by Dev-Aki Basaa
Duo had known, back from his time with Preventers, that there had been terrorist rumblings in North America - something gathering, threatening to threaten, but never amounting to much. Or so he thought. From the briefing, he now knew that's where Heero and Zechs had gone, but the details as to why exactly had been glossed over. Duo listened, frozen in his seat as all the colors filled in on the empty gray surrounding the mission. His koibito's assignment was not to infiltrate and make arrests, as so many of these assignments went - as he assumed this one had gone. In for a few months, gain trust and a little info and then, Ha!, gotcha. No, they were directed to avoid taking anyone into custody, or even to disband the group. They were to lead it - take it over, win loyalty, gain devotion, then redirect the group's focus from terrorism to basket-weaving for peace, or some such. Conceptually, it was a brilliant idea - take people who wanted to make a difference and aim that energy away from violence, giving them a more productive cause, even if still against Government Central. Too often, with these infiltration and wipe out procedures, you may subdue a group of 'bad guys', sucking the uglys out of society, but then their story of government betrayal would spread and sympathetic ears would listen. People who never would have joined such a group during it's existence are moved to action by this perceived injustice - because isn't who's right and who's wrong all just warped perception, anyway? Now, instead of one terrorist group, you have five residual groups. You raid those and now you have twenty-five. After that, all they have to do is organize themselves and there's the end of pacifism.
So, instead of setting themselves up for a future of raids and disbandments, Preventers chose to focus on the hearts and minds of the potential threats. The plan was smart. It protected peace with long term effects that would domino into future generations raised in a new atmosphere of activism versus terrorism. However, this was no simple task - a highly complex and time-consuming task, in fact. Duo was slowing coming to that realization, but still, to hear it aloud struck him like a fist to his gut.
"The projected course of this assignment was to be five years," Une stated, with matter-of-fact flippancy that didn't echo the enormity of what she'd just said.
Duo choked, coughing before his words hissed out of him in a whisper, "Five years?"
Five years. Did Heero know when he took the assignment that he'd be gone THAT long? Did it bother him? Why didn't he warn him somehow? Did he want to get away? Was something wrong that Duo didn't know about? Did...
Duo shook his head against a flood of fear and insecurity; he squeezed his eyes shut tight and re-focused his mind. He knew better. He knew Heero loved him and this new information, while alarming, didn't change that. It killed Heero to be away from him, as much as Duo suffered for it. Heero must have felt this mission was important enough to sacrifice so much time. It was for peace and Heero would give his life for peace. Duo shivered, that thought not bringing him any comfort.
He began to sigh, but then quickly sucked his breath back in with a gasp. The room had been suddenly doused to darkness. Duo jerked his head up, about to bark a complaint about paying the electric bill on time when it occurred to him that he hadn't been paying attention and may have missed something. Sure enough, the piercing light from a projector flashed on. Duo grimaced, raising his arms to cover his eyes, protecting them as they adjusted to the blank, stark white screen before him.
Une cleared her throat. "Some disguise was required for this mission. Minor superficial changes were made to adapt to the unique atmosphere of this group's society." Une slapped a transparency onto the projector, the thin plastic audibly quivering as she jerked it into place.
Three images appeared on the screen, a frontal shot and two profiles of a man that looked like Zechs Marquise, or better yet, his twisted evil twin. Duo could distinctly hear Noin draw a gasping breath at the sight.
Zechs' platinum hair had been dyed red - not auburn or some natural red color, but RED - like apples or cherries. Or blood. He had it pulled back to a ponytail tied with a black ribbon that dangled longer than the length of his hair. With the hair back, it exposed his pierced ears and the simple link chains that dangled from his lobes up to the curve of the tip. He had a jewel glittering on the side of his left nostril and a silver ball under his lip, settled into the concave of his chin. And, if Duo wasn't mistaken, there looked to be a touch of rouge to his lips, blushing his skin to compliment his scarlet hair. Zech's expression even matched the rest of his appearance, looking amused, maybe enjoying himself a little - the once heir-to-a-throne turned rebel and punk.
No further comment was made (beyond Noin's shocked gasp), just the scribble and scrape of the two assigned agents taking notes could be heard, and Une soon pulled the picture away. The crackle-snap of another transparency announced the next set of Zech's pictures. This one included a full-length shot, showing his attire of a black, chained and buckled leather jacket over a simple black t-shirt and black denim jeans. A thick chain hung from his belt and around to the back. He wore black boots not unlike Duo's own with a leather strap and silver buckle over the laces - shit-kickers, someone once called them. He looked like he belonged on a motorcycle - an extension of the tough chrome and worn hide. There was one additional picture; a close up shot of Zech's exposed arm, showing a tattoo of jumping orange and red flames circling his left forearm.
And then, with another quiver of the thin plastic, the image was gone, leaving Duo to squint against the stark blaring whiteness of the screen. He fidgeted in his seat, hearing, more than seeing Une shuffle through more transparencies and papers. What was taking so long? Heero had to be next and the anticipation had him on the brink. He shuffled his feet, clunking his boots together, trying his damnedest not to yell out to Une, 'well, come on, already!' He half expected that Heero wouldn't look hardly different at all, since getting the boy to buy new clothes was a chore in and of itself. It wouldn't be a matter of what they'd done to Heero, but what he'd allowed them do. The now familiar snap-crackle of the transparency sent Duo to the edge of his chair. The image floated, blurred, across the screen before it settled into place.
Duo slapped his hand over his mouth at his outburst, hearing Trowa - yeah, Trowa - chuckle at him. He left his hand in place, not so much for the forced silence, but to keep his drool from soaking his favorite - ok, Heero's favorite - black shirt.
Ok, so, the sight of Yuy always made Duo pretty nuts, but this... He looked so... incredible.
The mop of brown hair that hung over his brow had been bleached blonde, but only the bangs. They stood out brightly against the rest of his hair, still his natural color. His left ear had a line of gold and silver balls and small hoops all along the ridge, up into the curve of the cartilage. Only one hoop had anything dangling from it and Duo couldn't hold back his smile, letting his hand fall away. The simple gold cross that Duo had given Heero hung not as typical, on a chain around his neck, but from that gold hoop, part way up the edge of his ear. Duo devoured the sight, long-missed, before him. A curved silver rod ran through Heero's right eyebrow, two navy balls resting against his skin just above and below the arch of hair. Dark kohl traced under Heero's eyes, black and smudged. He looked like sin incarnate, his already brooding expression accentuated with glints of silver and shadows of eyeliner. The profile shots showed the edges of a black swirling tattoo across the nape of Heero's neck. Duo shuddered with electric excitement. He wondered how long Heero would allow this enticing disguise to last after he got back, maybe they could play a little with this bad-boy look...
A wash of cold rushed through his veins suddenly, causing gooseflesh to rise on his forearms. The words, 'if he comes back', came unbidden to his mind. Duo closed his eyes against the thought just as he heard Une pull the transparency away. He snapped open his eyes. The image was gone, but another had taken its place - the full-length shot. Erotic jolts of energy surged through Duo, settling in his groin. He shifted in his seat, pressing his legs together. He didn't need this right now. Heero had on faded blue denim jeans, ripped in all the best places. The knees had been blown out, but there were also wide slashes across each thigh and in an additional back shot it showed two rips fraying just under his ass, one on each pant leg. There was also a small worn hole over the right back pocket, giving a sneaking peek of tanned flesh. No underwear. Duo rolled his eyes and tried not to groan. Heero wore a navy blue t-shirt with the words, 'God Is Dead', blazoned across his chest in block white lettering. The tips of black boots peeked out from under the long, boot-cut jeans. He wore a colorful collection of bracelets, mostly cloth ties, wrapped around his right wrist. His expression looked distinctly un-amused, but probably only Duo noticed it was any different from his typical blank countenance. The nuances of such things were lost on the others. Heero stared forward, almost glaring, but his bottom lip drooped forward, pouting a little, giving Duo devious thoughts of nibbling the tender skin until it bloomed purple. Too soon, Une pulled the picture away and Duo sighed for the loss, crossing his legs a little tighter.
As she re-filed the transparency, Une continued to speak. "Because of Preventer Earth's particular role, a more elaborate disguise was needed." The sound of a quivering transparency followed her words and quickly she slapped another set of pictures on the projector.
There were a series of six small pictures, each featuring a close-up shot of different parts of Heero's body. The first set showed a full shot of the black tattoo on the nape of Heero's neck that had only been barely visible in the earlier views. Heero was holding up the short length of his hair, head bent forward slightly for the shot of the black, swirling, thorny tattoo. It curled around to the side of his neck and cumulated to the center with a branch of black pointing downward. The second picture showed Heero's back, the waist of his jeans pushed down lower on his hips. The same black thorny swirls twisted across his lower back, again cumulating in the center and, instead, pointing up. The two tattoos were like an extension of each other.
The next set of pictures revealed a ring of gray-black barbed wire circling Heero's upper left arm and the other of an elaborately designed sword, with Gothic swirls forming into dragon's tails, making up the handle, a multi-faceted crystal featured in the center of the hilt, accenting the simple tapered blade that ran the length of Heero's right calf, on the outside of his leg. Duo could hear Wufei offer a grunt of approval at the design choice. However, the last set of pictures almost sent Duo sliding out of his chair. They were of piercings - erotic and frustratingly tantalizing piercings.
The first picture showed Heero's bare chest, his hands splayed at the top of the picture, holding up his shirt. His nipples stood erect with thin silver rings through them, glinting from the flash of the camera. Duo's fingers twitched, wondering what they would feel like to his touch, wonder how Heero might gasp if he tugged at them a little, bit at them, played with the rings between his lips. Duo looked around for a glass of water to dump on himself. But the last picture, that was the one that did Duo in. It was a tight shot of Heero's face, his eyes just visible at the top of the picture, but his mouth was open with his tongue hanging out, just barely touching the skin of his chin. A silver bar had been pierced through his tongue, the navy ball at the end matching the navy balls on the curved bar through his right brow. But it was the look in Heero's eyes, a shine, a twinkle that seemed to call to him, as if he knew Duo would be seeing this picture, as if raunchy thoughts were flitting across his mind and with a flash of a camera, one especially dirty one was caught in the blue of his eyes. Duo took a swipe at the corner of his mouth and swallowed hard. He was salivating - a starved man staring down the most delectable meal he could wish for. He did whimper this time when the picture was taken away.