Disclaimers:  I still own nothing.

Notes:  Here’s the last part.  Enjoy.

Christmas Memories
Part 11

Heero sat in a chair, watching over Duo.  He had been there for days.  Now it was Christmas morning, and still Duo hadn’t
fully come out of it.  He was still lying there, only awakening when someone shook him so that they could get something into
his system.  And if he did wake up on his own, it was only to moan in pain, suffering from withdrawal due to the amount of
alcohol he had been consuming for so long.

Wufei still hadn’t returned.  But Heero was more concerned about Duo than Wufei.  He knew that Wufei could take care of
himself so there was no need to worry about him.

Heero looked down at his book, finished a page.  Then he glanced at Duo, then turned the page.  This was how it went.  Every
few seconds he would look up at Duo, hoping to see him awake.

Duo shifted in his sleep and groaned, weakly.

Heero stood, one of the Maguanacs stepping over to offer his assistance.  “Could you bring me some soup?”  Heero asked

Heero sat on the edge of the bed as Duo blinked his eyes open.  “What?”  He asked, groggily.

“Duo?  You feel up to drinking some soup?”  Heero asked.

“Okay.”  Duo replied.

A moment later, a mug of soup was pressed into Heero’s hand.  He smiled up at the man, then watched as he left.  Then he
turned back to the American, pulling Duo up against him so that he could drink.  “Slowly, now.”  Heero said.

“What happened?”  Duo asked, as he took a breath between sips.

“You really don’t remember?”  Heero asked.  He waited as Duo paused and shook his head.  “You tried to kill yourself.”

“Oh, Really?”  Duo said, frowning as he looked down at his bandage-covered wrists.  “I don’t remember.”  He groaned,
resting his head against Heero’s shoulder.  “I feel like crap!”

“Well, I wouldn’t doubt that.  You haven’t been taking care of yourself.”  Heero said, setting the mug on a nearby table.

“I’m sorry.”  Duo mumbled, still sounding tired.

Heero slowly turned Duo to face him.  “No . . . I’m the one who should apologize.  For the past few months, I’ve been trying
to work up the nerve to call you and talk to you.  I’d think I could, then hear your voice . . . and I couldn’t go through with it.”

“Wish I’d known.”  Duo said, a little more awake.  “So, what happened?  I don’t remember anything past asking Wufei if he
would call me by my first name for once.”

“I’ll tell you later.”  Heero replied, thinking that this would be a perfect time to give Duo his Christmas present.  “Right now . .
. I have a present for you.  I was hoping you’d wake up by today.”  He pulled a box out of his pocket and handed it to Duo.

“Why?  What’s today?”  He asked as he started unwrapping the present.

As Duo worked on tearing off the paper, Heero picked him up.  “It’s Christmas Day.  You’ve been swimming in and out of
consciousness for the past few days.”

He carried Duo up the stairs and stopped outside a door.  He looked down at Duo, and smiled at the puzzled expression on the
American’s face as he stared at the ring box he held.

Duo opened the box and pulled out a key and a note.  He read the note aloud, although Heero already knew what it said.  “Duo  
. . . you hold the key to the room that contains my heart’s desire.  Find the room and find the object of my affection.”  Then
Duo frowned a little.  “Is Relena here?”

Heero chuckled. “No  . . . I can’t stand her.”  Heero set Duo down on the floor, letting him stand on his own, although Heero’s
arms remained firmly around him to keep him upright.  “Inside this room is your real present.”

Duo put the key in the lock and turned it, turning the handle as well.  The door opened and Duo and Heero stepped into the
darkened room.  Heero without glancing, reached over and switched on the lights.

“What the . . . ?”  Duo gasped, his eyes widening.

Heero looked at what Duo was seeing, at one of the paintings he had brought with him, one of his own paintings.  This was the
only one he had set up, while the rest remained in the crates they had been packed in.  Those crates now stood by a wall near
the door.  At the moment, Duo was staring at the one Heero had entitled, “The Object of My Affection.”

It had taken Heero a long time . . . longer than any of the other paintings because of the subject.  It was a portrait of Duo,
painted solely from Heero’s memory of him.  The image’s face was a little melancholy . . . as if lost in thought, but with a
small smile on its face.  The image of Duo was wearing the priest garb that was his signature outfit.  All in all . . . the image
stood as if patiently waiting for something.

Heero remembered catching Duo looking like that once . . . amusedly patient . . . and it was the look Duo’d had on his face
when Heero realized that he was in love with the normally jovial American.

“What’s this?”  Duo asked, sounding bewildered.

“My art show just ended.”  He gestured to the crates by the door.  “Almost all of my paintings are going to be shipped.”  He
pointed to the only painting set up.  “That one  . . . is the only one that didn’t sell, because it was the only one I didn’t show.”

“Heero?”  Duo gasped.

Heero swallowed nervously.  “I’m sorry I was such a coward, Duo.”  He said, tightening his arms around Duo and hiding his
face in the American’s loose hair.  “I . . . I love you.  I have for a long time, and because of my cowardice I almost lost you.”

“You love me?”  Duo asked, his tone laced with a hint of disbelief.  “Me?”

Heero nodded, then heard as Duo sniffled.  He turned to Heero, burying his face in one of Heero’s shoulders, as he started
sobbing.  “What’s wrong?”  Heero asked, concerned that maybe he had done something wrong.  Maybe he had moved too

“I’m  . . . just so  . . . happy!”  Duo choked out, then began sobbing harder.

Heero led Duo over to a bed that was on the other side of the room.  He sat on the bed, pulling Duo along with him and holding
him close.  “Sshh.  It’s all right, Duo.  It’s going to be all right now.”  He hushed, stroking Duo’s head with a gentle hand.

Heero laid back on the bed, letting Duo rest his head on Heero’s chest with one arm flung over Heero’s stomach.  Heero simply
held Duo protectively and reassuringly.  Soon, Duo drifted off to sleep.

Every now and then, Heero would wake up, hearing the sounds of distress coming from Duo.  And every time Duo’s
whimpers awakened him, Heero murmured into his ear, “I’m here, Duo  . . . I won’t leave you.”  After a moment, Duo would
settle down again after tightening his arm around Heero briefly.


Wufei stepped into the house, brushing the snow from his shoulders.  The simple mission he had been sent on, had gone bad.  
But it was nothing Wufei couldn’t handle.  Quickly, he had regained control of the situation and put an end to the problem.

He removed his coat, handing it to a Maguanac that had offered to take it from him.  Then he walked into the living room,
expecting to see Duo laying on the sofa bed, but only encountered an empty mattress with rumbled sheets.

“Where is Duo?”  Wufei asked.

The Maguanac that had taken his coat stepped closer.  “Mr. Yuy took him to a room upstairs, earlier today . . . the third door
on the right.”

Wufei thanked the man, then quickly climbed the stairs.  He approached the room slowly, not wanting to make too much noise
in case Duo was sleeping.  He reached out and turned the doorknob, opening the door slowly and quietly.

The sight before him caused a smile to form on his lips.  There was Duo on a bed, his body curled up next to Heero.  The
American looked as it he had been crying, but at least now he was sleeping peacefully.

Wufei wasn’t sure if he had made a noise or not, but Heero lifted his head from the bed.  He stared directly at Wufei, then
simply nodded, a silent statement telling Wufei that Duo would be okay now.  Wufei nodded back, then watched as Heero
lowered his head back down, tightening his hold around the American ever so slightly.

Wufei smiled, and backed away, closing the door just as silently as he had opened it.  At least Duo was in good hands.  Heero
would undoubtedly take excellent care of Duo.  Now, to check on the others, Wufei thought.

He walked down the hall once again, this time heading for Quatre’s room.  However, he hadn’t even reached Quatre’s room,
when he saw the blonde and Trowa standing in the hall.  The two of them were locked in a passionate embrace, their tongues
probably stuck so far down each other’s throats that they could tell if they each still had their tonsils or not.

Wufei cleared his throat as he stepped closer.  “Excuse me for interrupting.  But when did this happen?”  He said, gesturing to
the two of them.

Quatre and Trowa parted, Quatre blushing as he moved away from Trowa.  “The day you left.”  Quatre replied quietly.

“Good Lord, Trowa.  What happened to your face?”  Wufei asked, seeing the fresh bruises marring more of Trowa’s face.  
These ones were larger, definitely not made by some simple slap, this time by punches, or possibly some blunt instrument.

“Rasid and I had a little  . . . talk  . . . and we finally came to an understanding.”  Trowa replied, raising his hand to gently
touch his own bruised cheek, his blackened eye.

Wufei narrowed his eyes . . . to see if Trowa was being honest, or just using words to lessen a beating.  When Trowa met his
eyes squarely, Wufei nodded, seeing the truth hidden within the green depths.

“Ah.  Well, I have not had much sleep in the past few days, due to worry.  So, I will leave the two of you with a warning not
to disturb Heero and Duo.”  Wufei said.

Quatre smiled. “I wouldn’t dream of it.  Heero must have said or done something right if the wave of happiness I felt earlier
was accurate.”

Wufei returned the smile with a small one of his own.  “I would say so.  Excuse me.”  With that, he headed to his room to
catch up on some sleep.


Duo slowly awakened, wondering where he was, why he felt so warm when he knew he was alone.  Everything had all just
been some wonderful dream, all that Heero had said, the painting, falling asleep in his arms.  It had all just been a piece of his
cruel imagination.  He felt the burning tears straining to come forward, but he kept his eyes shut, willing them back.

Then he thought for a moment.  If it was all a dream, then why did he feel so warm?  Why could he still smell Heero’s
wonderful scent?  Duo inhaled deeply, breathing in the rich Earthy smell that belonged solely to Heero, like autumn leaves
mixed with freshly mowed grass.  How could it be a dream when the scent was so purely Heero?

Slowly, he opened his eyes, letting them adjust to the bright light of morning.  Lifting his head from where it lay, he looked
down.  To his mild shock and pleasant surprise, he saw Heero laying on the bed beside him, his eyes still shut as he continued
to sleep, his warm arms still protectively wrapped around Duo’s exhausted body.

Then it hadn’t all been some wonderful dream, some tantalizing fantasy created by his own mind.  Heero really had said those
things, had brought him to that room.  Heero really did love Duo.

Duo unintentionally let out a giggle, which quickly turned into soft sobs as he laid his head back down on Heero’s chest.  At
first he had been thrilled to see Heero beside him, but then his thoughts grew dim, turning into worries as he wondered why.  
How could Heero love him after the foolish things he had done, after he had tried to take his own life?  Duo tightened his arms
around Heero, latching onto him, afraid that he would leave.

A strong, but gentle hand stroked the back of his head, as he continued to sob.  “Sshh, Duo . . .”  Heero whispered as he
lightly ran his fingers through the long chestnut strands.  “It’s all right.  I’ve got you, Duo.  It’s all right now.  I’m not going to
leave you.  Sshh.”

Duo struggled to stifle his sobs, ashamed of showing such weakness in front of Heero.  “I’m sorry, Heero.”  He whimpered.

Heero sat up, pulling Duo along with him.  He held Duo at arms length.  Duo turned his head away, not wanting to meet Heero’
s gaze, to see the disappointment in his Prussian blue eyes.

“Duo, look at me.”  Heero said, his voice remaining calm.

Duo paused a minute, trying to get his heart to stop beating so rapidly.  Everything about this frightened him.  Maybe Heero
would renounce what he had said last night.  Maybe he would push him away.  Finally, Duo looked up, and took in a
shuddered breath, seeing that there was only love in his eyes.

“Duo, I don’t blame you for any of this.  We should have checked up on you.  I should have called you.  You felt miserable
because I was too much of a coward to talk to you.  I’m sorry.”  Heero choked out.

“So  . . . you really  . . . love me?”  Duo felt a spark of hope blossom in his heart.  He blinked when he found himself firmly in
Heero’s embrace.  Duo closed his eyes in relief as he felt Heero’s warm breath against the top of his head.

Heero’s muffled voice answered.  “I really love you, Duo.  I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but . . .”  Heero nuzzled
Duo’s hair.  “I always felt that you were too bright a light in this universe.  A beautiful star that I had no right reaching for.”

Duo’s eyes filled with tears as he pressed his face against Heero’s shoulder and returned the embrace.  “And here  . . . I
thought . . .”  He choked out a sob and tried again after swallowing.  “Here I thought that you were too perfect to ever want
me.”  He smiled the first real smile in a long time.  “What a pair we are.  Each reaching for the same thing, but too afraid to
touch it.”


Duo pulled back enough to smile into Heero’s bewildered and hopeful expression.  “I love you, too.  I have for a very long
time.  That’s why I left for L-2  . . . I thought you and Relena were a couple, and I didn’t want to get in the way of that.”  He
placed his hand against Heero’s cheek, catching sight of the bandage wrapped around that wrist once again.  “I would rather
have been alone and miserable than be with you and have you miserable.”

Heero shook his head and pulled Duo close again.  “I said it to Quatre, I’ll say it to you.  You, Duo Maxwell, are a dear, sweet
and unselfish baka.”  He chuckled.  “At least now I know that you’re MY baka.”

Duo laughed.  “Never thought that ‘idiot’ could be an endearment, until now.”

Heero tilted Duo’s chin up and smiled.  “I've missed that  . . . I’ve missed your laugh.”  He ran his fingers through Duo’s hair.  
“I've missed your real smile, and I’ll do all that I can to make sure it never leaves your face for long.”  He leaned down.

Duo closed his eyes and smiled as Heero kissed him.  As long as he had Heero, his Heero, his smile wouldn’t be far away.

Heero slowly pulled away from him, ending the kiss gently.  He smiled at Duo.  “Come on, I think you should eat some

“All right.”  Duo agreed.

Duo sighed as Heero stood, sweeping Duo up into his arms.  He didn’t like being carried around, but he knew that his body
wasn’t quite strong enough for him to walk around on his own just yet.  Maybe in a couple days when he got some of his
strength back, he wouldn’t have to rely on Heero’s strength to support him, and maybe get around on his own once again.

Soon, they stepped into the dining room.  Duo could smell breakfast already, and saw the setup, all the food set out on the large
table.  As soon as they entered the room, Quatre looked up from his seat and smiled.

“Duo . . .”  He said, rising to his feet.  “I think I speak for all of us, when I say that we’re truly sorry you felt like you were
alone.  It was a horrible misunderstanding, and I wish it hadn’t taken you nearly dying to make us see that we took the fact that
we’d always be there for each other for granted.”

Duo shook his head, not wanting to hear Quatre talking like that.  The blonde didn’t need to apologize.  “Thanks, but you guys
also deserve an apology.  After Hilde left, I decided to try alone, and found that it was Hilde holding the business above water.”  
He said, as Heero set him down in a chair.  “When she left, all the top clients went with her.  When I started going under, I did
try calling you guys for advice . . . but life kinda swept us into the mainstream.  None of you are to blame, really.”

“Maxwell . . .”  Wufei started to say.  Then he frowned and started again.  “Duo . . . by the same token, we are ALL to blame.  
We all thought that there would be more time later.  This time, though, later nearly came too late.”

Duo sighed, “Still . . . Sister Helen once told me to see the good that came out of a bad situation.”

Heero wrapped his arms around Duo.  “I might never have dug up the courage to admit my love for you.”

“I would never have thrown this party and been introduced to the wonders of mistletoe!”  Quatre said brightly, throwing a
glance at Trowa, who had suddenly started blushing despite the number of bruises on his face.

Duo blinked in confusion, watching as Quatre started giggling and Trowa blushed an even darker shade of crimson.  “I’m not
gonna ask!”

Suddenly, the entire group erupted in laughter.  It lightened Duo’s heart to hear that sound once again, and know that these
people truly cared about him.  He would never be alone again, never feel unloved, not as long as he had Heero and the others.

The End