Get Me to the Church on Time
Taking one last look at himself in the mirror, Heero adjusted his black bowtie
and combed his fingers through his unruly hair in a futile attempt to smooth the
chocolate- colored mess. He scowled at his reflection, displeased with how
ridiculous he appeared, and he was sorely tempted to stay in the small dressing
room, but an impatient knock at the door encouraged him to come out of his
"Come on, Heero, don't keep everybody waiting."
At the sound of eagerness in Duo's voice, Heero groaned. //The last thing I
want is for *him* to see me in this get-up. I'll never live it down.// Despite
his initial reluctance, the Japanese man relented, and he cautiously opened the
door, peering out warily at the small group of onlookers before stepping out.
The grin on Duo's already smiling face widened as he got a good look at his
friend. "I like the penguin look on you, buddy. It suits you."
Heero narrowed his eyes, but was spared from having to comment as Wufei came to
"Don't make fun of him, Duo. He's got enough to worry about already without-
Ow!" Wufei stopped mid-sentence, startled by the sharp pricking sensation in
his backside. Glaring at the tailor, he growled, "Watch where you stick those
pins, old man!"
The elderly tailor sighed heavily and shrugged his shoulders. "I'm sorry, but
unless you want to wear padded underwear, I've got to take in the seat of these
trousers, so don't blame me if you get stuck a few times." Ignoring the Chinese
man's outraged sputtering, he returned to work.
As Wufei fumed, Duo howled. "Did you hear that, Fei? The man said you have no
ass!" Barely able to contain his laughter, the long-haired American clutched at
his sides, but a snide comment from Heero quickly caused his merriment to cease.
"Didn't he also say something about your 'womanish waist'? I think those are
the words he used."
It was Duo's turn to sputter, and he turned crimson as the others laughed at his
"I do *not* have a girly figure. It's just that I _happen_ to have a slightly
narrower waist than the rest of you. There's nothing wrong with that."
Unfortunately, his excuses did not stop the other five from laughing. "It's not
funny, guys! I'm still a man, dammit!"
"He just thinks you look like a woman," chuckled Zechs from across the room,
hiding his smirk behind his newspaper. "It's nothing to be ashamed of."
Duo remained unamused. "I appreciate the sympathy, Zechs. Now, remind me again
why you aren't over here getting fitted for one of these monkey suits along with
the rest of us. You're in the wedding party, too."
Shifting in the large armchair he'd commandeered from the tailor's assistant,
Zechs uncrossed his long legs and calmly answered his flustered colleague.
"Well, as I am older and more civilized than the rest of you, I already have my
"Quatre already has one, too, but you don't see him sitting out. 'Older and
more civilized,' my ass," retorted Duo hotly. "You're just going to wear the
tux from your own wedding. Sounds more like lazy to me."
"Say what you will," muttered Zechs, waving a hand at Duo. "I'm just happy not
to be in Wufei's current position."
The aforementioned Chinese man merely shook his head. "Consider yourself lucky,
Zechs. This is almost more than I can bear."
Just as those words left Wufei's mouth, the old tailor stepped back and looked
at his work. "All right, young man, you can step down now. I've done all that
I can do."
Finally finished with his torture, Wufei nearly jumped off of the raised
pedestal he'd been forced to stand on, clearly relieved.
Heero looked around and realized that everyone else had already been fitted.
Not at all happy with the prospect of being poked and prodded with sharp pins,
he reluctantly walked over to the tailor and stepped onto the pedestal. "It
looks like I'm the only one left. Might as well get this over with."
While Heero was being fitted, he looked down at his longtime friends, suddenly
feeling very nostalgic. //Ten years... I can't believe I've known them that
The teenagers that had been thrown together to fight two terrible wars had
changed a great deal in the ten years since, growing into six very different
men, but they still remained friends despite time and the distance that
Seeming to sense his friend's mood, Duo looked up at Heero and gave him a big
smile. "I still can't believe it. After all this time, our little Heero's
finally getting married."
Blushing, Heero's lips curled into a slight smile. "Yeah, yeah. I don't need
to be reminded."
Not looking up from his newspaper, Zechs asked, "I hope that doesn't mean that
you're not happy about marrying my little sister." His rather intimidating tone
indicated that Heero would have to come up with some way to appease him. Fast.
"Not at all," replied Heero quickly, not wanting to get on his future brother
in-law's bad side. "I'm very happy about it."
The tall blonde man nodded his head in approval, and Heero breathed an internal
sigh of relief. He and Zechs were normally on good terms, but ever since Heero
and Relena had announced their engagement, Zechs had become increasingly aloof,
sometimes even hostile toward his sister's fiancé. Heero wasn't really _afraid_
of Zechs, but he didn't want to have a poor relationship with the only family
his future wife had, so he did his best to keep Relena happy, thereby keeping
Zechs in a good mood.
Quatre, sensing the tension between the soon-to-be in-laws, brought up a lighter
topic. "So, Heero, where are you and Relena going for your honeymoon?"
Glad for the subject change, Heero smiled. "Hawaii. Neither of us has been
before, so she's really looking forward to it."
"I've been there once, on assignment," commented Trowa. "It's very nice. Great
beaches. You'll enjoy it."
Duo, however, was not as enthusiastic. "Hawaii's been done. When I get
married, I'm taking my wife somewhere much more exciting."
Wufei snorted. "'When you get married?' Ha! That'll be the day."
"I pity the poor girl who falls for your charms," remarked Zechs dryly from
across the room.
Just as Duo took in a big breath, obviously preparing to bless out his
tormenters, Heero broke into the conversation, preventing his friend's outburst.
"Since Hawaii is too boring for you, where would you take this imaginary wife of
The braided man threw a smile at Heero as thanks for his intervention. "Like I
said, somewhere exciting."
Quatre raised an eyebrow. "For example...?"
"For example... Maybe scuba diving in Australia to see the sharks, or skiing in
the Alps, or on a cruise around the world, something like that. Something
active and adventurous, you know?" He looked around, hoping his friends would
understand. At times the others could not quite grasp his concept of fun and
To his surprise, he saw Wufei nodding approvingly. "That does sound
interesting. For a moment, I thought you were going to suggest just renting a
motel room and screwing her brains out. I guess I underestimated you," he
admitted seriously, but as the others laughed, he couldn't keep a straight face
and soon chuckled along with them.
"Hey," snickered Duo mischievously, "who says I have to wait for the honeymoon?"
Trowa just shook his head. "This coming from the one who was trained to be a
Duo raised his hands in mute apology. "What can I say? I'm a man. Men have
needs." Grinning up at the soon-to-be groom, he grinned. "Isn't that right,
Heero smirked knowingly in agreement, but when he saw the barely contained fury
in Zechs's eyes from across the room, he blanched white.
At lunch the same day, the groom-elect and his groomsmen sat around a table
catching up and reminiscing about fond memories in their shared past.
"And what did Sally say about it?"
"Well," answered Wufei hesitantly, "she said that all my stuff would be waiting
for me in the street if it ever happened again."
Quatre laughed. "And has it?"
The Chinese man looked indignant. "Of course not! I bought a calendar the next
day, and every anniversary and birthday has been duly celebrated ever since. I
made sure of that."
Waggling a finger at Wufei, Duo grinned. "Man, you are so whipped. You're not
even married to the woman, and she's already got you on a chain. Pretty soon
you're gonna have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. You know that,
"I will not! I'm not a--"
"Woof! Woof!" barked the chuckling American, reveling in teasing his friend.
"C'mon, buddy, bark for us! You need to practice."
Trowa sat watching the two argue with amusement, but decided to stand up for
Wufei, who was turning quite red in the face from Duo's teasing. "Well, Duo, at
least Wufei has a steady relationship."
Duo's mouth promptly snapped shut, and a blush crept up his cheeks as a chorus
of hushed "Ooo's" sounded around the table.
Glad to have the attention off of himself, Wufei prodded further. "He's right.
Consider it: Zechs has been married for several years, Heero will be in a little
over two weeks, Sally and I have been together for a long time, and Trowa and
Quatre both work all the time, so they don't really have time for dating, but
_you_ have tons of free time." He settled back in his chair looking very
pleased with himself. "It seems an explanation is in order."
When Duo remained silent, Wufei wondered if he'd pushed the other man too far,
but just as he was about to apologize, Duo finally spoke up.
"It's not that I don't try," he started off with a shrug. "I date and
everything, but I just haven't found the right one yet, I guess. And I move
around a lot, so that makes things more difficult." He smiled with effort.
"Girls say they want to travel all over the world, but it's really not the most
practical thing. So I'm living the single life until I decide what I want to do
with the rest of my life. It's not too bad, really," he reassured his friends
unconvincingly. "And it's not like I don't get girls. They just don't stick
around very long."
Sympathy shining in his large blue eyes, Quatre tried to boost his friend's
confidence. "It's okay, Duo, I'm sure you'll find your soul mate one day. If
you'd like, I can set you up with one of the girls at the office. Most of them
are single and very attractive, so--"
"So why don't *you* date them?" asked Heero around a mouthful of chicken, for
which he was given a disapproving glare from Zechs.
Quatre blushed. "It wouldn't be professional of me to date an employee. So,
what do you think? Just say the word and I'll get you a date."
Duo shook his head. "Thanks, but no thanks. You don't have to set me up with
one of your secretaries."
"Well, what about one of my--"
"Quatre," Duo said sternly, "you remember what happened the _last_ time you
hooked me up with one of your sisters?" At the grimace that formed on Quatre's
face, Duo nodded his head. "That's right. And that was three years ago. She's
probably turned the rest of them against me by now. Besides, blondes aren't my
Zechs snorted. "Thank God for that. As long as my sister is safe from the
likes of you, I can rest easy."
"Hey, man, relax. *I'm* not the one you or Relena needs to worry about. That
dubious honor goes to the lucky man sitting to my right." He clapped Heero hard
on the back, making him coke on his drink. "C'mon, tell us how happy you are to
be getting married to Zechs's precious, one and only little sister. How much
does that thrill you?"
Heero, who had seated himself as far away from his future brother-in-law as
possible, quashed the temptation to strangle Duo for making such a knowingly
stupid comment. Duo was well aware of Zechs's sudden aversion for Heero, as
Heero had informed his best friend as soon as he'd noticed it. Obviously, Duo
simply enjoyed seeing the poor Japanese man squirm under the force of Zechs's
"Well," he pondered aloud, "what can I really say that hasn't been said about
Relena? She's beautiful, intelligent, energetic; everything a man could ever
want or could ever dream of. She's been such an important part of my life for
so long, I can't imagine living without her being there. I don't know why she
picked me when she could have had anyone--" He paused when Zechs muttered
something that sounded suspiciously like, "That's what I'm wondering," but went
on as calmly as he could. "I don't know why she decided to spend her life with
me, but I feel like the luckiest man on Earth, I really do."
The table was silent for a moment, and Heero scanned the faces of his friends
for their reactions. Both Wufei and Trowa seemed pleased and Quatre looked as
if he would burst into applause at any moment, but Duo sat snickering beside him
and Zechs appeared anything but impressed.
"That was really something, Heero. Very nice," Duo commended insincerely,
barely containing his laughter. "I mean, that was so good, it makes me wonder
what kind of things you'll say about her in your speech at the reception." He
grinned evilly and winked at Heero, almost daring him to attack.
//God damn it, Duo! You know that was part of my speech; you helped me write
it! Now I have to write something else. I am definitely going to kill you
after the wedding.//
Doing his best to prevent his internal frustration from showing on his face,
Heero smiled back at his irritating friend. "Oh, I'll have lots to say, so I
hope you can make it to the reception; it would be a shame if you couldn't
The thinly veiled threat was not lost on Duo, and his grin slowly faded away.
"Yeah, I'd really hate to miss it." Clearing his throat, he nervously waved to
the waiter across the room.
"I could have killed you at lunch Saturday."
Duo laughed, his heart-shaped face filling Heero's vid-screen. "I know, but I
couldn't resist. I love it when Zechs gives you those lovely death looks."
Heero shook his head. "Like he wants to take a beam saber and shove it up my
"Nah, I was thinking the ones where he wants to stomp on you with a mobile suit
and dance on your grave afterward."
"Ah, those. I've gotten those a lot in the past few weeks." Heero sighed and
rested his elbows on his desk. "It's getting worse as time goes by. I might
have to start sleeping with one eye open to make sure he doesn't try to kill me
in my sleep. Otherwise, I may not make it to the wedding."
Ever sympathetic, Duo tried to cheer up his friend. "Well, if that happens,
I'll do my best to comfort Relena in her time of grief. I will be her shoulder
to lean on, and, if it comes down to it, I'm perfectly willing to lend her my
"DUO!" exclaimed Heero, not wanting to hear his best friend lusting after his
fiancée. "I already have to worry about Zechs putting a pillow over my face in
the middle of the night, so having to keep tabs on my own best man to prevent
him from running away with my wife is the last thing I need right now."
"Heero, calm down," placated the jovial American. "I'm just kidding. You know
I wouldn't dream of sleeping with Relena, if only because I don't want Zechs
hounding my ass like he does with you." Duo looked at his friend sadly. "Damn.
You really need to relax. All this wedding shit is driving you crazy. I'm your
best friend. I can tell."
The frazzled groom-to-be dropped his head. "I don't know why all this is
getting to me. They say that the brides are the ones with all the worries,
but... This is so much more than I expected."
"Well, buddy, you are in luck, because have I got an offer you can't refuse,"
beamed Duo wickedly. "Seriously, you can't refuse; I've already made
arrangements for your flight, so if you shaft me, you're gonna have to reimburse
Heero was understandably wary of Duo's proposed offer, and he raised an eyebrow
in question. "I'm scared to ask what you've got planned."
"Don't worry about asking, because I'm not going to tell you much. But let's
just say that you really need to let loose, you know, go a little wild before
they set you up with the ball and chain."
"Duo," Heero warned, "I already told you that I didn't want a bachelor party."
His violet eyes twinkled as he tried to assuage Heero's fears. "It's not a
bachelor party. It's an outing of two good-looking guys that happen to be
single, at least for the time being."
Duo shrugged. "Yeah. I invited the others, but they all said something about
jobs and having to work and blah, blah, blah, so it's just going to be you and
me. See, that's the great thing about being self-employed. I get all the
vacation time I want."
Heero smiled at his friend's good humor. "Okay, say I take you up on your
offer. Where are we going?"
"That, my friend, is a surprise."
Rolling his eyes, the dark-haired man questioned Duo further, hoping to gather
some information. "When would this bachelor outing take place?"
"Ah, a question I can answer. I've got you on a nine o'clock flight Friday
"I think you're forgetting that I have to work," interrupted Heero, somewhat
amazed that Duo would be so careless to forget about his job at Preventers.
Ready with an answer, Duo held up his hands. "I have already cleared this with
the higher-ups, so you are totally free for the weekend. Anyway, it's something
like a nine-hour flight, so bring something to read or better yet, get some
sleep, because I want you fully rested by the time I pick you up." He gave his
friend and evil grin. "We are gonna be partying _all_ night, so you need to be
Shaking his head in disbelief, Heero laughed. "I can't believe I'm actually
agreeing to this."
"Hey, I don't blame you. Partying with me is a truly unbelievable experience."
After a long, uneventful flight from Brussels, Heero was greeted at the airport
by a smiling Duo, casually dressed in khaki shorts and a t-shirt.
"Hey, man! Welcome to New Orleans!"
Since Heero only packed carry-on luggage, the two were free to leave
immediately. During the long walk from the airport terminal to Duo's car, the
conversation was sparse and Duo made sure not to give away his surprise.
"So how was your flight?" he asked, casually glancing at Heero as they walked.
Heero shrugged. "Not too bad. I slept most of the way."
Duo nodded, and a comfortable silence stretched between them, broken only by the
sound of birds chirping and their own footsteps.
After a while, Heero spoke up again. "So why are you here? What's going on in
New Orleans that requires your attention?" As a one-man watchdog group, Duo did
free-lance work for the government, traveling around the globe to ensure that
the worldwide disarmament program that had been instituted shortly after the
Mariemaia incident was on track.
"Oh, not a whole lot. The administration at the old base here has been dragging
their heels about getting rid of their supply of ballistic missiles. Just a
bunch of old farts that can't come to grips with the new reality." Stretching
his arms over his head, he smiled. "I've been showing up at the base
unannounced, poking around where I'm not wanted, and pretty much putting the
fear of God into the bastards. It's a lot of fun to see them squirm when I
threaten to have their funding cut off. They really scramble to kiss my ass
after I tell them that."
"Isn't that a little risky, though?" asked Heero with concern. "Aren't you
worried that you'll piss off the wrong person?"
Placing his hand over his heart, Duo sniffled. "You're worried about me. I'm
touched. But remember, I've been pissing people off my entire life, and I
haven't been killed off yet."
"'But' nothing. You and I both know that I can handle myself, and if it makes
you feel any better, I always carry my piece when I'm on an inspection, and I'm
always very careful. Besides," he added, elbowing Heero in the ribs, "it's no
more dangerous than your work at Preventers. I'm surprised Relena didn't make
you quit after what happened to Wufei."
Four years prior, Wufei had been seriously wounded while on an assignment for
Preventers. After a lengthy hospital stay and after much coaxing from Sally and
his friends, he took an administrative position at the agency and only rarely
participated in field operations, unlike Heero and Trowa, who, despite their
senior status, routinely took part in the missions they oversaw.
"Oh, she's begged me to quit," replied Heero as they finally found Duo's big
black SUV, a hulking and imposing figure amongst the sedans and compact cars
that surrounded it. "I've even considered resigning, especially after Wufei got
hurt, but I really like the work. It would almost be fun if it weren't for all
the paperwork." Tossing his duffel bag into the back seat, he asked a question
that had been on his mind for a long time. "Duo, why don't you come work with
Duo smiled as he hopped into his vehicle. "Eh, I've thought about it before,
and I still think about it every now and then, but I think I've had my fill of
dodging bullets and other projectiles. What makes you ask?" He leaned over to
his friend and grinned. "Do you miss me?"
Strapping on his seatbelt, Heero gave his friend a mock glare. "Not that you
deserve it, but yes, I do miss you. I miss working with you. It's hard not
seeing my best friend for weeks or months at a time. As much as I hate to say
it, you're a pretty fun guy to hang out with, and it's a shame we can't see each
other more often."
Choking back a feigned sob, Duo cried, "Oh, Heero. I'm so glad to hear you say
such kind words. I miss you, too!" He looked at his friend with shimmering
eyes. "Who wants a hug?"
"Duo, I'm warning you..." Heero threatened dangerously, inching away as Duo came
closer, but he found himself trapped by his own seatbelt. //Damn my safety
"Come here you big lug!"
"Ack! Get away from me! I take back everything nice I ever said about you!
Get off! Get off!"
[Later scene: After their rental car has broken down, quite literally in the
middle of nowhere, Heero and Duo sit lost in their own thoughts as nightfall
"So what are you thinking about?" Duo asked tiredly as he stared down the
seemingly endless road through the dusty windshield.
Heero shifted uncomfortably in his seat, the vinyl squeaking with his movement.
"What do you think I'm thinking about?"
With an exasperated sigh, Duo turned to look at his troubled friend. "Why do you
keep brooding about that? It was an accident, and neither of us remembers
anything, so you shouldn't let it get to you like that."
"I can't help myself," replied Heero, shaking his head frustratedly. "There has
to be a reason it happened."
"Of course there's a reason," said Duo. "We were together and we were really
wasted. That's reason enough, don't you think?"
"It has to be more than that," Heero argued, raising his voice slightly. "I
don't think the outcome would have been the same if I had been with someone
An expression of understanding dawned on Duo's face. "Oh, I see. You think
there's still some underlying attraction between you and me." He shook his head
slightly, if not a little sadly. "Heero, that was a long time ago. We were just
Heero sat back in his seat, his brows furrowed in deep thought. "Were you in
love with me? Back then, I mean."
This completely unexpected question threw Duo for a loop, and he had to
recollect his thoughts before answering. "I think so," he answered slowly,
concentrating on the gearshift instead of looking at Heero. "Probably, yes. I
didn't know it at the time, but in hindsight I can see it." He chuckled softly.
"You really broke my heart when you left once the war was over. I was a wreck;
I'm glad you didn't see me like that, it would have been really embarrassing. It
took me so long to convince myself that I was probably better off without you,
and then you showed up again, and I had to work with you again, and..." He
stopped, obviously wishing to choose his next words carefully. "Let's just say
it was a difficult adjustment to make. Especially when you and Relena... I
wasn't too thrilled with that at first, but that was years ago. I'm better now,"
he finished with a smile.
Heero looked over at his friend, troubled by Duo's words. "You never told me
about any of that. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I don't think it would've helped if I had told you. And I know you didn't hurt
me intentionally. Besides, it's all in the past, so-"
"Are you still in love with me?"
Stunned once again, Duo recoiled. "What?"
Instead of answering, Heero asked another strange question. "Is that the real
reason why you won't work with Preventers? Because you don't want to have to
face me every day?"
"Please," pleaded the Japanese man, giving Duo an imploring look, "don't lie to
me. I need to know the truth."
Duo stared at Heero for a long, tense moment before he turned away, muttered a
quiet "I'm sorry," and got out of the car. Heero watched him as he headed
further down the desolate dirt road, his body a dark silhouette against the
intense reds and oranges of the late afternoon sky.
As Duo began to fade away into the dusky sunset, Heero decided that some action
needed to be taken, and he got out of the car in pursuit of his friend. He began
walking at a brisk pace, but a sudden sense of urgency overtook him, and he
found himself running into the growing dark.
He ran for what seemed to be an eternity until he could make out Duo's shape
once again. Slowing his gait, he noticed that Duo had stopped walking and was
standing with his back to Heero in the middle of the roadway. Heero carefully
walked up to Duo, not sure if the other man would try to flee again.
"You haven't answered my question."
"Isn't it obvious that I'm trying to avoid it?"
Heero took a step closer, placing his hand gently onto Duo's shoulder. The
American flinched at the other's touch, but he didn't pull away, so Heero took
that as a good sign and turned Duo around to face him. As he had expected, Duo
refused to meet his eyes, instead preferring to keep his gaze on the sandy
ground. It didn't seem that he had been crying, but his breath came in shaky
gasps, and it was obvious to Heero that he was having a difficult time keeping
"Please just tell me the truth," Heero begged once more. "I want to know. It's
important to me."
Duo inhaled a few more shuddering breaths before answering, his voice a near
whisper. "You know, I've been trying so hard to be happy for you these past few
years. I really have. I mean, it was so hard when you came back and I realized
that I still..." He stopped, biting his lower lip to keep the tears at bay. "And
then Relena just kind of attached herself to you, only you didn't brush her off
like you used to, and then you said you were getting married and would I be your
best man, and now here I am, going crazy because I'm in your wedding and I'm
seeing how happy you are and it's about to kill me because yes, I am still in
love with you after ten years and after you left me behind and after you decided
that you really loved Relena instead of me and GOD DAMMIT why is this
happening?!" he finished in a desperate scream, tears springing forth at last.