Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3
Warnings; yaoi, citrus of all kinds, some angst, a little more mundane than the last part , but important plot stuff.
Rating: NC17 at parts

Summary: Picks up where Endless Waltz left off. Peace has finally come to the Earth and the colonies, and the Gundams have been destroyed along with all mobile suits and weapons of war. After a year apart, Heero and Duo try to settle down, and figure out civilian life and each other. Quatre is finally able to make peace with his past mistakes and steps up to claim his place as Winner heir. The end of the war leaves Trowa nameless and reeling, and with Quatre so absorbed in business, Trowa's wanderlust sets in.

AC 197
Part 2
by Granate

Heero watched Relena's speech from his balcony perch, problem number 23 to fix with her security team. No more hiding in balconies. He was already forming a metal list of things to change for the next mission, which wouldn't be until the New Year. Relena's speech ended and the hall erupted with clapping. He nodded approvingly and turned to face the head of her security officers, Bartlett.

"Alright," Heero said gruffly, "I need to go now, did you get all the things I asked for?" He'd only met the guy three hours ago, but there was already mutual dislike.

"Yeah," the man answered, even more gruffly, "Here." He handed Heero an envelope. Bartlett had decided he didn't like this kid. He just didn't get it. Ms. Darlian had given strict orders to supply this punk with every demand, just as long as he signed the contract. Who the hell was this kid, anyway? He marched in demanding money, access to restricted government files and, even stranger, personal shuttle service to and from L2 for every mission. What the hell? But The Vice Foreign Minister said to give him anything he wanted.

"I'll get in touch with you as soon as I can," Heero said, turning to go.

Heero made it to the space port in time for the late shuttle to L2. Duo had left two days prior, after his meeting with Agent Une. Something about the mobile suits the Preventers had sequestered and impounded. Heero wasn't sure what this was all about, Duo was being uncharacteristically secretive. His lover had not wanted to leave without him, and he could tell Duo was still worried he wouldn't show up. It was exasperating, but he couldn't blame Duo. He had left without even a good-bye a year ago.

Once seated, he opened the packet Bartlett had prepared for him. Everything was there, starting with the identification papers Une had made up for him. He, Trowa, and Duo didn't even have proper ID papers, so Une had graciously drawn them up without question, so they could start their lives as regular citizens. He stuck with the name Heero Yuy out of habit and Duo's approval. He never did find out what Trowa decided on. She had also given all the ex-gundam pilots weapons permits. Also included were the other things he had asked Bartlett for: a new bank account number (signing bonus depositted), a list of passcodes pertinent for his job (not that he couldn't have hacked them), and enough cash for a ticket to L2, a new computer, and a down-payment on an apartment.

The shuttle exitted the atmosphere and he settled into his seat. He was tired, he and Duo had been enjoying eachother too much to get any sleep. And after Duo left, he just couldn't fall asleep without him. Fantastic sex was probably another reason Duo hadn't wanted to leave, but Heero wanted him to get back to his job on L2 and get ready to move. Heero watched the earth from above. Amazing sex, they certainly had that, and he believed they had a lot more too. But he couldn't help feeling a little apprehensive. Mostly about himself.

He knew that it was a little naïve, but he wanted to be with Duo for a very long time. Ok, forever. Or at least as long as they lived. He was sure he loved Duo, being apart had taught him that the hard way. And it wasn't that he doubted Duo's love, but… it would take more than what he was now to get Duo to stay with him. As the idea of living togther in peacetime became more and more real to him, he realized he was going to have to change. Duo was vibrant and dynamic, he would not be happy being held back by someone who didn't know how to be human. I can't let that happen, I will do everything I can.

Heero relaxed against the wall and felt the bend of Mrs. Noventa's letter in his back pocket. He was determined to make her words come true. Heero drifted to sleep and had a dream, one of the few he'd ever had in his life. He dreamed he was walking through space. No suit or helmet, just the clothes on his back. He was walking through space, and he knew where he was going. He was walking to Duo.

"Geez, Duo! Sit down and eat something, will ya?" Hilde said exasperatedly. It wasn't like Duo not to eat breakfast. He'd been up most of the night pacing around like this. Infact, he'd been a wreck the past few days. Hilde had never seen him like this before. She shook her head. "He'll be here," she said gently.

"What if he can't find the house!" Duo worried.

"Duo, he found it before!" she reminded him. Heero had come here looking for Duo five days ago before she even knew there was trouble in space. He'd been QUITE surprised to find them living together, and (fearing for her life) she'd quickly explained that they were just housemates.

"What if he misses the shuttle!" Duo suggested anxiously.

"He'd have called, now sit down!" she waved a spatula at him.

"But Hilde he doesn't know the number!" Duo exclaimed.

"Argh! Duo, he's a computer hacker! What's he good for if he can't look up a number?!" she sat down defeatedly and watched Duo pick at the ratton on the back of the chair like a five-year-old. Hilde was about to snap at him, but she stopped herself. "Duo, the shuttle isn't even expected for another hour. Would you PLEASE relax and have something to eat? If he's not here in a couple hours, then I'll allow you to worry."

"Alright," he agreed, the smell of the waffles finally winning him over.

Heero rang the bell exactly on time, and Duo glomped onto him before he'd made it all the way in the door. Hilde said she definitely had a few hours worth of grocery shopping to do[1] and excused herself, which left Heero to attempt to pry Duo off by himself. It was midafternoon before they left to go apartment hunting.

"Ok, there's just one more," Duo said as they put on their helmets, "It's over by the space port."

Heero climbed on the back of Duo's motorcycle and held on to the boy's waist. He was impressed by the amount of time Duo had spent on apartment searching before he got there. Decent housing was sometimes scarce, and Duo had found five places for them to look at, even called and made appointments to see them. Nothing had been quit right yet. Either to far from the space port, or not big enough, or some other detail. Although, they would have to settle for something soon.

Duo pulled up to a complex of three four-storey buildings with a pool and a basketball court between them. Duo grinned at Heero, who nodded. This was the nicest place they'd seen. A middle-aged woman was walking towards them.

"Duo Maxwell?" she asked them.

"That's me!" Duo said, shaking her hand.

"I'm Mrs. Ashby, the land lady," she told them.

"Heero Yuy," Heero nodded.

She blinked in surprise, "Heero Yuy…" she said in disbelief, "Now there's a name I haven't heard in a while…" She smiled at the young man and looked him over. He seemed about young enough that his parents could have named him after the colonies' peace leader. But people rarely thought about those times anymore.

She politely led them to the second floor of the B block and unlocked door 7. The place was empty, and looked pretty large.

"Hey, a balcony!" Duo said excitedly.

"It's only one bedroom…" she said apologetically.

"Well, we'll take what we can get. There's not much out there," Duo replied quickly. Heero shot him a quizzical look, which he didn't see. They wandered around the place separately.

"Mail comes to boxes on the main floor," Mrs. Ashby started going over all the features, "Laundry is in the basement, you've got a full kitchen here, and pets are allowed."

Duo joined Heero checking out the view. "I don't think we can afford this place," Duo whispered.

"Yes we can," Heero answered, thinking of his salary. Duo still looked worried.

"This is a corner apartment so you only have one neighbor, and the old lady downstairs, Mrs. Kanzaki, is very nice, nearly deaf, though," Mrs. Ashby continued.

"We'll take it," Heero said definitively.

"Don't you want to talk it over?" the woman asked, surprised.

"Yes, we do!" Duo said, pulling Heero into a corner. "What was that?" he asked in a whisper, "I still need to think about it, the rent is more than I was planning on."

"Duo, this is the best place we've looked at, plus, its near the space port, which is good for my job," Heero said. His voice softened slightly, "I can afford it, and I want us to live here. Don't worry about the rent, just pay what you can. Ok?"

Duo looked down, unconvinced. He didn't like that idea very much, he wanted things to be even between them. But a few other conveniences of the place occurred to him. He looked devilishly at Heero, "You're right, it's perfect. Few neighbors and the woman downstairs is deaf… good for noise!"

Heero nearly smirked. Now Duo was catching on.

Heero returned to Mrs. Ashby. "We would like to take the apartment," he said.

"Well, you should know," the woman said, "there are two other people looking at it…"

"How about the down payment in cash right now?" Heero offered.

Mrs. Ashby's eyes grew huge, "I'll go get the paper work!"

Duo threw his arms around Heero as soon as she left and gave him a big kiss. "Heero!" he exclaimed, "This is OUR PLACE!!" Duo let go and danced around the big open rooms. "I can hardly believe it!!" he shouted with glee. Watching him, Heero had to smile. But just a little.

Mrs. Ashby returned with papers and keys. She was still a little unsure about these boys. The short-haired one looked like he could be 18, but she doubted it. She wasn't even sure of the renting laws, she'd never had a problem before. However, she was not about to refuse a cash down-payment. She had them sign the lease agreement other legal forms, and then handed over the keys.

"Since it's vacant, you can move in as soon as you want," she told them. They thanked her, and she turned to leave them in their new apartment.

"Well, what do we do now?" Duo asked with a goofy smile as soon as she was gone.

"I guess we need some stuff to put in here…" Heero said, running a hand through his dark hair as he looked around and the very empty space.

"Hmm, guess so," Duo agreed thoughtfully. He was not the best home decorater, Hilde had done all that. When they'd first moved into the little house, they'd gotten a couch, a kitchen table, chairs, and a coffe table and he'd proudly declared the place finished. She'd laughed at him and over time procured lamps, prints, an area rug, throw pillows, window treatments, place mats, and other stuff he was clueless about.

"Do you have time tomorrow to go shopping?" Heero asked. He didn't want to go by himself because he wanted Duo's input, and besides that, he didn't really even know how. He'd never shopped for anything before. He'd never really owned anything before. Even between wars, he had kept up his routine of enrolling in different schools to get by.

"Ummm, Heero, I've been meaning to tell you…" Duo said, "I'm not going back to my job. I didn't want to tell you until everything worked out, but I got a message from Quatre yesterday…"

Heero just stared, waiting for him to continue.

"Ok, you see, over the last year, mechanical designs just started popping into my head," Duo tried to explain, "Kind of like mobile suit designs…"

Heero was reminded of the time he'd looked at Duo's physics notes at school. They were covered in doodles and machines.

"So, I started writing them down. I came up with a whole bunch of ways to use mobile suit parts in other contexts, like factories, cars, planes, shuttles, all that. So, I showed 'em to Lady Une and asked her if I could get her permission to have access to all the mobile suits the Preventers seized. Quatre got wind of this, and he wants to fund me! He says he'll 'invest' in my company in exchange for exclusive rights to my designs!"

Heero was dumb-struck. Duo being motivated to work?! He didn't know how to express his pride in Duo. "That was your meeting with Agent Une, huh?" he reasoned.

"Yeah, she loved the idea," Duo confirmed, "She says I can have sole possession of all the suits! Quatre wants to put my designs to work in the colonies and on earth. The finances cleared yesterday, so we just have to work out the details. He's gonna pay for everything! The mobile suits to be transported here, a warehouse for me to work in, all the machinery and everything I need, all the help I want, and he says there's a living stipend in there for me, but I'd rather put all the money into my project… That's why I'm worried about money. I don't want to spend it on ME. Infact, before I knew you wanted to live together, I was just going to make a little living space in whatever warehouse I found… And I don't want charity, you know? I want to do this on my own!"

"But, Duo, you don't have to do anything by yourself anymore. I'm going to be here, and we're going to be a team. Like I said Duo," Heero said, proudly wrapping his arms around Duo and holding him, "Contribute what you can, and leave the rest to me. Let me be one of your 'benefactors' too." Heero rested his chin on Duo's shoulder, "So, I guess tomorrow we'll have to go shopping for a garage for you AND furniture."

"Speaking of shopping," Duo said, a sly smile forming on his lips, "I bet there's a few places still open. If we got a bed, we could sleep in our new place tonight!"

[1] Have you noticed that she's ALWAYS grocery shopping?? I guess it takes a lot to keep Duo fed. Watch out, Heero!

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