Tangled in the web

sequel to Web of Betrayal

Chapter 5:

By Dyna Dee

Warnings : Yaoi and a dose of angst as well as some violence and Duo torture. If you haven’t read Web of Betrayal, you may be a tiny bit lost, but I recount enough of the past in this first chapter that you probably don’t have to read it if you don’t have the time or inclination. Please enjoy!



Web 5

Heero struggled to unlocked the front door of the house as he juggled the armful of newly purchased goods, wondering again what possessed him to allow Trowa and Quatre to give Duo a dog. He kept his mumbling to himself as Duo stood directly behind him with the gray hairy menace safely ensconced in his arms. The lock clicked open and he bent to pick up the two shopping bags at his feet of dog necessities and accessories they’d purchased at the local pet warehouse. “Trowa never mentioned how expensive a dog could be,” he grumbled as he hoisted the dog bed and bags filled toys, training aids, a book, food, treats, dishes, a collar and leash, all totaling a cost of two-hundred and forty seven credits.

“Most of it’s a one-time purchase. He won’t cost much more than food and a visit to the vet once in a while,” Duo replied uneasily, hugging the dog to his chest. He could see Heero was anything but happy about the new addition to their home and was half afraid he’d change his mind about them keeping him. He stroked the dog’s head, gaining its attention and it turned its brown eyes up to gaze at him in an adoring manner. Duo couldn’t explain it but he was already attached to the small animal. He’d never had a pet before but had always wanted one. He didn’t know if what he was feeling for his dog was normal or not as he’d never really known what ‘normal’ was, but he was without a doubt crazy about this dog. He loved holding and caring for it and seeing it respond to him. It was odd, he thought, that he should already feel so possessive and protective of him. In his mind’s eyes, he could see years ahead of him spent playing and taking care of his new pal.

“Stop staring at the dog, Duo, and come inside. He’s not going anywhere,” Heero’s irritated voice shook him from his thoughts.

Slightly embarrassed at being caught ruminating over the dog, he quickly entered the house and waited for Heero to shut and lock the door behind him before he felt it was safe to put the wiggling dog down. “I’m going to call him Sinjin,” he suddenly announced. “Because he looks singed.”

Heero nodded, it made sense. The dog’s fur was black tipped and did indeed look singed. “If you’ll take care of this stuff, I’ll check the mail and start lunch.”

“All right,” Duo readily agreed, wanting to placate his lover. After Heero turned and walked to the kitchen, he picked up the bag of supplies for his new dog and set them neatly into the plastic box they’d purchased and put it on the top shelf of the front coat closet. The bed, they’d decided beforehand in the store, would go into the laundry room downstairs.

Fastening the new spiked collar around the little dog’s neck, Duo smiled as he experienced a slight feeling of triumph. He and Heero had argued for a good five-minutes over the choice of collar until Heero finally threw up his arms and gave in. Yet that wasn’t the only thing he was happy about. He viewed the entire outing as a major accomplishment on his part. After all, going into a large store with a lot of other people had been an achievement in itself, even if he was scared shitless. But to stand in the middle of an aisle and stubbornly argue with Heero about such a stupid thing as the choice of a dog collar, felt like he was beginning to get back to his old self.

“You want to go outside, boy? Do you want to go out?” he asked the small dog and was pleased to see the brown eyes brighten and the tail wag vigorously. “Okay, let’s go, boy. Let’s go outside. Come on, Sinjin.” He turned to run through the kitchen, calling the dog’s name and patting his leg to encourage him to follow.


As the screen door slammed behind the two, Heero shook his head and tried to keep a lid on his irritation. Now Duo was talking to the dog like a babbling idiot. He’d repeated the same command five times and each time his voice rose higher in pitch. If this continued, he was pretty sure his already strained patience would soon be spent and he’d probably do or say something he’d live to regret.

Scraping the tuna out of the can, he moved to the refrigerator and got out the mayonnaise. “I need to calm down and let this go,” he told himself, his words echoing off the kitchen walls. It wasn’t the dog and it certainly wasn’t Duo that had him on edge but it was the inactivity they were forced to live with while Duo continued to recover. His lover’s recuperation seemed to be stymied by his irregular setbacks, foiling his progress, and the long days of being homebound seemed to stretch out endlessly.

His lover seemed fine most of the time, as long as they stayed home. But going out into the public, even to the damn pet store that morning, was a trial for the both of them. His once brash and independent lover had clung to his side the whole time they shopped, his wide eyes nervously scanned the aisles in search of anyone that might threaten him as he clutched the dog to his chest like a lifesaver to a drowning man. He sometimes despaired that Duo would never be well or able to be left alone for more than an hour or two.

The phone rang, echoing throughout the house. Before going to answer it, he checked out the back window to see Duo and the dog playing happily in the early afternoon sunshine, his lover’s laughter was a welcome sound. He paused, as the phone continued to ring, to smile at the scene in the backyard. Maybe Duo was recovering and it was he who was just having an off day, he told himself. Turning from the pleasant scene outside he moved towards the living room to answer the phone. He was pleased to hear Wufei’s voice. After greeting the other man and doing the polite inquiries, he told his friend of Trowa and Quatre’s last minute visit before leaving for L-4 as well as their surprise gift to Duo of a dog as well as their outing to the store. Then, without intentionally meaning to, he found himself voicing his frustrations and concerns. Wufei, he’d found, was a very good listener.

“You need to go back to work, Heero,” their Chinese friend stated after listening to his concerns. “You were never meant to be a housewife.”

“But he needs me,” Heero argued weakly as two desires warred against each other in his mind. The need to protect and care for his lover, who was in the condition he was because of the choices he’d made in the past, went head to head with knowing that what Wufei was saying was right on the mark.

“I think you both underestimate what he’s capable of,” Wufei said calmly. “He needs to push himself in order to get better.”

“You don’t think he’s done that?” Thinking of all Duo had accomplished from when he’d been brought out of the penal colony was astounding, even though he still had some problems. “He’s overcome the inability to speak and he’s endured surgery after surgery and hours of painful therapy. He takes care of himself and helps around the house. Even going to the store today is a momentous accomplishment.”

“Then why are you angry with him?” There was no judgement in Wufei’s question, but an honest inquiry.

“I’m not angry at him,” Heero said with an accompanying defeated sigh. “I’m angry with the whole situation. I never knew a day could stretch out to be so intolerably long. Cooking dinner and doing the dishes have become the highlight of our day. I feel like I’m shriveling up and wasting away as a man, Wufei.” He could hear the frustration growing in his voice, and wished he had more of a handle on his emotions. “He used to be so independent, so brave and strong. Sometimes I don’t even recognize him as being the same person.”

“As you said, he’s been through a lot, Heero. Events in our lives, good and bad, mold us into the people we become.”

“I don’t think I like who I’m becoming, Wufei.”

Heero spun around hearing the dog whimper. Behind him stood Duo with Sinjin in his arms, his eyes filled hurt from having overheard the conversation. “Duo,” Heero pleadingly whispered his lover’s name, knowing that the conversation on this side of the phone must have sounded bad.

The braided man shook his head then turned and ran out the back door of the house, the door, silent a few moments ago when he’d entered, now slammed shut behind him.

“I’ve got to go, Wufei. Duo overheard my part of the conversation. Dammit, I’ve hurt him again.”

“Do you want me to come over?”

Heero paused for a scant moment to consider the offer. “No,” he replied. “We have to work these things out by ourselves. But if you would call back in an hour or so, maybe you could talk to him. He probably would have called Trowa, had he been here.”

“Go then, and make it right,” Wufei said a second before his end of the phone went dead.

Heero hung up the phone and paused to take in a deep, cleansing breath. He’d screwed up again. He wondered if he was destined to always cause Duo pain. Turning on his heel, he proceeded to the back door, his thoughts scrambling for a way to make things right.

With Mrs. Lunderson’s help, they’d converted their back yard into a garden retreat. Duo loved the flowers and greenery, so they had it in an abundance. Mrs. L usually came over once a week to visit and school Duo on how to care for the yard and plants. It seemed his lover had a natural green thumb for the greenery and blossoms not only grew, but thrived and blossomed as well as Mrs. L.’s. Heero now scanned the garden and spotted Duo and the dog next to the obelisk-style fountain. He made his way there, organizing his thoughts.

Duo sat on the bench they’d built together, set at an angle under a shady tree that would allow them to enjoy the fountain out of the full sun. His back was purposely turned towards him, and it stiffened as he sat down. “Duo, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t talk to me.”

“Let me explain.”

“There’s nothing to explain.” The sniff that accompanied that petulant reply was clear evidence of how much he’d hurt his lover again.

“Yes, there is.”

Duo then buried his face into the captive dog’s fur, his back remaining to Heero. The Japanese man put his hand on the slender shoulder in front of him, only to have the dog growl at him a moment before Duo reached up and threw it off.

“I’m sorry you heard that. I was just venting some of my frustrations to Wufei. I didn’t mean to hurt you, Duo. I love you... more than anything.”

A disdainful snort was his answer. “Were you lying?”

Heero was taken aback by the question, but he knew the answer and that Duo would know if he lied. “No, I didn’t lie.”

“Then I guess there’s nothing more to say,” Duo said angrily. “I’m sorry I ruined your life.”

Patience, Heero told himself. In a calmer voice he tried again. “You haven’t ruined my life, Duo. If you’ll remember, I ruined yours.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” Duo snapped back as he stood. “It’s a vicious cycle. You blame yourself, I blame myself, what does it matter? We can’t change the past no matter who did what. I guess either way you look at it we’re screwed.”

As Duo moved to leave, Heero grabbed his arm and forcibly held him in place. He stood behind him, wanting to hold him but knowing Duo was too hurt to let him. “Things might be... difficult right now,” he began in a soft voice, hoping to appeal to Duo’s more logical side. “But I love you. In the long run, isn’t that what our relationship is all about?”

Duo turned to look at him with a glare that bespoke anger and hurt. “How can you say you love me when you don’t even recognize me anymore?” He then wrenched his arm out of Heero’s grasp and ran back to the house, the screen door slamming shut behind him once again.

Heero winced when the words he’d spoken to Wufei were thrown back at him. His shoulders slumped, and with slow footsteps and a troubled heart he followed Duo’s footsteps, going back into the kitchen with nothing more to do than finish preparing lunch.

Duo didn’t come down from their room when called for the mid-day meal and Heero’s own sandwich sat uneaten for the most part. The phone rang an hour later, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had reigned over the house since the last phone call. He managed, after some coaxing through the locked door, to get Duo to pick up the bedroom phone and talk with Wufei. He didn’t know long they spoke, but when he called Duo for the evening meal, his lover came down the stairs and into the kitchen. Without a word, Duo put the dog out into the backyard, then turned to take his seat, his eyes avoiding Heero’s.

The meal was served up on their plates without any exchange of words between them, and Heero sought for the right ones to aid him with the situation. “Duo...” he began, but was cut off when Duo raised the palm of his hand, signaling him not to speak.

“Don’t. You spoke the truth. Don’t try to smooth it over with insincere apologies,” the braided man said. Several moments passed before he continued. “Look, I know I’m not the same person you fell in love with and I really wouldn’t blame you if you flew out of here like a bat out of hell and never came back.”

“Duo, no,” Heero rushed to say. “I don’t have any intention of leaving.”

Finally, Duo’s eyes rose to meet his own and Heero cursed himself at causing the sadness he saw in their depths. “Your life is your own, Heero. I don’t command it. If you leave, you leave. There’s not a damn thing I can do about it if you do. Shit! I can’t even leave the house without almost peeing my pants from fear.” He shook his head, his sadness increasing. “I don’t want you to go, Heero. But I wouldn’t blame you if you left and didn’t look back.”

Heero bolted from his chair and knelt at Duo’s side, quickly gathering his lover into his arms and pulling him from his seat to hold him close. His lover’s body was stiff and unyielding against his own. “I’ve already said I’d never leave you, Duo. I love you, and I won’t back down from my promise.”

“I release you from it.” The words came out in a tight and pained whisper, causing Heero to hold the slender body in his arms even tighter, never intending to let go.

“I don’t want to be released from it,” he replied, his voice choking from the emotions rising within him. “I won’t release myself from it. A man is only as good as his word.”

Duo suddenly pushed him away, and scrambled to stand up, anger sparking in his eyes once again. “Your word is only as good as your actions, Heero. You don’t want to be here. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. Why don’t you just go, find something or someone that makes you happy again. Heaven knows I’m not able to do it.”

“You’re wrong, Duo.” Heero didn’t try to recapture the angry man, but stayed kneeling on the floor, looking up at the upset man and wearing his heart on his sleeve as he continued. “You do make me happy. It’s just that staying home all the time is monotonous. I know you have limitations and a certain, confining comfort zone, but I feel like a plant in your garden that hasn’t been nurtured, watered or pruned. Inside, I’m wasting away making dinner, doing the dishes, the laundry and housework. I’ve got abilities and talents that few men have and they’re going to waste.” He reached out with both arms and gently touched the hands of the angry man standing in front of him. “I love you, Duo, but I need to go back to work. Not right now, but in the future. Even with that future possibility in mind, I feel better about all the mundane chores that are ahead of me. Don’t you miss working, Duo? Do you ever wish you could be doing something more productive?”

“Of course I do!” the braided man snapped back as his anger flared once again, his fists clenching at his side even as Heero held them. “Do you think I like what I’ve become? There’s nothing wrong with my memory, Heero. I remember the person I used to be and hate it that I’ve changed for the worst. I hate the stupid, irrational fears that trap me here in the house, that’s trapped you along with it.” Eyes brimming with sadness and self-loathing became bright with unshed tears as Duo continued. “I hate being a coward and a weak, sniveling baby. And to top it all off, I hate myself, Heero. And damn it, as long as I’m on a roll, I hate that you didn’t trust me enough to tell me about Relena’s blackmail. I hate it that my friends didn’t trust me enough to believe that I was innocent of something I didn’t do, and I hate it that I wasn’t strong enough to protect myself in prison. I’m a screw up, Heero, and I’m definitely screwed up. Take my advice, lover, you’d be doing yourself a favor by getting out now while you can.”

Duo backed away from Heero when he stood and moved forward to try and hold him again, and turned his head so he didn’t have to look at him any longer. Both of them realized, in that moment, that they were at a crossroads in their relationship, and that knowledge was sobering as well as frightening.

Heero found his own eyes welling with tears, feeling as miserable as Duo looked. He wished more than anything that Trowa and Quatre were there to help smooth things over. It seemed that no matter what he said, it seemed to hurt Duo and their relationship even more. But he had to try and make this better; their relationship was too important to not fight for it. He knew without a doubt that he was not leaving. This whole mess came about because he’d been unable to articulate his growing frustration regarding his feelings of being useless.

“Duo.” He spoke his lover’s name softly and with deep yearning as he took a step forward. “I love you, and I have no intention of leaving. You might not be the boy I fell in love with during the war, but I’m not the person you fell in love with either. Wufei was right; we all change as life gives us challenges, and we’ve had more than our fair share of them. I don’t want to leave and I won’t. I simply want to alter our daily routine. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you or that I don’t want to share my life with you. It just means that I wasn’t meant to do nothing other than clean the house. I think our relationship will grow and be even better if I find something outside of our home that gives me a feeling of... accomplishment.”

Duo nodded, but remained silent as the dog began to scratch at the back door to be let in and their dinner on the table went cold.

“Duo, talk to me. You’ve told me of your anger and hate, and all of it’s more than understandable. Now tell me what you think about what I’ve just said.” He was using the communication tactics that Duo’s doctor had taught him, and reinforced them by putting his fingers under the stubborn chin and turned his lover’s face to meet his own gaze just as a tear escaped the corner of the blue-amethyst eyes.

Duo swallowed the sob that threatened to surface, and in a small voice he confessed, “I’m afraid to let you go and afraid to keep you here.” He sniffed again as another tear followed the first. “I don’t know what to do, Heero. I don’t want you to hate me because you grudgingly stayed here out of some warped sense of guilt or obligation.”

Closing the distance between them, Heero wrapped Duo in his arms. “Did you not hear a word I said? I’m here because I love you. I’ll always feel guilty for my part in your being hurt, but that’s not why I stay.” He ran his hand over the back of Duo’s head and down his braid, now well past the middle of his back. “We’ve come through so much and come so far, are we going to let my wanting to go back to work again come between us?”

Duo shook his head. Put that way, it made the whole afternoon’s heartache seem ridiculous. Tightening his arms that were already around his lovers waist, he managed to choke out, “I love you, Heero, so much that just the thought of losing you frightens me more than anything. I’d rather not breathe another breath than lose you again.”

“Don’t say that,” Heero frowned at the desperation in Duo’s voice. “Don’t ever wish your life away, do you understand me?” He felt Duo nod again as the hands gripping the back of his shirt pulled their bodies even closer together.

In a resolute but shaky voice, Duo said, “I’m gonna do better, Heero. I don’t want to be stuck in the house forever either. I’ll try harder, ‘kay?”

“I think that would be good, especially for you. I believe you’ll come to like yourself again once you’re freed from some of your fears.”

“I’ll try, Heero.” Duo looked up into the blue eyes that sometimes seemed to see right down into his soul. “For the both of us, I’ll try.”


The two lovers tried to put the troubling incident behind them, but for several days following that deciding moment Duo seemed stand-offish to Heero as the moved around the house tending to their daily chores. Wednesday came and it was the day they routinely went to the park to play basketball. With Sinjin’s leash fastened to a nearby park bench, the two men played a vigorous game as the mid-afternoon sun shone down on them. They made two stops on the way home and Heero ran inside the businesses to pick up a pizza and then a video while Duo and his dog waited in the car. After dinner, they placed a call to Quatre and Trowa before settling down on the sofa to watch the movie. They turned to their bed early that night, wanting to shuck off their clothes and settle under the bedding together.

Because of the warmth of the evening and their heated activities before going to sleep the night before, they slept with only a sheet covering their bodies. It wasn’t the usual coolness of the morning that woke Heero up, but rather a persistent rattling/knocking sound. He wasn’t quite ready to wake up yet, and with Duo’s bare body pressed in an enticing manner against his side, he didn’t know if there was any incentive for him to move. He turned his head and kissed the top of the messy brown head as the noise that woke him pause, then repeated, but he ignored it for something even more disturbing. He knew with a certainty what it was before he looked down the length of his body. There, settled between his legs, was a furry body, its head resting right where it shouldn’t be. Sinjin was happily sleeping and using his sheet-covered private parts as a pillow.

The irritating rattling and Duo’s head on his shoulder were the only things that stopped him from throwing the dog across the room. Looking towards the sound, he gazed at the top of his bedside table to see his cell phone moving across the surface, its vibrating alarm signaling an incoming call. He reached out his hand and put it under the edge of the small table just as the phone toppled off, catching it. The movement caused the dog to resettle itself, bringing a blush to the Japanese man’s face.

“Duo, get your dog,” he growled, unhappy that, once again, his lover had snuck the dog out of the laundry room in the middle of the night and let it into their bed. The expensive doggy bed they’d purchased less than a week ago was, more often than not, left abandoned.

Heero turned his phone on as Duo began to stir, cleared his throat and managed to say, “Yuy.”

“Sorry to call so early, Heero,” Wufei said in his odd way of an introduction. “But I knew you’d be up.”

“Why would you think that?” Heero asked, rubbing Duo’s back to further ease him into wakefulness.

“You’re an earlier riser.”

Heero snorted. “I don’t have a mission, a job or school to wake up early for,” he replied. “I now get up whenever I want to.”

“Then I apologize if I woke you before your beauty rest was complete.” Heero noted the lack of insincerity and a touch of sarcasm in his friend’s voice. “I’d just assumed you were a creature of habit.”

Duo’s hand began to move across his chest. His touch was purposely teasing and obviously trying to arouse him. Heero might have been tempted, but having the dog resting where he shouldn’t be kept him pretty much unaffected. “The dog, Duo,” he growled unhappily.

“What’s going on there?” Wufei asked as Duo realized what he was upset about and his abrupt laughter filled the room.

“Nothing!” Heero snapped back.

“Bad Sinjin,” Duo laughingly scolded his errant pet. “Papa’s privates are for Daddy, not you, funny dog.” He carefully picked the sleepy, furry animal up and failed in his attempt to stop laughing.

“What the...?” Wufei wondered in reaction to hearing Duo’s words.

“The dog found a more comfortable pillow than the expensive one we bought at the pet store,” Heero explained, deadpan. He didn’t find the situation to be humorous, but as Wufei put two and two together his laughter, added to Duo’s, proved to be contagious and an irrepressible grin began to grow. He endured being the brunt of the other two’s laughter for several moments before calling a halt to it. “Alright, that’s enough,” he smiled at Duo who was grinning happily while wiping at the moisture in his eyes from laughing so hard. “Take him out to do his business.” He nodded his head to the dog, clutched in his lover’s arms.

“Okay.” Duo stood up and put the dog down while he retrieved his pajama bottoms and robe from off the floor. “Back in a few minutes. Don’t miss us too much,” he joked as he and the dog disappeared out the bedroom door.

Heero watched him leave, then turned his attention back to his conversation. “What’s up, Wufei?”

The Chinese man had finally stopped laughing and sighed deeply. “He sounds good,” he said, feeling pleased to have heard Duo laughing unrestrained again, something they’d all missed during the last three years.

“He is good, in every way that’s important,” Heero replied, his heart also warmed from Duo’s happiness, even if it was currently at his expense. His lover was never sexier to him than when he was happy and smiling.

Something of what he felt must have been transmitted in his voice, because Wufei replied dryly, “Yuy, can’t you think of anything but sex?”

“Not when we’re talking about Duo,” he replied with a light chuckle. “Now, why the early morning call? What’s going on?”

“The director of the Preventers on L-2 died last night of a massive heart attack,” Wufei replied, more serious now as he got to the point of his phone call. “Milliardo called me an hour ago and asked if I would go and oversee the operations there until a new director can be found to replace the deceased man. It’s a great opportunity for me, Heero. I know this is a horrible time to pack up and leave Earth with Trowa and Quatre gone, but I didn’t think I could pass this up. I told him yes and I leave today at noon. I just thought I’d give you some warning so that you can prepare Duo.”

“And just how do I do that?” Heero snapped, suddenly feeling put out. He couldn’t help but feel he and Duo were being abandoned by their friends.

“Just tell him the truth.”

Heero turned around just as Duo came bounding into the room without the dog. He guessed Sinjin had been left outside for a short while. He held the phone out to his lover. “Wufei wants to talk to you,” he said, then handed to phone him and noted the perplexed expression on his face. Wufei rarely called that early in the morning and because he had, it sent up warning flags.

Duo moved to sit on the edge of the bed near his lover and tossed his loose hair behind his shoulder as he put the phone to his exposed ear. “What’s up?” he asked.

Heero watched over the next few minutes as a myriad of expressions crossed Duo’s face as Wufei explained the reason for his call. “Do you have to go?” Duo asked, looking worried as he sought out Heero’s eyes. “Yes. I understand. No. I guess we’ll be all right. Yeah, I know. Sure. Okay. Well, have a good trip.” He then passed the phone back to Heero and obvious unhappy, flopped back down onto the bed.

“Coward,” Wufei said after Heero got back on the phone. “That was underhanded.”

“Face your own firing squad, Wufei. If you’re going to pull the rug out from under him, you should have the balls to tell him yourself.”

“I’m sorry, Heero,” Wufei huffed with irritation. “I’m not doing this in order to hurt either of you. But I can’t help but think this will be good for the both of you in the long run. You’re ready to stand on your own again.”

“Yeah, just like the other day,” Heero reminded him testily.

“We’re still only a phone call away.”

“I’ll try to remember that the next time he needs you. Have a good trip.”


Whatever Wufei was going to say was cut off when Heero hung up the phone. He twisted to put his cell phone back on the side table, then pulled Duo further up on the bed so he could lay alongside his lover. Duo’s body was tense against his own. “It’s all right,” Heero assured him, his manner softening. “This is a good thing for Wufei. It shows that Milliardo trusts him in a leadership position. No doubt it will help him skip a few promotions.”

“I wish he wouldn’t go,” Duo said, quiet and worried.

Heero sighed and placed a kiss on the top of his lover’s head. “Me too,” he whispered back.

After five minutes of calming down and adjusting to the news, Duo got up to go back downstairs and let his dog in while Heero answered the persistently vibrating phone, knowing it was Wufei and that their friend was not about to leave the planet with the two of them at odds with him. As usual, Wufei cut to the chase. “I need to do this, Heero,” he stated firmly. “Don’t make this any harder than it is.”

“You’ll be good in that position, Wufei,” Heero said calmly, knowing the other man would take it as his apology. “And they would be wise if they chose you as the permanent replacement.”

“I probably could perform well in that position,” Wufei said, not with pride in his meaning, but rather stating confidence in his abilities to organize and carry out necessary tasks, which had always been his forte. “But I would not take the job if it was offered to me. Peacecraft knows I won’t relocate on a permanent basis.”

Heero sighed and ran his hand through his messy hair. “We’re holding you back, aren’t we?”

“It’s not just for you and Duo that I remain here in Brussels, Heero. I stay here because this is the best place for me. I enjoy our association, our friendship. Once again I belong to a family and I don’t wish to be alone when I no longer have to be. I don’t want to give that up for a job. Plus I like it here,” he added in a softening tone. “Working with Sally and Milliardo is rewarding. In fact,” Wufei’s voice rose slightly, signaling to Heero that the subject they had been speaking of was about to change. “The job offer Peacecraft hinted at a while back is still open. As a consultant for the computer security systems, you could make your own schedule, work at home three days a week and come into headquarters the other two days. He’s willing to be flexible and work with you in order to make this happen.”

“Not interested.” Heero’s reply was curt.

“It’s perfect for you and you know it. It would be good for Duo also.”

“How do you figure that?”

“Because he’s afraid he’ll lose you when you become too bored at home to stay there any longer.”

“I’ll never leave him,” Heero stated with conviction.

“We both know that, Heero, but Duo sees you every day, all day, and he knows you’re restless. You should show some faith in him by letting him gain some independence of his own. I think that if you start by working a couple of mornings a week it would be good for the both of you. Begin slowly and build up your hours as Duo adjusts. Milliardo wants you badly enough that you could probably even set your own schedule.”

Silence passed between the two friends and Heero heard Duo coming up the stairs with his dog at his heels, happy to be let in the house again. “Just think about it and discuss it with him,” Wufei advised.

“I don’t know,” he said, hesitantly. He’d been tempted by the offer when Milliardo mentioned it in passing, obviously testing the waters. But Duo hadn’t been ready for him to leave him alone. “It might be too soon.”

“He’s ready for it and so are you,” Wufei said firmly. “I want you to promise me that you’ll talk to him about this.”

Duo entered the room then and looked curiously at him, silently wondering who was on the phone. After a moment’s pause, Heero replied with a soft, “Alright. But if he’s not ready, I want you to drop it.”

“Good!” Wufei, he noted, sounded pleased. “I have to finish packing. I’ll be gone for a month, maybe a little longer. I’ll call with my number as soon as it’s established.”

“All right. Have a safe journey.” This time they both said goodbye, an unusual occurrence between the two of them.


My heartfelt gratitude goes to Swordy, my long-suffering proofreader. She's got her work cut out for her because, for some odd reason, my right pinky is having an long-term affair with the apostrophe key.




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