Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
by Dyna Dee
Sitting in one of New York's more trendy eating establishments, Duo toyed with his salad while trying to remain attentive to the details being hammered out between his agent and the promotional manager for Everet Spalding, renown designer of men's formal wear. Premiere, one of the top magazines in the clothing design industry, was going to feature Spalding's designs in an upcoming issue. Duo was one of three male models selected by the designer's staff to present the line. All that was needed to close the deal was to work out the business details and sign the contract. Negotiation over payment for his services seemed to be going well, and it looked to the braided man that his bank account was about to gain a few more zeros.
The hostess approached the table with a smile directed solely towards the recognizable model as she asked, "Mr. Maxwell?" Duo acknowledged her with a nod. "There's a phone call for you. If you'd like, we have a private sitting room where you can take the call."
Excusing himself, Duo left the two men at the table and followed the young woman, smartly dressed in a black pantsuit with a white frilly blouse. She stopped before a door just off the main reception area and opened it to a cozy room with two high back chairs and a small desk with a vid phone sitting on top. She informed him with a toothy grin that he needed only to depress the line 2 button to answer his call. Once the door closed securely behind her, Duo moved towards the desk and sat on the cloth-covered paisley chair and picked the phone. "Duo here."
"It's me," Quatre said, his voice sounding far away.
Knowing his friend wouldn't call him in a public place without a good reason Duo asked, "What's wrong?"
"Check the phone for bugs, the room, too."
It took less than two minutes to do as his friend had asked. "Everything's clear," he reported after returning to the chair and sitting down. He turned on the vid screen so he could see his friend while they chatted.
"Heero was here again," the blond man reported, his expression sober. "His suspicions are growing. He was asking for Trowa and looking for Howard."
"Damn. We knew this could be a problem, but I thought we covered our tracks."
"Heero never did like an unsolved puzzle." The blond leaned forward, his face coming closer to the camera. "I've thought things over, and I think I've come up with a solution. You might not like it, but just hear me out, all right?" He waited for Duo to nod before he continued. "Though in the past we've known Heero to be ridiculously focused on a goal, he's also shown that he can change his direction in an instant, like when he decided at the last moment not to shoot Relena when she was first presented as the Queen of the World."
"What do you suggest?" Duo asked.
"I believe a distraction is in order, something that will turn Heero's focus to something other than the marauders."
Frowning, Duo warily asked, "What kind of a distraction?"
"There is only one thing I can think of that might possibly distract him from an assignment, and that's you, Duo. I think you should consider seducing him."
A long moment of silence stretched out between the two friends. Quatre remained silent on his end of the line, knowing Duo needed a moment to digest his suggestion. The braided man finally shook his head, not liking the blond's solution to their problem. "I think you've finally lost it, Quat. Am I wrong or did you not say to me the last time we talked that now is not the time for romance? You were right. I've got too much shit going on in my life that Heero could muck up. I can't get involved with him right now, or anyone else for that matter."
"Yes, you can," Quatre replied. "And despite what you say, I think that you want to."
"You think too much, my friend. Besides, you know I'm too busy with work and our little side project to take on a relationship of any kind. And who said Heero is interested in anything but friendship?"
"I know he is," the blond replied with confidence. "I believe the only things he's waiting for is some sign from you that you are interested in something more."
"I don't know." Duo said with hesitance, still doubtful and frowning.
"Are you worried that he might lose his tempter again? That he might hit you?" Quatre hated to broach that painful subject with his friend and in such a blunt manner, but he knew that Duo's past with Heero's had to be discussed at some point.
The brunet crossed his arms over his chest, a defensive posture, the blond surmised. "Of course I'm worried about that. It hasn't been that long since the nightmares stopped. How can I trust him after what he did to me?"
"He assured me that he's gotten help, that he was under the influence of the Zero System when he attacked you. You had very little contact with Zero, Duo. Believe me, I know what Heero experienced. There have been moments when I lashed out at others for no other reason than I felt they were a viable threat to me or someone close to me. Those impulses have been gone for years now. When Heero told me he was free of the Zero system, I believed him."
"Trust is something that's earned," Duo said stubbornly with a wrinkle of worry between his much photographed eyes.
"Then start out slow and let Heero prove to you that he's trustworthy. I'm not asking you to do anything you don't want to, but I think that you could lead him a merry chase and keep him from getting any further in his investigation. Tease him a bit. You used to be pretty good at making suggestive innuendoes, and that would surely keep him hot and bothered. And wear that robe you got from Antonio Dulac; you look hot in that getup." Both men knew that the famous designer had designed the sleep wear just for Duo, most likely an attempt at seducing the handsome model.
A minuscule hint of a smile twitched at Duo's lips. "He saw me in that getup the day he and Wufei showed up on my doorstep asking about Relena."
"See? The seeds of seduction have already been planted. All you need do is cultivate it, keep Heero off balance so that he can't think of anything but you. Distraction is a powerful tool, especially when you're trying to hide something."
Duo buried his hands into his hair and squeezed his eyes shut. "This isn't fair, Quatre. I could get hurt in this cat and mouse game you're asking me to play."
"If he raises a hand to you, he's been warned that he'll have to face me as well as Trowa, and that there won't be enough of him left to identify."
Duo shook his head. "I meant my heart. I've tried during these past few years to get over him. But I just can't," he added, sounding as defeated as he felt at the realization. "Heero owns my heart, Quatre. He has from almost the first time we met. He's the classic first love that I'll never get over. Asking me to start something up with him is essentially setting me up for heartbreak all over again. I just don't know that I'm strong enough to pull myself back up after another fall."
"I know," the blond answered sincerely, not wanting for his friend to be hurt like he had five years earlier. "I wouldn't have made the suggestion if I believed for a moment you would be totally adverse to the idea. From what you've told me, as well as what I've sensed from you during our last few contacts, you've been taking small steps on your own towards a reconciliation."
Rubbing his face with his hands, Duo answered. "Yeah, maybe you're right. But I need to make that decision myself, whether or not to return to the past."
"Not the past, Duo, but a possible future with Heero. You're right, of course, that only you can make the decision about becoming romantically involved with him again, but we're running out of time. Heero is trying to find Howard. Some sort of distraction is necessary before he manages to find someone who will talk to him. Can you think of anything else that might work?"
Duo did think for several long moments. Then with a slow shake of his head he capitulated. "No, you're right. A distraction is needed." Another pause followed while Duo made up his mind. "All right, I'll do it. I'll distract Mr. Preventer, but it's up to me to choose whether or not to get into bed with him."
"Agreed," Quatre replied, looking pleased with the outcome of their discussion.
The brunet gave his friend a look of warning. "If this blows up in my face, you know you'll have to pick up the pieces again, don't you?"
That thought sobered the businessman. "The last thing I want is for you to be hurt again, Duo, physically or emotionally. Just be careful and keep Taylor up to date on your activities."
Sensing that Duo still harbored a few reservations, Quatre determined to try once more to convince him this really was the only course of action available. "I've been thinking about this problem since last night, and this was the only plausible way I can think of that would distract Heero. Not even Relena's disappearance seems to have shaken him up sufficiently enough to distract him from his pursuit of the marauders. He's friend's with her, but he's not in love with her. I could be wrong, but it's only reasonable to assume that it's will take something Heero's personally and emotionally invested in to distract him. From my recent conversations with him, the one topic that came up that wasn't Preventer related was you, Duo. Heero obviously still harbors strong feelings for you; he even admitted to having them. I think it's quite possible that in giving him your undivided attention might successfully distract him from his work and solve two problems at once: unbalancing him enough to make him less of a threat, and bringing two people I care very much about back together again."
Duo remained quiet and in a thoughtful pose as he'd listened to Quatre speak. With a resigned tone in his voice he asked, "That's a pretty tall order, don't you think? Distracting Heero by risking my heart."
"You've already said your heart was his. I know the timing isn't perfect, but you're smart enough to keep Heero close and retain your secrets too. However, I'd advise you to meet him in places other than your home, and whatever you do, keep Taylor out of sight when the two of you are together. It wouldn't do for you to be with Heero and then also have you sighted on the streets of New York, would it?"
The blue/violet eyes that looked up into the camera looked resigned, but not as troubled as they'd been moments before. "Yeah, you're right," Duo admitted. "Give me a day or two to formulate a plan. I'll call you with the details."
Quatre offered a somewhat crooked smile as he replied, "Good. You know how I like hearing the details'."
"Oh, shut up!" Duo grinned, laughing at the suggestive wiggle of his blond eyebrows. "My salad is waiting, you perv. Bye, Quat."
He disconnected the connection, but instead of returning to his business lunch, he took a few moments to consider the conversation and his options. Then, with a couple of reservations, he took out his PDA to look up a phone number. Putting his debit card into the appropriate slot, he took a deep breath and began to dial.
Heero was in the middle of a rather unusual conversation with a couple of Sweepers in a dark bar not far from the shipping ports when his phone vibrated at his hip.
Having paid for the next round of drinks, hoping to loosen the men's tongues, he excused himself to take the call. He didn't recognize the caller's number, but knowing that only a few people had his cell number, he answered it anyway.
"Hey there," Duo greeted him, and although the connection was bad, Heero could hear the grin in the other man's voice.
Moving quickly to a booth in a dark corner, Heero hoped to gain some privacy for the conversation. He felt something close to being giddy at receiving a call from the other man. "Duo," he spoke softly and with a smile on his face. "Where are you?"
"At some fancy hotel here in New York. I'm about to sign an agreement that will net me enough to double my bank account. Though to earn all that dough I'll have to commit to three years of modeling this designer's clothing at the spring fashion shows, wearing the suits in public and posing for at least three advertising spreads for this company."
"Sounds good," Heero replied, finding it odd to be speaking about money with Duo. It was a subject they rarely addressed when they were teenagers.
"It's a great deal, and I feel like celebrating. I was wondering if you'd like to celebrate with me, you know, meet up somewhere?"
"I'm in space, Duo. I can't possibly come back to Earth until I make some headway on this case or if something new comes up in regards to Relena's disappearance."
"Has there been any new information on either case?"
There was a long pause before Heero admitted that there wasn't. "I didn't think you could come to New York," Duo continued. "I'm wondering if maybe we could rendezvous on the moon. I have this weekend free. We could have that dinner you owe me, catch up on each other's lives and test the waters, so to speak, while trying to mend a few fences."
This was exactly what Heero had been hoping for, though the timing was less than perfect. While it was true that he wasn't getting anywhere in locating Howard, he hated to take a full weekend for himself and putting the investigation on hold. But would this opportunity to re-connect with Duo be his only chance if he turned down the other man's offer? Did he dare take the chance in case it was?
"If you can get away, I'll book us rooms at the Orbiter Hotel for Friday and Saturday nights. My treat, by the way. So what do you say? Can you make it?"
After taking only a moment to consider his schedule for the next few days, noting that sitting in bars trying to wrest some news out of the closed-mouth society known as Sweepers was his only hope of gaining news about Howard, he made his decision, figuring he could ask stevedores on the moon about the missing man as well as on any colony. With his conscience assuaged by the thought of not dropping the case entirely while taking a 48 hour break, Heero agreed.
"Great!" Duo sounded excited. "I'll make the reservations. I use an alias when I travel, so when you get to the hotel you'll find your room booked under the name of Max Stillwell. I'll tell the hotel to book us rooms on the same floor, if that's all right with you."
"Max Stillwell," Heero repeated, memorizing the name with saying it out loud. "I might not be able to make it to the hotel until late in the afternoon."
"I'll met you in the restaurant on the top floor at seven then."
"Seven. Sounds good."
"I'm glad you can make it."
Heero wanted to tell the other man how much this opportunity to make amends meant to him, but he couldn't seem to find the words to express himself. The only thing he could manage in reply was, "I'm looking forward to seeing you again."
Two hours after ending his conversation with Duo, Heero received a text message confirming that their rooms had been booked at The Orbiter for both Friday and Saturday nights. Having garnered no further information after visiting several more bars and running up a fairly large bill on his Preventer account, he called it a night and walked back to his hotel room with an unusual bounce in his step as he thought of the weekend to come.