Disclaimer: This is fanfiction based on the characters and universe of Gundam Wing.

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 52

Duo's child. Of course it was Duo's. Hilde would not look at Heero as if she were afraid he would slap her unless it was Duo's. Duo and Hilde must have fought because Hilde was pregnant. Because Hilde had not done something? Did Duo not want his baby? Or was it Hilde that did not want it? Or was there some other complication about this that Heero did not yet know?

Heero really did not want to deal with this. It seemed strangely appropriate, after his own experiences the past few days, but still...

This was so much to deal with. All the more difficult for the thoughts Heero had been having... and his dream. Nightmare, really. Heero knew he was right, he was not sure he wanted to believe it, but he knew there was no mistake that Hilde was pregnant. That meant something was there, some life... some potential person.

The dream flashed back and then the images of blood.

He was still in the doorway and Hilde was still eyeing him cautiously.

"Stop," Midii said. "Am I really the only stable adult left here? Come in and sit down, Heero. Hilde, offer him some tea, or something and then tell him what happened."

"Come in," Hilde said, "Do you want anything?"

"Water, please... maybe some painkillers."

Midii laughed at him. Heero did not appreciate that. "Hung over?" She whispered when Hilde went to the kitchen.

"I did not drink much. I think it is more a result of troubled sleep."

"Or eyestrain from sitting at the computer all the time. Sit down."

Heero shook his head. He struggled mentally to remain as logical as possible. He unfastened Koi's leash and let him wander the apartment. He put his satchel on the floor, just inside the door. Midii shut the door. Heero took his phone from the satchel. He dialed the garage.

The message again. "Hilde, what is the code to skip the garage's message?"

She called the numbers to him.

Heero skipped the message. "Duo. It's Heero. Get over to the apartment now; there are at least three of us here that need you." He disconnected as soon as his message was finished.

Then, Heero walked to the couch and collapsed. He hated this lack of data. He needed to know some things. There was a natural pregnancy in question and Heero had no control over what happened with that. An abortion would mean a transfer, because though Colonials were not considered to be very religious as a whole, they were considered efficient and frugal; there would be no absolute termination while there were artificial wombs available and people who had lost families in the war and wanted to adopt. Heero was aware the few years of peace had coincided with an increase in births throughout the Sphere, but he had never considered any of those births would... hit so close to home.

Were Duo and Hilde arguing over how she had gotten pregnant to begin? Was it a matter of which of them wanted to keep the baby or choose an abortion?

Hilde came into the living room. She handed him a bottle of water and two pills. Heero glanced at the pills, recognized he brand, and swallowed them with the water.

Hilde sat down on the couch, not too close. "It did not happen when you were with him," she said quietly.

Somehow, that did make Heero feel better. He still did not like the situation, but this meant it was just a matter of dealing with Duo's past. Not that it was easy that Heero could not help that he felt jealous at times or that Duo could not change his past however much he wanted to be with Heero now, but at least they were not adding an emotional stress that Heero was not already dealing with. There was the pregnancy itself, but Heero had been dealing with that for a few minutes already.

"It happened just before you came back to the Colonies, actually, the day we saw the news report about you assisting in capturing Trant Clark in Moscow and Midii being your new secret girlfriend." Hilde laughed, because now the idea of Midii being Heero's girlfriend was very funny to her.

Heero thought it mildly disturbing that this had happened on the day Duo had seen him resurface. In his mind, he saw Duo... well it was something he would have to ask Duo about or else wonder forever.

"It was an accident," Hilde said, "Entirely unplanned, I assure you."

"That was more than a month ago," Heero said, forcing calm into his voice.

"I know. I am sorry about how I have reacted about this... But all I can say is do not place all of the blame on me unless you have accidentally gotten pregnant before. You can't know what it feels like."

He could not know that. True. Heero took a measure breath. He sipped water. He did not need all the details, but there were a few facts he wanted to make certain. Whatever would happen, it would be up to Hilde and then to Duo. Heero would just have to deal with what they did. "I really do not know what to say to you Hilde. This news comes at a... strange time for me. I just learned some things about who my biological parents were and how I was born."

"You did?" Midii asked, excitedly.

Heero nodded. "That is not important right now, I just meant that, I do not feel that I can be certain to react rationally. This subject... I wish to help you and Duo, if you need me to, but I may end up reacting emotionally."

"That makes all of us, except Midii."

"I did lapse once," Midii admitted.

"Hilde, there are a few things I hope you will make clear for me, but right now, what I need to know about is this argument. What happened with Duo?" That was the most important thing. Heero wanted information, but his selfish desire to not feel uninformed was secondary to his will to help Duo through what he had to do. He had to get Duo to talk through all of this rationally, if possible.

Hilde sighed. "I wish I understood. We were both so upset, angry. We ended up screaming and crying. I am really not proud of how I handled any of it. I want to make things better with him."

"I called him. He will be here. He may get the message late or take time to trash a room, but he will come. I want to know what he said. What part of it is Duo upset about?"

"I think I understand," Midii said, "I think."

Heero gestured for her to continue.

"It will make more sense if I tell it from the beginning."

"If you must."

"Hilde told you the day it happened and that it was an accident. So, you see, Duo and Hilde both knew that day that potentially Hilde could get pregnant. What I gather from listening to them both is that whatever happened at the time..."

"I really cannot believe that Duo was not practicing some kind of birth control," Heero thought aloud. He would have assumed Hilde would also, but wondering about what Hilde had done, exactly, was silent.

"We were!" Hilde groaned, "That's why it's an accident!"

"Relax, both of you. Hilde, it's better if I tell Heero. Heero, they were. From my objective point of view I believe it is really both their faults that it happened, no one was more to blame regarding the failure of various birth control methods."

Hilde made a sound, like she would like to say it was Duo's fault, but she said nothing.

"As I was saying, they were both aware of the potential. They both agree on the point that Duo suggested they go to a clinic. Do you know about this sort of thing, Heero? Or was that not in your research?" Midii grinned evilly at him.

Heero sneered at her. "I might have seen a poster on a train about it once." There would be a young woman and a man holding each other and the caption would have the woman saying something like, 'I was so worried that I had gotten pregnant before I was ready, but I got Some Brand of Pill from my doctor the next morning and now I know that everything will be OK.' "You mean he suggested the type of pill that somehow prevents the pregnancy from taking place?"

The girls' expressions and posture said they knew what 'somehow' was. Heero decided he did not want the details. Even if he had passed several levels of Sexual Education in school, there were some parts he did not want to go over again if it could be helped.

"Yes. And there are pills you can take even later, "Midii said. "That is beside the point. They agree that Duo suggested it, but after that, Duo and Hilde do not agree on what exactly was said. We do not need to go into what was argued now, but the fact is, that Hilde never went to the clinic and Duo says that his understanding of what Hilde told him was that she could not possibly have been pregnant, and he should not have assumed she would accidentally mislead him, and that it was not therefore neglectful on his part to not make sure to take Hilde to the doctor." There was emphasis on 'accidentally mislead' that told Heero that Duo had felt Hilde lied to him, but Hilde likely believed she had told the truth and Duo had only misunderstood her. The facts were probably somewhere between the two.

"Why would he suddenly think that it was not possible, when before you said 'potentially'?" Heero asked.

"You don't want me to go over the whole section of their argument about Hilde's cycle..."

"No," Heero cut in quickly, "No, you do not have to tell me about that." He was afraid he might have to hear Duo rant about it later anyway.

"So, from Duo's point of view, he was convinced, before you came back, that Hilde was not pregnant and that he should not worry about whether she was. He was very surprised when Hilde told him that she was, when he got here the other day."

"Surprised is understatement," Hilde said.

"Hilde," Heero started, "Was it just that Duo thinks that you lied to him?"

"No. There is that, and maybe if he would listen to me we could clear that up somehow, but it is not only that."

"Duo was very fixated on the fact that Hilde did not go to the clinic when he told her she should."

"Obsessed," Hilde offered.

"He was not making sense, well, I do not want to say that, I do like Duo and he is your boyfriend, so let me just say I did not follow his logic."

"Sometimes I do not follow his logic," Heero admitted.

"He was saying something about now it was too late, because he would already know it was there, but it would have been OK before."

"Is it a religious thing? Some religions say that you should not prepare more embryos than you plan to implant in a womb, or you should not abort a natural pregnancy... things like that." Heero was not sure if it was some religious opposition to something that was probably alive and probably his being risked or killed, but he did think Duo was more affected by religion than even Duo admitted. If Duo's reactions had nothing to do with religion, then reading through the words, Heero suspected that Duo did want a family very much and was conflicted with the way in which God had seen fit to make that happen. It would have been God in Duo's mind.

"He's not really that religious," Hilde said skeptically. "He certainly believes in sex outside of marriage. But even if he had some religious hang up about it, it still would be... pointless. I mean, it is not up to him right now. It is up to me." That told Heero what he wanted to know.

"Then, you decided to have the baby and keep it?" Heero asked. As far as he understood the present laws, Hilde, a natural biological mother, would have the right to decide if she would abort the pregnancy at any point and whether she would keep the baby herself. If Hilde had decide not to continue a pregnancy or to surrender her rights to the baby, at that point Duo would have the right to decide whether he would have the baby gestated artificially and keep the baby, or whether he would not. If they both decided they did not want it, then the baby might be available for adoption by others, blood relatives coming forward having first choice. All of this could be negotiated before the child was even born.

What terrified Heero was that he knew that, if Hilde and Duo had both indicated they did not want the baby, he would have applied to have it lab gestated and keep it himself. He really had no personal interest in having a child, but he knew that would have been his emotional reaction. He could not have just let Duo's baby go. Heero also knew that it would have hurt Duo that Heero did what he had decided not to, and that Heero could have ended up raising the child on his own. Then everyone would have been sad, because Heero was terrified that no one else would be capable of protecting the child. He would have been haunted by the idea of not being able to protect his child without Duo to reassure him. The child would have grown up with a crazy father.

It was a very good thing that Hilde wanted her baby.

Hilde had hesitated in answering, and maybe Hilde interpreted Heero's silence as suspicion. "Whatever Duo thinks, I did not purposely mislead him while planning all along to have his baby. I really did not believe it. I am willing to admit that maybe, subconsciously, I knew and I convinced myself otherwise. Maybe I subconsciously wanted a baby, but that would be subconscious. I did not do it on purpose. I really thought I was not pregnant... for a while."

"She was clearly experiencing denial," Midii added.

"For a month?" Heero asked Hilde. "Then you must have suspected for a couple weeks?" It had always been the social aspects of sex he lacked understanding in, Heero grasped the biology of reproduction rather well.

"Maybe a week I really suspected."

"And you did make sure?"

"Had the professional tests done. I am definitely pregnant."

"And choosing to keep the baby?" Heero asked to be sure.

"Yes. I have a job. I have some money saved. I have good medical coverage and maternity benefits with Preventers. Midii helped me research recommended doctors and birth centers. I even have vitamins." She smiled. "I really did not plan it. I wouldn't have planned to do it so young, but now I am here, I do not feel bad. I am just worried about Duo now, not this baby."

Why is Duo upset... so much? Because she is pregnant? Because she lied? Because he thinks I will not understand? Because he does not want his baby? "I do not understand," Heero said. "He really is upset that you are keeping it? That does not sound like Duo..." Maybes, please tell me Duo does not just want to be rid of his own child, Heero thought. Last week I might have agreed, I do not know for sure, but now, that idea bothers me.

"I'm not sure," Hilde said.

"It seemed like..." Midii started.

"You will have to tell him," Hilde said.

Shit, Heero thought, there is something else.

"Well, We explained that Hilde does want to have her baby and keep it. That's her right. You can agree to that, right?"

"Yes. That is how it works," Heero replied shortly.

"And she can do it alone?"

"Duo has options." Heero shrugged. "Please tell me this is not some child support issue you are arguing." A mother such as Hilde had right to choose first, but the father had rights as well. She could not force him to raise a child any more than he could force her. She could only force him to pay support if she could prove he willingly and knowingly had gotten her pregnant. So, it could have been a fight about that, but Heero doubted they would fight about money like that.

"I don't think it is the money. I know I argued with him, but I love Duo. I know he is honorable... he is too honorable."

"Duo was not OK with Hilde's choice to keep the baby and be on her own. He fixated a long time on how the baby should never have been and how if Hilde had listened to him..."

"Not again," Hilde groaned.

"Well, he started to understand that we were telling him it was truly pointless to argue whether he had been right on that day, because we could not, now, go back to that day and change things. Hilde is pregnant and Duo cannot force her not to have the baby."

"Then he got really upset and started fighting with Midii."

"He took offense to me saying he wanted to get rid of the baby, but that's what is sounded like he was saying. And I might have brought you into the conversation, and how it would be convenient if Duo was not a father and we shoved each other a little. He backed off on his own."

Heero shook his head. Duo and Midii pushing and shoving at each other, and no doubt screaming all the time. Heero wondered if the neighbors had been at home then. It had been cruel of Midii to drag Heero into it that way, but her better qualities included defensiveness of those she cared for, not kindness.

Hilde sucked in a breath.

"And then," Midii said, "Duo asked Hilde to marry him."

No. It was not true. Duo would not say that. "Do not say that," Heero pleaded, but he knew it was true. It was just the kind of impulsive, romantic, foolish, honorable sort of thing Duo would do. He would think it a sad thing that Hilde would raise a child, his child, without him, and realizing that he could not take back what was already done, he would come upon the seemingly brilliant solution that he should ask Hilde to marry him.

But, he is mine! Duo is going to marry me! Wait, that is not right, Heero thought. I do not want to marry Duo. That is just what I dreamt. Clearly, that dream was a manifestation of all my worries, marrying Duo included. But, it was nice, that moment, before everything went wrong, thinking that we had some house together and we were happy and that he loved me and he was still such a good lover. It was just a dream, though.

"He cannot marry you," Heero said slowly.

"That's what I told him," Hilde said, exacerbated. "That is probably the main reason he is so mad. Because he asked and I turned him down and, excuse me but, he knows he's a fool to put himself in the position where I might have said yes when he really wants to be with you."

"But if he really said it, it must be because he cares about your child. His child."

"Maybe," Hilde said. "Maybe he's just too damn old fashioned and honest."

"But, that is just how Duo is."

"Your boyfriend proposed to his pregnant girlfriend, and 'that's just how he is'?" Midii asked.

Heero shrugged. "If I am mad at him, things will only get worse. He would not have proposed if Hilde were not pregnant. I suppose it is encouraging that he wanted to be the father."

"He's still the father! I can't help that," Hilde said.

"So, you would not...? I mean, if Duo wanted to, you would let him be with his child?"

"Of course!" Hilde looked at Heero strangely. "He is the father, and he's my best friend. I think it is wrong for us to be married, but that doesn't mean I want to keep our child away from Duo. In fact, he had better do his part to help me out! But, we is getting ahead of ourselves, this child is not even born yet. It's too early to argue with Duo about whether he shows up at baseball games or ballet recitals or whatever."

"I like ballet," Heero said.

Hilde laughed and grabbed his arm. It made Heero tense, but he realized she felt relaxed and normal enough to do it. This was normal for Hilde. "Hey, Heero, do you want to marry me? You are so much more stable than Duo."

Heero shook his head. He knew Hilde was joking with him. And, she was entertaining Midii with this act. "Stable? You do not know me very well."

Hilde laughed. She still had one hand about Heero's arm, and now she rubbed his back with the other. "Everything is OK? Just between us, I mean. I really did not do this on purpose, and we've had our understanding about Duo? He's yours." Hilde paused for just a moment, "You remember that night, after that early attack that failed...? You know, he didn't let me do anything, even when you said I could try. He was already yours."

Heero smiled. "He told me, after the fact. We had that period of time in which I said he might have other partners, and he stopped before I asked him to. He told me later when it had been that he stopped." Heero had never thought, never considered that Duo could have gotten a past female partner pregnant. He had always been so safe. "Hilde, how, exactly, did it happen?"

She did not answer, because the door opened and Duo stepped in. His eyes scanned the room. He looked at Heero. "I will talk to you, but not in front of the audience," the dismissive gesture of his hand indicated that 'audience' meant Midii in particular. He was mad at her.

"I will talk with you, Duo," Heero said, again forcing the calm. Duo was clearly still upset and Heero could feel the pain radiating from him. Maybe he needed to practice tuning in and shutting out feelings and thoughts every night as Ursula had practices escaping. He did not need to train his body for sex on his own anymore, not very much. He could allot time for other training.

Duo stalked down the hall.

Hilde stood as Heero did and she called after Duo. "We didn't just tell him! Heero knew, and we told him the rest pretty objectively!"

Heero took his bottle of water and went after Duo. He was in the apartment's office, slouched in the large, swiveling, fake leather armchair. He seemed to be washed, and his hair was in a single thick braid, but he did not look pretty. "I don't believe they went and told you everything. No. I believe it."

"I did not know why you and Hilde had fought when I arrived," Heero said. He closed the office door softly.

"I was going to call and tell you. I told you I would call when I was ready."

"I know. After that, I had a nightmare."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there."

"I did miss you," Heero said. He sat down in the armless chair in front of the drafting table. It had space for both paper and graphics input devices and there was a monitor on a swivel arm on the wall above. "That is why I called Hilde. I had this nightmare... it was bad."

"Killing someone?"

"Yes, but it was not like the nightmares before. This was new. And there was no one close enough to stop me before I started screaming. I woke up and I just clung to Koi, like some..."

"It is not weak. It happens to a lot of people. You are not a freak if you wake terrified by nightmares."

Heero nodded. "I thought, you must be alone also. Usually, if you were not with me, I knew that you would be with Hilde, Relena or Adin or someone. I knew you were alone. So, I called Hilde and I got the recording again. I told her that I did not want you to be alone. I mean, I would just like to know that if I cannot shake you awake, someone will. I told her that if she could do something to make you come home she should. Then she picked up and told me that she could not get you to come here and maybe I could help. She wants to apologize."

"I don't think she can apologize." He meant, that would not be enough to make him feel better.

"When I got here, I just knew. I sensed it quite strongly. She was pregnant. And she was looking at me like she was afraid of me, so I knew it was yours."

Duo made some terrible sound to drown out Heero's voice.

"Duo, you cannot run and hide from being a father."


"Duo, you are a father. You do not have to carry it, live with it, or marry its mother, and if you believe Hilde really did mislead you about how 'safe' things were they you probably do not have to pay support for it, but you are still a father! No one can force you to be a good father, but you cannot change that you are now a father. Even if the child dies, you will still be the father of a child who has died!"

Duo stared at him, drawn back into his chair, perhaps trying to decide if he should cry or hit Heero. Heero was leaning forward, and he knew he must look threatening, or just insane. He had lost his ability to remain rational right there.

"Why are you doing this to me?" Duo whispered.

"I want you to tell me what kind of father you are, Duo! Are you a good father? If there were a hit out on Hilde, would you take bullets for her to save your child? If there was a hit out on you, and the assassin was better than you, would you beg him with your last breath to take your child, even if you hated him, just because you wanted your child to live? Would you love your child that much? Would you just want it to live?"

"Yes! Goddamn you! Yes! I would beg, put the kid in a basket of reeds to float down river, let Solomon give my child to another woman to raise, launch him in a rocket as the planet explodes, let some Jedi take him, let him drift in an escape pod, take bullets, all of that! Yes, much to my ruin! I don't fuckin' want to be a father! I just wanted to be happy with you..."



"Duo, as of this week, I do not think I could love any man who was not the kind of man who could be a good father. You could not be happy with me if you were not a good father."

Duo's expression softened, this was more the way Heero was used to seeing him, only slightly less amused. "What happened to you?"

Heero sighed. "I really wanted to tell you," he admitted, "but now I am afraid it will all sound like the plot of some French movie."

Duo laughed, though the sound was a little sad. "I would have thought depressing Russian epic?"

Heero shook his head. "Enough war certainly, but I do not think those stories have so many drug users, hitmen and gangsters."

"Ah, that sounds like an American movie to me!"

"An American moviemaker would have cast me as an older actor and left my childhood on the cutting room floor, as they say. Why do they say that?"


"Oh, yes, from the era when cut and paste meant blades and adhesives were used." He saw was staring at him and that he was almost amused. He was smiling strangely.

"Since when did you have a childhood?"

"Oh, not only that, I know the method of conception and gestation."


"Not at all."

Duo nodded several times in understanding. "You know that they say? You gotta forget the part about 'get it out of me now, I do not even want to carry this thing' and concentrate on the people who did want you. The people who want you, they are always your real family."

"Illegal emergency transfer."

"Shit, like... stolen? I thought that was an urban legend."

"No, my mother indicated that she wanted me to live... as she was dying."

"Oh! Oh!" Duo was getting the picture, as they said. "Because you ended up with... Lowe... oh... so, how do you feel about all that?"

"I wish Vasili had mentioned how many shots had been fired and whether my biological father had tried to protect my mother at all. I wish my father had lived until he thought I was old enough to hear the story. I wish my mother had not used drugs. I wish my biological father had not acted in such a manner that any intelligent man would know would put a price on his head. I wish I had never learned to kill. But..." Heero sighed, "I cannot change any of that. Adin Lowe was my father. He happened to be an assassin. I was an accessory after the fact before I was even born. He actually cared about me, he even wore the recorders, but he had never really wanted to be a father. He had just not wanted to kill me and ended up as my father. The older I got, the more I could see he was disturbed by the role. Duo, Hilde wants to carry your child to term and keep it. I, personally, am glad of that. She wants you to be around, without being with her. That works for me, as I would rather you were with me. The question is whether you can accept this situation, as it has to be?"

Duo shook his head, more to say he was unsure than he disagreed.

"Can you be a good father by trusting Hilde to do what is right for your child and being around when your child does need you?"

"I guess!" Duo said, throwing up his hands. "I don't know. I would rather not have had to deal with this at all."

"Yes, well, if you want to rant about how it was not your fault, we can do that later. It will not help anyone to argue with Hilde now. Not about that. She is your friend Duo, there is no need for either of you to get litigious. It is done, so let's figure out what to do now, and in the future."

"I know that you are right, Heero, but..."

"Aa, and before I forget, Duo-chan..."

Duo grimaced.

"If you ever wish to propose marriage to anyone but me again, you will have to break up with me first or I will consider it cheating and break up with you. Do you understand?"

"I'm sorry..."

"Do you understand?" Heero demanded.

"Yes, Heero. I have promised for all the days in the future to be your boyfriend, and I do not want you to break up with me, so I guess I better not propose marriage again... except to you."

Heero smiled.

"You're really not mad?"

"No, not mad. I even forgive you, but that does not mean you do not deserve punishment."

"Absolved on the condition that I do penance, I know this one," Duo groaned.

"I will contemplate what your penance will be for a while I think. Proposing marriage to Hilde while you are supposed to be my boyfriend? How stupid are you, Maxwell?"

"Ah!" He sat straight, seemed about to speak and then thought about what he was going to say, "In defense of my intelligence," Duo said, "I was not being stupid, Heero, I simply followed my emotions. I was trying to be a good father and I thought the best way to do that would to try the ol' nuclear family plan."

"Following one's emotions and being a good father I can appreciate."

Duo smiled.

"You risked me to be a father, Duo. I have to be honest with you, if you and Hilde had both decided you did not want your child, I would have adopted it myself. I would have risked you."

"Why the Hell would you?"

"A lot of reasons, not all of them entirely logical. Duo, when it really hit you... when you knew that it was not a mistake and that regardless of whether it was any more or less your fault or Hilde's that she got pregnant, she was pregnant with your child, you knew then that you would risk yourself for the child and that was what made you mad, right?"

"Yeah..." Duo said slowly, thoughtfully. "I knew, I really was a father, and it made me mad, because I had not wanted it or planned it or anything. I knew, that I could not change it. It would be like... trying to fall out of love on purpose."

"I felt like that, too."

Duo leaned back in his chair, just thinking.

"You wanted a family," Heero said.

"Yeah..." Duo hesitated, perhaps wondering how or why Heero knew. "I think of you as family. The people that want you and look out for you, they are family. But I think I wanted children. Not now. Sincerely, not now. I couldn't even manage the dog, but, in the future... yeah, I did consider it." He grinned, though he did not look at Heero directly, "After I convinced you to marry me."

"I am too young to get married."

"I am too young to have a child."

"It will likely not be born until the beginning of next year. You will be 19 then."

"Well, I pretend my birthday is in October, so I'll still be 18 when I have a 9-month-old."

Heero laughed.

"It's not funny," Duo said, glaring. "It's pretty fucking depressing."

"Let's look at the positive."

"What's that?"

"I do not have to worry about other men trying to steal you away now." Heero smirked, "I wonder how many homosexual men would be interested in a bisexual boy with a ring on that finger and a child in tow? Three strikes, you're out!"

Duo showed Heero his middle finger, the one beside the ring. "Fuck you. I'm young and I give great head, that's all that matters."

"Those things are important," Heero said thoughtfully, "But there must be so many boys that fit those requirements. Maybe a seventeen-year-old, maybe a blond!"

"Bastard, like you'd be satisfied with anyone else after me!"

"Maybe a seventeen-year-old blond with purple fingernail polish in tight brown leather pants and cowboy boots..."

"OK, and you're inviting me over for a threesome, right?"

Heero laughed. "Maybe, if Hilde has not asked you to stay in with your sick child while she stays late at the office."

"Don't mess with me, not now," Duo said sharply.

Heero let go of the fantasy. Duo would look better in that outfit than the silly waif he had invented in his mind.

Heero stood. He gulped water and then put the bottle on the desk near Duo. He climbed into Duo's chair, straddling his legs. "Do you by any chance have brown leather pants?"

"Just black I think."

"I am not in a black leather mood."

"Silver..." That put an interesting image in mind, but not an image of Duo buying the pants for himself.


"They were a gift."

"You are only my go-go boy now," Heero said seriously.

Duo smiled at him. "You wanna be my boyfriend today?"

"I will be your boyfriend at least until the end of the year."

"Are you serious?"

Heero smiled, then nodded. He was serious, though he had not planned saying that. "I think it does feel more good than frightening now."

"You still gave yourself a time limit," Duo observed.

"Better than it was before."

Duo agreed. "Much better." He kissed Heero quickly, just aside his mouth.

Heero lifted a hand and touched the hairs along Duo's jaw. "Are you going to get rid of this, or are you preparing for the role of a Jedi Master?"

"Yes Master," Duo said, exactly in the contrived British accent that the actors who had played Obi Won Kenobi had spoken in. Duo sounded unbelievably sexy.

Heero licked Duo's lips, then he looked him in the eyes. "I once was the pupil, now I am the master," he said flatly.

"You can kinda see it now, huh?"

"No, but I am very willing to pretend we are Jedi that are sexually involved!"

"Ya know... I do have cowboy boots, and I have some vintage Levi's..."

Heero's jaw dropped.

"And I have a hat," Duo said, winking at him.

"Oh, go put them on right now!"

"What about Hilde?"

"Fuck Hilde!"

"Kinda what got me into trouble," Duo warbled.

Heero touched his forehead to Duo's. "We will order pizza. You will pay. I will be with you when you talk to Hilde. You will do your best to remain rational. We will eat pizza and you will sit near me while we watch a movie."

"We have done this before."

"Aa, but this time, if I wake and find you barely dressed, hard, and calling my name, I am not running to take a cold shower. Fair warning, Duo, if I wake first, I will be all over you."

"No fucking," Duo said firmly, "Not until I am awake. Consider yourself having consent for the rest, though."

Heero kissed Duo's cheek and then whispered at his ear. "Consider yourself having the same consent if you wake first."

Duo made a sound like a purr and then, after a pause, he groaned. "Heero, I can't even stay interested. I am still so mad at her! My life is like some bad movie!"

"Yours would be a terrible American Romantic Comedy."

"Right, headed for tragedy when I actually get attached to the kid and get over being afraid everyone will die on me and then Hilde finds someone she wants to marry and decides it's better the bisexual ex-boyfriend move out and not come around anymore."

"She would not do that to you."

Duo grinned. "If Hilde were played by Madonna I think you'd lose out, Heero. I'd marry her and move to Scotland!"

"Hn. Madonna. She's dead now, you know." Heero sat back and crossed his arms.

"Putting too much weight on my leg," Duo whispered.

Heero shifted his weight forward, to his knees.

"Maybe if Hilde has a girl we could name her Madonna!" Duo said brightly.

Heero thought that a silly name. "Helen," he suggested.

"Yeah! If it's a girl."

"If Hilde lets you."

Duo frowned. "She let time lapse between her shots, Heero. She told me that she got the shots that they have because she knew she couldn't remember to take pills every day. How hard is that, anyway? I take pills everyday! And still, she stupidly let the period of effectiveness run out without going back for her shot! How could she do that? You can make your next appointment when you go in for the one before. They'll call you with a reminder! How could she just forget?"

"I do not know, but you have to talk with her about it calmly."

"I tried. I was totally shocked when she told me and I know I got loud, but I tried to be calm, but then Midii started turning everything I said around and making me sound like the bad guy! Like, it was all my fault poor innocent Hilde was knocked up and so traumatized that she had been in denial and couldn't be blamed for not going to her doctor sooner. Can you believe that shit?"

Heero was not sure how to respond. He said, "Midii is very defensive of people that she likes. It may not always seem she is doing you a favor when she protect you, but she is only like that when she does care."

"And then she started talking about you and saying how I didn't want a baby because I wanted this other lifestyle where I could go clubbing with you all the time and all this stuff that was only half true! All I was saying was that it should not have happened. But she made it seem like I was being... hateful and would never want anything to do with my own child. I mean, how would you react at first? I was just shocked and I was trying to say that Hilde could have prevented the situation, and that's true! Midii was trying to make it sound like I was completely irresponsible. I was totally responsible!"

"A bit more idealistic than usual?"

Duo huffed. "Well it just should have happened some other way."

"But, it did not. It happened this way."

"I know. I know."

"Midii said that you and Hilde might be both equally responsible for the failure of birth control. Do you think that was twisting the facts?"

Duo groaned and said nothing.

"What sort of condom was it?"

"It broke. That had never happened to me before, ever, though I know it is statistically bound to happen to someone sometime. Afterward, I realized that I had no idea. That, I felt bad about. So, I looked for the wrapper and I found it. It had not expired past the recommended effectiveness date, but it was close to the date. And it was not the brand I would have chosen if I had really paid attention, but in theory, it should have been all right. The way Hilde was screaming at me, it was like I'd purposely picked the oldest, gummiest, cheapest condom there was just so it would break."

"You usually pay attention to which one you pick. You said you usually show your partner which it is."

"Yeah... usually. I don't think I did. Heat of passion or something."

"You were thinking of me."

Duo stared at Heero seriously. "Did Hilde say that?"

"No. She did not seem to know."

"Fuck. She'll scream at me all over again if she realizes. It's not like she never fantasizes that she's with someone else. Lots of people do it. Still..."

"You were distracted enough to make ineffective decisions, by me."

Duo nodded. Then he said, "But using the condom in addition to her getting the shots was responsible. That was what I was supposed to do. Her being off the meds was not my fault. I didn't even know. And when I knew the condom failed, I asked her about it. That's when she really thought about it and she realized what might have happened. It was terrible, that moment, me watching her realize how she'd fucked up as much as me, or more. But! But, Heero, I did the responsible thing, I told her there was still time to take care of it. I said I'd go with her, to the clinic. And then... she talked me out of it."

"Why do you think?"

"That's what I don't get! It was like she stopped having that terrified look on her face and she started talking about what part of the month it was and shit and she told me not to worry about it. She told me, Heero, she said she was sure. I told her she should still go to her doctor, just to make sure. She said 'yes' or something, and I really thought she meant she would go. And then it's over a month later and she tells me that she's pregnant and it couldn't have been any other guy. It was mine."

"Is she sure?"


Heero nodded.

"It was her fault."

"Maybe it is. I really cannot judge this. But, if it is her fault, maybe it is also not her fault in a conscious purposeful way. Like not being responsible for what you did while insane. I am not a woman who accidentally got pregnant, so I cannot know for sure, but maybe it was really too much for her to deal with mentally. Maybe she really was convinced that she was telling you the truth. You have seen how there are soldiers who just lose it in battle..."

"Yeah, but now I'm 18 and with you but Hilde's going to have my kid because she wanted so much not to accidentally get pregnant that she convinced herself that she just wasn't instead of just going to the doctor and making sure? And... Now that she's accepted the truth, she's all happy suddenly and wants to keep it?"

"Yes. That is the situation as I understand it."

"But... I shouldn't have to deal with this! I did not choose this! Hilde just changes her mind, from being terrified to being happy..."

"She is allowed to do that, Duo. If Hilde had decided she did not want to have her the baby, we would all be in a different situation, but that is not what she decided. You just have to deal with how things are now. Even if it makes no sense to you what she is doing, you have to respect that they are her decisions to make. She is your friend, Duo, she is not going to get litigious with you. If you want to be very involved, short of marrying her of course, she will let you. If you want to be a little less involved, I think she will also understand that. You can decide what you want, just like Hilde did."

"But I can't don't you see? Heero, I am happy for you that you found out something about your family. Maybe some of it seems depressing, but now at least you have a clue what happened. I have no idea where I really came from. I know what it feels like to be an orphan. I know what it is like to be the last kid in the orphanage. To be unwanted. It hurts. And I know what it is like to get attached to a sort of surrogate family and lose them. That hurts a lot. I ended up completely alone and on the street at a young age, Heero. It is just not in me to let that happen to anyone else. It is not in me to even risk that I might send someone down that path. If I am a father, then in my mind, it's like there is no choice anymore. Do you understand?"

"I think so."

"I need to do everything I am able to avoid leaving my child some orphan on the street. I need to protect my kid, Heero. I need to protect Hilde, because she will be that kid's mother. I need to be careful with my life, so I can keep protecting them. There's no choice, Heero. Hilde took the options away when she lied to me and didn't prevent this. She knows how I am. She knows me! If I have a child, there is no choice. I can't live with myself unless I am the best father I can be."

"I know."

Heero looked at Duo and he saw tears in his eyes. "It's like she stole a piece of my life away. She took all my freedom and choices from me because she could not deal with her own mistakes! She hurt me! She hurt me and this cannot be undone. If she gave up the kid now or she miscarried... I would still have gotten this far... it would hurt. It would hurt like being orphaned again. It cannot be undone because giving up the child at this point will not make me feel better. It would have been OK if she just prevented it, but it's too late now. I have no choices left."

"Duo, I know that you hurt. I am sorry that you hurt. You really must try to forgive Hilde. I realize that she did hurt you, but she has done the same to herself, I think. Duo, you still have choices in life. You do. You are a father, a good one, but there are so many other choices for a man to make. Where you live, who you love, where you work, what you do to entertain yourself... so many things. Do not let this get you down, Duo. It will not help anyone if you are depressed."

"Fuck, it's not like I want to be!"

Heero wiped the tears from Duo's face with his fingers. "Duo. Give me money for the pizza. I will call in the order and pay with your money. I will keep Midii away from you while you talk to Hilde. You must talk to Hilde as calmly as you can manage. I will do what I can to make sure you are not disturbed from outside. Can you do that?"

Duo nodded slowly.

"Duo, you are my friend. More than just a friend now, but even if that ended, not that I want it to, I would be your friend. I would always look out for my friend's child. So, do not feel like you are alone. Whatever duty you feel you have, I am willing to share it, if it helps you. I love you, Duo, and that means I feel I do not have a choice in some things. I cannot live with myself unless I am respectful, helpful, and supportive toward you. I need to be good to you, because I love you."

"Jesus... how can I be just 18 and already have found you? Heero, you're perfect."

Heero smiled. "You have me because when I was just 15 you were loving to me, even knowing I did not return all of your feelings. I learned a lot from you, Duo, about how to be a good person. You are a good person."

"You were good, even then. You were just... wild. Like someone raised by wolves."

"You must be careful I do not devour you," Heero said, touching a finger to Duo's shirt, which happened to be red.

on to chapter 53

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