Title: Reunion AC 197 -- part 11
Author: Jade
Pairing: 1x2, 3x4, 6x5, 13x5, 13x6, etc.
Warnings: yaoi, lemon, non-consensual sex, violence, angst
Disclaimers: Don't own, don't sue, don't ask, don't tell

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The ballroom was decorated lavishly; all of the important members of the world's press had gathered to record this historic event. The president of the world nation spoke, followed by an impassioned speech by Vice Minister Relena Darlian. Various people instrumental to the victory over war were to be honored, separately and collectively.

Duo stood backstage, waiting for his cue to go onstage. He nervously toyed with his hair, back in a braid for the occasion. He knew the other pilots must be around somewhere, but he had only seen Quatre so far. He was dressed in a black flightsuit, because they had never had a formal uniform. He was straining to hear what was being said onstage when he heard Quatre's voice greeting someone, and when that someone answered, Duo's heart stopped and leapt into his mouth. Heero was here.

Restraining himself from whirling around to see the other pilot, Duo stared fixedly ahead and tried to listen to that voice, the one that haunted his dreams. He couldn't make out the words, but he could easily recognize the tone. Heero was not happy to be there.

Turning slowly, Duo was able to figure out that Heero was around the corner from him. He still couldn't see the Japanese boy, so he edged closer. He turned the corner, and looked across the hall. A shock ran through him as he looked upon Heero for the first time in a year.

Heero was dressed, the same as him, in a black flightsuit. As Duo's eyes traveled up Heero's body, he could tell that Heero was taller, and more muscular than before. Looking at Heero's face, Duo felt a familiar ache in his heart. The boy had become even more beautiful, if that was possible. Duo couldn't place the subtle difference, but somewhere in the cobalt eyes or the chiseled cheekbones or the full lips, Heero had become heartbreakingly gorgeous. And it was just as obvious he still had no clue about his beauty. Then those cobalt eyes locked with his, and Duo felt the electric shock again. Looking deep into those eyes from 15 feet away, Duo forgot to breathe and had to forcibly remind himself that this was the same Heero that had rejected him and hit him when Duo had professed his love.

Quatre followed Heero's gaze and saw Duo. He said a few more words to Heero, then hurried across the hall to the longhaired boy.

"Are you ok?" the blond boy asked with concern.

Duo could only stare. "God, he looks good," Duo managed to mumble. "But I don't think I can talk to him now."

Quatre reassured him, "That's ok, we're going on in just a minute. He wasn't happy with the security arrangements."

"Why?" Duo wondered.

Quatre hesitated, then decided to tell Duo the truth. "He's Relena's head of security," he explained. Duo stared at him in shock.

"You mean he..." Duo stammered.

"No! I mean, I don't know," Quatre said, understanding Duo immediately.

Duo stared over Quatre's shoulder at Heero, who was busy glaring at everyone in sight. Had Relena finally gotten to him? Or maybe he had loved her all along, and that was why he had rejected him. Duo's face burned with shame as he relived that night, seeing it in a new light. No wonder Heero had been so angry. How had Duo misread Heero so completely?

"Oh, Quatre," sighed Duo miserably, "There's no point, then, is there?"

"Duo! You don't know that for sure! Don't give up!" Just then, Quatre's eyes widened and he stopped talking, staring over Duo's shoulder. Duo turned to look, and wasn't surprised to see what, or rather whom, the blond was staring at. There stood Trowa, talking quietly to Heero.

"Quatre?" Duo whispered. "Go talk to him."

"No! I can't," Quatre answered miserably. "He probably hates me."

"Trowa could never hate you, I'm sure of that," Duo reassured him. Then, over Quatre's shoulder, he caught sight of the last of the group; Zechs and Wufei, also dressed in black flightsuits, approaching warily. "Well, the gang's all here," quipped Duo, trying to put his jester's mask back on despite his cobalt-eyed dream across the room.

Fortunately, no further conversation was possible; the stage director was informing them that they needed them onstage, now.

The ceremony was over quickly; they were praised, presented with medals, and applauded to within an inch of their lives. Then it was over, and they were ushered off the stage and down the hall.

They all stopped awkwardly in the waiting room, Duo and Quatre huddled together, Zechs and Wufei standing close, and Heero and Trowa by themselves. Quatre knew, as the host, he had to say something. He had to try several times, however, until he could trust his voice.

"Well, that wasn't too bad, was it?" Quatre said with forced cheerfulness. "I'll see you all at the party later, right?"

He looked around. Everyone nodded, but no one seemed inclined to be talkative, even Duo.

They all scattered then, without further conversation. Duo didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

Continued in part 12