Disclaimers:  I don’t own anything.  Not the show, or any of its characters.

Notes:  Time to find out what Duo found to occupy his time.  Enjoy.



Valentine Blues



Part Two


Heero sat at the dining room table, his fingers tapping nervously on the surface.  He continually shifted his gaze from the dinner
set out on the table, to the door.  He was worried about Duo.  Although he knew that Duo could take care of himself if
anything arose, Heero was still worried about his health.  Duo still wasn’t back up to his normal strength after what had
transpired at Christmas.  He hoped that Duo wasn’t pushing himself too hard.

He lifted the lid on the casserole dish and looked in.  It was getting cold.  If Duo wasn’t back soon, he’d have to reheat it.  Or
maybe he should just put it away until Duo got back.  He wasn’t sure what to do.  

Once again, he looked to the door, as he placed the lid back on the casserole.  He rose to his feet, picking up the casserole as
he moved.  Before he had even straightened out, he heard the front door open.  Heero quickly turned and put the dish in the
microwave and set it to reheat the food.  Then he made his way out of the dining room and to the living room.

He smiled at the sight of Duo, seeing his lover nearly bouncing with energy, with the largest grin gracing his beautiful face.  
Duo ran over and pounced on him, hugging him fiercely and almost spinning them around in his apparent excitement.  Heero
wondered what had changed his lover’s mood, although he definitely didn’t mind this change.  It was good to see Duo happy
again.

“Have a good walk?”  Heero asked, smiling as he gently pushed Duo back.  He wanted to see Duo’s lovely eyes, to see the
happiness held within them.  He wasn’t disappointed.  That sparkle was back in Duo’s eyes, the one he had missed for so long
as Duo had been recovering.  

“Yeah!”  Duo laughed.  “I finally found something to do with my boring days.”

“Really?  And what would that be?”  Heero asked, lifting his hand and letting it trail along Duo’s beautiful features, caressing his
lovely cheek, then moving to brush a stray strand of hair back behind his ear.  He smiled, watching as Duo closed his eyes and
sighed, turning slightly toward Heero’s hand so that it brushed against his cheek once again.

Duo opened his eyes, staring deeply into Heero.  “I’m going to be volunteering at a hospital.”  He smiled, planting a tender kiss
to Heero’s lips.

“That’s wonderful, Duo.”  He replied, once Duo pulled back.  “I’m happy for you.”

“Yeah, it’s so great.  I don’t know where they’re going to put me yet.  But it really doesn’t matter.  As long as I’m doing
something useful.”  Duo said, still smiling brightly.

“Are you hungry?  I made dinner.”  Heero stated, hearing the timer on the microwave going off.

Duo nodded eagerly.  “I’m starved!”  He grabbed Heero’s hand, pulling him into the dinning room.

Heero went to retrieve dinner, setting it out on the table again.  Then the two of them sat down for their dinner.  Heero smiled
up at his energetic lover every now and then, just glad to see that Duo was happy once again.


*****


The next morning, Duo woke up early, not wanting to be late for his first day of work.  Heero kissed him goodbye, after
arranging to meet for lunch somewhere.  Duo smiled, feeling intensely happy and excited as he nearly skipped from the house
and all the way to work.  The hospital wasn’t that far away, so he could just walk.  Soon after he had arrived, he was
introduced to a nurse that showed him around a little.

“Why don’t you take a look around the hospital, Mr. Maxwell?  We’re really short of volunteers lately due to the flu bug going
around.  See if there’s any place you feel comfortable.”  The nurse smiled.

Duo nodded and looked around.  ‘Comfortable?  I never have been comfortable in a hospital, and I doubt I ever will be.’  He
smiled a  little.  ‘This isn’t for my comfort, though.  It’s for the comfort of the people who are stuck here.  I, at least, can
leave when I want to.’

While wandering around, the sound of a child crying caught his eyes.  Without knowing why, he followed the sound to a little
girl sitting all alone on a hospital bed.  “Hey . . . what’s wrong, little lady?”

“My mommy hates me!”  Then she sobbed harder.

Duo frowned at that.  He couldn’t see any bruises, but the child was very thin.  “What makes you say that?”

The girl sniffled.  “B-because she left me all alone!”

Someone tapped on Duo’s shoulder and he turned to see a nurse.  The woman smiled and motioned for Duo to move way
from the door.

“Her mother was a twenty-year-old who had just lost her job.  The girl brought her daughter in for a simple sprain and then
contacted child welfare herself.  The poor girl . . . she had TRIED raising her alone, but she felt that her daughter deserved
better than to live in an alley where she wouldn’t know when her next meal would be.”  The nurse bit her lip.  “Of course, that
poor baby only knows that her mommy left her.  She doesn’t know that someone’s already filled out the forms to take her in,
nor will she listen to us.”

Duo nodded.  “I'll see if I can talk to her.”

The nurse looked dubious.  “No one has been able to make her understand.”

Duo winked.  “I’ll make her understand.”  With that, he went back into the room and stepped over to the distressed child.  
“Hey . . . what’s your name?”

“Laurel.”  She sniffled, rubbing her teary eyes with one hand.  “What’s yours?”

Duo shrugged and sat in a chair by the bed.  “Dunno my real name.  I’ve been calling myself Duo since I was . . . oh . . .
about seven, I think.”  He shrugged again.  “I say ‘think’ because I really don’t know my age.  I GUESS I’m about 18.”

The child looked at him curiously . . . her sorrow apparently forgotten.  “Why didn’t your mommy name you?”

Duo gave her a half-hearted smile.  “She probably did, but she went away when I was very little.  I don’t remember her
anymore.  I got my name from a friend.  He called himself Solo.  When he went away, I just started calling myself Duo.”  He
propped his elbow on Laurel’s bed, resting his chin in his hand as he smiled at her.  “You know . . . you’re really lucky.  You
know your real name.  You probably know when your birthday is and how old you are.  AND, you have some nice people who
will take care of you now that your mommy can’t.”

Laurel gave Duo a look.  “Weren’t the people who took care of you nice?”

Duo shook his head.  “I took care of myself most of the time.  I was all alone for a really long time.”  He pushed an auburn
lock of the child’s hair away from her face, tucking it back behind her ear.  “Your mommy doesn’t hate you.  She just . . . had
no choice.  I’m sure she misses you very, very much.  Sometimes . . . mommies go away.  Not because they want to,
though.  I’m sure that if my mommy had a choice, she would’ve stayed with me.”

Laurel nodded.  “You still alone?”

Duo shook his head and smiled.  “No . . . I’m not.  Someone looks after me now.  Someone who loves me just as much as I
love him.”

“That’s good.”  She smiled.

A nurse walked in.  “Laurel, time for you to eat.”  The woman said, smiling softly as she brought a tray of food in.  She set the
tray down and arranged the table over the bed for the girl to be able to reach it better.

“Well, I better get going.”  Duo grinned, brushing his fingers through her hair once again.  

“You gonna visit me again, right?”  Laurel asked, looking up at him expectantly.  

“Every day until you leave, if you want.”  Duo replied.

Laurel’s smile grew even brighter.  “I’d like that.”

Duo turned and left the room, waving once to the little girl before he departed.  He was stopped in the hall by a nurse, the same
nurse who had showed him around before.

“That was very kind of you, Mr. Maxwell.”  She said.

“Please, call me Duo.  And it really was no trouble.  She just needed someone to help her understand what’s going on.”  He
replied.

“I think you’ll work out well here, Duo.”  She smiled.  “How would you like to work here in the Children’s Ward, help keep
the kids entertained and some other small jobs?”

“I’d love that!”  Duo exclaimed, glad that he had found a place where he could actually be of help.  Children needed help, they
needed to be cheered up. Who better to do that than Duo, the jokester who could pretend to be happy when inside, his soul
was shattering?  At least he wasn’t so depressed now, so he really wasn’t pretending anymore.  He smiled to himself, but all
too soon that smile faded, as he thought back on the conversation with Laurel.


*****


Duo walked home that night, his mind repeatedly going over the conversation he had with Laurel that day.  It had disturbed him
far more than he had thought it would, his own past returning to haunt him once again.  His mother . . . he couldn’t remember
her.  He had been alone, so alone almost all of his life.  His own name was a mystery to him.

He hadn’t even known he had walked through the door of the house, until a pair of arms encircled him, drawing him closer to a
pleasant warmth.  Unconsciously, Duo lashed out, throwing his arms around Heero’s body as he began to cry.  He didn’t even
know why he was crying, why he felt so bad.  It wasn’t like his life had suddenly changed.  He had dealt with this pain
before.  Why did it hurt so much now?

“Duo . . . Duo, what’s wrong?”  Heero asked, concerned, his breath brushing across Duo’s ear, causing him to shiver slightly
in reaction.

Duo swallowed before replying.  “I love you . . . so much!  I don’t know what I’d do without you.”  He said, clutching even
tighter to Heero’s strong body.

“What?  Duo?  Duo . . . look at me!”  Heero’s face was full of concern as he pulled back to look into Duo’s eyes.  “What
brought this on so suddenly?  Did something happen?  Has someone threatened you in any way?”

Duo shook his head, unable to put it into words.  “I . . . I was just thinking, that’s all.”  He sniffled miserably.  “I was alone for
so long, Heero . . . I couldn’t bear being alone again.”

Heero’s eyes filled with understanding as he pulled Duo close to him.  “Sshh . . . It’s all right, Duo.  I’m not going to leave
you.”

Duo nodded, burying his face against Heero’s shoulder as he tried to stifle his tears.  “Sorry for acting like this.”  He
whimpered.

“No, it’s okay.  Don’t be sorry for shedding tears.”  Heero replied, gently rubbing slow circles across Duo’s back, trying to
soothe him.  “Maybe we should just skip dinner though and just go to bed.  I think you need the rest.”

Duo sniffled.  “Okay.”  He said, agreeing with his lover.  To be honest he did feel tired, very tired.  Despite how strong he had
gotten since Christmas, he still wasn’t used to doing much.  All that work at the hospital had just worn him out.  


*****


A blurred image of a young woman brushed her long dark hair.  He couldn’t quite see her face, couldn’t make out any detail of
her features, other than that gorgeous hair of hers.  But he knew that she was his mother.  She turned to him, laying her brush
down on the table.  “My little man.”  She smiled, her voice melodious to his ears.

He giggled as his mother picked him up, holding him in the air and spinning around.  He did love her, more than anyone or
anything else he knew.  She was all that mattered to him, the only thing in his world as far as he was concerned.

Then everything erupted in fire and smoke, the air around him becoming difficult to breathe.  He coughed, his mother’s warm
arms bringing him toward her body and holding him close.  She ran, carrying him through their home, which seemed darker
than ever before, except for the bright orange and crimson flames that devoured the walls, climbing up to creep across the
ceiling above them.

“Mama!”  He cried, closing his eyes as tightly as he could, afraid of what was happening.  He bunched his hands in her dress,
holding onto her with as much strength as he had in his small hands.  Those loud crashes and bangs frightened him.  He didn’t
know what was going on, couldn’t understand why those men were fighting out there, why those metal giants swarmed the
streets outside what remained of their home.

“Hush, baby. It’s okay.  We’re getting out of here.”  Mother replied, her voice wavering as she covered his head with her
hand, trying to protect him.

Then suddenly, an immense bang echoed through the night air.  The little boy cringed, holding tighter to his mother as heat
spread around him, suffocating him in its intensity.  He opened his eyes, only to see a bright reddish-orange light surround him
and his mother.  The last thing reaching him before darkness fell, was the sound of his mother screaming, of her pulling him
away from herself and shoving him into an alley, underneath some fallen debris.

When he opened his eyes, everything was quiet.  He struggled out of his hiding place.  Looking down, he saw that his clothes
were tattered and filthy.  “Mama?”  He called out, fear creeping into his heart when he saw that he was alone.  There was no
answer to his cry.

“Mama?”  He called again.  And again, there was no reply.  He curled himself into a ball, laying down on his side as he began
whimpering, crying for his mother, wondering why she had left him all alone, why she had abandoned him there.


*****


Heero rolled over in his sleep, feeling that something was very wrong.  He opened his eyes, sitting up as he heard a strange
sound that he knew didn’t belong in his house.  Once he focused on Duo, he knew what that sound was.  Duo was
whimpering, choked up sobs escaping his throat as he slept.

Duo was sleeping on his side, curled in on himself, his arms so tightly clutching his own body that he was leaving dark, red
impressions on his skin.  Tears marred his face, which was caught in a grimace of pain, while he whimpered quietly.

Heero reached out, laying his hand on Duo’s shoulder.  He softly shook his lover, trying to rouse him as gently as possible.  
“Duo?”  He whispered, hoping that he was doing the right thing by awakening him.

Duo snapped awake, his eyes momentarily remaining unfocused.  Soon though, he saw Heero, and reached out, pulling Heero
to him and clutching as tightly as he could manage.  Heero put up no fight, just wanting to comfort the beautiful American that
he loved.

“Duo . . . It was just a bad dream . . . It’ll be okay.”  Heero hushed, trying to calm Duo.

“No . . .”  Duo replied, sobbing more strongly now, his tears dripping onto Heero’s bare skin.  “It wasn’t a dream.  It was a
memory.”  He sobbed again, coughing as he struggled to take in a breath.  “God, Heero . . . I remembered my mother.  I
remember how she died.”

Heero swore softly to himself.  He had no idea what to say to Duo.  “Do you want me to call Quatre or Wufei?  They’d be
better at comfort than I am in this particular instance.”  He didn’t really WANT to disturb Quatre or Wufei . . . Wufei had
contacted him earlier in a foul mood . . . something about Hilde . . . and Quatre was probably either asleep at this hour, or in the
middle of something that Heero did not want to interrupt.  He’d do it though, if Duo said it would make him feel better.

Duo shook his head.  “Just . . . hold me.  Better yet . . . make me forget again.”  He whispered, letting his hand trail lower on
Heero’s body in a suggestive caress.

Heero groaned, grabbing that hand and lifting it to his lips so that he could press a soft kiss to the back of it.  “No . . . never
when you’re unhappy, love.  It wouldn’t help.”  With that said, he laid down, pulling Duo down along with him, then
repositioned Duo so that his head rested over Heero’s heart.  “Just relax, Duo.  I’ve got you.”

Duo nodded against him, sniffling as he wiped a hand across his teary eyes.  Soon though, he became quiet, and Heero took a
glance down, smiling to see that Duo had fallen into a peaceful slumber.  He closed his own eyes, briefly tightening his hold
around Duo before he allowed himself to drift off to sleep.



To Be Continued . . .