier reservations. He never once broke his composure, only his expressive eyes revealed his heartbreak as he told me his history with Heero. Needless to say, I was shocked to learn of Heero's sexual promiscuity. I had prided myself on knowing somewhat about the agents in my building, especially my top performers, but I hadn't known Heero's sexual dalliances were as bad as Duo had reported. I had been aware that relations between the two former gundam pilots had been strained at times, but then I'd see them playing basketball together and would dismiss the idea that their friendship was in trouble.
I lean forward in my seat, letting go of the memory of the heartbroken and angry young man who had sat in this office three weeks ago and poured his heart and soul out to me before he left his job and his home, and dismiss thoughts and guilt of my unsuccessful meeting with Heero moments earlier. It's only late morning and I'm ready to go home. Instead of giving into my selfish wants, I take a deep breath, let it out slowly, then delve into the large stack of papers marked "Priority" to my right and resume my work.