That Which is Not His
Months passed. Harrowing months that felt like years and somehow Duo had managed to survive. He found himself standing in the hallway outside the room where Heero was recuperating. It had been two days since he'd been recovered from Wing Zero and Duo felt a little guilty for not having come to visit sooner.
'You survived a war and you're afraid of walking in there,' Duo chided himself and stared down at the braid he held in his hands. The chestnut strands felt obscenely heavy as he geared up the nerve to go in and see Heero.
/'I didn't think I'd see you again.'/ Crinkling sound as a weight settles next to him.
'At least you weren't under the impression that I was dead.'
/'Does that change things?'/ Calm. Dispassionate.
'Shouldn't it? Wait, don't answer that. I don't mean it... ...Thanks Heero.'
/'For what?'/ Blue eyes fixing onto him.
'Getting me out of that place.'
/'You shouldn't have been there in the first place. You should've self-destructed.'/ Firm reprimand.
'I tried. Damn thing didn't work.'
/'I'm glad.'/ Almost inaudible.
'You're not going to throw your life away are you?'
/'I do what I have to.'/ Slight smile.
'That's not entirely reassuring.'
/'The truth rarely is.'/ Smile lingers.
'Just chock full of wisdom aren't you.'
Silence hovering in the air along with hospital antiseptic smell.
/'Duo, I-'/ Frustration under the surface.
'No. Not yet. Please.'
/'You're afraid I'll die.'/ Flatly spoken statement.
'I'm afraid we'll both die before this thing is over...but, yes.'
/'Care to wager this on the outcome?'/ Soft tug on his braid.
'On what, the war?'
/'Of the war. Of our survival.'/ Searching look.
'How about I tell you my answer after w-'
/'No. Choose now.'/ Intense gaze.
/'Alright you'll choose or alright you agree.'/ Arching eyebrow.
'I...I...agree. If we survive. I'll give you my braid for real.'
Duo closed his eyes, clenched his braid in his fists and walked into Heero's recovery room. Everything was white and light bounced off every surface.
"What took you so long," Heero's voice was thick from having just awoken.
"Does it matter? I'm here now aren't I?"
"You're right... Did you get my message?" Heero asked, blinking as he struggled to sit up and look at Duo. Everything was so bright; he waited impatiently for his vision to adjust.
"Message?" Duo shook his head. "Lay back down, Yuy, or you'll just end up having to stay in here longer.
"You didn't get it..." Heero settled back down, a cold lump settled in his throat and he slid his eyes shut. In the glowing haze of the room, he'd caught sight of the braid in Duo's fist. "I'm so sorry, Duo.
"When they pulled me out of the cockpit I tried to tell them. I tried to get a message to you... I wanted to call off the bet. I didn't want to strip you of your past." Guilt flooded him as he felt the feather touch of Duo's hair brush against his cheek.
"...a man can lose neither the past nor the future; for how can one take from him that which is not his?" Duo quoted softly, his eyes sparkling. An amused smile graced his features as he stood at Heero's bedside and tickled the Japanese boy's closed eyelids with the tip of his braid.
Duo picked up Heero's hand from where it lay listlessly on his bandaged chest and curled the slim fingers around the rope of his hair, "It's about time I stop holding on to my past...and my future doesn't belong to me either. It's yours now."
Heero gripped Duo's braid until his knuckles turned white and moved to pull it to his chest. To his heart.
"Ow!" Duo's head was yanked down and his hand flew to the base of his skull. "You were supposed to open your eyes, you jerk!"
"You didn't cut it?" Heero asked bewildered. His eyes were open now and they traveled up and down the length of hair he held in his hand; it was most definitely still attached to Duo.
"I never said I'd cut my braid," Duo pointed out and leaned further over the hospital bed when Heero gave no sign of cutting him a little slack. "I only agreed to give it to you. So I am. I'm giving it to you."
A laugh bubbled up in Heero's throat. A real laugh filled with happiness and tinged with relief. It didn't last long, a sharp pain from his ribcage made him stop.
When the laughter faded, it left a soft smile as a reminder. "I love you," he said, raising his free hand to cup Duo's face and for the first time Duo didn't stop him before the words came out.
"I love you too," Duo murmured and pressed his cheek into Heero's cool palm. The pressure on the back of his skull returned as he felt Heero coil his...their?...braid around his fist and he smiled with the knowledge that his future was in good hands as he was pulled into a kiss.