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RIGHT HERE WAITING

Shikami Yamino


^^;;; I have no idea who sang this song, or who holds the rights to it.
I guess all you need to know is that it's not mine *giggles*

      Oceans apart day after day
      And I slowly go insane
      I hear your voice on the line
      But it doesn't stop the pain

The afternoon sunlight entered through the open windows of a lavishly furnished hotel room to grace everything inside with its golden light. The highly polished mahogany furniture glinted with the slanting rays of the dying sun as it played over the surfaces.

Sitting at the desk, a figure dressed in complete black stared with blank eyes at the picture frame that was the one of the only residents of the bare desktop, in conjunction with a laptop.

The picture frame with smooth polished silver, didn't contain a photo. Instead it held a wrinkled old piece of paper that had been scrunched up but then smooth out. The writing on it, in slightly tilted, smooth lines of kanji was somewhat faded but still retained their forms. A poem that said a lot more in those eight lines than the dark boy had ever heard from the mouth of their author.

Blank violet eyes stared at the words that he had memorized, had committed to memory because it was all he had... all he had been allowed to have... all he had condemned himself to have...

Heero...

The chestnut haired boy looked up and leaned back in his chair, a mellow smile on his face as he instinctively reached back to grasp his long braid in one hand. Playing with the strands, he mouthed the words of the poem silently as he stared at the calendar that had been hung above his desk.

The large red crosses seemed to burn themselves into the dull eyes of the boy in front of it and as the eyes trailed across and down the page, they stopped on the day three days from now... the day which would decide everything for him. The day on which Hope rested, the day on which Despair watched, waiting for the chance to come and greet him as it had done so often in his blood-stained past.

Duo trailed a hand down his braid with a wistful and saddened smile as he closed his eyes and lay back against the chair. The braid was slightly longer, trailing almost down to mid-thigh but still the rich and silky chestnut it had always been. The priest's outfit was gone. And though the Shinigami still existed in Duo, he was now dressed in tight black jeans and a black silk shirt, covered with tiny silver knife blades.

Faint smudges under the vivid violet eyes were evidence of the restless nights that Duo had endured for the last few months. Evidence of the fact that each time he closed his eyes, a pair of icy cobalt eyes burned into his mind with painful reminders of that one sentence he had uttered the last time they had seen each other face to face alone.

... I'll give you six months from when the war ends... If you don't by the end of six months, don't ever hope or expect to see me again...

It had been five months and three and a half weeks since that day when the rest of the world had celebrated the end of the war that had raged on for so long. The celebration that he hadn't attended because of the sorrow he felt... and the complete hopelessness as the date marked the beginning of what had turned out to be a long and stressful wait. A wait for something that might never come... and something that would probably shatter what was left of his heart.

Duo shook his head and opened his eyes wearily, a sparkle of something shined at the corner of his eyes until he blinked. The usually laughing indigo eyes had dulled somewhat and become lifeless. A sickening parody of the joy and mischief that they had usually been filled with.

Occasionally he scared himself. The dulled light in his own eyes as he'd gazed at himself in the mirror. It was a look that he had never thought he would see on himself. It was certainly a look that he didn't think he would see on anyone after the war had ended. It had been almost six months. And from what he'd heard from Quatre, Wufei and Trowa, Trowa had become more open and even Wufei had begun to relax, the smiles coming more often to both their faces that had been so rigid when the war had claimed their lives. But himself...

Suddenly Duo felt anger rise and he glared, the lifeless eyes sparking to life, fueled by the anger and frustration that came with more frequency as the Day neared.

Damnit Heero, where the hell are you?! God... do you even know how hard it was to hear your voice so close from Deathscythe's speakers and know that in truth you were a million miles from where I was?! Do you have any idea how hard it was to know that when the war ends, I might not even have you by my side, the way I'd always hoped?! You bastard!! You knew how I felt, I didn't care Heero... as long as I could be with you I didn't give a damn what the rest of the world thought or did... but being the Perfect Soldier, you had to push me away...

But I know you Heero... as I proved that day when I forced you to point my own gun at me. I know how you feel about me... the poem proves it. I know why you pushed me away... So why aren't you here goddamnit??!! Why aren't you here to apologize and make it up to me? Why aren't you here so we can move on together?! Temee...

      If I see you next to never
      How can we say forever

As quickly as it had come, the anger dissipated and Duo was left, laughing mockingly at himself. Shimatta... I really am going crazy. You're just fooling yourself, Maxwell... He's made it perfectly clear to you what he means and yet you keep hanging on to the threads that could possibly not even exist!

Heero had proved he didn't care as soon as he'd left on that last mission. Blasting Wing Zero's huge buster rifle towards that last piece of the Spacefortress Libra that was still plunging towards the Earth. Saving earth and then leaving so that he was not heard from again... Leaving without even a flicker of a goodbye or a look towards the visuals screen where Duo knew that he could see his face. Left without anything except a cold and detached "Ninmu kanryou..."

Kisama... I looked for you... *I* looked for *you* when it should have been the other way around! I was ready to apologize, to seize the chance that you would want me back after it was all over... But where the hell were you?!

Sighing, Duo levered himself out of his chair and walked over to the big bay windows of his hotel suite that he had opened. The gentle summer breeze drifted in and tossed the heavy braid around at his back, recalling the painful reminders of gentle and sensual tugs that had often appeared on that braid to let him know of his lover's -- former lover's -- presence.

As he closed his eyes, he could feel the breeze playing over his face as Heero's gentle breath had before, almost like the chaste kisses that he was having trouble remembering. The feel of Heero's hands on his skin, he had already forgotten, the feel of Heero's lips on his own long since gone. The vague and faint memory of Heero's strong arms holding him tightly in the nights that they spent in the same bed a painful reminder when he woke up from sleep only to find nothing but cold sheets around him.

God... Heero, I miss you...

A trickle of moisture trailed down the heart-shaped face that had lost some of the fullness it had retained a few months ago to fall like a sparkling diamond until it dropped onto the silk shirt, creating a wet splotch of pain and longing. Indigo eyes opened and their deep and breath-taking color were glazed over by a sea of salty tears that refused to fall.

It was not the first time he'd cried since the end of the war though most of the other instances, he'd been in bed, unable to sleep because of the pair of piercing galacial blue eyes that were branded into his memory. Unlike so many aspects of Heero, Duo had never forgotten those eyes... could never forget those eyes. Eyes that had stared into his own so many times and said what Heero's mouth and voice could not. Eyes that spoke a language only Duo could understand and interpret. Eyes that had been filled with warmth, smiled and laughed only for him.

Watching the sunset over the horizon, Duo sat precariously on the ledge of the window for a time, lost in his thoughts of Heero or lost in the limbo that was the place between coherent thoughts. He wondered if he would have the guts to leave after three days... have the courage to forever put a pair of molten steely blue eyes into the past where it would belong... Would have the strength to forget so that the name 'Heero Yuy' would be just another name in his past as a street-brat and a Gundam pilot as so many others were... so many others who had died or left him...

Hn, it seemed like Death still retained a part of him... the part that was eating at him from the inside, feeding off the pain and anguish that had become his days of endless waiting. As the sun completely set, Duo got off the ledge and walked over to the laptop before switching it on.

After a series of several commands, a single white page graced the glowing screen and neat black letters appeared on the page. A copy of an email that had been sent almost a year ago...

     Heero -

     If we both survive the war, look me up.
     Ai shiteru. Zutto.

                                             - Duo

Darkened violet blue eyes scanned over the short email again and again but it was a futile effort, he already knew what it said... just as he knew what the poem in the picture frame had said. The picture frame that had contained a picture of what he had thought would be the future...

*Zutto*

Would it be forever?

He would love Heero forever...

But would it be forever until he could see him again...?

Heero...

      Wherever you go
      Whatever you do
      I will be right here waiting for you
      Whatever it takes
      Or how my heart breaks
      I will be right here waiting for you

Midday...

Happy couples walked through the park that was blooming with the flowers of summer as the trees swayed in the gentle breeze. Laughing children jumped and ran, joy covering their faces mingling with the ice cream that was also smeared there.

All this made no difference to the dark-haired boy that was enclosed in a grove of tall trees and in his own thoughts. Clad in blue jeans and a royal blue shirt, the boy had his hands stuck in his pockets and his face tilted up to the sky that he had once been a part of... he and his partner... Soaring the skies with no equal - except maybe the laughing, braided boy in the dark Gundam so opposite to his own personality and yet so similar...

Hard and emotionless cobalt eyes were fixated on the sky under a shock of dark brown hair, watching with seeming interest at the fluffy white clouds that passed overhead but in reality, that couldn't have been further from the truth. While thick, silky bangs almost seemed to hide the eyes from scrutiny, it could still be seen that in them, lay a longing so profound that it was painful.

Heero Yuy was coming to lose the grip on his emotionless mask. The Perfect Soldier was learning, for the second time, how to be a human being that didn't need to kill or injure to survive. He was learning for a second time that there was life without missions, guns and Gundams... He was learning for a second time that each and every human being needed love in their life to feel the completion that could only come from being with the one person that one would give up the world for...

The first lessons had been learnt in the middle of war, and had been pushed away by his own hands... These second ones, if he could receive the forgiveness that meant their beginning, he would be sure never to let them go again... ever...

Closing his eyes, Heero turned his face away from the sky only to open them again as they fixed on the scenery that surrounded him. The grove had been changed in minute ways since that fateful day a year ago. The trees were taller and thicker, this time almost concealing the small clearing from the gravel path on which happy civilians -- people -- walked. The feel of despair and death was gone from the air, the stench of charred mobile suits and rotting flesh no longer lingered as it had that day... But it was still the same place, and Heero's eyes glazed over with a kind of pain that was pure emotion as he gazed around the place that he had come to remember so well...

A place that was worth remembering...

It was here... under this tree that he'd first acknowledged the humanity inside himself. Here that he first acknowledged the presence of the heart that he thought had been destroyed with his training. The place where he first gave the reins of his body over to the emotions that had been boiling inside for so long...

And the first time he'd kissed those sweet lips that were forever branded into his memory along with a long chestnut braid, a pair of sparkling violet eyes and a deep voice that had said those three words so many times to him.

He didn't deserve him...

Duo...

... I'll give you six months from when the war ends... If you don't by the end of six months, don't ever hope or expect to see me again...

Six months... six months in which to find someone that didn't want to be found. Duo hadn't exactly made the trip easy for him, skipping from colony to colony, changing addresses, names and jobs with a frequency that made it hard pressed to even determine where the hell he was at a certain time. He knew why... He had taken too long...

It was true that he'd left as soon as Wing Zero had blasted the last piece of Libra out of the sky, it was also true that he'd vanished for a time while the end of war celebrations had been held. He hadn't been sure of himself then... with the war's end, confusion had come like a tidal wave. After years of dedicating himself to the mission and the war, he had no idea what to do after those two constants in his life had disappeared.

There was only one anchor that kept and that was the one thing he'd pushed away months ago, twice. He hadn't been sure whether he would be worthy enough to beg for forgiveness... but after two weeks alone, the emptiness had taken hold, and it hadn't taken much for him to be on the road, following the elusive "Solo Maxwell" that had been bound for L2, two weeks before. He needed Duo...

It was now the last day... and after almost six months of chasing Duo from colony to colony, he had finally made his way back to Earth... back to this particular spot...

He'd been cutting it too close... but now as the clouds drifted overhead, he could only wait... Unsure of everything but the one thing that belonged in his arms... the one thing that could decide never to come back... He had only hope now... and after today, if things didn't work out, only darkness...

You know I'm waiting Duo...

      I took for granted, all the times
      That I thought would last somehow
      I hear the laughter, I taste the tears
      But I can't get near you now

Slumping against the thick tree trunk, Heero stuck his hands in his jeans pockets as he felt a breeze ruffle the loose royal blue shirt he was wearing. Looking at the bright green leaves that shadowed him from the glare of the sun, he felt something wet trail down his cheek.

Namida ka...?

Lowering his face, Heero let the tear fall. It was a release he needed... even if it spoke little of the volumes that rested in his heart. In his mind, scenes of the happy times between him and Duo flash past and he was powerless to stop the flood of memories that he had been able to keep at bay while the war had raged on.

Himself and Duo on the basketball courts, earning the respect and admiration of their male peers while the females screamed their adoration. The wide grin on Duo's face as he waved back at them and flirted and his own sense of possessiveness every time one of them came too close to Duo...

The quiet times. Duo sitting on his bed, head on his arms as he leaned back against the headboard and hummed to the music playing on his portable CD player. Himself, seated at the desk in front of the computer but often turned towards the braided boy just to gaze at the face that showed peace and contentment.

Under a full moon, Duo's eagerness and excitement as he pointed out the constellations to Heero, relating the story behind each one with an appreciative smile for something that had long lost its beauty for Heero.

But always, Duo's laughter, his smiles, his eyes, his jokes... they were what had kept him going through the war that had stripped him of so much. All those times... His heart ached at the thought that he'd never have a chance to experience them again... to hold him again...

As he took his hands from his pockets, his fingers brushed against some marks in the trunk and cobalt eyes widened. Stooping down immediately, he scanned the rough bark of the wide trunk with his eyes and ran his fingers over the wood several times. After a few seconds, his eyes landed on the deeply ingraved but cleverly camouflaged marks he'd been looking for...

Prussian eyes softened as he gently traced a finger over the entwined pictures that had been carved onto the bark by an expert knife-wielder.

The outline of a sickle blade, its long handle threaded through the trigger guard of a high caliber automatic pistol.

The Shinigami's Scythe.

The Perfect Soldier's Gun.

Heero lowered his head as he braced himself against the tree and shut his eyes to the rain that threatened to fall.

The first time...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Heero, there's something important that I need to tell you..."

Heero looked up and snorted, "You need to drag me all the way out here to talk? You do enough of it back there."

Duo's eyes flashed with something that was completely foreign to Heero and that somehow stirred the growing sense of desire within him for this violet-eyed reincarnate of Death.

Full lips pulled into a grin and Duo laughed, "Aa... You might not want the others to hear... and I might not want them to see the reaction..."

Heero raised an eyebrow but sighed and refrained from talking.

Duo raised a hand to his head and looked anywhere but at Heero. Somehow he seemed to be searching for the right words but they didn't seem to be coming to him.

Heero was growing impatient. He could no longer stand here with the object of his dreams so close yet so far from him... "What Duo?"

Indigo eyes gazed into his and he was captivated.

Then a quiet mutter of "Shimatta" was heard before his mouth was taken and a warm hand reached up to cup his face.

Heero stiffened. This couldn't be happening... not in a million years... and yet, here Duo was, kissing him!

As thoughts of disbelief ran through Heero's mind, he felt Duo sigh and begin to pull away. Instinctively, Heero wrapped one arm around the slender form of the American and with the other hand, tangled at the base of the braid to keep Duo where he was. This was what he'd been missing... what he'd been unconsciously craving ever since he'd met the boy in a priest's outfit and long braid...

A muffled sound of pleasure came from Duo's throat as he wrapped his other arm around Heero.

When they finally parted, both were breathing heavily and Duo wore a bright and slightly goofy grin on his face. Gazing into Heero's eyes, he finally said what he been about to say. "I love you..."

Heero's eyes widened and inarticulate thoughts ran through his mind but before he could decide what to do, Duo pressed a finger to his lips, "To know that you even feel slightly the same is enough for now..."

Without words, Heero wrapped the pilot of the Shinigami tightly in his arms and felt Duo bury his head between shoulder and neck. This was warmth... the eternal warmth that could never fade...

Pulling away, Duo grinned and bent down before pulling a switchblade from his boot. Heero's eyes narrowed as Duo seated himself facing the tree they'd been standing under and flicked open the blade. Duo grinned up at him before plunging the sharp blade into the wood, "Something to remember this by..."

Heero smirked slightly and seated himself beside Duo, pressing a line of warmth from shoulder to thighs. As he watched the picture unfold, he smiled slightly.

Duo was a pretty good artist...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pain flared in his heart as another scene played itself out in its mind, the thoughts blurred but only one picture and some words came out clearly.

I don't love you Duo.

How could I love someone like you?

Duo's tearstained face, eyes snapping violent indigo sparks...

I hate you Heero... I hate you...

Heero squeezed his eyes tightly, unable to stem the flow of tears that had started.

He had no right to beg for Duo's forgiveness. After what had happened and what he'd put Duo through, he didn't deserve the happiness that Duo could give him, only to rot in hell as the person that with a few lies, had broken Duo Maxwell's spirit for life.

Bastard... If you didn't care then why didn't you let me die back there?! Did you think you could prolong my suffering just by keeping me alive??!!

That was unforgiveable...

But what could he hang onto now but the shred of a hope that Duo would be able to forgive him? Take him back? Allow him to make up for his mistakes?

Duo... I miss you... I need you... I love you...

You know I'm waiting...

The next step is yours...

      Oh, can't you see it baby
      You've got me goin' crazy

Sunrise...

The morning rays of sunlight shine in through the open windows to illuminate the large hotel suite. Duo lay in bed, watching the slanting rays of sunlight gradually change angles, violet eyes lifeless and a trail of moisture leading to the wet spot on the fluffy pillow.

The last day...

Sighing, Duo rolled over and ordered breakfast. Getting up slowly, he walked to the bathroom and began his morning routine. In the shower, he stood in the icy torrent of water and let his tears fall. Perhaps the last tears he would ever shed over Heero Yuy... but he doubted it...

No matter what he did, Heero was still permeated on his mind... but Hope was beginning to fade, instead replaced by Despair that mocked and laughed at him.

Breakfast arrived, but he was barely able to down more than a cup of black coffee, leaving the eggs and pancakes untouched. As he stood in front of the window again, he laughed at himself...

So Duo... now you're finally Death all over...

Death had claimed his soul during the war... he had sold his soul to Death to be able to fight for the colonies and for the war orphans like himself who hadn't had a chance to experience life. Now Death also had his heart... after six months of waiting and being mostly in limbo between life and death, his heart had finally been condemned to death...

The smile was bittersweet and the fists clenched.

Truly... Death reincarnate...

And what place did Death have on an Earth that was peaceful and happy? On the colonies where children laughed and played in the open areas like they hadn't been allowed six months ago...?

He didn't know how long he just stood there, watching the going-ons of the people below his window and gazing at the rising sun that marked the day when everything would be decided. Incoherent thoughts ran through his mind, a jumble of faces and names appeared and then disappeared. But only one was clear enough to bring a tear to his eyes.

Dark sapphire eyes in a face that was too world-weary to belong to the boy of fifteen that it did. The firm and full lips, usually pulled taut in an emotionless expression, the soft dark hair that fell into his eyes, just itching to be pushed back...

Heero...

Damnit, where the hell are you?!!

As the sun rose to almost its highest point in the sky, anger consumed the black clad boy with the long braid.

So it was true ne Heero? You really don't care...

I don't love you Duo.

It was totally true... and me, like the baka that I am, I waited for you for six months... longer than that... I was always the idiot ne?

With jerky movements, Duo reached into the large closet and grabbed his suitcase. Flinging it open onto the bed, he began the packing that also meant the breaking of his heart... Giving savage twists and pushes to everything that was messily flung into the case, Duo's face betrayed nothing but anger and hopelessness. Finally, after almost everything had been packed, Duo turned to his desk.

He sat down at the desk and flipped on his laptop, casting one longing glance at the piece of paper that still resided in the silver frame. Turning back, Duo reached under the tabletop and retrieved the manila envelope taped there earlier. Looks like he'd be needing this after all...

He hadn't been kidding when he'd told Heero he should never hope to see him again... After six months with practically nothing to do, Duo had the perfect plan that would make him disappear off the face of the earth and the colonies. After today, Duo Maxwell was going to apply for the off-planet assignment that so little people wanted because of the high danger risks involved but...

Mars seemed as good a place as any to start a new life...

As he moved to open the envelope, a knocking at the door alerted him and he instantly placed the envelope under the desk again and plastered a wide smile on his face.

When he opened the door, a shorter girl in a hotel staff uniform greeted him. "Yo ojousan, what can I do for you?" Duo grinned as the girl blushed.

"Konnichi wa Maxwell-san, this came in for you..." The girl shyly holding out the slim white envelope with his name on it.

"Honto? Who is it from?" Taking the envelope, Duo suspiciously noted that there was no return address.

The girl stammered, "Gomen, we don't know... it was left on the front desk this morning with nothing but your name and your room number..."

Duo's eyes narrowed but then grinned again, "Souka... Arigato ojousan!"

Closing the door, Duo eyed the envelope again and then put it up to his ear. No, couldn't be a bomb...

Duo laughed. Hn, he was still caught up in war... but then years of training and being a gundam pilot hadn't exactly released their hold on him. Shaking it, he heard the sound of something small rattling inside and his curiosity peaked. What...? Bending to pull a switchblade from his boot, he carefully slit the paper open and tipped it upside down.

      Wherever you go
      Whatever you do
      I will be right here waiting for you
      Whatever it takes
      Or how my heart breaks
      I will be right here waiting for you

A singled folded piece of paper floated out but what caught Duo's eye as he gasped, was the silver charm that had fallen into his waiting hand.

The silver crucifix -- his silver crucifix -- glinted up at him as he stared at it, its thin chain pooling in the cup of his hand. With trembling hands he let the envelope fall from his hands before reaching to hold the charm with the other hand. Turning it over, he immediately saw what he'd been looking for. The initials "D.M." scratched lightly into the polished surface...

Something for luck Heero... Be careful.

Heero...

Bending down, Duo reached for the piece of paper that had accompanied the crucifix and with his breath catching in his throat, opened to gaze at the neat rows of kanji in a writing that he couldn't mistake.

The first thing his eyes rested on was the date... a date he couldn't forget... that fateful day when Heero had first pushed him away, a few months after his self-destruction...

As he scanned the words, tears came to his eyes and fell onto the paper, making the ink blur somewhat.

You thought I didn't understand,
Incapable to feel your love for me.
I felt your pain, I feel your love,
Love that I cannot return,
Because my life was never mine.

Even with wings, I cannot fly,
I am bound to the earth -- can't reach the sky.
It is my fate, I cannot escape,
Three little words, yet I cannot say,
I can't promise you -- I'm not here to stay.

Hope that one day you'll understand,
I can't, no matter how I want to hold your hand.
Never can I let anyone know or see,
How important you are to me,
Forgive me -- we're not meant to be.

Maybe someday I'll have the courage to say,
The words in my heart day after day.
Zutto kitto eien ni,
Ai shiteru,
That's my promise to you. [*]

As he came to the last verse, a wide grin spread across his face and life once again returned to the eyes that were filled with tears. Scanning the words a second time, he laughed a real and happy laugh and then sat on the bed, tears of happiness coursing down his face.

As he raised the paper again, he caught sight of the last line he'd missed, two simple words that said all Duo needed to know at the moment.

"Forgive me...."

Caressing the silver cross, Duo slipped it over his head to rest against his black t-shirt and gazed at it with affection.

Heero no baka...

Delirious with hope, Duo flopped onto his bed and let the first real smile he'd had in months take over his face. After a while in which he stared at the ceiling with blank thoughts in his head and a goofy smile on his face, he bounced up towards the laptop and reached for the envelope he'd retaped under the tabletop. Grinning as he held it up, he tore it in half before placing it in the convenient paper shredder beside the desk and watched in satisfaction as the strips fell into the recycler.

He wouldn't be needing that anymore...

Bouncing over to the window, he scanned the paper again and frowned when he didn't discover any address.

Where was Heero...?

Gazing out the window and seeing nothing but people and the expanse of trees that covered the nearby park, an idea hit him and he laughed with the simplicity of it before grabbing his keys and bouncing out of the door, scaring a few of his neighbors along the way.

Heero was such a sentimental bastard...

      I wonder how we can survive
      This romance
      But in the end if I'm with you
      I'll take the chance

The surroundings passed by in a blur and Duo paid no attention to the civilians eyeing the speeding braided boy in black with amusement. They had no standing on what was important to him at this very second.

As he ran, his thoughts ran as well, a flow of endless thoughts that took him from desperation to exhilaration in the time of a heartbeat.

Heero... you came for me, as I'd hoped you would. But what took you so long? Why the damned hell did it take so long? Do you know how long I waited? I waited day after day for six months... for you to show up and it has taken you this long to finally reach me. Is this a sign of your fidelity? Will history repeat itself as it is bound to do and would you leave me once again only to claim me again after extended periods of pain and heartache for both of us?

Duo shook his head at the path his thoughts were taking. No... that was unfair to Heero. Heero, who had his reasons to do everything he'd done inspite of the heartache and anguish he'd caused both of them. If he'd been given a choice, he would have told Heero that he didn't care as long as he was with him but Heero wasn't like that.

Heero was a soldier who based everything on facts and the one fact that had obviously hit home with the perfect soldier had been the mission stats of that single operation in which Duo had been still too shocked by Heero's self-destruction to function properly. And so Heero had sacrificed both his and Duo's hearts for the good of the mission and their lives.

Duo grinned a little. Heero was still suicidal, in matters of emotions and missions alike - the only difference was that in one Heero was the cold and impersonal Perfect Soldier, the other, the human who could and did feel pain, love and torment. The look in Heero's eyes the first time they'd seen each other after that day was proof enough of that and it was that look that Duo had held onto for the seemingly-endless wait in which hope had seemed to shrivel.

But now hope blazed and it was his own uncertainty that held him back slightly. Would Heero leave him again? Would he once again have to nurse a shattered heart alone? These questions played over and over in the back of Duo's mind but the foremost one was of more importance.

How long would this last?

*Zutto*

Would it? Really?

Shaking his head, Duo quashed the feelings of uncertainty as he reached his destination. There was nothing to lose now... he could only gain and what he hoped to gain was worth every ounce of the pain he'd been through if it could secure his future with the one person he wished to share it with.

Without realizing it, Duo had slowed down and now he paused just outside the border of trees that - once crossed - would reveal the clearing cleverly hidden. Feet making no noise on the soft bed of grass, Duo held his breath and walked forward. When his sight was cleared of branches, he was not disappointed.

The slender, dark figure was in a crouch position under that tree clad in a loose royal blue shirt and tight faded jeans. The dark head was bowed and the face turned away but Duo could still discern the strength and agility of the muscles that he knew could bend steel. He hadn't changed, not that Duo had expected him to, still as perfect to the indigo eyes that watched him as ever.

A tidal wave of uncertainty broke over him and left Duo gasping for breath but he couldn't turn away, he could never turn away when it came to this particular person. Allowing his feet to shuffle forwards, Duo plastered on a wavering smile and opened his mouth, feeling for the words that seemed inadequate to portray the feelings he was experiencing.

Finally, he was only a few feet away and the inevitable seemed upon him. Taking a deep breath, Duo said the only words that came to mind.

"Heero... Hisashiburi desu ne...?"

      Oh, can't you see it baby
      You've got me goin' crazy

The soft but emotion-laden voice drove Heero from his thoughts and he tensed. Disbelief colored his mind as he slowly registered the voice though still refusing to turn and face what probably was his imagination playing a wicked trick on him. Taking silent deep breaths, Heero composed himself and slowly stood up.

Duo watched as the crouched figure slowly unfurled long graceful limbs until they were about the same height but Heero still kept his face averted. Anxiety built up as he took in Heero's frame and the face that was still turned away.

Steeling himself for the rejection that could be there, Heero turned and at once ice blue cobalt met wide indigo violet and locked. Breaths passed and a million incoherent words and emotions were traded along the gazes that left the two young men paralyzed and breathing hard.

Heero finally tore his eyes away and looked at the ground, the imprint of the amaryllis irises still burning in his memory. Forcing himself to speak, two words tumbled out of his mouth laden with a thickness that was uncharacteristic to say the least. "You... came..."

"Of course I - " Breath caught and Duo couldn't speak any more. Heero had turned back and the gaze this time was different to the slightly detached one that he had been graced with a minute before. This time, no longer captivated by the sight of those eyes that he had longed for six months to see again, Duo could see the dried tear stains that tracked down both Heero's flawless cheeks, could see the slight quivering of the lips that had never betrayed an inkling of what Heero had felt.

But the most noticeable thing was still the eyes. The eyes that were glazed over with a sheen of salty tears that threated to fall like rain, the hardness and severity of the gaze now softened and humble. The glittering deep sapphire depths that held an infinite amount of pain, longing and love. And the desperate light that reached the very ends of Duo's soul to say what Heero's words could not.

The request for forgiveness.

Duo remained frozen, mezmorized by the face of the innocent little boy that Heero must have once been, and now, stripped of the protective mask that Heero had self-imposed, that little boy was reaching out with shaking hands to beg for what forgiveness Duo could spare.

A forgiveness that was not expected.

Heero's hand rose slightly towards him and he took a small step to close the gap between the two of them, trying to breach not only the few feet separating them but trying also to breach the almost-endless period of time in which they had been apart. But after a second, Heero stopped and his hand dropped back to his side. A stricken look came into the eyes that had already anticipated rejection and had been filled with the pain that already dominated Heero's heart.

Duo gasped. Finally he was seeing the true Heero. The Heero that lay beneath the mission, the war and the title of the Perfect Soldier. The Heero that was completely human and the Heero that he now knew was his and his alone.

There was never any choice really.

Feeling tears breaking out of his eyes, Duo flung himself forward and clasped his arms around Heero's neck to immediately feel the strong arms that he had - since now - only dreamed about come up behind him to hold him painfully close.

A husky whisper in his ear said everything that Duo had wanted to hear.

"Duo..."

      Wherever you go
      Whatever you do
      I will be right here waiting for you
      Whatever it takes
      Or how my heart breaks
      I will be right here waiting for you

The love, the longing, the need. The pain, the anguish, the torment. The promise of a future and the pleas for forgiveness. All these things sang to Duo's soul through the one word of his name and all Duo could do was bury his face against Heero's warm neck and sob.

Slowly, after an eternity of clinging to each other, Heero pulled away and Duo lifted his head to gaze into a face that was tracked with tears but still one so perfect in his eyes. Heero's teary eyes gazed into his, serious and a whisper drifted out of his throat. "Duo... I'm sorry... so sorry..."

Duo gave him a grin and reached up a hand to brush at the tear that was beginning its journey from the corner of Heero's eye. "I know... I know Heero... I forgive you..."

Heero pulled him close again and this time, it was he who buried his face in Duo's shoulder, warm breath breezing past Duo's skin with familiarity and happiness. Duo laid his head on Heero's and drew comforting patterns on his partner's back as he felt the minute tremors that racked Heero's lean frame. A muffled statement drifted up to him and Duo sighed in contentment. "... I - I'll never leave you again..."

Duo nodded slightly and replied, "I know Heero... me neither... I love you, always have, always will..."

Heero lifted his head and with a trembling finger, traced down the curve of Duo's cheek before resting on the silver crucifix that dangled from the slim neck. Fingering the charm, Heero took a deep breath and gazed into Duo's eyes with certainty. "Duo?"

Duo closed his eyes as Heero's hand rested on his face again and hummed his encouragement, "Hmm?"

A slight intake of breath, "I meant what I said..."

Indigo eyes opened wide to gaze into blazing blue steel with a confused expression and Heero's gaze didn't waver. Instead, he plunged in without thinking, knowing that these words should have been said a long time ago.

"Duo... Zutto, kitto eien ni, ai shiteru."

Duo's eyes widened further and Heero leaned forward until they were almost touching. Then, just before lips made contact, one last sentence was whispered. "That's my promise to you..."

Lips met and breath mingled. Arms clutched at each other as passion and love rose. Duo's mind was fully captivated by Heero's mind-blowing kiss but a small part of it gazed at it with only a wide grin. How appropriate that this took place under the tree that had begun it all.

This was coming home, this was everything he'd ever wanted. This was fulfillment, this was contentment, this was love... This was what the books meant when they said soulmate, this was what they meant when they talked about two beings joined as one for all of eternity. This was the completion of a present. This was the acknowledgment of a past. This was the promise of a future...

A future together...

Never to be parted... ever again...


~~~OWARI~~~


[*] -- Please note that this wonderful poem is written by Sutsume-chan for the purposes of this fic. I didn't write it, don't own it, so write her and tell her how great she is ne? *grin*


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