Posted: January 12, 2000

Notes: OK, this is my first ever Gundam Wing fanfic. It started out as a songfic to the song "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" by Celine Dion, but ended up as just a fic fic. ^_^ It is yaoi - though only mildly so at this point. I'm planning to write a sequel that's from Heero's POV as soon as I get a chance to rewatch the relevant episodes for background.

Disclaimer: The Gundam Wing boys do not belong to me, I promise I'll put them back when I'm done with them. ^_^

Where Does My Heart Beat Now?
by Renee-chan

I'm numb... so numb. Even now, looking back, I don't know why I did it - why I let Quatre lead me away from the sorry site of our last botched mission. Maybe because even now I don't have the strength to take my own life. Good old Catholic guilt coming to my rescue... I choke on a laugh that quickly turns into a sob.

It's not like I had any kind of a claim on you. It's not like I even knew you all that well... God, I don't even know what I mean or what I thought. I guess I thought I'd have enough time to figure it out. What a fool I was...

I'm not even sure when I started to feel... whatever it is that I feel for you... felt for you... God knows it wasn't the first time we met. Hell, I almost killed you, didn't I? I can feel another laugh bubbling up inside my chest. I fight it, somehow knowing that if I give into hysterics now, I'll start screaming and never stop. And what would poor Quatre think?

Maybe... maybe it was when I saw you strapped down on that hospital bed. Not that I'm into that sort of thing, mind you! There was just something about you that drew me - something in your not-quite-dead gaze. You always tried to pretend you felt nothing - nothing for anyone, least of all yourself. Your life was nothing but a tool, even less valuable to you than your Gundam. Maybe that's why you... I stop that train of thought before it can go any further. I really can't handle thinking about that yet... I draw in a shaky breath and turn my mind back to that day - the day you ensnared me without even knowing what you'd done.

So where was I? Oh... right. Your eyes. Cobalt blue orbs that a person could fall into for all eternity. To everyone else your eyes were dead, as inhuman as you appeared to be. But not to me... never to me. Maybe it's because I wear my own mask, that allowed me to see through yours - to see that no matter how you'd try to drown it in training, your soul was still alive.

You'd had me convinced - what with your little stunt with the missiles - that you truly did want to die. But just as my good old Catholic guilt won't let me take my own life, neither would it let me give up on yours. Especially not when you could be what I'd longed for 10 years... a partner.

And so I threw caution to the wind and broke into that hospital to rescue you. Taking out the guards was an exercise in child's play. They hardly even put up a fight. By the time I'd gotten into the control rooms you were already aware of my presence - I'm sure of it.

I talked to you through the monitor, glad that you could read lips as easily as I'd been trained to do. I didn't expect any kind of reaction out of you. Maybe that was why it shocked me so badly when I got one. For just one brief second, one fleeting moment when I first flicked on the monitor... I saw hope in your eyes. You hid it quickly, almost too quickly, but I caught it. I've always been an adept little thief. Of all the things I've ever stolen, I'm most proud of that one little treasure.

The memory of that fleeting look of hope filling your eyes will always be one of my most treasured. Funny... almost all of the rest involve you in some way, too...

But I digress. With that one look you had me trapped. I could no more escape you than the Earth could escape the sun. I needed to see that look on your face again. I wanted to see others on it, too. Happiness, joy, relief, playfulness... all the emotions that come so easily to me... I wanted you to have the freedom within yourself to express them whenever you would - however seldom that might end up being.

Just as I'd made up my mind about all of this you went and threw a wrench in the works. It should have occurred to me that you'd pull something like that... but that one look of hope in your eyes had lulled me into a false sense of security.

What the hell did you think you were doing??? Throwing yourself out of a 30th story window without opening your parachute! Even now I don't like to admit how badly you scared me. Just goes to show you how strong a hold you already had on my heart - the thought of losing you scared me witless. I'd never come so close to a full-fledged panic as I did that day. And then... you tried to open the chute. It didn't register until later that it was Relena-ojousan's voice that snapped you out of it. I hate to say it, but... man was I jealous. At least now I know better. Relena-sama had no more claim on your heart that... than... well, me.

I sigh as I pull my knees up to my chest and wrap my arms loosely around them. I'm so tired... My head drops to rest on my knees as I regard the still desert room that Quatre has loaned me for my stay with the Maguarnacs. In spite of the situation, Quatre's relationship with his troop of freedom fighters still amuses me. Especially RaSheed... I chuckle wearily - he's like a cross between a worrying mother hen and a fiercely protective mother wolf. I envy that innocent Arabian pilot - even far away from his home and family, he still has a family to love and cherish him. It doesn't help to know that he fully appreciates his good fortune and does his best to share it. In a way, it almost makes it worse.

As if my thoughts have summoned him, I hear a tentative knock on the door. In the time it takes me to debate the issue of company the blond pilot of Sandrock has already entered my room. He settles himself next to me on the bed and stretches out a hand to rub my back. That one gesture nearly breaks me and I feel another sob well up in my chest. Quatre's sky blue eyes are sympathetic, worrying.

As he continues to rub my back, I bury my face between my knees silently fighting with my tears. Boys don't cry... I am only dimly aware of Quatre's husky also voice as he begins to talk, "Duo... I don't think your friend would wish for you to mourn him... not like this..."

Inwardly I let out a bitter chuckle, Oh Quatre... He didn't know you very well, did he, Heero? You likely wouldn't care if I mourned you. You wouldn't understand why your death would affect anyone so badly. And in a way, I mourn as much for that as for your death.

Quatre's hand leaves off its rubbing and settles around my shoulders, "Duo... please talk to me. This isn't healthy..." He pulls me even closer to him, wrapping both arms around my shuddering frame. Almost desperate for what little comfort he can offer me, I transfer my strangle-hold from my knees to his waist. He jerks in startlement then settles. I still can't bring myself to let the tears fall.

I listen quietly as Quatre murmurs reassurances in my ears. It won't help - I don't know why he bothers to try. Maybe... maybe he needs to comfort as much as I need to be comforted. Maybe he needs to be strong for me to keep himself from flying apart. After all... we haven't heard from Trowa since then, either. It's only been a few days, but the lack of contact is starting to wear on Quatre.

We're so much alike, he and I, yet so different. We both have that need to reach out and touch. We both have that crazy instinct that keeps us holding out our hands even after they've been slapped away.

It is only when Quatre gasps that I realize I spoke those thoughts aloud. I chuckle bitterly as I pull out of the blond pilot's embrace. I was right... there was no comfort for me there. Quatre's eyes widen as I shift to lean back against the headboard, knees once again clutched to my chest. He frowns, "What... what do you mean?"

That bitter laugh escapes my lips a second time, "Did you think I didn't notice?" I hardly recognize my own voice - it is cold, mocking, full of pain. It's not my voice... I continue, "You and Trowa, man. It's the same thing as me and Heero. You try and you try and you reach and you reach and... nothing. There's no one home - or they're home and keeping all the doors and windows locked. No matter what you do, no matter how you try to pick the lock... still no entrance."

I close my eyes, unable to bear the look on Quatre's face. I could practically see the world "hidoi" stamped on his forehead as I spoke. His voice is hesitant as he responds, yet firms with defiance once he gets started, "I-iie. Trowa's not like that! Not at all... He may not be all that demonstrative yet, but I know he cares! I know..."

I can hear the tears trembling on the edge of his voice as I open my eyes and smile weakly, "Gomen, Quatre... I'm just not feeling all that well - I've been snapping at everyone. Don't mind me..."

Quatre's eyes soften once again as he stands, "I understand, Duo. Just... don't hide away up here, OK? Come down to dinner tonight. Onegai...?"

I can no more refuse his hope-filled gaze than I could kick a puppy. I nod once, solemnly. I could swear he almost cheered but held it back out of deference to my mental state. I'm almost relieved when he finally leaves. I really can't take his eternal optimism right now. I'm not used to it. You couldn't have been optimistic if you tried - you'd had too much go wrong in your life. I snort - if that's the case, then how the hell do I explain myself? Oh who cares...

I uncurl my limbs and stretch out in bed, my head automatically turning to see the other side of the room... but there is no other bed and no silent, sullen roommate to meet my gaze. It's amazing how used to having you around I got. Come back after classes and there you'd be, typing away at your laptop... I smirk slightly, it always was fun to try to distract you from your ceaseless typing. Not surprisingly, it never really worked...

I pull a loose pillow back against my chest, clutching it to me like a stuffed animal. I can still picture you as you used to be...

* * * FLASHBACK * * *

"Oi! Duo-kun! Great game the other day! You and Heero-kun make a great team. Maybe you'll play on our side next time?"

I smirk inwardly as I trade compliments and insults with one of our classmates. He has no idea how true his words are... After that basketball game, there was a... almost a sense of camaraderie between Heero and I. He shrugged me off quickly enough, but like that one flash of hope in his eyes, I'd managed to steal this too. As Heero solidly dunked that last shot into the basket and the rousing cheers had started, I'd seen a jumble of emotions in his eyes: joy, pride, friendship - a normal cacophony of feeling for a boy his age. As I'd seen them in his eyes, I'd finally gathered up the courage to do something I'd dreamt of since helping him escape the hospital - I touched him. He didn't pull away from me as I gripped his shoulder. His skin was warm from the exercise, but so soft... like silk over steel. I was almost grateful when he finally pulled away - I don't think I'd've been able to let go otherwise.

As he walked away, I stood there frozen, unsure of what had just happened. Heero's warm skin had been positively tantalizing to my fingers. Even now I'm not sure exactly what I'd felt. The little devil on my shoulder had whispered, "Lust. Attraction," but I'd shoved those thoughts away. I'm a boy and Heero's a boy - and boys don't lust after other boys!

I'd followed him to the sea, roiling and mind-numbed with confusion, but unwilling to let him wander too far. And just as I was getting him to talk to me... BOOM! Relena-sama arrives complete with fawning entourage. As I watched her trying to reach him, I could feel my jealousy raging and wondered at it. Why was I jealous? God have mercy on my soul... I knew, then and there, that I was falling for him - yes in that way.

After establishing my claim with another arm around his shoulders I backed off. I didn't see him again until that night at the OZ base. You know, I actually thought that bastard was gonna kill me! He's sure got a twisted mind... If he hadn't been busy using it on me, I'd probably have appreciated it more.

I finally reach the dorm room I'm sharing with the object of my confusion and open the door - or rather I try to. The door is locked. I sigh as I begin searching for my keys, cursing the fact that I couldn't be more organized. Just as I find them and insert them into the lock... the door opens under my hand. I can almost feel myself twitching in exasperation.

Heero gives me such a cold look that I automatically flinch away. Without another word, he turns back to his computer - I'm already starting to hate that laptop. He talks to it more than he talks to me, damn it!

For some reason it bothers me more than usual today. Here I am, having all these thoughts about teamwork, camaraderie, and - may God forgive me - love, and he can't even manage a heartfelt "Hello, Duo, how are you?"!

I push the door closed behind me and lock it. He doesn't even pause in his typing. I slam my books down so hard on my desk that I feel the shock all the way up to my shoulder. He doesn't even turn to look. I don't want to admit it, but I'm hurt. I fold my arms over my chest and stare hard at his back, willing him to turn and look at me. I know he has it in him to respond... he just won't. Damned stubborn fool. Well, I've got news for you, Mr. Perfect-Soldier-Yuy. I'm even more stubborn than you are, so we'll just see who has the last laugh.

I begin chewing on the end of my braid, trying to decide on a course of action. A cold, slightly nasal voice interrupts my thoughts, "Stop that."

I blink wide, innocent eyes at my roommate, "Stop what?"

Heero turns back to his laptop, "You were humming. It's distracting."

I was humming? Huh. I didn't even notice... I lean over his desk, trying to get a better glimpse of the screen, "Oi! Whatcha doin' that's so important, anyway?"

Somehow I'm not all that surprised when he doesn't answer. I take a moment to run my suddenly aching head. Why me? I stroll over to my bed and stare at my closet, at the one black set of clothes hanging in a dark corner. I tug at the tie around my neck, squirming uncomfortably - it's been so long since I wore anything but my customary black. Today it feels even more uncomfortable than usual. I yank the tie off even as I'm shrugging the jacket off my shoulders. They fall to the floor with the light sound of rustling cloth. I reach for my priest's shirt and pants, laying them out lovingly on my bed.

I spend but a moment gazing at them before wriggling out of the rest of my clothes. As they fall to the floor and I bend over to pull off my shoes, I hear a small noise - and freeze. I am suddenly very much aware of my own heartbeat - it is way too loud. I strain my ears, hoping to catch a repeat of that one small sound - the sound of a gasp that had been strangled at the halfway point. I know he didn't mean for me to hear it - hell, he probably didn't mean to utter it - but he did, and I did.

I complete the act of taking off my shoes and reach for my clothes, drawing out the process of getting dressed for as long as I can. I don't know how I missed it earlier, but the feel of his eyes on me and the tiny, occasional hitches in his breathing are unmistakable now. A giddy feeling overtakes me as I fasten my collar and tuck my golden crucifix safely inside. I want to laugh for joy and I can't seem to help the maniacal grin that crosses my face, Not as stone cold as we look, are we Heero Yuy?

Yet even as I smirk with glee, I know I can't do anything about it now. Heero isn't ready - he isn't ready by a long shot. I sigh, waiting for the typing to resume before turning around. This is going to be an uphill battle all the way and he's going to fight me with every weapon in his arsenal... but in the end, I'll win. See, I've got a secret weapon now and Heero won't know about it until it's too late. What is it? Simple really... Heero cares and he feels. That one strangled gasp told me everything I need to know. I tuck it safely away with my other cherished memories of him, emblazoning it upon my mind so I'll never forget. I will win this fight, Heero - even you can't stand against me. Suki da, Heero...

* * * END FLASHBACK * * *

I open my eyes slowly, afraid to see the empty room again. It hurts... deep down in my chest where my heart is. It hurts that you aren't here. It hurts that those delicately engraved memories are all I have left of you. I begin mentally reviewing them in a desperate attempt to hold onto you... That flash of hope that I saw in your eyes; that moment of humanness brought on by a basketball game; your startled gasp as you watched me undress... the list goes on, each moment more intimate, more open.

There was that one time... I have to smile at the memory. It had been a particularly gory fight. By the time we reached our safehouse we both had blood dried on us everywhere. My hair was a wreck, so I claimed the first shower. I expected you to do one of two things: ignore me and shower first or shrug it off like you always do and go tinker with your laptop. You did neither. I can't help the snicker that escapes my lips as I hold the pillow tighter against my stomach. You complained! I swear, if you'd been anyone else it would've come out as a whine. I think I'm the only one who could've detected it. To anyone else your words would have sounded cold, logical, and distant... ~But if you shower first, you'll use up all of the hot water.~ An uncaring voice, pointing out a fact that I might have missed.

I smirk - they don't know you like I do. I've made a study of reading your non-expression and hearing the inflection in your dead voice. The key is in your eyes, the single part of you that you don't have complete control over. Not that your eyes are easy to read. To most they seem as dead as the rest of you, but not to me. I can always see the emotion in your eyes. That's how I read you as well as I do... that's why it's so easy for me to lose myself in your eyes.

But I digress... That night as you spoke those words, I again looked into your eyes. What I saw there shocked me - and gave me hope. In your eyes I saw pleading, disgust, hope - I thought I even saw you wrinkle your nose. You wouldn't say anything if I objected. You wouldn't show any disappointment if I went first... but you wanted that shower.

Of course you weren't aware of any of these thoughts as they raced through my mind - you'd already turned towards our room, doubtless to go commune with your laptop. I debated asking if you wanted to share a shower, but tossed the idea almost immediately. No matter how much you had opened up to me - consciously or otherwise - you still weren't ready for that, nowhere near.

I had reached out a hand to touch your shoulder and you turned, one eyebrow raised in question. It was an improvement. In the past you'd have hit me for taking such a liberty. I smiled at you and jerked my head towards the bathroom, ~Go on. You look like you need it more than I do.~

You nodded and moved towards the shower - but then you stopped. Your lips moved slightly, as if to form the vowel 'A'. I waited, but the word never came. You went and took your shower. It didn't matter, though - I'd heard the word you were trying to say. I whispered my response to your back, ~You're welcome, Heero. Any time.~ I'd left to check Shinigami with a happy heart.

But now my thought are anything but happy. I sit up in bed, slowly releasing the chokehold I have on my pillow. No... I'm very far from happy - I don't think I'll ever be happy again. When you... I have to force myself to think the word. When you died... you took a part of me with you. My soul is now a raw, bleeding thing that reaches constantly for its other half - another half that it will never have again.

I throw the pillow down on my bed and stand up, almost angry at myself for begin so weak. Quatre wanted me to come down for dinner... I grab onto that thought as a last grasp for stability. A quick glance at the clock shows that it is long past the dinner hour. It's almost eleven o'clock... I wince as I realize that I unwittingly broke my promise. Duo Maxwell runs and hides, but he never lies. And yet... it isn't too late. I can still go down and find him.

I splash some cold water on my face and race down the stairs to the dining room. I feel my heart wrench at what I see. Quatre is sitting at the table, staring off into space, his food cold and untouched in front of him. There is another, equally cold and untouched plate of food across from him. I suppose that's mine...

At my entrance, his gaze snaps up to land on my face. A sunny smile breaks out across his. He jumps to his feet, innocent joy incarnate, "Duo! I'm so glad you made it down for dinner!"

Forget that it's four hours past the appointed dinner time. Forget that the rest of the house is cold and silent as everyone had long ago sought their beds. He's still happy that I came down for dinner. As his pleading gaze ushers me to my seat I can only stare at him. Perhaps... perhaps Quatre's not as stable as I thought he was... The thought makes me shiver. It just can't be... The gentle Arabian pilot is my only point of stability now that you're gone! This is the last blow to my quickly failing emotional control. I can't hold back the tears anymore. I've been holding them back in a valiant effort to stay strong... but I'm not. I'm not strong, not on my own. Never on my own. And Quatre can't help me because he's hurting just as badly as I am.

My body begins to shake as the sobs tear out of me, sapping my remaining strength with their force. I am only dimly aware of Quatre rushing around the table towards me, eyes flooded with concern. My mind is filled with the knowledge of how weak and empty I am without you, of that burning hole in my heart that will never be filled again.

I bore the loss of a partner once before, but this is so much worse. He was a friend, a brother, but you - Heero, you were so much more! you were the missing half of my soul, the person I gladly would have spent the rest of my life with, Catholic prejudices be damned! Now that you've left me, too... Heero I can't do this again!

I become aware of a high agonized keening, almost a wail, really, and wonder who could be making such a God-awful noise. It takes me a minute to figure out that it's me. I try to make it stop and only manage to convert it into a few choked whimpers before it starts up again. What little control I have slips away - I honestly don't know how I'll survive this... My life can't possibly get any worse. God help me... I want to die.

A sharp pinch at my right arm and the feel of something cool and foreign flooding into my veins nearly sends my mind into an overload of panic. Fortunately, unconsciousness gets there first and sets up residence. The last thought I have as my eyelids slide shut over haunted indigo eyes is a heartfelt prayer that I will never wake up.

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