Heero stared. Duo had looked away and was now gazing at the ceiling, still wearing a smile that Heero could only describe as... serene.
"I..." Heero had no idea what it was he wanted to say.
"I guess I shocked you, hm? Well, I'm sorry." Heero had no doubt that Duo was not at all sorry in the way that perhaps he should be. "I know what you're thinking, though." He pushed himself off the wall and walked slowly towards Heero. "How can I love you? We've only known each other five minutes. But..." he was now close enough to touch; and he did so, just running his fingertips ghostlike over Heero's cheek: Heero shivered. "... you know why. I don't know what's made you forget, but I'm going to make you remember." He leaned in close, and Heero felt flutters inside in anticipation of the kiss: but it never came. Instead, he felt Duo's words touch his lips, as close as if they were his own... "Because, Heero, we're alike. We *aren't* like everyone else, and we don't do what they expect, and *that's* what makes us try. You mustn't ever give up trying, Heero: it's like I told you, remember? You never know what you can achieve until you try." He pulled back a little; Heero let out a shaky breath. Duo shrugged, and smiled again. "Sounds corny. And I know you must feel like giving it all up, I know you must feel... responsible... but that's not going to solve anything." He leaned in again, looking into Heero's eyes before moving his lips next to Heero's ear and saying words with a strange resonance: "So don't ever give up."
He moved, then, as Heero registered his words: quicker than Heero could realize, Duo pressed a kiss to his mouth, gave him one last smile, and left the room before Heero could speak.
Heero tentatively raised a hand to his mouth, touching his fingertips to the imprint of Duo's kiss.
`He loves me. I believe him. And...'
Heero left the building quietly, deep in thought.
Heero returned to the station in the reflection of the mood he had left in. Calmed; but realising how much there was to do.
"Trowa." He stopped by the sergeant's desk. "I'm sorry about earlier."
Trowa held his gaze a moment. "I understand."
Heero nodded. "Let's figure out what we're going to do next."
Trowa picked up the printouts he was studying and followed Heero to the DI's office. He closed the door behind them as Heero sat down behind his desk.
"There's no point regretting what's happened; we need to work out what to do about it. What have you found, Trowa?"
"I spent some more time on the list of people who caught our attention, and managed to eliminate a couple more. But the truth is, no-one seems to know what to do. Everyone was so keyed up yesterday after we found the cameras, but now even the DCI seems to be at a loss. His opinion is to let it go for a while, concentrate on things we have more ideas about."
Heero frowned. "I'm beginning to see that it's that sort of attitude that's got us into this situation. I think we should keep a close eye on the summit. Something's happening, I know it. I don't know what it is, and I'm not even close to knowing; but if we keep trying we'll get to it eventually." He looked up at Trowa. "Are you with me?"
Trowa gave a small smile. Heero knew the look, and was relieved. "Yes, sir."
Heero left work in a more upbeat mood than he had for a long time. He knew what he had to do, and was confident that he could achieve it; even if he didn't know exactly how he would achieve that yet. He was slightly amused at the reversal in his mood: yesterday evening he had felt so entirely demoralized, especially after his encounter with Relena. He half-wondered if she would notice his lightening of demeanour, and what she'd think about it. As he was thinking about that in the detached part of his mind, he realized he might find out soon enough - he was back at the house, ore quickly than he expected. He thought Relena would probably be home already; he decided to go straight upstairs and get ready for going out again, but as he walked past the door of the lounge her voice called him.
"Heero? Could you come in here please?"
He obliged, but did not sit down, even when she did.
"I just wanted to say... I'm sorry about the way I behaved yesterday."
Heero's eyes widened. "What...?"
"I'm sorry if I was too... harsh with you. I was just a little angry about the way things went at the summit yesterday." She paused for a moment. "Duo Maxwell... apologised for starting that argument yesterday afternoon. He said he'd just overreacted in the heat of the moment; he got carried away." Again, she paused. This sort of speech, Heero knew, was a little unusual for Relena. "I guess I did too. I'm sorry, Heero. I just thought I should say."
Heero stared at his wife for a few minutes, taken aback. "It's alright, Relena. I understand. I know it's difficult for you, keeping the peace when people seem to want to sabotage it." `That... sounds familiar.'
She smiled, clearly relieved that he had forgiven her. "I'm pleased that's sorted out. After all, weren't you with Duo at the opening dinner? You seemed to get on well."
Heero found himself faced by a scenario strangely similar to the one he had been wondering about earlier. He thought on his feet. "Yeah. We've become... quite good friends."
Relena smiled at him still. "I'm glad."
Heero knocked three times on the door of the hotel suite he had visited almost exactly twenty four hours ago. He only had to wait a few moments before the door was opened, and he met the face that had drifted through his thoughts increasingly over the past few days.
Duo stood, hesitating. "I thought maybe you wouldn't come." For the first time, Heero saw just a hint of nervousness in his expression; Heero found it affected him.
"I had to." He softened his own expression to reassure Duo.
It seemed to work. Duo stepped back, ushering Heero into the room and gesturing for him to sit down. Heero accepted, and Duo placed himself on the end of a couch, against the wall next to Heero.
He looked Heero in the eye, and Heero saw sincerity. "What I said earlier... I have to tell you... I meant it."
"You don't have to say anything. Maybe I should've kept quiet. But I thought you needed to know."
Heero let the silence settle for a moment. "You were right. I did need to know. It helped me, a lot. Thank you." He paused. "I... can't say anything more right now..." He suddenly felt helpless. "I know what I would like to say... but... I can't mean it, not yet." Heero knew that, sometime soon, he would mean it.
But, for now... Duo smiled. "I understand."
The silence waited again for a few moments, easing a little time until Heero dispelled it again. "Relena said... you apologised for the argument you started yesterday."
Duo smiled and looked a little embarrassed. "Heh, well, I told you I was going to... It wasn't quite as painful as I expected. And, y'know, it was pretty effective too: they said they'd considered what I'd said, and in light of my recognising the fact that I'd gone about it the wrong way, they actually thought my point was useful and are, hopefully, going to do something with it!" Duo smiled broadly, clearly pleased with his achievements.
Heero felt the happiness spread out from Duo and seep into him, and he couldn't help smiling himself. "So you did something you set out to accomplish."
Duo nodded, but his smile faded a little. "It's something, I guess, but... not enough. Yet. But, there's not a lot of time left. The summit will be over in another week."
That thought hit Heero hard. Of course - Duo would be leaving soon! And... he had said he would go too. Out of nowhere, he had to say it. "I can't leave Relena, Duo."
Heero felt the atmosphere in the room change. There was a silence, as if Duo was trying out different sentences in his head before deciding which one he should say. Heero refused to look at him, an odd sense of... almost shame touching him.
In the end Duo simply said "Why not?" Heero was grateful.
"She... still needs me, Duo. To... hep her do her job. Protect her. I thought she didn't need me anymore, but with all of this at the summit... I realised she still does." He stared into space.
"But Heero, you're miserable! You could be just as much, no, more help to the colonies!" Duo's voice was urgent.
Heero didn't respond. He knew what Duo said was true, but... He couldn't... He heard Duo cross the room, kneel in front of him, felt him take Hero's left hand in both his own. Heero turned his head to look at Duo's face. The expression he saw there was deadly serious.
"I won't give up, Heero. It would be stupid to give up before I've even started." He held Heero's hand tighter. "It might sound selfish of me, wanting you to come with me... but you've got to leave, Heero, with or without me. You've got to think of your own happiness."
Suddenly Duo leaned in and pressed his mouth on Heero's; Heero felt a surge of passion spark through him and he responded as eagerly as Duo. Maybe Duo wasn't expecting it; Heero heard him moan into the kiss, and soon he found himself being pulled to his feet and towards the bed.
Still feverishly feeding at Duo's mouth, he lay down on his side on the bed, allowing himself to feel the electricity in Duo's touch... He ran his own hands over Duo's back as the other man lay close; he could tell how aroused Duo was by the heat that radiated from him, and Heero felt it spreading through him too, quickening his pulse.
Duo shifted, pushing Heero onto his back; Heero made a small sound of not-quite-surprise as he felt Duo, hard against his thigh, and hands beginning to unbutton his shirt, and lips moving down his neck. "Oh god..." Heero... felt alive, could feel every nerve ending, feel his pulse everywhere, vital; he felt real again.
But, as Duo's hands reached the third button of his shirt, he could feel tendrils of unease creep back into his mind... He... he couldn't do this... it would be...
"No," Heero managed to gasp out. "I... can't..."
Duo stopped what he was doing, and sat up a little to see Heero's face. "Heero...?"
Heero shook his head, eyes closed. "No... It would be wrong to... betray Relena..." He felt his heart turn bitter again, sensation dulling and sinking back into the cage.
He could feel Duo's eyes on him still, hear the disbelief in the silence. "I'm sorry," he murmured, trying to fill the short words with all his shame and all his sincerity.
Duo had not moved. Heero opened his eyes, expecting anger or disgust; he saw only sadness in Duo's face. "I know, Heero." He still made no attempt to let go, or let Heero go. "But... I told you, I'm not going to give up." Heero felt a deep thrill from those words: a security, a promise. "Please..." he lowered his face to Heero's again, offering a kiss, "I... Let me... just let me touch you, skin on skin..."
He waited, Heero realised, for Heero to nod; then smiled as he slid his hands up under Heero's shirt, stroking the skin in gentle touches... Heero felt his heart fill up at the soft feeling, knew he felt... tenderness.
Without letting himself think about it, he did the same, running his hands over the smooth skin of Duo's back under his shirt, and imprinting the feeling into his memory.
They held each other, silent, taking refuge.