I watched him leave, standing there like a cow on the tracks, not really registering the approaching train before it hit me, full force.
The door slammed before my legs would move. I remember putting on shoes, blessing Velcro, half a minute later cursing their lousy grip.
His head start was too much. His back started slipping out of sight, down one alleyway, another, through small crowds. It wasn't long at all before I had no idea which direction to run anymore. I clenched my teeth, admitted I'd lost track of him and shuffled back home in defeat.
Hilde sat at the kitchen table when I got back, leaning in over the table, cupping the empty bottle - or what was left of it. I glanced at my hands, surprised to find them empty. I suppose she supplemented what she'd already guessed with the messy kitchen, the bottle shards and my chipper expression. Disbelieving and meek, she asked "No..."
I nodded, sighed, crashed onto the chair opposite. "Oh, yeah..."
She bit her lip. "He took off?"
"Lost him," I muttered.
There's only been a handful of times I've heard Hilde say a more potent curse than 'fiddlesticks' - never mind a string of them.
I cradled my face in my palms under her onslaught. "Fuck," I snapped. "I should have known- Damn it!"
"He really drank it?"
I nodded. "Yeah, I could taste the liquor off of him."
"Taste?" She drew a short breath. "Are you saying-"
"Yeah," I answered, shrinking a little more. "We kissed. And I told him it didn't mean anything! Fuck, if I hadn't done that, I wouldn't have known-" It was all his fault. All my fault. I was pissed at us both. That's the beauty of anger you can't really pin on anyone and be comfortable with it. "All too late now."
Hilde has one admirable quality - she always knows when to give me a good kick in the rear. This time was no different. While I was busy sulking, she fetched my coat only to toss it in my face, putting on her own. "Come on, let's go look."
"Staying here won't do any good - and he has keys, I saw he took his jacket."
"He might have his keys," I muttered back, "but I seriously doubt he'd want to come back. I caught him red-handed, just when I finally gave him what he wanted. You really think he wants to face me right now?!"
She looked ready to slap me. "An empty kiss is not what he wanted, Duo, and you know it! Besides, you remember that deal you made, right? He's bound to think he's blown everything now - that you don't even want to see him again, much less-"
"All right!" I snapped at her, cutting her off as I got to my feet, wrangling the coat on. "You don't have to yell, okay? I give!" Hell, she was wrong on one thing.
It hadn't been empty.
The truth was, I didn't want to see Heero. I was ashamed of myself. "...I just kissed him, Hilde. I didn't even think to ask if he wanted-" I closed up, frowned. "I... well, after all that, I didn't think he'd object."
"You'd have been suspicious if he'd backed down now..." she tentatively pointed out.
I sighed at her attempt to ease my conscience. "Probably..."
"...and he didn't, did he?"
I looked at her for a moment and licked my lips, then shook my head, adjusted the coat and started walking. We were almost at the door when I halted, doubling back for the phone.
"What are you doing?"
"Gonna make a quick call."
"Wufei," I told her. "If he hasn't left already."
She huffed impatiently. "What, planning to have a Preventer bulletin put out for Heero again?"
I gave a snort, daring half a smile. "Heero was on their damned 'wanted' list for over a year, and a fat lot of good that did. No, I want to ask Wufei to put some leverage on port security."
She looked a bit lost until I reminded her there was pretty much only one way on or off this colony for Heero - the main space dock.
It beat trawling the entire Earth sphere for scraps of clues all over again.