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

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 22

Heero looked at his reflection in the mirror over his dresser as he heard the buzz from the front door. Duo had said, "Casual, but dressy. Downtown, ya know. Sexy is good, so long as the clothes are not too revealing or shocking." Heero wasn't sure if he had done well enough. Duo had also said he should be ready right when Duo arrived, because the activity Duo had planned could only be done during specific hours. Duo had not said what they were doing.

It was Duo. Who else would impatiently buzz again like that? Well, children, but Heero didn't think it was children. He wore a plain white dress shirt and a pair of over-dyed indigo jeans. He hadn't put his shoes on yet.

Heero walked to the door then, petting Koi's head as the dog came to him from the chair he had been resting in. Heero saw it was Duo and opened the door.

"'Bout time."

Heero shrugged. He really looked at Duo then, and saw more than the familiar joking expression. This outfit Duo wore, it looked almost like something he had worn years ago, though Heero knew the garments were all more recent by their fit. Still a black motorcycle jacket and pants with a red shirt, but...

"Hey, eye contact is usually considered polite. You know where my eyes are, don't you?"

Heero smirked and did not lift his eyes. He touched a knuckle to Duo's crotch. "These real leather?"

"Yeah, many bovines died to bring us these pants."

Heero smiled.

"So, do I get to come in? You look like you need some help getting ready?"

"I don't look...suitable? If you told me our plans, perhaps I would know what garments would be acceptable."

"Well..." Duo started as he walked into the apartment and then continued to ramble, "I want to surprise you with something without getting you so excited that it's a let down when you see it. I think you'll like it, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I have a few other things planned, in a general way. It's all fairly low-key...but I have this idea in my head of how we should look for the first event."

"All right," Heero said slowly, not really understanding. He closed the front door and then returned to his bedroom. Duo had removed his jacket to drop it on the bed and Heero saw his shirt clearly now. Red, but very different. It only had one sleeve.

Duo looked good. Better than good. His shirt was a silky, thin synthetic and clinging and draping to the shape of his torso in a most attractive way. The right arm had a very short sleeve hugging the curve of his shoulder. The left arm was covered in a long sleeve that tapered and conformed perfectly to Duo's slender limb, right down to his surprisingly thin wrist. As well there was a flap of fabric hanging from the wide neckline that accentuated the asymmetry...like the tailor had meant to add a collar and stopped part way.

"It's pretty kewl, huh? House of Cheong-Leen." Heero supposed Duo meant a fashion design house. "I picked you up something too. You want to wear it? I laughed so hard when I saw it."

"Well, I do not think I want to wear anything that will make people laugh."

"Trust me, on you, it's not really funny." Duo picked up his jacket and reached inside and brought out a wad of green fabric. He shook it out and Heero saw it was a tank top.

He had worn a green tank many times before. At one time it had been his favorite shirt. But then Heero had found that particular shirt grew too snug for his liking and he had not bought another exactly like it. In a way, wearing that shirt made him look too Heero Yuy, in that there were so many pictures published in which he appeared in that shirt.

This one, it had some kind of ribbons hanging where a left sleeve might have been attached.

"Take your shirt off and I'll help you put this on," Duo said.

Hesitantly, Heero removed the two layers of shirts he had been wearing. He took the shirt and pulled it on over his head. Except for the pointless ribbons the shirt felt soft against his skin and fit him very well. It had a way of draping everywhere without actually feeling loose, but such was the nature of modern micro-fiber synthetics. Designers could make fabric behave pretty much however they wished.

Duo began winding the ribbons around Heero's arm, as if binding a wound. When the 'bandage' about his upper arm was fixed, Duo arranged the ribbons again, then began making another sort of 'bandage' on Heero's forearm.

Heero turned toward the mirror and moved his left arm. He still had free range of movement. It did look interesting. Impractical, the amount of time involved in dressing or undressing. Heero looked at his reflection in general and then looked at Duo beside him. "We look like we are wearing costumes of ourselves."

"Right," Duo agreed happily. "It looks good on you. That's Cheong-Leen as well. I think you inspired it, ne?"


Duo grinned. "you need some shoes." He went to Heero's closet and opened it as Heero looked in the mirror. Green tank, jeans, he did look surreally like himself. It looked like, he wanted to have people on the street think that he was trying to look like Heero Yuy. Heero wondered if he tried to look just like himself if people would think he wasn't. When he just looked like himself without trying, sometimes people recognized him, but it took a while. They never expected it to be him.

"Do you think it means something that the shirts have one sleeve?" Heero asked.

"What would it mean?" Duo asked. It was a question, so he wasn't lying, even though his tone told Heero Duo knew exactly what he was referring to.

"Sake is a fashion designer and she told me that in the Colonies it does mean something if a man wears a garment with one sleeve, or one sleeve made shorter than the other."

"What did she say it meant?"

"Sake says it means the man is homosexual."

Duo stood up, hands behind his back and turned to face Heero. "Ah, and who is your date?"


"So...it doesn't matter what your shirt looks like. You are still with me."

"It just seems strange. I don't think of myself as homosexual."

"Yeah, yeah, but you don't think of yourself as het or bi, either."


Duo brought his hands from behind his back and displayed Heero's pair of souvenir geta. They were read wood with dark green corded thongs. "Wear these for me!" Duo pleaded.

"I don't wear them."

"They're the right size. They look like they're good quality, durable I mean. Don't you like them?"

"Geta? With jeans?"

"C'mon, Fashionplate! It'll look real slick. They're boot cut."

"Only if I can find my socks," Heero said. He sighed. There was no chance the black tabi were missing. There was just the one pair, but he hardly wore them.

Several minutes later they were on a train between the Capitol and the hub of Side Four. Duo had let Heero know that they were headed there and confessed that the event he was taking Heero to was an opening of a show at an art gallery. Now Duo and Koi looked uneasy with the fact that Duo was holding Koi's leash as Heero walked back and forth within the car.

The trains were somewhat crowded going between colonies of the cluster at this time of day and week. Not so much as a Friday night, but there was a mix of late inter-colony commuters and people going out for the night. The ride between colonies was not so smooth as a ride within a colony. The process involved individuals cars sometimes disengaging from the train and re-engaging again many times over as they passed through colonies and connecting corridors of the cluster.

"I have always worn shoes that bend."

"Get over it," Duo sighed, "They're nice shoes and you look really good walking in them. You must have genetic memory or something. Geta are basically like other wooden-soled shoes, clogs or chopines or whatever. You get used to it."

Heero took the seat next to Duo then. He felt a little uncomfortable in these clothes. He liked this pair of jeans very much, but he thought the outfit might altogether seem, well, feminine.

Heero looked at Duo's clothes again. On Duo he liked the asymmetrical designer clothing very much. He definitely appreciated the snug leather jeans. Duo didn't look like a girl.

"I don't want to look femme."

"Please, Heero! You couldn't be femme. Bishy, maybe, but that isn't necessarily the same thing. Look how cut you are..." Duo trailed off and then he chewed at his lower lip as he was looking. "Mmmn, you look good, Wasabi."

Heero laughed softly at that.

Colony Z10299 was one of the older Colonies. The colony where Duo had grown up was older and the colony that Wufei had grown up in, but which was no longer inexistence, had been older. There were possibly a few colonies in the clusters about L4 that were as old or older. And, there had at one time been older colonies here, at L1, but they had failed or since been demolished and replaced by new construction around this hub.

The people who lived here were predominantly Japanese. They were in many cases the ancestors of those who had built the Capitol, Z00001, and so it was not uncommon that residents of the Japanese Quarter spoke of visiting cousins or grandparents in the cluster's hub.

It was densely urban, like a section of Tokyo set within a huge clockwork device in the heavens. They spoke English as much as all Colonials did, but they spoke their Colonial dialect of Japanese just as well or often. Even before the Capitol had been constructed, during the time of Colonial unification and their declarations of independence this colony had existed, and so, Z10299 had once been property of Nihon.

It was that old. Older than the redrawing of territorial borders and of nations on Earth. Older than the revolutions. Not the first colony, but one of them.

The people in Nihon had not accepted the loss of this colony as their property, not for a long time. No nations on Earth had enjoyed the loss of their colonies. It had been a source of conflict for many years and all during the war. It was a big city, full of Japanese Colonials that had learned to hate Earth and Nihon and were learning to be at peace with them again. They supported their representatives and the Earth Sphere. They loved peace. But thy were still suspicious and distrusting of visitors from Earth, to a greater extent than Heero had witnessed in his home colony.

Within Z00001, the residents had been exposed daily to politics and so they had a great understanding of politics, even as they became jaded to its processes. They were accustomed to visitors and a population that shifted in make up as the sessions of their delegates began and ended. They were, by nature, some of the most tolerant of Colonials, because they had grown up, even during war, with such a succession of authorities and governments and neighbors. They learned to accept new things and change.

People in the hub were not by any means bigoted or overly discriminating, but they were more guarded and standoffish.

But, everyone liked Duo. From the moment they got off the train Duo was chatting to strangers in his peculiar Japanese and they knew at once he was American and Colonial, even if his accent attempted to mimic those in Nihon. People smiled for Duo!

They were curious about Heero, enough that they didn't express friendliness right away. Heero understood. There was still that element of suspicion. It was not there without reason, these people had survived a recent war and a long cold war with those in Nihon. When Heero had been in Nihon, the people there had watched him, trying to decide if he was Colonial, or trying to decide if he was Heero Yuy, or trying to decide if he would be one of the minority of militants that would attack them still, just for being either Colonial or Nihonjin.

He didn't blame them, but he was glad he lived in the Capitol. He rather liked that one could be Japanese as well as any other ethnic group and be accepted so easily there.

Here, the vast majority was just Japanese. The only thing different between 'Japanese' and 'Nihonjin' these days was that Japanese lived in space and that each had their own dialect and accent.

Heero supposed it really had little to do with them being Japanese. He was sure if Duo was suddenly transported to New York City he would have a similar uneasy feeling that people were suspicious of him and he would not immediately be accepted, at least not by everyone.

It was more that Heero was Japanese and he was here. Part of him had the innate ability to spot Japanese features in other faces and when he was here or in Nihon, he saw the range of individuals but he saw a great sameness at the same time. The people he saw had the same ability. When they looked at him, they wondered. He stood out and they did not yet know him personally and so they had to wonder if he was friendly, if he might have stronger ties to those who had been their enemies.

Heero felt all this, but he had been somewhat prepared to feel this. He had known they were coming here. So, he really tried not to dwell on his personal issues too long. Densely packed with buildings and people as this colony was, it was beautiful and there were so very many things to see.

There was light everywhere. They had strings of tiny lights strung in long lines along the skyglasses here, when the mirrors were closed for night. It made it seem like the sky had stars as well as city and when you walked over a bridge, it was like crossing a glowing river of starlight. Lanterns. They had so many lanterns. Paper was one of the local industries. They were expert at making papers from recycled materials and colony grown fibers. Many of the textiles and woven products, such as floor mats used in Heero's home colony, were made here.

Most often the corners at every intersection were taken up by some kind of theatre or megastore, but elsewhere the streets were lined with many small shops. It was like any other large city at night, but unique.

The food smells were distracting Koi, as well as other pets on the street. Small breeds of dogs were popular in the Colonies now, as well as cats and some types of pigs and ferrets. For a Colonial dog Koi was already large and he was not full grown. As Hilde had pointed out large animals were not allowed as pets on all Colonies.

Duo pulled a card from his pocket. It was printed with holographic image and text. "I think it's just a few more blocks," Duo said. He walked at Heero's side, sometimes with an arm over his shoulder, sometimes just barely touching his arm...always close at hand.

When Heero took his eyes from the scenery he always found Duo looking at him. He liked it. He liked just being with Duo. He even liked being quiet and letting Duo talk to people, just so he could hear Duo speak his funny Japanese.

Duo had been cold to him the other night. He had been so hard to talk to sometimes...he was often frustrating. Heero still loved him. He just couldn't help it. He wasn't going to be a 'door mat' and let anyone take too much advantage of his attraction or kindness, but Heero understood that sometimes he was just going to have to forgive Duo.

All they had seen and done had simply left them...abnormal. Duo was going to do things that were stupid and irrational now and then. He'd probably regret them later. He had regretted how he treated Heero the other night.

They had only shared a few kisses since then. Heero had been hoping they could have sex again. It had been really enjoyable. It seemed like they were getting better at being partners with each other. Heero knew a lot more about Duo's body than he had before, and about his own. Duo had planned for them to attend events in public.

Heero slipped his hand from Duo's belt loop into the back pocket of his leather pants. He really looked good in those pants. "So, what are we doing after the gallery opening?"

"Well, I have to pick up a book for school and I thought I'd buy you something to eat."

"Nothing else?" Heero asked. He cupped his hand inside Duo's pocket so that he squeezed Duo's butt. It was so funny when he jumped.

"Well you said I could plan this one and this is what I want to try. You did agree."

"I did."

"There it is, across the street!" Duo pointed.

Heero glanced at the lights. The traffic was against them and they would have to wait to cross. "You like it here? Maybe we could get a hotel room. I've never done that before."

"Never stayed in a hotel?" Duo asked, too innocently.

"Procured a hotel room for the express purpose of fucking you in it."

"Shit, don't do this to me!"


Duo sighed. "You said I could plan...so I decided I was going to test myself and be really sweet and romantic and not try to have sex with you at all...and here you are asking me..."

"Then we should wait."

"I want it so bad!" Duo paused as the lights changed and he ran after Heero when he crossed the street. "Did you just say we should wait?" Duo called out as he caught Heero at the curb.

"Yes. Even though when it was my day to plan the date you seduced me, that doesn't mean I should do that to you. We can do it tomorrow."

"Duo so confused..." Heero did not know why Duo was speaking in the third person, but it was funny to watch. "So...you're totally serious? Tomorrow...?"

"I will fuck you," Heero said seriously.

"Oh, say it again," Duo pleaded.

"I will fuck you?"

"Say you'll fuck me into the next week, say that!"

Heero smiled darkly and grabbed the waistband of Duo's pants to pull him close. "Tomorrow I will fuck you right into the next week."

"You mean it?"

"Yeah, you're mine. But, let's go, Duo-chan, we are causing a scene."

"I so want you right now."

Heero smirked. He turned then shrugged. "Try thinking about baseball," he said as he walked into the building before them.

A directory inside listed several galleries. Duo came into the lobby and leaned over Heero's shoulder to point out the gallery on the fourth and fifth floors. They took the stairs. At the fourth floor they found the door open and a sign, with the same design as Duo's card, only in larger size, announced the show.

Apparently the artist had taken the single name Shizen. Heero thought that it was not uncommon these days or in the Colonies for artists and entertainers to take new names. Ursula was only Ursula. Sake was only Sake.

"Is Shizen male or female?" Heero asked. He thought it sounded somehow male, but it was more a word than a name. Well, many names were just words, in many languages that was true, but some words just sounded better when transitioning to a personal name.

"You do not recognize the name?" Duo asked.

"Should I?" Heero whispered as they walked into the gallery. Heero had not been in an art gallery before that he could remember. It was very quiet, except for the hushed voices of those who had already arrived standing in pairs or groups, looking toward the walls. These walls were all white and hung with flat screen monitors. Pads were hanging beside each work. "It's all CG?"

"Not all," Duo whispered. Here, you can be on the galleries list or the artist's if you want to receive future information. He gestured toward the desk then bowed politely to the young woman seated behind the desk.

Since Duo had encouraged him Heero filled out the electronic forms to receive mailings. The woman there thanked him and then Heero left the desk.

Many people here wore black suits but others were extravagantly dressed in bright designer clothing, as Heero was for that matter. "Have you been to a show like this before?" Heero asked.

"A few."

"I thought shows like this were just for rich people."

Duo laughed softly as he took Heero's arm to lead him to view the art. "Some openings are by invitation only. Others like this are more open, but one has to be in a position to receive announcements in order to know when the show is. Most people wouldn't know where to look. I haven't been to this particular gallery before, but I know this artist...well, not personally."

Heero saw that each CG work on the monitors was accompanied by a digital pad displaying the amount of time involved in each project, the hardware and software used and the price and number of prints available.

The screen they were near showed a young man with purple hair draped artfully with some fabric. It looked like an anime-like style of work, but of the sort with delicate lines and detailed shading and color separation.

"So we can buy the art?" Heero asked.

"Well, I wasn't planning on it. I think going to the gallery is fun in itself. But I suppose we could. If you see something you like and you have the money, then you just go to the desk and ask if it is available. It's fairly common that some have already been reserved by preferred customers or friends of the artist, even though the show just officially opened."

Heero saw there was another room. Actually, the gallery was all one room with various wall-like room dividers providing additional space to hang art. "There are larger paintings in there, it looks like."

"Yeah, in a while. I like this stuff too."

They moved along the wall as some other visitors moved away. After that one they looked at another piece of art. All subjects seemed to be boys or young men who were very pretty, and though none were naked, they were often draped in very little cloth if not in ornate costume. Some were single figures. Some had more detailed backgrounds. Some works showed groups of men or couples.

They were pretty. They seemed to have every color and style of hair. Duo liked them all very much. When he wasn't looking at Heero he was gazing at the artwork saying how he liked a line or that a boy was so pretty or that they had pretty eyes.

Heero thought all anime characters had pretty eyes, if not just large.

Duo laughed at one. "Look, that's Akairo as Little Red Riding Hood."

Heero looked. There was a boy, naked, on a bed made up in red velvet and a large wolf was sleeping in the bed with him, its body hiding the boy's nakedness somewhat and in the boy's brown eyes was a reflection of fire. "Eh?"

"You don't see it? I know you know who he is."

"Isn't he someone else's character?"

"Shizen used to work for a Colonial anime studio and she designed all the characters for Gonin Team as well as some other shows. But now she does other sorts of work. I don't think she can legally use Akairo, but that's so obviously him...without the silly uniform."

Heero tipped his head. It did look like Akairo. "The eyebrows are different."

"Yeah, that's her style now. Sometimes they fly off the side of the head, the way she draws them. I like it. It sort of makes them look like faerie."

"What is Red Riding Hood?"

"Are you kidding?"

"Should I know that?"

"Don't you know any faerietales?"

"I don't even know very many video games or anime. I did not have time for recreation as a child."

"Then, what did you read?"

"Technical manuals."

"Figures. Well, I could go on about the symbolism of Little Red Riding Hood all night, but the main points that tell me that it is relevant to this work are the fire, the red fabric and the wolf...and look there on the wall, it's a shadow cast by the picnic basket."

"Well, why would Akairo be this Little Red Riding Hood?" Heero asked.

"Because, he wore red...and he growls a lot."

"He growls."

Duo sighed, "I forget that you just accidentally discovered the show."

"I thought you did not watch it, only Hilde."

"No. I watch it. I watch more anime then I have time to. I just have issues with some of the fans who don't seem to appreciate the series accept as a source for cute characters...but they are all insanely cute, so I can't totally blame them."

"So, he growled?"

"Yeah, all the time. It was downright lupine of him. I think he actually bared his teeth and growled at enemies, and that stare...that's why certain people feel the need to write fan fiction in which he is a werewolf or like creature. Clearly Shizen knows what's happened to her character. That's why this piece is so funny."

"It's really very beautiful," Heero said, "I like the fire in his eyes. It's...intense."

Duo leaned slightly toward the pad. "We could buy a print. If they have any left. It says they will issue only 100 prints of this one. All will be hand signed. 'Red' she calls it." He laughed again. Akairo did basically mean red.

Heero looked to the desk. No visitors were there now. Heero walked toward the desk. The girl there greeted him. "I want to purchase a print of one the CG piece titled 'Red' if any are still available."

She tapped at a computer. "Yes, you may still order one. The prints themselves will be signed and mailed out beginning next week."

"Yes, that is acceptable."

"Please fill out this payment and shipping form."

Heero filled out the form, swiping his card to make payment. That was it then, he would have another piece of art for his apartment...unless he gave it to Duo. Duo had liked it also, though it made him laugh.

Heero returned to Duo, finding him looking at yet another CG work of art. Shortly they were finished with the art in that section and moved around one of the walls to look at some larger water color paintings. These were equally beautiful, but of course different in that they were created with translucent layers of paint.

There was a Chinese boy in a cherry grove, boys laying on grass, several angels and many more ethereal male figures.

Heero overheard some people talking and the words began to filter through. He wouldn't have paid attention if they were only speaking about the art, he would have just politely tuned them out, but he heard a few words that made him listen. They were saying that they had heard that the shuttle that had been reported as out of control had really been hijacked and had nearly hit their colony.

"The Preventers don't want to panic the public. They would tell us if we really needed to know. It doesn't matter. We are already prepared for emergencies."

"Okasan was in the basement making sure all the building had emergency space suits available."

"Well, it never hurts to be prepared. Don't worry. It's unlikely they will hit this colony now after they have tried without success."

"But, if it was hijacked, don't you wonder who it was?"

"A waste of time. There is always someone who does not love peace enough to keep from acting on their most violent urges. There will always be extremists. Who knows what it is now. Eco-terrorists? A few last militant Nihonjin? We can only be prepared."

"Aa, I know, but it would be a shame to loose any of this. Look, this boy is just gorgeous."

"Duo..." Heero whispered.



"I am not ruining my date talking about it."


"It's under investigation. You don't have to worry."

Heero sighed softly. Sometimes he did regret that he did not work more for the Preventers, but then, he didn't know how Duo did it. It seemed like it would be so much like the old days that he would go insane. Working on his own was better. Or, it would be if they got more work.

What if it had not been a singular incident and more attacks were to come?

Duo was already moving onto another painting.

The subject seemed a young man in bed as viewed from above. He was curled on his side in sleep and his long brown hair fell across the empty side of the bed behind him in stylized waves and curls. The clothes on the boy and the bed were as stylized and were ornate. There was a piece of yellow cloth that did not seem to fit; Heero's eyes kept returning to the yellow trapezoid at the center and the coiled locks of hair that fell over it.

"Oh!" Heero cried out, a little louder than he meant to.

"You see something in this?" Heero was asked. It was not Duo that spoke, but he had observed other visitors mingling by sharing opinions on the art.

"It is the Emperor's sleeve!" Heero whispered.

"I thought you didn't know any faerietales."

Heero turned to regard Duo. He was standing with his weight on one leg and his jacket was held over one shoulder. Heero noticed then, more clearly, the girl standing between them, though a little bit behind. He glanced at her for a moment before speaking to Duo. "Do you know that story also?"

Duo gave a nod and then he turned to the girl and spoke to her completely in American, "Hi. Duo Maxwell. I'm a fan of your work; Heero is too, he has your pillow book."

Pillow book? Heero did not recognize the phrase immediately.

This girl behind them, this young woman, she was the artist called Shizen. She made a slight bow. "And does it gather dust on a shelf or table?"

A book of her work...?

"Heero decorates the pages with his sticky notes."

"Sticky?" Shizen asked.

Duo grasped her shoulder as if to keep himself from falling over and laughed hard.

It then occurred to Heero what book they were discussing. "But, you are female!" Heero said.

"I have studied male anatomy at length," Shizen said.

Duo was still laughing.

Heero growled disapproval. "Shizen-san, would I be correct in thinking that several of your works here are inspired by legends or faerietales? I was wondering if many of your works draw symbolism from these myths and children's tales."

"Aa, those types of stories are rich in symbolism and often suggest scenes to me. Yes, it does often happen that way."

"I do not know many tales, or I think I would recognize more. That is the Emperor's sleeve?"

"Yes. It is even Emperor's Yellow."

Heero gave a nod. He thought he had learned that somewhere in history. Many Emperors in China had worn yellow as the Caesars had worn purple.

"I like your shirt, Heero-san."

"Doesn't like honorifics," Duo said helpfully, through a forced cough.

Shizen pretended to ignore Duo.

"It is House of Cheong-Leen," Heero explained simply.

"Yes. Their designers still have a way of...creating their men's clothing with an appearance that is fanciful yet powerful. It is the ballet inspiration. You have the perfect build for their garments."

"Thank you."

"I think Heero bought a print of Red," Duo said.

"If I had dreamed that you would appreciate that character I would have given you any piece featuring him as a gift."

"It is not just the character," Heero said truthfully, "I just liked that one. I like his eyes."

"I wanted him to have blue eyes, but so many characters already had light eyes."

"I like them. They have a color like red tea," Heero said, "Not that blue eyes are at all unattractive," he added with a glance to Duo's face, "I just think that brown eyes of that sort look really well on those who are Japanese." Shizen seemed to have eyes nearly that brown and Heero had met others who did. In dreams, certainly.

Bathing servants and temple priests in his dreams had sometimes felt like Duo, but they had never looked just like him. Their eyes were gray or red-brown and rarely as round in appearance.

Heero thought he wanted to kiss Duo right there and then. Actually, he wanted to start by kissing him and then press him up against a wall and strip off his clothes and whisper the images from his dream to Duo's ear. He wanted Duo to say, "I am so turned on when you describe your dream, Heero."

They were in public and at a gallery show. Climbing Duo like a vine would not be appropriate. Maybe if they were in public and in a very particular sort of night club it would have been acceptable, but not here. Unless they might think it performance art...?

Heero smirked at the thought.

He took a step to his side and slipped his strangely sleeved arm about Duo's waist. Duo's bare arm settled on his shoulders and that created a good deal of skin-to-skin contact. Heero rather enjoyed the slight warmth of Duo's arm weighing on his body. Duo's fingers caressed his shoulder or toyed with the strap of the tank, as if threatening to undress Heero there.

"I didn't know you had a dog," Shizen said.

"It's Heero's dog."

"Duo gave him to me. His name is Koi."

"He is a handsome animal. I haven't drawn many dogs...some horses, dragons and wolves."


"You said you ordered a print?"

"Yes, he did," Duo answered for Heero.

"Well, it was nice meeting you both. I should talk to the other guests. Thank you for your interest, Heero."

"It was nothing. You are a very good artist, and it was Duo's idea to visit the gallery."

Shizen bowed to Duo then. "Thank you," she said. She bowed again to Heero and then left them to mingle.

Duo suggested they leave the gallery soon after. "Did you know, before?" Duo asked when they were on the street.

"Know what?"

"That Akairo was you, I mean, maybe not to the writers but to Shizen."

Heero sucked in a breath. He had not known until Duo said it. "Hn."

"I always suspected, but I had no way of knowing for sure, until now."

"She didn't actually say..." Heero began. He didn't need to finish. Duo knew. Shizen hadn't said it plainly, but she had hinted. "But they are all rather like us," Heero said as he realized this.

"Right. That's what I meant. It wasn't just you, but that she even hinted pretty much confirms all my suspicions. It's kinda like those porn movies...just enough differences that it's not libel."

"You know about those?"

"Yeah...we all do. There was an investigation," Duo said seriously.

"Did you watch them?"


"I saw them. I bought them because I also had legal concerns, but then I watched them again," Heero admitted, "I found them because..." Heero decided it would be impolite in the least to destroy Gibson's reputation any more. Heero was convinced Duo wasn't seeing him. "So, where are we going?"

Duo smiled. It was obvious they were heading back toward Z00001, but Duo hadn't said if there was another event or outing planned. Heero hoped they could stay together a little longer. Duo did have school the next day, but that hadn't stopped him from sleeping at Heero's apartment Tuesday night.

"Let's get off here," Duo grinned, "I gotta pick up a book for school."

Their date time was to be taken up with Duo's errands? Heero wasn't sure he liked that, but he chose not to complain yet. He walked just behind Duo as they exited the train, aware that this was a station within the German Quarter of the Capitol.

It took only a moment after Duo, Koi and Heero were on the street for Heero to add the clues together and understand where they were going. They were going to the Sex House so that Duo could find a book for his extra credit project. Heero was fairly sure that a general book store could have sold any book Duo would need, but he didn't argue going to this store.

It was as Heero remembered it, bright and well-organized and decorated with assurances of quality and discretion. It was crowded now, perhaps many people stopped here to buy things for dates on the next evening, Friday.

Duo practically skipped his way to the book department. There was a phrase for this. Child in a toy store? No. Kid in a candy store. Duo was like a kid in a candy store. Heero smirked at the thought.

Heero stood with Duo at the counter's terminal looking over books and comparing them to a small printed list Duo had taken from a pocket. Many authors were passed up, as Duo slowly read descriptions of works. Nin, DeSade...

"Hmmn, well, that's different, I think I've heard of him...seems it might be a challenge to write about this kind of erotic fascination."

Heero thought that if one understood the roots of 'fascination' then adding erotic was redundant, but he only replied, "Hn." Duo was looking at a book titled Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. "I read that book."

"You're kidding me, you read this?"

"No. Yes, I did. It was when I was in a school. I left the school, but by then I was curious to know what would become of Charlotte and about that period of American culture so I finished reading the book."

"Was it good?"

"Yes. I mean, I think it is well written. Nabokov was a learned man. He wrote in at least three languages. You know, English was not his first language, and yet, he wrote Lolita in English and I believe he even won awards for it."

"Hey, guess I should read it. You could help me with my homework then," Duo grinned.

"I read your sample of erotic literature when I got home today," Heero said. He had been surprised Duo had not asked him about it.

"What did you think?" Duo asked and he did not seem able to hide his self-consciousness entirely.

"Father David is correct; you do write well. At first, I thought you had not written it, because your writing 'voice' sounds so unlike your speaking voice."

"Yeah, it's slangy, huh? When I talk?"

"Very. And you completely change the ordering of phrases."

"And, what about the content?"

Duo's letter to him had been beautiful and poetic as previously suggested and in it Duo had explained everything he had been feeling and had not been able to express before. The message, stripped of its beautiful styling, had been rather simple. Duo loved Heero. To contemplate being owned or controlled by Heero made him excited even as it made Duo feel safe. Duo wanted Heero to know that he thought Heero was a very skilled and attentive sort of lover.

"I felt very good when I read it. It was very reassuring to know that you could enjoy what we did so much. I understand it might be difficult to express sometimes."

Duo asked to have the book on a disc and then returned to Heero. "So, tomorrow night will be really good." His fingers toyed with the hem of Heero's shirt as he said it. "You want to come home with me after school?"

Heero smiled. "OK."

"I don't have any elaborate restraint system at my place, but you're creative."

"Aa..." Heero bowed his head for a moment and then looked up at Duo, attempting a steady gaze. "Would you feel OK if the first time we did it you were not in restraints at all? I..."

"Yeah," Duo broke in. He repeated then with more enthusiasm, "Yeah! Of course. That's totally kewl with me. I guess I can understand how it would be better for you that way. Right?"

Heero gave a nod, smiling with total relief. "I know the fantasy you had," Heero said. In his letter Duo had explained that when Heero had first secured him against the door with his hands bound he had envisioned a sort of fantasy which he was once again a prisoner of OZ and in that cell, injured from beatings, but this time, he had his hands bound overhead in that cell. The door had opened and it had been Heero. This time, in the fantasy, Heero didn't point a gun at Duo at all. Instead he crept forward and kissed Duo, and then went down and sucked Duo off, and then fucked him...and Duo said that he wanted Heero to do it. When Heero walked into the cell all his claustrophobia and fear of imprisonment left him.

It had been slightly disturbing to read that part, because in the same poetic language Duo would include being fucked dry and feeling bliss in one sentence or he described how it felt when Heero's strong hands moved over his bruised and broken body. And, in Duo's fantasy, when he approached climax, he had cried that he wanted to die, claiming that it was not because he was hurting, but because he felt so perfectly good that the moment should be somehow preserved in his death. He should choose such a perfect moment to end his life.

But, as much as it had Duo's morbid slant, Heero understood his meaning. It was simply that it was Heero in the cell with him and that Heero used pleasure instead of pain, that difference was important to Duo. He would do anything for Heero.

It was really frightening how much power Heero had over him, should he really choose to use it. Frightening for Heero to think that if someone else had used pleasure Duo might have broken...but it had sounded like Duo was saying that it had been very relevant that it was Heero, in his letter.

"Duo, I understand now how it helps you. It doesn't matter why or if it is right, it just helps you. I want to make you feel good, but, I would feel very good if I could see you were completely willing to have me...that you can choose freely...me."

Duo gave a nod.

"I know that you go into the restraints willingly, but it would help me to see you let me take you without them. You might not feel as safe...but I want you to risk that for me."

"Yes!" Duo's eyes were rolling and his lids falling low from just thinking about the next evening. "Aw. Baby, you know the gear does something for me, but I'd always feel safe if it was you. I don't have any problem with it, Heero."

"I am a fast learner. After I get some experience, I'm sure we can try it very many different ways. If you're good, I'll let you go through the pillow book and choose your position."



"So you want to shop for a while?"

"All right."

"Hilde says good boyfriends or girlfriends go with their partner to buy dams or condoms or whatever. Did you know that?" Duo grinned, "Not that I want to question my sensei, but that is what I heard."

"I was not sure of the etiquette, but I believe Hilde is correct. People who are a couple would make their purchases together rather than negotiate whose supplies to use each time." Heero smiled. "Are you sure you are ready for that, Duo-chan?"

"Well, am I? You are supposed to be training me to be your boyfriend."

Heero smirked. "Yes. Let's go." Heero snatched the end of Duo's braid and pulled him toward the prophylactics department.

After looking at the various displays and being entertained by the novelty products that glowed in the dark or had racing stripes they finally settled on a product they were both interested in. Among the skin, latex and plain polyurethane was a minority of layered polyester film and polyurethane condoms. Duo said they were good, that he had used them as a product tester before they had been on the market. Heero asked if they were so good why Duo did not use them all the time.

"Well, they're still more expensive, I'd spoil myself so that I didn't want to use the other kinds and...I feel better not letting myself feel that close with...dumbfucks."

"Spoil yourself? They are really that good? I read that they were very thin and comfortable but I didn't buy any because they have not been tested as long."

"You think I rate a foil? I definitely think you rate one." Heero decided Duo meant 'foil' in the way that latex condoms were 'rubbers,' because the film layer must have a foil-like appearance, or at least had at some point. Mylar was a particular type of polyester film and it was often produced with a metallic appearance. Similar film had been given magnetic coating and used in magnetic storage media.

The image of wrapping lengths of 'tape' about one's erection amused Heero. "They don't look too funny?"

Duo laughed and explained that part of the cost was in diversity of the product line. The condoms were opaque rather than translucent and usually sold in various skin tones as well as the usual sizes and types of lubrication. As well, the original styles had a foil appearance and clear polyurethane layer, while the newer style had a matte slightly textured layer covered by rosy polyurethane. Duo selected one of the new style in 'Palest Rose' and 'regular' size. "I like this kind for me. You could wear it too, only you'd look a bit more pale than your usual...florid coloring." Duo smiled at his choice of words. Heero did think 'florid' sounded like a romance novel word.

Heero looked over the display closely and then selected a few of the foil type and double that of those marketed as 'new Rose Petal colors and textures.' "Do they market these to women, Duo? They sound like make-up shades. 'Bloodflower,' 'Tokyo Rose,' you don't think it's kind of wrong to call it that?"

Duo lifted an arm to scratch his head. "Uh, maybe. But...uh...I am the sort of guy who buys lipstick and nail polish. Maybe they thought women who bought condoms for their men to wear would prefer this look and the names to the foil. I kinda like how they look and feel anyway."

Heero shook his head sadly, but he selected a number of the condoms to purchase, since Duo had demonstrated his preference for them.

They left Sex House and walked back to the train station. They could have walked it, but the train was easier. Duo said he would see Heero home and then get back on the train to go to his room at Headquarters.

They got off the train at a station about a block from Heero's building. There was a lot of commuter traffic at all times of day between this neighborhood and the English Quarter and several yatai were open on the street, immediately around the station entrance. Plastic tarps or sheets of somewhat more attractive fabric enclosed their tiny kitchens and more decorative curtains gave those dining at their counters privacy. Flat screens or glowing signs on the outside advertised each or gave menus, though it was pretty much a given that they all sold noodles here, even if they tried to distinguish themselves by selling other foods.

"So, I guess dinner is in order along with the entertainment and bonding activities this evening, ne?" Duo asked.

Heero replied with a nod and allowed Duo to lead him to one of the mobile food stalls outside the train station. Heero sat down on a stool at one end of the counter; Duo sat down beside him and then pulled the curtain closed over their half of the counter. Their cook had the appearance of being both African and Asian, but Heero already knew that was not unusual for this neighborhood or for the Colonies in general. Otherwise, the yatai appeared just like others he had seen in Japan, well, except for the funnel cakes.

This menu included various bowls of ramen, sake and funnel cakes. Heero had noticed in passing that other yatai in this neighborhood sold cornbread or apple tarts or even french fries. Heero rather suddenly felt he would like some fries with salt and vinegar. Duo would have probably suggested ketchup.

As Duo chatted with their cook and ordered for them both Heero thought that he was enjoying this date. There had been no sex. It was very low budget. He still would do it all over again if given the choice. The art show had been entertaining and though he had decided to buy some art, the entertainment of looking at the pictures and having Duo to discuss them with had all been free. Bonding was a good word for the shopping they had done; they had pooled money to purchase something they both would use together in the future. This was an acceptable dinner.

It was difficult to go wrong with ramen, Heero thought. Duo had ordered for Heero a bowl that was flavored with shrimp and seaweed and Heero thought it smelled very good. The sake was top shelf as they said; Heero knew that this brand was brewed in the old way from rice with the hull scrubbed away, and had no alcohol added after brewing. If it was made carefully in this way one did not get hangovers after drinking it. After his terrible vodka hangover, not so many weeks ago, Heero was glad of that. When Ursula had served them sake it had been this same kind.

The funnel cake was just fried extruded dough sprinkled with sugar and not a cake at all. It tasted something like a donut, but then, some brands of donut were very caky and not like dough or bread. It was crispy and bready and sweet and had the greasiness that fried foods did. Heero thought that foods this greasy were good, in moderation. He just didn't think he could eat them every day. It occurred to him that the same dough could make a perfectly good dumpling if steamed or boiled.

Duo really liked the funnel cake. They way his eyes looked, wide, then rolling, then slit, it almost looked like he was experiencing orgasm. Every once in a while Heero did crave potato chips or some other fried junk food, but that was mostly because he had been told previously he could not have these things and he wanted to prove that he could have them. It was different for Duo. He really liked the taste...everything about the treat. He seemed to like the mixture of oil and sugar that stuck to his fingers and he even licked at his fingers.

There was an erotic quality to it, but then there was an element of distaste. Heero could see licking food from fingers at home, honestly. He just couldn't see it being done in public. Granted this yatai had provided packets of PMTs on the counter so customers could cleanse hands before eating or after...

After a while the erotic quality won Heero over. He didn't even mind that Duo was feeding Koi funnel cake and that it would likely make him sick. Heero wondered what it would be like if he could serve Duo some other food that people chose to eat with fingers and not hashi or fork or spoon. Not just pretzels or chips or pocky that left the fingers without much of a trace. Fried chicken, barbequed spare ribs, corn on the cob...those left a sort of film on the fingers, which was often licked.

Heero sighed and washed his hands with a PMT. There was a sort of erotic quality to it, but there was a sort of messy quality too. As good as it seemed to picture Duo eating from his fingers, or Heero's fingers, it seemed more erotic to use appropriate utensils.

It might be an amusing sort of torment to bind Duo's hands and feed him tiny pieces of food piece by piece.

It might be interesting to reserve a set of chopsticks solely for teasing Duo's body.

"What's that look for?"

Heero realized his amusement showed. He was careless around Duo now. "Just thinking of you."

"Guess I better get you home before I end up going home with you." Duo left a tip for the vender and opened the curtain. Heero slipped down after him and tightened his grasp on Koi's leash.

"It will be tomorrow soon," Heero pointed out.

Duo shook his head. "We said we'd wait, so we'll wait. It kinda feels good I think, I mean, in that way that I know it's different with us. Does that make sense? That I can wait and feel good about it in a way?"

"Anticipation is exciting," Heero said as he scanned the street.

"Yeah...but with someone else...even though I wouldn't force...I might push...and it would be OK because I wouldn't consider how they would feel the next day."

Heero understood, but he didn't like to hear about these other people. "Aa."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have...I just meant...you know?"

Heero gave a nod.

"It kinda feels good waiting for you and it really feels good knowing you'd do it for me, even when you want something very much. But...don't worry, it's pretty rare I'd want to make you wait, it's just now."

"I understood entirely," Heero said, "It was just a statement of the obvious. It will be tomorrow soon. I know exactly how many minutes and hours until you get out of school."

"Maybe we should part here. I can see your building up the street now."

"Very well. I will see you after school then."

"Totally!" Duo said with a smile.

Heero scanned the street again. There was no one nearby. He didn't want to make a very public display of affection, but he thought a kiss might go entirely unnoticed. Heero stepped in close to Duo; Duo got the idea and bowed to let Heero kiss him.

Heero watched Duo walk back toward the station and then he turned and headed home.

on to chapter 23

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