Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'Rosetta Stone'
Pairing: 1+2(+1)
Rating: R
900 words

Warnings: Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Heero POV

AN: Part #29 of the 'Road to Recovery' microseries. Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #75 - 'master'.

by kebzero

She was pissed.

That's the gist of it. There was shouting, gesticulations, harsh arguments - and all the while I tried to explain the presence of the liquor bottle. It was tough breaking through her verbal assaults long enough to get as much as a fragmented sentence through.

It took me a long time to reach Hilde - to make her at least understand, if not accept.

Yes, I'd bought the bottle. No, I hadn't used part of the grocery budget, but some of my own hard earned cash reserves. Yes, I knew I should avoid alcohol. No, I didn't plan on breaking my promises.

It was a challenge. The bottle, I mean. A challenge to myself, a means to seek mastery of my addiction. I planned to keep that bottle close at hand, a constant temptation to be met with vigilant resistance, a tangible reminder of how little it'd take to lose what little I had - and how little I'd get in return, if I succumbed.

I think she got all that - but she certainly wasn't happy when she left, growling something about getting some air. The door closed firmly soon after.

Left alone, I grew restless. I sat on my bed for a while, then glanced at the gun a mere reach away. Frowning, I stood up, started pacing the dimly lit room. Sleep was something I didn't even want to attempt, not until Hilde got back, until I could convince her of keeping this from Duo until I could break the news gently.

It was not like I'd actually touched the alcohol. There was a fixed boundary of glass between me and my at one time 'aqua vitae' - my 'water of life'.


I froze, turned to face the door. In the light from the living room, Duo looked positively frightening, especially with that particular mien, his expression caught somewhere between disappointed and frustrated. I swallowed hard, feared Hilde had already returned - had already told him. He took a step forward, I took one back, half-expecting him to take a swing at me, yell at me how stupid I was to go and buy alcohol, even if I wasn't planning to drink it.

When the attack came, it didn't quite happen the way I'd imagined.

His arms around me, not his hands at my throat.

I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. As soon as the surprise faded off, I hugged him back, afraid to do more, much less say anything that'd ruin it.

Duo isn't weak - and he didn't hold back on his strength. "Duo," I finally wheezed, "I can't breathe..."

I could feel the jolt in his body. His grip loosened, but didn't let me go by a long-shot. Resting my chin on his shoulder, breathing a bit easier, I smiled. Life was good.

Until he spoke again, embrace growing tighter. "Why the fuck didn't you tell us?!"

Panic. God, he knew. Hilde had-

"Suicide is not an option, okay?" he hissed against my ear. "You're not alone anymore, Heero. You got lots of friends - people you'd make sad. Don't make me sad, got that? Killing yourself is not an option - it wasn't during the war, it isn't now, and not ever, you hear me?"

Not sure what to think, I smiled meekly, nodded as much, then glanced at the back of his head, not able to do much more. His voice was off, a bit hoarse.

"I... found your diary," he whispered, sounding ashamed of himself.

Realization. "Oh..." I'd forgotten all about that thing. Some of what I'd written down while fairly sober slowly resurfaced in my mind. I grimaced, but held onto Duo. It wasn't that I was angry with Duo for reading - most of it was stuff he already knew, or guessed, or reasoned. "It's okay - and I'm sorry. I... Back then, I'd lost sight of what I wanted..."

The room fell silent for a while, and our hug started to dissolve. "I'm still not gonna marry you."

It took me a moment to understand. The last password... I smiled. "I haven't even proposed yet."

"Yeah, but you've certainly suggested it - you must have known I'd find that last clue eventually, when you got me to search your laptop for that picture."

I didn't answer right away. I suppose that was an answer in itself. "I'll ask you for real when the answer is right."

He tensed up. I rubbed his back. He tensed up even more. "...isn't that 'when the time is right'?"

I slowly nodded. "When you answer yes, it will be."

Silence. He even started to relax again. I saw a spot on his neck next to his braid that I wanted to kiss - but I didn't dare. "I'm sorry I read your diary..." he mumbled, chin hard against my shoulder.

"Journal," I corrected. "And forget about it. You knew about all of those things already."

"Not all of it..."

I nodded, made slow circles across his back with my palm. "But most of it."

From him, I didn't have many secrets left. Didn't care to, want to, either.

Except perhaps one.

"Heero...? What's that?"

Smile to grimace. My turn to tense up, squeeze him tight. Behind me was my nightstand.

On my nightstand stood a bottle.

It was becoming a long night, indeed.


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