Heero tried to sleep. He had managed it at first; drifting off shortly after he lay down. He had left work early, and gone straight to the bedroom, asking the servants for something to eat. He'd got used to the servants now: the realization unsettled him a little.
After he ate, he finally gave in to the fatigue he had been feeling for hours. He slept, for a while; but then was woken by the sounds of movement downstairs that meant Relena had returned. Heero wondered briefly where she had gone after the conference was brought to an early close this afternoon; probably the hotel with the other diplomats, trying to maintain the peaceful atmosphere Duo had put a dent in.
He smiled wryly at the images. He would have liked to have seen whatever argument it was Duo had started; it would be amusing to see how the old traditional thinkers, who had been diplomats for decades without changing their attitudes once, had reacted. He only hoped Relena saw it the same way he did... He closed his eyes. He didn't want to think about it.
But it reminded him. How could he have been so stupid as to think Relena didn't need him? It was wishful thinking, selfishness. But when he was with Duo... like Duo had flicked a switch inside him and completed the circuit... Electromagnetic. He wasn't sure he could stop himself going back. And now, he couldn't anyway. Everything was now so neatly coiled that it seemed proper and right. He had to see Duo to keep his contact at the summit; had to find out more about him because he had to justify that choice of contact. It all fitted with his feelings so perfectly. He had said he would meet Duo at the hotel at eight; it was now quarter to six.
His mind drifted now, restless. Heero was not accustomed to doubt. He was always certain of what he was doing; he never lacked purpose, and if he found himself aimless he thought up new goals. It wasn't often necessary though: there was always so much to do. It left no room for indecision or questioning. But now... Heero wavered. Reason and instinct had always coincided before; but now his instinct was to believe Duo, while in his head he heard Trowa's cautioning again. Of course it had occurred to Heero that Duo was too mysterious, too strange: but that was why Heero was... attracted. The impartial detached voice in his head said maybe it should feel wrong - he was married, committed - but it couldn't feel anything but... correct. Fitting. Heero reflected on what now seemed an age ago. A kiss, and another, and another... He felt like static all over, remembering. He couldn't help it.
That detached little voice presented the idea to him that maybe he was falling in with the plan, being distracted by Duo from his job, his responsibility: being used to aid the plot against the people he was meant to protect! But Heero thought that was paranoia. He wanted to think even Trowa's warnings were, as well; this was where his confusion began. He found his thoughts going round in a circle.
He had to see Duo.
He knew it wasn't just to try to find out the truth... Those kisses again sent a spark of warmth through him. But... Relena...
He sighed, rubbing a hand across his face tiredly. No time for any more sleep now, though he still felt used up. He showered, trying not to think the dark thoughts clustering at the side of his mind.
Heero had just finished dressing when Relena stepped into the bedroom.
"Are you going out again tonight Heero?"
He smiled slightly. He couldn't tell Relena either of his truths: he wouldn't tell her about the case; it felt like he shouldn't even say who he was meeting. And his feelings for Duo made it seem... clandestine. Heero wasn't used to lying: he always found it much more entertaining to tell the truth, and see how people reacted. If he didn't want someone to know something, he just said nothing at all.
But now... a half-truth was the only explanation he could give. "I'm meeting my informant again about that case."
"Will you be back late again?"
Heero winced inside. He had said last night that he wouldn't be gone long... "I don't know."
"Are you going now?"
He glanced at the clock. "In a short while. Three quarters of an hour?"
She nodded. "Because I wanted to speak to you about the summit."
Heero tensed. Had she seen him? "What...?"
"This afternoon. There was quite an argument. I've been at the hotel until not long ago, trying to keep the peace."
Heero's eyes widened; what had Duo done?! He kept his voice level. "What happened?" He couldn't let her know he knew.
"One of the new young men from space. He took issue with the ESUM budget minister over some matters of distribution. Things turned quite ugly."
`So it wasn't quite just a random argument, was it Duo?' Heero felt helpless. He couldn't say anything in Duo's defence; and it also added to his confusion. Had Duo really done it for just the reasons he had earlier claimed to have? And besides... even if he hadn't...
...he agreed with Duo.
He would have to give that serious thought; but right now Relena was continuing.
"I just thought I should let you know, Heero. After all, this is the first time something like this has happened. I thought you'd want to know about strange events; I know how concerned you are about security, and peace."
Heero froze. He hadn't mentioned the investigation to Relena... she was the last person he wanted to find out! But, he realised, she was a clever woman; it was not entirely surprising that she had worked out for herself that some things were different this year, just like Trowa had. He thought for the best way to deal with it. "I'm sure it's nothing. Just one of the new guys who's not used to all the protocol yet."
"It was Duo Maxwell."
Heero nodded slowly; no need to pretend he didn't know who she was talking about. Still - what could he say? "I..."
"I just thought you should know."
"I see it's your turn to be late today!" Duo got up from his seat as Heero entered the hotel lounge.
"There was a lot of traffic coming into town."
Duo smiled. Heero cursed the feelings that tore him: the smile reminded of him of this thing, whatever it was, he thought the shared... but what if it was fake?
Duo obviously caught Heero's serious mood. "Let's go to my suite. We can talk more privately there."
The implication was not lost on Heero, whether it was intentional or not: if his mood hadn't been so dark he would have been amused. But he merely nodded and followed Duo up the wide staircase to the door of a suite on the first floor.
Inside he hesitatingly sat down in an armchair while Duo arranged himself on the bed.
A bright smile contrasted with the immediately serious tone of voice. "What did you want to talk to me about, Heero?"
Heero thought silently for several moments. How to answer... This seemed so different to his explanation to Relena: with her, his selective explanation felt no different to the habitual truth-economy a detective had to employ constantly. But this... with Duo, it felt like a lie.
He felt weary again: he closed his eyes. How could he ask Duo this? He knew what it was kept Duo from appearing in any records between certain dates. At least... he had assumed... "Duo, when you were young, after you were ten years old... what was it like?"
Silence. Heero heard Duo shift on the bed.
Finally, a reply. "I don't remember." A pause which, heart in mouth, Heero didn't try to fill. "I don't remember what it was like. But I remember what it was." Heero heard the edge of the knife, and Duo continued. "It must've been terrible. It must've been frightening. It must've been... uncertain." An uneasy settlement for a euphemism. "I don't remember those feelings. But I remember it all." Another pause. Then a quiet heaviness of tone that Heero could feel inside. "I lived rough, just like I had when I was younger... And then... Everyone knew there was going to be a war. Everyone wanted to do something. I wanted to because I was willing to grab any opportunity I could - so I did. And... then, suddenly, I was a soldier. I knew what I was doing, and why. I wanted something to do, and I wanted to do something. After the war, I destroyed all record of myself. It wasn't hard to do." Heero heard a slight smile in the pause that followed. Then, clear, confidently: "I started again."
Heero opened his eyes.
He looked directly at Duo; watched as the other man shifted under his scrutiny, and eventually got up off the bed. He watched as Duo walked towards him: noted every detail of the black figure, the hair, the open face... The lips that had touched his earlier, that were now drawing near again... and then were soft against his cheek, the corner of his mouth...
He couldn't resist. Heero turned his head that fraction and met Duo lip to lip, tongue tip to tongue tip. This kiss... it was another perfect fit. Heero thought that, for once, he could catch a glimpse of the light through a chink in the wall.
Duo pulled away, leaving his hands where they had come to rest on Heero's upper arms: Heero observed the parted lips and smiled a little.
Duo returned the smile, pulling back again from where he had knelt before Heero, and standing up, moving his hands down Heero's arms so they were hand in hand again.
"You're tired. Come on."
Heero didn't protest as Duo gently pulled him towards the bed. It was true, he was so tired... and now, he felt, he could stop. He had answers; they might not satisfy Trowa, it briefly registered in his mind; but... he couldn't help himself. He let himself be led by his instincts; the ones that had drawn him to Duo in the first place.
`We're alike... Nothing else matters.'
He closed his eyes as he felt himself pressed back to the bed; warm lips touched his neck. The softness comforted him.
He knew he wasn't fully in control of his thoughts: they sped, freed; he watched them unfold, natural - they felt right.
`This... between us... I feel it, it's real. It's more important... this common cause we have... Sometime... I don't know when it'll be - but we'll get out of this. Nothing can stop us...'
If he remembered, he thought, he might tell Duo that. The reassuring touch of lips had settled now, resting at his collarbone inside the undone top buttons of his shirt. He felt them smile against his skin.
He vaguely remembered... There was something else he had been going to ask Duo about. Something Relena had said... Just for a second... Heero saw the dark thoughts again. But... they were just out of his sight. He knew they would come back to him later. He knew Trowa and Relena and doubtless others would bring them like ghosts to haunt him... A shiver of dark...
`What have I done...?'
But for now, he could only rest. All the nervous energy, the sleepless weariness, had drained away. He pushed aside the darkness and concentrated on the chink of light... that had started beside him.