Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Heero has a nightmare.  Duo wakes up to a new day.



Valentine Blues



Part Thirteen


Heero awoke with a start, his heart hammering wildly in his chest.  It took every ounce of willpower that he possessed to keep
himself from even gasping for breath as his mind snapped into reality from the nightmare he had been having.  He took a quick
glance over at Duo and felt a tiny amount of relief that he hadn't awakened his lover.  Duo's nightmares, Heero knew he could
help with because there had been a time in Duo's life when Duo had been innocent and happy.  He'd been a child for a brief
time before life had decided to mess things up.  

Heero didn't have that luxury though.  His earliest memories were of being trained with Odin Lowe.  He looked down at his
trembling hands and could still feel the powerful kick of the rocket launcher he had used as a small boy against a mobile suit
not one hundred feet away from him.  He could see the blood of Odin Lowe, his first teacher, and the blood of countless
others.  So many had died in these past few years, so many lives that Heero’d had a hand in ending.

Flashes of memories, the reminders of the countless lives lost to him, made him feel a need to flee.  He had to move, to leave
before he unintentionally awoke his lover.  Being careful and pressing a gentle kiss to Duo's temple in reassurance, Heero
slipped from the bed and headed toward the one place he could still call his sanctuary from reality - his studio.  Normally, he'd
sketch, draw or paint the images that haunted him.  For some reason the images that ripped him from sleep were more vivid to
him.  Painting was a way to vent his horrors, to try and work his way through the pain of his memories.  Usually it was
enough to push them back temporarily.  If Heero had anything to say about it, Duo would never know of these nightmares.  He
had to be strong for Duo, and now for the sake of their children as well.  He wouldn't burden them with his problems.

With shaking and sweaty hands, Heero set a blank piece of canvas on the easel.  He made a quick and very rough sketch,
though he could still see in his mind the things that haunted him.  These paintings were the ones he never sold, let alone showed
to anyone.  He would never let these images out of his control.  He'd hide the painting once it was finished so Duo would never
see it.

With a precision that had carried him through many mobile suit battles, Heero set up his palette of paints and chose a brush.  
Taking a deep breath, he began to work.


*****


Duo felt the first draw of wakefulness beckoning to him.  He shifted in bed, drawing his arm out across the bed, seeking out
the warm body that should have been beside him.  When he found nothing but the cold bedding, he frowned and fought to
blink his eyes open.  "Heero?" he spoke while yawning, his brow furrowing in confusion.  Just where had Heero gone to?

He pushed himself up, running his fingers over his eyes.  Heero was nowhere to be seen.  He wondered where his lover had
gone.  With a shrug, he swung his legs out of bed and got up.  He'd much rather lie about for a little while, but he didn't like
waking up alone.  It left him feeling nervous.  He knew Heero wouldn't leave him without a damn good reason though.

Duo got up and grabbed a robe.  He shoved his arms into it and let it hang haphazardly as he left the bedroom with a tired
stagger.  Contrary to what most of his friends thought, Duo was not a morning person.  He liked sleeping late.  Usually, when
he had to wake up this early, it took at least two cups of coffee before he felt like a human being.  So, with the intention of
starting a pot of coffee, he went to the kitchen.

He worked on pure instinct as he started to brew a pot.  Once he had a cup in his hand, he inhaled and smiled at the scent.  
Slowly he sipped at the hot liquid, enjoying fully the bitter taste of it.  He preferred his coffee black though most people
assumed he poured heaps of sugar into it.  Contrary to belief, Duo didn't like everything to taste sickeningly sweet.  Some
things were just better with their natural flavor.

Solo wandered in as Duo was enjoying a second cup.  "Mornin'," he yawned, climbing up onto a chair.

Duo smiled, walking over and setting a hand on Solo's head.  "You're up awfully early," he commented, nearly chuckling as
Solo lay his head down on his arms and began to doze off.  "You okay?"

Solo's words were a weary whisper.  "I wanna help get the house ready for my sister."  He yawned again.  "When are we
gonna go get her?”

Duo chuckled and started getting a bowl of cereal ready for the boy.  "We can't get the house ready for her in one day.  It'll
take a day or two for Heero to paint her room."

Solo yawned again and mumbled softly.  "She can share my room if she wants to.”

Duo smiled at the boy and placed the bowl of cereal and a glass of juice down on the table.  It didn't take long for the boy to
start eating.  "Well, then . . . it's all a matter of when the hospital will release her into our custody.  And also whether or not she
wants to be a member of this family."

Solo frowned as he looked up from his food.  "Why wouldn't she?"  His tone conveyed that anyone not wanting Duo or Heero
as their parents was just plain nuts.

The long-haired man shrugged.  "There are lots of reasons.  The decision has to be hers."

Solo pouted a little, obviously not really satisfied with the answer.  Anything he was about to say, however, was cut off when
Heero stumbled in.

Duo frowned at the sight of his lover.  "What time did you get up?  You look exhausted!"  He sighed and regarded Heero for a
moment.  Heero honestly looked like a zombie.  It was obvious he had spent however long he had been awake painting, as there
were flecks of color all over his pajama bottoms, not to mention his chest.  His fingers were covered in paint - Duo knew that
Heero sometimes used his hands instead of his brushes when he felt he needed to.  And there was even a smear of crimson
across his cheek.  As cute as he was being so unusually messy, Duo couldn't help but be worried.  Heero hadn't been there
when Duo had woken up, meaning he'd gotten up quite early.  And by the look of those bags under Heero's eyes, he had been
up a while.

He shook his head as Heero started to walk across the room.  "You should go back to bed and get some sleep."  He crossed his
arms over his chest.  "After you get a shower.  You're filthy."

Heero grunted and walked over to the coffeepot.  He must really be tired, Duo decided.  Heero hated coffee; the taste, the
smell.  Simply put Heero despised coffee.  The scent alone made him feel sick to his stomach.

"No," Heero said, rubbing the fingers of one hand across his eyes.  Thankfully, he used the hand that didn't have paint all over
it. "I want to go tell Laurel the good news."  He poured himself a mug of the brew and proceeded to sip at it, making a face
each time which clearly dictated how much he loathed it touching his tongue.

"Heero, if you don't like it, don't force yourself to drink it," Duo said, gently prying the mug from Heero's grasp.  "I can make
you some breakfast, if you want."

Heero shrugged.  "I don't want you to go through a lot of trouble.  I'm not all that hungry."

Solo set his spoon in his bowl and held it out to Heero.  "You can have the rest of mine.  I'm used to not having much."

Duo felt a twinge in his heart as Solo's words brought back his own memories of being cold, hungry and alone.  It hadn't even
been all that long ago.  Just a few short months since he had been ready to give everything up.  He shook his head, casting
away the old memories and fears.  "Solo, finish your breakfast."  He turned to Heero and drank the coffee he had taken from
his tired lover.  "If you won't eat, then neither will I."  He hated resorting to such tactics, but he knew it would work.

Heero glared silently for a moment before he sighed.  "Fine, but just toast.  Really, I'm not hungry."

Smiling proudly, Duo set the mug on the counter.  "Good.  While I make your breakfast, you can go have a shower."  He
leaned forward and kissed Heero's cheek.  "Though you look really cute all splattered with paint."

Heero looked down at himself and sighed.  "I didn't think to look in the mirror," he said, examining the mix of colors tainting his
fingers.

Duo chuckled.  "Heero, love, you know better than I do that you never escape one of your painting bouts unscathed."  Then his
smile fell, his worry returning to the forefront.  "Really, Heero, if you're too tired to remember, then I would rather you relax a
while and try to get more sleep.  We can go to the hospital later."

Heero shook his head.  "I'd rather not wait.  I really want to see Laurel and her reaction."  He gave Duo a tired smile.  "She
thinks the world of you."  With that said, he turned and trudged out the door.

Biting his lip, Duo sighed and went about starting the toast.  He would rather Heero get a little more sleep, but he knew that
when Heero set his mind on something there was really no way of talking him out of it.  Duo would just have to make sure that
he was the one driving, and not Heero.  It wasn't that he didn't trust Heero’s ability to drive even when completely exhausted.  
Heero had piloted his mobile suit under worse physical conditions.  Duo just didn't see the need to make someone as tired as
Heero drive a vehicle when Duo was perfectly capable of doing it himself.

Solo's young voice piped up, a shadow of worry seeping into his tone.  "He doesn't look so good.  He looks like you did the day
you left me the money."

Thinking back on that night, Duo frowned.  He nodded, agreeing.  "I think that's a fair assessment.  I'll try to keep him in bed
when we get home, though I'm pretty sure he'll want to get right to working on Laurel's room."  He suddenly smiled a little.  
"You're coming with us, right?"

The young boy beamed brightly and nodded.  "Yeah!  I wanna meet my new little sister!"

"Then you'd better get dressed and make sure your room is clean.  If Laurel does come home today, I want the house nice for
her."

"Okay!"  Now completely awake, and full of energy, Solo scrambled out of his seat and scurried off.

Duo chuckled as he watched his son run off.  He picked up Solo's bowl of mostly eaten cereal and put it in the sink, deciding
to take care of the cleaning up later.  He wanted the house nice, but he wasn't about to go out of his mind over every little
detail.  As long as Solo's room was clean - since Laurel would be staying in there with him for a while - then he was happy.  
All of the rest of the rooms were kept clean.  Heero was pretty adamant about tidiness.  Duo didn't mind a clean house, but
Heero was almost a neat freak, except for when he was painting.  

Thinking of Heero left Duo worried for his lover.  With a soft sigh, he set off for their bedroom.  As he approached, he could
hear the shower running, so he knew Heero was in the bathroom.  Without knocking, Duo went through their bedroom and
entered the adjoining bathroom.  He saw Heero's silhouette on the shower curtain and knew by his posture that he was
exhausted.  Though he'd already known that by having seen him only moments ago.  Crossing the room, Duo drew the curtain
aside and looked in, biting his lip against the worry that seemed to consume him at the sight he found.  Heero was leaning
forward against the wall of the shower, his head resting against his forearm.  The water cascaded over him, hitting his back
and running down his body.

Duo sighed as he noticed that Heero's eyes were closed.  He debated with himself, wanting to just guide his lover back to bed.  
He couldn't, and wouldn't, do that to Heero, though.  He respected Heero far too much to do something so underhanded.  So he
simply leaned against the wall and cleared his throat, smiling sadly when Heero blinked open his eyes to look at him.  "Hey
there, gorgeous."

Heero gave Duo a confused look for a moment before his face cleared.  "Yeah ... yeah, just give me a moment," he said,
running his hand down over his face.  He reached forward and turned the water off.

Without taking his eyes off of Heero, Duo reached to the side and grabbed a towel.  He held it out to his tired lover.  "I just
want to make one thing understood.  As soon as we get home, I want you in bed.  Laurel's room can wait a while.  Solo's
already offered to let her stay in his room.  He's so excited about being a big brother.  And I know you won't do your best job
at the painting if you're dead on your feet."  He smiled tenderly as Heero grabbed the towel and slowly started to dry himself
off.  "Plus, you wouldn't want me to make myself sick with worry, would you?"

Heero grunted softly, not pausing in his actions.  "Emotional blackmail should be against the law."

Duo chuckled.  "Maybe.  But you'd worry if you were me and I were the one about to fall asleep in the shower."  He gently
slapped Heero's bare shoulder.  "Come on, your toast is probably done by now."

Heero sighed as he started to dress in clothes he had left sitting on top of the small space of counter by the sink.  "I'm really not
all that hungry ... really."

Duo tugged Heero into a hug, his damp hair brushing against Duo's cheek.  "Bad night?"  When Heero nodded absently, Duo
rubbed his back.  "Restless?  Or a bad dream?"

Heero was quiet for a moment, and then sighed again.  "I get nights like this from time to time.  I'll be fine."

The longhaired former pilot was not happy with Heero's response, but decided against pressing the matter.  Heero wasn't in any
fit shape for an argument.  "Okay, but if you ever need, or even want, to talk ... you know you can come to me, right?"  He
kissed Heero soundly and turned from him.  "Since it looks like I have a couple minutes while you dress, I'll whip us up some
scrambled eggs."

"Duo ..." Heero started, but Duo wouldn't let him finish.

"No.  You need to eat, Heero.  Skipping too many meals isn't healthy."

Heero blinked.  "It's only one meal, Duo.  I've gone without breakfast before."

Duo shook his head.  "Yeah, but you won't be getting any lunch today.  There's no way you're getting out of bed today until
I'm sure you're thoroughly rested.  So I'd be happier if you ate something now, even if it is just a little."

The Japanese man closed his eyes, his fingers fumbling with the buttons on his shirt.  "How about I just eat more for dinner?"

Duo sighed.  He reached out and took over buttoning his lover's shirt.  He left the top few buttons undone, then stretched his
hands up to sift his fingers in Heero's hair.  "Your hair's still wet," he commented idly.  "You'd better eat a lot at dinner.  If
Laurel comes home today, you don't want her worrying, do you?"

"That's low, Duo," Heero frowned.

"No, it's called honesty.  If she does come home with us, I don't want her to be anything but happy.  She deserves to be happy
after all the crap she's been through.  So does Solo.  And so do we."  He pressed a chaste kiss to Heero's cheek.  "Go on and
get some laundry started while I get dressed.  And eat your toast."

Heero smirked, then rubbed his eyes with his fingers.  "Where's Solo right now?"

"Cleaning his room and getting dressed.  We'll all be ready to get going in a few minutes," Duo answered.

"All right," Heero replied.  He brushed his fingers across Duo's cheek, and then eased away from him, leaving the room and
heading off to hopefully do what Duo had said.  

Duo watched him leave, and couldn't help but worry.  Heero was exhausted, Duo could see that clearly.  He didn't like that
Heero was still up and about.  He should be in bed resting.  But Duo also knew that Heero could be a stubborn jackass when he
wanted to be.  Duo would just have to make sure Heero got the sleep he needed once they got home.



To Be Continued ...