The helicopter ride was getting tedious, but this time Rex was piloting and he and Quatre had talked about repairs on the 'Shooting Star'
almost the entire trip. This left Duo with way too much time on his hands to worry about seeing Heero under such painful circumstances.
Granted, he looked magnificent in the outfit Laurel had chosen and it made him feel better to know at least he "looked" good no matter
how nervous he felt. The deep violet silk shirt even helped to conceal the radical weight loss, making him look considerably healthier
then he had when they picked him up at the hospital.
Arriving at the visitor's entrance, all three underwent metal detector scans and other security precautions even though Quatre and Trowa
were simply going to be waiting outside while Duo saw Heero. After what felt like a millennium, Duo was seated in an uncomfortable
chair staring at the empty chair across from him separated by bullet-proof glass. He glanced at his watch and realized he still had a few
minutes to wait when someone approached him.
"Duo Maxwell, I presume?" a deep voice rumbled behind the boy making him jump.
Turning, Duo immediately recognized the hated face of Jack Ryuzouji. "Yeah, that's me. What are you doing here?" Duo made no effort
at all to seem civil.
"Since your boy-friend in there got me drug into this, I'm stuck here as long as he is." Jack looked down a mixture of annoyance and
worry on his face. "Listen, before he gets brought in here, I wanted to apologize for what happened at the hospital. I had no idea it was
going to cost you your recovery time like that. Heero never resisted and it was unreasonable, but I was pretty pissed-off about being
stuck on permanent assignment to cover him until this is settled, that's all." Leaving Duo speechless, the large man turned and walked
away as a familiar face appeared across from Duo.
"Koibito!" He proclaimed loudly. Heero, laughed and picked up the phone indicating Duo had to do the same so they could talk.
"Hey there, you," Heero smiled, "How are you, koi?"
"My god, Heero!" Duo's voice carried half-way across the room. "I've been worried to death about you! They told me I was really
lucky to get to see you at all, but man, I think I'd have fallen apart without it!" He brushed away a tear and continued, never letting
Heero get a word in edgewise, something that made Heero simply smirk. "Are they treating you okay here? You're looking pretty good,
a little pale, but otherwise you are a sight for sore eyes, lover! Geez, why wont they at least let us *touch* each other here? All I want to
do is hold you in my arms and convince myself this isn't another dream! Shit, if I had some plastique, we'd be out of here in a flash just
like during the war, ne?"
"Duo, calm down," Heero smiled indulgently. "These conversations are monitored and they may not realize you're *joking*; then I doubt
we'd get another chance to see each other any time soon. Now, here's some answers, okay?"
"Hey, who said I was joking?" Duo growled, then suddenly realized Heero was covering for his gaff and made a joke out of it himself,
"Of course I was joking! We never used anything as wimpy as plastique in the war, anyways! Geesh! Don't they know military history?"
He smirked hopefully and Heero nodded that should be enough to keep them out of additional trouble. "Okay, tell me those answers,
I'm all ears! Oh, and hair, too! You like?"
"Oh yes," Heero sighed, wishing he could run his fingers through the shining chestnut mane. Duo had deliberately braided it loosely after
his shower so it would dry in little waves and when he was getting ready to see Heero, he pulled it loose and brushed it until it shone
with a radiance unlike anything it had had in ages. "Plus that shirt really brings out your eyes, koi. Very classy. Yeah I 'like' everything I
see and then some." The husky voice and the innuendoes conspired to make Duo blush a bit in sheer delight. If the man had added one
of his patented sexy growls, Duo would have melted into mush on the spot.
"Now, as for how it goes in here, it's pretty much what I told you in the message disks. Jack's been a big help and even pulled some
strings to get me some books to read. I was bored out of my mind and they helped. The room I'm in is textbook solitary confinement,
but you'd be surprised how often people wander by. Guards, Jack, the warden, all sorts of stuff, so it's not as bad as it sounds." Heero
was trying very hard to convince Duo to not worry, but it wouldn't have worked no matter what he'd tried.
Heero went on telling Duo not to worry, the food was at least better than Wufei's was sometimes, they both laughed knowing he was
the best chef amongst the pilots even if he did have to grumble about the "injustice" of being expected to cook so often. Eventually, Duo
took up most of the talking telling Heero about the hospital stay and moving in at Quatre's. He talked about Laurel and Heero frowned
and said he needed to apologize to her some time. Duo just laughed it off, letting him know that Laurel had known what she was doing
from the word "go", if not sooner and not to worry. The kid had connections in high places from what Duo could tell and Heero needed
to focus on getting himself through all of this. Just as Heero was saying the same warning back to Duo, a voice came over the line,
"Okay, you two. Five more minutes then time's up Finish whatever else you need to say."
"Geez! No privacy!" Duo laughed.
"Told ya'," Heero responded. "What else did you want to tell me before they cut us off, koi?"
"Well, I guess I should have said it sooner, but I really love you, Heero. I can't believe you did something this crazy for me, but even if
you hadn't, I'd still love you."
"Hn." Heero grunted. "If I *hadn't*, you wouldn't be alive to feel that way! This is good enough for me, knowing you're going to be
okay. Remember, no regrets, right?"
Duo had started to sniffle a little and held his hand up against the glass. Heero mirrored it, touching without touching, it was the best they
"Heero, I don't want to say 'good-bye', it hurts too much." Duo pleaded with his eyes.
"Then don't," Heero responded calmly. "You'll be back day after tomorrow, right? That's not so long. Now they're about to disconnect
us, let me tell you something else."
"Sure, what?" Duo was intrigued. Never had Heero said so much in such a short period of time. He had indeed changed a great deal
after all they had been through.
Heero grinned wickedly, "Remember what I always used to tell you when you drove me nuts but you assumed I was telling you I loved
you? Well, I think you were right after all, so I'll just say, 'omae o korosu'!" He smirked at the stunned look on Duo's face as the
ramifications of what he'd said sunk in.
"Ai shiteru, Heero!" Duo responded but the connection was broken before he could finish. Crushed, Duo leaned back in the chair,
wishing he'd had just a few seconds longer.
Then he noticed Heero gesturing at him. << hat? You think I forgot how to read lips? >> He spoke silently. << I love you, too, Duo. Go
home and rest. I'll see you soon and stop worrying so much! >>
<< Easy for you not to say! >> Duo mouthed back. << I love you! Be careful! >>
Heero just nodded and waved a splayed finger wave they both recognized as he was escorted from the room. Duo slowly rose to his
feet and trudged back for the long ride home.
//So close and yet so far,// Duo thought to himself. //Why can't we just be together in peace? He saved the whole damned world *and*
my life so now he's being treated like a criminal? This sucks!//
Bitterly, Duo rode the flight home in silence then went straight to bed for a very long nap without discussing it more than a brief thanks to
Quatre for their trouble. This left two friends very confused and worried, but when Duo didn't want to talk, nothing could make him.
They should know, it'd happened before. And when someone who usually wouldn't shut up refused to speak, it usually meant trouble.
After returning to the Estate and Duo's rapid disappearance, Quatre felt like he, too, needed a nap. The pain he'd felt through his uchuu
no kokoro from both Duo and Heero had been substantial. He was about to have his administrative staff take over for the rest of the
day when the doorbell rang.
"Master Quatre!" A lady's voice sang out. He didn't recognize that particular member of the staff, but it got his attention.
"Yes?" He answered thinking it better be important since his head was pounding.
"You have a visitor, sir. Master, um, which name goes first?" was heard followed by a deeper voice.
"I believe Quatre can figure out for himself which name goes first."
"Wufei!" Quatre smiled, his headache receding almost immediately as he greeted his friend. "Welcome! Where's Sally?"
"She's back on duty and I have nothing useful to do at home and thought I'd come see if you needed any assistance." Wufei smiled as he
dropped a carry bag on the floor to accept Trowa's hand outstretched in greeting. The clink of steel on marble indicated his beloved
sword was with him once again, though how he intended to practice with his sword arm broken was beyond Quatre.
"No problem, Wufei! We're glad to have you any time! Come in and have some tea, we just got back from a, well, difficult trip and I
could use a cup of Darjeeling myself." Quatre lead the way towards the kitchen with every intention of fixing it himself. He'd forgotten it
was around lunchtime and the staff was fussing over where everyone had gone off to when there was a meal ready. Sadeema, one of his
cooks, shooed them out of the kitchen and told them to be seated since lunch was ready.
Laughing, Quatre bowed to her insistence; the woman had been like a mother to him for as long as he could remember, and they went
and sat down. Within moments, a full meal was on the table along with his Darjeeling and green tea for Wufei, Sadeema was proud of
the fact that she knew all of the young master's friends preferences, and coffee for Trowa. Lunch went nicely and it wasn't until they
were done that Quatre realized Laurel hadn't joined them.
"Sadeema?" he called. "Where's Laurel? Doesn't she need lunch, too?"
"Fah, Master Quatre!" She laughed. "The child needed to eat earlier than this! She had a nice lunch and should be taking a nap right
about now. Don't you think I would have summoned her if I thought she was hungry?" The older woman tried to look at Quatre with
disapproval at questioning her actions, but didn't really try too hard.
"Of course, I should have realized. Thank you, Sadeema," he smiled. "Oh, and when Duo gets up, he'll probably be hungry, so please
set aside something for him for later."
"Most certainly. Now, I'll clear these dishes away and you gentlemen can have some privacy. Does anyone want more to drink?" She
The three agreed they'd had more than enough to eat and simply moved to the comfort of the library to talk. Trowa and Quatre told
Wufei what had occurred in his absence and basically discussed their concerns over the various legal hurdles. After about an hour of
discussion and pleasant conversation, the group split up since Quatre had business to attend to and Trowa and Wufei each had matters
of their own to see to. Wufei reminded Quatre he already knew where his room was, as long as he hadn't gotten moved out, which
brought a giggle, and they went their separate ways for the afternoon.
Another aspect of the unique combination of Duo and Laurel was the fact that the pair found such pleasure together. It wasn't a matter
of Duo being child-like, for he most certainly wasn't, it was more a matter of two chatty creative souls finding one another and then
creating things they enjoyed together.
One odd thing they loved was mercilessly teasing each other.
"Well, Laurel-my-lovely-lassie," Duo began poetically one day, "I'm sorry to report we can not go bowling today after all." The child
was suitably confused and he laughed. "Why not, you ask? Well, because they don't have a shoe to fit your cast, that's why not!" Then
they both dissolved into giggles.
"Golly, Uncle Duo," she smiled sweetly in return, "I'm sorry, too. I was going to make sure I took you to the zoo today, but they said
they already had enough monkeys!"
Total nonsequitor though it was, the pair laughed until their sides ached.
Every once in awhile, Trowa or Quatre would wander by to see what the "Dynamic Duo", the name originated from Duo's love of his
own name as well as an old Earth comic book, were up to. Some of their favorite past times involved watching the clouds and playing
guess the shape, making shadow animals on the walls, watching anime and old TV shows, "cooking" when Sadeema let them, and
reading new books they ordered over the computer.
But one thing eclipsed all of the others---coloring. Hours on end, the pair could happily occupy themselves coloring everything from
every day things to fantastic creatures from other worlds and then make up stories about them.
At one point, Quatre realized the pair went through crayons and paper so quickly he should buy stock in the prospective parent
companies, only to find out he owned them in their entirety anyway! Using this bit of knowledge, he arranged for an entire case of the
largest assortment of crayons, markers, colored pencils, and every other product the art company produced to be shipped to the estate
for "quality assurance testing". He had to laugh at himself on that one since he knew there were no harder judges of quality than the
After they arrived, there was the first incident of trouble for the artists, one of the new crayons broke. Now this should not have been a
big issue, but it was for Laurel. Granted, the child was only 7 years-old and it wasn't the first time a crayon broke in her hand, but it
caused her to suddenly start crying inconsolably. Duo was frightened at the sudden change in her disposition and quickly gathered her
into his arms protectively.
"What's wrong, Sugar-bug?" he asked gently. He had no idea where the nick-name came from, but they both liked it and he hoped she
might settle down a bit.
Unfortunately, she didn't. She continued to cry and as he was about to call one of her "fathers" for back-up, thereby declaring the
mission a failure, her sobs broke into tiny hiccups. "I'm sorry, Uncle Duo." She whimpered between her tears.
"Shh, there now, sweet-sweet, you don't need to be sorry." Duo, feeling quite relieved continued to hold her. "Why did you get so
"Well," she sniffled and prepared to explain a secret she'd never told anyone. "I know this sounds really stupid and everything, but every
time a new crayon breaks before I even get to color with it, something bad happens." Her tears threatened to resume and he quickly
tried to block them.
"Really? When has this happened before, Sugar-bug?"
"The last time it happened was a few days before you got really sick and almost died!" Now the tears were back full force and nothing
he could do would stop them. Duo, slightly shocked, sat gently rocking the child back and forth in his arms and watched her eye lids
grow heavy with sleep.
As he rocked her, he thought about the words she had chosen. The day she mentioned was also the day she'd been shot, yet she was
always more concerned about others than herself. This was unlike anything he remembered about childhood when each child seemed to
think the world existed strictly for them. Eventually, he was certain she was deeply asleep and since they had been coloring in his room
and the bed was big enough, he simply lifted her gently and laid her down to rest. Yawning, he laid down next to her ostensibly to be
there if anything else went wrong, but he was tired, too, and they slept for several hours together.
When a nurse noticed, she smiled and hurried to tell Master Quatre to come and see. The poor young man had been stressed lately and
the sight of his "daughter" sleeping next to Duo, who looked more protective of the child than he had been of anything besides his
Gundam, was truly precious and greatly appreciated. After they quietly shut the door, he thanked her again and walked back to his
office with a happy smile that stayed with him throughout the day.
If this "broken crayon prophecy" truly meant anything it could be disastrous, but only time would tell.