Home Is Where
They say waiting is the hardest part. It certainly feels that way when your patience runs low.
I paused my pacing across the kitchen floor and checked my watch again. With a low growl, I went over to the window. "Just where the heck is he? Even if there was a queue at the checkout counter, he should have been back by now!"
I really don't like Hilde's expression of faint amusement. It tends to come hand in hand with jokes at my expense. "Duo, don't worry - it's not like we told him to come straight back home - besides, I don't see why he'd stay away from here - not as long as he's fastened his lifeline to you."
I gave her a glare, lost the will to maintain it. "I wish it wasn't secured around my neck..."
Arms akimbo and head tilted just so, she applied her best 'resigned mother' tone of voice. "Duo..."
I pushed the curtains aside again, trying to see around the scrap pile on the left.
Footsteps behind me, a palm on my shoulder. "If you're so worried about him, why didn't you go with him?"
Snort. "As if he'd have let me. You don't know what he's like when he's on a mission to prove himself, Hilde. If I'd tried to follow him, he'd have been really offended." I checked the time again, barely suppressed a growl.
"You drew him a map - where did you send him? Down Lancaster, past the park? If I were him, I might have-"
I shook my head. "Through the back alley to Hobson's Street, down to the intersection and out on Faulkner. That's the fastest way, right?"
Her hand slipped off my shoulder. Sensing something was amiss, I gave her a glance. "What?"
She looked way, pursed her lips, hesitating. "Duo... There's a small liquor store on Hobson's..."
What she implied, hit me. Wide eyes at her, then towards my jacket. Three quick steps there, stretch of arm-
Her hand closed around my wrist before I could get my jacket off the rack. "Duo, stop."
I tore my hand free. "Hilde, fercrissakes! We sent him out there alone! If he-"
"I know - but you rushing out after him would do him no good. Heero has to learn how to cope with his problem - learn how to stumble ahead on his own, as well as catch himself. We can't wrap him up in a bubble and protect him forever!"
I frowned. "And what if he falls flat on his face?"
She reached for my arm. "Then we do our best to comfort him, help him back on his feet - and give him another chance at walking."
I was about to argue, and probably would have said things I'd regret, had we not been interrupted by the sound of the door at the back of the house opening and closing. Her grip on my arm tightened, and she gave me a comforting smile. I hate it when she's right. Good thing she doesn't rub it in.
I breathed easier as I heard Heero's voice call out "I'm home!"
It'd take until nightfall for the meaning of those simple words to truly hit me.