Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and the characters are not mine. I’m only
borrowing them and I promise to return them in one piece! ^_~
Got to get you out
of my mind,
But I can’t escape from the feeling.
As I try to leave the memory behind
Without you what’s left to
(Out of My Mind ~ Duran Duran)
It didn’t take Relena long to find Duo, although she heard him long before she saw him. He was outside the chapel, hitting the wall repeatedly as he swore violently, matching the pace of his strike. Relena stood a little away from him and waited until he became aware of her presence. He turned and stared at her, his violet eyes wet with tears that he refused to shed.
“I screwed up again.” Duo said heavily. “Is Hilde…”
“I said that you didn’t do anything to Heero… she’ll be fine.” Relena said. “But Duo, perhaps you should go back to the hotel.”
He shook his head. “I’m going to see this thing through, Relena.”
She wanted to tell him he was crazy, that he was only forcing more pain on his overburdened soul, but in some twisted way Relena understood his actions. The first couple of months after Heero and Hilde had told her of their engagement she had forced herself to see them. She still recalled the pain in her heart and the hideously long and uncomfortable silences that frequently occurred. It was only later, after she had pulled back and thrown herself in her work, that she began to deaden the pain. So, Relena understood Duo’s painful desire to attend the wedding, she was probably the only one who could.
“Very well,” Relena looked at the entrance to the chapel. “If we’re going to attend then we should get moving. The ceremony starts soon.”
Duo went slightly white around the jaw, but he nodded. “Right.” He rubbed his scraped knuckles. “I’ll… take a seat at the back.”
“So will I.”
He stared at her. “Relena, you don’t have to…”
She regarded him coolly. “Perhaps I want to, Duo. Have you thought of that?”
Duo’s face was sheepish. “I’m being a selfish jerk, Relena. Sure, let’s sit there together.”
Her smile returned, slightly sad but also vaguely amused. "Just like the old saying, misery loves company."
Duo laughed. "And this misery couldn't have asked for better." He offered her his arm. "Ms Darlian?"
She took up the offer. "Thank you, Mr Maxwell."
The wedding ceremony was very simple. Heero and Hilde had agreed that
they wanted a quiet wedding with just a few friends in attendance. Since
neither had any family, Hilde was escorted down the aisle by Rashid of
the Maguanac corps. She wore a very plain, white satin wedding dress and
carried some pale yellow roses. A string of pearls encircled her neck and
a delicate veil
was fixed on her black hair.
Duo's breath caught in his throat as she walked past him. Yes, he had
seen her earlier in this dress, but somehow it was different now watching
her. There was a glow on her face that turned her from a pretty woman into
a beautiful one, but Duo was painfully aware that someone else was responsible
for that glow.
That person stood by the minister with Wufei. Dressed in a dark navy tuxedo, his unruly brown hair tamed, Heero looked extremely handsome... and obviously happy. His eyes met Hilde's as she approached and they turned to face the minister.
Duo exhaled harshly. He knew this scene... but it was different from the fantasies he had indulged in while he worked on escaping the mines. *I was a fool...* he thought *I should've told Hilde... asked her to marry me _before_ I left.* But would it have made a difference? He couldn't help wondering whether Heero and Hilde would have fallen in love no matter what Duo might have said. *Would we be in the same situation, but with more guilt to carry between us?*
He glanced over at Relena and saw she was staring straight ahead, her
eyes firmly fixed on the bridal couple. Relena's strength awed him, no,
_shamed_ him. Relena had not lived with Heero and she was never sure that
he held her in the same regard that she held him, but that didn't make
her pain any less than Duo's. Yet Relena was doing her best to remain a
friend to Heero and Hilde, to support them and ease the tension that had
developed in the wake of Duo's return. He reached across and took her hand,
squeezing it gently, trying to convey in the gesture what he couldn't put
into words. She glanced at him and he saw a watery sheen in her eyes, but
her lips curved gently and
*How strange,* Duo thought *Of all of the pilots I talk the most, but
when it comes to expressing my feelings I have no words... Or I just say
the wrong thing.* He recalled, with a wince, the way he had yelled at Hilde
after she had risked her life to get Libra's data. *Would it have killed
to say thank you?* He questioned himself *She could've died, and the last thing she would hear was 'You stupid idiot!'*
The minister spoke up now, asking if there were any objections to the union. There was a short, profound silence and all the guests seemed to be holding their breath and waiting. Duo bit down on his tongue. He refused to screw up again. After what seemed like an age, the minister completed the ceremony.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife."
That short sentence was like a death knell to the last of Duo's vague hopes. As Heero and Hilde moved towards each other to seal their union, he closed his eyes, not wanting to see even though his traitorous brain threw taunting images at him. Relena's hand was an anchor to sanity and he didn't realise how hard he was holding it until she gasped in pain. He started to release her hand, but she grasped him, holding him equally as tightly. They sat in the darkness as the bridal couple left and the other guests exited. Neither said a word.
Like the wedding, the reception was intended to be a simple affair. However Quatre got a little carried away after offering to organise it and the event was now taking place in the ball room of a huge yacht. Duo's jaw dropped to his chest as they walked in.
"Holy crap!" He muttered. "I can hardly believe that we're on a boat!"
Relena, who was used to this sort of thing, laughed at his astonishment. "It's a beautiful set-up." She looked at the band, the waiters, the tables groaning with food and the huge 15 tier wedding cake. "Quatre's out-done himself."
They noticed Sally waving at them and approached her. The blond woman was ensconced on a comfortable chair with a glass of water in her hand. Noticing Relena looking at the glass, Sally grinned. "No alcohol allowed." She explained. "Along with a bunch of other things which makes baby do flips."
Relena giggled briefly. "Are you going to have a binge after the baby's born, Sally?"
Sally sighed. "Probably not, I'll be too busy being a Mama." She looked at Duo and her expression grew serious. "Tell me, Duo Maxwell, are you a secret masochist?"
Duo choked. "Wh-what?" he wheezed. "No!"
"You could have fooled me," Sally raised an eyebrow. "The way you are making yourself suffer here."
"I was invited." Duo said. "Hilde wanted me to come."
"True, true... but is it really necessary to keep twisting the knife?" Sally's eyes were filled with concern. "Duo... we can all see you're hurting, and no one blames you, but surely you've done enough for today?"
Duo frowned. "I said that I would see this through, and I intend to do that. I can handle this just fine..." He stopped as Heero and Hilde walked into the room and their appearance turned him into a liar.
*I don't think I've ever see Heero so relaxed* Relena thought with a pang. All the sappy stories about newlyweds being in a world of their own was true here. With a little sigh, Relena let go completely, burying the regrets and sorrow, and accepting the situation.
Duo, on the other hand...
Hilde's smiling mouth, her head tilted to look up at Heero, the loving
way her fingers twined in his, and Heero's answering smile stabbed Duo
anew. "I think..." He said faintly. "That you're right, Sally." He looked
at Relena and gave her a bitter smile as he saw the acceptance in her eyes.
"I take it
She nodded. "I'll see you later, Duo?"
"Yeah... later." Duo walked away... towards Heero and Hilde.
Relena gasped and moved forward, but Sally reached out and held her back. "Let him go, Relena." She said firmly. "I don't think he's going to do anything foolish."
Duo winced inwardly as he approached Heero and Hilde. The worried look in Hilde's eyes and the way Heero's expression took on a grim cast was almost as painful as watching them together. But Duo could hardly blame them for being suspicious, after all, he had hardly been a shining example of tact.
Stopping before them, Duo forced a smile. "Uh... I just wanted to say..." He paused as various possible options flashed through his mind *Congratulations? Wish it was me? Heero, I will kill you?* Duo swallowed. "Be happy." He said and turned away, half-running out of the door.
Relena watched the confusion from across the room. Heero made as if to follow Duo, but then changed his mind, while Hilde looked unsettled and fiddled nervously with her pearls. Sally shook her head. "That young man always makes a stir."
"Do you think he'll be alright, Sally? By himself?" Relena asked anxiously. "I don't want him to do anything foolish..."
Sally's smile was reassuring. "I think some time alone would do him good." She said thoughtfully. "You've been doing a great job looking after him, Relena, but it wouldn't do you or Duo any good if he became too dependant on your support." Gently Sally hugged Relena. "Try and enjoy yourself tonight, okay?"
Taking a deep breath, Relena nodded. "I'll try," she said with a faint smile.
When the taxi pulled up to the hotel it was past midnight and Relena
was half-asleep in the back. After paying the driver, she got out and walked
inside. Her drowsiness fell away from her rapidly as she ascended in the
lift and her thoughts returned to Duo. _Was_ he alright? Or had he turned
alcohol again to drown his sorrows?
As she inserted her key into the lock, Relena glanced at Duo's door. She considered knocking, but decided to wait a little. Inside her own room, Relena threw her coat on the bed and then joined it, flinging herself across the coverlet. She lay on her back and thought back on the evening.
Contrary with her expectations, Relena had enjoyed the reception. Wufei's
best man speech had been hilarious, even though he hadn't meant it to be
so. The food was lovely and Relena had not lacked a partner in the dancing
that followed. She even danced with Heero, and was gratified to discover
that she no longer felt the urge to cry. *Perhaps I AM over him now* She
a sigh, Relena rolled over onto her stomach and gathered the courage to visit Duo.
It was dark inside Duo's room. She whispered his name, but there was no answer. Cautiously, Relena crept towards the bed and her heart stilled when she saw in was unoccupied. "Duo..."
Before she could panic further, a white envelope caught her eye. She picked it up and switched on the beside lamp. In the dim glow, Relena read her name, and with trembling fingers she opened it, sitting down on the empty bed to read the letter within.
//Relena, I knew you would check up on me, so I felt safe leaving this
in my room. Anyway, I want to assure you that this isn't a suicide note
or anything stupid like that, I'm not that depressed, okay? No, scratch
that, I AM fucking depressed, but I'm not taking my life over it. Tonight
realise that it's going to take a lot longer than we all thought for me to get my head clear on this. And it's not fair to you to have to look after me while I angst about the whole Hilde issue. So I'm taking off for a while. It won't be long, well, not too long, but I think some wandering will help clear my head. Sorry for running out on you like this, I understand if you're mad, but I hope you realise why I'm doing this. I'll keep in touch, I promise, if only to make sure ya don't think I'm dead (again)! Take care of yourself, Relena. Don't work too hard and make sure you have some fun every
now and then, okay? Your ever grateful God of Death, Duo Maxwell.//
"Duo..." Relena whispered again and tears slid down her cheeks to hit the paper. "Find your peace quickly," she urged. "And then come back to me."
Go ON to PART THREE
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