Lies - Between Friends and Lovers
by Dyna Dee
Once again, Duo was away from his phone when he called. The taped message informed callers that he'd be home shortly. Heero left a simple message, asking his long-haired lover to call when he got in and that he was presently at Quatre and Trowa's. He went back down to the dining room and found Trowa there with a plate of warm food. The auburn haired man kept him company, sipping a glass of wine while he ate the delicious meal. Feeling quite weary from all the traveling he'd been doing, he excused himself and retired to his room shortly after finishing his supper. Taking five minutes to prepare for bed, he gratefully slid between the cool cotton sheets and fell into an exhausted sleep.
He woke with a start when his cell phone went off. Rubbing his eyes, he reached for the phone on the bedside table and squinting he tried to read the ID, hoping it was Duo returning his call. He was disappointed when his vision cleared enough for him to see Director Une's number once again on the display.
Hitting the talk button, he put the device to his ear. "Yuy."
"We've received a call from Mexico. Relena and Wufei have been found."
"Together?" Heero's mind struggled to make sense of this information. Having the two missing people show up at the same time was the last thing he'd expected, though the news was welcome. "Are they all right?"
"Yes. They told me themselves that they're fine. I haven't all the details yet, but a unit from Mexico City is en route to their destination as we speak. They'll escort the both of them to our headquarters there and then to the airport where Milliardo has arranged for a private jet to fly them back to Sanq."
"Do you want me to return to Earth or continue to pursue the marauders here in space?" He mentally crossed his fingers, hoping that he would be reassigned to Earth. He wanted to make sure for himself that Relena and Wufei were well, and maybe grab another day or two with Duo.
"Return to Earth. I'm hoping Wufei will be able to tell us about his abductors and give us some new leads."
"Was it the marauders who kidnaped him? What about Relena? Can she identify her abductors? It would seem by their reappearance together that their kidnappers are one and the same."
"The marauders seem the most logical suspects since Wufei was trying to track them down when he disappeared, but we shouldn't come to any conclusions until we have their statements."
"I'll catch the next available flight."
"I'll have my secretary arrange that for you and text you the flight number and when you need to be at the terminal, hopefully within the next couple of hours. With luck I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."
The call ended and Heero closed his phone and got out of bed, much too alert now to go back to sleep. Before leaving the room, he slipped on the same pair of pants and T-shirt he'd worn earlier. The house was dark and still, indicating that the hour was late and his hosts had retired to their own room for the night. He moved with the aid of the light streaming through his doorway towards the door of Quatre and Trowa's bedroom. He knocked and waited, hearing low voices coming from within. The door cracked open and Trowa's messy-haired head appeared.
"Wufei and Relena have turned up in Mexico. They're on their way back to Sanq, apparently safe and sound."
"That's wonderful," Quatre's voice rang out from behind Trowa, and suddenly the taller man was pushed aside and the blond took his place, a bright smile on his face.
Heero couldn't help but notice the expanse of pale skin and realized Quatre was standing before him without a stitch of clothing on. He felt his face heat up, thinking he'd probably interrupted them.
"Quatre." Trowa's tone of voice was humorous with a hint of a warning that immediately caught the excited blond's attention. The smaller man quickly moved behind the door to hide his naked state.
"Sorry, Heero," chuckled the blond who also blushed with embarrassment. "I guess I got caught up in the excitement of hearing both Relena and Wufei are safe."
"Don't worry about it," he said, though the thought flashed in his mind that Duo would get a laugh out of his retelling of this awkward moment.
"Have you told Duo yet?" Trowa's voice came from somewhere behind the door. Heero couldn't help but wonder if the man was a mind reader.
"Not yet. I tried to call him earlier but he wasn't home. I'll try again in a bit. Une's booking me passage back to Earth, so I'll be leaving here shortly. Thank you again for your hospitality."
"It's been our pleasure to have you here, Heero. You know you're always welcome." Quatre was always the polite host, Heero thought, even when naked and peeking around his bedroom door. Then suddenly, the blond jerked back, emitting something akin to a manly giggle. Heero could only suppose that Trowa was tickling him. "I'll try to clear my schedule and maybe we can all get together in the next couple of weeks."
"Sounds good. I'll be in touch." With a slight grin, Heero turned and walked back to his bedroom, his smile lingering as the door behind him quickly shut and a few bumps and muffled laughter from two doors away leaked out into the hallway.
Duo still wasn't home when he tried calling again a half hour later. He paused to consider the timing. He could simply dismiss his lover not answering his phone to the fact that it was midday in New York City. Duo might be at work or the gym, at a shoot or possibly up to something he didn't want him to know about. His excitement over Wufei and Relena's return suddenly fell flat. At the beep, he reluctantly left yet another message, asking Duo to call if he received this message within the next hour, before he boarded the shuttle that would take him back to Earth. Knowing that communicating, in any form, was difficult if not impossible on shuttle flights, he promised to call again once he landed.
He was disappointed and only slightly concerned at not having a chance to talk to his lover. He missed Duo and ached to hold him again, to capture those slightly up-turned lips, to steal his breath away and cause his luscious body to arch with pleasure into his embrace. Damning the distance that separated them, he was more determined than ever to find a solution to the problem of their living an ocean apart. He wanted Duo by his side, and if that happened he would do everything in his power to keep him there, happy and content. Duo would never have any regrets about letting him back into his life.
With those pleasant goals floating through his mind, he moved into the bathroom to take a quick shower, shave, if he had time, and get ready for his flight.
"The last thing I remember is taking the ship I'd rented to an area of space I thought the marauders might be using, paralleling normal travel routes, when my systems shut down. A warning light came on, but anything that happened after that is somewhat of a distorted blur," Wufei stated. "My ship must have been disabled by some type of audio transmission and then I was most likely rendered unconscious by some airborne sedative, because I don't remember seeing anything unusual or my ship being boarded. Someone obviously took me out of there, but I have no memory of where I was taken or how I was returned to Earth. The only person I encountered was Relena, and that was when I woke up in the hotel room in Mexico."
Director Une leaned back in her chair, frowning at one of her top agents while contemplating his statement. "I'm disappointed that you have so little information regarding your abduction, Wufei. We had hoped at the very least to identify something about your abduction that would point to the marauders."
"I'm sorry," the Chinese agent replied, his face reflecting the seriousness of the situation. "If I could remember anything, you know I'd have included it in my report."
"Of course," the frowning woman answered. "It's unfortunate that Relena can't recalls her abductors either, or anything about being returned to Earth. Your abductions are obviously connected, seeing that you were returned together."
"Safely and unharmed," he added.
She looked at him with an unwavering gaze, studying him for a clue as to what was going on in the young man's head. "Her account of L2 is chilling, to say the least, and matches up very well with your own report," she continued. "She's seeing a physician now, and I would suggest you visit Sally in the medical room today. Whatever caused your lapse in memory might have long-term effects."
The last thing Wufei wanted was for Sally to examine him, since she'd find evidence of the bullet wound he'd received on his one and only run with Howard and his men. He'd make excuses for not seeing her for as long as possible, then claim he was just too busy for a complete physical, which he knew the good doctor would insist on. Before he could reply, the director's intercom buzzed.
She leaned forward and hit the button that activated her end of the box. "Yes, Violet?"
"I was just informed that Miss Peacecraft is holding a press conference on live television and all the major networks are present."
"Damn," Une said just under her breath. "Thank you, Violet." She released the button once more, then opened the top drawer of her desk and pulled out a remote. As they waited for the flat screen television to lift from the cabinet to her right, she stood from her desk to sit on the edge in order to see the screen better. "I wanted to speak to her about what comments she planned on to giving to the press. I don't want her to give away anything pertinent about our investigations."
"With as little information we have on her abduction or these marauders, I can't see that anything she says will have any negative effect on our investigation." Wufei looked away from the disapproving expression on the Director's face, and turned his concentration on the black screen that blinked twice before coming into focus an instant later. The moving line of writing on the bottom of the screen indicated they were watching a live news feed of Relena's speech. The recognizable young woman stood behind a pale wood podium, a large white surface behind her. She was already in the process of addressing her audience. At first glance, Wufei could tell she had changed from the ill-fitting clothing she'd worn earlier that day. She now wore a simple white blouse which was partially covered by a soft gray sweater. Her hair was washed and softly curled as it fell about her shoulders, and though she was pale and her face thin with the loss of weight, Wufei acknowledged to himself that she was an attractive woman and was impressed that she appeared as poised and confident as ever in spite of her recent experiences.
"The conditions on L2 were deplorable and, in my opinion, completely unnecessary," she said with an expression that denoted the gravity of the situation. "The lack of food being sent by the UEC has, from the beginning, been far below the amount needed to sustain the colony, of which the population has diminished considerably after years of near starvation. Yet in spite of the lack of almost everything the people of L2 are determined to survive. They've created a system of sharing what they have in a fair manner, with children and pregnant women receiving the best of the goods they receive weekly from an outside source, who bravely, and might I add, rightly, cross the embargo line to deliver life-sustaining sustenance. I saw order and kindness, and despite their being systematically starved by the sanctions imposed by the UEC, they have hope. Here are the faces of L2." The screen behind Relena came alive with one picture after another of men, women and children, all too thin and with large desperate eyes looking into the camera lens.
"Those people I spoke with, as well as those I never met while living there, cling to the hope that the people of Earth will learn of their suffering and come to their rescue. They are doing all they can with what they have to simply exist, but they're dying while we live in ignorance of their suffering."
Relena squared off her shoulders and with an expression of determination she continued. "I'm publically calling on the UEC to end the blockade of L2 immediately, and plead for all international relief agencies to send whatever they can spare to these desperate people. I pledge to you and to the people of L2 that I will not rest until they are free once more. The conditions they've been forced to live under these past years are not unlike those imposed by the Alliance on some of the colonies before the Eve wars. Such treatment was one of the main reasons why the colonists fought for their independence from Earth by sending the gundams. Let's not let that happen again. I'm ashamed to say that the people of L2 have not known us to be their friends. I hope to change that. I implore all of those who hear the sound of my voice to write and call to your government officials and representatives, join your voices with mine in an effort to bring an end to the needless suffering on L2, unarguably the poorest colony in space. Let's not only bring them food, water and all things necessary to live, but also jobs, commerce and give them a voice, in space and on Earth, that will help them to thrive.
"On another note, I thank you for your concern on my behalf. I'm happy to be home and I assure you that I am well and appreciate more than ever my family and the simple necessities of life." She gave the audience, mostly reporters and a smattering of government officials, a slight smile as the pictures of L2's citizenry continued to be displayed on the screen behind her and the cameras present in the room continued to flash and record her image for television, newspapers and magazines. "I will now answer a few questions."
As if on cue, a warning tap sounded on the door and Heero walked into the director's office. Sporting two days' worth of beard and well-wrinkled clothing, he looked a bit worse for wear, as if he'd been awake and on the move for a couple of days. His eyes lit up at seeing Wufei sitting in front of the director's desk, but then the television screen caught his attention. With eyes widening in surprise he asked. "What's going on?"
"Relena's holding a press conference," Une answered with a frown.
"Who set that up? Who's in charge of her security?"
The camera had panned back just as he asked that, and now visible behind her stood Milliardo and Lucretia in uniform, both wearing somber faces as their eyes systematically scanned the room for any threats.
"Looks like she's in good hands," Wufei said as he rose to his feet and extended his hand to Heero. "It's good to see you."
Dragging his eyes and thoughts away from the screen, he faced his fellow agent and friend. Giving Wufei a quick once over to assess his well being after his disappearance, he took his hand in his own and gave it a firm shake. "About time you showed up, Chang," he said, unable to keep his grin from showing.
"Well, you know me, I like to keep people guessing."
Heero chuckled. "As Duo would say, you're full of shit."
"If you two have finished your little male bonding ritual," Une interrupted, "I think Heero would like to be brought up to speed. Since I've already read your statement, Wufei, perhaps you could repeat it to Heero while the both of you get something to eat from cafeteria. He looks like he could use it."
"You do look a bit haggard," the Chinese man told his friend with a look of concern.
"You would be too if you'd traveled as much as I have in the past two weeks. I need to spend more than two days in one place in order to get my bearings."
"And you'll have that, starting now," Une said as she moved back to her desk and sat down. "Consider yourself off duty for the next seventy-two hours. I expect you to eat properly and get some rest. Relena and Wufei have been returned and she appears to be under the care and protection of her brother, so you can rest at ease."
"And the marauders?"
"I'll have agents stationed in the colonies follow up if another freighter is attacked. Now go on. I don't want to see you until next Monday, Agent Yuy." Heero nodded and turned towards the door. "Wufei." Une looked to the other man. "I'm sure you'd like to get back to your apartment. Go home and report back here tomorrow morning."
"Yes, Ma'am. Thank you." The director turned her attention to her computer, the action dismissing the two agents.
Side by side the two men walked comfortably in each others' company towards the elevator. "Are you all right?" Heero asked, looking aside at his friend.
"Tell me what happened."
And so Wufei began his rehearsed tale, basically telling his very astute comrade nothing at all. By the time they reached the cafeteria on the third floor, there was little else to be said. Heero asked a few questions, and if he was disappointed by the lack of answers, he didn't show it. Thankfully, the cafeteria was almost empty at this time of the day, being three fifteen p.m. They filled their trays from the selection of food available, then chose a corner table out of habit.
The moment they sat down, Heero reached for his cell phone, vibrating against his hip. He opened it, glanced at the numbers displayed, and with a smile forming on his lips as he brought the compact phone to his ear. "Duo." His voice was warm in greeting the other man.
The Chinese man began to eat his meal, ignoring the burn of his wounded arm and deliberately moving as if it didn't exist. He tried not to listen in on the private phone call, but it was difficult with Heero sitting across the table from him.
"Yes, I've seen him and he's fine. In fact, he's right here. Do you want to speak with him?" A moment later Wufei found the cell phone pressed against his ear.
"Wufei! Thank God you're all right. You put a few gray hairs on my head, buddy. And that's not such a good thing considering how much hair I've got and my line of work."
"Try covering them with a brown permanent marker," he said in a deadpan voice.
"Yeah right. Like I'd find a color that matches my hair," Duo laughed, and Wufei thought how wonderful it was to hear the sound of his laughter again. Duo was indeed happy. Then the American asked, "Hey, are you going to be getting some time off because of this? Quatre told me the guys are hoping to get together in the next week or two. You up to a family reunion?"
Family. Even though they'd been separated for much of the past five years, it struck him now that the word family accurately described what he felt for his former comrades. "Just let me know the dates and I'll ask for the time off."
"Great! Then you can fill us all in on what happened to you." There was a pause before Duo cleared his throat and asked if he could speak to Heero once again. Wufei promptly handed the phone back to the waiting man.
"He wants you again," said Wufei with a teasing grin. The eager look on Heero's face was something new, telling him, probably more than the stoic agent ever would, how deep his feelings for the American were.
Heero snorted at his comment, but his grin widened as he put the phone to his ear once more and heard Duo laughing. "He's right. I do want you, but I can't believe that came out of the mouth of Mr. Straight-ass Preventer."
Waiting until Duo caught his breath, Heero turned slightly away and lowered his voice. "I've got the next three days off. Can you come to Sanq?" The long pause that followed his question wasn't promising.
In an apologetic tone, Duo answered, "I've got a photo shoot in the Bahamas starting tomorrow morning. I'm just about to board the plane." That accounted for the noise in the background.
"You can't fly out tomorrow night?"
"I'm booked there until the end of the week. Sorry. If I could, I really would, Heero." The sound of disappointment was clear in the American's voice.
Heero sighed. "No, it's all right. I can't expect you to drop everything at the last moment just to spend a day or two with me." He tried to convince himself that it was â€˜all right', but it really wasn't. He guessed this was just the beginning of juggling schedules and rearranging their lives if he and Duo wanted to make some kind of life together.
"No, it's not all right. Listen, Heero, I give you my word that I'll take some time off. We'll plan a vacation together, probably with the guys, but we'll share a room and have plenty of time to... talk and reconnect."
Lowering his voice, almost whispering into the phone, Heero said, "I miss you."
"And I miss you, babe. I'd invite you to join me at the shoot but I'm afraid I'll be busy all day and then there's the social obligations with clients at night. Of course, I could make your late nights worthwhile."
Heero's thoughts turned to the few nights he'd spent in Duo's arms. It would almost be worth a sleepless weekend to have Duo naked and crying out his name as brought him to climax. But he was tired. With all the traveling he done, from Earth to space and back and between colonies interviewing Sweepers and freighter captains, he felt like he was about ready to collapse. There was no way he could travel to the Bahamas when making it to his apartment across town seemed at the moment like an almost insurmountable task. "Unfortunately, I'll have to pass this time. I really need to get some rest."
"Are you all right?" There was concern in Duo's voice.
"I will be after a good night's sleep."
"I've got to go, Heero. They're calling my flight. I'll call you again tomorrow morning. And get some sleep, mister."
Lowering his voice even more, Heero ended the call by saying, "I love you."
"Hum... knowing that will keep me smiling all week. Let me thank you now, on behalf of my employers."
Hearing Duo disconnect on his side, he closed his own phone and looked up to see Wufei gazing at him. With a shrug he concentrated on the cooling plate of food before him.
"You're hopelessly in love with him, aren't you?"
Heero nodded in reply as before he put a fork full of potatoes and meatloaf in his mouth.
"Does Duo feel the same?"
Swallowing, Heero answered. "Yes, I believe he does."
"He lives in the U.S."
"How is that going to work?"
With a deep sigh, Heero shook his head and answered, "I don't know. But one way or another, I'll make it work."
Wufei studied him for a moment. "By the look on your face, I have every confidence you will work something out."
The emergency session of the UEC legislature convened three hours after Relena's public plea for help on behalf of L2. Proposals were made and voted on, and as the midnight hour approached, the blockade was lifted and emergency supplies and medical crews were appropriated for delivery to the weary colony. Heero slept through it all. He might have slept to the end of the week had Duo not called as he'd promised. They spoke for over an hour before Duo had to return to work. Once again Heero vowed to himself to find a solution to their distance dilemma.
Early Friday morning, before the sun had begun to hint of rising, Heero's phone rang again. "Hello, lover," Duo's cheerful yet quiet voice greeted him.
"Morning." His voice came out thick and groggy. He paused to clear his throat.
"Feeling better," he replied truthfully. He had a feeling it was going to take more than two full nights of sleep to feel one hundred percent.
"Good. Guess what? I'm on my way to Sanq."
"The shoot went great yesterday, so the photographer told us we could go home. So change the sheets and fuel up the barbeque, honey. I'm on my way."
"I don't have a barbeque." Though it was said deadpan, there was an irrepressible smile growing on the Heero's face.
"That's all right. We're going to be too busy to eat anyway."
"What's your flight number and what time do you get in? I'll meet you at the airport."
"I'm on the red eye, so I figure we'll be touching down there in about an hour. I'm flying Bahama Air, flight five thirty five. I cleared my scheduled for the next three days, but I'll have to fly out Monday night. Can't wait to see you again."
"Don't plan on sightseeing when you get here," Heero warned, still grinning. "I doubt we'll be leaving my apartment."
"Hope your refrigerator is stocked up. I'm really hungry."
"I'll provide anything you need," Heero said with a suggestive tone.
"You name it and it's yours."
There was a long pause, and Heero began to wonder if he'd said something that offended the other man. He went over the last couple of things he'd said, trying to be playful, yet he found he meant every word. He'd give Duo anything and everything he desired, if it was in his power to do so.
"You and food," Duo replied more soberly. "That's all I really need."
"You'll have both."
"Someone's glaring at me. Guess I am being rude using the phone at 4 a.m., but I didn't want to show up unannounced."
"You would be welcome regardless," Heero insisted.
"Yeah, but you know, I didn't want to accidently walk in on anything unexpected. Letting you know I'm coming, even though it's only an hour's notice, can prevent any possible awkward situations."
Heero was puzzled by that statement, but he let it go, realizing that Duo was on the plane and probably disturbing his fellow passengers' sleep by using the phone. "I'll see you in an hour then, and we'll go out for an early breakfast."
"Sounds good. See you soon."
The call ended and Heero slowly put his phone down, his mind turning over the conversation. Rolling over and sitting up, he stood and made his way to the bathroom, wondering what Duo meant by "awkward situations"? Was he disturbed by the thought of his bedding not being fresh? Or perhaps the apartment not being clean? At the early hour of the day there was certainly no one visiting... He paused at that thought, absently putting his hand under the spray of water to see if the temperature was warm enough. Could Duo have been referring to his having someone over, at four a.m.?
He frowned while considering that question. How could Duo possibly entertain the notion of him seeing someone else? There seemed to be a lot more for them to talk about in regards to their burgeoning relationship other than the distance between Sanq and New York. Duo had confessed to having had a few minor relationships, but none of them had lasted for long. His own track record was similar. No one had ever come close to rousing anything remotely close to what he felt for Duo. It was as if every fiber of his being knew that Duo was the one and only man for him. There was no logical explanation for how he felt about the other man. It went beyond physical attraction, though he couldn't deny that even the mere thought of his lover sent a wave of pleasure through him. He thought he'd made it clear to Duo that he was the only man for him, but perhaps he hadn't been clear enough. Stepping into the shower, he decided he would have to set the American straight, that what they had going on between them was going to be a monogamous relationship. He would settle for nothing less. The idea of being physically or emotionally involved with anyone other than Duo was as offensive to him as it was thinking of Duo seeing another man. No, that wouldn't do. He'd have a serious sit-down talk with the handsome model before he got on the plane for New York on Monday night.
With that decided, Heero began to shampoo his thick head of hair. His thoughts were already turning towards what he was going to wear to the airport and where he'd take Duo for breakfast before 6 a.m. In that, the possibilities were definitely limited.