Heero stopped at the corner of the street, debating once again whether or not this was the right thing to do. Two years’ worth of unsent cards and letters weighted the bag in his hand. 'This is pointless. You're only going to make a fool of yourself, Yuy. What little chance you might have had left after the war was probably ruined when you tricked him, hit him, and abandoned him during the Mariemaia Incident. And if it wasn't then, it sure as hell must be by now.'
The mental debate was not a new one. The first time that Heero had stood on this corner and argued with himself, he had held a single card in his hand. He had just finally been released from the hospital and cleared for space travel a few weeks earlier. It had taken him a while to track Duo down as he had initially assumed that the other pilot would be back with the Schbeiker girl on L2. Travelling there had revealed his error and, eventually, he had ended up standing in this exact same spot on the exact same date back in AC 197, arguing himself out of actually seeing Duo.
Two years later, here he was, standing in the same place and having the same tired argument with himself.
Heero knew that Duo wasn't married. He knew that Duo wasn't currently involved in a serious relationship. Hell, as far as he could tell, Duo hadn't been in any sort of relationship in the past two years. But that didn't mean that he would be interested in what Heero had to say.
'I think the nicest damn thing that I ever said to him was that implied compliment of his piloting skills during our flight to Colony X-18999 to rescue Relena. Why the hell would he want anything to do with me now, after two years of silence?' Appreciative glances, warm companionship, a bit of light flirting, and a handful of stolen kisses in the giddy adrenaline rush of a successful mission might have had some meaning at the time but after so long...
Swallowing hard, Heero shifted the heavy bag to his other hand. 'God, why did I even bother writing these? I knew damn well that I'd never send them...'
Well, that wasn't entirely correct. He had originally intended to send the letters. He had thought that, perhaps, if he didn't have to face Duo and see the indifference, dislike, or even disdain in his eyes, he would, eventually, be able to tell him how he felt about him. Had hoped that, at the very least, his descriptions of the friendly small town and rambling old farmhouse that he called home would tempt Duo into a visit. An opportunity to see where the chemistry between them might lead.
But it hadn't worked out that way. Heero had been unable to bring himself to mail the letters and perhaps put an end to his dreams once and for all. He’d kept promising himself that he’d contact Duo just as soon as the next stage of his personal mission was complete, just as soon as he could show Duo that a relationship with him had something more worthwhile to offer than merely the companionship of a soldier who didn’t know how to be anything else.
'If I don't go through with it this time, I never will. Just do it and get it over with, Yuy!' With that thought, Heero squared his shoulders and strode down the street and into the apartment building. Exiting the elevator at the appropriate floor, he moved quickly down the hall to stop in front of Duo's apartment.
With one hand raised to press the doorbell, Heero hesitated again. He couldn't do this. Couldn't quite face the possibility that Duo might answer the door and not even recognize or remember him. It had been two years, after all; an even longer period of time than they’d even known each other. But he couldn't just walk away again either, not after finally being so close.
Setting the bag down by the door, Heero carefully opened the envelope of this year's card and pulled it out. With a few quick pen strokes, he committed himself to his course of action before tucking the card back in its envelope. Placing the envelope prominently on top of the bag, Heero drew a deep breath, pressed the doorbell firmly - and ran. From the nearby stairwell, he watched silently as Duo - god, he’d grown up and filled out to be even more handsome than Heero had imagined - opened the door.
After that one, brief look, Heero left. If Duo was interested, the card would tell him where to find Heero. If not... well, he'd be making the trip home alone again.
When the doorbell rang, Duo rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. Probably Quatre had decided to try and coax him into joining the others for dinner. Why Q would think a single guy would want to spend this day of all days with a bunch of happy couples, he couldn't understand. 'Of course, Q probably can't understand why I won't just bring a date rather than come alone.'
Quatre's empathic nature meant that he wanted to see all of his friends happy. Duo's insistence that he wasn't unhappy and that was good enough simply didn't hold any water with Quatre. Duo was getting distinctly tired of all the attempts at matchmaking. But he doubted that telling Q his heart was, unfortunately, already taken would do much good either. Especially if he ended up admitting he'd lost it to none other than the Ice Prince himself back during the war. The disappearing Ice Prince. Oh, Duo probably could have tracked him down - but why try? Despite earlier signs that Heero might just be interested in him too, Heero had ultimately made his opinion of Duo more than clear when he’d dumped him like so much deadweight on Colony X-18999. He could take a hint; he wouldn’t hang around where he wasn’t wanted. He sure as hell wasn’t about to go chasing after someone who’d made a point of leaving him behind.
Yanking his door open with a refusal of Quatre's invitation hovering on his lips, Duo was surprised to discover no one there. Stepping forward to check the hall, he tripped over a duffle bag. A hauntingly familiar duffle bag.
'Yeah, right Maxwell. As if he'd just show up on your doorstep after all this time. Hah!'
Lifting the envelope from the top of the bag, Duo opened it. 'A Valentine. Fuck. Q, if you've set me up with somebody again, you and I are going to have a nice, long chat...' Flipping the card open, Duo suddenly forgot to breathe as he recognized the bold handwriting slanting across the card. 'Heero...'
Duo, I know that I've forfeited the right to even ask you to "Be Mine" by my words and actions - or lack thereof - over the years, but if, after reading what's in the bag, you are willing to give me a chance to prove that I can offer you something worthwhile, I will be staying at the Fairfield Inn here in town for the next two days. If you do not wish any further contact with me, you do not need to do anything; I will not trouble you again.
With all my love,
Gasping for breath to counteract his sudden lightheadedness, Duo yanked open the zipper of the duffle bag and threw a quick glance at the contents. Letters. Dozens of them. All addressed to him.
Flinging the duffle into his apartment, Duo barely remembered to snatch his wallet and keys on his way out the door. Screw reading the letters. He'd read them later. Right now, all he cared about was catching up to the man who must have just left his apartment door mere minutes ago. Somehow, he couldn't see Heero entrusting that delivery to someone else. No, he would have brought the card and letters himself.
Totally ignoring the poky elevator, Duo flung himself down the stairwell as fast as he dared. A cautionary voice in the back of his mind pointed out that falling and landing himself in the hospital in his rush would be a supremely dumb move. He finally reached the sidewalk out front without seeing any sign of Heero. Damn.
‘Well, guess I’m off to the Fairfield Inn, then.’ Glancing down at the slightly-crumpled Valentine clutched tightly in his hand, he quirked his mouth into a slight grin. ‘But maybe I’ll just make one quick pitstop on the way...’
After leaving Duo's apartment building, Heero took a shortcut down an alley. It would be a long walk back to his hotel but he had nothing better to do. Assuming that Duo did not simply dismiss Heero's card without a second thought, it would take him hours to read all of the letters and cards in the bag. The time spent sitting at the hotel and waiting was going to pass agonizingly slowly.
'If - if Duo does not come,' Heero decided silently, 'I will have to sell the house when I return.' He had bought the property after his first abortive attempt to contact Duo, thinking that perhaps the task would be easier if he felt that he actually had something worthwhile to offer him. A way to show Duo that he was capable of living a quiet, ordinary life, one far from the cold, harsh life of a soldier. A way to show that he actually had been listening when Duo had rambled on during their missions together.
Since then, Heero had completely renovated the entire house. Much of the work - like stripping and refinishing the hardwood floors and painting the walls and ceilings - he had done himself. Everything about the place, right down to the third-floor master bedroom suite with the skylight over the bed for stargazing, had been designed with Duo in mind. Much as he loved it himself, Heero knew that there was no way that he could live there alone once all hope of Duo joining him was gone.
Would the letters describing the sprawling house and its beautiful surroundings be enough to draw Duo away from his apartment and job? It wasn't as if Heero had anything else worth offering. He certainly was no great prize - a scarred-up ex-soldier with not an ounce of romance in him. The only thing that he really had going for him was the generous inheritance left to him by Dr. J. The interest from the well-invested money and the royalties from J's various patents would, with a bit of care, be enough to support them for the rest of their lives even if they chose not to work. It should even be sufficient if they chose to pursue Duo’s dreams of adoption.
Finally arriving back at his hotel, Heero returned to his room to begin his anticipated long wait. But, in the hall outside of his room, he jerked to a halt, eyes widening in surprise. There, seated on the floor and leaning back against his door, was Duo.
Duo had debated simply letting himself into Heero's room. The keycard system wouldn't have taken him more than a few seconds to bypass. But breaking into Heero's room and surprising him on his return might get him accidentally shot or at least hit before Heero realized who it was. That would be a really lousy way to start things off. So, he had simply sat in the hall and waited. And, finally, Heero was back.
Jumping to his feet, Duo growled, "Yuy, you are an idiot," and flung himself at Heero.
Heero flinched but stood his ground. If Duo wanted to hit him, he wouldn't dodge or fight back; he owed Duo at least one good punch. 'I deserve whatever he intends to...' Heero's train of thought was rather abruptly derailed as Duo planted a very passionate kiss on his lips. Although initially stunned motionless, Heero wasted little time before diving into the kiss with equal enthusiasm. When they finally separated, Heero said disbelievingly, "I thought it would take you hours to read all those letters and reach a decision."
"It probably will take hours to read them. And I intend to read every last one of'em. Eventually. But all I needed to know to make a decision is right here," Duo answered, waving the card from Heero.
"You - didn't read them? Any of them?" Heero asked in shock. How could Duo possibly have made a decision in his favour without knowing about the house, or the money, or that Heero was pretty sure that he’d fallen in love with him back during the war, or any of the other things in the letters?
"Nope." Looking at Heero's bewildered face, Duo told him gently, "All I needed to know is that you love me. Everything else, we can work out from there." Chuckling, he smirked and added, "There may be a lot of yelling involved - but we’ll work it out.
"Oh, and, uh... here. This is for you. Happy Valentine's Day, Heero."
Accepting the envelope that had just been thrust at him, Heero removed the card from inside. Opening it, he read the simple inscription and gave a snort of laughter, suddenly very sure that Duo was right - there might be a lot of yelling but they’d work things out.
Heero, you idiot, of course I'm yours. Be mine?