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

Notes:  Zechs thinks back on what he did.  Heero shows Duo a special place.



Hope from the Past



Part Nineteen


Zechs paced furiously as he had done each day since Rasid and his brothers had taken Quatre away.  At first, he had managed to
convince himself that he was angry with THEM, but that illusion was quickly shattered like an antique crystal vase like the one
sitting on his desk.  He had to admit to himself that he had been in the wrong.  Treize held no allegiance to the Winner
descendants.  He had informed them of Quatre's recovery out of human decency.  And how had Zechs repaid that courtesy?  By
attacking a would-be ally and stealing what would have eventually been willingly returned.  With a primal howl borne of his own
frustrations over his foolish impatience, Zechs picked up the crystal vase and flung it at a wall.  It shattered upon impact, tiny
shards flying through the room.  The shards cared nothing for pain or inconvenience.  They imbedded in cloth and flesh alike.  
The scratches he received were barely even noticed.

The door opened and his personal aide popped her head into the room.  She looked around and sighed.  "I suppose it was bound
to happen sooner or later.  But did you have to throw Lady Iria's vase?"  She started picking up the larger pieces.

Zechs let out a breath.  "It was antique, yes.  But it wasn't a family heirloom.  I would never be so careless."  He winced at his
own choice of words.  "Too bad I didn't show that same care for a member of my own family.  If Iria Winner were still alive,
she would kill me for harming her beloved baby brother."

Une smiled a little, dropping the pieces of crystal in the rubbish bin.  "Yes, many are the legends telling of her great love for
young Quatre.  It is said that she never agreed with their father's decision to lock him away even though the man did it with
Quatre's best interests at heart."  Her smile faded and she narrowed her eyes.  "You've cut yourself!"  she cried out in alarm,
rushing over to gently lift his hand, her eyes roving over his face as well as she examined the minor wounds.  "I'll go get the first
aid kit."

Zechs groaned and looked over at an ancient painting.  In it was a small boy smiling happily, surrounded by several women.  
The Winner children in a rare moment of happiness.  Comparing the old painting with the memory of Quatre made Zechs bury
his face in his hands, mindless of the blood or the glass that might still be stuck in his skin.  "What have I done?" he whispered
to no one in particular.  "I thought ... that being among family would bring comfort to him.  But I was wrong.  It would have
brought comfort to me.  I was so selfish and I caused more pain in five minutes than the Taltheans have in centuries of torture."

Une clucked her tongue.  "I won't sugarcoat it, sir.  You were wrong, terribly wrong in what you did.  Now, you must make
amends for that, not only to Quatre but to Treize and his men as well.  I hear your invasion of the base came on the day of a
wedding.  Contact Treize and make a peace offering.  A formal apology can hardly make matters worse."  She tenderly took
care of his minor cuts as she spoke.  She removed the glass, gently cleaning then bandaging the deeper cuts.  Une was nothing
but gentle as she tended to his injuries.  Zechs kept silent, waiting for her to finish.  When she did, she excused herself from the
room, stating that she was going to fetch the radio transmitter for him.

Zechs worried at his lower lip as Une left to get the radio.  There was a chance that no one was even going to be monitoring the
channel he had been given if he needed to contact Treize for anything.  But he wouldn't go in unannounced again.  He knew that
a move like that just might get him killed, especially if what Une had told him was true.  To know that he had disturbed a
wedding made him feel awful.  Humans had so little to celebrate anymore.  That his actions had tainted a time of joy - it was
shameful.

He was pulled out of his thoughts as Une returned with the radio and turned it on to the correct channel.  There was a crackle
before Treize's static-laden voice carried over.  "This had better be good.  I must say that you have a lot of nerve contacting us
after what you did.  The only reason I am even talking to you is because you did allow Quatre to come back."

Zechs swallowed and took a deep, steadying breath.  "I am contacting you to inform you that I intend to come to your base
waving a white flag."

There was silence for a moment and Zechs worried that Treize would tell him to go to hell.  "This might be the first smart move
you've made in a while, Zechs.  I'll tell my lookouts to watch for that flag.  If they don't see it, they will shoot first and ask
questions later.  Kushrenada out."

Zechs took a shaking breath and looked to Une.  "I don't suppose ... do we even HAVE a white flag?"  He didn't doubt for an
instant that Treize would have his men waste precious ammunition to dispatch any threat to their home.

Une blinked at him and then chuckled.  "We probably have something that will work, but I think you're taking Treize far too
seriously."

Zechs shook his head, raising his hand and idly sifting his fingers through his hair.  "Better serious than dead.  Prepare a vehicle.  
I might as well pack some things.  I don't know how long I'll be away."

"I understand," Une replied, bowing respectfully.  She turned and left a moment later.

Zechs did the same.  He sighed in resignation as he went to prepare himself for his upcoming trip.


*****


Heero smiled as Duo walked through the plants that were growing in the artificial sunlight.  They were all practical plants that
would provide either food or medicine, but Duo still looked happy to be walking along their rows.  Heero was glad to see that
effervescent smile.  And to know that he had been the one to put it there made his heart feel lighter.

"There are a few larger rebel bases that have the room to grow flowers, but space here is tight, so we have to use every inch to
grow food for either ourselves or the livestock we have.  And medicines."

Duo sighed and fingered a flower that was budding on a vegetable plant.  "It's sad ... to think that we humans are reduced to
this."  He turned to Heero with such a deep sadness in his eyes.  "Do you think they'll ever leave?"

Heero ran a hand through his hair and shrugged.  "I hope so.  I hope to see their departure within my lifetime."  He shook his
head.  He didn't want Duo to dwell on things.  Nor did he want to mention that the Taltheans would most likely leave only once
they had sucked all the life from the planet.  "Come on.  I'll bring you to my favorite place."  He smiled as he took Duo by the
hand.  The rebel base was mostly underground and there was a deep set of caves adjacent to it.

Duo's hand felt warm and strong in his own, and Heero felt the urge to pull Duo close and hold him tight in hope of chasing all
the darkness away.  He resisted the urge though, not knowing if Duo would welcome such a thing.  He was fragile.  There was
no telling what Duo might like or dislike.  So he simply led Duo along, eventually reaching the caves and continuing on.

Heero smiled a little as he turned to Duo.  "Close your eyes."  He was touched when Duo complied almost instantly, reveling in
the trust shown to him.  He continued to lead Duo through the caves, paying the plain stone walls and piping running along them
no attention.  He was careful as they walked, making sure Duo wouldn't trip or fall.

They went past the large chamber where they got their water from, ignoring the looks the workers were giving him.  Most
people stopped when they reached this area.  Few people continued on, or even knew about the area beyond the reservoir.  But it
didn't matter what those workers were thinking now.  Heero didn't care in the least.  Duo was all that mattered right now.

He paused at the barely visible niche, which hid the entrance to the cavern that Heero was aching to show to Duo.  If one didn't
know about it, then it would be difficult to find, if not impossible.  "Take off your shoes," he urged, holding Duo hands as he
pushed his own shoes off of his feet.  He let go for a moment, bending to move their shoes.  He set them just beside the mouth
of the cave.  It would signal to any others wanting to come here that the place was occupied.

He took Duo's hands again and tugged lightly.  "Come on," he said, walking backwards and pulled Duo along.  Heero felt his
heartbeat speed up, excited and nervous.  This was a place where many lovers came to be alone.  Heero had never brought
anyone else here, but he couldn't help but want to show it to the braided youth that had captured his heart.  He hadn't brought
Duo to try and start anything with him.  Sex was the last thing on Heero's mind.  He just wanted to share something that he
cherished with the braided beauty.  This was all he had to offer.

Heero let go of Duo's hands, assuring him it was okay.  He quickly left Duo's side; only long enough to light the lantern that he
knew was right near the entrance.  Then he was at Duo's side again, running a hand along the young man's arm.  "Okay, open
your eyes."

Duo did, and gasped as he looked around.  "It's beautiful!"

Heero smiled as he remembered his first time in this cave.  He'd been very young and had come to get water with his mother.  
He had wandered from her side, and toward the niche in the wall his mother had warned him never to enter if he saw shoes at
the opening.  Since there were none there and he was curious, he moved inside and found the lantern.  The moment he had lit it,
his breath escaped him in a sound of awe.  The walls around him glittered brilliantly as the light of the lantern flickered, the
minerals in the walls catching the light he held.  It shimmered in a rainbow of color; it was truly a sight to behold.  It was made
even more beautiful by the pool of water before the most luminous of the walls.  Each flicker of the light danced across the
surface, catching on the slight ripples.  There was a hot spring beneath it, the water continually flowing on its underground
path.  It was separate from the reservoir, only a small underground river.  

This small cave was the only one not regulated for optimum efficiency.  Treize allowed it to be what it was, a place for couples
to be alone, and a place anyone could go to relax.  It was kept cleaned and maintained, the task generally give to rookie members.

"I've always loved this place," Heero whispered, moving around until he stood behind Duo.  He didn't want to get in the way of
Duo's view.  "Many couples come here for privacy and romance, but I’ve never needed to."  He shyly placed his arms around
Duo's slim waist so he could hug the beautiful young man from behind.  "If you're uncomfortable, let me know.  We can go if
you want."

Duo chuckled and shook his head, placing his hands over Heero's wrists.  "You brought me to your equivalent of 'Lover's Lane'
and you think I'd mind?  I know you won't hurt me."  He turned in Heero's embrace, smiling as he looped his arms around
Heero's neck.  He settled his cheek against Heero's shoulder, a slight sigh escaping him.  "I think I'm falling for you, Heero," he
uttered quietly.

Heero held Duo a little tighter.  Gently, he moved, urging Duo to sit on the old mattress that had been left here who knew how
long ago.  He never let go of Duo though, fearing that maybe Duo would just vanish if he released him.  This moment couldn't
be real.  It had to be a dream.  How else could he explain how he had gotten someone so loving and beautiful?

His breath was shaking as he held Duo closer still.  "I know I've fallen for you," he replied.  He pulled back, needing to see Duo's
face, to look into his eyes.  "I love you."

The warmth reflected in those violet orbs made Heero's head swim.  "I wish I could say the words," Duo said, a single tear
trickling along his cheek.  "I'm afraid."

Heero shook his head, placing his fingertips against Duo's warm lips to silence him.  "It's okay," he said, smiling.  "I know it's
too soon for you.  Just keep looking at me the way you do and I'll be happy."

Duo let out a chuckle.  "God, you really know how to melt a heart, don't you."

"Yours is the only one I ever care about reaching," Heero responded, trying to quell the rising urge to press Duo down to the
mattress and worship his body.  He knew Duo wasn't ready yet though.  He threw his arm around Duo's shoulders and pulled
him close, pressing a soft kiss to Duo's temple as he held him.  Together, the two of them sat in silence, enjoying each other's
company for no reason in particular.  It was enough for Heero now that he could hold his love.  He didn't need anything else at
the moment.  Duo was all he could ever want, or need.  And he would patiently wait until Duo was ready before trying anything
more.



To Be Continued ...