Four days left.
"Trowa. I'm glad you came so I don't have to pretend to be doing proper work. Trowa, I don't think there's going to be any more... trouble at the summit. Think about it. It looks like their objective was just to find out what was happening. When we found the cameras they hacked into the computers."
"So you think..."
"They'll wait. I think they want to wait until the summit is over and see what is announced, and then show how Earth says one thing, but doesn't necessarily mean it by comparing it to the data they got about the summit. And I'm sure that if they really want to achieve their aim they won't hesitate to manipulate the evidence."
"But still... Do you still think it's the right decision not to tell them about what we've found out?"
Three days left.
"No. I don't think it's a good idea, Heero. Everything's been going well recently - I really don't see what good stirring it up is going to do. Everyone would just get scared and end up saying things they'd regret, and the effect on the talks and their result would potentially be terrible."
"I know. Relena's been very... optimistic too. I don't want to upset her like that by telling her something that may not even have any foundation. No, it's up to us to stop whatever might happen before it even begins. Speaking of Relena... I told her I'd invited you to stay with us for a short while."
"What did she say?!"
"She said it would be a pleasure. I think she's keen to forge personal relationships with colony representatives."
"'Personal relationships'... Like this one?"
"Mm... not as personal as this. I hope."
"You've no need to worry on that account."
"Duo. How do you really feel about staying with me?"
"I'm looking forward to it. I told you Heero, I want to be with you, anyway I can. And I plan on reminding you of me as much as I possibly am able to."
"I don't think that will be very difficult."
Two and a half days left.
"Sir, something arrived for you... We sent it up to your office."
Two days left.
"Flowers. You sent me flowers."
"I knew you'd appreciate them!"
"...Yeah. And wipe that expression off your face."
"Heh, it's a good job I know you don't really mean that. What did you tell the rest of the officers?! How did you explain that?!"
"I didn't. I don't care what they think."
"How did I know you'd say that... It makes me happy to hear it though. But still - anything today?"
"No. All the new security has been in place for a few days at the summit, but I can't help feeling we've shut the stable door and the horse has already bolted."
"I know what you mean. They've probably got all the information they want by now and are getting ready to use it, as soon as the results of the summit are announced.
"...What are you thinking?"
"Hm? Aah, I was just thinking about the sort of people likely to do this sort of thing... Looking at the messageboards and all... Of course there's always been those sort of groups. Supposed revolutionaries, who would turn up at any sort of diplomatic convention and cause trouble. Always talking about their vision of the future, but never actually having the ideas to do something about it."
"Hm. It seems they got it together."
"Or they're angry enough to try harder. This sort of thing would require planning, co-ordination... A leader, maybe. Some unifying force..."
"Well, I told you. It's pretty bad, and seven years is a long time. It worries me. These people were clearly extremists, they didn't think enough about their principles, but if people are looking for something, *any* thing that looks like it's taking action... I used to be one of them, y'know... After being in the war it seemed like the only way to achieve things was through force. But then I realised, they don't think with their brains. I came to see that there are different kinds of force, that are more... acceptable to people. You've got to think about what's likely to make you succeed. I've learnt that. But they... they're just like everyone else. They don't like to look at how things really are. They don't want to change, and they don't want anyone else to change. As much as they say they want them to. Because then, what would they have to do with their lives?"
One day left.
"Have you got your things together?"
"Yeah, ready to go. But before that I guess I'll see you tonight at the closing ceremony-thing."
"No need to sound so enthusiastic about it. But I've got to go now, I'll see you then. Have a good day at work!"
No days left.
"May I have this dance?"
Heero shot him a sideways look.
"Well, what am I meant to say?" A pause. "My stuff's in the car."
"We'll be leaving at the very end; Relena takes her responsibilities as host very seriously."
"Must be nice having your own country." Duo looked over to Relena, who was speaking earnestly with the same sorts of faceless diplomats Heero remembered from the opening of the summit, and every one like it. "Déjà vu."
Heero snorted. "I was just thinking that myself."
Duo grinned. "That was when I knew, Heero. I knew as soon as I saw you that this isn't you." He moved subtly closer. "That's why I'm here, still trying. I'm determined to get you out of here."
* * *
He doesn't understand. Oh, I know that's because I haven't let him. But I can't take that risk... it's the only thing I won't. But all the same, I can feel myself giving in...
But I can't betray her. He doesn't know how much she needs me;thinking about the summit, thinking about telling her what's really going on – it's all reminded me. As if I could forget. As long as there are these kind of threats to her peace, she'll need me, rightly or wrongly... I don't know if Duo could understand, even if I told him...
I want to. I want to take the chance.
We'd driven in silence most of the way from the summit complex; we were both tired of the party and I had said I would go with Duo to show him the way to the house. Relena had smiled at my gesture and said she would follow when the festivities were over. Whenever that would be.
The sky was already lightening as we drove along the empty road. It wasn't a long journey, but I found myself wishing it was. I looked out of the window at the murky, pre-dawn landscape.
"Man, I didn't realise how long these diplomatic functions could go on! I don't remember the opening ceremony being so long. They sure know how to throw a party!"
"You'd better get used to it. I expect you'll be attending plenty more in your career." I thought of something else. "Did you mean you enjoyed it?"
Duo snorted. "I don't know about that."
I smirked cynically. I hated the by-turns sycophantic and back-stabbing diplomatic functions I was obliged to go to and I had asked Duo how he dealt with them, seeing as I knew he wasn't like the others there, just like I wasn't.
"Ah," he had grinned, "it's one of the first things they teach you in diplomat school. You play it just the same way as everyone else does, y'see – find out as much as you can about everyone. That way you find out any blackmail details you can use when you need a favour, and who you can really trust. Everyone's more than willing to spill all kinds of interesting details about their colleagues. I love being a diplomat."
What he said didn't surprise me; but at least if all the gossip and scandal was kept behind people's backs, even though everyone knew it was there, the whole set-up kept working efficiently, I mused.
It was another world to me, and I had known that for as long as I had been married to Relena; I had never claimed to agree with the way they went about things, and since I had met Duo, I was seeing more and more of this darker side of that world.
Once, I could never imagine Relena involved in such things. She was pure, fresh, even radical... Now I didn't know anymore.
I realised that Duo was slowing the car down to stop in a lay-by on the opposite side of the road. I looked across at him quizzically, but he merely gave me a smile in answer and got out. I copied, walking round to his side of the car and watching him, leant back against the metal, arms folded.
He didn't look at me, but knew I was looking at him.
"I never miss an opportunity to see an Earth sunrise."
He didn't need to say anymore. I came to stand beside him, mirroring his posture, and watched, as he did. I was reminded again of things I had stopped noticing through them simply being there every day. I remembered the first sunrise I had seen on Earth; I was 18, with no time for thinking about such things.
I didn't expect to; but I did still remember.
I watched the sunrise then with Duo. It was a clear morning, and the spot where he had parked the car gave us an unparalleled view, through a gap in the trees lining the road, and over the flat fields outside the city. At some point I realised he had taken my hand, lacing our fingers together. I looked over at his face, and he was smiling, eyes slitted against the growing dawn light; I admired him in silence, watching sunrise in his face.
After a few moments he glanced at me. "You're not watching."
I sad nothing, but leant in slowly, pausing in front of his lips just a second before meeting them with my own. As our kiss deepened he pulled me towards him, so I was surrounding him with my arms; he put a hand to the back of my neck as I had noticed he liked to do when we kissed, and rested his other hand at the small of my back.
By the time we parted I could see the light brighter now. We stood still together, not looking at each other directly, but seeing through our touch. I heard him speak quietly in my ear. "There'll be others. Better than this one."
I had learned long ago that there was a way out of every situation. Sometimes it may involve things you might once have turned away from. But if you want to get out strongly enough, if you see that way as the best or only way, you'll learn to confront those things.
I knew there was a way out of this situation. I knew exactly what the door was I had to go through. Now... I just had to find a way to open it, without the repercussions I knew were if I didn't get it right.