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//Through this world I've stumbled so many times betrayed
Trying to find an honest word, to find the truth enslaved
Oh you speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhyme
My body aches to breathe your breath, your words keep me alive//
September AC 203
"Relena!" Duo swallowed his surprise and moved forward, picking Relena
and giving her a great bear hug that left her gasping for breath. "Man, it's
_great_ to see you!"
She patted his shoulder and laugh. "I feel the same, but... could you
Smiling sheepishly, Duo set Relena gently down. They both eyed each
looking at the changes the year had wrought in them. Relena was pleased with
what she saw. Duo's eyes were no longer so haunted, his hair was longer and
he had started to braid it back once more, and his frame was no longer so
wasted but nicely filled out with lean muscle. Her lingering doubts about
the wisdom of his decision to wander were swept away; clearly Duo had
discovered some form of peace. However, she was naggingly aware that he, as
yet, was ignorant of the impending new arrival to the Yuy household, and she
was worried that the news might undo all that his sabbatical had achieved.
Duo frowned slightly as he regarded Relena. She was clearly pleased
him, but he saw the weariness in her face and she was thinner too. He
recognised the signs of a body that was being pushed to hard and fast, and
he shook his head. Relena's eyes widened. "What's wrong Duo?" She asked,
afraid that she had read him wrongly and he was still depressed.
He wagged a finger in her face. "You've been overworking, haven't you,
Princess?" He scolded. "And after I _told_ you to get out and enjoy life!"
Relief flowed through her and she laughed. "It's not that easy..." Relena
protested. "This has been a very busy year for me!"
Duo leaned forward. "I don't believe you." He said firmly. "You're a
workaholic, Relena, who won't look up from the paper work unless someone
prods you to do so!"
"Well, then I guess you got back just in time!" Relena said tartly.
"Looks like I did." Duo agreed. "Come on, you must have blocked aside
time to come here, and now you've found me we can use that time to have
lunch and catch up."
Relena surrendered. "Very well, Duo, I place myself in your hands."
said. "But I need to swing by the hotel and pick up a couple of things
Twenty minutes later, Duo lounged in the sitting room of Relena's suite
waiting for her to return. As they approached the room, one of the trade
ministers waylaid them and asked Relena to spare five minutes. Duo frowned
and idly kicked the coffee table leg. *Five minutes, my ass!* He looked at
the clock and his frown deepened. *Damned leeches... sucking her dry.* He
wondered what the reaction would be if he kidnapped Relena for a few days
and spirited her away to a holiday beach. *Would the universe really
collapse if she wasn't around? She's not the Queen of the World anymore,
surely _someone_ else can be relied on?*
The door opened and Duo sat up. "Hey 'Lena, did that old..." His voice
trailed away when Dorothy Catalonia entered.
Dorothy's eyebrows shot up in surprise and then she smiled. "Well, well...
the prodigal returns."
Duo flashed her a careless grin. "Well, well... still as catty as ever."
Dorothy scowled at him and Duo made a mischievous face at her. "What's up,
Dorothy? Relena's been hijacked by some old fart."
"I thought so." Dorothy held up a small package. "Duo, can you give
her and say that it was the best I could find?" She checked her watch. "I
have a lunch appointment now that I must go to... as much as I'd love to
stay and enjoy a scintillating conversation with you." She mocked and tossed
Duo the package.
Duo deftly caught it. "Dorothy, the regret of missing a chat with you
haunt me forever." He moaned dramatically. She snorted and left, slamming
the door behind her.
Duo grinned. "Success!" He glanced at the package curiously and shrugged.
None of his business really he told himself but he still squeezed it gently.
There was a muffled, squeaky sound and Duo's curiousity sharpened. Almost
without thinking, he opened pulled it open and mentally justified his
actions by reminding himself that he was still nominally Relena's bodyguard
and it was his duty to check for all possible dangers.
"What the fuck...?" Duo held up the small items and goggled at them
disbelief. "Baby clothes?" He turned the romper suit around in his hands and
then picked up the small toy which squeaked when squeezed. "Why would
He flinched at the thought which flashed through his mind. Relena did
peaky... could she be pregnant? And if so... _who_ was the father? Duo was
sure he would have heard from Millardo if Relena had married, mail was slow
between Earth and Mars, but not _that_ slow. Duo's fingers clenched into a
fist, crushing the tiny garment. He felt a hot boiling rage well up within
as his mind conjured up images of Relena and some faceless man. No, it
couldn't be... he _had_ to be wrong! These things were for someone elses
baby... maybe Wufei and Sally's kid... Duo shook his head. No, the Changs'
baby girl would be too big for this now, the romper suit was obviously
designed for a newborn baby.
Relena burst in, a little breathless and smiling. "Duo, I'm sorry that
longer than I expected. I'm ready to go... Duo?" She approached him, taking
note of his abstracted look and the baby clothes in his hands.
Duo jumped slightly. "I... I..." He started to hide the garments behind
back, but stopped and held them out to her. "Dorothy delivered them... she
said that they were the best she could find."
"Oh." Relena took the clothes. She glanced at his troubled expression
wondered if Dorothy had told him _who_ they were for. "Did she say anything
Duo shook his head. "Er... no." His eyes wandered involuntarily down
Relena blinked and then realised what Duo was thinking. Her lips twitched
and then she couldn't hold it in any longer, so she laughed. Duo's eyes
widened and he stared at her, wondering what was so funny. Relena pointed a
shaky finger at the baby clothes and gasped. "You... thought... you... I
Duo went red. "Argh!" He cried and threw himself on the sofa, putting
cushion over his face and wrapping his arms around it. "I'm such a moron!"
He moaned, muffled by the cushion.
Relena composed herself and sat on the edge of the sofa. She patted
and then tried to pull the cushion away. "It's an understandable mistake to
make, Duo. You haven't seen me for a year, but I assure you that the baby
these clothes are intended for is not mine."
Duo was silent beneath the cushion, although he didn't relax his grip.
sighed heavily. "It's Heero and Hilde's, right?"
Relena looked at her hands. "Yes." She said softly. "Hilde's going to
baby in eight months time."
Duo didn't make a sound, he just lay there, his expression hidden by
cushion. Relena licked her lips. "Do you want to stay here?" She asked. "I
understand if you don't want to go out right now."
"No, no... we're still going out for lunch." Duo was firm. "Just...
five minutes, okay?"
"Sure." Relena stood up, grabbing the baby clothes and the toy. "I need
change anyway. Just knock on my bedroom door when you're ready."
Duo listened to her footsteps fade away and the door shut behind her,
then removed the cushion from his face. He stared up at the ornate ceiling
and blew his bangs out of his eyes. "A baby, huh?"
His mind was numb, no pain, no anger... just a disconcerting absence
emotion. Perhaps his wanderings had finally distanced him from the issue.
Perhaps he was finally over Hilde. Perhaps he...
"Aw, screw it!" Duo sat up, violently throwing the sofa cushion across
room. He _did_ feel an emotion, and it wasn't anger or sorrow. He was
_envious_. Heero Yuy had already taken everything Duo wanted, and now he was
going to be a father, to Hilde's baby, to the baby that should have been
Duo's. The envy churned Duo's stomach... yeah, Heero Yuy had it all and what
was Duo Maxwell's lot? Turned into a roving bum with little prospects and no
Hilde to share his life. His shoulders slumpec and he buried his face in his
hands, exhaling sharply. "It's just not fucking _fair_!"
"I'm not going to eat with someone who's sunk into self-pity." Relena
coolly behind him.
Duo lifted his head and turned to face her. Relena folded her arms and
her head. "I thought you never lied, Duo." She said calmly. "You told me
that you had found peace, but from this reaction I can only conclude that
you've been burying your hurt, not working through it."
He stared at her, initially injured by the lack of sympathy and then
uncomfortably aware of the truth in her words. Relena moved towards him, her
expression softening as she neared. "I never meant for you to find out it
such a way." She said. "I was planning to break the news in more gently and
to give you some time to absorb it... although I didn't really anticipate
such a violent reaction." Her gaze travelled to the cushion he had thrown.
"I..." Duo faltered. He felt sick, mostly at his own display of childish
rage prompted by such a low emotion like envy. The disappointment in
Relena's eyes shot through him and he remembered all the resolutions he had
made to himself on the journey to L4. Resolutions that he had already
started to break. "I'm sorry Relena, I really did think that I wouldn't act
like this again." His lips curved into a weary, rueful smile. "I psyched
myself up on the way back here, told myself that I could now walk up to
Heero and Hilde and tell them sincerely that I was happy for them."
Relena sighed. "And the information about the baby changed all that..."
eyes met his. "Does that mean you'll go away again, Duo?"
Duo shook his head. "No, no I'm not going to run away anymore... I _have_
face facts and the baby, well, that's a _big_ fact. I'm not going to say
that it hasn't hit me like a punch to the gut though." Duo laughed bitterly.
"But Relena, although I'm not angry... I am _jealous_ of Heero... he's gonna
be a Dad..."
Relena's eyes widened in surprised. "Why Duo Maxwell... I never dreamed
you wanted children!"
Duo laughed again, with amusement rather than bitterness now. "Well...
don't know about most people, but I factored in the idea of kids when I
thought about marrying Hilde." He shrugged. "I don't know... I just liked
the idea of a rugrat of our own... doing the real family thing, you get what
Relena smiled and nodded slowly. "I get it, Duo." She blushed faintly.
if you're not contemplating marriage... perhaps it is something everyone
who's in love thinks about?"
She was quickly encircled in Duo's arms and wound up with her cheek
against his leather-clad shoulder as he hugged her tightly. "So it was a big
shock to you too, huh Princess?"
Relena's laugh was shaky. "Y-yes." She admitted. "I mean... I half-expected
them to start a family at _some_ point, but not so soon!"
Duo grinned. "Maybe it was an accident." He chuckled. "Man, the look
Heero's face would've been priceless!" He stepped back, releasing Relena,
but his hands lingered on her shoulders. "You okay?"
"M-me?" Relena stared at him. "I should be asking you that question!
_You're_ the one who was upset earlier!"
Duo shrugged. "I can't hold onto the anger, Relena. If I learnt anything
during my travels it was that... I've got to keep on living, which is why I
returned. I'm going to make a new start and get a new job." He met her eyes.
"And this time I'm not going to leech off you, 'Lena."
"You never 'leeched' off me, Duo!" Relena snapped. "I needed your support
much as you need mine! And I didn't offer you a job out of pity... it was
convenient for us both and I knew that you could do it!" She folded her arms
and her lips curved slightly. "By the way, I still need a decent bodyguard."
Duo, initially taken aback by her vehemence, grinned at her final words.
"Well... if you're sure..."
"I'm sure." Relena said firmly. "As long as you promise me that you'll
and talk to me if you ever feel the need, rather than bottling it up and
then trying to drink away your sorrows." She reached out and laid a hand on
his arm. "And that means starting from now."
He was silent for a while, although he put his hand over hers. With
sigh, Duo nodded. "Okay, I promise." His smile returned and he sketched her
a mock salute. "Now, would the Princess like her luncheon?"
Relena matched his smile. "Certainly, Mr Maxwell."
Hilde Yuy patted her still-flat stomach and hummed softly. For all the
horror stories she had heard about pregnancy she was finding this remarkably
easy so far. Her morning sickness was relatively minimal and she had yet to
develop any strange cravings, she felt content and happy... and why not?
Business was doing well, she had many friends and tomorrow would mark the
end of her first year of marriage. Hilde certainly considered herself lucky.
However, there was one thing that still nagged at her, sometimes causing
to wake with tears stinging her eyes.
"Duo..." Hilde sighed, her euphoric feeling deflating. She poured hot
into two mugs and stirred the coffee, watching the liquid whirl as her mind
The guilty feelings about Duo had not died over the year as she still
vividly recalled the heartbreak in his eyes when she last saw him. Hilde
wished there was some way that she could do something for Duo to make him
happy once again, but what he wanted from her was something she could no
longer give. And as for his animosity towards Heero... She shook her head,
that was a problem which needed to be resolved and she had little idea how
to do it.
Picking up the coffee mugs, Hilde walked into the main room where Heero
correcting some of the bugs in a new system. He looked up when she set the
mug beside him and she smiled. "Going well?"
Heero nodded. "Should be done in another hour." He said and sipped his
coffee. "What's wrong, koi?" He asked and Hilde laughed lightly.
"Can't I have any secrets?" She teased, then she sobered. "I was just
thinking about things..."
The phone shrilled before Heero could question her further and Hilde
it up, activating the video screen. She blinked as a familiar face appeared.
Duo grinned. "Hey Hilde, you're looking good... despite being knocked-up!"
"You... you know?" Hilde stuttered and Heero moved to stand beside her.
Duo's eyes hardened but his smile didn't waver.
"Heero," Duo nodded at the other man. "Looking forward to changing dirty
diapers?" He shifted his gaze back to Hilde. "I just got back, and Relena
told me. I thought I should congratulate you... both."
Hilde's lips curved in a tremulous smile. "Thank you Duo, that means
to me... and to Heero." She glanced up at her husband.
There was a long uncomfortable silence, then Duo shrugged. "Well...
care, Hilde." He quickly shut off the link and Hilde's bad feelings
"Why didn't you say anything, Heero?" She asked softly.
Heero closed his eyes. "Because there was nothing I could say."
Go ON to PART FIVE
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