Memory and Future
by Orla
A sequel to ‘Kimi no Koto wa Itsudemo Mamoru’
Rated PG for language

***

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and the characters are not mine. I'm only
borrowing them and I promise to return them in one piece! ^_~

***

//The sky isn't always blue
The sun doesn't always shine
It's alright to fall apart sometimes,
I am not always you
And you are not always mine
It's alright to fall apart sometimes

After all is said and done
One and one still is one
When we cry, when we laugh
I am half, you are half //
 
[ONE AND ONE - Robert Miles feat. Maria Nayler]

***
Part 8

***
Hospitals were always felt so cold, Heero thought as he walked quickly down the corridors. Cold, white and full of astringent smells with the faintest whiff of death in the air. He frowned slightly and quickened his steps, rounding a corner to see a woman huddled on some seats outside an operating room.

Relena raised her head and stared at him. She was very pale, her skin looking almost waxy under the lights, and her eyes red-rimmed and shadowed.

"Heero..." She whispered in a voice filled with pain. Then she lifted her chin and assumed a stiff, formal expression. "It's fortunate that you could get here so quickly from L2. I hope that Hilde’s grandparents weren’t too upset that you left so abruptly."

Heero's eyes narrowed. He didn't say a word; he simply sat down beside her and pulled her into his arms. Relena tried to pull away and maintain her dignity, but he wouldn't let her go. Finally she collapsed against him with a cry as her emotions overtook her once again. Her fingers dug deep into his arms, but Heero remained stoically silent. Soon her sobbing lessen and she swallowed convulsively before pushing back from him.

“Thank you, Heero.” Relena wiped at her eyes.

He handed her a tissue. “What happened?” He asked. “All Trowa would say was that Duo had been hurt preventing an assassination attempt.”

Relena bit her lower lip. “He was… protecting me.” She said softly. “He was hurt _because_ of me…” Tears began to track drown her cheeks again and she sniffed. “I should have let him go… even if I didn’t want him to leave… he would have been alright then.”

Heero touched her damp cheek with one gentle finger. “Self-pity doesn’t become you, Relena. Besides… how would Duo have felt if you had been killed today?”

She pushed his hand aside. “You can be such a bastard sometimes, Heero.” She used the crumpled tissue to wipe the tears away. “I don’t know…” Relena murmured, almost to herself. “Perhaps we were tempting fate, maybe we’re just not meant to be happy.” Her eyes lifted and she stared at the opposite wall, focusing on the clock that hung there. “We were supposed to be talking about us right now…”

“You love him.” Heero stated and Relena hesitantly nodded.

“Yes.” She breathed. “And I think… I think I’ve been in love with him for a long time.” She looked over at the closed doors of the emergency room. “I wish I could have told him that.”

Heero’s brows drew together. “What is his situation?” He asked bluntly.

“I don’t know!” Relena’s mouth twisted. “I’ve been here for three hours and no one’s told me anything!” She wrapped her arms around her torso and rocked. “If you could have seen him… so white… so much blood… How much blood can someone lose and live?”

Heero placed a hand on her shoulder. “Duo’s stronger than you might think.” He said. “Don’t assume the worst yet.”

“I know, I know.” Relena gave him a wan smile. “After all, he’s already come back from the dead, right?”

***

It was late and visiting hours were officially over. However, in a rare display of financial power, Quatre had obtained passes for all of Duo’s close friends to allow them to come and wait for news… and to support Relena who had flatly refused to leave. So it was that Trowa and Hilde walked quietly down the dimmed corridors. Hilde was completely silent, her eyes on the floor as she buried herself in a myriad of thoughts.

Trowa was not surprised by her silence and was actually quite relieved that Hilde was not asking him questions about Duo, for he had no answers to give her. By the time he had heard of the incident Duo was already in hospital, the assassin caught and Quatre was calling in his sister Iria to attend Duo’s surgery. He glanced at Hilde again and saw her dash away a tear from her cheek and her lips forming Duo’s name. Was she recalling the nightmare days after Duo’s ‘death’ five years ago?

Heero and Relena were still outside the operating room. Relena was wrapped in a blanket, the ends of which she twisted between her fingers, while Heero remained extremely still, his eyes closed. When Hilde and Trowa came towards them, Heero opened his eyes and met his wife’s.

“Shinobu alright?” He asked neutrally.

Hilde nodded. “Yes, he was sleeping when I left, Sophy will call if she needs me to come.” Her gaze flicked over to Relena. “Any word?”

Relena’s haunted eyes met Hilde’s. “Iria came out an hour ago and said that things were looking better.” She sighed. “But… but…”

Hilde darted forward and wrapped her arms around Relena. “Relena… You have to trust Duo! He’s not going to leave you… He couldn’t!”

“You think so?” Relena laid her head on Hilde’s small shoulder. “But I’m afraid that he will…”

Hilde smiled. “If he’s cheated death once, I think he can do it again.”

The doors to the operating room opened and Iria strode out, pulling a cap off her head and shaking her short blond hair free. Relena leapt to her feet, dropping the blanket on the floor as she moved towards the older women. The others also straightened and looked expectantly at Quatre’s sister.

Iria regarded them all seriously, but before they could conclude that Duo was dead, a smile spread across her face. “The operation was a success.” Iria Winner announced.

Hilde let out a whoop of joy. “I knew it!” She crowed and hugged Relena before hugging Heero who clasped her to him, a broad smile on his face. Trowa relaxed his stance and sighed, a smile tugging the corners of his mouth.

Relena was absolutely still, unable to move and yet feeling like she wanted to fly. Duo was going to be alright!

“_However_,” Iria’s voice cut through their jubilation and they all looked at her. “He still hasn’t regain consciousness, so I would say that he’s fully out of danger _yet_.”

“Why?’ Relena cried. “If the operation succeeded…”

Iria laid a hand on the younger woman’s shoulder. “I did all I could do to heal his body.” She said. “It wasn’t just one splinter that struck him, there were several I had to remove… some which nicked the edges of some vital organs. I suppose one way to look at it is that Duo’s mind shut him down… and now it’s up to him to pull himself back.”

“Can I do anything?” Relena asked urgently. “Please Iria… don’t tell me to go home! I couldn’t sleep easy… if I can do anything…”

Iria hesitated. “Well… sometimes it helps for loved ones to talk to the unconscious person… I suppose it can’t hurt for you to sit with him.” The doors swung open again as Iria spoke and the nurses rolled out Duo, moving him into a room. Relena gasped and stretched out a hand.

“Duo… Iria… Please… please, let me try to reach him…”

Moments later, Relena walked into the room that had been set up for Duo. She stood in the doorway and looked at him, biting her lip and feeling the tears prick her eyelids once again. Duo shouldn’t be looking so vulnerable, she thought, so still and quiet. It wasn’t natural, he was supposed to leap up and flash that charming, mischievous grin of his at her.

She approached the bed and sat down beside it, placing her hand over his. He breathed softly, his chest rising and falling, his mouth slack in repose. Only the IV drip, other tubes and the soft beep of the monitors destroyed the illusion that he was simply sleeping. Relena reached up and brushed his bangs aside, stroking his cool skin and lightly touching the neat stitches holding together the cut on his cheek.

“Duo, I hope you can hear me.” Relena sighed. “I hope I can reach you, wherever you’ve gone in your mind. You need to hear what I have to say… I was going to tell you after the presentation… I think you know, but I just wanted to say the words… because words are important…” She shook her head. “Listen to me, I’m babbling…”

Relena picked up Duo’s hand and kissed it. Rubbing her cheek against his palm she whispered to him. “I love you, Duo… please come back to me.”

***
Duo giggled and scooted through the heavy wooden door, shutting it behind him as quietly as he could. Stealthily, he moved up the aisle, his breathing loud in the silence, until he saw his goal. With a crow of delight he skipped forward, his braid thumping his back as he moved.

The colony sun was bright today and beams streamed through the windows, brightening the church. However, The golden light was changed as it hit the stained glass windows so that the beams actually playing over the floor were multicoloured. The magnificent windows and the wonderful colours made this Duo’s favourite place when the sun shone and he took every opportunity he could to come here, despite Father Maxwell’s disapproval.

Sticking out his hands, Duo moved around beneath the windows and laughed with delight as his skin changed to blue then green and red. He skipped around, almost dancing in the light, even turning a few cartwheels as he played his game with the light.

“Duo!” The urgent hiss halted him and he turned to see Sister Helen walking rapidly up the aisle towards him. “Duo, what are you doing here?” She asked, kneeling before him.

Duo hung his head. “I’m sorry, Sister.” he mumbled. “But can’t I stay?”

Sister Helen laughed lightly and hugged the little boy. “Oh Duo! I wish you could, but you can’t… not yet.”

Duo frowned slightly. “I don’t understand.”

She turned his chin gently, making him look down towards the entrance. “Look.” She said.

Duo was puzzled at first, he couldn’t see anything, but then he realised that someone was standing there. “Father Maxwell?” He cried, but realised as soon as the words were out of his mouth that it wasn’t the priest. As the figure moved forward into the light Duo saw that it was a slender woman with black hair… He blinked as the woman’s form blurred and changed. Now she was a blond with blue eyes that were fixed on his face.

“I know her.” Duo whispered.

Sister Helen sighed into his hair. “It’s not time yet, dear Duo. Right now, she needs you more than I do.”

“Sister…?” Duo was cut off as she broke her embrace and stood. “Sister!” He cried, reaching for her. With a soft cry, she pushed him forward to the blond woman and then vanished. He stumbled towards the woman… towards…

“Relena!” Duo stretched out his hands.

She smiled and held out her arms. “I love you, Duo… please come back to me.”

***

Duo gasped and opened his eyes. Blinking in the light, he stared at the ceiling and wondered where he was. He turned his head to the side and frowned at the IV drip attached to his arm and the monitors by his bed. He was in a hospital? Frowning, Duo turned his head back and moved one arm stiffly trying to feel his torso as he recalled the huge splinter sticking out of him. However, instead of his chest, Duo’s fingers brushed over something soft and silky.

“Uh?” With a great effort, Duo raised his head and looked down.

Relena was seated close beside his bed, so close that she had leaned over to rest her head on the side of his bed using her folded arms as a pillow. He blinked and moved his hand to once more touch her long hair that flowed over his abdomen. She was alright… he had saved her…

“Relena…” Duo’s voice was a hoarse croak and his eyes widened. How long had he been lying here if his voice sounded so rusty? Licking dry lips, he tried again. “Relena.”

Her lashes fluttered and with a soft sigh, Relena opened her eyes. Seeing Duo smiling down at her, Relena gasped and jerked upright. She stared at him, her mouth working but no words passing her lips. Duo touched her hand.

“Hey, Princess. How’re you doing?” He quipped gently, weakly squeezing her fingers.

“Duo!” Relena burst out and wrapped her arms around him, burying her head in the hollow of his shoulder. Mumbled words spilled out of her mouth, most of them too muffled to understand. Duo stroked her head.

“Yeah, I’m glad to be back too, Lena.”

“Although you took your sweet time about returning.” Sally Po Chang smirked at Duo from the door. Relena pulled away from Duo and sat primly back on her seat, her cheeks flaming.

Sally chuckled and entered, but said nothing about the scene she had just interrupted. She looked closely at Duo and then at the monitors. “Well, you don’t look too bad for someone who’s been unconscious for three days.” She said lightly. “But I expect that you feel as weak as a kitten, hm?”

Duo started to protest, but his attempt to sit up only resulted in him falling back on the pillows. “Yeah…” He gasped, then his eyes widened. “Three DAYS?” he looked at Relena for confirmation and she nodded. He noticed the dark shadows under her eyes and the paleness of her face. “Relena… have you been here all this time?” He whispered.

Relena nodded again. She felt so choked up that it was hard to say anything. Duo had returned to her and mere words seemed inadequate to describe the happiness that was bubbling up within her. Luckily, Sally spoke for her.

“She refused to leave you.” Sally told Duo, handing him a drink. “She hardly slept or ate, just talked to you.” She fixed Duo with a stern glare. “I hope you appreciate this Duo!”

He squeezed Relena’s fingers again. “Yeah, I do.” He murmured, looking into Relena’s blue eyes. “And I heard her too.”

Relena’s face lit up even more. “I hoped that you would.” She said. “But I wasn’t the only one who came and sat with you, Duo. Quatre, Trowa… even Wufei… they all came, and… so did Heero and Hilde.”

“For me?” Duo was amazed. “Wufei too?”

Sally grinned and helped Duo to sit up; padding the pillows behind him. “Oh yes, but I don’t know if you want to remember what he said!” She rolled her eyes. “Sometimes my husband has no tact.”

“Ain’t that the truth… hey,” Duo frowned at Sally. “Is it my imagination, Sally or are you putting on weight?”

Sally glared at him. “And just what are you implying Duo Maxwell?”

“Uh…” Duo panicked briefly. “Well I…” His voice trailed off when he noticed the twinkle in Sally’s eyes and heard Relena giggle beside him.

“I am putting on weight.” Sally said with a shrug. “But it’s only temporary. I’m just pregnant again.”

Duo’s jaw dropped. “Again? Jeez… are you sure Wufei’s not part rabbit?”

There was a howl of laughter at the door and Duo looked around to see the other Gundam pilots and Hilde standing there. Wufei looked furious, but the others were all laughing, even Trowa and Heero.

“You know that Duo’s going to be alright when he puts his foot in his mouth!” Hilde grinned. She strolled over to Duo’s side and kissed him on the cheek. “It’s nice to see you back with us, Duo.” She murmured in his ear.

“Likewise.” Duo met her eyes and smiled as the last yearning for Hilde fluttered away, leaving him with a warm feeling akin to brotherly love towards her. “Now, can you do me a favour Hildey and chase everyone out of her for a minute? I really need to talk to Relena.”

She winked. “Ninmu ryokai.”

Two minutes later, Relena and Duo were alone. Relena smiled hesitantly. “Hilde’s very forceful when she sets her mind to something, isn’t she?”

“Yeah.” Duo fiddled with the end of his braid. “It’s surprising what she can do, even though she’s so tiny.”

“She’s completely different from me…” Relena bit her lip gently. “Much more lively and fun, cute and…”

“I am not in love with her anymore, you know.” Duo interrupted abruptly, his expression serious. “In case you didn’t notice Relena, I’m in love with _you_.” She said nothing and he turned his head away. “Of course… I guess I understand if you don’t feel the same way… I mean, I screwed up at that presentation… Heero wouldn’t have let himself get hurt by some crummy assassin…”

“Oh Duo…” Relena’s fingers gently touched his face and tugged at his chin so that he looked at her again. “You idiot.” Her eyes gleamed with tears, but there was a loving smile on her face. “I don’t care if you’re not the perfect solder… I don’t _want_ Heero, perhaps I never did love him, not truly, but I _do_ know I want you and I love you!”

Duo reached up and stroked her cheek. “As long as you realise what you’re getting into, Princess.” He said, teasing her with his smile. “You won’t be able to work all day and night anymore with me around.”

“Well, I’m sure I can make the sacrifice.” Relena murmured, leaning down closer to his face.

“And I’m not going to stop squabbling with Dorothy bossy-britches Catalonia…”

“She can live with it.”

“Your brother will probably have a fit.”

“Noin will calm him.”

“And I’ll upset all your political friends.”

Relena kissed him swiftly, instantly silencing him. “I don’t care about them, Duo Maxwell!” She looked reprovingly at him. “And stop trying to debase yourself. I love you, I’ve loved you for much longer than I knew and I want you to be part of my future.”

Duo pulled her close, laying her head on his shoulder and wrapping his arms around her.  “I dreamed of you.” He whispered. “I came back for you, only you. I will never leave you, Relena, I swear I will always be with you as long as you want me.”

“Then you will never leave,” she murmured against his chest. “Because I cannot imagine my life without you now.”

***
fini

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