disclaimer:  GW belongs to Sunrise/Sotsu and Bandai.  "I Will Always Love You" belongs to Dolly Parton. (The original version is really the only one...fabulous tearjerker of a song...)

warnings: sap, minor angst, shounen ai, hetlove




~If I should stay

Well I would only be in your way

And so I'll go, and yet I know

I'll think of you each step of my way

and I will always love you

I will always love you~


I'm not blind.  Preoccupied, yes, but I don't like to think of myself as a complete idiot.  Not that I think they meant to treat me like one--I think we were all confused, trying to grow up as fast as the world needed us to, skipping over the part of life where you learn to deal with all those feelings you don't really understand.  They'd saved the world, now I was supposed to shape it--is it any wonder, really, that our personal lives were an absolute mess?


Duo Maxwell and I were in love with the same irritating, enigmatic boy. 


Neither of us were naïve enough to think that Heero's sexual preference were all that would distinguish his choice, or for that matter that he even /had/ a preference.  If he loved either of us--or both, as I'm still certain was the case--it had nothing to do with plumbing and everything to do with who we all were.  I was the Madonna, the angel, the princess in an ivory tower, pure and untouchable.  He loved me for everything I represented, and all the futures I could show him.  But Duo...Duo was someone he could understand...someone who shared the nightmares and the memories of fire and blood and death... who he could touch without guilt, without feeling like he was corrupting something innocent.


I hadn't been that innocent for a long time--but in life the belief and perception matter so much more than truth.   I could never be as close as I wanted to be with Heero without giving up the very thing he loved in me.


So I did the best I could for all of us--I let him go.


~Bittersweet memories

that's all I have, all I'm taking with me

Good-bye, oh please don't cry

cause we both know

I'm not what you need

I will always love you

I will always love you~


It's funny, but even now I can remember so vividly the exact moment when I realised what I had to do.  I can pinpoint it down to the second, to the barely-perceptible widening of Duo's eyes and the tremble in Heero's normally-firm hand, engraved indelible and eternal on my memory.  We were in the kitchen of their apartment, it was barely sunrise and Heero was the only one of the three of us who could really have been considered awake.  I had come over the night before to ask for their help with some proposals I was supposed to present to the Earthsphere Parliament that morning, and we'd been up so late I'd finally despaired of going home.  Duo had given up his room for me and wrapped up in a blanket on their blue-and-white davenport, the one I'd given them out when I cleaned out my father's study. 


See how all the details come back when I think of it?


So it was early, and in the process of stumbling to the coffee-maker and trying to force it to function, Duo had succeeded in spilling scalding coffee all over himself and half the kitchen.  I remember how he smiled apologetically at me and told me I'd have to wait just a few minutes til he could make more, and all the while he was dabbing at his thigh with a dish-towel where his skin was already turning pink.


"It's all right, I can wait," I said, because I wasn't sure what else /to/ say.  Heero brushed by me and grabbed the towel from Duo, soaking it in cold water in the sink.


"Klutz," he told his roommate affectionately--things like that are terms of endearment for Heero, especially where Duo was concerned.  It was like he was afraid something would happen if he actually said Duo's name, like it would get stuck on his tongue and he wouldn't be able to stop saying it.


Or maybe I'm just being overly romantic.  But I stood there and watched as Duo stood there blinking glass-eyed and sleepy, his face all twisted up like he couldn't decide whether to be in pain because he'd burnt himself or overjoyed because Heero was touching Heero took such meticulous care of him, all the while berating him for having the audacity to get himself hurt. 


And I realised they deserved each other.  No, more than that.  They needed each other.


And much as I loved Heero, I could still be strong enough without him.


~And I hope life will treat you kind

and I hope that you have all

you ever dreamed of

oh, I wish you joy

and I wish you happiness

and above all this--

I wish you love~


I was still only seventeen, and didn't really know how to broach the subject to Heero once I'd decided on it.  There was a time, before I knew him nearly so well as I do now, when I would have simply told him everything I was thinking and then demanded to know what he thought of it, even if the most I could provoke from him was a half-hearted "I could kill you...."  The trouble was that while he knew I was in love with him, neither of us had ever actually /acted/ on this information.  You can't break up with someone if you're not really together with them,  after all.


Finally I just blurted it out.  I remember this perfectly too, and I have a feeling Heero does as well, though he's decent enough not to mention it.  Let's just say it was a bit embarrassing and uncomfortable for both of us.


"Do you know Duo's in love with you?"  I asked.  As soon as the words left my lips I knew I was in trouble--if somehow I'd been mistaken, and Heero's feelings weren't what I thought they were, Duo really /was/ going to kill me.


But fortunately for my continued existence, Heero just blushed bright red and stared down at his hands.  So I kept going--which has, in retrospect, been how so many of our encounters have gone.


"If you try to tell me you don't love him back, I won't believe you, Heero," I continued, pushing at him.  "I can see it in both of you...."


He looked up at me then, his eyes wide and lost, and my heart twisted in my chest.  "Can you?" he asked sadly.  I nodded, and he sighed.  "I'm sorry then."


"Don't be."  I'd been about to say 'don't be stupid,' but caught myself just in time.  It worked better this way.  One doesn't get to be a professional politician by her mid-teens without learning not to let her mouth run away with her.  "Just go home and tell'll make his year, I promise."


Heero cocked his head, staring right through me with those thorough, appraising, unbelievably-blue eyes.  "How long have you known?" he asked quietly.


I stared back.  "Does it matter?"


"I guess not."


Blame it, if you will, on the lack of realistic fairy-tales when I was at the age I should have been believing them...I wanted my happy ending, and my dramatic exit.  And there was one thing I wanted even more--


I leaned close and kissed him once, gently, tenderly, like I'd always wanted to.


"Be happy, Heero," I whispered.


And then I walked away.


~I will always, always love you

I will always love you

I will always love you....~