Another mission complete. Yet again, Heero had - reluctantly - saved Relena from yet another attempt at her life. For someone so young, she had managed to get far too many enemies. Opening the door, he immediately understood something was wrong. Everything was quiet. Completely quiet. The apartment he and Duo rented together, always seemed to have sounds - or the occasional thrown object - bouncing off the walls - usually caused by the endless babbling or hyperactivity of its braided resident - The same one who now sat at the kitchen table, chin resting against palms, staring into the intricate patterns of the wooden table - in utter silence.
What could be wrong this time? Heero thought. I'd better find out - 'sudden changes in emotional states dangerous - must eliminate all compromising behaviour - present situation unacceptable...' He blinked, clearing his mind. Even now, when the war is finally over, my mind still slips into this 'analysing mode' - How I hate it... I think...
Regardless of his doubts, his first analysis was correct - he had to find out what troubled Duo - this time. He entered the kitchen, seated himself on the opposite side of the table, placed his hands on the table, blocking Duo's view of the dark twists and lines in the woodwork. Duo raised his head, their eyes met. His were reddened, revealing. Aware of that fact, Duo returned to staring into the table.
"Heero, we need to talk," he finally mumbled.
"Well, I don't hear you objecting, at least."
"Guess I'll do most of the talking, then - nothin' new there." A faint, fake smile flashed across Duo's face, lost again just as sudden. Again, those strained eyes were directed upwards.
"Heero, what do you feel for me, exactly?"
"Come on, man - I know you have problems opening up about emotions, especially the stronger ones - but I need to know - right now!"
Silence followed. Slowly shaping in his mind an answer he deemed both appropriate and 'correct', Heero took Duo's hands in his own, in the process grazing gentle fingers across moist cheeks, wiping them off.
"Duo, I care more for you than anybody else - I've told you that repeatedly - why don't you believe me?" Duo pulled his hands away, eyes suddenly flaring with anger.
"Why I don't believe you?! - because you keep staying so close to Relena, that's why! Why can't you just let her manage on her own? It's not like we owe her anything, and..."
"Duo, you know that's not true - the peace we fought so hard for - both to get, and maintain - is based on her family's teachings - which is why I promised to protect her, because I'd then also protect that ideal - peace. Relena is just too naive, and she'll need our help to make those dreams of peace a reality - you know that."
"Yeah, but why do you have to get so damn close to protect her? Can't you just work in the shadows, protect her without her ever knowing?" Like I do for you?
"That is what I'm trying to do - but there's just no helping it sometimes - I can't always get out of her way fast enough, and still complete my objectives."
"Even so, even if you're only there to keep her alive - her vision alive, you always end up making her think you love her, you know." Do you? - love her, and not me?
"I won't lie - I care for her - as much as I care for most people - any life is too precious to simply waste - you taught me that. Ever so slowly, I'm still learning... "Still, I do not love her - I admire her determination, and I do what I can to maintain this fragile peace, but I don't care for her like that."
"Then why do you keep deceiving her?" ..and make me so damn insecure... "Why did you send her that stuffed bear for her birthday?"
"Because you told me friends buy each other gifts at certain occasions - like birthdays. I can't remember hearing you complain when I got you..." Duo cut him off mid-sentence.
"So, you're saying she's a close friend, now?"
"No - but to maintain her mental stability, as well as her delusions when it comes to any relationship between her and me - not that such a thing exists - it seemed the most appropriate action."
"Then what about the time you kissed her - how was that an 'appropriate action'?"
So, that is what this is about - he finally found out... For over two years, I've wanted to tell him, but not been able to... "Duo, I know my understanding of strong emotions is still insufficient - you've helped me greatly with that, and I can't think of any way to thank you enough for that - I do understand, however, that any explanation I could possibly offer, would not be enough to justify my actions in your eyes - I can only apologize for them, and hope for your forgiveness. Relena's feelings for me might very well be her greatest weakness - or flaw - which is why I kissed her. If I had not reassured her false hopes, she would have lost what little sanity still holds her together. If she had lost it, we might have lost something far more precious. I know I can't make that wrong right for you, nor explain it away - I can only keep confirming what my heart tells me - that I care so deeply for you, love you." Blurted out, the words caught himself by surprise.
What did I just say? I've never said that before... I - I've never been so certain of my words - or as nervous...
Dou had been about to reply harshly, but those last few words had rendered him speechless, jaw drooping. He knew Heero loved him - but the seemingly cold stoic had never said so - not using that four letter word, anyway. Even in his surprise, Duo noticed that Heero had blinked his eyes - twice. That could only mean he had not planned to say it - that it actually reflected his feelings - his emotions - rather than that rigid computer Heero called a mind.
"Wha- What did you say, Heero?" Duo's expression of shock faded, slowly replaced by one of pure delight.
"I - I love you, Duo - I really do. I know my actions don't always reflect that, but my heart does belong to you."
"Right back at ya, Heero."
That was all the confirmation Heero needed. He leaned across the table, brought one hand behind Duo's head, entwining his fingers in the soft, braided hair, and pressed his lips to Duo's, affirming his feelings. As they parted, the three words again escaped Heero's lips. Placing his hand along Heero's cheeks, Duo whispered; "I know, Heero - I really know that now - but please, don't stop saying it..." With that, Duo grabbed the back of Heero's head, and their lips met again...