I feel like some sort of psycho stalker, standing here like
this. I'm not even sure why I came. I guess I just can't quite believe how...
normal Duo has become. How... not like I am. I've been wandering for so
long, and while I was away, my fellow pilots have made lives. While I was
floundering, they moved on. While I was off trying to 'find myself'... they
seem to have figured it all out.
It seems so strange somehow that Duo Maxwell owns a house... And not just
any house, but a very nice, well-kept, little house with all manner of personal
touches, like the bright roses on either side of the front steps. Like the
elaborate birdhouse hanging outside a side window. It all just seems so...
not to beleaguer a phrase, but… normal .
Is it obsessive for me to be standing in his front yard, hiding in the shadows?
Does it seem like stalkerish behavior that I am practically holding my breath
in hopes that I'll catch a glimpse of him?
It does to me. I feel like a total fool, but I can't seem to help myself.
Somehow in the last couple of months, I figured out that finding myself
might not be so damned easy alone. And not at all attractive. I guess I
just came to assume that some things would always be there, and somewhere
between the Grand Canyon and the St. Louis arch, I started to fear that
wasn't so. Started to appreciate that I could lose things I only half understood
the importance of. It wasn’t exactly a panic attack that drove me
back to this city I’d left behind all those months ago… more
like an epiphany.
I think I only came to this place to see with my own eyes that Duo was...
‘all right’ is too strong a term, implying that I thought something
had befallen him; when the truth was just that I wanted to see him.
I can’t even begin to describe how I feel when the door to his house
opens and the man himself steps outside. I freeze, and just watch as he
moves without care into the night air.
He is very much a man now. He's grown taller, broader in the shoulder. Gone
are the church clothes of his youth, and it is almost a surprise to see
him wearing something besides black. Odd to see the pale shirt blowing loosely
around him. Almost surreal to watch him pad barefoot across his porch.
He looks good. Content. Happy.
It crosses my mind that I should go, but I'm afraid he'll see me if I move.
He pauses to pull a bloom from the bush by the steps before sitting on those
steps and looking around as though seeking something. I hold my breath,
suddenly not so sure of my hiding place in the shadow of the tree in his
He lifts the rose to his nose and seems to breathe in the scent, and when
he lowers it again, there is an oddly affectionate little smile on his lips.
'Come on, Heero,' he calls, his voice sounding gentle and almost cajoling.
'It's late; come on now... I'm ready to call it a night.'
I am shocked and chagrined and horrified and relieved and caught so totally
off guard that I just stare at him for a moment. He isn’t looking
at me, just staring off into the dark, so I’m not sure he knows exactly
where I am. How had he known? Had he sensed eyes on him? It would make sense…
he was a soldier as much as I, but how had he known it was me?
‘Come on,’ he calls softly, sounding for all the world like
he’s gentling some wild animal. ‘It’s time to come in.’
It chills me, hearing him say that. It’s time. Time to come in. To
come in out of the dark. I shiver and find myself stepping forward. ‘How…
how did you know I was here?’ I ask softly.
He freezes as still as a stone, the rose he’d been twirling between
his fingers ceasing its dance. It confirms that I’d been right that
he hadn’t known exactly where I was standing.
It takes him a long moment before he speaks again. ‘Heero?’
he finally asks, suddenly not sounding so sure of himself. I suppose I am
something of a shock; I’ve grown a bit myself, and my hair needs cutting…
falling past my collar in the back. I suppose I don’t look much like
the youth he would remember.
‘It’s me,’ I assure him and come a little bit closer,
drawn like a damn moth to the flame of his obviously bright life.
I want to say a million things, torn between telling him all the places
I’ve been and asking him about what he’s been doing. I want
to tell him how wise he seems here in this place he’s made for himself.
I want to tell him how I envy him.
God… I’d gone looking for the answers to questions I hadn’t
half understood, and here Duo was… forging his own answers. Asking
his own questions.
I feel so damn naïve next to him, humbled by his so casually calling
me in from the dark… by his opening his door without questioning where
in the hell I’ve been for the last year. I feel hesitant and odd,
still hearing the calm command in his voice as he’d called out to
me. I’m almost overcome with the urge to ask him to help me…
to guide me. Instead, I open my mouth and the best I can manage is, ‘It’s
good to see you, Duo.’
He stands up, his disconcertion rather plain, and almost automatically brushes
a hand over the seat of his pants. ‘It’s… good to see
you too, Heero.’
I find myself drawn forward; there’s just something about seeing him
there in the puddle of dim light that falls across the porch from the house,
that makes me feel cold even on such a warm night.
I feel his eyes take me in, running over me as though he can read every
moment of my time away on my skin. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t
ask me where I’ve been, as one would expect. I’m somehow warmed,
that he doesn’t need to know.
‘Uh… nice night?’ he asks, his voice giving an odd little
hitch and I can’t help but smile as he offers me this easy conversation.
These words that don’t pressure me… don’t push me for
‘It’s a wonderful night,’ I reply, trying to tell him
that I understand what he’s saying to me.
He doesn’t immediately reply, and while we just stare at each other,
I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. I turn to watch a scruffy
orange cat saunter unconcernedly up and begin twining between Duo’s
legs. He had been so focused on me, that he glances down with no little
surprise. ‘Well, there you are… cat,’ he says, and leans
down to pick the creature up.
It murrs plaintively and Duo chuckles. It makes my chest feel odd. Duo…
with a pet. It brings into sharp focus just how long I’ve been away.
The cat is a scruffy one; both ears notched and a scar over one eye. It
gives it a surly appearance. But it butts its head up under Duo’s
chin when he scratches it behind one of those battered ears. I am moved
to touch it, and Duo gives me a quirk of a grin.
‘Careful… he bites sometimes.’
‘Why would you choose a pet that bites?’ I hear myself ask,
a little appalled at myself, but Duo only smiles.
‘Well, I didn’t exactly pick him,’ he explains. ‘He’s
There is that strange feeling in my chest again and I look at him intently.
There are so many different kinds of strays. I don’t know what to
say, the tightness in my chest extending to my throat and making it too
hard to speak anyway. I touch the cat and he doesn’t bite.
Duo is looking at me, his face too shadowed for me to really see his eyes,
but I have this feeling that he is weighing and measuring. That there isn’t
a bit of me that he can’t see.
‘Heero…’ he begins, and the cat and I both look at him.
‘Would you like to come in? I can… make us some tea or something?’
I can’t not speak again in the face of such an offer. In the face
of him opening his home and his life to me. ‘Yes,’ I tell him,
knowing my voice is tight, accepting all he is offering.
He nods faintly, giving me that penetrating look again. ‘Uh; ok then…
buddy,’ he tells me, sparing the cat a glance. ‘Let’s
Buddy. The last of my hesitation fades with his admission that I am still
that. After all this time, after all the miles… we’re still
His easy acceptance is humbling.
I follow Duo and his cat into their normal little home, and I think that
I’m very glad I came.
Fiction : GW :