(sequel to Penance)


Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Gundam Wing

AC 197, four months after Penance

Hilde clasped her overalls as she stared at herself in the bathroom. Whoever thought overalls were great for pregnant women to wear should be shot. Must have been a man-they think we can just open the fly and pee. Still, they are pretty comfy. She made a face in the mirror and walked out to the kitchen. She had moved into the small one-bedroom apartment after hanging with Sallie for a little while. A secretarial job had opened up so she was able to support herself, and with a little help from Quatre she should be able to provide for the baby on her own when the time came. Quatre was the only one of the pilots who knew where she was. She had told him reluctantly but she knew she could trust him, and he had promised to help her out any way she could. So far she hadn't had to borrow anything from him yet but she was glad she had him to lean on.

For the most part she spent her time alone. She didn't feel like going out much and she spent a lot of time reading up on child rearing, and also on gaining strength. The ob-gyn that Sallie had suggested was worried about Hilde being underweight so Hilde had taken to working out as much as possible as well as eating more and eating healthy.

Sallie came by every now and then to check on her. Hilde was doing great-actually, incredibly well. Sallie realized that for the first time Hilde was completely taking care of herself. She knew that Hilde needed this time to grow and mature on her own, and she was surprised at how independent she had grown. Still, she worried about her, and Duo.

Duo, meanwhile, was not doing so well. He was often going off on missions alone and taking unnecessary risks. He wasn't as social with Heero anymore, preferring Trowa if he had to work with anyone. He stayed out at the bars or sat at home and did nothing. He wasn't an alcoholic but he was definitely developing a steady relationship with Jack Daniels as time was going on.

"Maybe you should go talk to her," Quatre suggested. Duo laughed. "Why? What would that accomplish?" "Duo, she might be carrying your child! How can you be like this, for your own sake?" Duo shrugged. "I don't know, Quatre." "Duo, why can't you let go? People constantly hurt each other-it's human nature-and we forgive each other. We have too, in order to live sane lives. We can't hold grudges. They tear us apart inside until we can't think nor see outside of ourselves." "Thanks for the sermon, but really, I can handle it."

Heero tried to talk to Duo, but he wouldn't listen to him. "Heero, don't even try. Not you." "Duo, I thought we were clean on this. I thought we had been through this enough." "Yeah, me too, until I found out that my girl's knocked up. That changes everything." "Duo, I might have to be a part of her life, if I am the father. But that doesn't mean I'm taking her away from you. Duo, I'm telling you the truth, I am not taking her away from you."

But Duo just took another drink and didn't listen.

One day Duo looked at himself in the mirror. Man, I am a mess. This place is a pit. Hilde always had cleaned his room for him, especially since they started sharing it. He took a shower, shaved, then began to clean up his house-it had once been her house, then it was their house, with Hilde. He found himself walking up the stairs to her room. He opened the door. It looked the same as the day she left. He sighed and began to close the door, when something caught his eye. Her end table drawer was hanging open and there was an old notebook lying inside. He recognized it immediately-Hilde' s war journal. She had showed it to him before and he had read most of it. He crept into her room and opened the journal. Most of the entries were from the war, on what historically had happened, and moments with Duo. He blushed as he found the entry written in red ink-that was the entry Hilde wrote after they made love the first time.

He flipped it towards the back, and found her last entries. They were scarce in the two years after the war, but the last one was only from five months ago.

"I can't believe how lucky I am to have him. I am so glad he was able to forgive Heero and that they can still be friends. I will always regret hurting Duo-I love him so much! I think that for so long I've been searching for something to live for, and I've found someone. Duo is the most amazing person I've ever known. Sometimes he can be so stubborn about some things, but I wouldn't trade him for anything. When he looks at me I can't explain it, but it's like nothing I've ever felt before or ever will that just fills up inside me. I can't believe I almost lost him. I don't know what I'll do if anything ever happens again. I'm so thankful he has the heart to forgive his friend, and forgive me."

Duo startled himself by finding tears on his face. He put the journal back and left the room, closing the door behind him. At that moment the doorbell rang.

"Coming!" he shouted as he ran down to get it. He swung open the door and stared in shock at the girl on his front step. "Relena?" "Hi Duo. I happened to be on L2 for official business but had the afternoon off so I thought I'd come and say hi." Duo stared at her awkwardly. He had never really talked to Relena much before-she and Hilde were friends but he really didn't have much to connect with her.

"Sure, um, come in," he finally replied. Relena smiled and walked into the house. Duo was thankful he had thought to clean it that morning. She walked into the living room.

"No thanks." Duo shrugged and went to the kitchen, pouring himself a cup and returning to the living room. Relena looked slightly uncomfortable and kept looking down at her hands. "So, how are things?" Duo asked, breaking the silence. "Good, really, really good." She paused and then looked into Duo's violet eyes. She smiled. She always thought he had pretty eyes. "Duo, I came by to talk to you-" "About Hilde, I bet," Duo finished. It seemed like everyone was getting involved lately. "Well, yes, but more about Heero and I. We've been together for a few months now, and I've known about what happened. Duo, how can you hold this against her now?"

"You're not me," he replied coldly.
"No, I'm not, but Duo, what if it is your child? Have you really thought about that? What if Hilde is pregnant with your child and you're pushing her away? Why would you do that?" Duo sighed. Relena shook her head. "I don't always understand you Gundam pilots but I try to, I really do. But Duo, I just can't figure you out." Duo smiled at that. Good, I can have some part of my life that isn't poked and prodded all the time. "I love Heero enough to know that even if Hilde is pregnant with his child, I trust his love to me. I don't doubt his love for me, and though it will be hard if he has to be gone at times, I love him and he loves me." "Well, great for you two," Duo responded. "Look, Relena, I don't mean to sound so cold, but you're not me." Relena rose from the chair. "No, I'm not. I guess I'll be leaving, then."

Quatre was driving home after visiting Hilde. She looked well, as Sallie said, but Quatre could tell she was hiding her sadness. She was trying to appear strong, like she didn't need anyone, and he knew that was true. She didn't need anyone to help her-she could definitely take care of herself. But she did need to be loved. And that could not be by just anyone. She needed to be loved by Duo.

Suddenly Quatre found himself pulling into Duo's driveway. That's funny, I don't even remember turning down this part of town. He got out and stared at the house. I guess I should talk to him, if I was brought here. He walked up the steps to the front door and knocked.

Duo answered the door, sober for once. "Hi Duo." "Quatre, what brings you my way? Hey, could you do me a favor and tell people that I don't want to talk about Hilde and that I'm fine and they can all leave me alone?" "Duo, just let me in. Hear me out and I'll leave, and I promise I won't try again." "Suit yourself," he said as he turned away from the door. Quatre followed him in.

"Duo, I know the reason you pushed Hilde away. You don't blame her anymore. You blame yourself." "What are you talking about? I'm not the one who was with someone else." "Duo, just listen to me! You blame yourself for before-for not telling her before how you felt. You think you're no good for her, and so you pissed her off enough so that she would get mad and leave. You really think you can't be of help to her, can't be supportive." Quatre stopped for a moment and looked at Duo. Duo's eyes were turned towards the floor, but Quatre was sure there was a tear in his eye.

"Duo, you're afraid of being a father. You are, aren't you?" "Yes," he finally managed to say. "Don't you think Hilde's afraid of being a mother?" "I don't know. I guess I thought she would be excited. I just figure women were natural at that." "Geeze, for someone who always bragged about the women in his life during the war, you really don't know anything about them. She's scared, maybe even more than you are. She doesn't need anyone to help her now but she does need your love. She needs to know you love her and support her." "But what if she isn't carrying my child?" "Duo, you'll have to figure that out for yourself. I can't tell you how to feel."

"Quatre, where is she?"
Quatre smiled at him. "342 American Avenue, apartment B12." "Thanks man."

Hilde heard a knock on her door. She took off her reading glasses and set them on the table next to one of the books she was reading. She opened the door just enough to see who it was.

"Hi there," he said with a little smile. Hilde just stood staring at him with a blank face. "Well, are you going to let me in?" Hilde finally moved away from the door and let him in. "What do you want, Duo?" He shut the door behind him. "I came by to see how you were doing." Hilde didn't respond but went back to her living room and stacked up the books scattered on the coffee table. "Reading a lot lately?" Hilde still didn't respond. "Hilde, please, talk to me." "And say what? Duo, you said it all before. You don't want me around. Well guess what? I don't need you. I don't need someone who says they forgive me but then can't really do it in their heart." "Hilde," he said softer, catching her arm. She finally turned to him. She had changed so much since he last saw her. Of course she was much bigger now, but she also looked healthier. He noticed the muscles on her arms, they way she held her head. In a sense, it was like she had grown up in the last few months.

"Hilde, I came to say I'm sorry."
"Sorry? Look pal, I tried saying that to you so many times but you refused my apology." "I know, I know. Look, Hilde, I was a jerk. Ok? You got me. I'm a terrible person. I pushed you away because I was afraid of what would happen to me. I'm afraid of this, Hilde. I'm afraid of being a father."

"You think it's a piece of cake being a mother? Duo, I'm seventeen, I'm six months pregnant, I feel fat but I'm still underweight, I'm reading everything I can but I won't know enough, my body changes on me every day, I 'm scared of not being a good mother, I'm scared of the pain, I'm just so-so-scared!" She burst into tears.

Duo reached up and put his hand on her cheek. "Hilde, Hilde," was all he could say. Suddenly he pulled her close and surrounded her with his arms. "Hilde, I want to be with you. Please come home. I want to take you home with me. I need you, Hilde. I do. And I will always love you, and I will care for this child, even if it's not mine."

Hilde looked up at him, still crying, and Duo saw something he hadn't seen in months: Hilde's smile. "Really? You'll care for the child too?" "I promise I will." "Then Duo, take me home!"

(three months later)

Hilde smiled at Duo as he put the dishes away in their kitchen. It felt so good to be right there, in their house. She was sitting on the couch in the living room, and shifted herself a little. She began to feel a little strange and headed towards the bathroom. All day she had felt uncomfortable and she wondered if it was a sign of upcoming time. She closed the door and looked at herself. Yup, very pregnant. Her hair had grown out a little down to her shoulders, and white-flowered button down shirt graced her muscular arms, curving over her now-large breasts and large abdomen.

Suddenly she felt a sharp pain and a wetness-a lot of water. I knew it was coming, she thought to herself. I felt like today was the day.


He ran and almost tore the door off of the bathroom. "Ready?" "Duo, help me!" He grabbed her arm and helped her out of the bathroom. They made it through the living room and to the entryway. "Duo, I've got to sit down." He helped her down on the chair, and she started to pant. "Duo, I think the baby's coming and it's coming fast!"

Duo immediately called Sallie on the visual phone. "Sallie, it's Hilde!" Duo turned the screen so Sallie could see her. "Hilde, has your water broken-never mind, I can see your pants. Duo, get some blankets and towels and spread them on the floor, then help her to the floor." Duo gulped. "Sallie, you can't be serious-" "I'm dead serious so move it, Duo!" Duo jumped up and ran to their room, grabbing the blankets and some towels and spread them on the floor. Then he helped Hilde to the floor.

"Take off her pants, Duo." He obeyed, removing her underwear as well. "Duo, I need you to check to see how dilated she is." "Um, ok." Duo looked under Hilde's shirt. "Oh my God-" "Duo, I'm switching to my cell phone so I won't be able to see you. I'm heading over there right away, but you might have to deliver the baby. Stay with me!" "Ok, Sallie." At that moment, the screen went blank.

Hilde's breath was coming faster. "Hold on, Hilde." He looked under again and saw that a tiny little head was beginning to appear, along with some blood. Hilde's face was straining as she began to push. "Duo, I can't hold on!" "Babe, you're doing great. It's going to be ok. Trust me." "I do." Hilde reached for his hand and she squeezed it, tight. "Yikes, you've got a grip. I've got to let go now, honey," Duo said softly to her as he moved down and positioned himself between her legs.

"Duo," Sallie began. "Put another blanket or towel down around you-it's going to be messy-and get ready to catch. Hold the head gently as it comes out, then be careful with the rest of the body."

Duo couldn't acknowledge her because the baby was already coming. "Hilde, will you marry me?" "What?!" she screamed as she gave another push. "Will you marry me?" "Duo!" Another push, and the baby was out. Hilde looked up at him in a panic, and then she heard the cry. At that, both of them laughed in release. "Place the baby on her abdomen-I'm pulling up the driveway now so I 'll get the umbilical cord. Good job, Duo."

Duo wrapped the screaming baby in the small blanket, and stared down at the small, precious, fragile thing in his arms. "It's a girl, Hilde." Hilde began to cry and grabbed Duo's hand. Sallie burst through the door at that moment, opening up her medical kit. "Duo, please boil some water right now-just in case we need to sterilize anything else."

Duo did as he was told, but reluctantly. He didn't want to leave her side for anything, but he managed to reach the kitchen and wash his hands and arms, then place a pot of water on the stovetop. He returned to Hilde's side, where she had just finished with her final push and the afterbirth. Duo turned away from that to see the eyes of the baby in front of him.

"She's beautiful, Hilde," he told her softly. She looked up at him and smiled, tears streaming down her face. "Duo."

The ambulance had arrived soon after and had taken them to the hospital, to finish checking on Hilde and the baby girl. Sallie took a blood sample from Hilde's daughter and from Duo. "When Heero arrives, I'll take a blood sample from him, and we'll be able to do the test."

Sallie left, giving Duo and Hilde a little time alone. "What will you call her?" "Anna. My mother's name was Anna." Hilde was now nursing her and looked up at Duo. A tear escaped his eye and she brushed it away, smiling. "Hilde, I want you to know, I will love Anna, even if I am not her true father. Heck, I love her already. Just look at her." "Yes, Duo." Duo looked at her puzzled, trying to figure out what she just said yes to. She laughed. "Yes, I'll marry you."

Duo smiled and leaned in to kiss his bride-to-be. At that moment they heard a noise on the glass window. They both looked and saw Quatre, Trowa, Wu-Fei, Relena and Heero on the other side. "Can we come in?" Quatre asked cautiously as he opened the door. "Of course," Hilde answered, beaming. "Come meet Anna." They all filed in, except Heero. Sallie motioned for him to come outside so she could do the blood test, and so he came in last.

"Heero, come here." It was Duo who asked him, surprising everyone. Heero came up and looked over at Hilde, and the baby before them. Heero placed his arm on Duo's shoulder. Duo smiled at him. "Guess what, everyone! Hilde and I are getting hitched!" "Wow, Congratulations!" Quatre shouted. Everyone began hugging everyone else, then Duo noticed something on Relena's hand. "So, you two weren't going to tell us that you're shacking up as well!" Relena blushed scarlet and Heero shoved his fists in his pockets. "Yeah, but we're kind of keeping it low-key for now," Relena answered. "But now we can share in our good news." "Congratulations, Heero," Duo said to his best friend. "You too, Duo." Surprising everyone, Heero reached over and hugged his friend.

A few hours later everyone had left except Relena and Heero. They were still waiting for the results of the blood tests, and the others felt they should stay away and let them be for a while. Finally Heero stood up as he saw Sallie walking down the hall towards them. She entered the room.

"I have to ask Hilde this question before I can say anything else. Hilde, only you have to know the results of this test right now-would you prefer I tell you in private?" She shook her head no. "We're all involved in this now." Sallie took a deep breath and nodded. "The father is Heero." Heero nodded and closed his eyes. They all sat in silence for a moment and Sallie left the room.

"Heero, would you like to come hold your daughter?" Hilde asked him. He opened his eyes and smiled as Hilde handed him Anna. He lifted her carefully, gently as he looked down at her. She yawned wide and turned in his arms.

Suddenly Heero turned to Duo. "Duo, do you want to hold her?" Duo didn't know what to say as Heero handed Anna over to him. He looked down at that face-he could already see so much of Hilde in her. Amazing how life begins. "Relena?" "Yes," she replied, smiling as she took Anna from her arms.

Hilde sighed. "How will this all work out?" Duo took her hand in his. "Well, the way I see it, I get to be a father either way." He almost laughed as he said that. What had seemed like such a loss before had turned into a win-win situation. He was marrying the girl he loved, and he was going to be a step-father to the daughter of his love.

Heero smiled at him. "We'll figure this out. Relena and I were actually thinking of moving to L2 for a while, to get away from the press and everything. And then maybe if we had to go back, you both could come to Earth."

Hilde smiled. She looked at Heero and winked at him, the father of her daughter. What a strange mess it had been, but now it seemed like things were starting to turn in her favor.

(five years later)

"Mommy, he's home!" Anna climbed down from the chair where she had been sitting, waiting for Duo. Hilde smiled at her daughter as Duo walked in the door. "Hiya girl!" he exclaimed as he walked in the door, picking Anna up in his arms. She giggled as he tickled her. Her long brown hair was divided into pigtails on the top of her head, but Duo often braided her hair for her. "Are you packed up?" "Yup." "Heero should be here soon," Hilde called from the kitchen. "So we've got a little time-what do you want to do, pumpkin?" "Read me a story, Daddy-Duo." Duo blushed at that and began to read to her. A few minutes later the doorbell rang.

"Daddy and Relena-Mom!" Anna ran to the door and jumped into Heero's arms. Hilde laughed again. How Heero had changed since Anna was born. He had changed a lot just from being with Relena, but Anna brought the smile out in him, and what's more, his laughter. He hugged her tight and then Relena hugged her as well." "Her bag's all set to go," Hilde called to them. "Good. We'll have her back Sunday afternoon," Heero replied. "Ok. Give me a kiss, Anna." Anna jumped down from Heero's arms and gave Hilde a kiss, then ran to Duo and kissed him as well. "We'll see you Sunday," Hilde added. Anna waved goodbye and walked out the door with Heero and Relena.

Duo walked back into the kitchen. "Mmmm, what smells so good?" "It's a little something I've conjured up," Hilde began as Duo wrapped his arms around her middle, already showing her three-month pregnancy.

"Duo, I'm so glad things have worked out. I'm so glad Anna loves you and Relena," "And I'm glad she's in my life. Soon we'll have two to share." "You 'd better watch out, with the way Heero's acting he'll probably end up taking this one home with him as well on the weekends," Hilde replied. "Well that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, because then we can do things like this." At that, Duo began kissing her on her neck and running his fingers through her hair. "Duo, if you start doing that I'm going to burn dinner!" "Well we can always order out you know," he replied, his voice low and wanting.

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