The very first time I heard this song, this fic took form in my head. Some relationship angst, I hope I conveyed the emotion correctly.
Where have you been?
Gundam Wing (little AU)
inspired by song “Where’ve you been?” by Kathy Mattea
Set after the final episode of the series. No Endless Waltz
Duo stood and fidgeted in the foyer. Paygan politely asked him to wait while he fetched Relena. He almost turned and ran. How could he face her? After running from the hospital four years ago, he had avoided all contact with the women in this house. After years of running, finally, he couldn’t resist anymore, he had to see her, had to see how she was.
He paced the room, hands stuffed deep in his pockets.
Would she want to see him? Could he be causing more harm by being here? Heero refused to talk about her condition. Every time he asked he would get the Yuy glare “You know where she is, find out for yourself.”
He wanted to, but how could he ever apologize for the pain he caused her? All she had suffered because of him? Could he face the pain of her blank stare?
A harsh laugh escaped his lips. That was the real problem wasn’t it? He was a coward. The glassy eyed vacant stare she had in the hospital had almost driven him mad. So he ran. All this time he had been running from her, because she might not recover or know him. Losing her would have been easier if she had died, but for her to live. Live and not remember their time together. It tore at his soul. He should have died in the war. That was supposed to be his fate; he had known it all along. Not her, she should have been living a long happy life.
“Damn you, Quatre.” Duo cursed. “Why did I let you talk me into coming here?”
He shoved his fingers through his hair cupping his head. “I can’t do this.” He turned for the door, but Paygan stood before it.
He had been so distracted he hadn’t noticed the old guy come back. There was a soft almost pitying look in Paygan’s eyes. Escape was cut off, unless he wanted to physically remove the butler. Duo’s heart pounded in his chest. So many Gundam battles, narrow escapes, and staring death in the eye, all faced with a laugh or sarcastic comment. Now standing here, he was having a panic attack just thinking of seeing a girl.
Duo’s breath escaped him in a sigh of defeat. He turned to face the ex-queen of the world.
She smiled gently at him. Walking up she wrapped her arms around him, “We’ve missed you.”
Duo sunk into the hug, squeezing her tight, he buried his face in her hair. “Me too.” Drawing on her strength and putting off the encounter a little longer.
They stood there for many minutes, till he pulled back from the comfort of her arms. His smile was strained, but sincere. “Thank you for taking care of her.”
Relena waved that away, tucking her hand in his elbow, guiding him toward the stairs. “She helped save the whole world. I wasn’t going to let them shut her away in some mental ward. We owe her our lives, I can never repay that.”
Duo pulled her to a halt at the bottom of the stairs. “I don’t know if I can do it Lena.”
Relena watched the muscles work in his throat. He stared up the steps like the gate of hell waited at the top. “I think it will be good for both of you,” she tried to reassure him.
“How is she?” He asked, not looking at her.
“Okay,” Relena smiled encouragingly. “The doctors say she is physically recovered.”
“But?” His voice came out as flat and hopeless as she had ever heard it.
Sighing, Relena continued, “She goes through everyday tasks. When I speak she seems to understand, but responses are few and silent.”
“So, it is true.” Duo’s eyes closed in pain. “She hasn’t spoken since she left the hospital.”
She squeezed his arm, trying to lend strength and comfort. “She could recover any day; the doctors don’t know what is holding her back.” She took the first step, pulling him with her. “See her, speak to her. I didn’t know her from before, we weren’t friends. Talk to her about things from her life, it can’t hurt.”
Duo opened his eyes and reluctantly followed. “Couldn’t it Relena? After all I’m the reason she was hurt. If I hadn’t been there she never would have fought that battle. She risked everything because she wanted to prove something to me. If she hadn’t met me this never would have happened.”
When they hit the landing Relena pulled him around to face her. “Duo, you have to stop this.” She grasped both his hands. “She was a soldier. She knew what she was doing. OZ recruited her long before you came into her life. Who knows which battles she would have fought in without your influence? The only difference is which side she fought on. You inspired her change of heart, but she never stopped being a soldier. She did what needed to be done.” She dropped his hands to stomp frustrated across the hall. Gripping a door handle, she looked back at him. “You need to stop with the guilt trip and celebrate her courage. She is a brave, honorable, hero of the war and she deserves better than you dismissing her contribution. You are belittling her sacrifice.”
Relena turned the knob to enter. Duo sprung across the hall. Putting his hand over hers he stopped her from opening the door. “Your right, I’m sorry.” His free hand ran over his eyes, raking back his bangs. “But what if seeing me hurts her? What if it brings back something she wanted to forget?”
“Then at least she would be feeling something!” Relena bit her lip, “I’m sorry. It is hard seeing her every day and knowing that once she had such passion and vitality.” She looked into Duo’s eyes pleading, “please, do something, anything. Screaming, tears, ANY reaction would be better than what she has been for these last four years.”
Relena pushed the door open. Duo was afraid his heart would stop as he looked into the large bedroom, but it was empty.
With a gentle push Relena forced him into the room. “She is usually on the balcony.”
Relena watched him move hesitantly toward the large glass doors. She should leave them alone, she knew that, but she couldn’t. What if she was needed?
That wasn’t it, she chastised herself. You want to see what happens. This is the last tiny thread of hope. No one thinks she will ever recover. Her mind is lost.
Relena stayed in the shadows of the bedroom as Duo approached the figure standing at the railing.
Duo was sick. He had missed her so much, had thought of her every day. No matter where he went or what he did her ghost pursued him. God forgive him, he had tried whatever he could think of; every legal sin available to him and some illegal ones.
She stood her hands resting lightly atop the rail. A simple white cotton gown fluttered gently in the breeze. Long black locks fell down her back as she gazed into the sky, as if she were looking for something in the clouds.
It took all the strength he had, that he ever had, to speak her name. Facing down an army of Mobile suits was easier than drawing those eyes toward him.
“Hilde.” It came out hoarse and choked. He couldn’t help it, fear was strangling him.
Nothing happened. His heart hit his stomach like a rock. Everyone was looking to him to save her. They hadn’t said it, but it hung like a noose around his neck. If he couldn’t bring her back, then she would be gone forever. He hadn’t realize how much he had hoped the same thing. The pain ate at him. Some part of him had thought he would walk into the room, call her name and she would rush into his arms.
He approached the rail. Hilde’s eyes were distant and empty, gazing at nothing.
Tears burned the back of his eyes and his throat closed completely. He couldn’t speak again. Gently, he took her hand in his. Without conscious thought he began running his thumb across her knuckles. The dam broke free. Four years of pain and guilt poured down his face. I’m so sorry Hilde; he prayed silently, I wanted to save you.
Slowly her gaze went from the sky to her hand clasped in his. It seemed like an eternity that she watched their hands. Then her gaze came up to his face. He found himself staring into those empty eyes. He couldn’t take it. He closed his eyes. It was a shot in the heart, pain radiated through him. That last bit of hope cut him to the core as it died. He mourned her loss.
He took a step back; he had to get out of here. It was a mistake to come here. She was gone and being near what was left of her was killing him. He said a silent goodbye to the girl he had loved, would always love.
When pulled his hand, her fingers tightened on his.
He looked at her hand in surprise before looking at her face. His heart seemed to stop in his chest. Those beautiful blue eyes looked at him questioningly.
“Where have you been?” She said in a fragile voice. “I’ve looked for you.”
He dropped to his knees, shock radiated through him.
“Where have you been?” She asked. “I’m just not myself when you’re away.”
Relena covered her mouth, silent tears running down her face.
Hilde reached out and touched Duo’s face. “In many dreams I’ve held you near and now at last you are really here.”
Duo surged up and wrapped his arms around her. He squeezed her to him, weeping into her neck.
“Where’ve you been?”