"All I ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you."
-Jeff Buckley, Broken Halleluja
Heero Yuy hailed a cab from the airport in the pouring rain. It was so fitting that he should set foot in America for the first time in almost a year and it should rain like he was still in London.
"Maxwell Church, 45th and Franklin," he told the driver after slamming the door. He adjusted his leather messenger bag, which was tucked under his coat to protect it from the rain. He sighed and slicked his wet hair back, knowing it would just flop back into his eyes in a few seconds.
Between the rain, his exhaustion, and the jet-lag, he was really wishing he'd just called instead of making this trip. Maybe he could have just faxed a copy or a sent photograph. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't just that he had flown through 5 time zones and the weather was crappy. He was very apprehensive about seeing Duo Maxwell again. On one hand, he really wished he had called first, he didn't even know if Duo was in town or if Duo would see him. On the other hand, not knowing if Duo would see him was a pretty good reason for just showing up without calling first. If Duo was anything like he used to be, even if he didn't want to see Heero, the document Heero brought may be enough to win an audience.
The truth was, he had no idea what Duo was like now. It had been nearly ten years, and Duo had never written back to him. God, it still stung when he thought about it. He had tried his damnedest to find other scholars who could translate this for him, but it had stumped them all, and they had all given him the same name to try next: Duo Maxwell. Damn it, he was not looking forward to this at all. Duo had become a priest after all. He could distinctly remember Duo laughing at the very idea. Shit, his first kiss was now a celibate catholic priest. He couldn't help thinking he had something to do with that.
The cab stopped in front of a large, simple stone structure with tall stained glass windows. There weren't many lights on inside. He was later than he had expected to be because of a delayed flight. He really should have called, but they couldn't turn him away, right? Wasn't that, like, a church thing? He paid the driver and entered through the main doorway. The directory said Duo's study was room 105. Ok, that was probably on the first floor. He wandered through the halls, past the kids' art wall, the volunteer rosters, and the news bulletins, and somehow found himself in the sanctuary. It was dark, long shadows were cast from the street lights outside. Heero swore in the dark. How the hell had he ended up here? He had not been in many churches. Well, many modern ones anyway. He tried the door to get out, and found that it had locked behind him. He jimmied it.
"Fuck!" he exclaimed loudly when it wouldn't budge. The word bounced off the walls and the ceiling and back to him.
A voice laughed behind him. "You sound like you could use some help," it said with obvious amusement.
Heero whirled around. He knew that voice. "Duo Maxwell?" he asked, blinking once as a light went on.
The other man cocked his head and pushed his fringy bangs from his eyes. It was definitely him. He had grown quite tall and his face had changed, but there was no mistaking him. Those cobalt eyes went wide.
"He - Heero Yuy?" Duo asked.
"Yes," Heero nodded. "I'm sorry to be creeping around and swearing in your church," Heero apologized embarrassedly. "I was looking for your office. I need your help."
Duo was still looking at him, mouth slightly ajar.
"I know I should have called first, I'm sorry," Heero apologized again, already feeling painfully awkward.
Duo blinked and shook his head quickly. "No! No, no, don't worry about that! We're open all hours. It's really ok," he reassured Heero. "Since it's you, I'm going to guess you need something translated."
"Yes," Heero said with relief, "if it wouldn't be too much trouble. It has stumped everyone else."
"Do you have it with you?" Duo asked.
"Let's go to my office then," Duo suggested, giving him a wide smile.
Heero nodded and almost gasped when Duo turned to lead him to the office. His hair! Heero didn't know why he'd assumed Duo would have kept his long braid of hair, but it was gone, replaced by a very stubby, thick ponytail. Loose, his hair wouldn't even have brushed his shoulders, it was only just long enough to tie back. Heero couldn't keep from staring at it as he silently followed Duo to the office.
The office was not far, but Heero had been way off. It was small and comfortable; the shelves overflowed with books, of course. With just one glance around, Heero caught titles in at least seven different languages. Otherwise, there were photo frames here and there, and posters and crayon art taped to the wall. Heero sat down on one of the three chairs in front of Duo's desk.
"Would you like some coffee?" Duo asked as he sat down behind the desk.
"If you're having some," Heero shrugged, taking off his wet jacket and hanging it on the back of the chair.
Duo pressed an intercom on the desk. "Sister Helen?" he said sweetly. "Would you be a dear and bring me and my guest some coffee?"
"Of course, love," a woman answered. Heero suddenly remembered Duo talking about a woman named Helen who took special care of him as a kid. He tried to stuff the memory back down with the others and keep them there.
"Love this thing," Duo chuckled, referring to the intercom, "just installed it. Anyway, what have you got for me? I do love a challenge." Duo looked back at Heero and rubbed his palms together.
"You might want to call Father in too," Heero warned him as he dug into his bag.
"Father Maxwell died three months ago," Duo said quietly, "cancer."
Heero stopped what he was doing and looked up. "Duo, I'm so sorry to hear that," he said regretfully. He couldn't take his eyes off Duo. In the well-lit office, Heero could see more clearly just how much he had changed. He had grown a lot, but his eyes didn't have the same shine. He looked tired, gaunt under his black clothes.
"Don't worry about it," he said with a well-practiced smile, "now, what have you brought me?"
Heero pulled out the manuscript. "I have no idea what it is," he said.
Duo took it carefully and laid it on the desk. He studied it silently, fingers playing unconsciously around his lips as Heero continued to observe. He swore at himself for finding Duo attractive still, but he couldn't help it. He shifted in his seat and ran a hand through his damp hair. He couldn't stop thinking about what it had been like to kiss Duo. Maybe his fifteen year old brain had blown it out of proportion, but he remembered it had been incredible. Duo's lips had been the most amazing thing he'd ever felt. He commanded himself to stop. He sighed. It had been a long time until he had had those feelings for someone again after Duo. God, Duo still stirred those feelings. Like some kind of conditioned response.
"Why didn't you ever answer my letters?"
There was a silence as Heero tried to figure out who had spoken and realized that it had been him. The words had tumbled out of his mouth before he was even aware of his lips moving. He was immediately horrified that he'd said that out loud. He had promised himself he would not do this. It was the past, Duo was a priest now. Hell, kissing another boy could have driven him to this.
Duo looked up from the paper, eyes narrowed. There was a glint in them now. "You never wrote to me," he said defensively.
"Duo, I wrote to you every week practically!" Heero exclaimed. "I just about begged you to write back!" Heero couldn't hide all the hurt that had been bottled up for ten years, it just came pouring out. He knew coming here had been a mistake.
Duo looked angry. He put the paper down. "I don't know what you're trying to do Heero, and I don't know why you're making these things up. You don't need to do this! You don't have to dredge all that up! I'll help you regardless of the past. You don't have to try and make it better, and don't lie about it. So your uncle kicked us out. That was ten years ago! I can be an adult, ok? I don't need you to try and fake a friendship!" Duo's face was reddening with anger and voice was edged with hurt.
Heero stared, stunned. He didn't know what to say first. "I'm not lying to you Duo, I wrote you one letter a week for the rest of the season," he said desperately, "and we did
not kick you out! Father Maxwell picked up and left!"
"That's a lie!" Duo insisted, his eyes flashing with anger. "Your uncle found out about
us, and told Father to take me home!"
Heero made some strangled shocked noise before he could speak. "You've got it backwards Duo!" he tried to tell the man. "Father Maxwell was the one who found out! He told me that what we were doing was wrong and I was bad for you. Then he left, taking you with him! I told Jay, but he didn't care! It was Father Maxwell who took you away!"
"You're lying!" Duo nearly shouted standing up in a heartbeat. "Why did you come here, Heero? To lie to my face? To smear the memory of the only person who ever loved me? He's dead now! I won't let you do this! Haven't you hurt me enough?"
Duo barged past him to the door and fled the room. Heero watched him in shock. He saw a woman approach with a tray and some cups.
"Oh dear," she said watching Duo storm down the hall. She entered and smiled at Heero apologetically. "The last three months have been so hard on him. Everyone's expected him to take up all of the Father's duties," she sighed, setting the coffee down on the desk, and taking the chair next to the one Heero had vacated. "He's usually more composed than that, however!" she said with a contrite chuckle.
"I've really upset him," Heero said, still standing.
"Have a seat, young man," the nun said warmly, "please, have some coffee. Is there anything I can do for you?"
Heero sat as requested. "No, it's kind of you to offer, but I needed a translation," he told her, gently retrieving his paper from the desk, "looks like I blew it." He tucked it back in his bag and looked out the door again, shoulders sinking.
"Duo will help you," she promised.
"I'm not so sure," Heero wavered. He really didn't want to explain this to her.
"Of course he will, why don't you try again tomorrow?" she suggested. "Do you have a place to stay?"
no," he said, "would it be too much trouble if I used the phonebook?"
"We have a few spare rooms. Why don't you stay here for the night? I'm sure Duo will come around by tomorrow morning," she smiled.
"That's very kind of you, but I really don't - " Heero tried.
"Now young man, it would be rude to refuse our hospitality, wouldn't it?" she said kindly. "You must say yes! You look tired. Whatever you were discussing in here is obviously difficult for you both, you need to rest. I'll show you to your room now."
"Thank you," Heero said, standing to follow her.
She led him to another part of the building and up a flight of stairs. The long hallway had a series of wooden doors along it. She led him to the end of the hall.
"This one will suit you I think," she said, unlocking it. "It has its own small bathroom. No offense, but the sisters and I don't like sharing!" she winked.
"You've been very kind," he said, dropping his bag on the single bed. He was feeling very tired again.
She smiled warmly from the doorway. "There should be fresh towels in the drawers. Is there anything else you need?"
He shook his head.
"Breakfast it at eight o'clock, come any time after that. Kitchen is down the hall the way we came, you'll smell it!" she promised.
"Thank you," he said again.
"Sleep well, Heero," she said and closed the door.
After brushing his teeth and washing his face, Heero stripped down to his underwear and crawled into the small bed. The sheets were cool and clean feeling. He switched off the lamp and reached over to open the window to listen to the rain.