Heero watched as several days slipped past. He found himself thinking, several times, of the unusual young man whose attention he'd caught for some reason. Strange how the thoughts brought some sort of invisible smile to him. But he thought too of all the questions he hadn't asked, but realised he wanted to... About Duo's war experiences, about his life, the streets. The more Heero thought about it, the more curious he was about the young man whose life echoed his own. He found it strange. It wasn't often, outside of his job, that he found himself so interested in finding out about a person... But his thoughts kept falling back to the same groove.
It wasn't really a surprise to him when a message came up from the front desk: "Sir, visitor for you." He knew who it was, and smiled that inner smile.
He made his way downstairs to where Duo was making conversation with the constable on duty.
"Ah, Mr. Yuy!" Duo's formality was in acknowledgment of his rank. "You're not too busy to join me for lunch, are you?"
They went to the park, the same park Heero often visited; but this time he noticed the dahlias and marigolds as Duo pointed them out, and he shaded his eyes in the bright sunlight.
"So, how come you're not meeting Relena now then?" Duo said as they sat on the bench.
Heero looked at him. "She's usually too busy."
Duo smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that she wasn't really busy because I'm not busy... After all, I'm only a junior and all..." His voice trailed off.
Heero looked away.
"Sorry. How've you been, anyway?"
"Just fine. I'm having a great time at the summit. I'm not sure how much they're listening to me, but at least I'm talking.
Duo looked pleased to explain his point to another listener, but his expression clouded as he began. "Up on L2, and I'm sure it's the same everywhere, even on earth, the wars have hit hard; but I think the colonies got it worst. Structural damage up there is so much harder to repair, and so it's also more expensive. Of course, the Earth Sphere want to concentrate on rebuilding the earth itself first... but the people of the colonies can't wait until the government have enough money to repair them *after * repairing the earth... " Duo looked down bitterly. "So many colonial men died – far more than from earth, because earth had superior weapons, for the most part." The flash in Duo's eyes told Heero he was thinking of the Gundam as well. "So now, there's too many women struggling to bring up kids and earn enough to feed 'em... And too many kids with no parents at all."
Duo fell silent, and Heero felt a twinge... Of course, the soldiers who had let themselves be found, be decorated for their deeds – had been selfish. *He * had been selfish. He had never been back to the colony since the war; but, he told himself despairingly, what could he do? He had had another duty given to him, and he had accepted it. He looked at Duo's profile; another surge of admiration for him: it surprised him, but he kept his face impassive. He felt suddenly inadequate next to this determined young man. Heero knew he hadn't the right temperament to do what Duo did: he was well aware of his confrontational, even hostile, attitude towards his adversaries, and he refused to hide this attitude when directly presented with an opportunity to show it. So Relena did her best to keep him out of such situations. It greatly displeased her, Heero knew, that she tried her hardest to maintain peaceful relations and negotiations, but her husband remained as uncompromising as ever. No, Heero accepted his lack of diplomatic skill. Duo, though... Duo had something... Even though he always seemed so determined, like he wouldn't give in or compromise his principles, he had... a charisma that Heero suspected would make him good at his job. He could get away with a forward, even aggressive approach which Heero found he admired... He thought maybe he would like to see Duo working sometime. Another surprise: he had long since grown tired seeing Relena negotiating with blinkered and selfish bureaucrats – placating them with ornate words. But he suspected it might be interesting, even amusing, to watch Duo do the same job, in his own way.
He watched Duo now; the young man lost in thought. He remembered the last thing Duo had said, and felt another spear of remembrance twist something inside him. Something occurred to him: a feeling, a suspicion...
Quietly he broke the silence, half-surprising himself. "Was that what it was like for you?"
Duo turned immediately to look at him, weighing up the question. He nodded eventually. "Yeah. You remembered what I said to you the other night?" He sounded almost incredulous. Heero nodded; Duo smiled. "Somehow, it doesn't surprise me. Yeah, that's how I ended up on the streets; the Alliance oppression fucked up so many lives, I want to make things better, even just a little... "
"I know." Heero's voice was still quiet. He held Duo's gaze, seeing his eyes widen in surprise again.
"You mean you... ?" The question went unfinished.
Heero nodded almost imperceptibly. He never talked about his past, never let anyone know... but he knew the same was true of Duo. You didn't tell people. It meant remembering...
Somehow, though, there was something different about Duo – something that made him unafraid to think about it, because... he knew...
Duo spoke rapidly, quietly. "Then you know why I do my job... you see... And I know why you do yours... "
Heero looked at him. "What?"
"... Protecting people who can't protect themselves... " Duo held his gaze steadily.
Heero stared, then shook his head. He was silent for a minute; then his reply was sudden, and vehement. "I should do more!" He stared bitterly at the ground, silent for a moment, before explaining his feelings. "Being in the police sometimes feels like a waste of time. You have to... compromise to get results... compromise yourself, your beliefs." Again he was reminded of Relena, negotiating, balancing people's interests and taking a meandering path to a conclusion that would be best for no-one. He suspected Duo, for all his diplomatic ambition and talent, would do things rather differently. He wanted to be like that as well... but... everything held him back... "I used to be a Preventer." His voice was softer now, words coming quickly, like Duo's had. Again he felt more than mildly surprised at how much he was revealing to this man, whom he had met only twice before; but something he couldn't quite identify, the same thing that made him let Duo know about his past, made him continue his story without fear or hesitation... He felt, somewhere, a vague spark of something like hope that the same inexplicable feeling had made Duo talk to him as well.
"I left the Preventers four years ago. Thought I would try a more civilian way of preventing crime... " He skirted round his reasons; after all, this man knew Relena; he didn't want to make him uncomfortable. "But... " How to explain?
"Corruption?" Duo's eyes were a little wider.
"... " Heero knew there was corruption, even though he had never seen it; he shrugged. "Worse. Complacency. Everyone's happy to settle for the lowest result they can, as long as it's some sort of result. They say that's the way the system is; it's not always fair, but there's nothing we can do." He fell into another bitter silence.
A touch on his arm where the sleeve was rolled up. Heero stared at the hand that had come to rest there as though he'd never been touched before. The touch was not tentative, not light, but not heavy... Heero found it was the most reassuring sensation he'd felt in... he couldn't remember.
"Just because they say it's not fair," Duo's voice was low, but filled with a conviction that struck Heero deeply, "doesn't mean you shouldn't try to make things better. In fact, just the opposite." Heero turned and met a gaze that was entirely stripped down, showing nothing but truth. "You do a hard job, a vital job, and I know you do it well, Heero." The words were simple, and Heero felt a warmth touch inside. He held Duo's gaze with gratitude. After a long moment, he looked down to where the hand rested on his arm. Duo's gaze followed his.
"That's quite a bruise there. What happened to you?"
Heero looked; the bruise was a newish one, still dark on the pale skin of his forearm. His small smile faded. It took a few moments for him to find his voice. "Some prisoners don't take being arrested very well. One of the hazards of the job."
"I would guess so."