I Could Fall
He can be a real idiot sometimes. Really and truly. Especially where that bastard is concerned. In fact, I'd say he's *only * an idiot where that other one is concerned, but he's a big enough idiot over him to make it count all the time. I've come to the conclusion he'd do anything for Heero, which might sound touching and romantic, but would actually be incredibly stupid. 'Yes Heero, of course I'll self-destruct. You know best.' 'No Heero, of course I don't mind you running off to rescue Relena yet again when we really need you here.' Tch.
Duo's told me much about his war experiences: funny how he usually concentrates on the ones involving Heero. Most of them don't strike me as being particularly sweet memories: I wouldn't have thought that having guns pointed at you, getting punched in the gut, having your identity 'borrowed', and so on and so forth, were signs of a very loving relationship.
To be quite frank, Heero has always treated Duo like shit and I intend to put a stop to it.
Since the war ended things haven't got better. I mean, the whole Mariemeia thing made me angry: 'Duo I need your help saving the world again.' Oh sure, Heero, I better help then. 'Oh and by the way now you're here and can't back out we have to go save Relena. Again.' Did I say that before? There, you see what I mean. He takes advantage of Duo's nature so mercilessly - not to mention Duo's feelings towards him. He knows, alright - he knows Duo would move mountains for him, and knows just how to use that fact for his benefit.
And Duo just does it. Even if he'd rather have his teeth pulled than go save the ubiquitous peacegirl again. Not that *I * have anything against Relena. I've only met her a couple of times, found her a very interesting and determined person. But Duo sees things a bit differently, and with good reason.
At least, he used to. He used to not let her name be said in the house; if she was mentioned on the news he'd switch it off. But it was different when Heero was staying: Duo wouldn't say a word against her, not if Heero was around. Didn't want to upset him, I thought; it seemed he accepted that Relena meant more to Heero than he did! I pointed that out to him once, and he kind of smiled as if he was thinking about something, and told me he'd used to think that too.
I asked him why he didn't anymore, and he said that if it was true, why had Heero chosen to be with him and not Relena after the war?
I made a sarcastic sound at that. As for Heero 'being with' Duo - well, that was an exaggeration! He would turn up, with nothing more than one travelling bag and a suspiciously large amount of cash, stay a few weeks or months... then vanish again, sometimes for months at a time! What dedication! Keeping Duo hanging on for crumbs of affection, a few moments of his time, before moving on when he got bored!
Duo simply shook his head at that, telling me Heero had to travel; had to make himself useful. I didn't dare ask doing what; I didn't have the guts to take the answer. I was cynical: yeah, right Duo. I bet he has someone like you in every colony. Worse than that - and I didn't tell Duo this part - what if one time he never did come back? I hated to think what he might be involved in, whether it was just messing with people's hearts and minds, or something more sinister: but what if we never heard from him again? What if he were to take off with one of his floozies (not that Duo is a floozy) - or... Well, I didn't know if he *was * involved in dangerous stuff, but this *was * Heero Yuy we were talking about... and it would have broken Duo's heart if anything had happened to him. Or if we just never heard, and Duo kept waiting forever, never having the closure to get on with his life...
Duo wouldn't listen to me. Once, I had finished my latest tirade, and he just turned to me and said, very softly, looking me in the eye, "I love him." Love? It was wasted on Heero Yuy. Why couldn't Duo see? He was just a fuck to Heero, a good one, granted, or Heero wouldn't have kept coming back for so long, but nothing more.
I hated seeing my best friend being used like that! I had to get him to see sense! I'd nagged till I was blue in the face but it didn't make any difference: I was just banging my head against a brick wall. I needed a better plan, but what could I do? At one point I even toyed with the idea of seducing one of them and making sure we were 'accidentally' caught by the other; but that plan, I decided, had many flaws. For a start, I'd never known Duo be attracted to a female (or, for that matter, anyone but Heero), and I had no idea if Heero could be; and at any rate, if I did try it with Heero, even if I could get over my contempt for him for long enough to go through with it, Duo would hate me for the rest of my life as well, and I didn't want that. If I tried it with Duo, though, I'd be stuck in a potentially very awkward situation afterwards - and besides, sleeping with Duo would be like having sex with my brother or something. Freaky. For another thing, I knew it'd never work - Duo only had eyes for Heero, which also counted out trying to find another young man to take his mind off his absent lover. My case seemed hopeless.
Then, Heero came back again. He'd only been away three weeks this time; Duo reacted in the same way as usual: it didn't matter whether he'd been away three months, three years or had just gone to the shop to fetch some milk, when he came back Duo couldn't help but wear his brightest smile and give Heero a kiss that made even me look away out of some kind of instinct that told me I shouldn't witness something so... so...
Hm. Yeah, well.
Of course, I'd promised Duo that, as usual, I'd be on my best behaviour. Heero knew as well as Duo did how I felt about their 'relationship', but I always tried to be as civil as I could, for Duo's sake. Wherever possible I got on with my work and stayed out of the house as much as I could.
But this one day... I'd gone back to the house for a file of invoices I'd been checking the night before and had forgotten. I cursed my memory lapse: I knew I would have to see Duo acting all starry around an unresponsive Heero. I had grudgingly let Duo have a few days off to send with his wandering 'lover' (and I use the term loosely); at least it meant I didn't have to hear Duo dropping his name into every conversation *because he genuinely couldn't help it *! It was that bad! And always worse when Heero was actually around. But even when he wasn't; Duo had told me, seriously, plenty of times in the war when he was, for some reason or les, reminded of Heero - I was even there myself sometimes. Trying to self-destruct before he was captured by Oz - thinking of Heero doing the same. That time when we went to the circus! I thought it'd take his mind off the war (and Mr.Trigger-happy) but noooo. "That's..." As soon as he realised who that guy down there was, the first thing he said to me: "Maybe he knows where Heero is..." Such a note of hope in his voice, that he tried to conceal and failed, that I couldn't say anything at all.
And another time he told me about, with Quatre in the desert, trying not to think about Heero's self-destruction; they hadn't known each other very long then, but Duo was shaken, more than he understood the reasons behind. He said he did understand later But Heero never bothered to tell anyone he *wasn't * actually dead; trailing round Europe for ages, trying to get someone to finish the job for him, succeed where he failed. I bet he didn't think of Duo once, even though from what I understand they'd already embarked on their in my opinion totally imbalanced relationship.
I had no doubt that Heero would do just the same again, if a similar situation were ever to occur I just had to hope for duo's sake it didn't. I was fully aware of the inconsistency of this attitude: I was prepared to kill Heero if he ever hurt Duo, even though my little plan to split them up would hurt him just as much; but I felt that if I caused him a little pain sooner, it would prevent Heero causing him a lot of pain later
Or so I thought.
I unlocked the door and stepped into the kitchen. I knew where the file was, I could go right to the place in the small spare bedroom we used for a study in our little house. I heard sounds; I looked skywards cynically as I recognised them instantly. It was only mid-afternoon, but I knew exactly what they were doing. I started to walk up the hall to the little room at the far end, fully intending to pay no attention to the noises I was getting closer to. But then - I froze. They hadn't bothered to even close the door - and what I could see from my place in the hall made me pause. I knew they couldn't see me - but the mirror made sure I could see everything they did
And I couldn't tear my gaze away.
Heero sitting against the headboard of the bed: naked, sheened with perspiration; arms up his lover's back, palms to his shoulder blades, holding him close.
Duo, in his lap, spread thighs, knees folded; hands on Heero's shoulders, one draped over, the other holding tight.
They rocked together, deep, not coming apart for a moment; now their mouths met, soft, but passion spilled from lip to lip. Sharing sweetness for long minutes; then breaking reluctantly apart, moving faster. They'd been taking it slow, joined forever, now approaching the end. No words, just sounds that express more: Duo's little cries cut as deep as the space in him they're drawn from Heero panted against his lover's neck, licking and kissing at the vein, lips moving over the skin in breathed moans, indecipherable words.
A little faster again; eyes met again, lips touched, single focus. Their grace, their unity: so perfectly and wholly... sensual.
Their lips parted once more, finally bodies moving still faster, still deeper. A pair of soft, hearttouching cries as they reached the edge together and gave each other ecstasy.
Trembling together, still sparks of pleasure short-circuiting through them, Heero drawing his lover so he was pressed up close, whispering quiet love-words: but I could make them out, and I could feel they were as real as those that Duo echoed back.
I leant against the wall, eyes closed, sobered and entirely humbled by what I had witnessed. I knew then, I had been wrong. I saw Heero Yuy with a new respect after that. I saw his love: it was real, and always had been I had made myself blind to it, but it had been there all along.
I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the day, still in contemplation. I could never break them up, even if I had still wanted to. It was impossible. Although I was ashamed of my behaviour, felt foolish to have been so misguided; I felt a lightening, I was so relieved. Duo was safe with Heero. I didn't have to worry.
That evening I could hear them again through the thin wall that separated our rooms. Different this time, definitely: my mind supplied, from nowhere, images of a fast, hot, dynamite passion, a conclusion as inevitable as gravity. I couldn't help myself: my hand slipped down between my thighs and touched until I felt myself shudder in pleasure; the pictures in my head and the two contrasting voices, muffled by the wall but still distinct, were too erotic for me to resist. Although I could tell this time was so different, I knew that fundamentally it was the same: it was no quick fuck, no meaningless sensation. I saw it now, the emotion so concentrated it couldn't help but find this outlet Inevitable... like gravity... I knew why it was called falling in love!, I thought to myself.
Heero left again the day after. Duo moped around for a few days, as usual, but this time I didn't say a word. I didn't go on about how badly Heero treated him. I didn't point out how he wouldn't have to go through this every time Heero left if they just broke up. No. I'd learnt my lesson. I think Duo realised His subdued mood vanished more quickly than usual; he graced with me a genuine smile when I asked if he was okay.
I realised what a fool I'd been - no, worse, a class A hypocrite - to add to Duo's unhappiness at being separated from his lover with my poisonous feelings.
Then one day, out of the blue: "Hilde, I have something to tell you." Duo looked nervous, wary, uncertain as to my reaction.
"What? Go on!" His tension spread to me.
"Heero's asked me to marry him."
I stared Duo looked even more nervous. I finally found my voice. "Oh, Duo!" I threw my arms round him, genuinely and wholeheartedly pleased. I knew it was Duo's dream come true. "You did say yes, didn't you?" I teased, even as I felt my eyes filling with tears.
Duo rolled his eyes. "No, I thought I'd keep him waiting a bit, make him sweat. Of course I said yes!" Then he noticed as my tears brimmed over. "Hilde?" His worried look was back. "What is it?"
I shook my head and smiled. "I'm happy for you, you idiot!" And I was. I've always considered it one of my better points that I'm able to admit my mistakes, I don't bear grudges, I can swallow my pride. And right now admitting I had been wrong for so long was a small price to pay for my friend's happiness.
Even though my tears were happy ones, I found myself a little sad too as I realised it'd be lonely without Duo around.
He seemed to notice my strange mood. "What's up? I thought you said you were happy for me?" he gently freed himself from my hug to look at me, concern behind his teasing words.
I shrugged. "I am, but..." I half-smiled. "I'm still gonna miss having you around!"
He smiled. "You sap! And don't worry, you'll still be working with me every day! Just 'cos I'll be moving out doesn't mean I'm going to be a million miles away. I'll probably be just round the corner, bringing my laundry back 'cos neither me nor Heero can figure out how to do it ourselves."
I smiled through my tears. "Yeah, that'd be typical: he can master the Zero system but can't work a washing machine." It was an amusing image, and I giggled a little.
Duo smiled back. "I'm glad you're not angry. I mean, I don't expect you to start liking Heero or anything..." He stopped when he noticed me smiling again. "What?"
"It's okay! I don't mind!"
"You... changed your mind about him?"
I nodded. "I realised... realised how much he really loves you. I know you'll be happy together."
Duo's smile grew even wider and he hugged me again. "He said he's decided to settle down. He's tired of always having to rush off and leave me at a moment's notice." Duo released me again, his expression more serious now. I didn't ask anything more; but Duo volunteered the information. "He's been working a s a special agent for the Preventers," he said softly. "Not formal work; but whenever they need extra help with anything big, they just sent for him. But now..." Duo smiled again. "He says he's tired of always being on edge; he thought he'd left all that behind at the end of the war. Granted he hasn't had to do any really dirty work but... he thinks it's time he retired and led a quiet life."
I giggled. "With you? You'd have thought he'd have realised that was impossible by now!"
Duo smacked me playfully. He grinned, but it faded back to his serious look: he continued, again almost in a whisper. "He says he thinks he's done his duty now, to society for the war; now he says he wants to do his duty to me."
I felt myself filling up again. Duo gave me a squeeze: "Don't, you'll set me off." I looked at him questioningly: Duo still seldom cried, even though he was more at ease with that side of himself now. He looked away from me; I could tell he was a little embarrassed, even now: "Okay, so I cried when he asked me. I couldn't help it!"
I just hugged him tighter and gave another little laugh. "Just you make sure he never makes you cry again, yeah? Or he'll have me to deal with."
I helped as much as I could with the wedding preparations: I was so proud when he asked me to be his maid of honour - the incident provoked another little round of tears on my part, which was a little embarrassing seeing as we were shopping at the time. Looking for a suitable outfit for Duo, and he had suggested in one wedding outfitters that we'd better look for a dress for the "bridesmaid". When he answered my puzzled glance with "That's you, stupid," I kind of squealed and threw my arms round him, much to the amusement of the staff.
Duo chose a black outfit, naturally, with a smokey grey silk shirt . We picked out a burgundy sleeveless dress for me. Nothing fancy; they only wanted a simple ceremony, they said. Which meant, rather than shelling out for expensive catering, venue etc., they enlisted the help of friends as much as possible. To be fair, there was a reason behind it: although they were quite well off through their combined earnings at the time, Heero had decided to go to college to learn to make the best use of himself and his talents. Although Duo would still be working, it does have to be said that the salvage business is not the most profitable in the world. I was glad I had stopped hating Heero: it meant I could see what an honourable man he really was - using his Preventer earnings to put himself through college so he could better support himself and his new spouse. But at any rate, it meant I was very busy: I'd been roped into making the cake, thanks to those night classes I took in cookery. (Duo told me Quatre was supplying the venue - no-one was safe!) They did say it meant we didn't have to get them a present as well, but of course I wanted to anyway; but it was only a matter of days before the wedding when I finally got round to going looking for something to get them.
So I had no idea what to get for them. I had the list they'd sent round, but figured that by now other people would have bought practically everything on it. I decided to stop for coffee... and saw a strangely familiar figure.
"Hi... It's Trowa, isn't it?" I'd only met him a few times; that first time at the circus, I'd only seen him from a distance, and since then I'd only seen him during his very occasional visits to our house when he happened to be in the L2 area.
He looked at me, and nodded. "Hilde?"
I smiled. "That's right. I guess you're here for the wedding?" It was going to be on the colony we lived on: seeing as Heero had had no fixed abode apart from with Duo, they were staying in the area Duo had come to call home.
Trowa nodded again.
I rattled on; I'll chat to anyone I know even vaguely. "I was looking for a wedding gift, but I have no idea what to get. I know I've left it late, but I've been so busy! You know they've had me baking the cake, not to mention icing, which is so difficult... Sometimes Duo takes advantage of me! I don't know what he's going to do without me..." My voice trailed away. I'd suddenly been reminded how lonely and quiet it was going to be without my housemate. I turned my head and saw Trowa looking at me with understanding.
"You're going to miss him, aren't you?"
I nodded, smiling weakly. He gave me a small smile of his own, and I noticed unexpectedly how special it seemed, like he didn't do it very often, but when he did it really meant something. It made him seem so... I remembered what I'd said to Duo the first time I'd seen Trowa, and flushed just a little.
"I have an idea," he said. "I was looking for something for them too, but having no luck. So why don't we help each other?"
I smiled, suddenly struck shy. "That sounds like a good idea."
He smiled again. It made me feel happy.
We spent the afternoon trawling the shops for a suitable gift. After a while we decided it would be half as difficult to decide what to buy if we went halves on one item between us; so we settled on something entirely useless, figuring they'd have enough sandwich toasters and sets of towels to last them a lifetime: we bought a picture. A large framed print of a photograph: it was an earthscape, an aerial photograph of clouds gathering over what seemed like desert. We thought Duo and Heero would like it.
"I've had a really great day," I said as we walked through the now deserted arcades. We had decided to stay out to eat, and that had been a wonderfully fitting end to the afternoon. Naturally I had done a lot of the talking; but Trowa was an intelligent and thoughtful companion. I'd greatly enjoyed his company.
"So have I." Another smile!
"I guess I'll see you at the wedding. I'll be accompanying you, as the maid of honour, so it was nice to get to know you a bit better before the day!" I was looking forward to the wedding even more now.
"Yeah. I'm looking forward to it. I have to work on my speech though."
I laughed. "If you need any details to embarrass Duo with, just give me a call!"
He laughed too. "I might just do that."
Impulsively I leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you soon!" Before I could blush too hard I got in my car and drove off, heart beating inexplicably fast. When Duo asked me what had kept me out so late, I just smiled mysteriously. Trowa had the picture so I wouldn't have to hide it from inquisitive Maxwell hands; so Duo was thoroughly confused.
It was a beautiful wedding. I cried my eyes out as the couple spoke their vows quietly and eloquently in the registry office . The location wasn't picturesque, it wasn't romanticised: but for the time we were there, it was the most atmospheric room I'd ever been in. I felt light inside, touched by love; it moved me like nothing had before.
I was watching them dance, slowly and closely, together after the reception when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
"I think it's traditional for the best man and bridesmaid to dance together, isn't it?"
I smiled at Trowa. "Well, this hasn't been exactly a traditional wedding. But perhaps we should make up for that."
I caught Duo's wink at me as we were both held close by our partners; I flushed a little. Trowa smiled.
Afterwards, we sat in the gardens of the large country-style Winner house; we had had to stay the longest, in our ceremonial roles, and I was worn out. I leant against Trowa's shoulder as we sat on a stone bench, enjoying the quiet.
"That was so perfect," I sighed, "but I'm glad it's over..."
Trowa laughed a little. "I think we made a good team. We looked after everything very well, I thought."
I laughed too. "Yeah. A very good team." I liked that.
We sat in silence for a little while longer, watching a pair of familiar figures wander across the vast lawns. They walked arm in arm, stopping and sitting at a bench similar to ours; I remembered something I'd wanted to ask my companion. Blushing a little - since I'd met Trowa again I'd been doing that a lot - I found my voice. "Trowa..."
"Mmm?" He was watching them as well.
"I've been meaning to ask..."
He turned to face me. "What?"
"Well..." I swallowed. "We've enjoyed being together, haven't we?"
He gave me a funny look. "Yes..."
"Well, this is going to sound silly but... I always..." I giggled to try to hide my embarrassment, "I always got the impression... you were... with Quatre..."
He smiled. "No. We've always been good friends, but..." We both watched as Quatre gently pressed his lips to those of his companion on the bench next to him. "Did I tell you I was going to best man at his and Relena's wedding as well in a couple of months?"
I gaped, then grinned. "That's good." I leaned in. "That means I can feel free to do this..." Our lips touched, soft, and I felt sparks inside.
Although our own wedding wasn't until a year and four months afterwards, we always contact Duo and Heero on their anniversary: something special, we always feel, happened for us on that day too. Duo still teases me sometimes about what I said that day at the circus - then Trowa teases him right back about what he said. Then we laugh, and my husband kisses me, and Duo's kisses him, and I'm so glad I never had to be lonely; and I'm glad, right from my heart, I never succeeded in making Duo fall out of love with Heero Yuy.
 For some reason I have a big thing for that pic with Duo in Preventer jacket, grey shirt and tie - there's a fantastic one of him and Heero against this backdrop of destroyed buildings... gets me every time...
 In the absence of any other sort of international knowledge, this works for me. I make no apologies, as you know, for my nationality!