Collaboration by Christy and Ashkara
Category: Sap, fluff, sugar overload.
Pairings: 1x2
Rating: PG?
Warnings: AU.
Written for the Moments of Rapture Contest - 2002







I walk out the back door, shrugging off my jacket, and look down at the edge of the water. I knew he would be there, staring out over the waves as he always is when I return from a mission. He's changed a lot in the three years since the Eve war. The masks are gone, and every emotion, every thing he feels, are clear to read in his eyes. He's much calmer and quieter, less manic, though his smiles and sense of humour still abound. But they've changed. His humour is no longer the harsh and coarse type it was before the peace, and his smiles... he truly smiles now, not his wild and crazy grin that sometimes annoyed me so much, but honest smiles. The kind that make his eyes shine and brighten the whole room. I love his smiles.

He's happier now than he's ever been, and he's at peace with himself. It's almost as if the God of Death died at the end of the war, and the God of Life was born.

I suppose I've changed, too. When the last war ended, so too did my ordered, mission-controlled life. 'Destroying' Mariemaia and restoring peace was the last thing I *had* to do. When I woke up in the hospital and saw him sitting in a chair next to my bed, slumped over, looking haggard and with shadows under his eyes, I knew what I *wanted* to do. I wanted to take us both away... away to where we could find our own bit of peace and happiness. Somewhere that we could start to live again, without orders and obligations. I wanted us to start over.

So, I bought us a house on a semi-deserted stretch of beach in California.

His eyes shone when he first saw the large chalet-styled beach house. The front is mostly windows, with a veranda running the length of it, shaded by tall palm trees. It's two stories, with three bedrooms, two baths, large kitchen, dining room, living room, and study. There's a balcony outside our bedroom, and another veranda runs along the back of the house. It needed a little work, the paint was peeling in places, a few roof tiles were missing, the plumbing needed to be redone and all of the floors needed to be sanded and refinished. It's a little isolated-- the next house is almost a mile down the beach-- but it's only about half an hour to Santa Rosa and a couple of hours to Sacramento or San Francisco. He just smiled and said it was simply perfect.

We did all the repairs ourselves. He laughed when I forgot to turn off the water main when we started the plumbing and water flooded the main bath. He pouted when he finished sanding the living room floor and saw the dust, an inch thick, covering every surface. He sang as we stripped and repainted the exterior. He talked to the flowers we potted and placed on the verandas, and danced around furniture stores, calmly explaining to me exactly why we *had* to have every piece he chose.

Our evenings were quiet times. He always cooked dinner, saying he couldn't live on rice alone. But I knew it was because he loved to cook. It was just one more thing he had missed out on while growing up and during the war that he was making up for now... like the plants in every room, the books filling the study walls and the huge whirlpool tub in our bathroom. After dinner we'd clean up together, then wander out to our private stretch of beach to watch the sunset. Afterwards, he'd smile at me, and say the sunset was beautiful, but not as beautiful as I am. He still does to this day.

Some nights we'd make love until the early hours of the morning, kissing, touching, feeling, holding out until we were both mindless, then coming together with a fiery passion that makes me hard just to think about it. Other nights, we'd curl together and just talk about anything and everything... our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. Every night, though, before we'd sleep, he'd kiss me and say 'I love you, Heero', then he'd smile at me, the depth of his feeling shining in his eyes. The last thing I see every night is his smile.

We spent the first six months learning to live... and to love.

Our peace was interrupted unexpectedly when Relena asked us to be her bodyguards.

I called him to the vidphone, and Relena re-explained the situation. He listened politely, his hand in mine, then smiled at me and shook his head, calmly explaining that he never wanted to have to walk on the edge again. Never wanted to carry a gun. Never wanted to have to kill or fight again. He wanted to stay right where he was. To my surprise, Relena smiled and nodded, apologising for even asking. He smiled back, then said it was my choice if I wanted to join or not. I was stuck. I loved him and wanted to stay as we were forever, but a part of me felt the need to protect the peace. We reached a compromise. I'd be a special Preventers agent, only on duty when it was absolutely necessary for me to guard her. He just smiled at me.

Luckily, my 'missions' turned out to be few and far between, perhaps once every couple of months. When I get home, he's always sitting on the beach, waiting for me, just like he is now, bare feet in the warm sand and his hair blowing loose in the breeze--

"Heero, you're just in time. The sun is almost setting..." His voice breaks into my reverie and I walk down the steps, down the small hill and across the sand to kneel down behind him, wrapping my arms around him and smelling the fresh scent of his hair.

"Duo..." I sigh, leaning over to kiss him, "I've missed you."

"I've missed you, too," he whispers against my lips, leaning back and resting his head against my shoulder. "How did it go?"

"Mission accomplished. The conference went well, nothing happened and Relena sends her love. How was your week?"

"Aside from lonely without you?" His eyes sparkle and he smiles, turning his face from the slowly setting sun to look at me and kiss my cheek. "It was fine. Quatre called. He and Trowa are coming for a visit next week. I finished that analysis for Une and sent it off. She has some reports she wants me to go over, so she'll send them with Quatre. I bought some more plants for the porch and ordered some paving stones to build a patio for barbequing on. They'll be delivered day after tomorrow, so we should be able to get it finished before the guys get here. What do you think about going into the city tomorrow and getting some patio furniture and a grill and stuff?"

I just smile and hug him tighter, leaning in to kiss him again. "Anything you want, Duo, just keep smiling for me."


~ * ~




Life is a funny thing, you know? I never would have thought, back in the old days, that someday I'd be living in such a beautiful place with the most wonderful, caring, sensitive, fantastic man in the world. I never could have dreamed of feeling so safe and...

Peaceful. Yeah, that's how I feel.

I knew it almost immediately, that he was The One. He was so cold back then, so stand-offish, so mechanical. I almost wish Doctor J had lived to see his training fail so completely. There is very little in my life that has given me more pleasure than seeing Heero come alive, and knowing that my smile has broken down all his barriers.

We grew up in rough times, he and I. We didn't really know how to trust, how to relax, how to be real people. I was every bit as fake as he was back then, though at the other end of the spectrum. His frown, my smile. His silence, my noise. And I think that was part of what drew us together.

Under all the training and smarts and masks and all that, we recognised ourselves in each other.

I don't have to be strong around him. He knows already - how could he not, after what we went through? I don't have to hide how I feel or what I want - I don't have to worry that someone would find out and use it to hurt me.

I don't have to fight anymore. I've done my part, though I understand how Heero can't give it up. Part of me almost wishes I could go back onto active duty, too, just to get that rush of excitement again, but the truth is that I don't have to. Because of what we did, other people are stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility into their hands.

Heero and I are free, truly free. Most people have absolutely no idea how precious that freedom is, but we gave it up to win it, and now that we have it, we can finally enjoy it. We moved out here together, bought and fixed up this house, planted our own little garden. We've laughed together and had popcorn fights, we've taken long walks on the beach, hand in hand. We've made love under the stars without a care in the world.

I can't help feeling blessed just looking at him, just thinking about him. He was so nervous at first, unsure of what to say or how to act. He had to learn it all - how to smile, how to laugh and not feel guilty about it, how to give in to secret urges, how to finally whisper those words that to this day send shivers up my spine when he says them - 'I love you, Duo.'

I love his voice. He didn't talk much, back during the wars, but there's nothing to stop him now, and he doesn't stop. He's so brilliant and imaginative, and you can hear it in every word he speaks, that he finds it all fascinating and beautiful. He sounds so fresh and real and... Well, he sounds damn sexy. Can't forget that.

He's done an awful lot for me, too. There's so much that I wanted to do that I never had the chance to even consider, and he gave it all to me. It feels so secure and warm to be able to just sit on my own porch and read without needing constant sound or motion to keep me from thinking too hard. It's cool to finally do normal people things, like learning to cook, or going out to buy stuff to furnish your home, knowing that it can truly be a home, that you won't have to leave it in a week's time for another location.

It's fantastic to be able to watch him at night, after he falls asleep himself, and to see how beautiful and fragile he is. Heero is my strength, but it humbles me to know that I am his, too. He gave me his heart, and I gave him mine, and that's a choice I will never live to regret.

He's been gone for a week, but he's due back in tonight. I feel so warm and excited to know he's coming home. He will drive up in that crazy car of his that I still haven't fixed the carburetor on - I wonder if he knows that I can hear him coming? - and leave his bags off in the house before he wanders out here to the beach to find me in my spot. He will take me in his arms and bury his hands in my hair. I left it loose for him; he loves my hair.

He will hold me and kiss me, and for a perfect moment in time, the sun will dip into the Pacific and paint the sky.

We'll both miss it. We always do, but somehow, when I have Heero at my side, giving me that special look, with that special gleam to his eyes, it doesn't matter. Sunsets are trivial things when the love of your life looks you straight in the eye and tells you without words that you are the most precious thing in the world. You don't need words to say the things that mean the most - Heero taught me that.

I smile as I finally hear the approaching vehicle faintly over the endless crashing of the waves, and I feel a flush of heat and happiness. My heart has come back to me.

I know he's there; I can feel his eyes on me. "Heero, you're just in time. The sun is almost setting..."




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