"One?" Sally asked, blinking. "You've chosen one young man from this entire list?"
Heero gave a firm nod.
"Let's not put all our eggs in one basket."
"He's the one. Work it out." Heero's voice was hard.
She looked more closely at his selection. "Duo Maxwell. Twenty years old. Computer technician. He's worked at Bremen for four months. What made you choose him over the others?"
"I've seen him."
Sally tilted her head. "You mean you've watched him?"
"So, he's the mundane who makes you late for your appointments with me?"
"I thought you didn't like the word, 'mundane.'"
She smiled "I'll bring him in to be tested, and to determine if he's compatible... and homosexual."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because he's been watching me, too."
Sally's cheeks warmed, but she didn't quite understand why. Perhaps it was Heero's certainty of choice in partner. "How long have you known about your preference?"
"A few years," he said, looking serious.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"It never mattered before."
~ ~ ~
"Okay, you can re-boot your computer now," Duo said, from underneath the desk. He pushed the cable in one more time to be certain the connection was secure. When he didn't get a response he turned to see the occupant of this particular work station was gone. "Hey, Alyson... you around?" He scooted out from under the desk just as a pair of long legs in a short skirt and heels walked up to him.
"Duo Maxwell?" the woman asked.
Duo tilted his head up, way up, to see a woman looking intently at him. "Yeah?"
"I'm Sally Po." She held out her hand in greeting.
Duo shook it with two quick pumps, and then plopped himself down in the vacant chair. "You got a problem with your system, too? I've got two more to fix in this department then I could---"
"That's not why I'm here."
"Oh? What can I help you with?"
The woman in the stylish brown suit smiled at him more brightly. "Do you have a moment? I'd like to speak to you... privately."
Duo blinked. Was she coming on to him? It wouldn't be the first time a woman at Bremen Enterprises had asked him out on a date. He always tried to let them down gently.
"Look, I'm real flattered, but I think you should know... you're not my type. No offense, you're nice looking and all---"
"Mr. Maxwell, you've misunderstood. The private matter is work related."
"Oh," he said, disappointed. Maybe he was losing his touch?
"Follow me, please," she said, turning from him and flicking a glance over her shoulder to be certain he was in tow.
Duo followed, and tidied himself as he went, brushing the carpet lint from his charcoal gray slacks, and re-tucking his lavender dress shirt inside his pants. They exited the main office complex and crossed the plaza.
"Where are we going?" Duo asked.
"To the Research and Development Building."
"Uh, don't you folks have your own computer system over there?""That's right."
Her stride was long for a woman, but Duo had no trouble keeping pace. "And you're not having problems with your system."
Duo glanced at the identification badge hanging from a lanyard around her neck. He had never heard of Sally Po, but the orange color of the badge and holographic stamp next to her employee picture, made it clear she was an important person.
"You've worked for Bremen for four months now," she said, guiding him through a garden terrace in bloom with iris and poppy.
"Yeah. It's been a good place to work, but hard as heck to get in here."
"Bremen Enterprises has high standards."
"I'll say. Everyone here is an over achiever. But it's been fun."
"Is that what you like... to have a bit of fun, Mr. Maxwell?"
Duo chuckled. She was being so formal. "Hey, it's just Duo, okay? And yeah, doesn't everyone like having fun?"
She gave him a curious look as though she wasn't entirely sure what to make of him. Duo shrugged. He didn't much like being led across the corporate campus just to speak in private.
At last, they arrived at the Research and Development building, and made their way to an antiseptic looking meeting room with a large mirror on one wall. Duo thought it reminiscent of the interrogation rooms he'd seen on TV police dramas.
"You've been noticed by an important person," Sally said, as she sat down across the table from him.
"It's my privilege to inform you that you've been selected for a promotion... of sorts."
"A promotion? Wow, why didn't you say so earlier?"
"The position... requires confidentiality." She glanced up at the mirror, and Duo looked over his shoulder to see his own reflection. Was someone watching them on the other side of the glass?
"You mean I'll carry a higher clearance level?"
"Before I can inform you of the details you will need to complete a series of psychological and medical tests."
"Okay... but I did all that before I was hired."
"This project has special needs, and the tests will reflect those needs."
Duo stared at Sally Po intently. The way she emphasized certain words was becoming annoying.
"If you're ready, I'd like to begin," she said.
Duo blinked. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to be ready for, but if it meant a promotion he was all for that.
An assistant came in and attached physiological readers to the tips of Duo's fingers on his left hand, to his temples, and his chest. Sally asked a series of questions, and asked him to respond to images of nature, war, sex, and architecture. It was similar to the pre-hire test only this time there were more questions and more pictures for him to decipher, and the curious addition of sexual references. Then an image of that guy appeared on the screen. It was the dark-haired young man he had seen on campus. His heart fluttered.
"Kaplan? Do you know this man?" Sally asked.
"Yes... I mean, no. I've seen him from a distance. I've been wondering who he is." Duo found himself staring at the image. This was the closest look he'd ever gotten, and it was quite pleasing.
"If you pass these tests you'll find out who he is, and be working at the heart of Bremen Enterprises."~ ~ ~
Heero grinned. He'd been watching the interview from the other side of the mirror. He liked Duo. He was as attractive and live as Heero expected after their brief, distant encounters. And now the readouts confirmed that Duo was attracted to him.
"He's delightful," Treize said, stepping next to Heero. He had only been in the room a moment, but he'd obviously come to the same conclusions. "Are we sure he won't be missed?"
"Personnel verified he has no close family. And he lives alone.""What about friends?"
Heero looked up at Treize and shrugged. "Does it matter?"
"I suppose not. We can cover his forced disappearance easily enough." Treize placed his hand on Heero's shoulder. "If all goes according to plan you'll have a mate on your return."
"There's a mission?"
"Yes. The details have been uploaded to your computer. You have a few hours to review them before departure."
Heero nodded, and exited the room without looking back.
~ ~ ~
Sally left the interview to speak with Treize. He was seated in the adjoining room, watching. She looked at him with a deep sigh.
"He's done well, hasn't he?" Treize asked.
"Maybe too well. He's quite bright." She shook her head. This was her idea, after all, but maybe Duo was not right for the job.
"Now you're concerned about the variable?"
"Maybe some anonymous prostitute would've been a better choice."
Treize nodded, thoughtfully. "Considered and rejected. Dear doctor, our weapon selected this one for himself. It behooves us to let him try and tame this Mr. Maxwell... even if for only one night of pleasure."
Sally shivered, knowing the outcome. Duo would last a day, two days, maybe even a month, but in the end he would be terminated. He was an expendable part of the Project. A mere pawn in their efforts to keep Heero stable enough to complete his missions and not self-destruct.
"I appreciate your efforts to keep us all human, Sally, but now I need you to take a step back. Prep Mr. Maxwell for his new role. I want him ready when Heero returns."
"How long do I have?"
"Heero's become quite efficient. I expect him sometime tomorrow morning."
The grin on Treize's face should've cheered Sally to think how he cared for Heero's well being, but she knew Treize only saw the bottom line. She reminded herself that she owed it to Heero and to the Project to see this through. Duo Maxwell had passed the tests. He was a healthy and intelligent young man, and from the bio data he had an appetite for Heero Yuy. Unfortunately, he wasn't going to have a choice in this. It would have to be enough that he was homosexual and attracted to Heero. That should make the situation and the sex minimally satisfying for him, and lessen her guilt in the process.
She stepped into the interview room where Duo was being treated to a glass of iced water. All the electrodes had been detached from his skin. Sally decided to keep things as clinical and professional as possible.
"His name is Heero Yuy." She stood next to the table, staring down at Duo.
Duo looked up at her with large eyes filled with curiosity. "The guy in the photo?"
"Yes, the one you like so well."
Duo's eyes widened. "I don't know about that---"
"The readings tell all, Mr. Maxwell. Your feelings have been exposed." Her stomach tightened at the puzzled look on his face. "You'll be working together... quite closely in fact."
There was a flash of excitement in his eyes. "Great. Just tell me what I need to do."
"Nothing," she said, her voice betraying the sadness she felt for his innocence. "We'll be taking care of everything from here on out. All you need do is play along."
She flicked a glance to the door, and it opened at her silent command. In marched several burly men. Without hesitation they took Duo by the arms.
"Hey!" he shouted as he tried to pull away. "What's going on?"
They injected him with a sedative, and he was quickly subdued.
"Be gentle, will you?" she commanded, watching as Duo was hauled from the room his braid dangling beneath him while one man held his legs and the other his torso.She knew what would happen next. Duo Maxwell would be showered and re-dressed in his clothes. He would be taken to Heero's private quarters as an offering. The expectation was that Heero could handle his new toy on his own, have his way with this young man, and possibly even tame him. If all went according to plan, Heero would find satisfaction and his tension levels would drop. And Duo would remain alive, but that was not a priority.
~ ~ ~
Heero landed with a soft thump on the grass and immediately reached for his night vision goggles. He snapped them into place and scanned the estate's grounds. The guards patrolled at four-minute intervals, and he had given himself two minutes to cross the wooded expanse to the main house. He had re-programmed the security cameras beyond the complex's brick wall to loop footage of the previous hour's scan.
In a black spandex shirt and pants, and lightweight boots, Heero crossed the grounds undetected. The minimal security spoke of his targets' arrogance. Within 90 seconds, he was inside the mansion, slipping through an open patio door, and removing his goggles. It was just after eleven o'clock and the raucous laughter coming from down the hall meant that the Project's sources were correct and a meeting of the arms dealers was underway. These men were dangerous criminals who had killed hundreds of people to build their personal empires, but it wasn't this crime that had warranted their death sentences. When their ambitions had spilled over the border of their own country into that of an allied nation, the Project had been called.
There were no security cameras in the home, and only one guard standing outside the meeting room. Heero moved quickly down the hall, took out the guard with a single shot muffled by a suppressor attached to his gun, and burst into the room. The surprised men drew their weapons, but Heero was too fast and too well-trained. In seconds, all three were dead, but one of them had gotten off a shot. It came nowhere near hitting Heero who had dropped and rolled onto the floor as he eliminated his targets, but the sound would tip-off anyone within earshot that something was wrong-sooner than Heero would have liked.
He exited the room by way of the window, night goggles back on and ran across the manicured lawn. At the wall he heard a commotion behind him, and turned to see flood lights come on around the house and guards running to the scene. He shook his head. He was already 1,000 feet away. By the time they realized an intruder had taken out their bosses he would be a quarter-mile down the road.
At 0300 hours, he landed his jet at the Project's landing strip. He continued the rest of the way via an underground passage to the Project's secret base within Bremen Enterprises. As he exited the car, he was greeted by the mission team. These individuals were highly skilled professionals, but never included the scientists who preferred a more behind-the-scenes involvement in the missions. All mission accessories and data were handed over, and Heero was shown to an examination room where he stripped down for a quick physical. There were no injuries, but his anxiety readings were high. He was informed that his debriefing would wait until later that morning, and told to return to his quarters. This was a curious change from the standard instructions of unwinding with calming exercises, swimming laps in his private pool, and rest. He didn't question the directive and headed to his quarters.
His sanctuary, as he liked to think of it, was located in a remote area of the complex down a long corridor. Few people had access to him and this place. It was considered as top secret and important to the Project as the training facility and mission control rooms. Heero needed his privacy, especially since coming of age.
A voice recognition system was the only security on the door to his quarters. More sophisticated measures were used at prior checkpoints. Heero appreciated that by the time he reached his quarters all he needed to say was "Enter," and the door unlocked. He stepped inside the main room, pausing to let his eyes adjust to the near darkness Moonlight streamed across the room and he was reminded of the clear flying conditions he had for his return. He needed that swim. His adrenaline was still rushing, making him want to keep going even though he needed sleep.
A message light blinked next to the room's environmental control panel. He was tempted to ignore it, but his training made it impossible to disregard his superiors.
"Welcome home, Heero," Doctor Po said as he activated the message. It was unusual to hear from her on returning from a mission. Most often it was Treize Khushrenada congratulating him. "Please take the key on the table and enjoy the day. I'll want to run tests on your anxiety levels later"
The message ended, and he immediately noted the key, but how did it relate to his anxiety? Suddenly, he remembered. The focus on the mission had forced him to set aside any thoughts of the doctor's brainchild-a sex partner to relieve his post-mission stress. Had Duo cleared the tests and was waiting for him? But where? The logical choice was the bedroom. Heero took the key in hand, and walked toward the other room, his heart pounding.
The door was open and the lights off. He scanned the darkness until his eyes settled on the silhouette of a male body lying on his bed. He hardened instantly. He stepped up to the bed and looked down at the unmoving form. Duo Maxwell was clothed, but barefoot, and lying on his side. His hands were bound behind his back with wrist cuffs-hence, the need for the key.
Duo's slow, even breaths indicated he was sedated. No doubt he had been lying here for several hours. Heero wondered at the process Duo had gone through before he had been brought here. Desperate to touch him, Heero reached out and brushed the young man's hair from his face. Duo's hair was soft, and Heero's fingers tingled with the light touch. He needed more.
He sat on the edge of the bed and leaned over, breathing in Duo's scent. The clean, maleness of him ignited every cell in Heero's body. Yes, this was exactly what he had wanted... for so long. Heero let his fingers trail over the bump of Duo's Adam's apple and down his chest to where his shirt was buttoned. With deftness he unfastened each button and pushed back the lavender colored shirt, exposing Duo's upper body. The skin was creamy white and the nipples dark circles on his chest. He kissed each nipple reverently, his mouth watering with the taste of skin. He licked a path up Duo's sternum to his mouth. The young man's lips were parted and Heero dove in, kissing him deeply and with his tongue. Heero's hormones raged. He needed Duo now, needed to feel another hard male body naked and next to his.
Heero cupped his hand over Duo's cock and balls and rubbed them through his pants as he kissed him again. He was bent over Duo's body, glorying in the contact and the maddening list of things he wanted to do when Duo stirred. Not just in his hand, but his body stirred. He was awake.
Heero pulled back and watched as Duo's heavy eyelids blinked open.
"Mmm?" Duo licked his lips.
Heero withdrew his hands, resting them on either side of the young man's hips.
"My head," Duo said. He tried to sit up, but only moved a few inches before resting on the bed again. "What's going on?"
"You're in my room," Heero said. "It may take a few minutes for your head to clear."
Duo blinked, his brow knitted in thought. "Your room? I didn't know we were dating." He chuckled and seemed to drift off to sleep again.Heero looked at the wrist cuffs and wondered for the second time how they had gotten Duo here. Why had he needed to be secured if he had passed the tests and was willing?
"You agreed to be part of the Project," Heero said, thinking Duo could still hear him. "You're my reward."
Now, Duo's eyes opened wide. "I'm what?"
"Don't you remember? We saw each other across the compound. Doctor Po thought it was a good idea."
"I remember seeing you... and talking to that Orange Level clearance chick. That's why I'm here?"
Heero nodded. Why wasn't this easier? Shouldn't he be fucking Duo by now? "It seems you're affected by the drug they gave you."
"Yeah, some guys stuck me with a needle. Those guys brought me here?"
Heero sighed. This was unacceptable. "You were to be a willing participant in the Project. I can't fuck you like this."
"Whoa!" Duo said, managing to sit up. "Did you just say you were going to fuck me? And why am I in cuffs?"
Heero got up from the bed. His fists clenched so tight the key bent in his hand. "I wouldn't hurt you," he said with a growl, and turned for the door.
"Wait a minute! You can't leave me here! I didn't sign up for this! You're nice looking and all, but you can't drug me and cuff me and fuck me without getting my consent!"
Heero let Duo go on with his endless list of complaints, and closed and locked the bedroom door behind him. He threw the key across the room. Damn, Po and her experiments. Damn, Treize, and damn the scientists. Damn them all for leading him to believe that he could find release in another human being.
He stripped off his boots and black spandex shirt and leggings, and headed for the pool. He would swim one hundred laps before coming back to his rooms and falling asleep.
~ ~ ~
Duo lay on his side on the bed, his arms aching. What had he gotten himself into? Who were these people? Did they really work for Bremen Enterprises? And had he heard correctly that he was this guy's... fuck toy?!
He moaned as he rolled his shoulders, trying to alleviate the pain. He was in agony from the wrist cuffs holding his arms behind his back.
"Hey!" he called. "Let me out of these things!"
Why was Mr. Kaplan acting like this? Well, he knew better than to call him that now. The guy's name was Heero Yuy, but what happened to the dream guy he had ogled from across campus? He didn't look like a kidnapper. And had Heero been kissing him when he awoke? And touching him? And why had it felt good when it shouldn't under these circumstances?
"Bastard! Let me out of here!"
It was no use. He'd been yelling for minutes and there was no response. For all Duo knew, the guy had left this place... whatever it was.
He dozed on and off, but kept waking from the numbness in his arms. Every time he woke his mind raced. They had told him he was being promoted, that he would be working at the heart of the corporation. But this wasn't the corporation he knew. Bremen Enterprises was an engineering firm-the best in the world. They designed transportation systems such as highways, railroads, airports and subways. They didn't kidnap people.
I gotta get out of here, he thought. He heaved forward into sitting position, cringing as his arms protested. His breath was heavy from the effort. It had to be the drug dragging him down, because he wasn't a weakling. He lugged heavy computer equipment everyday on the job, and was active in sports.
The room was decorated in shades of blue-green from the carpet to the bed covers and the walls. It was soothing in the gradation of tones and the way it reminded him of the sea. Like waves rolling, tugging you down into the depths. So, was this where Heero lived or just where he came to play?
Who is this guy? Duo wondered again, angrily. He went to the door, his bare feet sinking in the lush carpeting. He turned around, trying to grab the doorknob with numb fingers, but the door was locked, and his hands useless. Maybe there was another way out. Across the room the bright morning sun spilled through a large window. He was drawn to it as a swimmer ascending to the surface of the water. He nudged a chair under the window and managed to climb onto it. "Shit," he said, looking out over a mountain landscape. The view was spectacular-miles of trees and wildness and not a building in sight. Was this the same mountain where the corporate campus was located? Or had he been moved elsewhere?
He couldn't find a latch or locking device of any kind on the window. He leaned his forehead against the glass and sighed. Was there no way out? And who would care when he didn't show up for work besides his supervisor? If his kidnappers were part of the company then maybe they'd thought of that, too, and had an excuse ready for his absence.
The hopelessness of the situation drained the blood from Duo's face. He was alone and trapped and at the mercy of that guy. He slumped into the chair, the beginnings of tears burning in his eyes. He had never been this helpless, and dare he think it, afraid in his life. Even when he had been shuffled from one foster family to another he always knew the day would come when he would strike out on his own and make something of himself. At sixteen, he ran away and never looked back. He got his high school diploma, and worked his way through college, graduating with honors and landing himself a job at Bremen Enterprises. Everyone knew that Bremen was the place to be, that if you got in there you were on your way.
Four months into the job it had landed him here.
He raised his head, wiping a stray tear on his shoulder, and looked to the door. He needed a strategy if he was going to break free. That guy-Heero-had said that Duo had agreed to be part of the Project. What was the Project? And how did Duo's submission factor into it? One thing was curiously clear, Heero hadn't raped him. Of course, that didn't mean he wouldn't, but Duo had to hope.
Maybe I can plead to his humanity? He got up from the chair and went to the door. He couldn't break it down, but he could make a ruckus and hope that someone was in earshot to hear it. Backing away several feet, he dug his feet into the carpet, took a deep breath and tensed his body. He charged the door, hitting it with his left shoulder. "Hey! You out there?" He charged the door again. Bam! "Open this door you bastard!" And again he went into the door with his shoulder. "Open the door! I want to see my kidnapper!"
Minutes passed when he finally heard the click of the lock disengaging. He stepped back, his eyes wide and his shoulder throbbing. The door swung inward and Heero stood in the doorway, staring at him.
"If you don't stop you'll injure yourself," Heero said.
"Like you give a damn. I'm being held against my will!"
They stood just feet apart staring at one another. Duo's heart pounded in his chest. He could see beyond Heero into a large room. In the daylight it was clear these were no ordinary living quarters. They were expensively furnished in leather and suede, and framed art hung on the walls. His kidnapper was dressed impeccably like he was on his way to an office job wearing chocolate brown trousers, a dark beige cotton shirt, and brown leather shoes and belt.
Duo didn't know what to make of this, so he asked the obvious question. "Did you kidnap me for sex?"
Heero's eyes swept over him, only briefly, but long enough for Duo to feel self-conscious. Duo looked down at his unbuttoned shirt, the result of the unsolicited ravishing.
"You were supposed to have been a volunteer"
"Oh, then that explains the handcuffs!"
"You don't need to shout, I'm standing right here."
Duo gritted his teeth. "Take these God damn things off me! Then maybe I won't shout!"
If Heero removed the cuffs then he'd make a run for it. He had to take his chances that the outer door, wherever it was, would not be locked.
"I don't have the key."
"What?" Duo blinked. "I gotta get out of these things. My arms are killing me!"
Heero stared at Duo more intently, seeming to analyze him inside and out. Then he stepped forward.
Duo backed away, his eyes widening. "Don't come near me!"
"Then how do you expect me to remove the cuffs?"
"You said you don't have a key! Get one of your helpers to do it."
Heero sighed. He looked defeated somehow, but maybe that was only because he wasn't getting his way.
"It's the least you can do," Duo said. "I have rights you know. The police would love to hear about how Bremen Enterprises kidnaps its employees---"
In the midst of Duo's rant, Heero swooped in, pushing him back. Duo fell on his ass on the bed with Heero's arms around his waist and his lips on his. Duo kicked and squirmed, trying to wriggle free. Was Heero going to rape him now? Duo gasped for air and Heero's tongue slipped inside his mouth, deepening the kiss. Then as suddenly as it had begun it was over. Heero stood up, smoothing his shirt. The cuffs were off!
"The shower's in there," Heero said with a nod, holding broken cuffs in his hands.
Too stunned to speak, Duo watched Heero walk from the room, closing and locking the door as he went. Duo brought his arms forward, bewildered at how Heero removed the restraints without a key. If it wasn't such a crazy idea, he'd think that Heero had torn them off. They certainly looked useless after they had been removed. That possibility sent a chill through Duo's entire body. He rubbed the feeling back into his hands and then went limp, falling back onto the bed in an exhausted heap.
Why did that kiss have to be so good?