Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
by Dyna Dee
"My guess is that you're the mastermind behind the attacks." Wufei gaze was fixed on the blond business man sitting across the table from him in the Winner-Barton kitchen. The coffee, tea and sweet rolls Quatre had produced upon their arrival remained, for the most part, ignored.
After a long moment Quatre replied, unapologetic and his gaze unwavering. "I only acted when no one else stepped up to make things right. Do you honestly believe we could stand by and ignore the plight of L2 just because the UEC said we must?" Quatre shook his head. "I couldn't do that and live with myself, Wufei. If there is any one person to place the blame on for this operation and bring to justice, it's me. This was my idea. Trowa and Howard just went along, also feeling the need to help."
"Quatre." Trowa's voice held a warning as he silently called his lover to task for putting the blame on himself. He obviously didn't feel that he just "went along" with the blond man's idea for saving L2.
"Why not just dip into L4's farming satellites and deliver food from them to L2 on your stealth shuttle?"
"Why should the people of my colony be the only ones to bear the entire burden for L2, a situation caused by the UEC government? The other colonies are just as affluent, and L2 is the sister colony to us all, no matter its decline. Don't think for a moment that we haven't taken equally from L4 as we did for all the other colonies. We calculated very carefully which shuttles to board, making sure to take evenly from each colony's shipments, then paying for the goods we'd appropriated. Let me emphasize, Wufei, that we never took a life nor wounded any crew members on the ships we boarded. Neither did we damage any vessel unnecessarily. We are on a mission of mercy, my friend, not for profit or vengeance."
"I've asked Trowa and Howard, but now I ask you, Quatre; is Duo in any way involved in this?"
Quatre let the next few moments stretched before he answered, and then he sidestepped the question by holding his hands out and saying, "Duo's not here, is he? You see the guilty party before you. I take full responsibility for the operation. Do with me as you will."
"Wufei." Trowa called his name, diverting his attention away from his lover. The green eyed man's gaze bore into him as he continued. "As a Preventer you have at least two choices before you. You can report to Une that you found the marauders, arrest us and haul our asses in and be the hero for a day. In doing so, you must share the responsibility, along with the UEC, for any further deaths on L2 caused by starvation. Even with a public trial, it would take months, maybe even years before the reasons for our actions were bought out into the open. You and I both know that without our help a good many people on L2 will be doomed to die with only the UEC's supplies." Trowa leaned forward to emphasize his next point. "But there is a different road you can take, one that seriously conflicts with your job. You can join with us and help the most helpless of colonies and live with a clean conscience."
Wufei stood from his chair and began to pace the tiled floor as he considered Trowa's words and the options he'd presented. There was more than just his future as a Preventer resting on his next decision. Yet despite the seriousness of the situation and the consequences to his friends as well as himself, he had his answer after a few, pensive moments. "I'll join you," he said decisively, turning to face the two men sitting at the table. "Just tell me what to do."
Waking up and feeling his back pressed up against a warm and solid chest, Duo smiled and took a deep breath. The air in the hotel room was cool and filled with the scents of sex and the never-to-be forgotten smell of Heero. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he wondered at his total lack of control. Despite Heero's reassurance that this weekend wasn't a one-time thing, he couldn't imagine how they could ever make their newfound relationship work. Heero was a dedicated Preventer, living on the opposite side of the planet from where he lived and worked. The man was all about the law and straightforward about his duty in seeing it was adhered to. In contrast, he hid behind his persona of a model, harboring secrets about his illegal activities with the help of a double. Heero would no doubt hate him if he ever found out that he'd been lied to. No, it could never work. Yet despite having come to that conclusion, even before he'd stepped off the shuttle from Earth, he'd flirted, kissed and then make passionate love to the only man he'd ever given his heart to. He'd gone against his better judgment and previous decision not to seduce Heero and happily tumbled into bed with him, setting himself up for the inevitable heartbreak that would come sooner or later.
The arms around him tightened slightly, alerting him to the fact that Heero was waking and that their time together was drawing to a close. His flight back to Earth was at 11:15 that morning, and even though he wished he and Heero could lock themselves away forever, just like they had the past two nights, he knew it was time to extract himself from this situation and get back to business. Despite the gloomy outlook for a future together, he couldn't regret having spent the weekend with Heero or how they'd passed the time. The memory of every word spoken, every touch and especially the feeling of Heero's body pressed against his own would stay with him for the rest of his life. No doubt he would draw on many of those memories long after Heero left him, which he would once he learned of his lies and deceptions.
Heero's arm went slack again. He'd gone back to sleep. This left Duo with a little more time to think about the upcoming week. After a fitting on Monday, he had his first photo shoot for Spalding Formal Wear on Tuesday and Wednesday. With the money he'd receive from that job, he could easily pay for the loot he'd take from the freighter he was scheduled to stop and board on Friday. He'd have to spend Wednesday evening coordinating things with Taylor, going over the event he was scheduled to attend Friday night. He'd leave early Thursday and make the journey to the ship to make sure all systems checked out before he and his crew left the planet Friday morning. He would return planet side Saturday.
Now that his mind was working ahead, he was beginning to feel restless. He needed to get up and get packed. He carefully placed his wrist over Heero's hand and attempted to lift the heavy arm from off of his waist, hoping to remove himself from the bed without waking the other man. He only made it as far as sitting up before Heero's groggy voice asked, "Where are you going?"
"I've gotta get packed." He tried to stand but Heero grabbed hold of his wrist and held him in place. That hold lasted only until Duo turned his head and looked at the reclining man. His serious expression successfully conveyed the message that Heero needed to let go, which he did. Playtime was over; he had to get back to work. With his wrist freed, he stood and walked into the bathroom, aware that Heero was watching his retreat, probably focusing on his sore and naked ass.
After a quick shower and re-braiding his hair, Duo returned to the bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist to find Heero sitting up, his back cushioned by several pillows set against the headboard and the blankets pulled up to his waist. He gave him a smile before going to the closet and pulling out his suitcase. There was very little to pack simply because he hadn't worn anything but a towel or robe since returning to the room Friday night. Only his toiletry bag had been used with any frequency.
"I wish this weekend didn't have to end," Heero said softly, watching him from the bed.
"Me too. Unfortunately, there are schedules to meet, contracts to fulfill and money to be made. And for you, Relena Peacecraft to find and ship raiders to catch."
"Funny how those things fade in importance when I'm with you."
Duo turned his head to make sure that Heero wasn't pulling his leg. There was a soft smile on the other man's face and Duo found the urge to go to him and kiss him until his toes curled almost impossible to deny. He resisted, though, and quickly returned to his packing. "Then I guess it's a good thing I'm needed back on Earth, then you can get back to work."
After a moment Heero sighed, resigned to the inevitable. "I suppose you're right, but everything in me says I should go with you, to forget my job and everything else that, before I came here, seemed so important. Everything else pales in light of what we've had this weekend, Duo."
"Then what would happen to Relena?"
Duo could see that his question finally brought Heero back to the reality of their situation. Sure, they'd had a great time together, but it was over. They both had jobs that needed doing. "Listen, let's not make this goodbye any harder than it has to be. We both have places to go, things to do. We had a great weekend together but now it's time to get back to work."
"I'm not saying goodbye, Duo." He looked up from the armful of clothing in his hands to see the earnest look in Heero's eyes as he continued. "This weekend was more than I'd ever hoped for, but this is just the beginning for us. I will see you again and as soon as I'm able, all right?"
Not convinced, Duo shook his head. "Our lives are complicated, Heero. I'm just not sure we can make this work."
Heero climbed out of the bed and walked in all his naked glory to him, and just as Duo straightened from putting the clothes into his travel bag the other man gripped him firmly by his shoulders, making sure he had Duo's full attention. Heero looked him in the eyes and said, "I love you, Duo. I lost you once, I won't make the mistake of losing you again." Heero kissed him then, as if he were trying to convince him of the truth of his words, and for several blissful moments, he did.
When they were forced to break for air, both men rested their foreheads together as they paused to catch their breath. Duo smiled as he murmured, "Yeah, I suppose we can figure out some way to make this work." He then caught the time displayed on the alarm clock on the bedside table, reminding him of the lateness of the morning. "Do you think you could order some breakfast for us while I finish packing? I really am running a bit late."
So while he finished gathering up his belongings, Heero placed an order with the kitchen for a full breakfast for two.
Duo Maxwell's fixed his grin and affected the look of adoration for the beautiful, painfully thin blonde model in his arms. He was dressed in a classic, black, three piece tuxedo; she was draped in a pale yellow chiffon evening gown. They paused and posed yet again as the photographer readied himself and took the shot. Another pose was required and given, then directions for a more serious expression was requested. This was the sixth and last change of clothing for the day, and the male model could hardly wait to get out of there. One of the reasons that kept him from bolting was knowing that he had to return tomorrow for another shoot. The reward for seeing this assignment through was knowing the moment he signed out on Wednesday afternoon, a hefty amount of credits would be automatically deposited into his account.
"Do something spontaneous," Mr. Autry, the photographer, suggested.
Looking at the other model, Duo could see her moving closer, intending to kiss him, probably thinking that was about as spontaneous as you could get with the fancy duds they were wearing. Knowing from Janee's earlier flirting that her intentions weren't strictly professional, he winked at the young woman then quickly bent to scoop her up in his arms and slowly swung her around in a circle, careful not to hit the background picture of an elegant terrace. The camera's shutter clicked again and again as he swung Janee around in circles, both of them laughing.
"I'm dizzy, Duo. Put me down," his beautiful partner for the day complained in a breathless voice.
Slowing the spin to a stop, he carefully set her high-heeled feet on the floor and steadied her until he was sure she could keep her balance.
"Very good!" Mr. Autry said, looking up from his camera. "That's a wrap for today. Thank you both, Mr. Maxwell and Miss Trevestes. You were both stunning. I'm sure Everett will be pleased with what we have so far." Duo spent a few minutes in polite conversation with the photographer and model regarding the shoot the next day before high-tailing it to his dressing area, where he stripped off the expensive evening garments and dressed in his own black jeans, pale blue turtleneck and black leather jacket and boots.
Outside the studio, the skies were gray above New York and a gentle, or rather, miserable mist had everyone's umbrellas out. Duo was glad he'd thought ahead and brought his own. He really didn't mind the less-than-desirable weather, in fact, he decided to walk back to his apartment.
Duo felt great, knowing that his bank account was one day away from reaching a new high. Of course, he'd have to remember to take out enough to pay taxes. When tax time rolled around, the books would show that he made a bad investment or two, accounting for where a good deal of his earnings went, and he'd more likely than not have just enough write offs to make everything look legitimate. Not many people had a business genius as their tax advisor. Quatre would make sure everything was in order and would pass muster with the IRS at the end of the year, that is, if he wasn't in prison.
While walking down the damp streets, only a small part of his mind was on the traffic and people approaching or passing him on the sidewalk. His thoughts returned to Heero and the weekend they'd spent in bed together. Getting involved with him again was a serious complication to his complicated life and a definite threat to his future. But damn, just thinking about the blue eyed Preventer set his blood on fire.
By the time he reached his front door, he still hadn't come up with a solution to the dilemma Heero presented. He set his umbrella in the basket by the door and looked up to see the message light on his phone blinking. He wondered if Heero had called. He'd already received a text message as well as an email from the other man, reminding him of things said and done while on the moon together. As good as his word, Heero had no intention of fading out of his life. But at the moment his Preventer lover had more on his plate than ever. Not only was he the lead investigator on Relena's and the marauders' cases, he now had another case, a new priority and worry. Preventer Agent Chang Wufei was presently unaccounted for, missing.
Heero had sent him a message stating that Wufei was last seen on L3, where he'd rented a speed shuttle, which was never returned. In his email, Heero also said there had been no calls or emails to Une, himself or any of their acquaintances. Heero had been given the added assignment of searching for clues in trying to discover the whereabouts of the decorated Preventer. He joined Heero in worrying about their friend and fervently hoped Wufei was all right.
Walking towards his phone, Duo could only hope that the message was from Heero, and that he had some good news regarding their missing friend.
"Duo, it's me." It was Quatre. "I need you to call me as soon as you get in. Use the preferred phone." That was the end of the message. Duo immediately erased it, then listened to the next message. Despite his worry for Wufei, he was thrilled to find Heero had left yet another message. Duo smiled at hearing the other man's voice. Somewhere along the line Heero had turned from a stoic, no-nonsense soldier boy into a romantic. "I can't close my eyes without seeing you," Heero confessed. "And when I imagine you, your hair is down around your bare shoulders and your eyes are glazed with passion. I'm counting the days until we can be together again."
After playing the message twice, Duo went on to the other messages: three from people either he or Taylor had dated and two designers looking for a favor. He jotted down the information he needed a reminder for, then erased everything except Heero's message, which he would listen to again later. Heeding Quatre's request that he call immediately, he walked to the end of the hall and took the hidden stairs down to Taylor's apartment.
After opening the door in Taylor's apartment, Duo called out to his friend. Taylor obviously heard him because he met him halfway down the hallway. Duo grinned at the other man's appearance. His double was wearing a blond wig and tinted glasses. He guessed the man had either just come in or was about to leave because this was only one of several disguises Taylor wore when he wasn't on the job. Even with the disguise, anyone who chanced to see the two of them together would probably wonder if they were related, so similar were their facial features. However, having removed the tinted contacts that gave Taylor his unique eye color, and his hair now covered by a wig, the other man no longer looked exactly like him.
Taylor gave him a cheeky grin and asked, "What's up?"
"Hey, Tay. I've gotta use the vid phone, then we need to talk," Duo said as he walked past his friend to enter the guest room.
He went directly to the desk and powered up the communication device that was used when discussing schedules or anything else they didn't want connected to their home phones. They'd set this phone up under Taylor's name in case someone wised up to what they were doing and looked at his personal phone records. Duo then dialed the memorized number and waited a short while before the phone on the other end was picked up. A moment later the image of the famous business man popped onto the screen. "Thanks for calling me back, Duo," Quatre said in greeting, his usual smile missing.
"What's up?" Duo asked, worried about the air of seriousness emanating from his friend.
"You've heard about Wufei's disappearance?"
The braided man nodded, his brow creased with worry. "Heero emailed me about it. I hope he's all right."
"Wufei's fine; he's joined us."
Duo's eyes widened with shock. "What? How the hell did he find out?"
"He put two and two together and was in the hanger when Trowa, Howard and the guys reached the satellite. He decided to join us rather than turn us in."
"Holy shit." Duo said, raking his fingers through the hair over his forehead. "Does he know everything?"
"Not about you, and we're going to try and keep your part in this from him."
Duo shook his head. "Not gonna work, buddy. If he put two and two together and came up with yours and Trowa's involvement, it won't take him more than a week to figure out there's another ship out there raiding freighters. Don't you think he'll figure out that the other pilot is me?"
Quatre shook his head. "Remember we're near the end of this operation. We just have to be smart during the next couple of weeks and keep our secrets to ourselves. Howard's crew, having been seen by Wufei, will brief him on their procedures before taking him on a run and see how things go. But in order to keep Wufei from guessing that there's another shuttle and pilot, especially when this is all over, we'll have to change things a bit."
The blond looked directly at the camera as he answered, "You're next run is cancelled."
"No way!" Duo said vehemently. "If I don't go the people on L2 will go hungry."
"I didn't mean no one would make the run, just that you won't add another ship to the list the Preventers are collecting. Howard will take your assignment, though I think they're heading out tonight instead of Friday. I would like you to be prepared to leave at a moment's notice in case something goes wrong with Wufei, so you should arrange with Taylor for him to take your place if necessary. I'm certain we can trust Wufei's word, but we're practicing caution until we're certain. Rashid's people have a shipment of goods wrapped up and ready to ship in case of an emergency. You'll deliver that shipment to the colony next week and return home. We'll see what happens after Wufei's first run before we decide how to proceed. I've already spoken with Rashid and he's agreed to get your shuttle ready."
"This gets more complicated all the time," Duo groaned and ran his hand through his bangs. "How many more people can we pull into this operation without word leaking out?"
"It goes no further. If everything goes as planned, we won't have to do this for more than a few more weeks.
"How do we know that Wufei didn't fake defection from Preventers just to get as much information as he can in order to have you and Trowa arrested and prosecuted?"
"He already caught Trowa red handed and came here to question me. He knows we're involved and could have arrested us on the spot, but he didn't. He was genuinely affected by what he saw on L2 and he wants to help."
"What do we do if Heero figures this out?"
"He'd have to catch us red handed, like Wufei did," Quatre replied. "I think it would be in our best interest not to tell him about any of this. He'd have to choose between us and Preventers and I don't want to put him in that position."
"Yeah, me neither," Duo answered thoughtfully.
"Speaking of Heero, how was your weekend?" There was a long pause as Duo considered his answer. "Come on," Quatre urged with a teasing grin, "you can tell me. Was it as good as you remembered?"
In spite of the previous serious conversation a moment ago, Duo couldn't help but smile back. "Even better."
"Come on, tell me."
"You're such a girl, Winner," the model chuckled. "I don't happen to be a kiss and tell kind of guy. Suffice it to say that it was hot and that I'm head over heels for the guy and scared to death at the same time."
With a look of sympathy the blond said, "I understand, Duo. But I'm sure everything is all going to work out between you two. Once this is over, you can start again and have a real relationship with Heero."
"Are you kidding?" Duo couldn't believe his ears. "I'm going to have to hide this chapter of my life from him for however long we last, which, despite the odds against it, I'm hoping for a lifetime."
"Total honesty, in some situations, can be overrated," the blond said, further shocking his friend.
"You're shittin' me?"
"In the business world I've learned that honesty is important, but so is withholding information that is pertinent to my personal life, company operations and strategies for growth. There are some things that are best kept to oneself, and believe me, your being one of the marauders should be at the top of the list of things to keep from Heero."
"I hate lying to him," the braided man said quietly, "especially when he's determined to make things work between us."
"We decided early on in this venture that we were going to have to lie when necessary to keep from being apprehended. L2 needs us more than you need to have a completely clear conscience, Duo. Lying has become a necessity for us."
"I know, I know," Duo agreed. "But I don't have to like it, do I?"
"Would you prefer spending the next twenty years in a colony prison?"
"Then keep your secrets to yourself and remember the ultimate goal."
"L2's survival and freedom."
"That's right. I think it's more important than ever that you keep Heero's thoughts engaged. If he's thinking about you and what happened last weekend, he won't be at the top of his game."
"I'm not a whore, having sex with him just because you said to, Quat," Duo snapped.
Seeing that his friend was upset, Quatre rushed to reassure him. "Of course you're not, and I'm sorry if my suggestion made you feel that way, but the power of attraction between you and Heero is something we can't afford to ignore."
"Power of attraction," the braided man scoffed. "There's more than that between us." Then more solemnly he added, "He said he loves me, Quat, and I think there's the potential for us to have a relationship like what you and Trowa have."
The blond's smile was soft, his eyes understanding as he replied. "I know, Duo. It's always been there, just under the surface, hasn't it? All these years you've been harboring feelings for Heero, regardless of what he did to you." When the braided man didn't answer, Quatre made another suggestion. "Just keep in touch with him, remind Heero of how much you need him. That's true enough, isn't it?"
Duo nodded his head. "But that's just about the only truth I can tell him, isn't it?"
"Not the only truth. Tell him how you feel about him, that you're happier with him in your life. Just don't share with him your secrets, the ones that will force him to choose between you and his job."
After taking a moment to think it over, Duo nodded. "All right, but keep me informed about how things go with Wufei. I'll talk to Taylor about the schedule change but have him ready to take my place Friday in case you need me. I'll probably make the trip to the shuttle just to make sure everything is set to go."
The call ended a few moments later, leaving Duo to sit in the quiet room for several moments, collecting his thoughts before moving on to the next task. So now Wufei was involved. How would the Preventer explain his absence once L2 was freed? He felt an enormous amount of guilt in knowing that his former comrade had jeopardized his career, something that was very important to him. He tried yet again to shake off his guilt. "We all chose our own path," he reminded himself.
Standing, he walked to the bedroom door and turned out the light before leaving the room. He found Taylor in the living room, watching T.V. while waiting for him to finish his call. "Hey," Taylor greeted him again, not bothering to get up.
Duo threw himself down onto the other end of the brown leather sofa. "Listen, Tay, my schedule's been changed, but Quat told me to be ready to leave at a moment's notice if the need arises. So you might or might not need to take my place on Friday, all right?"
"You bet. Have you decided which event you want me to go to?"
"There are two to pick from, a private party with other models and yet another movie premiere. I think the one with the least potential for exposure is the movie. I had a personal invite from Shannon Smythe. You haven't gone out with her before so, just to fill you in, she's one of the top 10 actresses in Hollywood and co-starring in the romantic comedy that's premiering Friday, as the leading woman's best friend."
"Oh hell, not another chick flick!" Taylor groaned, throwing his head back to rest on the back of the sofa.
"A necessary evil, I'm afraid." Duo couldn't help the smile creeping up at the corners of his lips. Better Taylor than him, he thought.
"All right. Give me Shannon's number and I'll confirm."
"I already did, last week," Duo chuckled at the other man's frown. "Hey, I hate socializing with a bunch of models, and it's never good form to keep a girl waiting too long." "So how well do you know this chick?"
"I took her to lunch a few times when I was in L.A., so we'll need to go over what we did and said, just in case she brings up the past. But I also need to bring you up to speed with Heero."
"You met up with him on the moon?"
Duo blushed, feeling a bit shy about speaking so frankly with a straight man about his tryst with Heero. "We didn't leave the hotel room all weekend."
"Don't tell me." Taylor held up his hand. "I know you're gay and all, but there's only so much I can take."
"All right. I just wanted you to know that we're.... I don't know... involved, I guess."
"This complicates things, doesn't it?"
"Oh yeah," Duo sighed and rubbed his weary eyes. "And you need to avoid him at all cost. Let's order in some Indian food and I'll bring you up to date with everything you need to know about both Shannon and Heero."
Taylor stood up to go to the kitchen where he kept a list of take out restaurants in a drawer. Duo called out from his seat on the sofa, "And if you have any, bring me a beer. I really need one."