Afterwards + Part 19"Please come in," she stepped backwards and motioned for us to follow her.
The house was not a riot of colors like my parents' apartment. It looked like my aunt liked dark woods with blue and green tones. She closed the door behind us and then took a hesitant step towards me.
"Do you mind?" She asked and for a moment I wondered what she meant. She raised her arms slightly and I understood.
She hugged me fiercely, her arms tight around my shoulders, and I hugged her back wondering if this is how it would've felt to hug my mother. Duo was standing to the side, smiling happily at the two of us, though I could see a hint of something- sadness? pain? in his expression as well.
Idun let me go and stepped back again, but not as far. "You look like your father," she said as her eyes traveled over my face again.
"He does," another voice agreed and I nearly jumped. I was so off balance that an Oz squadron probably could've gotten the jump on me.
Another woman stood on the stairs and I recognized her from the photos in my parents' house. Here was the woman with the long dark hair.
She stood on the stairs, a smile on her lips as she looked at my aunt and me.
"Heero Yuy at last." She walked down the rest of the stairs and her smile widened into a grin. Her startling blue-green eyes ran over me appraisingly. "Or do you prefer Frey Lowe?"
I must've gaped at her, since she laughed and hugged me as well. How the hell did they know so much? Then she turned to Duo.
"And Duo Maxwell," she reached out and hugged him too. "Welcome to our house." Duo hugged her back, though he looked as shocked as I felt. "We shouldn't keep you standing in the hallway." She linked her arm with Duo's and led him towards the back of the house. My aunt touched my arm and we followed.
They took us into a sunny yellow room lined with windows that looked out over a garden.
"Have a seat." My aunt gestured to the sofa. I sat down, Duo next to me, his shoulder touching mine. I was grateful for that touch, that reminder of reality. I was feeling as if I had wandered into a dream.
The dark-haired lady sat next to Duo, but my aunt pulled up a footstool and sat in front of me. "Ask," she said. "You look like you have questions."
"Where do I start?" At the moment a thousand questions were clamoring for attention.
"Introductions?" Duo suggested, looking at the woman seated next to him.
My aunt laughed. "Sorry, this is Sanura. She and her sister Kisa were Freya's and my best friends since we were little."
"Freya?" I repeated.
"Your mother." Idun tilted her head to the side, looking puzzled. "Didn't you know her name? I thought Odin must've mentioned it to you since you chose Frey as your alias."
"This is all Odin ever told me." I passed her the letter. She scanned it and I saw her frown.
"But you were with him until you were what- fifteen?"
"Seven. He died when I was seven."
"He wasn't working for J?"
Good Gods- how did the woman know so much?
"No. J found me after he died."
"Found you?" Sanura repeated, sounding shocked.
"After he died I didn't have anyplace to go. J picked me up off the streets." I heard Sanura inhale sharply.
"Odin never told you anything about your family?" My aunt asked me in disbelief.
"Just that space took everything away from me. I didn't even know he was my uncle until I read the letter this morning." My aunt pushed herself to her feet and stalked to the window. Sanura got to her feet and followed her. She laid gentle hands on Idun's shoulders and murmured in her ear.
Duo tugged on my arm. "Heero, look," he whispered. An upright piano stood in the corner. Scattered over the top and on the walls next to it were photographs.
Some were photos of my parents, some were other people, but a lot of them were of me- and the other Gundam pilots. Security camera shots, TV shots, even the Oz file pictures, all neatly framed. I turned back and met Duo's eyes. I could see his questions were the same as mine. How did they know all this? Why hadn't they come to me?
My aunt returned and resumed her seat, but this time, Sanura remained behind her, hands on Idun's shoulders. I could see that she was trying to keep Idun calm. My aunt was fairly vibrating with tension.
"So you know only what was in this letter and what you saw in your parents apartment?" Idun asked me before I could voice my questions.
"I only looked at the photos," I told her. "It was... a bit overwhelming. We went there in the first place since it was listed as Odin's residence and since the bills were paid and his identification was current, I thought..."
"You thought he might still be alive." She nodded. "That would've been Kai's doing. He owns that building and Odin and he were close. He was the one who told me Odin was dead- way after the fact apparently." She frowned. "That would've been your uncle's doing as well."
"But- why?" I was confused. Why wouldn't Odin have told me about Idun earlier? Why this farce?
"Let me start again." My aunt sighed. "Your mother, my twin Freya, and her husband Kisho were killed in a shuttle accident, just like Odin said. You were staying here with us at that time. Odin came and took you once we found out what happened to the shuttle. Your parents hadn't left a formal will, and Odin disappeared right afterwards."
"He said that I wasn't fit to keep you." Idun's hand reached up and touched Sanura's. "He never approved of our relationship. He didn't want you...tainted by it."
I stared at her, not knowing what to say.
"So he took you to live with him. I looked for you both, but it wasn't until I was scanning Oz files that I saw you again." She smiled faintly. "I recognized you easily- like I said, you look like your father. I did some digging and kept tabs on you the best I could. I hoped that one day you'd come looking for your family despite anything that Odin might've said about me. When you disappeared after Mariemaia, we figured that you had changed your name. We had several possible aliases, but when Duo Maxwell moved in with Frey Lowe we knew we had found you again."
"So- you knew where I was- all this time? Why didn't you come to me?"
"I didn't know what Odin might have told you." My aunt's voice dropped. "I also didn't want you to think that I was some fortune hunter, after you only because you were Pilot 01."
I stared at her for a moment. I was furious with her for a moment. She had known where I was this whole time! I nearly got to my feet; but- she was my mother's twin. My link to family I couldn't remember. She sat on the footstool; her eyes cast downwards watching her hands twisting in her lap. Sanura stood behind her, her eyes on me, faintly challenging.
"You built yourself another family-" Idun continued, gesturing towards the photos. "I didn't know how you'd take another- especially if... well, Odin hated me. I thought you might feel the same."
Why the hell would I feel the same?
Duo's shoulder nudged mine. I looked over at him startled. "She doesn't know everything, Heero."
What was he getting at?
He sighed, then leaned over and kissed my cheek. "Computers don't carry personal preferences, lover."
Idun was looking at us speculatively, while Sanura was grinning. "I told you so!" She laughed merrily, her hands squeezing my aunt's shoulders.
But Idun's eyes were still regarding me anxiously and I realized how much this meant to her. Her brother had turned his back on her for this and I saw that she feared the same treatment from me. Now I knew why she had stayed away.
I reached out and took her hand. Her fingers wrapped tightly around mine and I smiled for her. "I can't tell you how happy I am right now," I told her and watched her expression lighten. "I may've built a new family but you're my family too and I'm glad that I found you."
Sanura thankfully broke the moment before we all embarrassed ourselves. She let go of Idun and blinked hard.
"Before we go through more emotional stuff, can we have lunch?" She asked in a plaintive tone. "I'm starving and I bet the boys are too."
"I am." Duo got to his feet and grinned at her. "How can we fix it?"
"Come help me make lunch?" She asked hopefully. "Idun is useless in the kitchen."
"Happily," Duo turned to me and I saw him raise his eyebrow in a question. I nodded back and he followed Sanura out of the room leaving me alone with my aunt.
"Other questions?" She asked me.
"My parents-" I paused unsure of how to phrase my question. She seemed to understand anyway.
"Freya was- well you saw the apartment. She was like that. Lively, vibrant, cheerful. She met Kisho at college. They fell in love right away- at first sight, she always said." Idun smiled. "They were tech majors, like Sanura and I, and we used to joke that only Kisa and Korvin kept us from being hopelessly geeky." She laughed. "Kisa was Sanura's sister, Korvin her husband. That's who your parents had gone to see on L2."
"Why didn't they take me?"
"You hadn't been feeling well- a cold, I think, and the colonies had limited medical treatment at that time, thanks to the embargoes. So they left you with me." Idun got to her feet. "I was always telling Freya that she was too overprotective of you, but in this case- she was right." She walked back over to the window.
"I loved my sister dearly, but we tended to fight a lot. Clashing personalities and all that. We fought over leaving you here." She turned and looked at me. "Not that I minded having you here, but that I thought she was overreacting."
I couldn't think of anything to say to her. Duo thankfully, poked his head back into the room at that moment. "Hey Idun! Sanura asks if you could go get her some tomatoes from the garden?"
My aunt vanished rapidly. Duo eyed me. "What's going on?"
"I don't know." He joined me on the sofa, pulling me into his arms.
"Feeling overwhelmed again?"
"That's an understatement." Duo kissed me gently.
"Are you sorry we did this?"
"No." I told him after a minute.
"Then it will be okay." He hugged me again. "Come help us in the kitchen." I let him pull me to my feet and followed him down the hallway to the kitchen. Duo was my anchor here and I was grateful for his presence.
[part 18] [part 20] [back to Merula's fic]