Warnings : Yaoi, angst, sap, OOC, Heero POV, limey stuff and
language. This is a direct sequel to the 'Road Trip' series.
Thanks to Christy for the beta, and Aya and Yume for opinions
Feedback is almost as good as chocolate, though less fattening.
I do not own Gundam Wing; though I heard another author somewhere
finally came clean and laid claim.
I had, in the past three years working as a Preventer, had
worse days. I just couldn’t remember one in a long while that had
been this…tedious. Hours of digging through old unsolved case files
and reading crime scene descriptions, looking at photographs of people long
dead. Searching for signs that they might be part of a current string of
murders. I had the nagging hint of a headache and just wanted to go home.
Wufei walked with me to the parking garage, looking like I
felt. We were both quiet, trying to clear the crap out of our heads. This
was the part of the job I really hated, the paperwork and the endless reading.
Any good agent does their research, but that doesn’t mean you have
to like it. And it was just damned depressing looking at all those pictures
of victims whose killers had never been found. Thinking about all those
families who had never known closure.
I saw Duo waiting for me at the car, sitting on the hood and
swinging his leg off the side. He had already lost his tie and his collar
was unbuttoned. He fairly vibrated with…something, and leaped down
when he saw me, jogging to meet us with a wide grin plastered on his face.
I had to smile; it lightened my heart just seeing him. I caught Wufei smirking
at me and I growled at him, but it was the both of us that found ourselves
enveloped in one of Duo’s exuberant embraces.
‘I’m gonna be an uncle!’ he crowed, leaving
us both breathless with the force of his hug.
‘Maxwell?’ Wufei frowned his confusion. ‘You
don’t have…I mean…’
Duo just laughed at his consternation, letting go of us as
we resumed our walk to the cars.
‘Misty!’ he told us, naming his assistant Network
Administrator. ‘She’s pregnant and asked me to be the Godfather!
Well, asked us…’ He looked at me and I raised an eyebrow. ‘As
a couple, I mean, to be Godparents.’
I blinked at him. I knew Misty, though not well. We had been
invited to her home a few times for dinner, and Duo had asked her and her
husband over to our apartment once. Her husband…Justin, wasn’t
very comfortable with Duo and me…as a couple. I couldn’t imagine
the man wanting this. The look on Duo’s face faltered a little.
‘That’s Ok, isn’t it Heero?’ I recognized
the tone that told me this was important to him, and made myself smile despite
‘Of course,’ I reassured him and was rewarded
with his bright smile. He totally eclipsed the crappy day I’d had.
‘Well, then,’ Wufei smiled at my mate, fairly
dancing beside us. ‘Congratulations.’
‘Thanks, ‘Fei,’ Duo was practically glowing
with happiness, and I was surprised to find that my headache had somehow
melted away. I shook my head ruefully, glancing across at Wufei only to
see a matching expression on his face. We both laughed and Duo looked at
us oddly. ‘What?’
‘One would think that you were the expectant parent,’
Wufei grinned at him and I could see he was sorry he had said it the instant
it passed his lips, but Duo just smirked at him.
‘Well, I figure it’s about as close as I’ll
ever get unless you,’ he dug a finger into Wufei’s ribs, causing
the man to jump, ‘ever break down and ask Sally Po out on a date.’
I thought Wufei was going to faint. His face went chalk white
for the space of a heartbeat and then as red as I have ever seen it. He’s
my partner; I’ve seen him with a lot of different expressions over
the years, but this one was new.
‘Maxwell…!’ he hissed a grim warning and
then turned on his heel, stalking stiffly toward his car.
‘See you in the morning!’ Duo called cheerily
after him, his eyes alight with wicked merriment.
‘Sally Po?’ I asked, incredulous, once Wufei was
safely in his car.
‘Come on, love,’ Duo chided me. ‘Have you
not ever seen them in the same room together?’
I had to think about it. Put me in a room with fifty people
for five minutes and I can come out telling you where each and every one
of them was standing, who they were talking to, and what they were wearing
if it’s pertinent to the mission. But…the sort of thing that
Duo was talking about usually escapes me.
Then, Wufei forgotten, Duo was dragging me by the arm to the
car. ‘I’ll drive,’ he proclaimed. ‘I have a stop
I need to make.’
So I climbed in to the passenger seat and let him take me
where he wanted, but was more than just a little surprised when we ended
up outside a…quilt shop?
‘Duo?’ I questioned him as he parked. ‘Are
you sure this is…whatever you were looking for?’
‘Yep.’ He grinned at me, barely able to contain
his bizarre excitement. ‘I’ve only got eight months to get our
Godchild’s birthing day present done.’
I have to confess that I sat there and blinked at him like
‘You coming in?’ he asked me brightly. ‘It
may be awhile.’
I shook my head with that same rueful feeling. This, I had
I trailed in, wandering around behind him at a safe distance
as he moved from table to table, fingering the material, pulling bolts out
to compare colors side by side. A saleswoman came up and asked if she could
help me, and I couldn’t hide the vaguely enchanted smile as I shook
my head and told her, pointing, ‘I’m with him.’
I found a chair after a half an hour and just watched as Duo
had the poor woman cutting yard after yard of material…fabric, I had
been corrected on that point, adding it to the already impressive pile.
Other things ended up in that pile of which I recognized not half. Pins,
thread, and scissors being about as far as my mental catalog got before
I lost track.
Duo had the whole store charmed and eating out of his hand
before he was done, the other two clerks coming over to offer advice and
point out coordinating mat…fabric. Showing him bizarre gadgets and
demonstrating tools. His exuberance was highly contagious. He ended up spending
more than we typically used for a months groceries. I had to help him carry
it to the car.
‘Duo,’ I finally ventured as we loaded the sacks
into the trunk. ‘Do you even know how to sew?’
‘Of course!’ He looked at me with just a hint
of scorn. ‘You don’t think I’d buy all this if I didn’t
know what to do with it, do you?’
I suppose, knowing his frugal nature, I should have known
better than to ask. ‘I’ve just never seen you do it,’
I pointed out logically.
He shrugged as he closed the trunk and we moved to get back
into the car, not speaking until we were inside and he was starting the
‘Sister Helen taught us,’ he said softly, pulling
out into traffic and I sat and watched his profile as he drove. ‘Blankets
were hard to come by and she made quilts from rag scraps and things.’
I sat quietly and listened. He rarely spoke of those days,
of Sister Helen and Father Maxwell and the orphanage, but when he did it
always afforded me glimpses into his past that I hoarded away; little bits
of information that fit into a larger whole. Someday I hoped to piece it
We had shared some of our histories with each other, spent
nights in our lost youth curled together in the dark telling dark secrets.
But it was the off-handed comments that gave things depth; that let me see
things through his eyes, with his perspective. Blankets were hard to come
by. He was not telling me that he thought that was odd, or unfair, or wrong.
It was a simple fact of his life that only needed to be mentioned to explain
the next part of the statement.
‘She saved everything. Said that we should never waste
anything.’ He chuckled lightly, a slightly self-deprecating sound.
‘She would have been…shocked at the excess I just exhibited.’
He glanced across at me looking a little embarrassed. ‘I’m sorry
Heero…I shouldn’t have spent so much.’
I chuckled at him. ‘Duo, I think we make enough between
the two of us that we can afford for you to spend a little now and then.’
He murmured something that might have been a thank you.
‘Besides,’ I said with a smile, hating to see
his mood spoiled. ‘It is our first Godchild after all.’
I watched the faint cloud of melancholy lift from his eyes.
‘I wonder it it’ll be a boy or a girl?’
he grinned. ‘Gods! How do parents wait nine months to find out?’
‘I don’t think they have to, if they don’t
want to,’ I informed him. ‘They can do ultrasounds.’
He rambled on for a bit about how he thought it would be nice
to know in advance, that the quilt would be easier to make if he knew if
it was for a boy or a girl. I didn’t catch all of it; I was too busy
watching him. The sun, sinking in the sky, was streaming through the window
and setting his hair alight. This late in the day, those little wisps of
hair around his face had slipped the braid and were dancing around on the
wind. His eyes were bright with anticipation, alive with ideas and plans,
his face happy and animated. His hands on the wheel were sure and steady,
no matter how he talked or how excited he got, his attention to the job
at hand never wavered, and he wove us through the heavy traffic with practiced
He glanced at me and flushed a little. ‘What’s
I didn’t avert my gaze, but smiled. ‘Just thinking
how beautiful you are.’
He truly did blush then, and snorted softly, but couldn’t
keep from smiling.
There was a bit of silence then, companionable, I thought.
‘You cooking tonight?’ he asked after a little
while. ‘Or do you want me to drive through someplace.’
‘I think I feel like cooking,’ I said, surprising
myself. ‘I don’t really want fast food tonight. Unless you’d
That had been one of the few chores there had just been no
real question about who got stuck with it. I had always hated cooking, but
I hate eating Duo’s cooking even worse. That was one area he had just
never gotten much better at. And over the years, it had become something
that I didn’t mind all that much. Duo was always appreciative of whatever
I came up with, and adventurous enough to try anything I put in front of
him. Though his childhood had left him with a view of food that led him
to think of it as simple ‘sustenance’ and not something to be
fussed over, it also left him with a certain appreciation for new things.
I will never forget the first time someone brought a bag full
of fresh apples back to a safe house we were staying in. We were all in
the kitchen putting the groceries away, and Duo had been jabbering away
as usual. No one really paying much attention until the voice had suddenly
stilled. We turned, out of curiosity, to find him holding an apple in his
hands as though he had found the Holy Grail at the bottom of the grocery
sack. We had all been rather perplexed, but in the early days, a little
too new to each other to speak much about ourselves. We had known nothing
about this odd boy with the long hair and bright smile.
‘What’s the matter, Duo?’ Quatre had asked
him. ‘Is there something wrong with the apple?’
‘No!’ he had blurted, eyes a little wide. ‘It’s…perfect.’
It didn’t explain his odd behavior as he kept turning
it in his hands and looking at it and I remembered him saying, almost as
though he had forgotten we were there, ‘I’ve just never seen
one that wasn’t all…shriveled.’
Quatre had laughed brightly and set a bowl out to put the
fruit in, a huge pile of apples we would probably never be able to eat before
some of them went bad. I had seen Duo’s eyes go wide at the bounty
before him and for the first time I had understood the difference between
the two of them. Up to that point, I had thought them very alike, but that
moment had shown me how wrong I had been.
It had been one of the first pieces I had collected to the
puzzle that was Duo Maxwell. Back before I even realized I was gathering
I always kept fresh fruit in the apartment now.
We were home before I knew it and I helped him carry his packages
upstairs where we dumped them on the huge coffee table. He was already sorting
through his haul while I changed clothes and started dinner.
It would be months before I saw the top of that coffee table
I got a distracted, ‘That’s fine,’ When
I asked if liver and onions was all right for dinner, and I ended up leaning
in the kitchen doorway for several minutes watching him sort through the
piles of fabric. There seemed to be some method to the madness, but for
the life of me, I couldn’t see it.
I started dinner, liver and onions being something that Duo
had acquired a taste for during the war, and Trowa had finally managed to
teach me to cook it well enough that I could stand to eat it myself every
now and again.
Duo popped up in the doorway after a little bit, a pile of
dark colored fabric clutched to his chest. ‘How long ‘till dinner?’
‘Maybe fifteen minutes,’ I informed him after
checking on the dinner rolls.
‘Great! Just enough time to get down to the laundry
room and get this started! I’ll be right back.’ And he whirled
and was gone before I could ask. He hadn’t even changed out of his
work clothes yet.
He came trotting back up the stairs just as I was putting
it on the table, and sat down breathless to eat.
‘Duo?’ I couldn’t help but ask when he finally
settled into his chair.
‘Hmm?’ he responded around a mouth full of liver.
‘Why are you washing brand new mater…fabric?’
‘You have to pre-shrink it,’ he informed me, as
though it was a nonsense question. ‘And sometimes the colors bleed.’
‘How in the world do you know so much about…’
I didn’t even know what, exactly, you called it.
‘Quilting?’ he provided, and I nodded. He shrugged.
‘I guess I’ve always liked them. Reminds me of Sister Helen.’
He took another bite of his dinner, his expression unreadable.
‘I used to sit with her in the evening and help sort
through the scraps,’ he continued after a moment. ‘She always
said I had good color sense and let me lay out the pieces after they were
I didn’t speak. This was another one of those moments
of discovery that I craved. They were fragile things, I had learned over
the years, and a wrong breath would stop the flow of words.
‘I liked that part. Laying out the pieces to make the
pattern. It’s a kind of…geometry. But the color makes the possibilities
endless.’ His eyes had a faraway quality, and his fork was resting
on his plate, food completely forgotten. ‘It always made me feel good;
like I was creating something for a change, not destroying. And Sister Helen
always sewed it together just the way I chose. She said we were making something
together. Building something new from the remains of something old.’
He sat utterly still for a moment and then shivered slightly,
coming back to himself. He glanced down, his face unreadable.
‘Damn,’ he muttered. ‘I never changed clothes.’
And he fled the room.
I gave him a few minutes and then followed. Finding him in
the bedroom, just standing there in the dark. I went to him and gathered
him into my arms.
‘Miss her?’ I whispered softly and he burrowed
against me with a tight little nod, letting me hold him.
‘Wish I could have known her,’ I told him.
‘She would have liked you,’ he said and was quiet
for a long time, arms around my neck, and then he started to chuckle. I
drew back, looking at him in surprise.
‘Until she figured out that we were…lovers,’
he laughed unrepentantly, eyes suspiciously bright. ‘I think we would
have shocked her.’
I smiled for him, because that’s what he wanted; to
change the mood. I tugged him gently back towards the kitchen. ‘Come
on,’ I told him quietly. ‘Cold liver and onions…suck.’
We finished dinner and I told him to go get his fabric while
I did the dishes. When I emerged finally from the kitchen, there was a pile
of wrinkled, frayed, but freshly washed and dried dark fabric on the couch,
and Duo was off with a load of lights. The ironing board was set up behind
the couch and I started to figure out that this was going to occupy his
entire evening. I sighed in resignation, laid claim to the end of the couch
that wasn’t covered in fabric and wisps of threads, and settled in
with a book.
Duo bounded back up the stairs before long and started carefully
pressing and folding the fabric, piling it back on the coffee table as he
worked. Sorting the piles by something called ‘color value’.
I shook my head and went back to my book. A couple of hours later found
everything washed, pressed and arrayed around our living room. Duo, slung
into a living room chair just staring at it, occasionally shifting pieces
of fabric around, putting different colors next to each other.
‘What are you doing?’ I ventured, after observing
this odd behavior for almost a half an hour.
‘Trying to decide what the pattern is going to be,’
he grunted with only about half his attention.
‘Wouldn’t it make more sense to decide the pattern
and then buy the fabric?’ This was the most haphazard process I had
He looked up at me with the strangest expression in his eyes.
‘It…wouldn’t be the same. The fabric has to tell you what
it wants to be.’
I think I just stared at him. I finally shook my head in bewilderment
and rose to take him by the hand. ‘You and your fabric will have to
talk some more tomorrow night. It’s getting late and you need to get
He let me pull him up and slid his arms around my neck, nuzzling
at that spot just behind the hinge of my jaw, making me shiver. ‘Wouldn’t
it make more sense to take the shower after you make me all hot and sweaty?’
‘Actually,’ I returned the nibble. ‘I was
thinking we could avoid the whole hot and sweaty issue if I just got in
the shower with you.’
He grinned wickedly and we made our way to the bathroom. It
didn’t work out half bad, even if I did have to call the landlord
the next day to have the cracked glass replaced in the shower door.
That week saw us back at the quilt shop twice; the ladies
there were starting to giggle as soon as we pulled up out front. I could
see them through the front window. If watching the strange glow that came
into his eyes in there hadn’t made me feel so damn good inside, I
would have stayed home and made him go by himself.
He acquired a notebook and most of that first week was spent
making notes and doodling in small rectangular boxes. As much as I loved
watching him, I had to admit that even in that early stage of the game I
was already sick of the little bits of thread that seemed to cover everything.
It seemed that no matter where I went to sit down, I had to move quilting
‘Duo,’ I asked in exasperation one night toward
the end of the week, having spent another evening watching him do nothing
but sketch and stare. ‘Are you ever going to start that thing?’
He looked at me a little sheepishly. ‘I want it to be
I wasn’t sure what to say, but suspected that what popped
out probably wasn’t the right thing. ‘It’s just a blanket.’
As soon as I said it, I could have kicked myself, but he just grinned at
‘It’s not a blanket.’ He cocked his head
at me a little sadly, as though I was the one missing something here. ‘It’s
a quilt. There’s a big difference.’
But at least I had his attention. I almost snorted as I realized
that I had been feeling a little neglected, abandoned for this new obsession
of his. I put my book aside and crawled off the couch to join him on the
floor where he lay making his notes and drawing his pictures. He was lying
on his stomach, propped up on his elbows. I crawled around and stretched
out on top of him, nestling my chin on his shoulder. He chuckled and I kissed
‘Tell me,’ I sighed into that same ear, making
sure my breath tickled and enjoying his shiver. He turned his head to grin
at me and I stole a kiss.
‘A blanket is just something you buy,’ he told
me with a soft smile. ‘But a quilt is something that somebody took
the time to make, with their own hands.’
‘Somebody has to make the blankets.’ I nibbled
at the back of his neck, a very sensitive spot.
‘Some machine makes the blankets,’ he informed
me somewhat haughtily. ‘A quilt is…an expression…a message…’
His brow furrowed, ‘It should say something.’
I felt something strange in the air and stopped teasing him,
rolling off to lie on my side next to him, where I could see his face.
‘What do you want to express?’ I asked gently.
‘I’m not sure,’ he said, looking off at
nothing. ‘That’s sort of the problem.’
We were quiet for a little while and I finally managed to
ask the question that had been nagging at me all week.
I settled my hand in the small of his back, stroking gently.
‘Love; are you sorry that we can’t have children of our own?’
I felt the tension in his back and had my answer, but waited
for him to tell me.
He quirked a grin over at me. ‘Am I that damned obvious?’
I hooked his waist and pulled him against me, letting him
pillow his head on my arm.
‘Not really,’ I reassured him. ‘But there’s
been…something going on behind those beautiful eyes of yours all week.’
He flushed, I loved that I could do that, and he hide his
face against my chest.
‘I don’t think I really want kids,’ he told
me after a bit of thinking. ‘Not really. I can’t see how either
one of us could possible be any good at raising children.’
I pulled my head back to look at him, but he just rolled his
eyes. ‘Come on, Heero. It’s not like either of us had what you
would call a normal childhood. What the hell do we know about kids?’
I kissed him and waited, but he didn’t say anything
else until I poked a little. ‘But?’
He brought his eyes up to search mine and his voice was very
small. ‘But sometimes I ache with wanting it.’
‘I know,’ I soothed gently. ‘I know.’
He pushed me over on my back and rolled himself on top of
me, pillowing his chin on his cupped hands in the middle of my chest.
‘You?’ he queried expectantly, and I weighed my
‘Not, I don’t think,’ I said slowly, looking
up at the ceiling. ‘The way you feel it. I don’t…’
I struggled hard with the words. ‘I don’t…’ I stopped
and regarded him for a moment, trying again. ‘When I see it in you…when
we’re around other people with little kids, especially babies, I see
you…wanting it so much. I don’t crave it the way you do. But…sometimes,
when I think about how it might be if we could truly…mingle us into
something new…’ I shook my head in defeat. I wasn’t explaining
myself well at all and decided to just shut up.
‘What would a child of ours be like?’ he asked
after a strange silence.
I had to laugh. ‘Stubborn!’
He chuckled a little, then said wistfully, ‘he’d
have your eyes.’ He caught me off guard.
‘No…’ I breathed. ‘She’d have
yours. And your beautiful hair. And your bright smile.’
He blinked down at me, his eyes shining and he bit his lip.
‘Heero…’ his voice came faint through a
constricted throat, but I could see the need lying naked in his eyes and
I rolled him over and made gentle love to him there on the floor. Using
the joining of our bodies to bring him the release he couldn’t ever
quite seem to grant himself. He lay in my arms after and wept softly for
our stillborn daughter.
We went to bed later, but I woke in the small hours of the
morning to a cold bed and slipped to the bedroom door to find him sitting
by the coffee table in the living room, sketching something that I could
see even from that distance was far more complete than anything he had done
so far. I think he found his message. I left him alone.
That weekend saw the first pieces of fabric cut. I only thought
he had been obsessed before.
I saw tools used that I would not have been able to guess
the purpose of. Taped up more of his damned knuckles while he developed
skill with an unbelievably lethal weapon called a rotary cutter. We had
to replace the iron after it became so gummed up with something referred
to as fusible webbing that it was no longer suitable for use on clothing.
After the second week, I made a trip to the quilt store alone,
in search of a thimble large enough for him to use, because he had worn
a hole in his finger. I had to special order it. I ended up buying him a
sewing basket while I was there, with one of those magnetic pin holders
because I was tired of getting my ass perforated from sitting on the damned
things when he lost them in the couch. I thought I managed the whole uncomfortable
trip with a certain amount of dignity. Until I got in the car and looked
back to see the whole store full of clerks hanging on each other, giggling
I presented Duo with the basket after dinner that night and
was graced with the most splendid open-mouthed look of pure, unadulterated
surprise. I decided that the clerks at the ‘Silver Threads’
were just going to have to get used to me.
The quilt became a fixture of our evenings, sometimes I read
while he worked. Sometimes we watched television. Mostly, it just seemed
to me that he was practicing. As much stuff ended up in the trash can as
found its way into the sewing basket. But one evening, he seemed to start
cutting with some seriousness. Scraps of blue and white and silver began
to appear in little piles on the table and I was moved to go sit with him
on the floor. They were all precise little shapes, diamonds and triangles.
There was a lot of a deep blue fabric printed with a faint swirl of silvery,
metallic stars. Some white with a silver print, and some silver with a white
print. He was marking around a set of metal templates and then cutting out
the shapes. I found myself playing with them, amazed at how many patterns
you could make, and I soon had them spread across the tabletop. Duo smiled
softly at me.
‘That’s the part I used to like doing with Sister
I grunted, captivated with the strangeness of the way the
color was affecting my depth perception. Duo just grinned. I arranged some
more and looked up at him, puzzled.
‘Look,’ I pointed out. ‘If you alternate
the white and the silver…it looks three dimensional.’
He looked oddly pleased. ‘It’s an actual technique.
I forget the name.’
I fiddled some more, while he tirelessly marked and cut. Then,
on a sudden thought,
‘I could cut those out while you mark…if you want.’
He fairly glowed. ‘That would be…nice.’
I got a quick lesson on the difference between the ‘cutting’
line and the ‘sewing’ line, and we bent to work together. It
pleased me in a strange way, to be included. But then, I suppose this was
supposed to be my Godchild too. It came to me then that he had been wanting
us to do this together for some time, but hadn’t wanted to ask for
my help if I wasn’t interested. It seemed suddenly to be a right thing.
And for the first time, I really wondered about this child yet to be.
‘Did you have a quilt?’ I blurted, instantly sorry
I had said it.
But he just grinned. ‘Yeah. Sister Helen made one quilt
just for me, she let me pick all the material myself and the pattern, but
she did all the sewing.’ He sat and smiled for a minute, lost in memory,
then chuckled, ‘It was the ugliest thing! You had to take whatever
rag or worn out piece of clothing you could get. I started out intending
to make it all blue and green and black, but there wasn’t enough material
and we filled in with this horrid piss yellow.’ He laughed with remembered
delight. ‘It was hideous! It was the log cabin pattern.’ He
stopped marking fabric for a moment to sketch the pattern for me. ‘The
little square in the middle is traditionally red to represent the fire in
the hearth of a home. Then you build around the center square with the logs.
Mine wound up with those awful yellow squares in the center. I kept calling
the material piss yellow and Sister Helen got mad. But Father Maxwell named
the quilt ‘Duo’s Log Outhouse’, and she couldn’t
say anything else about it.’
He was quiet after that, though he chuckled softly to himself
every now and again. I continued to cut little diamonds and marveled at
the wealth of puzzle pieces I had accumulated since this quilt had begun.
I wasn’t foolish enough to ask what happened to that
Work interfered a week or so after that, when Duo had to go
out of town for a couple of days to a conference on network security and
firewalls. Being the Network Administrator for the entire Preventer’s
computer network took him off to those things several times a year. Not
near as often as my assignments kept me away from home, but we had learned
to cope with it.
I typically cleaned. Duo said I cleaned obsessively. I had
trouble sleeping when he was gone, and it gave me something to do. Besides,
it was a practical outlet for my agitation.
I’m not sure what Duo did when I was gone, I never found
any evidence of anything quite as compulsive as my scrubbing and cleaning.
But when he had been gone, he always came home as though he had been away
for months. I could usually count on lengthy bouts of love making almost
the instant he got through the front door. Not that I ever complained, but
sometimes…sometimes it felt like there was something more going on
than just his missing me.
I was kind of surprised that he didn’t take his sewing
with him; my limited experience with those kinds of conferences told me
that he would have idle time in the evenings. But he never seemed to bother
taking anything to fill the time, I always supposed that he had a circle
of acquaintances, fellow computer geeks that he had come to know over the
years and they probably got together after the expo closed.
So in the fourth week, in his absence, I was able to find
the top of the coffee table and clean it for the first time in a month.
I managed to eradicate all the stray bits of thread from the living room
as well, though I knew as soon as he came back, it would be coated again.
I really didn’t care; this project had given me so many facets of
the jewel that was my Duo, I didn’t begrudge a single minute of it.
He came home on a Friday afternoon, and I left work early
to meet him, thinking we might go out. But I found him napping on the couch;
traveling always seemed to wear him out, so I decided to let him sleep and
cooked dinner instead.
He wandered into the kitchen, yawning and stretching, not
long before it was ready.
‘Welcome home, love.’ I greeted him, and he came
to kiss me, that familiar shiver of need running through him at my touch,
‘You still look tired,’ I frowned, ‘Bad trip?’
He moved to stand behind me, wrapping his arms around me and
laying his cheek against my shoulder while I worked, ‘Ah, you know
I never sleep well away from you,’ he murmured.
‘Same here,’ I chuckled softly. ‘Want to
just go on to bed after we eat.’
He hummed an affirmative against my back, but his body, pressed
against mine, told me we wouldn’t be sleeping.
We ate. We talked. We wound up in bed for the rest of the
afternoon and most of the evening. He seemed…raw edged somehow; quick
to laugh, quick to tears, and starved for my touch. Full of the need to
be held and caressed, I did my best to meet his every want, his every desire.
The weekend found him suddenly possessed with creative energy
and I saw the beginnings of the quilt start to take shape. The sewing, apparently,
took less attention than the marking and cutting had, and one evening as
I sat down with a new book, he asked me to read aloud. I felt a little silly
at first, but it was oddly warming; having his rapt, quiet attention. It
turned into an evening ritual, one we both came to enjoy.
One evening, after I had finished reading and laid the book
aside, we just sat for a bit, in the quiet. He was curled in the chair,
surrounded by small white and silver stars, needle moving in a hypnotic
rhythm. I was stretched out on the couch, and I think that had I lain there
long watching the flash of the needle and the dance of his hands, I might
have dozed off right there. But his voice broke the quiet, soft and reflective.
‘Do you ever think about us…the five of us…as
a group?’ No question, of course, who he was talking about.
‘I don’t understand what you mean…as a group.’
I rolled over to look at him more directly.
He quirked that grin at me. ‘Well, we’re certainly
a diverse little band of rogues. Ever wonder why we stayed together?’
Together. There had even been a brief period right after the
war that we had all lived in the same house together, until we had gotten
our heads cleared enough to decide what we were going to do with ourselves.
‘I think…’ I said slowly, and yes this was
something I had put a lot of thought into. ‘It’s partly because
we are so completely unique. We are not like anyone else in the whole bloody
universe. I think it’s only natural that we cling together.’
‘Because of what we went through…because of the
war.’ It wasn’t a question.
‘Because there isn’t anyone else who could ever
possibly understand us.’ I smiled over at him, but his face was very
‘Do you ever think about us…as a whole?’
His brow was furrowed in thought, and the needle had stilled.
I sat up and moved to the end of the couch to sit closer to
‘I used to think,’ I told him softly. ‘That
we were an entity formed from the five of us into a single…something
new,’ I floundered.
But he brightened. ‘Each of us bringing something to
‘Exactly!’ I couldn’t help grinning, I had
never told anyone about my odd thoughts and was pleased that maybe I hadn’t
thought them alone.
‘How do you see Trowa, Quatre and Wufei?’ he asked
then and I ducked my head, a little embarrassed.
‘I guess I thought of us forming a single person. I
always saw Trowa as our frame. The strength that we were grounded on, that
supported the rest of us.’
He nodded slightly, almost unconsciously, ‘Our great
bear,’ he murmured. ‘Our gentle giant. Always there…always
I smiled at the thought, amused at the different way we thought
of the same basic concept. ‘Quatre is our heart, deceptively strong
Duo grinned fondly, ‘our little hawk; sunshine bright
and always soaring…rising above it all.’
I grunted in surprise and glanced up at him, but he was looking
at his sewing again, needle moving slowly. ‘Wufei?’ he prompted
after a moment.
I couldn’t help but chuckle. ‘Our freaking iron
He laughed; delighted. ‘Our great, fierce dragon.’
He looked up at me, affection plain in his eyes. ‘Ever protective.’
I snorted softly, and remembered what I had thought all those
years ago; perhaps you can’t name your own part in the bigger whole.
I didn’t make him ask. ‘And you are our bright
and shining spirit. Our hope and our joy.’ I thought for a minute
and applied his own theory to it, ‘Our clever, elusive, panther.’
He froze and blinked at me, face flushing slightly and eyes
wide. He made a surprised little ‘oh’ of sound and then looked
at me hard. He understood, and didn’t make me ask either.
‘You have always been our mind; our driving force, keeping
us balanced and on course.’ He had applied my own perspective on things
first, and grew wistful as he got to his own. ‘Our great wolf. Striving
so hard to be the lone wolf, but ever the leader of the pack.’
It was my turn to blink and flush. Wolf? Wolfling? I snorted
softly and then met those bottomless pools of living amethyst. He was grinning
at me; at my embarrassed reaction. I growled deep in my throat and surprised
a yelp of a laugh from him. The quilt was forgotten for the night while
we explored the meanings behind each other’s definition of ourselves.
Not long after that, he became secretive about the quilt.
There was something he didn’t want me to see until it was finished.
I teased him, but respected his desires and didn’t pry, sometimes
making a point of going out for an evening to give him the space to work.
He grew more excited and oddly, more pensive as the bundle in the sewing
basket grew larger. I would never have let him know it, but I really was
dying to see it.
When the quilt was, at long last, nearing completion, he surprised
me with plans of a dinner get together. We hadn’t gone out or even
had anyone in much since he had become obsessed with this project. So, I
was a little surprised when he announced that he wanted to have the guys
over and fix dinner. He planned the whole thing himself, right down to the
menu, though I had to tone it down some. He was acting rather like a teen-ager
about to have his first date. He even brought home a rather expensive bottle
of wine, flushing slightly when I raised an eyebrow; we really didn’t
‘Duo,’ I finally had to ask, when I had wracked
my brain to no avail. ‘Have I missed some kind of anniversary?’
He laughed at me, delighted. ‘Nope,’ he kissed
me in reassurance, but refused to explain further.
So, Saturday night found me in the kitchen preparing lasagna
and grilled salmon while Duo cleaned and polished and set the table just
so. Even making a trip out to get flowers for the table. All I could do
was shake my head and wait to see where he would lead me.
He changed clothes twice, finally settling on black denim;
the hint of a white t-shirt peeking out at the open collar of the button
down shirt. It took me back to the war years with a start. He brushed his
hair until it shone like liquid amber and braided it tight and neat.
I finally caught him on his third trip into the kitchen to
re-arrange the place settings, and pinned him to the doorframe.
‘Duo, what the hell is going on?’
He flushed and lowered his eyes, his lips dancing in the strangest,
‘You’ll see,’ he finally told me.
I kissed him gently, feeling the excitement running through
him. ‘Love,’ I told him softly. ‘You are as uptight as
a virgin schoolmarm in a saloon full of drunken cowboys.’
He threw back his head and laughed out loud, eyes alive with
mischief, then wrapped his arms around my neck.
‘Have I told you today that I love you?’ he whispered
in my ear.
‘No,’ I told him in mock severity. ‘You
have not; but if you start telling me now, the salmon is going to burn.’
He let go with a yelp and took himself off to the living room
to put on some music while I rescued the fish.
The music, when it began to play, was that ages old McKinnett
CD, the one I had bought him during the war and had to replace. I had to
wonder if all the reminders were on purpose. The knock on the front door
kept me from bringing it up.
The apartment was suddenly alive with their voices. Duo had
told me once that whenever all five of us were together, he felt like he
had come home. I knew just how he felt, hearing them come in, their familiar
sounds and voices washing around me. Duo was already goading Wufei, and
my partner was sparring easily with my mate, their bantering coming to me
from the living room. Quatre’s bright laughter mingling with Duo’s,
Trowa’s deep rumble coming toward me; he could always be counted on
for help in the kitchen.
Duo had made a salad, something he had managed to master over
the years, and I had Trowa set it out and we called the group to the table.
I noticed that Duo had saved the wine for after dinner.
I endured the usual round of teasing about my cooking, about
why it was I never took my turn during the safe-house years, as Duo called
them. I deftly managed to turn the barbs in Duo’s direction, and they
were soon joking with him about his lack of culinary skills.
‘You would have lived off peanut butter and raisins,
if we had let you!’ Wufei grinned, waving a fork full of salmon for
‘Hey!’ Duo defended, ‘Protein and iron and
you didn’t have to cook it; what could be better?’
‘Heero’s lasagna.’ Quatre smirked, taking
a bite of the gooey stuff.
‘The salmon’s better.’ Duo grinned back.
Despite lasagna being one of Trowa and Quatre’s favorites, Duo and
Wufei had never been all that fond of it. Hence the two main courses.
Duo had settled down a little, was not quite so wound-like-a-cheap-watch
excited, but still radiated a glow of anticipation. I couldn’t help
but wonder again what he was up to.
We finished the meal, and the group of us started to clean
up the mess, just as we always did, but Duo waved us out of the kitchen.
‘Later. I’ll get it later. Come on.’
No one could argue with his oddly nervous smile, and we adjourned
to the living room without dispute. The music was still playing softly,
and the wine and wine glasses were sitting on the coffee table.
Trowa quirked a small smile at us. ‘What’s the
‘Damned if I know,’ I muttered and claimed my
corner of the couch before someone else took it.
Duo grinned at me and opened the bottle of wine, filling the
five glasses and setting the bottle back in the ice bucket. He nervously
cleared his throat, looking around at us with a strange uncertainty in his
‘Hmmm…’ he finally began. ‘I suppose
you all know about Misty asking us to be Godparents?’
Quatre couldn’t contain a burst of delighted laughter.
‘Of course we do, Duo! It’s all you’ve talked about for
Duo flushed and ducked his head, taking a small sip of his
‘Well,’ he seemed to be floundering a little,
searching for words. ‘I don’t figure that there’s going
to be…a whole lot of kids in our lives.’
I saw his eyes flick toward Wufei, but he didn’t start
the teasing, and I detected a hint of relief on Wufei’s face.
‘Not bloody likely,’ Trowa murmured, a strange
smirk on his face, glancing at his lover. Quatre blushed bright red.
Duo struggled gamely on and I watched him, not understanding
where this was going at all.
‘So I thought…that Misty’s kid was going
to probably be the closest I ever come to being involved …’
he hesitated and then began again. ‘Almost like being…an uncle.’
He was looking more into his wine glass than he was at us. ‘And you
guys are like…the only family I have…and…’
We were all silent, waiting for him to get it spit out, but
the words just stopped flowing. He finally looked up, meeting our eyes one
after the other.
‘Ah, hell…just let me show you.’ He sat
his glass down and went into the bedroom and when he returned, I recognized
the bundle in his arms. I hadn’t realized it was finished. He brought
the quilt around and spread it out over the chair, displaying it for all
to see, stepping aside without a word to get our reactions.
I rose to look closer. It was not at all what I had expected.
It was made in two pieces, the bottom two thirds, a traditional quilt. Silver
and white stars sprinkled across a field of the dark, silver-shot blue.
I repressed a smile. The stars were arrayed as I had laid them out that
first night on the coffee table; he had sewed them together in my pattern.
But the top third…it was made to look like a row of strange animals
were tucked under the quilt formed by the bottom part. In the center was
a great green, gold, and white dragon, wings spread wide across the width
of the quilt. Curling protectively around the other animals nestled in on
either side of it, its onyx eyes glittering fiercely. On it’s right,
there curled a great, brown bear, its head turned toward the form next to
it so that only one of its emerald eyes was visible. Beside him, tucked
inside the embrace of the bear, was a golden, blue-eyed hawk, feathers made
of a dozen shades of gold and brown and amber. On the left side of the dragon
there was a gray wolf and a black panther. Facing each other, but on a level,
their fore paws touching, gazing into each others eyes. The wolf had piercing
eyes of cobalt blue, and the panther, surprising eyes of amethyst. I had
not known you could paint with fabric.
‘Duo…’ I heard Quatre gasp. ‘It’s
I was still looking. I had just noticed the delicate Chinese
character for ‘honor’ stitched into the crest of the dragon.
The small gold cross embroidered around the neck of the panther. There was
not so much as a sliver of red anywhere in the entire quilt. I thought somehow
that might mean something. I thought that I could gaze at it all night and
not find all of the messages it held.
‘It…it’s…us!’ I heard Wufei
stutter, and was glad I had not had to point that out.
I turned to look at Duo, and he was beaming, trying to hide
his happy grin behind the wine glass, flushing faintly. I moved to stand
behind him, watching the others with him, my hands resting lightly on his
‘It’s incredible,’ I whispered to him, pleased
to see his blush deepen.
Trowa was leaning in to look closely at the field of stars
and suddenly exclaimed, ‘Look! The Gundams are in here!’ I had
to go look; I had missed it.
On closer inspection, we found that there was a subtle secondary
design that Duo called the ‘quilting’. It was an outline of
stitches that ran a broken path all over the quilt. Duo said it was necessary
to hold the layers together. All five Gundams were hidden in the field of
midnight blue, dancing between the silver stars. The hidden designs were
everywhere, and I could have stood there all night and searched for them.
A child, curling in the middle of it would have lain under
the protective sweep of the dragon’s wings, snuggled safe with the
wolf and panther on the one side, the bear and the hawk on the other. The
animals did not sleep, but were there…ever watchful.
I was enthralled. I was enchanted. I looked over at my lover,
heart swelling with pride, amazed once again at the depth of the man I was
in love with.
Trowa was glancing between Duo and the quilt, an odd grin
on his face.
‘This is truly beautiful work, Duo,’ he told him,
sounding no little astounded.
Wufei had been silent since pointing out who the quilt’s
subjects were, and I looked at him now. He looked dazed. I think he understood
what I was beginning to see, and he confirmed it when he suddenly set his
wine glass down and walked up to stand in front of Duo, eyes strangely bright.
‘Of course,’ he said to Duo, as though answering
a direct question. ‘Whatever is yours to protect is mine as well.’
I thought for a strange moment that both of them were going
to cry, but Duo settled for throwing his arms around Wufei’s neck
in a spontaneous tight hug that my partner returned in full. I heard a muttered,
‘Thank you,’ from Duo.
Quatre and Trowa understood the message the quilt was meant
to deliver then, and came to give their own reassurance of their support
of that message and got their own heart-felt embraces.
The rest of the evening went in a blur. We sprawled around
the living room, laughing together as we reminisced and finished our wine.
We were able, somehow, to remember only the good things and set the crap
aside for a golden evening together. It was truly like coming home. They
stayed until the small hours of the morning.
Sunday, I went out alone to the ‘Silver Threads’.
I spent an hour going through quilt books until I found the pattern I wanted.
I then exacted revenge on the clerks, by making them figure yardages for
me and I picked out my fabrics and had them cut the right amounts. When
I took my purchases to the car and glanced back, I didn’t see any
giggling. Maybe they were starting to get used to me. Good. I suspected
we were going to become regular customers here, Duo and I.
I found him fussing with wrapping the quilt. Just so, with
tissue paper and ribbons and the whole thing. He looked up when I walked
in, his face growing puzzled as he recognized the sack. He didn’t
ask, but waited for me to speak. I went around the couch and put the package
with the book and fabric in it down on the table beside him and pulled him
to his feet. I kissed him, long and deep, my hands on his back, pressing
his chest to mine. A perplexed smile played about his lips as I drew back,
and I whispered softly into his ear, ‘I don’t want any more
blankets on our bed.’
He blinked at me in surprise.
‘I want to sleep under something that you made with
your own hands.’ I smiled at him tenderly. I’m slow about these
things sometimes, but I usually get it eventually, ‘I want my own
And, as important, I wanted more of the puzzle pieces that
made up my Duo.
Go to Chapter Fourteen:Guardian
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