by Dyna Dee
Taking in a methodically slow and deep breath, Heero Yuy held it for several moments before carefully letting it out at a pace regulated to help him find his center. He was desperately trying to hide the fact that he was bored beyond belief and fighting a large yawn. His deception was important as he presently stood in front of a room filled with important people, on a raised platform, and acting as a guard for Relena who sat at the table placed front and center. The entire group of men and women of varied ages and were dressed in expensive business suits. The people on the stand were important and honored guests and speakers at the symposium for the Earth and Colony Trade Association. He supposed that the dry topics and long-winded speakers expounding on one point or another regarding their trade was of importance to someone, but Heero found it to be as interesting as a dull gray rock.
Despite his boredom he managed to maintain a stoic appearance. He was, after all, well known and easily recognizable as bodyguard to the young girl who held the honorary position of being the public relations figurehead to the United Earth and Colonies' Foreign Minister, Milliardo Peacecraft, her brother.
Mill, as Heero was asked to call the statuesque blond man, had been appointed to the post when the Earth Sphere and Colony Alliance had fully organized and deemed Relena too young and inexperienced for the post she'd temporarily held. The former soldier had been wise in realizing the people of Earth and the Colonies admired the young girl who had been thrust into the war by special circumstances and loss. He immediately retained his sister to be his assistant and more or less had her acting as the public relations decoy. Relena's new job required her to attend one boring meeting after another, taking a tape recorder with her to record each meeting and later writing a synopsis of the proceedings which she gave to Zechs in order for him to review and act on if necessary.
So far, Relena's position proved to be a brilliant strategy on the part of her brother. While she maintained the foreign ministry's public face, it freed Milliardo from the many hours of public appearances that would normally take him away from the necessary paper work and important negotiations done behind the scenes. The job worked well for Relena also. It kept her current of the conditions between the Earth and the colonies and allowed her a forum for her pacifist ideals while she lived and worked in close proximity to a brother she'd spent most of her life completely unaware of his existence.
A less than enthusiastic round of applause signaled the end of yet another boring speech by a well-intentioned but dry businessman/politician. As the Master of Ceremony stood once again, Relena turned around in her seat to give Heero a sincere look of apology. She knew how much he hated these types of functions.
The crowd laughed at some witticism the Mayor of New York gave in introducing the next guest speaker. Heero mentally groaned at the name of the next person due to speak and resisted the urge to roll his eyes; a mannerism he'd picked up from Duo during the war. The older woman being introduced was well known and regrettably seemed to show up to many of the business and political functions he and Relena attended. He watched as she stood from her place at the table in front of him and made her way to the rostrum. All eyes in the room watched her progress. She was a short, silver haired, middle aged woman with a plump figure that was camouflaged by the pink and white floral dress that looked like a feminine version of a wearable tent.
It wasn't as if he didn't like the woman, on the contrary, he found her to be genuinely sweet and sincere. But Mrs. Rosalinda Santiago, the wife of the ruling governor of L-3, loved to tell stories. Now stories in and of themselves could be pleasant; however, Mrs. Santiago's stories didn't always have a point. She recalled people's names as if the whole audience were acquainted with them, told their gynecological history, which no one ever seemed to be interested in, and her long descriptive tales seem to center around individuals that no one in the audience had the slightest inkling about who they were. To top it off, she usually got lost half way through a story and wound up speaking about someone other than the original person she'd referred to.
Once again he used the breathing techniques Wufei had taught all of the gundam pilots during the war. This time he used them to center himself in an effort to push down the growing irritation he felt rising within his chest and to keep from following the urge to alleviate that pressure, by getting the hell out of there. His growing agitation was something he'd deemed non-productive and had to be dealt with. If he followed through on his current, unsettled feelings, he'd run screaming from the room as if his life depended on it. With a room full of witnesses, he didn't that would be a very smart move on his part. The mental image of him doing that made him smile though, thinking that Duo would give anything to see him do something so... unpredictable.
Slowly, the impulse to flee softened as he calmed and reminded himself of his duties. His eyes scanned the room several times, looking for any trouble. The only problem he could detect was the fact that three quarters of the audience appeared to be having a hard time keeping their eyes open as Mrs. Santiago droned on. The other fourth had a dazed look in their eyes and dopey grins plastered on their faces, making it obvious that they had tuned the good lady out.
He sighed yet again and realized that the simple act of sighing was becoming something of a habit for him these days. He paused with that sobering thought lingering in his mind, and came to the unhappy realization that he was twenty years old and bored to death.
He wondered what Duo was doing. He was pretty sure that wherever his friend was he was anything but bored. Seeing the room was secured with most of the audience safely napping, the former Wing Zero pilot allowed his mind to drift to thoughts of his friends.
He saw Wufei occasionally, and though they had never been close, there was a bond created between all of them during the war. Those battles, fought on Earth and in space, helped to form a brotherhood of sorts despite the fact that they had all been about fifteen years old at the war's inception, each of them proved to be head strong and determined to win a war against incredible odds. They each learned, as time and events sped by, that they all fought for the same cause, for the liberation of and peace for the colonies, though their reasons for fighting seemed very different from each other. Wufei had fought because of the injustices caused by the Alliance to his people, for his deceased wife. He been a hard person to understand at the time, but Heero found him to be honorable and a determined and effective warrior.
His thoughts then drifted to another pilot, remembering that right after the war Quatre had returned to his own colony and family. He was presently living in the high-security Winner compound along with Trowa. Both of them were attending the university there. When not in school, Quatre spent his spare time helping out with the family's corporation and Trowa visited the circus whenever the opportunity arose.
Anytime Heero thought about Quatre, Trowa came to mind also, like the two inseparable people they'd become. During the war he'd observed that the two boys had seemed particularly close, and he'd secretly wondered about the true nature of their relationship. He wasn't really surprised to learn a year after the wars ended that their relationship had evolved into something more than just good friends.
He wondered if Duo had suspected or had even known something about their growing relationship back then, having been close to Quatre during the wars. The American, he recalled, had been on good terms with all of the former pilots, but Heero hadn't been comfortable speaking with Duo on the topic of their friends' relationship with each other. It wasn't that Quatre and Trowa's close relationship bothered him, he certainly wasn't a homophobe, but he would have frowned on such a partnership during the war because he believed that intimate relationships were a distraction and posed a possible liability, something that could be used against them. His intentional ignorance of what was going on between them meant he wouldn't feel the need to interfere if there was something going on. Yet the main reason he couldn't question his best friend about the other two pilots' relationship was because he felt uncomfortable broaching a subject so personal, too close to home, so to speak. He couldn't talk about it with Duo because he found himself attracted to the American, and that attraction made him hesitant to bring up such a subject. He didn't want Duo to guess at his attraction and be uncomfortable with it, so he kept it and his curiosity about their other friends to himself.
His fascination with the braided teenager had been so subtle at first that he didn't recognize it for what it really was. He only let himself believe that Duo was an extraordinarily attractive boy and his personality, so opposite in nature to his own, became a fascinating study. The image of the American on the occasion of their first meeting was still vivid in his mind, for he'd relived that moment over and over in his moments of quiet reflection. Duo had been a striking picture, standing on the docks of an Oz port dressed all in black, his legs spread apart as he pointed his gun at him thinking he was an enemy and ordering him to lower his own weapon. Even though a black hat had covered the other boy's head, Heero had caught a glimpse of the thick brown braid that would become a part of many dreams since then. Anyone else would have thought him insane if they knew that Duo shooting him that day, twice even, had made a very favorable impression on him.
After Duo risked being captured by initiating a daring rescue from the hospital where he'd been held, and then sheltering him on Howard's ship, the American became an enticing enigma that slowly led him to wanting to be near the other boy to enjoy his odd sense of humor and company.
He wasn't sure exactly when he'd noticed it, but he slowly began to wonder if Duo had been attracted to him in return. Deathscythe's pilot playfully taunted him and touched him more than what was necessary. But after watching Duo with the other pilots, Heero realized he behaved in a similar manner towards them as well. Confused by Duo's friendly nature, so opposite his own, he pulled back emotionally and kept his attraction and growing feelings for the braided American to himself. During that time he had to reminded himself over and over that the war was his purpose, peace his goal and not the braided American with the beguiling smile and mesmerizing eyes.
Towards the end of the war, Duo was fighting alongside the other three pilots more than with him. He wondered if it was just circumstances or if he'd inadvertently pushed Duo away with his cool demeanor and single mindedness to the war. He'd also noticed the other boy had formed some sort of attachment to a girl he'd met on L-2 during the war. The girl's feelings for Duo had been obvious when she broke ranks with OZ to help the L-2 pilot as he'd crashed into the moon base trying to rescue him and Wufei. She also managed to get on board of Libra and somehow got a hold of and copied the battleship's plans, then came to them in a stolen suit during the middle of a space battle in order to give the pilfered plans to Duo. Heero thought her actions were certainly a very unique way to get a guy's attention, and it was obvious that Duo was the one she'd been trying to impress.
He'd experienced his first strong pangs of jealousy when Duo expressed his concern for the wounded girl when she was brought aboard Peacemillion. The braided teen seemed distressed over the girl's welfare and he could see any hope he had for a future relationship with the American diminish. Shortly after seeing her put on a stretcher and moved out from the hanger, Duo brought him the information that Relena was on board Libra, the ship they were planning to destroy. He recalled the two of them pausing for a moment in the corridor of Peacemillion to consider each other, and Heero had noted an odd tone in Duo's voice as he'd relayed the message with a look in his eyes that he hadn't seen before. He didn't know what it meant, but before he could study the oddities of his friend further to identify what it could mean, the American had quickly turned away and followed the gurney carrying the wounded girl to the sickbay.
After that, events began to move at a more rapid pace, and it wasn't long before the war was suddenly over and the gundam pilots were hailed as both heroes for saving the planet and villains for the death and destruction they'd left in their wake.
The new government tried to shelter the identities of the under-aged pilots, but in the chaos of forming a new governing system, it wasn't surprising that the information leaked out. Within six weeks after the second war ended, their names, pictures, their sketchy background information as well as the colonies they came from were printed in every newspaper published and on every news telecast.
The five pilots split from each other's company, heading off in different directions in an attempt to lose themselves amidst the public outcry for more information about the five boys with tragic pasts while others demanded they be held responsible for the crimes they committed during the war.
Heero lost track of his former comrades during that time, keeping in touch through e-mail mostly with Quatre who was sheltered on L-4 by his family and vigorously protected by the Maguanacs.
He frowned in recalling his friend. The gentle blond Arabian had been the most sought after of the five for revenge because of his regrettable first experience in Wing Zero. The blowing up of one colony and threatening another was not easily forgiven, even though it had been proved by Milliado Peacecraft that the Zero System had altered the blond teen's judgment. Quatre's sad, regret-filled face on the television screen displayed his sympathy as he sincerely and tearfully apologized for his actions along with a promise to re-build the colonies lost, including the lost L-5 colony, with housing and businesses offered to all those who had lost their homes and livelihood when he obliterated the colony after they'd been evacuated. Most of the colonists seemed to forgive the young and innocent looking blond after that gesture or repentance and restitution, but Heero knew Quatre would always have to watch his back for some sort of retaliation for those unwilling to let bygones be bygones.
The sound of applause came again and brought Heero back to the present and the task at hand. Relena looked startled and blinked rapidly as she turned to look at him again. Heero couldn't help but smile at the fact that she looked like she'd been dozing herself during Mrs. Santiago's rambling.
Checking his watch he realized there was at least one more speaker to endure before they could leave. Relena had already made their excuses for missing the evening's festivities, explaining the need to return to Europe and that they had their private jet fueled and ready to take them back to Sanq as soon as they could reach the airport, which couldn't be soon enough for the former Wing pilot. Steeling himself, he concentrated on looking the part of the dutiful bodyguard while his mind wandered to the past once again.
Two hours and twenty minutes later, Heero sat in the plush seat of the Linear jet with a glass of whiskey in his hand. Any tension he'd experienced at the symposium that wasn't drowned out by boredom, was dissipating with each swallow of the burning liquor. Unfortunately, the lingering sense of boredom that seemed to grow day by day remained stubbornly entrenched. Closing his eyes, he swallowed back the rest of his drink and then set the glass down on the seat next to him. He reclined the back of his seat, adjusted the pillow he'd been given after take off, then prepared himself to sleep during the six hour trip home.
"Let's take a few days off, Heero," Relena's soft voice carried over to him from the row across from where he sat. He turned his head, opened his eyes, and noticed her glass of wine was also empty.
"Sounds good," he replied.
"Rest well," she yawned as she pulled the light blanket she always used on the jet up to her chin, and the both of them drifted off to sleep, leaving only the hum of the jet's engines to fill the air in the passenger cabin.
Heero entered his apartment in the Sanq palace at five thirty a.m. Tossing his suitcase down onto the chair next to the door, he pulled off his jacket, hung it up properly, then wearily trudged towards his bed. Along the way he toed off his shoes, unbuttoned the cuffs and front of his dress shirt and pulled it off and let it drop carelessly to the floor in what he absently thought was an act performed in true Duo fashion. A trail of clothing marking his path to the bed was made when his belt, suit pants and socks followed. He reached his bed, threw back the covers and crawled beneath them thinking how wonderful it was to be home in familiar surroundings and in his own bed. He quickly fell into a deep sleep, more restful than what he'd had in weeks.
A timid knock on his front door and a glance at the clock told him the time was two p.m. and that the maid had come to clean his room. He left his desk and laptop along with the grilled cheese sandwich the kitchen had sent up to answer the door and let her in. "Afternoon, Inka," he greeted the dark-haired German woman dressed primly in her gray uniform and white apron.
The strong and wiry woman he estimated to be in her late thirties, entered through the open door, smiling at him in response to his welcome. "Welcome back, Mr. Yuy. Did you have a pleasant trip?" she asked demurely, her German accent barely noticeable.
Heero closed the door after her. "It was..." he paused for a moment, wondering how he could rephrase the word boring: tedious, dull, uninformative, stiff, dreary and drab all suited the events he and Relena had attended, but he'd learned in diplomatic circles to choose the least offensive words when what you say might be parroted to the press. "Uneventful," he finished, smiling and pleased with the wording of his answer.
The women set down her carrying case of cleaners and reached into her pocket and pulled out a small bundle of mail. "You and Miss Relena work too hard, Mr. Yuy," she lightly scolded him. "You should have some fun before you're too old to enjoy anything." She held the letters out to him along with her advice; he took both.
Nodding his head in reply to the well-intentioned statement, Heero turned to face her once again. "I won't be in your way at my desk, will I?" he asked
"No," the woman chuckled. "Your room is never enough work to bother with. If everyone in the palace was as neat and tidy as you, Mr. Yuy, I'd be out of a job."
"Just one of my quirks," he replied, then added. "Or so a friend once told me." He turned and went back to the chair at his desk, putting the small stack of envelopes aside. A small smile lit his face as he recalled another time, just after a mission, and Duo's astounded face as he cleaned the area of their small, one-bed hotel room before they collapsed onto the bed for the night.
"Why do you always clean everything before you go to bed? You don't see things are messy with your eyes closed," Duo had argued as he stripped down to his boxers, baffled by his fastidious behavior.
"I rest better in a clean environment," he had replied to the braided teenager.
"Must be one of your quirks." Duo had smiled then and lowered himself onto half of the bed and climbed under the blankets, his head coming to rest on part of the lone pillow.
With Heero's memory came a remembrance of the emotions he felt that night as he watched Duo's face soften as sleep approached. His thick brown braid trailed over his shoulder and came to rest on the blanket before him. Heero remembered his body responding to the sight of the almost beautiful boy and wondered how awkward it would be to share the small mattress if Duo knew of his growing attraction to him. He remembered neatly folding Duo's clothes and setting them on the lone chair the room possessed. He then undressed himself and put his own clothing on top of those. Wearing only his boxer briefs, he turned to put out the light, then crawled into the space the other boy was careful to leave for him and turned his back towards Duo's chest.
"Night, Heero," Duo had mumbled sleepily, and Heero remembered the touch of his fellow pilot's warm hand as he patted his shoulder in a friendly manner.
"Good night," he'd whispered back, relishing the warmth the friendly contact brought, and then all there was left for him to do that night was to force himself to relax and go to sleep.
Heero mentally shook himself from the memory of that night and wondered why thoughts of his former comrade kept coming to mind. Well, he knew why, but he'd made the decision once again to swallow down the futility of his feelings for the American that he experienced whenever he recalled their times together. Duo was with Hilde, or rather he had been, and he was straight, at least he was pretty sure he was. As far as he could see, there was little to no chance the American would ever return his feelings.
Heero noted that Inka was going about her business of looking for elusive dust or spots, eventually coming to his desk to attack its surface with a feather duster. Heero picked up his small pile of letters to help her out and decided to peruse them while he waited for her to finish. Starting with the top envelope, he flipped past the phone and credit card bills, an invitation for a free magazine, a newsletter, and then his hand stopped as a picture postcard topped the stack. It was an odd picture, he noted, with the top half of it being an azure blue color sky with a faint wisp of a white cloud. The bottom half showed a verdant green hump. Heero realized he was viewing a portion of a picture, not the whole scene. Curious as to who would have sent him such an odd postcard, he turned it over to see only a few words written on the back, next to a label that had his name and address printed on it.
COME AWAY WITH ME IN THE NIGHT
There was no signature or a return address. The ink over the stamp mark showed the card as having come from New York City in the United States. Several times Heero flipped the picture card from back to front, trying to understand the message and who it could be from.
Frowning at the illogical puzzle, he noted that Inka had moved away from his desk just before he set the perplexing card to the side of his computer. Someone was playing a prank on him, he decided. It had to be that or it was a clever advertising gimmick, the kind that slowly lures you in, getting your attention only to end with a free sample of soap or a feminine hygiene product.
Hearing the vacuum cleaner start up, he put the card out of his mind and turned his attention to his bills, quickly writing out payment checks for them and prepared them for posting.
When he was done, he found himself picking up the card again. He never could let a mystery stay unsolved. Staring at it, he wondered if it could be for real. It was easier to believe the card was some sort of clever advertisement than a true invitation from a secret admirer. After all, who in their right mind would send Relena's stoic and glaring bodyguard, a former gundam pilot, an invitation to come away with them?
Wadding up the empty envelopes from the opened mail, his hands paused as he came to the odd photograph. No, he decided he wouldn't throw it away yet. He'd keep it just in case something else came along, maybe another card revealing more of the picture.
"I'm finished, Mr. Yuy," Inka announced from behind him. He turned to see her coming out of the utility room where he kept his vacuum. She approached his desk and removed a folded plastic bag from out of her apron pocket, snapped it open, then swept the few pieces of crumpled trash from off the desk and into it the bag. "Now I have something to show for my work here today," she grinned at the intense young man while motioning to the plastic bag. Her eyes strayed to the odd photograph on the table and an amused smile grew on her lips. "Taking up photography?" she asked.
Heero shook his head. "It came in the mail today," he answered and fought the urge to snatch up the picture and hide it so that Inka wouldn't pick it up and read the back. "I think it's some kind of advertising ploy."
"It certainly is peculiar," she said. "Do you want me to take it with the rest of the trash?"
"No," he answered, then, picked it up to study the scene of the hilltop, sky and cloud. "I think I'll hold onto it."
The older woman smiled pleasantly at him then bid him a good day and went about her business, leaving Heero to himself to study the picture for a few more minutes before continuing his letter in progress to Quatre.
It was around eleven p.m. five days later that Heero returned from another evening out with Relena. After a day of outings, they'd spent the evening attending the opening of a new museum featuring artifacts and paintings belonging to Sanq's royal family. Heero had not returned to his room since the lunch hour, and stepping through his door, he found his mail lying on the small table adjacent to the entry. Only Inka was allowed into his room when he was away and then only to deliver his mail. Picking up the four items, he quickly recognized a photo card. Turning on the nearest light to get a good look at it, his eyes lit on a picture of a river, positioned at the bottom of what appeared to be a hillside with a small dirt road running alongside it. Sunlight was captured in the photograph by the sparkling light reflecting off of the clear water and the verdant green of a hillside that angled upward from the water's edge. The fragmented scene lent a feeling of peacefulness that he found attractive. Turning the card over, his eyes went immediately to the words printed neatly in black ink.
COME AWAY WITH ME IN THE NIGHT.
COME AWAY WITH ME AND
There was no signature, no return address nor hint of advertisement, but the postmark was stamped as having been posted in London, England. Whoever was sending him these pictures was traveling, perhaps with the intention of masking their location, so they couldn't be traced easily. Maybe this was another stalker, he thought. He'd certainly dealt with them before. Both he and Relena had their share of weird followers.
Moving to his desk and loosening his tie in the process, he set the picture card down then pulled out the first card he'd received from where it had been set at the side of his computer. The two scenes on the cards looked similar with the rich green of the hillside matching, but they didn't fit together. He set them aside as he turned to deal with the rest of his mail.
His eyes and curiosity returned frequently to the two postcards for the next five days. He chided himself for the foolish waste of time, but he couldn't bring himself to throw them away. It was like a puzzle to be solved and he just couldn't let it go until the mystery of the cards were resolved.
He'd returned to his room at noon five days after the second card arrived to see if he'd gotten any mail while he'd been out that morning. His growing fixation for checking the mail lately was unusual for him, and the knowledge that he was doing it didn't settle well with the young man who prided himself on his self-control.
This time he saw the photograph on top of the bills that awaited him. He picked it up, ignoring the rest of his mail, and took it to his desk and pulled out the other two cards and placed them down on the flat surface. Again the picture showed an azure blue, cloudless sky and the top of a rounded hill. But this time, on the bottom left hand corner, there was the hint of something reddish-brown, and he thought it might be a fence, a branch of a tree. The photograph had obviously been taken from a higher position and distance from the scene being methodically unfolded.
After studying the picture, he flipped it over to see the message he knew would be there. This postcard was stamped as having come from Paris, France.
COME AWAY WITH ME
ON A BUS.
COME AWAY WITH ME
WHERE THEY CAN'T TEMPT
WITH THEIR LIES.
Heero frowned. That last sentence hit a little too close for comfort.
Being put into the international spotlight with Relena had always been uncomfortable to him. The press and scandal driven magazines were quick to spread rumors, especially when there were none. It had been reported many times that Relena Peacecraft was having an affair with her attractive body guard, the former gundam pilot, and that the two of them frequently attended wild private parties that had been rumored to being just short of drug and sex debaucheries. At first they'd laughed at the absurdness of the claims, but it seemed the press was determined to keep them in the headline news and the allegations of disgraceful conduct grew.
Time after time the scandalous claims were vehemently denounced and denied by Relena and Milliardo. Certain questionable members of the press from the more undesirable magazines kept hinting at impropriety, while the major news agencies stepped back, reporting the denials to other magazines' rumors.
When it seemed that nothing could stop the rumors of a romantic relationship between he and Relena, lies that affected her job, Heero had acted in the only way he deemed as a means to an end. Walking up to a well-known reporter from a reputable news agency during a social function, he pulled the man aside for a little talk. The man, Bradford Hughes, was in his early forties and a married man. His short, brown hair was graying slightly at the temples and the lines across his forehead and eyes displayed the fact that his profession was a stressful one. Heero had read some of his articles and decided Mr. Hughes was a principled man, with a fair mind and generally reported the news without bias. To his credit, Mr. Hughes focused his attention on the very recognizable bodyguard, holding back his natural curiosity until the young man said what he'd wanted to say. His eyes barely widened as Heero attempted to put an end to the rumor about Relena and himself once and for all.
The announcement that Heero Yuy, a former gundam pilot and the person attributed to saving the Earth, was gay came as a bit of a shock to everyone. Yet the news picked up by most newspapers and magazines didn't hit the first or second page of those more reputable news sources but rather found a place in the 'People In The News' section on page three.
As difficult and uncomfortable as it had been confessing his sexual orientation, Heero was delighted with the results, as was Relena and Milliardo. The rumor mill declaring a relationship between himself and Relena now stated the truth, that they were close friends and had been since he found himself to be employed by her after the second war. But his happiness at the situation soon turned sour as many of the rag magazines, that had plagued them before, began to spread rumors about himself and any male he became associated with. Nosey reporters then turned their greedy eyes towards speculating about his relationship with the other gundam pilots.
The last thing Heero ever wanted was to put his friends on the spot as their relationships came under the scrutiny of hungry reporters, especially Quatre and Trowa.
He'd spent several days profusely apologizing to his two forgiving friends whose heels were dogged by unrelenting snoops searching for a story. They finally handled the situation by first informing Quatre's family about the true nature of their relationship, most of whom were not surprised by their being more than friends. His sisters then rallied to their defense and stood together, showing unity to a room filled with reporters as Quatre made a public announcement in regards to his being in love with Trowa Barton.
Quatre's adoring colonial fans were shocked that he was in a long-term, homosexual relationship, but after several weeks, the minor scandal and hoopla wound down while business was carried on as usual and everyone's lives returned to normal.
Wufei, on the other hand, had handled the situation in a totally different manner. At the insinuation that he was Heero's bed partner during the war by the first pugnacious reporter stupid enough to make the accusation, he knocked the man unconscious with one powerful and perfectly aimed blow. He told the other reporters standing warily back from him that he was in a relationship with someone who, he paused to deliver a warning glare at the nervous men surrounding the semi-conscious reporter on the cement, was none of their business. It didn't take long after that event before Wufei's name began to be mentioned in connection with a slightly older woman, Dr. Sally Poe, also employed by the Preventers' Organization.
As for Duo, Heero didn't know how his announcement affected the American. The former Deathscythe pilot had disappeared several months after leaving Earth for L-2 to work with Hilde. Each of the remaining four pilots received the same e-mail from him every couple of months, basically stating that he was fine and still trying to find out who he was without Deathscythe and Shinigami, his alter ego.
Heero missed his friend, especially during the long, trying days after his "outing". He had no doubt that Duo would have lent some humor to the situation and made light of it. He didn't have a moment's doubt that his announcement of being gay wouldn't have changed Duo's opinion of him. His friend was accepting of everyone, or so it seemed to Heero, who had come to that conclusion by having surreptitiously watched the American's mannerisms and behavior when they'd stayed together in safehouses during the war.
Shaking himself from his reverie of the past, he studied the three pictures on the desk. None of them lined up against the other but it was clear they were all part of a whole. Taking his tape dispenser from out of the desk drawer he did something he would not normally do; he taped the three cards onto his pristine, eggshell colored walls, above and next to his computer. The two sky-colored pictures went above the one showing the small river. Once he was satisfied with their placement, he sat at his desk and contemplated them until he wearied of the task. He then stood and left his room, returning to work with his thoughts lingering on the pictures, the words on the back of them, and what the could possibly mean.
*The song, if you don't know, is 'Come Away With Me', by Nora Jones.
A note from Dyna: I know it's been a while since I last posted, but life has been somewhat... stressful. Thanks to all who have written kind words of encouragement to me or reviewed some of my older stories. I wrote this little fic around the holidays, but in finding out my good friend had ovarian cancer and then watching her struggle with it over the last few months, I just didn't have the heart to post something with a happy ending. Now that her suffering is over and life is marching forward, despite losing her, I hope my desire to write will come back soon and I'll have something else for you to read in the future.