"Ne, Heero?" the American with the long shining chestnut braid turned to his companion as they walked aimlessly down the street filled
with other pedestrians.
"Hn?" the Japanese with the astounding cobalt-blue eyes responded gruffly.
"What should we do now? We can go to the colonies, we can stay on Earth, they said we can do whatever we want to---supposedly.
But, for once, I haven't a clue *what* I want to do!" Duo looked like a lost child suddenly instead of a combat veteran with more blood
on his hands than most military men ever achieved.
"Duo, you know I wasn't even expecting to be living at this point. I assumed you, however, would have something planned," Heero
seemed surprised that his partner not only didn't know what he wanted, but that he'd also been so, well, succinct in stating it! The boy
tended to ramble on and on at length over nothing during the war, even in the thick of battle. A very annoying tendency as far as he was
"Well, I don't." The tip of a black boot suddenly seemed the most fascinating thing in the solar system to Duo as the uncertainty he felt
was written throughout his entire body language.
"Hn." Not helpful, but Heero just had no answers for a change either.
"Oh! I know!" The braid suddenly bounced around Duo's shoulder as he released his personal security-reassurance-device from his
grip. "Let's go out to the colonies that are rebuilding and work there! Whatcha think?" a huge grin plastered on his face made the
ex-Deathscythe pilot look more like himself for the first time in days.
"Well, Duo," Heero pretended to consider it at length, simply egging on his partner to see if he would break the silence or let him finish.
To his utter amazement, the usually loquacious boy next to him remained silent, but the hair did find its way back into not just one but
both hands this time. "I guess that's as good a plan as any," he shrugged, grinning inwardly that Duo *was* able to keep his mouth shut
when he wanted to!
"Sugoi!" Duo beamed. "Let's go back to my old colony, L-2, they are certain to need help. Hell, even while I was still a kid the place
was a mess! They need houses, water systems improvements, massive environmental over-hauls, all kinds of stuff! But, wait, instead we
could go to L-1, your colony, and see what they need. Or we could..."
Duo felt a little taken aback at this old replay of what they considered typical conversation during all the time they'd known each other.
He had hoped that with the war over, the two of them could just relax and perhaps their physical relationship could blossom into
something more personal and possibly even permanent after a few years. But that would never happen until they could at least talk to
each other normally, or so he believed.
An inner cloud seemed to darken the enthusiasm that had been in his amethyst eyes as he added, "Or maybe you'd rather we go our
separate ways after all, ne?"
"No, Duo, nothing like that." Heero's eyes burned brightly as he turned to grab the boy's arms, bringing them face to face, "I think there's
something we have to settle before we decide on where we are going, that's all."
Duo squirmed, trying not to look directly into those eyes he loved so very much. For him, this was such sweet torture to have Heero
looking at him so intensely, mere inches separating their bodies on a public thoroughfare. As his visage darkened, he began to think
Heero had decided to terminate their physical relationship now that it "wasn't necessary". Duo's fight or flight mechanism kicked in and
he had an over-whelming desire to suggest they go find somewhere private for this discussion. He knew his own emotional limits and
when Heero dumped him, he would really rather be somewhere he could go hide to let the pain out. After all, "boys don't cry" was what
they'd always said. //Yeah,// Duo admitted to himself, // I run, I hide, but I don't lie. So when you dump me, koibito, I'd rather just
be alone because I *do* cry!// he felt tears stinging his eyes already.
"Hn," grumped Heero as he reached up to grasp the heart-shaped face in front of him in one deceptively strong hand. // I bet I know
what the baka's thinking and it isn't good. Well, I'll show him I don't need Quatre's uchuu no kokoro to read *his* mind!//
Unexpectedly, Heero's lips were firmly placed onto Duo's as his other arm wrapped itself tightly around the braided boy and drew them
"Hee----mmmmmphf!" Duo was utterly shocked! Heero had opposed *any* form of PDA, Militarese for 'Public Display(s) of
Affection', throughout the time they had fought side-by-side regardless of the fact they shared the same bed as often as possible, finding
comfort in one another's arms and bodies.
"There," Heero backed off breathlessly after a few senses-shattering moments of direct person-to-person communication. "Now, ready
to be quiet and hear me out?" Duo nodded mutely; his mind couldn't handle the sudden apparent shift in his partner from the cold perfect
soldier to a person capable of love and warmth.
Then a dark thought occurred to him that he may have just received his "farewell" kiss from the only person living whom he truly loved.
Unfortunately for him, his doubts were clear in his confused violet eyes. For the first time, outside of battle or bed, Duo Maxwell heard a
*very* strange sound---Heero Yuy was laughing!
"Good. Stop looking so confused, koi," Heero got another shocked look and total silence from the usually noisy American as he rested
their foreheads against one another. "Before we go *anywhere* or do *anything*, there is something important that needs to be done
first. We need to agree on the type of partnership we are entering into from here on in since we never established the parameters of a
Silence was his answer. All of the color drained from Duo's face and his knees seemed to buckle without his even knowing it; Heero
automatically tightened his grasp around the waistline of the familiar black priest's jacket to steady his lover.
"Ne, Duo? Are you ill? You don't look too good all of a sudden." Heero was a little concerned since he seemed to be holding the other
boy upright suddenly.
"Nani?" Duo shook his head in utter confusion. "Gomen, Heero, I think I need to sit down," he fumbled over to a nearby bench to sink
bonelessly into a reclining position, his eyes still wide and his face the color of chalk.
"Gods, Duo! You look like death warmed-over! Do you need medical help?" Heero hadn't expected any of this and wasn't prepared
for it. Yes, he'd rehearsed what he had planned to say earlier over and over; memorized every detail as he would any other mission of
the utmost importance, but this wasn't going the way he expected.
"Iie, Heero," Duo just shook his head and closed his eyes taking deep breaths hoping the world would stop spinning. He tried to keep
the nervousness from his voice and failed miserably as he choked out, "what did you want to say?"
"Duo, I'm serious... " Heero's earnest voice barely sunk in as Duo felt his hands begin to tremble. Noticing the trembling, Heero began to
reach for those long-fingered hands if for no other reason than to ascertain body temperature and pulse, but the hands were shoved
quickly out of reach beneath Duo's thighs to hide them.
"Yeah, you always are," Duo was certain he heard death knells somewhere as his heart contracted in his chest and breathing became
"K'so!" Heero cursed himself under his breath, but Duo heard it and assumed it was meant for him. The young man seemed to fold in on
himself as the braid once more fell forward and was clutched tightly for reassurance. "Stop that!" Heero angrily commanded.
"Stop what?" Duo nervously asked, a single crystalline tear barely visible in the corner of one set of long lashes as he shyly peered up
through his bangs.
Heero was rapidly losing what little control he had trying to deal with a sulking Duo. "Stop looking so... so... helpless! You're a Gundam
pilot! Act like one!"
"*Ex*-Gundam pilot, remember?" Now Duo looked even more woebegone. With a sigh, he added, "Besides, are you going to say
what you wanted to say or not? Probably doesn't matter, though. I can pretty much guess what it is anyway."
"Well, then you'd probably be wrong, like usual, baka!" Heero deliberately tried to make his words sting, knowing Duo never allowed
an insult to go unanswered.
"Well, yourself!" Sure enough, Duo rose to the bait. He raised his face flashing anger on top of his confusion and demanded, "Prove it!"
Once more on track with his mission agenda, Heero smirked and did just that. With battle-honed speed he grabbed Duo's wrists in one
hand, yanked the braid free of its restraints, and began running his fingers soothingly through Duo's long silky hair. More than a few
passers-by wondered what was going on, but wisely kept their thoughts to themselves when the Yuy Glare of Death™ was flashed
Then, with infinite gentleness, Heero raised the other boy's left hand to his lips, and brushed a kiss that felt more like a caress into its
palm. Surprise suffused Duo's face as Heero stated simply, "We can't go or do anything unless you answer a question first. Will you stay
with me and be by my side for the rest of our lives?"
"... uh... um... huh?" Duo was too shocked to even speak coherently.
"Duo," he gently lifted his beloved's face to his own again, "will you marry me?"
An intense violet gaze locked with a warm sapphire blue one, searching for reassurance. Did the words he'd only dared to dream about
hearing actually just leave Heero's lips? How could it be? Heero never even told him that he loved him, was this really happening? Had
Duo finally truly lost what little claim on sanity he had ever had?
"He-Heero? Did you just ask me to *marry* you?!" Hysteria tinged Duo's voice, certain he had died and gone to heaven despite his
expectations of an eternity in Hell.
"Hai, I did, and *yes* I'm serious, Duo." Now Heero was getting nervous. He had planned on getting a yes or no answer, but the utter
confusion on Duo's face told him there was a third contingency he should have thought of but hadn't. Of course, this was exactly what
happened---Duo passed-out right then and there, his head lolling back, only the whites of his eyes showing through open lids.
"Duo?" A wet cloth gently lay across the boy's forehead as consciousness slowly spun in and out for the American. "Yo, no blushing,
fainting brides stuff, ne?" Heero attempted a joke lamely. There was, however, no answering laughter.
"Duo? Can you hear me?" In desperation, the Japanese youth gently shook the man he had just proposed marriage to. Sadly, there was
no response, only ragged breaths through slack lips.
Any amusement Heero initially felt that Duo had simply 'fainted', was rapidly dashed away. "Shimatta! You *are* sick! Why didn't you
tell me?! I should have waited... "
Darkness engulfed Duo Maxwell once more.
Heero suddenly realized that Duo's pulse was erratic then non-existent as the shimmering strands of hair across Duo's chest stopped
fluctuating up and down.
"Somebody call an ambulance!" Heero shouted feeling helpless and confused by what was happening. He quickly stretched Duo flat on
the ground and began CPR, urgently pleading, "My friend's dying! Help me!! Somebody call an ambulance!!!"