Afterwards + Part 24I stood in the shower, thoughts in a whirl, letting the water run over me, eyes closed as Heero dried off and left the bathroom.
He knows me too well.
I leaned my head against the tiles and scolded myself. How could I get mad at Heero for doing what I know I would've done?
But- as we had stood there in the shower, his hands washing out my hair for me, I thought about how close he had come.
What if I hadn't found him out there when I did?
Or if we'd been delayed on the road?
Heero would've been another person who had died because they loved me.
Was I a jinx to everyone? Was I really Shinigami? Did I kill everyone I cared for?
Heero had other people who loved him. Other people who would be hurt if he died.
Somehow that thought made me angry. That one made me turn around and snap at Heero, driving him out of the bathroom.
As the water poured over me, I forced myself to think about it. Why had I lashed out at Heero?
The answer was easy.
I was scared. Scared that I had come so close to losing him.
I was jealous. Heero had family. I didn't. If he left me he'd still have someone that loved him. Heero was my family.
Oh, the other guys were too, but it wasn't the same.
I turned off the water and got out, drying myself off, my thoughts still in a jumble.
How could I go out and talk to Heero when I still couldn't makes sense of all of it myself?
I had to try though. I opened the door cautiously, towel wrapped around me, hair pulled back in a quick ponytail.
I had expected Heero to be on the couch, waiting for me. Instead I heard the soft noises coming from the laundry room and realized that he was giving me more time.
He knows me so well.
I hastily pulled on a pair of sweats, and tried to get my confused thoughts in order. Heero deserved some sort of explanation.
Wandering around the room, I began thinking of things to say to Heero...
Do you think I kill everyone I love?
Do you know how jealous I am of you because of Idun?
Do you think I love you too much?
I sat down at Heero's desk, bumping the mouse as I did so, resting my head in my hands.
His screen flared to life and I saw that he had left a text document up on the screen.
A note? He had left a note before he went and threw himself in the ocean?
It was addressed to Idun, and a part of me pointed out that Heero had given some thought to the ones he had been planning to leave behind.
I read the first paragraph.
Mother? My mother?
But then why would..?
I read farther.
I was out the door, keys in hand before I could think about it.
The Whitewater Inn, was as Heero had said, only about ten minutes or so away. I don't remember any of the drive there. I just remember seeing the familiar car in the tiny parking lot and pounding on the door it was parked in front of.
For a moment I returned to my senses and wondered if I even had the right room- this might be Tro and Quat after all- or some other poor traveler.
Idun opened the door, her hair loose, obviously getting ready for bed. All the lights were on and I was a bit relieved that I hadn't woken them up.
"Duo?" She blinked at me. "What are you doing here?"
"Is everything okay?" Sanura appeared behind her, face pale and worried.
"Heero- I found a note that he left for you... He said... Sanura might be my mother..." I was babbling and I knew it. "There was something she said to him..."
Even in my confusion, I noted that they didn't look surprised.
"Duo," Sanura stepped around Idun and reached out a hand to me. "Come in kitten. It's cold outside and this might take a while."
She sat me down in a chair and took the one opposite me. Idun perched on the bed.
"I told Heero about my son who had been adopted by my sister and her husband. They died on L2 in a fire. At the time most of the colony news never reached Earth due to the strained relationship between them. It wasn't until long afterwards that I found a news article about a survivor of the fire, and by then it was impossible to track him down." She took a deep breath and looked at Idun.
"When I traced Heero to the Gundam pilots I started collecting data on all of you." Idun continued. "You roused my curiosity right away. Not only were you from L2, but-" she paused and I saw a slightly pained look cross her face.
"You look like your father." Sanura smiled faintly. "That is, if you are who I think you are. He has the same color hair, the same eyes- and I haven't seen many people with that color."
"Why didn't you say something when Heero and I first visited you?"
"Like I said, I wasn't sure. I didn't know how much you knew about your background and I didn't want to get my hopes raised for nothing. I was trying to sound you out, see what you remembered before I tried to explain anything." She stopped again and looked at me hopefully. "Do you remember anything?"
"I told Heero when he read me the news article on the fire that she had called me 'kitten' not 'kit'."
I remembered how carefully Heero had presented that article to me, worried about how I would take it.
That thought led to one that slapped me hard.
I lunged for the phone.
"Duo?" Sanura blinked at me.
"Heero and I had a-" I punched in the buttons quickly, "kind of an argument. He was giving me some space- I found the note and left without telling him."
Gods only knew what he'd be thinking!
I was so stupid!!
The phone began to ring.
Pick up the phone. Please pick up the phone!
Dammit Heero! Answer!
My chest hurt, and guilt swept through me. I had driven him off. I knew how Duo felt about losing people close to him. I knew what he thought he did to those that loved him.
But I had survived. I always survived- isn't that why he admitted that he loved me in the first place?
I sat down on the sofa and wondered what the hell to do next. My eyes swept around the room one more time and I noticed something that I should've noticed the first time.
My computer screen was lit. I got to my feet and made my way over, wondering if Duo had left his note on it. I scanned the text document on the screen.
Crap. I had forgotten all about this!
I sank down in my computer chair and stared at the screen, my heart feeling a bit better, even as my guilt increased.
Duo must've read it. It more than likely was the reason he took off. If that was the case, then I could guess where he would go.
I got up and went to the phone. Duo would've easily have made it there by now. I didn't want to disturb whatever conversation he was having with Sanura and Idun- if he was there.
What if I was wrong?
I dialed Quatre's cell number.
"Hello?" Trowa answered, his voice soft.
"It's me." I sighed. "I'm sorry to wake you..."
"I was awake," Trowa reassured me. "Quatre's finally asleep though. Do you need talk to him, or will I do?"
Trowa's tone didn't change, but I got the impression that Trowa had been sitting up, watching over Quatre, and realized that Trowa had had his own scare tonight.
"You'll do," I told him. "I'm really sorry..."
How do you explain that you're sorry that you put someone else's lover at risk when they were preventing you from doing something stupid?
Trowa seemed to understand. "It's all right Heero. You didn't do anything I wouldn't do. Have done."
I remembered back during the war. Trowa put himself in harm's way when Quatre was crazed on the Zero system. I remembered him pleading with his lover to return to his senses.
"How can I help you?"
"This is going to sound really dumb, but can you look in the parking lot for me?"
"What am I looking for?" I heard a rustle of movement on the other end.
"Duo's car. He and I... had a bit of an argument and he took off. I need to know if it was because of what I did, or what he might've found."
"You know you are going to have to explain this to me better than that." I could almost see him roll his eyes. "Yes, Duo's car is here. Also, all the lights seem to be on in your aunt's room. Does that help?"
I took a deep breath, my worry easing a little.
"Yes it does."
I heard a sleepy murmur in the background and movement.
"Go back to sleep Quatre," I heard Trowa say softly.
"Who's on the phone?" Quatre demanded. Trowa must've moved closer to the bed, because I heard him clearly. "Did something happen?"
"Is something wrong? Duo's all... whirly."
Whirly? Well, that was an interesting term. But considering what Duo had discovered, I imagined he was.
"They're working it out. You go back to sleep. You're tired."
"Heero?" Quatre's voice was suddenly in my ear and I wondered how he'd gotten the phone from Trowa. "Is everything okay?"
"It will be fine, Quatre. Honest. Get some rest."
"Are you sure? You know I'm here if you need me."
I had to close my eyes for a moment.
"I know you are. We'll be fine. I just needed Trowa to check something for me." I lightened my tone. "So please, before Trowa decides to shoot me, go back to bed and get some rest, okay? We'll talk in the morning."
"If you're sure..." I heard a small 'oof'.
"Heero's sure." Trowa had evidently gotten the phone back. "Good night Heero. Call if you need us."
"I will. Thanks." I hung up before Quatre could get the phone back.
So, I now knew where Duo was. Did I stay here and wait for him to come home- or did I go there?
I grabbed my keys and headed out to the garage.
I threw the phone down. Heero wasn't answering! What an idiot I was! I ran for the door, flung it open and found myself face to face with a startled Trowa his hand upraised to knock on the door.
"Evening Duo," he smiled.
"Trowa, move! Heero's..."
"On his way." Trowa finished. "He called a few minutes ago looking for you."
"Uh huh. You okay? Quatre said you were all whirly."
Whirly? I guess that described it.
"I'm fine," I took a deep breath. "I didn't wake Quatre up did I?"
"No, Heero did." Trowa shook his head. "Everything okay now?"
I thought about that for a moment. Heero was okay. I was okay. Heero had his aunt, I had my mom and we had good friends who didn't get too mad about being woken up over our emotional upheavals.
"Yeah," I grinned back. "Everything's fine."
"Good." Trowa mock scowled. "Then let's keep it that way, okay?"
"You got it." I grinned wider. "Hey Tro- wanna meet my mom?"
The surprised look on his face made me laugh out loud.
I didn't go over the speed limit- much, on my way to the hotel. I parked the car next to Duo's, which was still there- much to my relief.
Duo answered the door when I knocked and flung himself into my arms.
"I'm sorry," he murmured in my ear. I hugged him back tightly.
"I'm sorry too."
"I just..." He paused.
"I know. I understand." I felt him take a deep breath.
"You always do." He pulled away a bit and looked into my eyes. I was relieved to see the mischievous sparkle come back into his. "Come in and meet mom."
Six months later:
Val went running by, sand spraying up in her wake as she chased the frisbee. Sally laughed when Val brought it back and dropped it on Wufei's foot.
Trowa was standing by my barbeque keeping a careful eye on the hamburgers as Quatre stood nearby talking to Sophie and Angie.
Relena was under a large beach umbrella with Hilde and the baby; laughing as Marie told them some story that involved a lot of gestures.
My aunt and Duo's mom- how strange those words still sounded after all this time- were putting out plates and filling cups on the tables we had set up on the beach.
I watched all the activity from my place on the steps. The screen door banged behind me and I felt Duo's arms go around my neck.
"Why are you sitting over here by yourself? You said you'd share host duties with me when I suggested inviting everyone over for Sphere Unification day!"
I lifted his hand to my mouth and kissed it. The ring I had given him two months ago gleamed on his finger.
"We have a pretty nice family, don't we?"
Duo rested his head on my chin and I could see him looking around out of the corner of my eye, seeing what I saw.
"We do." He hugged me tight for a moment. "I love you."
"I love you too."
"Good. Then come help me carry all this stuff outside." He let me go, laughing. I got to my feet and caught him one more time, dropping a quick kiss on his lips before I let him lead me into the house.
I had Duo. I had my family, my friends and my dog.
What more could anyone ask for?
[part 23] [back to Merula's fic]