Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
"And have you had the first of these trial dates yet?" Ursula asked as she lifted her whisk. She was practicing her formal chanoyu and mimed drawing her sleeve away just so, even though today she wore a cardigan with sleeves that reached her elbows.
Mercifully Heero had been served sencha, or something like the common green tea but, he suspected, with a few additives from Ursula's kitchen. It tasted different than he thought green tea usually tasted.
Heero answered Ursula as he watched the movement of her hand, whipping powdered tea into water. "Tonight. We spent the day with Relena after that. We did speak on the phone Sunday to make our dates. He says Mondays are so busy he is never in a mood to go out."
"Next Monday, Heero, try to surprise him by showing up wherever he is, if you can," Ursula suggested, "And provide some quite activity you might share, like watching a video or playing a card game. When you are there, offer a massage. The way our weeks are scheduled Mondays stress many people. Cassiopeia says it is difficult to get appointments for massage on a Monday, or certain hours on Friday."
But last Monday Heero had seen Gibson leaving Duo's room. "I am sure that does seem like a good idea, Ursula, but what if Duo is with someone else relieving stress?"
"Exactly the reason for you to be there," Midii called from the floor where she was sprawled. Ursula only looked apologetic. "If he got so stressed some other Monday that..." Midii thought better of retelling the incident, which Heero knew better than she did. "My point is, it won't hurt to make yourself available."
"It is only a suggestion. I don't claim it is my own advice. I do not currently have such a special friend. Gekka and Cassiopeia have always made their opinions known to me and the girls at school did as well."
"And she puts great stock in historical romances."
"Yes, I have read literary historical romances in four languages." The 'literary' was barely stressed but Heero noticed the difference. "I believe that when Duo says he does not feel like going out, he might mean that he wants to vege on a couch as they say and dress in loungewear."
Heero thought about that. He turned his head to better see Midii. She had a plastic box of silk flowers and accessories near her as well as some vases and her own mobile computer. She was editing their security report based on her observations as she attempted to arrange some flowers.
Heero had already been made aware that since meeting in a night club in Tokyo Midii had been helping Ursula to speak Earth dialects as well as some self defense moves. In return Ursula had passed on to Midii what she knew of traditional arts.
"You know 'vege?'" Heero asked quietly.
"You just have to remember that it is a shortening of vegetate, as in vegetative state. coma. You know, because they appear to be motionless and speechless and possibly brain dead as a vegetable would be."
"Vegetables do not have brains," Heero said. They couldn't very well be brain dead when they had never possessed a brain at all.
"Exactly!" Midii said. "She means that Duo might not want to think or be witty after he has had a bad day."
"Well I understood that," Heero said plainly.
Ursula made a most polite giggle. "Heero understood, he just wanted to be able to use the word himself later."
"You see?" Heero asked, rather sarcastically, "Ursula understands me."
There was an awkward silence as Midii turned her back on the enameled vase with five white flowers and some greenery in it and gave her attention again to the report she was helping Heero write. There was a meowing heard in the silence.
"Would it be better to shut Koi in the bedroom?" Heero asked.
"No, Nanashi would be even more defensive of the bedroom."
"Yes," Ursula agreed, "The Nameless One has quickly made himself at home here."
Heero shrugged, thoughts returning to Duo and the date they would have that night. "Would you say, that someone who wishes to be a couch potato after school and work on Monday might actually be upset to receive visitors, since they will not be seen at their best?"
Heero looked at a wall without really paying attention to the wall. He was aware his thoughts repeatedly returned to Duo and that their conversations had taken the same route. Heero lifted his cup of tea and drank.
"That is why you would show up with a movie from the comedy section or a simple two-payer game and some junk food and in your own most casual attire."
"And offer the massage?"
"Yes," Ursula agreed.
"It will work?" Heero pressed.
"Work...?" Ursula mused. "Well, if you get past the door I imagine he should feel comfortable. That should be your goal. Some dates should be designed to impress or to seduce, but you should also be disarming."
"Disarming," Heero repeated. No guns drawn. No competition. "You don't think it is a mistake to seen eating junk food and vegetating?"
"Heero, this is like seducing or disarming a person in order to use them, except, rather than take what you want, you give what they need," Midii said. "Humans can be infatuated or inspired by an ideal, but humans form relationships with other humans. Trust me, nothing you can do now will shatter Duo's image of you as perfect, he's seen your flaws, but perhaps he still thinks you something extreme. Show him when you are most human and normal, Heero. There's not much special about sitting in front of a screen and eating junk food."
"Perhaps we should go out to a show or a movie!" Or a movie-show, Heero thought.
"You can, but not next Monday. Do try to keep up," Midii teased, "We're in mission planning for the 24th already."
Yes. Tonight was dinner at Romeo's. Heero had promised that Thursday Duo could surprise him with his choice of activity. Friday night they were to go out dancing. Monday Heero was to conspire in this accidental on purpose meeting, though Duo had suggested Monday was not a day he wanted a date. Heero had reservations about going against Duo's suggestion, but Ursula and Midii sounded like they knew what they were talking about.
"We can't plan too far in advance," Ursula said then, "We don't know how Duo will react to the dates we already planned. You tell me he is notoriously unpredictable."
"We just need very good contingency plans," Midii stated.
"I suppose," Heero agreed hesitantly. In theory they could have several variations of each date planned; should Duo react a certain way that threw off the original plan then a contingency plan would come into effect.
He was feeling confident about tonight's date. Duo had admitted to liking Romeo's. He had agreed to go. Heero had acquired a copy of their menu to familiarize himself with.
Ursula put a hand aside her lips to mouth words to Midii so that Heero could not read. Midii laughed. "I don't know," she said, "Maybe." She turned from her computer and looked at Heero across her shoulder. "Do you and Duo fart in each other's presence?"
Heero covered his mouth with a hand and then coughed to keep from laughing. "No. Not that I recall."
"Really?" Ursula asked, sipping tea as if she was not the one who had thought of this topic. "I would suppose that young men of your particular age and background and history must burp and tell dirty jokes and such things."
"I was not the sort of boy who would have felt he could join in."
"You should do it!" Midii laughed.
"You should fart. Not inside the restaurant if you can help it, but later. Do it so that Duo could notice."
"What's the logic in that?" Heero demanded.
"Well, maybe we should find a normal guy to ask. I think you should do it just because you haven't. It could show Duo that you feel comfortable around him." Midii laughs, "I bet he thinks you completely anal-retentive."
Heero groaned at her choice of words.
A few hours later he parked Vero's little car in front of Relena's house, where Duo had agreed to be picked up. Heero noted the usual paparazzi at their stations, as close to the town house of the Vice-Minister as the law allowed. He stepped out of the car then, wearing the one outfit of dress clothes that was truly his, which some people seemed to think made him look like a hitman, though Heero didn't see why.
He walked up the steps and rang the bell. Pagan answered the door. "Yuy-san," the Elderly Butler said.
"I am here for Duo."
"Of course. Come in. Mister Maxwell will join you shortly."
Heero stepped into the house. A second later a person came sliding across the slick tile of the entrance hall and snapped a photo of Heero, trying not to show surprise or suspicion. As he tracked the movement Heero recognized Relena. She walked sideways from her parlor, back into the hall, laughing. "Oh, Heero, I think I actually scared you!"
"No. I wasn't scared. Just for a split-second I thought there was a figure moving into the hall with a weapon, until I recognized the camera and you. It was just... not even a second."
Relena smiled. "I didn't see you reach for a gun, so you're getting better."
Heero wasn't sure. What if there had been an attacker?
But they were inside Relena's house. Pagan usually did such careful security checks. Duo was here.
"Do you have an other bodyguard tonight?"
"Dorothy is here. She's usually assigned to me earlier in the week, when Hilde isn't here. Otherwise they are together and Duo is here."
Heero gave a nod. "Where is Duo?"
"Getting dressed. You know him. He's worse than a girl!"
Heero had seen Duo getting dressed to go out. There were many steps involved.
"Miss, the stairs."
Relena quickly spun around and captured Duo walking down the stairs to the hall. Another eccentric outfit. Heero had seen him in skirts before, but this time, he really wondered if this qualified as drag. The long black skirt Duo wore was straighter than the previous ones, and a long slit up his left leg revealed clunky boot and stripped stockings. Surely stockings of that sort qualified as drag, though Heero had seen some tough-looking boys wear those beneath torn shorts or jeans.
The frock coat, ruffled dress shirt were men's clothing, though retro styled. Heero thought he was feeling slight paranoia when he saw the blue bondage collar worn over the collar of Duo's shirt like a cravat. The cosmetics Heero was becoming accustomed to. Heero was learning, that regardless of who had more kinks, it was likely true Colonials had fewer rules or restrictions based on gender. Japanese Colonials dropped gender restrictions on usage of words completely, which remained a sore point for Nihonjin, who were convinced Colonials were all homosexual if not illiterate.
Heero couldn't care much less if everyone on all the islands of Japan thought him deviant and homosexual. Duo looked great and Heero was not at all dissuaded from wanting to take him out in public. He'd known from the first day they met when he'd glimpsed Duo's ensemble of baseball cap, priest's shirt and riding pants that his sense of style was completely foreign to Heero. Back then, Heero had found Duo's look threatening, because he could not understand it. Now he still did not understand why Duo looked the way he did, exactly, but he accepted it all as part of the Duo mystique that he did find intriguing.
"You look great," Heero told Duo as he came down the stairs.
"And you, flawless as usual," Duo said, winking.
"You can stand closer than that! I'm trying to get a picture!"
Heero sighed under his breath. Relena and Duo had some things in common. He cared about them both very much, but sometimes they could do things that he just thought silly and embarrassing. Times like this, with Duo hanging on his shoulder and winking toward the camera and Relena wanting a picture of them before they went on their date.
It wasn't that big a deal.
"Are you ready to go?" Heero asked.
"Ready," Duo said.
Heero offered his arm. Duo stared for a second, as if he did not recognize the gesture. Perhaps he did not. Then, Duo seemed to realize what Heero expected and he hooked a hand around Heero's arm and walked beside Heero when he moved to the door.
"Borrowed." Heero eyed the street and the posts where the paparazzi lurked. "They're taking pictures."
"They always are," Duo sighed.
Heero walked around to the passenger side of the car and opened the door.
"Letting me drive?"
"Opening the door for you."
"Oh." Duo skipped around the car and ducked inside.
Heero walked around the car again and got into the driver's seat. He started up the car again, looked at the street then pulled away from the walk.
"Not really used to that kind of treatment. I mean, I know people do that stuff, but I've seen girls take offense to it, as if they were insulted by the special treatment."
"They think that it means men think them incapable of taking care of themselves, when the gesture is only meant as a kindness. You don't have a problem with kindness, do you?" Heero glanced away from the street just long enough to see Duo's response. He knew how to operate all military and civilian craft, but he didn't often have to drive small cars through a colony and so he was a bit out of practice.
"No, no problem with kindness. Do I get to pull out your chair before you sit or something like that?"
"You can try, but I warn you I am better practiced at performing such gestures for others than knowing how to take them myself. I understand that it is kindness, but I doubt I would recognize when you were holding a chair for me, as opposed to yourself."
Duo snorted a laugh. "Then, you do understand my hesitation."
"Well... you are my Sensei, are you not? I will do what you say."
"You prefer Sensei to Trainer?"
"I'd go for Master if I thought you'd be OK with it."
"I think it makes you sound like a slave," Heero said quietly but honestly. "I don't even view Koi as property. He is a friend that is an animal."
"Right. You want me as a pet."
"Do you have a problem with that term?" Heero asked.
"No, not at all. I just don't think I've been a pet before."
"Well, in this case, a pet would be a special friend that needs training and caring for."
"You think Chewie and Han ever did it?"
Duo chuckled. "You heard."
"Chewie was like his special friend and all. They were really close. Alone, in space..."
"He had a Life Debt to Han! It was a matter of honor that he protected the life of Han, and later his family, with his own life! There was no sex!"
"Watch the road!"
Heero forced his breaths to slow and concentrated on driving.
"They did hug."
"They did not have sex," Heero insisted.
"You think maybe Han brushed his fur for him? Like... he was a special pet?"
"Maybe I could be like one of those little monsters!" Duo said.
"You know... there's all different ones. Is there a generic term for things that are neither entirely animal nor computer program and may be associated with cards or games... actually, they aren't always like animals at all... sometimes they are like plants or inanimate objects that are raised and cared for and trained like pets are."
Heero thought he did know what Duo was talking about, but he wasn't going to admit it. He'd have to explain to Duo about the antique game machines and how he had reprogrammed and cracked game cartridges since childhood and what had motivated Heero to do a good job when he was still very young. Then Duo would think him even more a geek or just silly. "I do not know."
"You must have at least heard of them, seen a commercial somewhere? They still have anime and games and such." Duo reached across the space between their seats and put his hand into the pocket of Heero's pants, difficult as Heero was seated, but Duo managed it with shocking ease. "What are they called? Pocket Monsters?"
Heero really tried to concentrate on which street they were on.
Duo was using the lining of Heero's pocket like a mitten and groping around inside his pants. "Ah, look, I caught one," Duo laughed as his fingers touched Heero's penis through the layers of fabric.
Heero wished he had gods to pray to so that he could ask them not to let him be completely aroused by such a stupid game and thus encourage Duo.
"What's this one's name? Chinpokomon?"
Heero growled and elbowed Duo's arm. "If you call it that ever, I will slap you. I mean it."
"Fine, was just a joke."
"Do you have to take things that are just cute or sentimental perhaps and make them overtly sexual?" Heero demanded, "Do you realize that I am wondering things about Wookies that I never wanted to wonder?"
"Duo. Don't pout like that. I honestly don't think I am being mean. I like having sex. I think you are sexy. That doesn't mean I would like everything to be about sex. I think it's quite disturbing when some things are made to seem sexual in nature."
"I haven't even touched you in three days. If you count the hours it's more than three days."
"I know." Heero said shortly. He realized his tone had been short. Duo had annoyed him, but Heero couldn't fault his motivation, even if his manner seemed wrong. "I missed you. I even missed you talking, though you do annoy me sometimes, I do listen to you."
"You made reservations and everything huh?"
"You said you wanted to go."
"I do! I just am entertaining hopes of getting sex as well."
Honestly, Heero hadn't planned that they would have sex. When Duo and he had agreed to have their two weekday dates and a longer weekend date Heero had thought Duo meant, or agreed, that they would not have sex on the shorter dates. He wasn't opposed to it; this just took some improvisation. "If you behave well, Duo-chan. You expect to make fun of Star Wars and then get sex out of me? That's a mistake. A good boyfriend would understand I do not wish to view certain things in a sexual context."
"Yeah, but if I dressed up as your Padawan or a space princess, you'd fuck me right?"
Heero sighed softly. "Possibly."
Duo made some sound that Heero interpreted as noncommittal.
Heero spotted the restaurant ahead and pulled up to the curb. Romeo's was on a corner along J street, right between the Japanese and Russian Quarters. Heero left the keys in the car for the valet who was walking around the vehicle. A doorman had opened Duo's side of the car for him.
There were a few people waiting outside to be seated. Heero took Duo's hand and then walked to the host's station. Heero gave his name and as they were on time and these people understood it was not a false name he and Duo were shown to their table immediately.
It was in a dim section of the large dining room, far from the stage on which a piano player and singer entertained, but with a good view of that stage. There was no awkwardness over the pulling out of chairs, because their host did them each a kindness by pulling the chairs away from the table. Several candles were lit. Menus were left with them.
"Can I place drink orders for you now?"
Heero looked across the table at Duo. He looked very... rosy in candlelight, but maybe it was also the make-up. "Perhaps just mineral water for now, unless you know what you would like, Duo?"
Duo shook his head.
"Mineral water for both of us, please."
"Very well, your server will be here shortly."
"You really do look good, Duo."
"Thanks." His eyes flashed up to Heero for just a second before returning to his menu. "Does everything Russian have sour cream in it?"
"Do a lot of Russian foods have sour cream in them?"
"Compared to American food? Perhaps. If you do not like it, try one of the Japanese dishes. This restaurant has many Russian and Japanese dishes. Or... order a hamburger. They have that too." Heero smirked.
"It's not kosher, so many dishes mixing meat and dairy. And the types of seafood in some of these Japanese items, not kosher."
"And this is relevant to you because?"
"It was just an observation. I mean, just because I don't seem to be Jewish or keep kosher... well, I don't, but I know about it. Heero, you know at one time there were more Jews in New York than in Israel? You know in the early 100's when they had the massive waves of emigration to the Colonies?"
"Yes. From all nations on Earth, mainly to the Colonies then controlled by those nations."
"There aren't that many Jewish people on Earth anymore. I mean, there are, but not in the numbers they had before. The ones that lived in Israel, even some of them came up here and Colonies the L4 Colonies with their Arab brothers after they'd all made peace."
"Quatre's ancestors. All the Middle Eastern Colonists were well known for peace efforts."
"Yeah, and the Jews that lived in America, a lot came up here. And my dark-skinned brothers. Two largest groups among our Colonists, Jewish Americans and African Americans. In Side 3 I'm a minority. Of course, they have more like me back home, on Earth you know, but they got more of everyone else too. There's no great ethnic majority in America now. So... Colonial American culture is still very American, but it has influences of ethnic-related sub cultures. So, here's me, white as white, raised in a church..."
"Duo... you don't mean you were passed up for adoption because of your... the way you look?"
"No. I was too old already and obviously had issues. Besides, the people that live there now are all good people. The Alliance sympathizers that kept the rest down during the war were not of any one race, it was a class thing. They all died or moved to Earth. No, it's just good folk left up here. It's amazingly unlike what the history books describe. I mean, riots, Heero. Riots and discrimination and beatings and vandalism and all kinds of shit over race, because we all came into the cities too quickly for the melting pot effect to do its thing. We thought it was bad, Earthlings hating colonials and all that, but even us being at war was more civilized than the race riots they used to have."
"I seem to recall that you did suffer discrimination and beatings." Heero said it angrily. Quiet, yes, but angry. He wasn't angry at Duo, but for him.
Duo winced and Heero was not sure he understood where the anger was aimed or if it mattered. "N-not because of what I am. Because of what I did. I really was a terrorist. I probably really did kill people those soldiers knew..."
"Duo... don't say it. There's no way you deserved it. I found you, remember. I know in exactly what condition you were left in that cell. Even if they really believed you had killed their own families... how does that justify it. It would make them not much better than you, I mean, if you had killed their families. And, I bet if you had, it would have been so quick. A flash and then Heaven. Their way, it would have been slow and painful. There's no honor in that."
Duo was looking toward the tablecloth and blinking rapidly. He spoke and his voice was thin. "Let's just stop. All wars involve many people acting dishonorably on all sides. The very concept that we have rules for how to war is insane. It was not the first war or prison where there had been torture. Wasn't even the first prison I'd been in... I need a drink of water."
Where was the water? Heero looked around and saw a server watching him, timidly, from a safe distance. "Shit," Heero cursed. He waved the server toward them. He made a quick bow of his head. "I apologize if I startled or disturbed you or any of the guests," Heero said, "We would be most grateful if we could have our water and you would take our orders."
"There is no problem, Sir. I only noticed that you seemed... in conversation and I did not want to intrude. I apologize if I misjudged. You looked..."
"It is all right," Heero said as calmly as he could. He looked across the table at Duo. He was gulping water straight from the bottle. "It is better for you if you sip."
Duo turned the back of his right hand and lifted only the middle finger, just long enough for Heero to see.
"Duo, would you like to order?" Heero asked, sweetly as he could manage. He knew this was very contrived sounding coming from him.
Duo beamed at their server. "I will have the Juniper Beef Soup and the Beef Stroganoff and a glass of house red."
"Very good." The server looked to Heero.
"Borsch, Siberian style. Fish Roll. And that will be all for now."
"You know that the fish used for the roll is Catch of the Day?"
"Yes. I saw the sign. Thank You."
The server took their menus and left them.
"Duo, I am sorry," Heero whispered across the table.
Duo grinned. "I wasn't really mad at you. I just flicked you off for telling me to sip." He laughed. The laughter faded and Duo's eyes moved into the darkness between pools of candlelight. "I didn't know that you were so... concerned by what happened to me back then. You had your own problems."
"Duo, I can't stand to think about any or every time you were singled out for torment. We all had our own reasons to fight. I don't claim any of us was more innocent than another but you... Duo, you did nothing selfishly. I was following orders a significant amount of the time. I didn't really have to have reasons, because someone gave me reason. But you, you were operating independently much of the time. I know you were. And you never gave up. You fought for your Colony even when they were against you."
"They'd been manipulated. I never blamed the people themselves." He shrugged.
"I am entirely serious. I admire how... beautifully selfless and noble you were. You suffered a lot and you kept suffering so that others didn't have to. Duo... isn't that the kind of action your God wants people to take?"
Small laugh. "Yeah, Christianity's fuckin' masochistic when you stop and think about it. Denial of self, receiving punishment for other people's crimes, all that." Duo sighed, "You know I was found drifting as a child like Moses, too, but that hasn't made me believe in Yahweh any more than I really believe Jesus is my savior. If I'm rackin' up punishment for my own sins and other's, then what the Hell is there left for him to suffer for me?"
"I don't actually know how that works," Heero admitted.
"There's an answer, it has to do with there being a new covenant and original sin and stuff, but I really don't want to get into it. You might not understand anyway and I don't see why you should." Duo shrugged. He opened his mouth as if he would speak again and then he did not.
"So, the climate controls are functioning well as usual," Heero said.
Duo shook his head sadly to say Heero's attempt at small talk was pathetic. It had been. "Heero... I do appreciate what you were trying to say. Part of me is insanely happy that you understood and appreciated what I was doing. I mean, really happy. But... you telling me how good I was and how I didn't deserve the treatment I got... it kinda hurts at the same time."
"I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I totally know! But, even if you didn't mean it, it hurts, to hear that, because then I just relive a piece of it and I think that maybe it was all unjust and that I was victimized or tormented or singled out or whatever... and I can't go back and change what happened. So, if you say I didn't deserve it, it just makes me sad that I can never go back and not be beaten for no reason. It helps to think they had some excuse. That's probably messed up."
"I don't know Duo. It just makes me angry when I think about it. Especially when I found you in that cell. And... when you just let O beat you for the sake of the mission. He could have left marks for them to see without hurting you so much. I don't want anyone to ever do those things to you, Duo."
"Heero, that doesn't help me. I'm sorry. I know you mean well, but it hurts as much as it feels good. I start to feel like I could make you happy if I could go back and change it..."
"I am not angry at you. Even about O. I don't blame you for being in the situation. I blame the others for hurting you."
"Heero... please... listen."
"I just wish I could do something."
"You can." Duo looked up then, daring Heero to know what he was suggesting.
Heero had a sudden flash of knowledge. Duo had been serious before. Duo did want someone to put him in restraints and act out making him a prisoner. He did want someone to act out beatings or physical punishment. "It helps you?"
"I tried to explain how it works, but I don't think I can adequately. It just helps. Maybe it's because I get to have that small amount of control over when it happens this time. I don't have to surrender control to anyone, but I do. Maybe it's something else. It just helps me, Heero, better than you telling me how you hate what happened to me even more than I hate it."
"I want to help you," Heero said seriously.
Duo casually lifted a hand to his throat and touched the collar. "I only took this off to shower and wear my uniform shorts. And when I was in school I had the belt and wrist cuffs on."
Duo grinned. "Yeah. I told everyone I had a new special friend. I am not going to be doing this..." Duo put a finger through the single ring on the collar and gave it a tug, "with anyone else. I can promise that."
"I-I want to, but I hardly did anything yet." He hadn't taken them off except to wash and go out on assignment for Preventers?
Duo smiled. "You're like a CO that transfers in, right? You will be good in a command position, but your men don't all know it yet. You are going to quickly earn their trust as soon as you have field assignments. Soon they'll be willing to die for you, even if you would rather put your life at risk to save them. You see? Just because you haven't done it all yet doesn't mean you can't. Actually, I have a feeling you'll help me a lot. I don't know if I mentioned it, But I was pretty impressed that you'd had this in your closet a whole week based on one conversation. You told me right. You told me you were putting tokens on me. It just... worked for me."
"Well, of course, I know what you need, Duo-chan," Heero said authoritatively.
"I know what you need... Atashi no Sensei," Duo said, disregarding gender restrictions on words like a true Colonial, except, Duo's Japanese wasn't learned from living among those who spoke it but from watching movies and television in Japanese.
Duo usually sounded a slight more proper, or rather closer to Nihongo than Heero did, just because Heero lapsed into Colonial without the Doctor to pressure him to speak other dialects for the sake of a mission.
The thoughts left Heero, all of them, as he felt Duo's foot sliding up his leg. He regained some sense. The room was dim and the table cloth long enough that only their lower legs would be revealed if anyone did study the area beneath their table.
Duo made his face a mask. Heero imagined that Duo's boot was still in place where his foot had been and that anyone looking would see two pairs of feet on the floor. Even as the food was placed before them Duo's foot was rubbing the inside of Heero's right thigh. When the server left, Duo moved to the left thigh.
"How can I eat my soup with you doing that?" Heero whispered.
"Doing what?" Duo asked with full on mock innocence. He lifted a spoonful of his own soup. He wet his lips with his tongue. The lips parted. The spoon was received. The soup was silently drawn into the mouth and the spoon mouthed clean. Duo withdrew the spoon slowly from between his lips. He lay the spoon inside his bowl then, ready to start again. And all the time, he stared at Heero.
"That's how you eat your soup. Remember. You can train me to be proper and show feelings, but I still get to show you how to do the sexy stuff."
"We are both in training," Heero agreed.
They continued through a soup course, entrée and a dessert of ice cream and coffee that way. Heero thought that Duo could even make ordinary utensils seem sexy. Duo said that he thought Heero might be the only person anywhere who could make beet soup sexy.
Mainly Heero had just taken Duo's advice and always told himself that whatever was in his mouth was the best thing he had ever tasted. The food at Romeo's was excellent, but it helped that Duo's toes were in his crotch as he was eating, because actually being aroused helped Heero look as if he might be aroused and then Duo got more aroused watching him eat. The toes would curl and everything would start all over again.
Duo replaced his boot and laced it again as Heero carefully straightened his jacket and paid for their meal. They were gone then, collecting the car from the valet.
"My place... but I promise I won't keep my schoolboy up to late."
Duo made an agreeable sound.
"You have the wrist cuffs? I can work without if you don't."
"I have them in my box... but not the belt. I'm sorry I left it."
"That's OK," Heero assured Duo, "I like that you wear as many tokens as you do. I would be disappoint if you had with you none when you came to see me."
"I kept the shackles at your place," Duo said brightly.
Heero chuckled a laugh. They were hardly like shackles. Being fuzzy and blue and having bells on them. More like decorations for a kitten. "I think you should remove your shoes when you walk into my house and put those on."
They were there. Heero lived only a few blocks from the restaurant. He parked on the street and then led Duo upstairs. As they climbed the stairs Heero was wondering how specifically he might help Duo as he had promised. He had given this thought in the days they had been apart, as he had continued his own training. Heero had spent some small amount of time devising additional ways he might conceal systems of restraint or take advantage of common household fixtures so that his small apartment was not a showcase to visitors of his kinks but might at the same time be a place where Duo could be made to feel as secure and claimed and controlled as he needed.
Heero unlocked the door. He ushered Duo inside and then followed close after. Obediently Duo bent to remove his boots. Heero scanned the area quickly. He took the rectangular box Duo was carrying from his hand. It might have been intended to carry a lunch. "Stand up."
"You said..." Duo protested, as he stood.
"Changed my mind." Punctuated with a kiss, Heero thought. Duo needed him. For Duo he had to not loose himself completely, at least, not right now. But, it would have been easy to surrender himself kissing Duo. If things were different, Heero might have been able to loose himself right there. As it was, there was not total loss but something like transformation. Rather than forget who he was and what he wanted and what he feared Heero's consciousness shifted so that he was additionally aware of what Duo wanted and feared.
Duo was allowed to be lost. He was allowed to forget thought and calculation and mind and just be a body that felt and obeyed a set of directions.
Heero had been lost for so many years; he didn't need it. It was better for him to have to be in control, of himself, of his actions, even of others. Heero figured Duo could use some time away from everything he believed he was responsible for. Duo could use some time being the one that accepted all orders without question. Maybe, Heero thought, being placed in bondage would finally enable Duo to feel free. It must be like a prison in there, in side Duo Maxwell, the way he was now, as haunted as any of them by the war, with additional ghosts from childhood and fallen away from every faith he once had.
"I will help you," Heero whispered. He had found the cuffs in the box and then let all of Duo's things and the box spill across the floor. There was freedom, Duo Maxwell spilled on the floor. Heero's hands climbed Duo's arms. A cuff was buckled. Another cuff was buckled. Duo was kept pacified with deep kisses.
The single steel ring of each cuff, anchored to the metal reinforcing plate which was in turn fastened securely to the thin but sturdy layers of leather inner, interior plate and velvet covering of the cuff, was pushed over the hook of the wreath hanger Heero had placed backward on the front door of his apartment. It was likely not enough to support Duo's full weight, but the sharp curve of the hook and small clearance through which the ring must pass would keep Duo from escaping very quickly or easily.
Heero wasn't planning this should be long term restraint or that Duo should be so securely bound all at once that he did fear Heero. Heero had other systems in place, Duo just hadn't seen those yet.
"I can escape from this."
"You think?" Heero asked. He kicked at Duo's boots to force his feet apart. Heero had needed to stretch and use his fingertips to push the rings over the hook. Duo was taller, but it was his wrists that were bound, not his fingertips and with his feet apart he really was stuck for the moment. When Heero got his boots off Duo would really feel it. "If you escape, I'll have to take you where I have even more sturdy and elaborate means of restraining you. You know that."
Duo sank against the door. That was good enough for now. Heero knelt, watching Duo's legs carefully. If Duo wanted to escape, a good strategy would be to kick Heero, or else lift a foot to his shoulder to seize leverage long enough to lift his cuffs from the hook. There was no movement of his legs.
Heero drew a knife from the sheath strapped to his ankle. He carried it much often, now he was leaving his gun in storage. He was not yet able to be without any weapon at all for very long, but he was working on it. Heero studied the knife within Duo's field of vision. It was a fairly ordinary blade... for one involved in so-called black ops. "Duo...?"
"Don't." He sounded flippant. "I mean it." The fear crept in.
Heero had no intention of using the blade on Duo. Actually, what he intended might be much worse. "Duo... you wear so many lovely and eccentric outfits."
"No..." definite fear. That would get his heart racing. Duo said that was how it started.
"I don't really want to have to spoil your clothes. Honestly, looking at you in some of them pleases me very much. But this outfit makes you so hard to get to." Heero touched the blade to Duo's skirt.
"Not the skirt!" Duo gasped. He continued trying to talk his way out of the situation. "It's vintage. And it fits me so perfectly. There's a zipper in the back. You could just open the zipper and pull it down. Christ. Look, you can just move the ends out of your way!" Duo hopped awkwardly onto the ball of one foot and lifted his knee through the slit to show how accessible the lower parts of him were.
Heero hadn't really wanted to cut the skirt anyway. That was just destructive and not dramatic enough. He reached behind Duo, letting the knife touch his leg, and unzipped the skirt. Heero pulled the skirt down over the tights and then lifted Duo's feet. To help him step out of it.
Heero cut one of Duo's bootlaces just to show he could. Duo would have to make a knot and relace later. Heero removed Duo's boots and set them aside, beneath the coat rack. He took the ankle cuffs from the shelves behind the desk and buckled one on each of Duo's legs, over the striped tights. Heero had decided he liked those.
The problem had been, how to preserve the source of visual stimulation that was doing something for him and still be able to undress him. Heero thought he knew. He gazed at Duo's legs again, free of the skirt. The tights definitely stirred something between eye and mind. The overall stimulus was erotic. Long, decidedly masculine and powerfully muscular legs... in tights. Heero was going to have to make one of their dates a visit to the ballet. The fact that these had horizontal black and whites stripes did not seem to take away from the appeal, though Heero wasn't sure if the stripes added.
Heero carefully, but very quickly grabbed a fistful of nylon and stabbed the knife toward Duo's groin. The sudden stabbing motion brought a loud gasp of shock from Duo and a curse, but Heero remained focused. He drew his hand back in time to spare Duo's flesh entirely and then proceeded to cut the stripped fabric across Duo's thigh. In little time Heero had cut the nylon garment such that he left Duo wearing a thigh-high stocking on each leg and the rest of the tights were a remnant on the floor. There was a little time before Heero had to be rid of the day's pair of skimpy underwear. These were white and satiny and on Duo seemed shocking and maybe a bit naughty. Heero could look at them a little longer. Besides, he rather liked the teasing glimpse of dick through the pale fabric. Heero didn't touch the blade to that garment, instead he nuzzled his cheek against Duo's erection just for a moment, before standing.
Duo was panting breaths and trying not to and as result his respiration just seemed erratic. His eyes were wide and tracking Heero's movements. His prisoner was quite alert and aware. "I do not recall if I have ever taken a prisoner before, personally." There had been prisoners, all after the war, but Heero had not been solely responsible in apprehending them.
"Take me." Duo's lips quivered into a smile, just for a moment, expressing amusement for the twist of language.
"Where shall I take you?" Heero asked, playfully, as he toyed with the idea of slicing buttons from Duo's shirt.
Another quirk of a smile. "To fathomless depths of passion?"
"That was a good one. Duo, I think you actually read romance novels." Heero's lilting brow told Duo to answer.
"I may have looked at a few the girls around headquarters were reading. I read a lot of things."
"You are so deep," Heero teased. "Enough banter." Duo was calm now. Heero didn't want him scared, really, just uncomfortable and anxious. Duo said he trusted Heero, but he'd only had to trust he would back him up in battle and keep some secrets. He hadn't had to trust Heero to put him in restraints and cut his clothes off before. It was a lot to ask from a young man. It was much more intimate a control over an individual than any Heero had held before. He did not want to act carelessly with their souls in his hands.
Heero placed the knife blade between his teeth. He felt with his feet to be sure Duo's feet remained outside his own stance. He opened the collar of Duo's shirt then worked his hands down the front of the garment. When he reached the coat buttons he opened those too. Heero had thought on this too, on removing shirts once Duo's hands were bound. He thought he had a solution that did not involve cutting up these more expensive looking items.
Heero reached behind Duo's neck. He pulled the braid forward over Duo's shoulder and he felt to make sure the bondage collar was not caught on the clothing. Heero then lifted both shirt and frock coat by their collars and tucked them in the hook above. This made it even more difficult for Duo to work the rings off the hook and it left Duo's clothes hanging against the door above his head, though half of his arms were still hidden by sleeves
This was quite suitable. Duo only in stockings and bondage gear. Well, there was the matter of that little white bikini thing. Heero trailed the knife down Duo's chest and then over his stomach, just short of touching his skin. Duo sucked in a breath to avoid the knife and breathed shallow.
That day, when Duo had been insanely turned on by the guns, Heero had felt torn. He would not use the guns like that again. The knife might now and then replace them, until Duo didn't need its implied threat at all. One day, Heero was determined they really would be able to rid themselves of weapons. They already detested using them, and yet, they feared they would not be safe if they disarmed themselves.
A war fought for the names of martyrs who had called for disarmament and the soldiers who had fought to bring peace had found the will of unarmed citizens when united was even stronger than they were and now they may be the last who clung to their weapons, because they were too well trained to fight... alone.
Heero looked at the knife. Maybe Duo wasn't the only one who thought he needed it. Heero trembled slightly and then turned, throwing the knife toward the kitchen where it sunk into the cutting board hanging on the wall.
Knives were not bad. People made dinner with knives. But maybe Heero had been wrong when he thought he needed it to help Duo. Heero looked at Duo seriously, having another idea. "Don't move! I will be right back. I promise!"