Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero reached full consciousness and realized he was holding a knife to Danjel Sobieski's throat. The second thing he noticed was that he felt sick... correction hungover. To the young man's credit he was still and unflinching. "Captain," he said calmly. There was laughter at Heero's back. Heero became increasingly aware of his surroundings. He was on a bed. The room moved. He was stripped down to his shorts. A woman he had met yesterday was laying in the same bed. A Preventer agent with the rank of Private was in uniform and watching him with... amused dark blue eyes.
Heero flipped the knife handle in his hand so that the back of the blade touched the skin of his forearm. "Did you say something?" he asked. His mouth tasted bad. His head ached.
"We're minutes outside of Moskva, Captain. I thought you might want to know. We've cleared the other compartments of this car. We'll take Trant Clark as soon as we see we have backup at the station." He was speaking in English but here and there he had some accent Heero couldn't place. From what he knew of Sobieski Heero would guess he was at least partly Polish.
"Understood." Heero felt nauseated.
Sobieski left the compartment.
Heero groaned. He flopped back onto the bed then looked up at her. The growing sunlight from the window hurt his eyes. "I never woke up with a woman in my bed before."
"None of those either."
"Hungover?" Midii asked. "You don't know your own tolerance?"
Heero tried a glare but his head and eyes ached. So, he just groaned.
"There's a toilet at this end of the car. Do what you can to purge the alcohol. I may assume someone like you would travel with painkillers and drinking water."
"Da," Heero whispered, realizing he had been speaking in English and so had Midii. She sounded American when she did. Heero rolled to the floor and sheathed his knife in the holster clipped to his right boot, which was standing on the floor. He stood slowly and pulled his few pieces of luggage from the shelf. He quickly located the first aid supplies and mindlessly flipped the combination lock on the metal box then opened it and took several pills from a bottle of prescription strength painkillers. He put one back so that he only had two pills; he thought it was a reasonable dose. Several bottles of water were stowed in a pocket. Heero checked the tape around the caps. It looked undisturbed.
Heero took a bottle of water, the pills and his ticket and left the compartment. He found the toilet easily. He urinated, retched, drank water, retched, drank water, spit, popped pills and drank water. Heero washed his hands, washed his face and combed his hair with his fingers. He felt awful and was pressed for time, so he would have to do an extra long shower and workout tonight or the next morning, as he just wasn't going to make it today.
Heero hurried back to his compartment, gulping water as he went. Midii was dressed. Now she had a sweater and an overcoat on as well. Heero shrugged and supposed he would just dress in front of her, since she had apparently seen him undress. Jeans that still had their over-dyed indigo coloring, plain white tank top, light blue sweater, coat. Heero found his own sunglasses in a pocket and put them on. He had a knife in his boot. He had a gun, he hadn't made himself give it up, but it was unloaded and hidden away in his luggage.
He was going to have to invest in a new arsenal. For now he was confident that if something went terribly wrong this morning he felt just about well enough to take one bullet and then nearly-kill someone with his bare hands. Or his feet. Kicking worked. Actually Heero was familiar with many forms of hand-to-hand combat.
"Train's slowing," Midii said.
There was a knock at the door.
Heero opened the door without asking who it was, but remained ready to defend himself if it need be. It was the other agent, also a Private, taller than Sobieski was and young, maybe younger than Heero, with cropped brown hair and hazel eyes. Heero didn't have a name for this too-grinning face. The grin did make him think of Duo. "Gibson. Pleasure to finally meet you. The Lieutenants speak of you often." He gave a lazy salute.
Sobieski made a wordless hiss from the passage between compartments.
"Stay inside your compartment unless we call for you," Gibson said, "That would be the Director's orders, Captain."
Heero gave a nod and moved away from the door as it shut on the irksome Gibson. Heero hated when people said things like, "Pleasure to finally meet you." He did not like being thought of as a famous war hero, especially when he knew the terrible things that had happened during the war. Heero wondered, whom did he mean by 'lieutenants'?
Heero collected his things into as few pieces of luggage as possible and then put the luggage in a neat pile. Midii had done the same. She had even put Nanashi back into his carrier. He seemed a very well behaved animal. He had only placed his waste on the lining of his carrier and Midii had changed it out. The cat didn't mew or whine at all, not that Heero had noticed.
The train stopped at an indoor platform within the old sections of Moscow. Heero could see only track outside his window. That was good, because then Trant would see only track until he got to the end of the car. Heero heard the announcements that the train had arrived in Moscow and that this train did not continue to points west and that all passengers should leave the train. The announcement was repeated in English, but Heero was accustomed to that.
He heard Sobieski say, "Trant Clark, surrender yourself, as agents of the Preventer Defense Force we are arresting you for outstanding warrants relating to war crimes!"
"Moving!" Gibson called out as Sobieski was shouting at the same time:
"I will disable you if you resist!"
He must have resisted because Heero heard scuffling sounds and then a cry and then a thud.
There was another knock at the door. Gibson said. "It's clear."
Heero opened the door. Several other agents were moving into the car. Sobieski was leaning over Trant's fallen body with a knee held to the other man's spine. The private's fingers felt Trant's neck for a pulse. "He'll recover, I only stunned him when he moved aggressively toward Gibson. He is unconscious however. The detainee will be made aware of his rights as soon as he recovers consciousness. I am going to put him in cuffs." He seemed to be saying this aloud for the benefit of the agents who had just arrived, or perhaps there was a recorder active for Preventer Legal Section's use.
Heero recognized Sally as she began to speak, "You are getting pretty good with that thing, Sobi, maybe we should give you the code name 'Lightening'."
Sobieski nodded. "Gibson, will you watch the detainee for signs of consciousness while I search him?" Sobieski pulled on a pair of thick rubber gloves and then began patting Trant's body to feel for weapons or illicit materials.
Heero hefted his luggage onto shoulders and into hand and stepped around Trant. The other agents moved to let him pass. Sally smiled and waved. She took one of Heero's bags from him without asking and walked him from the train car. "Heero," she said.
"Colonel," Heero said, as playfully as he could manage, feeling as poorly as he did. Usually he rather liked Sally and her sense of humor. She had her hair in a single braid at the back of her neck. It wasn't as impressive as Duo's braid of course. His had been something like a meter long and Heero wasn't sure how long Duo's hair must be when not wound up. Then they stepped onto the platform and Heero saw a figure that must surely be Wufei and he realized Sally's braid matched the slender black one at Wufei's back. Heero imagined Sally wearing hers to mock Wufei.
Wufei seemed to be directing other agents in controlling civilian traffic away from this train car. A grouping of reporters was a short distance beyond Wufei and he seemed to be all that kept them from coming any farther. Another group of agents moved in at Wufei's gesture and Wufei turned.
"Look who I found," Sally said.
"Wufei," Heero said. He supposed they should be on familiar terms. Heero saw Sally had moved to Wufei's side and that her arm was draped over his nearest shoulder just so that he fingers hung down and tapped the insignia on his jacket. "Lieutenant Colonel Chang then?"
Wufei smiled tightly and raised a brow. "Wufei is fine. It is good to see you, but are you sure you don't mind these... people capturing video of you?"
"I don't mind."
"The hair is... interesting."
Heero gave a nod. He noticed Wufei was looking past him. "My associate, Miss Une."
"No relation," Midii said.
Heero saw Sally tip her head toward the train and he turned. Sobieski and Gibson were walking Trant from the train. He seemed semi-conscious and his face was bare so that Heero could see the scarring. It was not such that the shape of his face was disfigured but that the skin had many pale lines in it and looked unnaturally taut.
"I have to go with them," Sally said. "Heero, it was good to see you. I hope we see you again soon."
"Planning to stay in Moscow?" Wufei asked.
Heero decided he might as well trust Wufei with his plans. The reporters, mainly, were following Sally and the prisoner. Heero spoke quietly. "I will most likely be in Moscow for two days, perhaps more depending on the schedules of associates. I plan on returning to the Colonies after that."
"To visit?" Wufei asked.
"Going home," Heero said.
Another tight smile. "Une told me to extend an invitation for you to come to headquarters. Not an order, she said. Otherwise, she orders you to write an official report on this for her."
"I can meet with her in person as soon as I return. I have things to discuss with her actually. It will only be several days."
"You know... I think you've just made Maxwell rich."
Wufei laughed. Heero didn't think he'd heard Wufei laugh before, at least he couldn't remember it. It was a nice, rich, sound. "We had pools going at headquarters as to when you would turn up and under what circumstances. Duo had money on the first half of April of every year and he said you'd turn up whenever the next crackpot did. I suppose Clark qualifies."
Heero smiled. "April?" he mused. He hadn't really thought about it, this was just the time that things had happened in, but, things had happened in past Aprils. "Friday. Friday it is Relena's birthday." The Seventh. Not only Relena's birthday but the anniversary of the death of the other man named Heero Yuy. It had been the Seventh when Heero had first met Duo. Subconsciously Heero lifted his left hand to his right arm and rubbed at it.
"Right. I don't know how you really feel about social functions, but they've even convinced me to go so I think we'd all be a little disappointed if you didn't at least stop by, considering you were going to be in the area anyway."
"I'll try to stop by," Heero said. He meant it, but when he said it he felt a new queasiness inside atop the sick feeling he'd had all morning. He had intended to make contact with his former companions. He intended still to be more social. Heero worried that attending Relena's birthday party was a lot more than he was ready for.
It was a birthday party. Heero didn't know how to act at a birthday party. He'd never had one himself. Even though his ID claimed his birth date was AC 180 January 5 Heero had been shuffled around as a child and any real identity, biological parents and birth date had been lost; the ID were all somewhat fake, even the one that really had been officially issued to him.
"I will try to stop by," Heero said slowly.
"Yes," Wufei said.
"Heero's going to be very busy settling in but I'll make sure he finds time to visit, even if it is only for a little while," Midii said brightly. She laughed, "I don't think Heero's ever had the privilege of attending anyone's birthday party."
Heero blinked slowly behind his sunglasses.
Wufei made a slight nod. "You have been away for a long time, Heero. You may find some things are very different now. I confess, I thought Maxwell annoying for a while and I really didn't trust Une and I didn't know how to act around Mariemaia and certainly Relena..."
"Mariemaia?" Heero interrupted.
"You do realize Lady Une is her legal guardian? Heero, Mariemaia lives with her. She is at headquarters quite often."
Heero had forgotten about her. She must be a nine-year-old now. Still, she made him feel so nervous. It wasn't that he feared her, really. There was no logical reason Heero should fear her. But that girl, the very thought of her, made him edgy.
"Listen... Heero," Wufei said, "I am not a highly social individual myself. I don't expect... no one expects you to just come back and tell us everything you've been doing. We don't tell each other very many things. But you should understand, many of us have seen each other over the past year while we have not seen you. We are going to be a little curious. But every one of us lived through the same war. We know people need space sometimes. Just let us see you for a while. And... if you tell Maxwell or any of them that I attempted to give you an inspirational speech I will deny it entirely."
"Well then, consider yourself not thanked for what you did not say."
"I have to get to the sub station. Do you need anything. We have a safe house in Moscow. You could use it."
Something about the idea of staying in safe houses amused Heero, though he couldn't say why exactly. "We have safe houses?"
"Preventers does. In certain cities."
"Thank you, but it does not suit my needs currently. I made hotel reservations before leaving Sakhalin."
"One of the islands," Heero gestured to points east as he felt a momentary wave of nausea. "It may be you heard it called Karafuto or some other name."
"Do they have Christmas trees there?"
"Don't they have Christmas trees every... ?" Heero remembered Christmas. He remembered stars in the sky over pine trees. "Why do you ask?"
Heero could not read the expression on Wufei's face. "It is as I said. You have been away and may find some things are very different. If you have been on Earth all the time you were away there are things you might not have even heard about."
Heero opened his mouth to speak but Wufei was already turning. "Come to Headquarters when you get to the Colonies, Heero," He said.
"Do you know something that happened in the Colonies that would not have been reported on Earth?" Heero asked Midii.
"I'm not sure. What was he talking about. Is 'Christmas Tree' code for something?"
"No. Never mind."
"Do you want me to try to find out?"
Heero shook his head slowly. "We will both find out soon, if you were serious about working with me."
"Yes. I am serious. I have no family here, Ursula was my closest friend here and she's being sent home and I work freelance. I can afford to keep my apartments here for a while in case you don't think things work out. Three apartments might be stretching my budget... depending on how much you are going to pay me."
Heero sighed. "I have some calculations to do before I make an offer and my head hurts too much for that."
"Aa, what should I do in the meantime, Boss?"
"Get me a taxi..."
"Take the Metro."
"Good. I have not been here in a long time, I forgot."
"What were you saying?"
"Do not call me Boss. We should not use titles or honorifics of any kind within the company. It should not be clear which of us works for the other or whether we are the only employees. We won't have offices or training facilities of our own. We won't have anything to be targeted, just individuals that meet in borrowed or rented spaces, and computer systems, but I will assume responsibility for keeping those secure. And we will need to have company vehicles... so we should always be careful when operating those to be sure they aren't targeted. I suppose we will need to negotiate for hangar space and launch preference and commercial landing rights at aerospace ports."
"Just offer to test the port security for free in exchange for special treatment or discounted services."
"You think that would work?"
"Sure. I'm good with people, remember. Pick a Side. I'll ask every port in their colonies until I find one that will give us the best deal. I might have to throw your name around just a little."
Heero growled. He didn't like using his name in that way. "All right," he told Midii as they walked through the station to the connecting Metro line. "That is your assignment. Negotiate with all travel related service providers until you find us the very best deals. If we don't make some kind of deals the traveling from client to client will break us before we get started. You think it would work with hotels?"
"Chains, Heero, corporations owning chains of hotels and restaurants."
"Offer them discounted security consultation, staff training, testing services, try not to offer free service unless absolutely necessary. Don't 'throw around' my name except as a last resort. If you are successful and we do a few free jobs then that will give us references to build a reputation and get more clients."
"You know... one address on Earth is enough if I will have another in the Colonies. I may as well give notice on my place in Kiev. I think I'll need a few things from there to start work... clothes, gear, data."
"We are already at the station."
"Shall I expect you to join me?"
"Give me 24 hours."
"I will be at the Metropol. Do you know it?"
"Of course. What name?"
"Heero Yuy this time. Oh... can you memorize or should I write my mobile number for you?"
"Write it," Midii said. "Hold on." She reached into a pocket of her knapsack and brought out a small mobile phone. "Go."
Heero recited the number and watched Midii type it into her phone. "That forwards to the headset or the computer, whichever I am using. Call me if you make any progress on negotiations or have your ETA."
"You know if you just run off or..."
Midii gave him a serious stare, "I want to do this... if you do. You're a business partner. I haven't fucked over a business partner or a client before and I haven't fucked over a friend in a long time. You probably did really horrible things in your life, but I don't care. Once, you stopped a battle ship from falling on Earth and I lived on Earth at the time... and it was headed right for here. It would have touched down in Russia and we wouldn't even have had a chance to get to a spaceport before everything went Nuclear Sunday because we would have been killed in the blast. You really saved us, so I don't give a shit what else you did. I figure I'm one person who owes you her life."
Heero gaped. He hadn't even thought of it like that. Yes, he had known that many people would die, on that day and on other days when he had done his best to save lives, even if it sometimes meant taking others. But he had so often thought about the people he had known he had killed, like Noventa. He had a name and a family and Heero had killed him. Heero hadn't really thought about the individual people he had managed to save. Well, he had thought about saving Relena but not about the regular people.
Midii was right. That block from Libra had been on a trajectory that would have taken it to ward this part of the globe. Japan and Russia might have been vapor.
"I saved you," Heero said.
"Yes. And that was just on that one day, Heero. Last night you probably could have arrested me for attempted murder. But you got rid of the evidence and you trusted me with pretty important information. You didn't hurt me or interrogate me or anything. You even trusted me to sleep in your bed." Midii sighed and smiled to herself, Heero thought. "Do you know how good that felt? It wasn't sexual at all, you just trusted me and I made myself be trustworthy because you did."
Midii smiled. "I think I know why everyone does adore you. You probably don't see it yourself, and you are geeky and asocial but there's something about you. I feel like if I stay near you that I will be a better person."
"That sounds like what Relena used to say, but I always thought it was others I was near than made me seem a good person."
Midii shrugged. "Maybe we all do learn from each other. I don't know very much about you yet, but I don't have to. I know that you want to start a new life and that sounds like something I would like to also. I will call you when I get to Kiev. I trust you'll be waiting for me here."
"Yes. My assignments will be acquiring vehicles and equipment and continuing to seek clients. I still haven't finalized housing arrangements in the Colonies. Do you think you need assistance finding housing there? I do not think I am ready for a roommate, but I could look for two apartments as easily as one."
"Are we going to the Capitol or to another colony?"
"Yes, L1-S4-Z00001, the Capitol."
"Then don't worry about me. Ursula will be there and I will ask her advice." Midii's expression went serious. "I know she will feel better if she keeps busy."
"I know that people react to violence in many different ways. I know what it feels like to blame yourself for not stopping it. I do not know what I could say to someone who has suffered that. I am not very knowledgeable about nihonbunka or whatever you would call it. Is there a gift you give to someone who really is a geisha when they are horribly depressed over being physically violated?"
"Is it a rule that the more words you say the scarier you sound?"
Heero thought. "It would not be the first time I was told my speeches scare people. I was just wondering. I don't even know your friend... I just feel like I should be able to do something."
"That's a normal male reaction."
"Yes. It is completely normal for men to feel they should be able to fix things, especially the feelings of females."
"Oh. I suppose I should be reassured that I am normal even if I cannot help her. You don't think a teddy bear would help?"
Midii laughed. "Ursula means 'little bear.'"
"It is not a Japanese name."
"She told me it is from Greek. Like the constellation."
"Ursa Minor. I will have to buy Relena a birthday present also." Heero wondered if Duo had a fake birthday on his ID.
"Later. We'll talk. You better get to your hotel."
Heero gave a nod. They had stood there some time, but Heero could not say he felt it was entirely wasted. Midii was interesting. It was easy to talk to her. Maybe that was because he had started out not caring what she thought of him, but the reason did not matter very much, or any more. Heero would have to learn to be more social with everyone. He wanted to learn.
Heero backed away until he saw Midii turn and jog toward the ticket counter. He made his own way to the Metro below ground and navigated his way to the correct color-coded line. Moscow landmarks surrounded the Metropol; it was a landmark itself, five stories tall, with a style of architecture that broke the facade into three tiers, each with more ornate design than the one lower.
Inside it had an historical atmosphere with very strong bold draperies and patterns that made Heero think that centuries of European aristocrats had dwelled here. It was not unlike Treize's chateau or the Peacecraft's recently restored palace.
At the reception area Heero asked if they had any double rooms or suites available, even though he had reserved a single room. He was told that both were available for the duration of his stay and so on impulse Heero chose the suite. He filled out forms on a digital pad requesting that only certain people be able to phone his room and that Midii would join him the next day and that additional bottled water be sent up to his room.
Heero was given a card key and was directed to follow the young lady who would push his luggage cart and show him to his room.
His room was on the fifth floor. The decorations were as lovely as the public spaces of the hotel and his windows had a view of the Bolshoi Theater. Heero listened to the girl point out the features of the suite's rooms and then thanked her and handed her some cash.
Heero didn't mind servants, he just didn't like them hovering. He liked large rooms too, especially these sorts of rooms that hotels on Earth had, with real wood furniture and so many draperies. Heero had lived most of his life in several small rooms, because space was at a premium in the Colonies and almost everyone had only enough space to be functional. Heero didn't hate the small rooms. He liked the logic and functionality of them. But this did not mean that he did not also like rooms that seemed made for royalty.
Heero shed his coat and sweater. Another uniformed hotel employee came to his door delivering water. Heero thanked him and gave him cash and he went away, leaving the water. Heero opened one bottle immediately and drank half a liter at once.
He was not planning to drink vodka again soon.
Tomorrow Heero would meet with Ivanov about transportation and do some shopping, but today would be a work at home day.
Heero unpacked his luggage. Now and then he did empty out everything to make sure it was all organized and then repacked. It was probably borderline compulsive behavior, but attention to detail had saved his life at times and failure to pay attention to details had meant other people's lives at times.
The clothes were piled on a chair in one bedroom, the one Heero had claimed for himself. He lay out all his weapons on the bed. There was not very much right now. The ceramic knife, the taser, the Browning, its ammo.
Heero put all his various toiletries in the adjacent bathroom along with those provided as he anticipated taking a bath later. Most often he showered, but since childhood he'd been in the habit of taking baths when he did not feel very well. Always hot, with large dry towels nearby.
Heero found a pair of slippers near the closet and took off his boots in exchange for the slippers.
The miscellaneous items he found went on the table beside the bed.
The computer was opened on the bed and then, grabbing the remote on his way, Heero lay down on the bed looking at the television over the top of his mobile computer and turned on the power by remote.
Heero looked at the screen. Damnit! He growled curses in at least two languages and ended with an annoyed "Ch'" He should have listened to Wufei and not stayed so long at the station. Now the video paparazzi had put pictures of him and Midii on a Sphere-wide channel and the voice over was making all kinds of horrible speculations. And besides that they were also saying things like, "Former Gundam Pilot Heero Yuy helped the Preventers bring in the fugitive Trant Clark this morning."
Heero really hated 'Former Gundam Pilot' even though it was true. He hadn't done very much except recognize Trant's voice and keep him from being killed. And it was just ignorant to assume Midii was his secret girlfriend, as if a woman couldn't be anything other than someone's girlfriend. As if Heero should dump one imaginary girlfriend for another so easily? Why should he be so fickle?
Heero growled and flipped through the channels. Several had video of him. The Sphere must really be starved for news. Heero didn't understand why they couldn't report on the advances in Martian terraforming or what Relena was wearing today. Usually if he bothered to watch television he did at least once a day hear a reporter detailing who had designed Relena's latest ensemble.
Anime. That should be safe. Usually Heero didn't pay attention to it, though he had watched some amount as a child between missions. At least he wouldn't see himself and feel miserable about how misunderstood he was.
Heero shifted his gaze to his computer. He brought up the Lowe Security files and began working on the advertisement.
Laughter. "Akairo, do you think we'll freeze to death first or exhaust our air supply?"
Heero looked up. Two boys in space suits were huddled together behind a broken pane of glass. One of them did wear a red suit and he began to speak. "The explosion was highly visible. Blaec, we will be rescued." The boy in red had an improbable gravity-defying swirl of dark hair and prettily drawn brown eyes.
The other boy, in the black suit, laughed. "You wouldn't think I would be the one to think about death, huh?" More laughter. That boy had some roman emperor like hairstyle, except for a very slender braid that grew from the back of his neck.
Fade to black. Musical sound bite. "Gonin Team will continue."
Heero raised a brow. He hoped this was one of those series that was meant to be a parody.
His computer indicated an incoming call. Heero hit a button to receive. It was audio only. "Aa," Heero answered lazily.
"Have you watched TV?" Midii's voice asked.
"Do you want me to do anything?"
"What is there to do? They do that all the time. I had just been in hiding so long I had forgotten how quickly they worked."
"I meant... should I say that I work for you when I refute the story that I am your secret girlfriend or is there another story you want me to tell?"
"Aa..." Heero thought, "You may as well tell them you are my long-lost sister and that our family was royalty. If they don't get that it is a joke that is their problem."
"So, you would rather I joke than say we work together?"
"I am trying to avoid using my name in order to get business."
Musical sound bite. A small boy with bluish skin and pointy ears in a dark purple-blue space suit was standing on the bridge of a spaceship with some lithe boy in a green suit. "Oh, Verdan! If we don't reach Akairo and Blaec in time they will die!" The little one cried.
"What are you watching?" Midii asked.
"Some horrible anime."
"I trust that your plan will work, Koi. We may blow several of the thrusters maintaining this speed but we will have air and heat on board and we can repair the ship after we rescue them."
"Gonin Team?" Midii asked.
"Isn't Verdan such a bish?" Midii said in confidential tone, "But Akairo and Blaec just make such a cute couple!"
"They are gay?"
"Well, not officially. They are just cute space mecha pilots. But it's just fun to imagine the serious heroic type character is with the obnoxious smart-assed one. Opposites attract."
"Akairo, if we don't make it..."
"Don't waste your breath..."
"Oh, episode 25! That's a good one!"
"So... are all the characters named for colors?"
"Only the four, or five, depending on how you interpret 'Koi,' the aliens are all named for fish."
"Ah, so Koi is part human then?" Heero said. He then felt ridiculous for not changing the channel.
The computer made a beep to signal another call.
"I have another call," Heero said.
Heero disconnected from Midii's call and answered the second call. This had a video channel. Trowa appeared on Heero's monitor. Heero gave a nod.
"Do you know who she really is?"
"Yes. She told me that she wounded your feelings."
"She sold information on Rebel soldiers to the Alliance and what was left of my team by then was wiped out when the attack came!" Trowa said. He was hurt more than angry. Heero knew Trowa that well. Trowa had emotions, but his had been repressed for such a long time that Trowa was not aware they were his own feelings, when he seemed calm and stoic to observers it was simply that he was numb. That Trowa showed emotion at all meant the emotion was exceptionally strong.
Heero closed his eyes behind his glasses then lifted his glasses to his hair. "Trowa, she's not my secret girlfriend."
Trowa tugged at the fall of hair before his face. His brow creased and his mouth twisted. He began to speak but did not continue immediately. "Heero... she could hurt you."
Akairo and Blaec did seem to share a longing look as their friends pulled them and their damaged mecha free of the damaged space station. Blaec had impossibly violet eyes. Now Heero was imagining secret love lives for anime characters. He felt like a complete baka.
Social engineering, it's like throwing code at a system. You have to tell it what it wants to here, what it needs to hear. "Trowa, thank you for your concern for me. I sincerely appreciate your friendship. You know that we all did terrible things when we were soldiers, because we thought we were making the best choices we could. Midii wants to become someone that you don't have to hate. There is a chance I can help her and that she can help me with something. Don't you think she deserves any mercy?"
"I showed her mercy."
"And so far as I know she has never 'fucked over' a friend since. She did hurt you, but you caused her to not hurt others in the same way afterward."
Trowa laughed. It wasn't the heartiest sort of laugh he could give, but it seemed genuine. Afterward his face went serious. "Trant Clark... he took my place at the moon base after Tsuberov shot Lady and took command?"
"If you mean your place as the warder of the captive pilots, then yes. Quatre and I were his prisoner for a time."
"Did he hurt Quatre... or you?"
"Not physically. He did not get a chance to do very much to Quatre. He was the one that first hooked my up to the ZERO system after... after Quatre had shot you and we thought you were lost. He made Duo do tests for him as well."
Trowa shrugged. "Trant should die." He shook his head then looked very calm, but that didn't mean he was. "Are you well otherwise?"
"I am going home to the Colonies soon."
"It is good to have a home to go to. Let me know when you are moved in. I'll send you postcards."
"Hasta luego," Trowa said as he disconnected. Spanish. He must have learned it from people in the circus. Trowa had not previously spoken Spanish so far as Heero remembered.
Heero went back to work, doing his best to ignore the television, but liking that there were voices in the room.
Later Heero hid his weapons, left his computer playing music and got into a bath. Heero was trying to not be anything in particular so that he would feel relaxed, because he knew that if he tried to be relaxed it wouldn't work. He thought that he was feeling better now and might even be starting to get hungry. Heero told himself that he would go down to the restaurant and eat there, even though he was alone, because the atmosphere would be pleasant.
The subject of dinner settled in his mind Heero finally relaxed. He lay in the hot water inches away from letting himself drown beneath the surface. The dream about the bathing servant just came into his mind without Heero meaning it to. He didn't know why he had this dream and repeatedly. He'd never assisted anyone in bathing and he had never had someone bathe him that he could recall. In his earliest memories he had already dressed himself and washed himself and cut his own hair.
Heero had searched the 'net to read about dream interpretation after he'd begun to suspect his dreams seemed unordinary. He thought it was more normal to dream of settings and people that one had seen in their own life. In Heero's dreams it seemed to be some ancient time. For one, he sometimes walked around inside a stone building that seemed to be a ziggurat or other ancient stepped pyramid. He wore layers of draped loose clothing. He had multiple servants just to undress him and wash him.
None of the dream dictionaries indicated what this meant.
And then Heero would send the other servants away, when he was sitting on a low stool inside his large bath with water up to his shoulders. There would be only one servant left. He was a young man and always the same one, though he wasn't anyone Heero had met in real life. He didn't have a name. And he looked rather feminine, apart from being male.
The details differed from one night to the next when Heero dreamt but the result was always the same. Heero told his servant that since no one was looking he didn't have to keep the sponge between them. Heero told the servant he could touch him with his hands. At that point the dream became rapidly and increasingly erotic. Heero didn't have to tell his servant what he wished. He only had to give slight nods of approval.
The servant kissed him and he caressed and massaged Heero's flesh and then his hands would snake through the water and close softly about Heero's penis. The rest was hazy. All Heero was sure of was that in the dreams he really liked what they were doing and that about half the time he had this dream the servant flashed some maniacal grin then ducked his head under the water to work his mouth about Heero's erection. At that point, the dream seemed to loose visual and become almost entirely sensation. Heero would just begin to think that he wanted to be the one that could make his servant feel equally pleasured but then he would reach a climax and wake.
Heero could only theorize that he was reliving a past life, but if that was true it made the dreams rather pointless. If it had been his past life then whatever he did in the dreams did not have real bearing on his present life. Besides that, Heero didn't like waking wet or aroused.
He didn't fully enjoy masturbating either. He had been trained to categorize action into necessary and unnecessary. He had been taught to think nothing of himself as an individual but only as a part of a whole that was to be used or disposed of as needed for the good of that whole. He was to sacrifice his own wants for the good of others. He was a servant.
It was a very difficult concept to overcome, after training so thoroughly. In the category of Necessary Action, Heero had now learned to take some initiative and exercise preference. Eating was necessary to insure that he continued to serve a function and so he now decided what to eat. Earning income was necessary to remain a functioning part of society as a whole and so Heero could choose what occupation he was paid to follow.
Thus far sex had not fit into the category of Necessary Action but had been Unnecessary. Without a partner Heero could not yet make himself view his own sexual satisfaction as necessary. He had been able to talk himself into masturbating only when it seemed hormone levels and urges brought him to such distraction that his other actions were compromised.
He could not fully enjoy it because every time he put effort into action that was to result only in his own sexual satisfaction he felt selfish. It was not a matter of a moral right or wrong at all. Heero just could not help feeling that it was pointless.
He liked the climaxes. He really liked them. It was before and after, for whatever combination of reasons, that Heero felt weak and selfish for needing this action. He felt guilty sometimes for putting time and effort into gratifying himself when he might have been doing things for others. He longed for a partner.
These feelings were increasing in frequency and intensity. When he had been depressed and having visions of battle these urges had been biologically suppressed. Now every day he felt more stable and more healthy he was craving the climaxes and longing for a partner.
And so now it happened seemingly at random. It wasn't just in a bed aroused by his subconscious. It was waking and haunted by day dreams and fantasies. It happened at such random moments. Looking at the moon, flipping through TV channels, at sushi bars, in the shower, on the street alone in a crowd.
Craving orgasm and longing for a lover.
This part about the lover was new. Heero had wanted the climaxes before he had realized that part of his pain must come from his lack of a partner. He had read texts about sex and sex education and it didn't seem that anyone had exactly this problem. He'd read about young men who were completely comfortable with masturbating several times a day and were not considered abnormal. Heero did not think that right or wrong, he just thought he must be different.
He had read about people who had these 'hang ups' stemming from particular religious upbringing. So far as Heero understood from reading they viewed masturbation as morally wrong and felt very guilty and tainted if they gave in to an urge to do so. Heero was not religious, but he supposed that feeling was the closest thing he had read about to what he felt.
He must have a hang up.
Now, in his bath, feeling the symptoms of arousal Heero made an effort to will it all away. He just didn't want to deal with it. He had other needs in life and important as sex seemed at some moments, Heero had to admit he made other things a priority. Finding a place to live for one.
What good would it do if he suddenly found a lover and he had no money or place to live. He could only be someone's dependent. He had read about such situations, whether it was called 'single income marriage' or 'keeping a lover' there were people, entirely unlike whores, who happened to be financially supported by the person who was also their only lover.
Heero just didn't think that was for him. He absolutely needed to have his own place to live and his own money. It was important to him because he had been denied these things in the past. Society in general said these were important things.
Heero slipped beneath the surface of the water, just for a moment. Damnit, the dreams were so tempting.
Heero denied himself his desires for a while longer and dressed again. He took a call from Midii as he prepared to go down to dinner. She said she was in Kiev and packing up her belongings and that she might even be able to make it back to Moscow late that night. Heero told Midii he had left her name at the desk so she could get a key. Then he went to dinner, fully aware that Midii could have gone to Kiev for the weapons to come back and murder him. He just trusted that she hadn't. It was like he sensed she was being straightforward with him.
Heero had dinner then returned to his room to do more work. He had mail to answer and a few minor calls to make. He confirmed his appointment with Ivanov for the next day and then did more research on non-lethal weapon systems.
Midii came in a few hours before dawn with several carts full of plastic moving crates. Since he had woken anyway Heero spent the time before sunlight at his workout.
He got a shower, dressed, re-organized his belongings and packed them in case he should want to leave sooner than planned, then ordered breakfast brought to the room. He was brushing his teeth and watching local news when Midii wandered sleepily though the suite's common room and into Heero's bedroom. She was only wearing her undergarments, black lace boy-cut shorts and a bra to match. She nearly had a figure like a boy's. At least, her hips and thighs were very slender. Otherwise, Heero supposed, Midii looked quite feminine. He just wasn't attracted to her at all.
He thought he was attracted to women, just not all of them. Heero laughed to himself and finished brushing his teeth. When Midii did get dressed she looked very professional in a gray skirt suit.
Between Heero's portable computer peripherals and the gear Midii had packed up they had the equipment to print up some calling cards and brochures. This took several hours, all steps considered.
Late in the morning they left to visit Ivanov. Heero explained to Midii what he knew of the man. "He was a Colonial and he's quite old. Don't ask him how he lost his arm because he will tell you the whole story. It is no use using ordinary haggling methods with him. If you attempt to devalue his merchandise he won't sell at all. You must act as if you are selling his merchandise back to him and tell him how much you need to have it. He will then give you his best price."
"How did he lose his arm?"
"I don't know. J always told me not to ask." Heero shrugged.
"Aa, why do we want his merchandise?"
"Because if you want he best shuttlecraft it comes down to a choice between American made or Russian. It is different with mobile suits or satellites or Colonies or even large spacecraft, many conglomerates and corporations sell those goods. But shuttlecraft, the kind you mean to take to and from Earth as well as the Colonies, they are still made by the same few manufacturers that used to supply the competing nation's space programs."
"I would have thought the American's would have the best shuttles," Midii said, "And what about that slick looking British-Nihonjin shuttle they advertise on TV now?"
"The Americans do make very good shuttles but they are more heavily shielded so it makes them heavier at takeoff. That means more thrust. Over time that amounts to a lot of fuel costs. They're prettier, but that's not what counts. They handle all right, but you really have to be Duo Maxwell to get the same performance out of one that an ordinary pilot could have in another model." Heero laughed. "Besides, if the Russians make something to send into space it lasts. You can rip out parts of one system and patch another. Not pretty, but I've seen some of their models last half a century. As for the 'Concord of space' it is designed for touring and zero g parties. It's good, but it's easy to sabotage. Too many places to hide devices."
"If his arm is noticeable I will ask Ivanov how he lost it."