by Dyna Dee
They couldn't have asked for a better day, thought the man standing on the balcony of his much envied, high-rise apartment that looked out over San Francisco Bay. The large body of seawater was dotted artistically by the many white, puffed out sails of the sailboats tacking gracefully across the water's surface. It was a sight that clearly stated the pleasant days of summer were at hand. Added to the scene below, the sun was shining brilliantly in a cloudless, pale azure sky and there was a noticeable absence of any gray bank of wet fog that would normally threaten such an ideal, early summer day. The only thing that could have made the day any better was if he could have spent it riding his mountain bike on Angel Island instead of barbequing oysters and tri-tip steak for a few of his and his lover's work associates.
"Odin?" A melodious female voice called out his name from inside the French doors of the balcony. "You're not letting the oysters overcook, are you?"
He sighed before answering, clamping down on the irritated retort that came to mind. Instead, he replied, "No, Madison. I might be distracted by the view but I'm not incompetent." He turned his attention back to the grill to check on the food and a moment later felt two slender arms slide around his sides, under his arms and wrap around his waist from behind.
"I'd never call you incompetent." Madison's voice was sultry as she whispered into his ear a scant moment before her talented tongue suggestively traced his earlobe, sending a shiver of lust straight to his groin.
"We're not alone," he reminded her, fully aware of the twenty-something people milling about in his apartment.
"Then let's hurry up and feed these moochers so we can send them on their way and go to bed for the rest of the day." She punctuated her suggestion by pressing her tongue into his ear and teased him for several moments before moving to his side.
He liked her suggestion, but being the realist that he was he knew that the party would go on for some time yet and then he'd have to deal with the after-party cleanup and preparation for work the next morning. The reality of it was that he had about an hour of spare time after everyone was gone to enjoy a very satisfying sexual romp with the leggy, redheaded vixen who was his current girlfriend. After that, he had to get her out of his place as well in order to prepare for work the coming week. "If you'll hold the serving dish, the steak and oysters are done." He gave her a playful wink and a grin, encouraging her to keep the amorous train of thought.
Their guests were polite and enthusiastic about the meal spread out before them. Madison didn't take credit for making the tasty side dishes that were offered, only for having known an amazing caterer who had provided them with everything they needed for their Sunday barbeque.
The conversation of the day had varied from comments on how the Giants and A's were doing in their respective baseball leagues, to business, stock ventures and job challenges. There were even several not so subtle questions regarding whether there was going to be an announcement of some sort coming from the dating couple. He was courteous as he skirted the topic, letting the overly curious know that he and Madison were focusing on their respective careers for the time being and that there wasn't room for much else. He let them come to their own conclusions after that.
Though the conversation was generally interesting at times as well as informative, it was a bit too much like the impersonal interactions he had at the office. He quickly grew bored and excused himself to take care of the cooling barbeque. While scraping the charred remains stuck to the grill, he reminded himself that there were better ways to spend a Sunday and that he shouldn't let Madison coerce him into spending their day together socializing with their coworkers. It was pretty much the same people and the same shop talk that he dealt with five long days of the week. He felt his weekends should be reserved as his down time, to pursue his own interests and not using them for advancing his or his girlfriend's social and business contacts.
Over the strains of the soft jazz music playing in the background, the voices and bursts of laughter coming from his living room, he heard the faint ring of his telephone. He figured Madison would pick it up or let the answering machine get it, so he ignored the sound and continued scraping the grill clean.
A couple of moments later Madison appeared next to him with a puzzled look on her face as she handed him the phone. "It's someone who says he's a friend of yours, from during the wars. He says it's urgent that he speaks with you today."
Setting the scraping tool down, he combed the fingers of his left hand through his thick hair while reaching out for the phone with his right, wondering who it was that had tracked him down. He hadn't heard from his former comrades in well over three years, and that was just fine by him. He understood very well the perplexed expression on Madison's beautiful, oval-shaped face as she handed him the phone. He hadn't told her he'd been a soldier in the past Earth/Colony wars much less a gundam pilot. Ignoring the questions in her green eyes, he cleared his throat and answered the call. "Hello."
The sound of the voice on the other end of the line immediately identified the caller, and his heart and stomach both felt as if they'd flip-flopped in hearing it. He never thought he'd hear that voice again. Clamping down on his emotions he asked in an abrupt tone, "What do you want?"
"Is this a bad time? Sounds like a party going on."
"You could say that," he replied, his words clipped. "I have company."
"Oh. Ah... sorry. I... um." A child's voice in the background interrupted whatever the other man was struggling to say. It was a young girl's voice telling him she had to go to the bathroom. "I'll be right there, Zazu," the other man's voice replied gently. "Just let me finish this call, all right? Sorry," he apologized, returning his attention to the call. There was a long pause and when nothing came from Odin's side of the line to encourage the caller, the other man took the initiative and spoke with noticeable hesitance. "Look, this was a mistake. Sorry I called. I won't bother you again."
Later, when he thought back on the conversation, he could only think of it as a knee-jerk reaction when almost against his will he called out, "No, wait. Is something the matter?"
A deep, weary sounding sigh came over the phone. "I need some help, Heero. I thought that because you live in the area you might be able to give me some advice."
"Are you in San Francisco?"
"No, but we're in California. The kids and I are out here for a couple of months and we're driving up the coast now."
"Why are you here?" he demanded, his suspicious mind working overtime. "If you're thinking of getting back into my life, you can just forget about it. I've moved on."
"You always were a self-centered prick, weren't you, Heero?" came the testy reply. "Guess you haven't learned yet that the world doesn't revolve around you. And no, I'm not here for you at all. I'm driving up with the kids and I need a place to stay in the area of Palo Alto. I was just going to ask if you knew of any decent, not too expensive place we could rent for a couple of months, something that's kid-friendly."
The part Asian man laughed out loud. "You've got to be kidding me! Affordable and kid friendly in Palo Alto? You need your head examined," he told the other man, thinking his request ludicrous considering he was talking about one of the most expensive places in the state to live.
Another deep sigh was heard over the phone in response to his sarcastic humor. "Needing my head examined has never been in question, but I still need a place to stay. And believe me, I wouldn't have bothered you if it wasn't important. We had to leave home rather suddenly and I wasn't able to secure a place for us to stay ahead of time. The kids are tired, Heero, and I..." A huff of frustration came over the phone before the other turned his thoughts around. "Oh just forget it. Forget I called. I'll deal with it when I get there."
There was a trace of defeat in the other's voice that in the past he'd rarely heard from the other man, and it rattled him enough that he felt a strange but grudging urge to help him. "Where are you?"
"We're in a place called Arroyo Grande, on highway 101, going North by car."
"You're a little over three and a half, four hours away," he informed him. "Why don't you call back once you've reached Palo Alto and I'll let you know what I've found on the internet."
"Sounds great." There was a noticeable trace of relief in the other's voice. "Thanks, Heero. I know you don't owe us anything, but I wouldn't have called if I didn't honestly need the help."
The phone then went dead without either man bothering to say goodbye. Odin Yuy stared at the phone in his hand for a long moment before he turned it off.
"Who was that?"
Deep blue eyes rose to look into the inquisitive pale green ones of the woman he had sex with on a once-a-week basis. He had to clear his throat before being able to speak as a lump seemed to have formed and stuck there. "Someone from my past," he answered brusquely, his voice strangely thick.
"A romantic involvement?"
He nodded, still feeling a bit stunned by the unexpected call. There was a lot that he hadn't told Madison or anyone else in San Francisco about his past, but he was determined not to lie to her; he owed her that much. "We were legal partners and had two kids," he replied in a quiet, unemotional voice and watched the beautiful woman's eyes widened with shock at his confession. Despite his surprising revelation she remained silent, waiting for him to continue. "I haven't spoken to him in a couple of years and I'm not exactly sure how he found out where I was living or my phone number. Apparently, he's driving up the coast and needs a place to stay in Palo Alto and wondered if I could help him find a kid-friendly place where they can stay for a couple of months."
"You're a father?" she asked, a bit behind in the conversation, and obviously taken aback by the idea. "Two kids! Why didn't you tell me?"
Leaning against the iron railing on his balcony, he looked up at the mid-afternoon sky as he answered. "Because they're a part of my past. And if I remember right, I did tell you after we first got together that I had been involved in a monogamous, gay relationship." Madison nodded, silently admitting that much was true. "When he confessed to having sex with a woman from the neighborhood, I left and filed for a dissolvement of the partnership. I took off, leaving him with everything, including the kids."
"How long ago was did this happen?"
"Over three years ago."
"And you've got two kids that you haven't seen or spoken to in all that time?"
He was having a hard time deciding whether the tone in her voice was incredulous or accusatory. He decided it was a bit of both. It was clear to him that he was going to have to give her a little more information in order to nip this conversation in the bud. "He was the one who wanted kids after we'd been together a couple of years, so he asked a friend of his to become a surrogate for us. She donated the egg and carried the baby while we provided the sperm. The first baby, Eliza Suzanne, came from Duo's sperm." He paused a moment as he recalled the pretty little girl who had called him papa, and that to him she had always seemed to be so delicate and feminine. "She looked just like him," he said softly, caught in the memory. "The second baby, my son Alairic, came three years later. He was a little over six months old when I left."
Madison folded her arms and pursed her pink lips together, appearing to be at a loss as to how she should respond, so he continued. "He's going to call me back after they get to Palo Alto this evening. I told him I'd look on the internet to try and locate a place for them to stay. After that, I don't think they'll intrude on my life again."
Pale green, contemplating eyes stared at him for a moment before Madison gave a little shake of her head and said, "I'll take care of the guests and explain your absence if you want to go ahead and start your search."
Odin nodded, grateful to be released from his duties as host, gave her a quick kiss before quickly make his escape to the bedroom. While sitting at his desk waiting for his computer to boot up, his mind wandered back in time. It took only those few moments for the phone conversation he'd just had to be repeated in his mind and for past to come rushing back. He buried his head into his upraised hands as visions of his former life came back to haunt him. "Dammit, Duo. Why did you have to show up now, when I've finally gotten you out of my system?"
Several hours later Madison came into the bedroom and held out a glass of red wine to him. "Everyone's gone," she announced with a soft smile. "How's the search going?"
He frowned, still staring at the computer screen as he accepted the glass and took a sip before answering. "There seems to be a mass of student and senior citizen housing but very few openings for a single man with two kids and the prices almost rival Frisco's. I found an Extended Stay Hotel that's almost reasonable. It can be rented by the week and has a kitchenette. That might do until he can find something more to his liking." He took a sip of his wine and forced himself to accept that he'd done all he could for his former lover.
Madison sat on the edge of the desk and looked thoughtfully down on her lover. "You remember meeting Andrea, my assistant?"
Heero nodded. "The petite blond with the short curly hair and the tall husband that's some kind of doctor?"
"Good memory," she said with an appreciating smile. "Andrea and Craig Olsen. Anyway, they own a house in Palo Alto and I asked if they knew of anything available, just giving them a brief description of your search. It just so happens that they have a furnished, unoccupied granny unit in their backyard. Andrea's parents use it when they come to visit during the winter months. When I told them of your friend's predicament, Craig offered the guest house, contingent on them meeting him in person, of course. He said to have your friend call him when he gets into town and, if he's interested, they'll be glad to meet with him and see what they can work out." She handed him the yellow post-it she had in her hand with the couple's name, address and phone number neatly printed in blue ink.
He took it with a grateful smile. "That certainly makes my task easier. Good networking. Thank you."
Reaching out, the beautiful woman combed her fingers through his dark, thick and unruly hair. "Think you can show me just how much you really appreciate my helping out your ex?" Her voice was suggestive and teasing.
Putting his wine glass down next to his keyboard, he pulled her forward until she left the edge of the desk to sit on his lap. Then leaning forward he placed teasing kisses on her neck and slowly moved lower to where the cleavage of her breasts were seductively displayed under the lavender, v-neck silk blouse she wore. His open hand, meanwhile, slipped under the edge of her floral skirt and slowly moved up her long, bare and silky thigh. The redheaded woman moaned her pleasure as his fingers slipped past the elastic of her panties and caressed the feminine folds between her legs. After a few moments, he removed his hand only to gain a better hold on her hips, lifted her effortlessly in his arms and carried her to his bed. As he set her down on his dark blue comforter, his eyes glanced at the clock on the bedside table, marking the time and noting that he had precisely twenty minutes to bring them both to a climax and another half hour after that to get Madison out of his place so that he could clean up his apartment and prepare for work the next day.
The call from Duo finally came at 8:45 p.m., two hours after the time he'd expected it would come. "What took you so long?" Odin asked, clearly irritated with having been made to wait.
"It takes a lot longer to get somewhere with a seven and four year old," Duo replied, sounding tired. "Drinks, dinner and numerous potty stops take a toll on a schedule." As Duo spoke, Odin thought his former lover was trying for humor, but there was too much weariness in his voice for him to pull it off successfully.
"I have two possible places for you to check out. Do you have a pen?"
"Yeah. I'm ready."
He told the other man of the Extended Stay Hotel and then the couple with the granny unit and gave him the number of both places. Duo repeated back the information to make sure he'd written it correctly. In the background, the fussing of a small child could be heard. "Hold on, Ali. Daddy's here," Duo said aside to the child, and Odin's heart did that funny flipping thing again upon hearing the voice of his son. He resisted the urge to ask how the kids were doing, telling himself that it was best to keep the three of them in the past and his phone call impersonal.
"Thanks, Heero. I appreciate the help," Duo said as he returned his attention to the call.
"Show your appreciation by not telling the people with the granny unit that we were involved. She's my girlfriend's assistant and I'd just assume that this phone call ends our interaction."
A long moment of strained silence stretch out between the two following his request, and Odin could feel an icy chill coming from the other end of the line. He would have thought from the lack of response that the other man had hung up, but he could still hear the two children in the background, one fussing and the other consoling. He then heard Duo's quiet and strained voice reply, "As you wish." The last word was followed by a loud click and a dial tone.
Once again Odin was left staring at the phone and wondered for a moment why he felt like such a heel. He reminded himself that Duo was the one who'd cheated on him. He'd been justified in washing his hands of that relationship, and with it, the family package Duo had pressured him into. He didn't want to let the pain from his past leak into the perfect life he'd carved out for himself. He was Odin Yuy now, employed as a stockbroker for Morgan Stanislaus-Barrett, a prestigious, respectable brokerage firm. He enjoyed his very lucrative job and his stock portfolio was the envy of his co-workers as was his relationship with the beautiful Madison Malone, a successful corporate attorney.
Madison was smart, sexy as hell and her desires and career goals coincided with his own. They'd agreed from the start to limit their relationship to a weekend only romance in order to concentrate on their careers. Early on in their relationship, after the first time they'd slept together, they'd both agreed to spending Saturdays following their own interests, leaving Sundays free, as much as possible, to spend together. It was a simple arrangement and it worked very well for him. His life at the moment was all he could ask for, and he didn't want Duo Maxwell and the pain their past relationship had caused him to intrude on what he'd accomplished. He pushed down any traces of guilt he felt at brushing Duo off moments earlier and turned his attention to finish preparing for the next morning in which he was anticipating a very productive day at work.