Heero leaves that summer. Not that he told anyone or anything, my aunt hears
it from his uncle. He moves out in June a week after classes end. I don't know
where he went. I spend the summer working my ass off trying to save some money
and spending as much of my limited free time with my friends as I can. Then we
go our separate ways to college. We promise not to lose touch, but you know how
it is. We see each other on breaks and stuff.
I really don't think about Heero again for a year. His uncle dies during the
next summer. I keep thinking he'll come home and I'll see him or he'll stop
over, but it never happens. The house is sold. There's nothing for him to come
back for now. I don't even know if he came back, but I kick myself for not going
over there at least once. Just to be a friend, and give my condolences and
stuff. Even though I know they didn't get along. I wonder if they ever made
peace before he died.
School is good for me. I finally grow! I always thought my Aunt was just
trying to console me when she would tell me I was just a late bloomer, but it
looks like she was right. I grow a lot in other ways, too. I am astounded to
discover that I'm no longer just "dorky." To the collegian eye, I am apparently
"quirky" as well, which seems to attract the girls. Adventurous guy that I am, I
even date a boy for a while but it doesn't work out. I think about Heero now and
then, mostly in my engineering classes. We learn about designing and drafting,
those things remind me of him, those times he came over with his car. At the
time, I couldn't really have known just how advanced his work was. I hope he's
happy somewhere, and maybe finally putting his brain to good use.
Quatre went to an expensive private school and is rewarded with a high level
position in his father's business upon receiving his diploma. Wu Fei got a
pre-law degree. Yeah, he and Sally are still together. A doctor and a lawyer.
Kinda makes me ill, but I love them. Trowa got accepted in a prestigious
creative writing program, and now lives in the same city as Quatre, surprise,
surprise. I hear Relena has gotten into politics. I graduate in four years and
get a job in the pit crew for a local Columbus NASCAR team. My job is great, I
want to drive someday. I'm learning.
Heero Yuy never really crosses my mind all that much, but when he does I
wonder about him. And I kick myself all over again for not trying to see him
when I might have had the chance. But that was four years ago now. He could be
dead now for all I know. Yeah, still morbid.
But then he walks back into my life. I'm working past closing, which is not
unusual when I'm really into something. There's no one else around, I'm pretty
sure all the doors are locked, I don't know how he got in. But I'm working on a
suspension system and suddenly, a voice behind me says, "Duo Maxwell?" The voice
is deep and smooth, my brain jolts immediately, but I can't remember where I've
heard it. I turn around to face Heero Yuy. I'm so shocked, I just stutter for a
minute. Stunned silent by him again. He looks a little older, but it's him
alright, same ice blue eyes and tangled dark hair. Unmistakable.
"Heero?" I finally stammer.
"You remember," he remarks, seemingly pleased. Remember? Of course I
"Oh my god, how have you been?" I gush, quickly wiping my greasy hands on a
rag. I have so many questions I don't know where to begin.
"Good," he says, nodding. I think he means it. He seems different, calmer,
not so closed off. Looks like he's changed, too. My mind is still blurred with
questions and, true to form, he hasn't offered much information.
"It's nice to see you," I blabber, not knowing what else to say, "My god,
it's been 5 years! What have you been doing?"
"I went to school," he offers. Well, that's good to hear. But getting
information out of him is like pulling teeth. Exactly the way I remember it.
"Where?" I ask curiously. Hmmm something just isn't right.
Before he can answer I cut in, "Wait, don't go anywhere!" like I'm afraid
he'll disappear for another five years. I dash to the break room and grab two
pops from the fridge.
"Care for a 'soda'?" I ask with a grin I can't hide. I toss him a can and
lean on the car. He does the same with the tiniest of smiles. "So, where'd you
go to school?" I ask again.
"After my uncle died, I finally got my shit together," he says, "I saw some
of his collegues at the funeral. They basically promised I could get into MIT,
so I decided to apply. I graduated last spring."
Holy shit MIT!! "Wow, Heero, way to go!" I say a little too excitedly.
"How was OSU?" he asks me unexpectedly.
"Fine," I answer, "It's what you choose to make of it, you know? I feel I did
pretty well for myself."
"I'll say, this is a pretty cool job," he agrees, "Fitting." Wow, do you
think I impressed him?
"Think you'd ever like to... I don't know, get out of Ohio for a change?" he
asks casually. Well, this is odd. Not only is he asking the questions, he seems
to be getting at something.
"I suppose," I say, equally casual, waiting to see where this is going.
"Duo," he starts slowly, "I came here for a reason."
I just listen intently.
"I wanted to offer you a job," he tells me. Have I heard right? What on earth
could he mean by that? A job? What?
"I've been recruited for a project with NASA and – " he starts to say before
I cut him off.
"NASA?!" I exclaim. Holy fucking shit he just said NASA.
"Um yes, well, it's just an internship," he continues like it's General
Mills, "but I need a partner and I was wondering if I could interest you in the
position. We'll be working on engine coolant systems, you know, fluid dynamics,
This takes several minutes to sink in. He continues nervously. Maybe he
thinks I've gone totally brain dead. "The project hasn't started yet, uuuhhh I –
I just moved to Orlando myself..."
"Wait, you want me to come work at NASA?" I sputter, still in disbelief.
Maybe I did go braindead. He can't be serious.
"Yes..." he affirms, looking a little anxious but quite serious. I balk.
"Look, Duo, I know this is a complete surprise. I'm starving, let's go get
some dinner and talk about it. My treat," he offers.
I look at him. He's blinking back at me hopefully, a little insecurely. I
feel a smile widen on my face. "Ok!" I agree.