Disclaimer: This is fanfiction based on the characters and universe of Gundam Wing.

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 103

Heero went from black dreamless sleep to conscious panic in the space of a second. In that second, his mind cataloged a series of sensations: his feet touched a floor, he was either dizzy or actually inclined slightly forward, something was bracing his arms to his sides, a hand was moving down his bare thigh, something made of cloth fell against his legs. All his reflexes said resitance; his heart pounded.

"It's me. Heero. No one is hurting you."

Duo, he thought. His heart was still racing, his eyes finally snapped open. Heero could see a toilet directly in front of him. His pants and underwear were about his ankles. Duo's left arm was across his chest. He was maybe 50% certain this was his recent hotel room. "What is happening?"

"Heero. It's Duo. You are speaking in Russian. Do you know?"

He tried again to process the language, "Report."

"Do you have to go?"

"Why am I restrained?"

"Can you stand?"

That caused some hesitation. Heero had thought he was standing, but now he realized, that although the balls of his feet touched the tile below, he was not actually supporting his own weight. He had no idea how he had gotten into the bathroom. Maybe Duo had carried him from somewhere while he was unconscious. His brain struggled to know what time it was. He remembered partying the night before, if it had been the night before. And though the memory was slightly more hazy, he knew he had returned to the hotel. Heero took a deep breath in and out through the nose. "I have to go."

"Can you stand?"

"Free my arms."

Duo first loosed his grip on Heero's right arm. Heero could feel both of Duo's hands on his chest then, supporting his weight. He did sway, but with his right arm freed, and then the left, he was able to brace himself on the wall behind the toilet. Duo did not seem to be moving away.

"You are right there."

"We're not done yet."

Heero closed his eyes. Duo was not leaving. It was a struggle, but he relaxed enough to let the urine fall in the toilet.

"You gonna shake?"

"I can do it!" Heero growled, eyes open.

"Done? Wash hands then brush teeth."

Heero felt very uncomfortable. This situation was in some way uncomfortable. It was like prison, or a space pirate vessel. And Duo was never going to learn about the stray thought he just had. What was going on? What had Duo being doing with his unconscious self that brought him to wake up in front of the toilet? When he had lost control? When he drank so much. When, then, had Duo assumed control? That was still unclear.

"Would you stop! It's like I can hear the drives spinning!" Duo warbled. "Just wash your hands and brush your teeth."

Heero straightened and found he could stand. He stepped out of his pants carefully and then sidestepped to the sink. He lifted the hotel bar soap in his left hand, tipped the faucet control with his right and then lathered and scrubbed his hands. Heero replaced the soap in its indent and then rinsed. He let the water run and opened the zip bag his toothbrush was in. Duo offered some toothpaste. It was not their usual brand.

"Live dangerously," Duo advised.

That was often the problem. Heero took the offered toothpaste and then began brushing his teeth, starting with the outside of the uppers on the right. He watched Duo from the corners of his eyes and saw him step out of the bathroom. Heero could see the interior of the hotel room. It did seem to be his. Koi and Nu were both there, fighting playfully over a rope toy. "What time is it?" Heero asked around his toothbrush. He started on the inside of the uppers.


"How irrelevant?"

"Just finish brushing." Duo was tapping at his phone. He was fully dressed, so Heero thought it likely he had slept, then Duo had arrived from the airport, and it was probably still morning. Duo still had shoes on. Maybe he had picked Heero up from the bed right after letting himself in. The curtains were still closed, so Heero could not tell by the amount of sunlight. Koi seemed playful and was not whining or pawing, so Heero wondered if Duo had actually arrived, coaxed Koi to leave with him quietly, taken the dogs for a walk, and then returned to carry Heero into the bathroom. And why the hell had he not woken Heero and then asked if he needed help into the bathroom?

Chaos. Mysterious ways.

Heero rushed over the lower teeth and then scrubbed vigorously at his tongue. He could see Duo was removing his shoes and socks. "Spit already."

Heero bowed forward, spit in the sink and cupped his hand under the flow of water to fill it. Heero sucked the water from his hand, swished and spit again. Duo palmed something from his luggage and then walked toward Heero.

Duo came close and leaned in toward Heero, put his right hand to Heero's left shoulder. Heero thought Duo might actually be smelling him and inclined back a bit. "I'll let you get a shower afterward."

"After what?"

"First," he said, and then produced a translucent bag containing some pill bottles. He took his hand from Heero to open the bag. He brought out a bottle of OTC painkillers and flashed the label at Heero. He pressed the heel of his palm on the top to open and soon poured out a single pill into his left hand. The bottle was closed quickly and then Duo held the pill between two fingers, just in front of Heero's face. "Notice the identifying markings."
"Not drugging me, then?"

Duo pulled a bottle of water from behind his back. Heero guessed he had tucked it into his waistband when Heero had not been paying attention, which had been most of the morning, apparently. "The ease in which I could have had your unconscious ass frightens me," Duo said, as if it was a casual thing to say. He pushed the pill toward Heero. Heero took it in his fingers, and then put it in his mouth. He noted the water bottle was the brand in the hotel vending machines and the cap was intact. He opened the bottle and swallowed the pill and several gulps of water. "And this. It's a vitamin." Duo flashed a second bottle.

It was not really just a vitamin, but Heero did not believe Duo had lied, either. It was more correctly a multivitamin with herbal additives that probably said 'detox naturally' or 'energy' or 'men's health' in the ad. Heero took it with several more gulps of water.

"This one's mine," Duo said. It was his prescription bottle. Heero passed the water to Duo and watched him drink. Duo quickly packed the various pills in the little bag. Heero watched as he tossed the bag across the room to his pile of luggage. He turned and opened his arms. "C'mon."

"Come on what?"

"Let me carry you."

"I can walk."

"Let me."

Heero could see what he wanted. Duo expected him to hop up and wrap his legs around him and hold onto him and the whole thing. "I do not want to."

"Fine then, walk to the bed and lie down."

"Why?" Sometimes, now, it was really like they had to fight to see who was top and Heero did not want to just give in. "And then what?"

"You don't want to go back to bed? Fine. Get dressed. I'll take you out in the bright sunlight, with morning traffic, walk seven blocks, maybe find some lightly cooked scrambled eggs or a street vendor hot dog for breakfast."

Duo had him. Heero walked to the bed, crawled across and rolled into the hollow in the blankets he'd left during the night. He was comfortable. The mattress was not too soft or firm. The room was pleasantly dim. It was warmer in the bed than standing in the bathroom. Heero closed his eyes. It probably was a high quality mattress; he did not even feel Duo climb onto the bed. He only knew when he heard the proximity of his voice.

"Hey, gotta test your faculties."


"Do you know where you are?"

"Our hotel room in the Chandler in New York."

"What year and month is it?"

"198. October."

"How many fingers am I holding up."

"Zero," Heero answered without opening his eyes.


"I just figured you would pick zero to be difficult."

"OK. Who is the current President, then?"

"President of what?"

Duo laughed softly. "I figure you're coherent enough to legally give consent."

Heero smiled. "Just because I am grateful you were too honorable to take advantage of me while drunk and unconscious does not mean I'll let you have my ass now."

"Who says I want your ass, today?"

Heero snorted. Eyes still closed, he reached for Duo. He could feel him at less than an arm's length. His fingers found Duo's neck, and part of a braid, and then Duo's right shoulder covered in thin fabric. Heero cracked opened his eyes. Duo's body was reclined perpendicular to his. "Take off your clothes."

"Say you'll throw them in the fire."

"No, I say for you to take off your clothes and throw them in the fire," Heero said, asserting his roll as Wolf rather than Red.

"That mean you want some of this?" Duo asked, lifting the hem of his tee over his abs.

"Show me."

Duo pushed himself up from the bed. He lifted his arms, grabbed the back of his collar and pulled his shirt quickly overhead. He gave a look to Heero, all heat, and then popped the button on his waistband. Heero watched the denim and skin slide against each other. He felt a little pinch of arousal. He saw the red bikini brief slip past Duo's thighs and felt a sharp twinge. Duo's dick bobbed up, half-hard and Heero felt heat.

"Duo," he whispered, "Turn your back over this way."

"Oh, no, no." Duo grinned down at him. "I am so filing spooning with you away for later use, but not this time. I want your cock, but I want top."

"Fine," Heero agreed quickly.

Duo scooted a little closer and planted his right hand on Heero's other side, so that he had Heero a little trapped. "Take it easy for a bit."

"Do not be a girl. I missed you."

Duo chuckled. He lowered himself, body still perpendicular to Heero, right elbow at Heero's left side. His eyes looked right into Heero's eyes. "Baby, don't be an ass. Who is going to have fun if I'm tight and you're only half hard? Relax, OK?"

He wanted. Heero understood what Duo meant about the physical mechanics of it all, but he just wanted. Duo's cheek slid against Heero's jaw. A moment passed and Duo's lips lightly grazed his throat. "I want," Heero said.

"You know I am not a tease," Duo whispered, "so just trust me to make this good for both of us."

He did. Heero looked up through half-slit eyes and saw Duo's face close and out of focus. "I love you." The words flowed out, unplanned, but Heero felt they were true. Sometimes 'Baka' or 'I know' or 'you drive' meant 'I love you'. Right now, 'I love you' meant a lot of things, expressing among them gratitude.

Duo's lips pressed against his. Duo's tongue slipped into his mouth. Mentally, Heero was completely relaxed. He could feel love and lust spiking. There was the warmth in his chest and the core of heat somewhat lower. There was no saying 'half hard'.

Right then, Heero became aware that his hands were unrestrained. He did not have to wait for permission. No one was telling him what to do. He lifted his arms from the bed. His left hand found Duo's right arm and followed it over the muscular dips and bulges to Duo's neck, and then settled with finger's wound in the hair at the back of Duo's head, near the base of his skull. His right hand first came to Duo's chest.

Heero placed the flat of his hand left of center upon Duo's chest and felt for the beat of his heart. It was steady and rapid. Heero spread his fingers and traced the shape of Duo's pecs. Much as he liked parts below the waist, as his fingers moved, Heero was consumed by thoughts and memories of enjoying Duo's particular upper body broadness and firmness. Maybe Heero liked it because Duo's regular style of dress really was rather modest. A series of images of Duo in school uniforms and clerical garb flashed within his mind. There had been only a few arm-baring tanks glimpsed in locker rooms, and things like fishnet only in recent time.

Heero gave the ring through Duo's left nipple a tug, and then rolled his thumb over the nipple. The kisses became hungrier, faster and wetter. Heero did not know what he wanted more: to tear his mouth from Duo so he could suck at his adam's apple or to command Duo to sit on his cock now so he could watch the movement of his muscles as Duo rode it.

Heero tossed his head, sucked in a breath through the mouth and then nuzzled Duo's jaw out of the way so he could suck at his throat. Even as Heero went for Duo's throat, his right hand glided over Duo's abs toward his dick.

Heero's palm pressed against the head of Duo's dick. "Oh, God, yes!" Duo called out.

"Enough of this. Sit on me now," Heero growled at his ear.

"Fuck, I thought I'd have to be gentle and do most of the work..." Because Duo thought Heero was that badly hungover.

"I recover quickly."

"Yeah, ya do!" Duo shifted position, getting up onto his knees and then straddling Heero's thighs. For a split second Heero questioned the position, and then remembered his mental list of things Duo did to be prepared to be fucked without prior stretching.

"Do you want to do it, or just to watch me?"

"I'd like to do it. I just wanted to look at ya a bit."

"Maybe should have had me paint my nails." Heero licked at his right index finger and then drew it down his chest and stomach and finished by rolling his fingertip about the head of his cock. He looked up and found Duo staring back at him, eyes dark.

"Can you get it? It's under there," Duo said very quietly. That was nice, because that tone said something to Heero about how far gone Duo was into this scene of theirs. That voice meant things like contented, pleasured and satisfied, and they had not even gotten to either of them fucking the other yet.

Heero reached beneath the pillow Duo's eyes had indicated. For a moment, he thought he was wrong, or would not be able to reach far enough, but then he felt the fur and realized he was meant to find the entire bear, not just one small tube or packet. The pillow fell over, but Heero was able to pull the bear free. He held it over his chest and opened the back to reveal the contents Bomb Bear was guarding. Looking, Heero thought Duo had gone shopping somewhere without him. Rather, he knew Duo had at least once, but was just a little surprised when the first container that came into hand did not seem to be any sort of lubricant, but a desensitizer. Some bottles said 'hot' or 'cold'.

"Uh, it's the one that says 'platinum' or something on it," Duo said quickly, "I kinda meant the rest, I mean, just if we wanted to spice things up another time. It's Trowa's fault!"

Heero found the correct container and dumped the rest, with the bear, at his side. "Caliente."

"You too!" Duo said, grinning as he took the lube from Heero.

Could not very well ruin the moment with promise of kinky hot sex in the future. Heero lay back and watched Duo warm the lube between his fingers. He put both hands to Heero's cock and gave a few light pumps and twirls to slather the lube. It felt amazing. Heero had been wanting this contact for a few days now. Sometimes it sounded funny in his brain to admit he masturbated more since finding a lover, but it was true. Still, it was always best to actually have Duo.

Duo swiped an additional quantity of lube over the head; the touch was so light Heero barely felt it. The anticipation made him ache. Duo crawled forward on hands and knees and then lowered his body. His head bowed to kiss Heero's mouth, his dick fell against Heero's abdomen. Duo's ass pushed back until Heero could feel his cock settle in the crack between Duo's buttocks. He wanted badly to just grab Duo's hips and fuck him hard, but Heero knew that was not the way to make it feel best for both of them. Instead, he clenched his fists in the bedsheets.

"Heero. Baby. You want to work my dick, or would you rather watch?"

"Which had you planned?"

It felt like Duo was happy to be asked the question. "You just lying back and watching."


Duo looked down, right into his eyes. "I have a set of restraints that will do a pretty good job of holding you, but I'll accept your word. Say you'll let me take care of everything. Say you won't touch me with your hands until after I cum."

"Tell me what happens if I fail."

"I won't touch you or hold you for the rest of the day."

Heero dug his fingertips into the sheets. "Ryokai. Ride my cock. Touch yourself. I want to see."

"My what big eyes you have," Duo whispered.

Heero wanted to say 'thank you', but he said, "All the better to watch you discover pleasure with, My Dear."

"Sick freak," Duo said very quietly, but again that meant 'I love you'. Heero watched as Duo rose up onto his knees. He could feel Duo's ass wriggled against his cock. He could see Duo's hips shift from side to side. Really, Heero liked the hips very much, as well. He lifted his gaze and was not disappointed. Duo rolled his head slowly, eyes barely open. His left hand swept his braid forward; it undulated against his chest. His right hand gave a tug at the ring through the closest nipple, and then slipped behind Duo's back.

Heero felt that hand touch his cock. "My what a big cock you have."

"All the better to fill you with, Mon Cher."

Heero looked down again. He could see Duo's left hand cupped about his own balls, almost as if to drawn them out of Heero's view. Duo's thigh's framed a window through which Heero could see his own cock standing. He could feel Duo's asshole pressing against the head. He could see the strain and shift in Duo's muscles. The long thighs supported his weight as he leaned back. The lean torso maintained Duo's balance and inclined posture. Heero had a thought that he might enjoy licking Duo all over. He might really want to loll his tongue all over Duo's abs. He might want to lap at Duo's chest. He might want to twirl his tongue about nipples, and navel and the pit of Duo's throat.

Heero gasped as he felt the sphincter close around his cock. The head was in Duo, smooth muscle contracting against it. Heero let a breath out slowly through his nose. "Feels tight."

"It's good," Duo said slowly, "Oh, yeah! I just gotta take it slow."

Heero said nothing, and watched. Duo's right hand came forward and touched his lips. His eyes closed. Duo sucked his index finger into his mouth and then touched the moist finger to his left nipple. Heero watched the finger play, circling, flicking, rubbing. He was aware of lower movement and looked down and saw Duo's left hand pumping his dick.

Heero wished the headboard had bars he could grasp, but it was entirely upholstered.

Heero felt the muscle about his cock relax and then contract again. He saw Duo sink. He could see much less of the shaft of his own cock through that small window. There was a sheen of sweat along Duo's thighs.

"Nnnn, yeah."

"You look so hot."

"Talk to me some more."

"Sometimes I just want to cum all over you!"

Duo took it all in. There was no window. Heero's cock felt buried in Duo's ass. Duo's legs looked relaxed and his weight rested mainly on Heero's pelvis. Duo smiled, arched his back and wiggled to see if there was more to take, but there was not.

"Aaaa, feels tight still."

"Mm, tight should feel good for you."

"Aa. Good."

Duo smiled, did another slow roll of his head and then reached overhead and with his arms hanging above him, shifted weight from Heero into his legs, and rose up, only to push his weight down again, quickly. The mattress rebounded upward, pushing Heero into Duo again. Duo was bouncing, using the spring of the mattress to enhance the in and out of cock in ass.

It felt good, but Heero could tell Duo had hoped for a mattress with more spring. He leaned forward shortly, planting his hands either side of Heero's shoulders, and looking down at him as he rocked back and forth.

"Haa," Heero breathed, "this is good. For me. It's good, Honey!"

Duo had an absolutely gorgeous expression upon his face, as if he was saying he was glad to go through the physical effort to bring them both to climax. Heero had seen it before. He had probably made a face like that for Duo. It was not quite the face that said Duo was feeling as sharp a pleasure as he needed to cum.

Heero looked down. He could see the rippling of muscle everywhere as Duo rocked. He could see Duo's dick sliding against his body: the head just reaching Heero's chest when Duo pulled up, and touching Heero's belly when Duo pushed back.

"I gotta," Duo said.

"Go for it!" Heero encouraged. "Close. I am already..."

Duo drew himself up. He shifted the position of his knees slightly and then arched his back. His hair fell back, and his chin was lifted. Duo held his dick in his right hand and the left rose overhead as a counterbalance. It was just fucking beautiful, like pictures and video Heero had seen of bronco riders.

"There! Yes! Aah! God!"

Heero felt like all of his being was within the space of his cock. His shoulders pressed into the mattress, his hands clenched, his buttocks clenched together and his hips bucked up off the bed. He called out some wordless thing.

"Yes! Fuck! God!"

Heero bucked and kept his eyes on Duo. Other times had been good, great, outstanding, but Heero was just feeling this was one of those especially great experiences. Duo was just riding him. He was just fucking riding him. There was little tightness now. Just a firm, easy in and out, up and down. Whatever interior part his head was hitting, it was good for Duo. They claimed Heero had a high ratio when he was in control, but Duo seemed to be doing an excellent job of pleasuring himself on Heero's cock.

Duo's face looked all screwed up, like he was going to cum, and his hand was just pumping so fast. Heero thought they came about the same time, but as soon as the orgasm took him and threw his soul around and made his body burn like a machine falling uncontrolled into the atmosphere, he became completely unaware of what Duo was doing for at least ten seconds, so he could never be sure.

When Heero was able to really look at Duo again, he was still feeling good, funky, and quite grateful, so, though Duo had cum glistening in his hair and a sort of fragile, undone expression on his face, Heero thought he was just beautiful. Heero felt a sort of half-pleasurable pinch and realized his cock was still in Duo. He watched Duo shiver at the little aftershock.

"Say I can touch you."

"Oh, God, please!" Duo literally collapsed upon Heero. His chest pressed Heero's chest. Their legs tangled together. Duo dug his hands beneath Heero's shoulders. Heero lifted his hands and put them to Duo's back. Duo's entire body felt covered in sweat, but it was good, because he had done what he had promised. He had worked to make the sex good for both of them.

Duo let out a deep slow breath. Heero could hear the sigh, and feel the warm breath on his neck. Duo's body relaxed and felt even heavier atop Heero's body. Heero held him tighter. He pushed his fingertips into the small of Duo's back.

"Yeah, there. That feels so good."

"Did you even sleep last night?" Heero asked. He continued applying perpendicular pressure to Duo's back. Duo had arrived this morning and flown his own jet, and considering the time difference, he would have left late at night Pacific Time and lost some hours.

"I did not want you to worry about me flying without sleep, so I slept before coming here. Guess I missed the party. I got a few text messages, from you and some others. Did you really run into yaks?"

"No. There was nothing to do with organized crime. It was just we sort of met with some members of a heavily armed Korean street car racing club. There was no trouble. I bought them some drinks, I think."

"Mm. I think maybe the only times we both drank at the same time were when we went out to nightclubs or the teahouse."

"That sounds correct."

"Not a complaint, I was just thinking out loud."

"So, we are actually missing part of the con."

"Yeah, but we needed this."

"Thank you." Heero pressed a quick kiss to Duo's cheek.

"A few more minutes? I just feel like holding onto you for a bit."

"No complaint. I do not mind at all if you want to hold me. I like it. I like your arms."

"I like you, too; I mean the way your body feels."

Heero kept his left hand on Duo's back and moved his right hand to stroke Duo's arm. He really did like the way it felt. He moved his fingertips lightly up and down the outside of Duo's left arm. Maybe it felt good for Duo, too.

"Ne, Heero."


"What do you think?"

"About what?"

"I'm sorry." Duo lifted his head and kissed Heero's face. Heero could feel his smile. Duo nuzzled back down and whispered at Heero's left ear. "I didn't mean it to come out that way. I meant, I was just thinking."

"Aa. What were you thinking about?"

"It's been over six months since we started dating."

"Yes. Failed attempt was on an 8th. Trial date period began on the 15th after that 8th. We were officially a couple by the next 12th. We decided to live together about two months after that. We will have been in the house three months this coming Wednesday. You decided we needed chaos just over a month ago. It is your birthday on Tuesday."

Heero felt Duo shake with laughter, even as he heard it. "I don't think it's one of those age crises, I just wanted to say maybe that I notice how you've changed." There was no laughter left in his voice. "When we first started out, you did not really even know what you wanted. I think you just had this idea that I was special because we shared experiences in the war and maybe you could trust me enough and I was pretty enough that I could be someone you could let yourself have sex with. And don't interrupt yet! Now, I really believe that you know things about yourself and your wants that you did not even know back then, and I believe that it's me you want and that you honestly do love me. I like it, Heero. I just wanted to say it, I guess, that I can see how you've grown and I'm glad that you didn't grow away from me. I'm not exactly the guy I was then either, and I'm not sure how much I still have to grow, but I really still believe I love you and I want to be with you and if you said you wanted it, I would still marry you."

"No 'but'?" Heero whispered.

"No 'buts'! I just felt like I should say that to you."

Heero thought that Duo seemed sad, but then he decided that Duo was just afraid Heero would not appreciate his feelings, or need to express them at this moment. Heero kissed Duo's shoulder. He loved those freckles, too. "You are right. Even this week I realized things about myself I did not know before. No regrets that you are the one taking this journey with me, Lover. You can say whatever you need, to me. Remember. Spilling guts while sober."

"Do you really want to cum all over me sometimes?" Duo asked, lifting his head to view Heero's expression. The laughter was back in Duo's voice.

"Aa. I meant that. I guess it looks pretty degrading in porn, but I just thought you looked so hot, I wanted to do it, like putting an offering on your altar."

Duo laughed. "All right, sounds pretty kewl when you put it that way. I'll let you do it, if you want. What else?"

"What do you mean?"

"What do you want to do this weekend?"

"I thought the point of coming to New York was to attend the con, but you seem pretty unconcerned about missing it."

"Oh, we're going! Sure they sneak in a few good events to reward people who picked up badges the night before, but a lot of the first day is waiting in lines. I figure we'll show up in the afternoon and stay until things close down late tonight. Anyway, Saturday is the big day." Duo grinned down at Heero. "I'm not going to waist the opportunities presented by ritzy hotel rooms or NYC either. I love our vacations. You don't have a secret file anymore of all the stuff you need to say or do?"


"Guess you're proud just of that?"

Heero made a slight nod. "Am, actually. But, I was thinking, earlier, I just wanted to lick you all over. Maybe I am even feeling like a rim job. Oh, and I want to take some photos. Nude. Artfully lit. With the head cut off."


Heero smiled and shook his head. "You know I mean your head out of frame. I just want to take pictures of your body and muscles."

"And go to a gallery?"

Heero smiled, because Duo understood the connection between the photos and the gallery invitation. "Sometime this weekend I'll tell you about it."

"Ya know what else?"


"I want to fuck you. I want to spoon up to you under the covers, like when we're going to bed or when we first wake up. Like, almost stealthy."

"OK, I will let you know, but even if you are playing out your stealthy fantasy, you are not going to fuck me with spit alone. There will proper lubricant of some sort involved."

"Of course! Who said it was any kind of fantasy?" Mock innocence.
"I just knew. Now, get off. We should get a shower and head over to the con soon."

Duo rolled off, toward the middle of the bed, and sat there, looking at Heero. Heero pushed himself up. He could drink some water, but otherwise, he really felt very good.



"I don't really want to try to be chaotic."

"I see," Heero said slowly. That little speech before had been preparation for this, whether Duo realized he had planned it or not.

"I don't think you need it. I thought at the time you did, and I would do it for you. Now, I just want to be me."

"I am not going to argue, because I think you are right. We are both a lot more sure of things now. It has been half a year. If we have difficulties, we will work it out."

"It's really OK?"

Heero nodded and made a conscious effort to smile for Duo. He reached across the bed and put his hand in Duo's. "Yes. We are together... in a relationship. That can mean whatever we need or want it to mean. I am happy we were able to form a structure that helped us get this far, but maybe it really is time to work without a net, completely. Chaos done apurpose is not really chaos anyway, it becomes an orderly construct, so, that was structure also."

Duo squeezed Heero's hand. Heero understood the message. His Duo was truly a strong person, but he greatly feared loss. He had experienced loss many times. It was painful.

"I will wash you if you wash me?" Heero offered.

It was just washing, but when they got out of the shower, Duo asked Heero if he wanted to take any photos before he got dried or dressed. Heero chewed his lower lip, nodded and went to get the camera. Heero was not sure how the pics would turn out. Even having the little monitor on the camera, he did not trust his ability to make a photograph look any more art than snapshot. He captured a lot, because he figured that this was the way professionals did it. He remembered when watching Cerise; she had taken many photos, to use a few of the best.

"Can I get some of you?" Duo asked. Heero had not expected the request, but as soon as he heard it, he wondered why he had not expected it. It seemed fair, so he passed the camera to Duo and then stood still. Duo did not capture the image immediately, but stood looking at Heero and walking around him and looking up at the overhead lighting fixture. "Stand like when the Director tells you to be at ease, but you still look all formal."

Heero remembered. He placed his feet a shoulder's width apart, stood straight and folded his hands just behind his back. Duo walked around him then, capturing Heero from all the various angles. The clicking stopped after a while, and Heero dropped his hands and turned. Duo was scrolling through the thumbnails to check his work. Heero noted he was smiling.

"I can dress?" Heero asked.

"Yeah. I got it." Whatever it was, Duo was still admiring his work.

Heero decided on his velvet jeans, a white button-down and his new green sweater. He wore a thick pair of athletic socks and an old pair of military boots. He was going for comfortable and practical, as they would be walking a lot and it was cool outdoors, but might be heated inside, but Duo still sang out, "Fashion plate," as he walked by.

Duo did not really appear to dress with comfort of practicality in mind. He was wearing the outfit Sake had made for him that made him look like a sort of Chinese Sith Lord, with tall, many-buckled platform boots. Heero glared on account of the boot's added height, but nothing happened. Duo just bounced around unaffected, talking about need to carry things acquired in the vendors room versus the discomfort of carrying a bag all day.

"We can take one bag for both our things and take turns carrying it," Heero suggested.

"We need to pack light."

"I just need my pad, phone, ID and a small amount of cash, plus a baggie of food for Koi, and Koi's papers."

"Don't you have some meishi or business cards?"

"Hn." Heero was getting anxious to get to the pop culture convention and see what it was like. He remembered the girls had asked him about it last night, before he was completely drunk off his ass, and he had said he thought it was probably like the movie shows, multiplied by at least twenty, but with a much higher ratio of otaku and geeks to kewl kids. He was not really expecting to find clients, or at least not clients for his pet business. "Maybe for L Street."

Duo laughed. "Do they hook you up with cards? On Earth people still use cards. I get them while at school."

"I have some." Name cards of any sort were not so popular in the Colonies. It was much more important to have an impressive sig file. "I do understand the concept of convention, and Ursula asked me the same question, it is just I do not see what I have to market to this particular crowd."

Duo seemed almost ready. His backpack was on the bed, open, and he was dressed. He seemed to be waiting to confirm that the photos had uploaded to his computer so he could put the camera in the backpack. He took a little metal case from inside the backpack and flipped out a card. He handed it to Heero two-handed. Heero rolled his eyes and too the card in his right hand, putting his thumb right over Duo's name. "Fuck you," Duo said, with a sort of sad laughter underlying the words.

It was a stylish two-sided English and German card for Duo Maxwell owner/operator of Maxwell Technologies listing specialties in AI programming, communications systems, and mobile suit and robotics design, along with contact information. "Why is it German?"

"In case any MIT kids came down for the con. MIT kids think German hilarious."

"What do you want to do with MIT kids?"

Duo shrugged. "Be better than them, I guess... I mean, cooperate in synergistic teambuilding for the advancement of mutual exchange and goal sharing."

Heero could not even bring himself to laugh. "Recruiting. You could just participate in a job fair."

"Those are so boring!"

"If you were there, it could not be boring. Come on, let's go."

Duo hummed a wordless agreement, but then spent at least a minute checking over his person and backpack for things he thought he would need.

The Javitz Center was on the west side of the city. As they approached, they could see a string of taxis dropping off fares along the concourse and lines of people. Duo made a sort of shrug to say that he was right that there would still be a wait at this time of day, but also that he did not really mind waiting in line now. Heero had known of the option to pick up registration badges the night before, but Duo would not have arrived in time. Security measures dictated that each person collect only their own badge, or badges for minors they were escorting, with minors present, and so even if Heero could have avoided the line, Duo would still have to be here waiting without him, and Heero did not want that.

There were some people already in their cosplay costumes, waiting in line. Heero had only witnessed mass cosplaying live once, at the Movie Shows and this event really did remind him of that night. First Kiss. Heero smiled.

"That was the best and worst night ever," Duo said. His voice was soft, but there was a brilliant wide smile on his face. Heero was sure it was genuine. It was not the false grin of joking when depressed or the malevolent grin of mischief intended. This was warmer, and came with accompanying gaze.

Heero did not even question how Duo knew. That he knew was satisfying enough.

"Hey, if you see any Sashimi, let me know. I need to get pics for Hilde."

Heero knew that Midii and Hilde still saw a lot of each other, but Hilde did not want to travel between Earth and the Colonies while pregnant, and Midii was here with Ursula. Hilde had probably asked Midii to get her some photos and souvenirs, but asked or not, Duo would also be looking for things Hilde would like. There was always going to be a relationship there, and it probably would have existed regardless of their having a child. They had other important shared experiences.

A group of younger teenagers filed into line behind them and several seconds later they were able to move forward a couple meters. There was a bit of glare and reflection, but through the glass, Heero could see into the interior concourse. Velvet ropes and staffers were placed to keep the registration line separate from those already in attendance. It looked quite crowded already and vendors at the small booths and kiosks were barking to the crowd.

"And you've never been to one of these?" Heero asked.


Heero chuckled awkwardly. The line alone was an attraction. A lot of groups wore tees advertising their store, club, or fanatically maintained fan database for a television show that had not aired in a hundred years. Sometimes it was really hard to tell if someone wore a costume or was just wearing their club gear. Even when people were in street clothes Heero saw they often had a phone accessory or hat or bag that indicated they were a fan of a particular game or movie.

A short distance ahead in line there were some recognizable Jedi characters calling out to two bunny girls just getting out of a cab and asking to take their picture. Beyond them, a man dressed up as the spokescharacter for a phone network was posing for a pair of tattooed, pierced parents and their toddler dressed in a magical girl battle costume. The line moved again. Hero had to tug at Koi's harness to distract him from the group of furries passing by.

"Do you think there will be Batman?"

"Probably several," Duo replied. He was half distracted himself by the chirp of incoming text messages on his phone. "Sake says Ursula and she are at booth in hall 3A."

"I wonder if Shizen and Sake had to go to different areas."

"Honestly, I'm not sure how they assign the space. I was talking to Shizen and Midori about it when we made the plans, since they've been to events like this. I think the major vendors, like publishers and studios and distributors and such are separate from small business and individual artists. I think also there is a separate space for fanclub booths."

"I did check out the Bad Apple Fest site. Two large areas for cosplay events, two large movie theaters, twelve video rooms, twenty rooms for panels and workshops, one live performance theater, and an obscene about of floorspace dedicated to vendors, artists, and clubs."

"And there's people-watching in the halls!"

"That is so."

"How about you? Anything you want to see? Or a character you want to see cosplayed?"

Heero's lips parted, but he did not say anything. The answer came into his mind, but he did not feel confident about admitting there were a couple of characters he wished to see cosplayed. He shook his head, "Not that I can think of now. What should I help you look for? The Commandatrix is the one with blue skin, and pointy ears and short black hair?"

"Yeah, her costume differs a bit from the series, to the movie, to the new live-action version. I wonder if many people cosplay Prince Channa."

"I did not really understand about him," Heero admitted. "He was a major villain in the movie, but I did not really understand his motivation and the way the Team reacted to him."

"Because you never saw the series in its entirety."

"But I thought you or Hilde said once that Channa is not even in the original series and he's... what's it called? A Sue?"

"A lot of the fandom likes to call him a Sue, because he has many of the classical traits, but no character invented by the legitimate creators of a series can be a Sue, even if you really really want them to be. Anyway, the thing with the Prince is that you're supposed to infer that he was conceived during the time Blaec was a prisoner and grew quickly on account of his half-alien physiology. And he hates Akairo for taking Blaec away and breaking up his family, though he claims not to have any love for Blaec."

"But Blaec and Aka-chan are not even supposed to be canonically homosexual!"

"I know! But they don't have to actually be canonically fucking for anyone to blame Akairo, because he was the one who rescued Blaec when the aliens had him prisoner. So he's not canonically 'home wrecker' in the step-father sense, just the number one hero on the team that is Blaec's 'other family'."

"But... they do not even say absolutely that Channa is Blaec's son, just that Channa was conceived during the time Blaec was a prisoner and that Channa's mother may have had access to Blaec during that time."

"Yeah, but he doesn't look fully alien, like Koi, so who else would it be?"

"Maybe I would understand better if I saw the series, but it always seemed strange that the movie was so focused on some kid trying to take over the world because they lacked a father figure to discipline them and were being manipulated by the old king that adopted them."

"Yeah, but what can you do? It is official. I mean, Darth Vader is kick ass, but Anakin's a tool. What are ya gonna do about it?"

"Bitch online."


Heero's phone chirped. He quickly lifted the headset and flipped it over the top of his right ear. He fingered the button to talk. "Yuy."

"Heero." It was Claudia, Heero could tell immediately by her voice. "Where are you? I have not seen you yet this morning. Are you in a costume?"

"No costume. Duo and I are still in line for registration."


"Only just got here. Bit of a late start."

Claudia was repeating what Heero had just said, presumably for Johnny. "Oh, well, do you want to meet up, then? When you get through registration? Johnny and I have mainly been going between video rooms and visiting a few lectures."

"We can meet up," Heero said slowly, as he glanced to see if there was in fact acceptable to Duo.

"Midii?" Duo mouthed silently.

Heero mimed smoking. "Johnny will probably enjoy Duo's company at the con more than either of ours, so I am certain we can all meet, but if there is something in particular one of us wants to see... " Heero saw Duo relax and shrug, which meant he was OK with the plan. For all they had in common, Duo and Midii were at best neutral or falsely pleasant when around each other. Claudia on the other hand seemed to entertain Duo nearly as much as Johnny.

"Do you want to set a meeting place? How should we recognize you?"

"I am not in costume... I said."

"But are you not a little famous?"

"Aa, the trick is to look so much like my self that no one believes I am me. I will wear a hat and glasses if I seem in danger of being mobbed."

"Johnny is dressed as a pirate."

"I will look out for him. Let's meet at the third floor food court. Duo and I want to stop in and see Sake in the artist area."

"Line's moving again," Duo called.

"It looks like we are going to get inside the building now," Heero told Claudia.

"Maybe you will still be in line a little while. Call me when you are coming upstairs."

"The dogs are not allowed."

Heero disconnected his call. "They are. I have their papers."

"That's Koi," the second security guard hissed.


"It's OK. That one's Koi."

"The real one?"

Heero was confused. The two security guards definitely seemed more interested in his dog than in him, as if Koi were a celebrity in his own right.

The first guard stooped and studied Koi. "You really have papers on him? He seems so calm. I thought he would be more on guard or something."

"I have them," Heero answered slowly.

"He's really pretty well known on Earth, huh?" Duo asked cheerily.

"Yes, Sir," the second guard answered.

"One of those people Koi located in the wreckage was actually from New York?"

"That's right," the first guard replied, "Rose Kennedy. And one of the Emergency Workers they pulled out after her had recently emigrated from Earth. Former NYFD."

"I remember," Heero whispered.

The first guard stood again. He looked at Heero. It felt strange. It was not like the hero worship that came with saving the world from falling objects from space. It was as if the man were trying to decide for himself how much he did or could respect Heero.

"A lot of news agencies on Earth picked up the wire about a particular sight hound locating multiple survivors," Duo said.

The second guard nodded. "I'll radio ahead to the registration supervisor and let them know we have two helper animals. Be sure you're given passes to attach to their collars."

"Thanks a lot!" Duo said sincerely.

Heero felt Duo's hand on his left arm and moved. He could hear the people in line behind them asking what the hold up was all about. "You knew."

"Yeah, but I was never sure that you didn't. They have photos of you and Koi in Paris, with all the Preventers about. He's got a little bit of a fan club."

"And the Men at New Edwards took photos. And there was one photo including Koi with the Homo interview."


"I have you to thank for giving him to me."

"Pazhálusta." It made Heero smile.

on to chapter 104

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