Author: Merula
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.

WARNING PLEASE READ: This is not exactly a chapter of Afterwards. This is DUO's POV, not Heero's. I needed to straighten out how I thought Duo was reacting, so I wrote this to help me. Maybe it will help you. You don't need to read it for the plot- this is Duo's thoughts on the last couple of chapters.

Afterwards + Part 13

Heero had been so patient with me for so long. His kisses, though sweet and deep, always felt restrained as if he was holding a part of himself back. I didn't understand it for a while, until we finally had the conversation that changed our relationship.

We were on the beach. I was teasing Heero about that ponytail of his, and I had leaned over to kiss him lightly. His arms had gone around me, his mouth urging me to deepen the kiss and I had happily given in.

But this kiss changed everything. His mouth turned demanding, his arms held on to me tightly, and I could do nothing but follow his lead. He wanted me and I wanted him- it was far past time as far as I was concerned.

I was rather disappointed when he let me go. "Why'd you stop?" I asked him.

"I didn't mean to do that," he apologized. "I got carried away." He slid me off of him and sat up, hunching in on himself. Oh gods, I needed to stop doing this to him. I needed to tell him how I felt. After all he had done for me, it was such a little thing. I needed to stop being afraid.

"It's okay Heero," I reassured him. But he didn't unhunch, and I got a bit cross. "You're acting like you hurt me."

"It's..." He started and then tried again. "Look Duo, you know I love you." Boy did I ever. Heero Yuy has never done anything less than halfway. He had set out to show me how much, and I could never doubt his feelings for me. "You have to know that I want you." That one I had been unsure about. He'd been sticking to kissing and holding me, nothing more. His explanation came after that. "But I don't want to push you into something you aren't ready for." Ah. Time to fess up. I gathered my courage.

"What if I am ready for it?" I asked him, and saw a flash of hope on his face that he quickly squashed. He did want me- I knew it now. Why wait?

"You don't know how you feel yet," He looked away from me, not meeting my eyes. "I don't want more until you're sure of how you feel. If you aren't and then you decide that you don't want this- I couldn't handle that."

The pain in his voice was evident. I could hurt Heero- so very easily. At least emotionally. Physically, nothing could hurt him- I'd seen it with my own eyes and that should be enough to quiet that inner voice that told me that everything Shinigami loved would die. Heero could survive anything.

He'd been beyond patient with me. When I first moved in, he hadn't pushed anything, waiting for me to come to terms with my feelings. When I asked for more, he gave it to me.

I'd always known Heero was special to me, that I cared about him more than anyone else. It wasn't until that day he got out of the hospital and he told me that he loved me that I realized why. Heero Yuy, the perfect soldier cared about me, for me, in a way no one else did. It hurt me that he stayed away. I looked for him, realizing that I needed him in my life. It didn't bother me that he felt that way about me- it gave me a warm glow of happiness that I should've realized meant that I more than just 'cared' for him. I had been running and hiding from my feelings for so long that I couldn't be honest even with myself.

That night that he sat on the steps with Quatre was a revelation for me. The idea that he loved me made me happy, but it was making him miserable. He was in pain and it was my fault. I couldn't stand by when he hurt because of me. Not when I could fix it.

I almost hadn't gotten a chance to. That crazy idiot had tried to sacrifice himself for the rest of us like he always had.

But he had survived. Heero Yuy always survived. He'd survive my love, I reassured myself. I scooted closer to him and put my head on his shoulder, sliding my fingers over the healed cut on his palm. Heero Yuy could survive everything, even my love. It was time to stop hurting him.

"But I do want this," I said in his ear, caressing that healed cut, reassuring myself even as I reassured him. "I love you."

I wished for a camera. He looked at me in startled bewilderment- I could just see the 'Did he just say what I think he said' thought going through his brain. Then came the delight. His face lit up with such joy that I nearly kicked myself for denying him this for so long because of my stupid fears.

I leaned forward and kissed him.

"I love you," I told him again, and the joy increased. I had never seen Heero like this, and my happiness grew at the thought that I could make him this happy. He kissed me back, joyous and exuberant, and that feeling of restraint was absent from his kiss.

"Gods Duo, do you know how happy I am?" He murmured against my cheek.

"I have an idea," I laughed back, his happiness spilling into me. "Come on, let's go home and you can show me."

"We don't..."

"I want to Heero." I met his eyes, trying to show him that he didn't have to be so careful around me anymore. I loved him too and he could stop being so restrained now.

I got to my feet and pulled him up with me, whistling for Val, who had wandered away, bored with our discussion.

We went back to the house where I proceeded to demonstrate just how much I was ready for this. I had held him tightly, returned his caresses, and whispered all the things I kept hidden from him these past months.

I had never been so happy.

It took me a few days to realize that Heero wasn't.

Oh, he didn't show it much, but he has a hard time hiding anything from me.

He kissed me, held me, made love to me, was as attentive as he had always been.

I tried my best to show him how much I loved him in return, but there was doubt in his eyes when he looked at me now.

I couldn't really blame him for that. I had made him wait so long- maybe he thought I was doing this out of misplaced guilt or something. That was my Heero, never truly realizing his own worth.

I tried to erase that doubt out of his eyes. I told him that I loved him. I kissed him, held him, made love to him, did my best to show him how I felt.

Sometimes I succeeded. That doubt disappeared and was replaced with a joy that told me more than words ever could how important I was to Heero.

Sometimes I failed, and it hurt. I wanted to yell at him- how could he doubt me? He knew I didn't lie! But I couldn't yell at him. He had been so patient with me while I figured out what I felt for him. I had to be patient in return.

Then Heero gave me something back that I had lost. A memory.

I had already given up on ever finding anything out about who I really was in those first few weeks we searched. A part of me was glad- what if my family wasn't anything to be proud of? What if they had dumped me on the streets on purpose because they hadn't wanted me?

But then, one Thursday, Heero found me and I realized my fears were groundless.

He held me after I read through the article he had found on the fire.

It was my mother who had pulled me out of that building. I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. How? I don't know.

She had called me kitten; I could almost hear her whispering the word in my ear, an impression of laughter and affection.

It was enough. I didn't need to find more. I didn't need to know what name I had been born with. She had cared about me; she had risked herself to save me. I didn't need more than that.

Heero's arms were around me, and for a moment, I was afraid. She had died to save me. Another person I loved dead. Would Heero die too because of me?

I reminded myself that I was being silly. Besides, I had seen Heero survive everything from self-destructing his gundam to being shot six times at point blank range. He'd survive me.

It was a moot point anyway. I needed Heero. I loved Heero. I could no more live without him now than I could without air. If he died, I'd follow- it was as simple as that.

I just wished I could figure out exactly what it was that was making him doubt me. I wanted- needed to fix this more than anything. I waited a week, still trying to show him that I loved him, not really wanting to force a confrontation. His doubt was my fault- I knew it.

But on Friday night, as we lay in bed, his hands stroking over my hair, I couldn't bear the doubt that rose in his eyes when I told him that I loved him.

I needed to fix this. Now.

[part 12] [part 14] [back to Merula's fic]