Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero walked into Lonely Hearts, a satchel full of gear on his shoulder like a security blanket and relying on Koi to watch where they were going. The bar was immediately downstairs from the apartments of the Yemons, where Ursula and Midii also lived and Heero knew Midii would be there, because she had taken a bartending job there.
The doorman didn't appear armed but Heero was sure he was. A small bar like this wouldn't ordinarily have a doorman at all hours of the day, but it was frequented by The Family and there was more business conducted within, legitimate and illegitimate than just the sales of drinks. He let Heero pass with a very slight bow of his head.
Inside the décor was Old World, in that it was designed to reproduce the atmosphere of Earth and of Europe. There was lots of highly polished dark wood and there were many brass fixtures. Two women were behind the bar, Midii and an older woman who presently seemed to scold Midii and generally looked very stern.
There were a few others here. It was afternoon, but early for most people to go to a bar, as businesses were still in their large daytime shifts.
Heero scanned the faces and recognized only Vasili talking to another man at a small table in the back.
There was music playing, coming from hidden speakers around the interior but seemingly generated from the jukebox near the very small stage past the end of the bar. Heero directed Koi to sit near the entrance and then sat down at the bar that ran most of the length of the room along the left side. Opposite the floor rose and this gave those at the tables excellent vantage from which to watch the bar or those walking in.
Midii started toward Heero but the other woman barred Midii's approach with her arm and spoke to Heero herself. "What may I get for you, Yuy-sama?"
So, had they circulated his picture around the neighborhood, or had they all known him since childhood, even when he had not known them? "Sister, tell her," Heero said.
Midii grinned then made her face completely blank. "My brother does not prefer to use honorifics or titles, Marina, even when he does deserve them. Only close friends and immediate family may use their terms of endearment. Heero is his legal name. He will respond to it."
"May I get you a drink, Heero?" Marina asked.
"I see you are the mistress of this establishment but let us allow Midii to serve me. She knows what I like without needing to ask."
Midii made a graceful bow.
"Very well," Marina said, then moved away to serve another customer.
"So, have you heard from Duo yet?" Midii whispered.
"Vodka, straight up." There was a bottle of imported vodka in use and Midii poured from it into a glass. "Want to tell me about it?" She smiled for a second and then the blank expression was back. "Do I sound like a bartender?"
Midii pushed the glass to Heero and then leaned forward onto the bar as she glanced to her sides to see if she was needed elsewhere. "You sound better."
"I moped last night. Today I decided that is pointless. So, Duo got an assignment. That happens. I'd rather have him out there protecting national security than with me...if national security needs protecting."
"It sounded like you really believed it that time," Midii smiled. She polished the already immaculate bar with a soft cloth as Heero drank from his glass.
"Oh, I have managed to convince myself that is true. I am not a selfish person, it wasn't very difficult. It just took a little time to entirely shift my focus and plans for the weekend from staying at Duo's to working. By the way, it was fortunate you found that new account. Thank you. You have done good work, Midii."
"No problem, just a bit of persistence. I was pleased myself. A hotel and restaurant chain, it's a pretty big client and we have a understanding that if these preliminary test go well that we'll have regular periodic assignments from them, plus the discounts on lodging."
"Yes, I've been reading their public information. Discounts at the Metropol would be nice. If we don't get many more jobs I will need discounts."
Midii laughed and shook her head. "You got the money I transferred to your personal account from... Vasili." Midii lowered her voice further on the name of their associate who was still in conversation at the elevated corner table.
Heero nodded. He had been exaggerating in attempt to lighten the mood. Midii understood, he thought, but she probably felt duty-bound to say something reassuring anyway. Heero had received the first of his payments from Vasili in exchange for support and various allowances from the Lowe House. Just having Midii playing inconspicuous bodyguard to Ursula was worth something and Midii now advised her Honorable Uncle, as she called him, on various matters. And on top of that Vasili had some allowances with using the Lowe name or even "Heero Yuy."
Of course, he had control of twice the Family business that his position alone merited. The fathers were particular about splitting up their holdings fairly. Heero's claim on certain holdings, as advocated by Vasili, and Heero's permitting of Vasili to control those holdings gave his Honorable Brother quite a bit of power, which he enjoyed.
Heero was confident that Vasili would not be able to abuse the situation. Midii was securely placed within the Yemon House as his liaison, more as a spy than as any sort of collateral hostage. Midii was too able to take care of herself to be a hostage. She would keep Vasili honest.
Of course, there was Ursula. She had a great amount of influence with Vasili and Vero and with the family in general and she was associated closely in business and in friendship with Heero and Midii. Ursula was a good friend or ally and growing stronger.
Heero himself made sure Midii stayed honest. He was as friendly as he knew how to be with her. He gave her challenging work, but not too much. He reassured her with promises that one could make amends for past wrongs with future good deeds. Heero believed it. He had to.
He wasn't very concerned by the Family. Most of what they did was legal. It was just that in every way possible they gave business back to their own community and guarded said community fiercely. They were like family.
Heero drank some more vodka and then took out his mobile computer. He'd transferred some work-related files to the mobile, thought he primarily used it for personal purposes now, just because the machine was mobile. There was a job for the spaceport in Moscow upcoming and then the Sphere-wide hotel and restaurant chain wanted some discreet security tests done on random properties. It wasn't much, but every new client was potentially a reference that would enable them to gain new clients.
Heero started on accessing the non-public information on their new client.
A little while later Vero came down to the Lonely Hearts. It seemed a sadly fitting name right now. Duo had called Heero at lunch time on Friday to say he was being called out of school to go on an assignment. He hadn't had a lot of time to talk, but Duo had said enough that Heero understood it was a high priority and possibly secret mission.
Part of him worried for Duo because the mission would be dangerous, but another part of him really was glad someone as capable as Duo was out there. He might not be very good in command, but on his own or taking orders from one of the other officers Duo was supremely able. Heero supposed he should sleep well at night with people like Duo and Wufei and Sally out there.
And some part of him wanted to be with them, while another part knew he wasn't as useful to them as he once might have been. He had skills, but if it came to killing, if he saw something that remotely looked like a child, if an explosion looked a certain way or sounded a certain way...Heero would hesitate or maybe even endanger himself and others while caught up in flashbacks.
The others had bad memories too, but they dealt with their problems in their own ways. Heero supposed Duo was still able to compartmentalize his mind and shut those parts away, the way Heero once had, or else his strange rationalizations about Shinigami enabled him to disassociate from the mission just enough.
Heero could still file data away in his mind. He just couldn't make himself file certain memories. It was like certain parts of his life were in permanent cache and would not degrade or be deleted or filed away. Now they had surfaced the guilt kept them easily accessible, these memories.
"How are you doing?" Vero asked. Marina was pushing a drink at him.
"I heard that Relena is busy too."
Heero kept his face straight. For a second he wondered how. Heero had spoken to Relena long enough to find out that she was similarly engaged in suddenly important work and unable to spend time with friends. He had told Midii that Duo had called from school and he had told Midii about Relena, but Midii wouldn't tell Vero something like that.
Heero remembered that Relena had another friend and schoolmate who was known in this neighborhood. "How is Adin?"
Vero snorted a laugh and then took a drink. "Good, I suppose, I just happened into him by chance. He's better friends with Ursula."
"Aa." Vero had mistaken Heero's question as an accusation of romantic involvement. In any case, it had confirmed Heero's suspicion. Adin had probably been innocently complaining that his friends were unavailable.
"Do you think something is up?"
Vero's tone alarmed Heero slightly, but he tried not to let it show. "What do you mean?"
"Preventer agents called away from otherwise constructive activities. Vice-Minister in her office on the weekend and swearing nothing is happening. And friends tell me that earlier this week there was some terrorist activity directed at our hub."
"I have heard those things also," Heero admitted without giving an opinion.
"Can you find out?"
"No." Heero said, understanding what Vero was asking. The young man could be serious and business-like when he needed to be. "I can get in, but the Director will know, because no one else could do it and for my own peace of mind I gave them advice on how to improve security, even against people like me. If something is going on, then no one would be able to find out from Relena's offices unless they got into the offices and had opportunity to look, and she's told me she's to busy to be social, so going there would just be suspicious. I tried calling again, but since yesterday my messages have not been returned. I did hear from Hilde briefly. She sent mail to tell me that she was looking out for Duo but that leaving messages would only distract him from his work!"
Heero took a deep breath. That had hurt. It wasn't Hilde; she had only been trying to help everyone. It was just, the thought that so much as a message on a phone machine would distract Duo from the mission and that it was bad enough for another agent to call. That told Heero that Duo had been thinking of him but also that the mission was dangerous. Vero didn't know Duo or Hilde very well, so he might not understand that hidden message.
"Something's going on."
"My father told me to ask you, but I had already thought of doing so on my own. He did not tell me why, but I think that my father does not know what is going on, though he suspects something is. If he's asking me to talk to you..."
One of those face saving things, completely ruined by Vero giving Heero more information than he needed. Instead of coming to Heero and asking favors in weakness Vasili orders his son to get information. It also meant, probably, that Vasili's contacts within The Family and his business associates had not offered any more useful information.
Then, it might be said, fairly safely, that The Family was not involved. It didn't seem like organized crime, this. No, if Duo and Relena's business really was connected, it was political or military, at least para-military.
Midii understood politics very well. "Ask Midii what she knows about political factions or lobbies that would use military force to gain influence."
"In the broad sense," Heero sighed. "It's just suspicion and rumor. It could be nothing."
"If it is nothing and we're prepared then we lose nothing, if it's something and we are not prepared we could lose everything. It is best to be prepared for the worst, even if you hope for the best."
Heero supposed it was true, as much as it sounded like fortune cookie sentiment. "But if others see you prepare for the worst...they worry and panic."
"I should think people around here have more faith. Perhaps you spent too long on Earth. Colonials understand preparedness because a lack of emergency supplies and plans can mean death even after a minor accident."
"We are all equal in the Earth Sphere now," Heero said, "I know that Colonials do worry, eve if they do not panic."
"Then find out whether something is going on and we won't have to worry about what might be."
Heero glared because Vero's statement had sounded like a command. "I will forgive your tone because I know you are only concerned for our people as a good leader within society should be."
"I am sorry. I wanted you to be convinced," Vero said softly.
"Da." Heero sighed very quietly and finished his drink. "I promise this: if I happen to discover anything that should concern our people, I will share the information."
"We would appreciate that."
"I might be able to find out more if I knew what you knew."
"I will ask my father."
Vero slipped from the stool and Midii slipped into Heero's view again. "You all really think something is going on?"
"Suspect. It may be my paranoia, but I can't speak for Vero or Vasili there."
"Well, I would be cautious and suspicious if I was you, and they do look after many people. Employees that would have run to our house run to them when they are worried."
"I hadn't thought of that."
Midii replied with a nod.
"You understand politics very well... who...?" Heero realized Midii wasn't paying attention to him anymore. Her gaze was fixed on the door. Heero went quiet and tried to look toward the door as casually as he could. Trowa!
He was here, walking into the Lonely Hearts as casually as everything he did seemed to be. Heero had noticed on video that Trowa had grown as well, but he had not seen all of him or been truly face to face. He seemed about equally tall as Duo was, which was not really surprising because Trowa had always been tallest. What had been surprising was the way Duo shot up over the past few years.
He was wearing the black-trimmed blue Preventer dress jacket over civilian attire and rather than make him seem like an agent this made him appear a young man who had stolen the uniform garment, because he wore it so improperly. The shirt was still solid black and presently clinging to his gymnast type musculature. He still wore jeans, but like the newest jeans Heero owned, these were darkest indigo and slightly belled at the bottom.
It occurred to Heero then that these style of jeans must be the most fashionable now and that perhaps when Trowa had worn tapered faded denim that had also been fashionable, but he had never really thought about whether he or any of his friends had followed fashion trends back then. He knew Duo had not, although Duo now demonstrated extensive knowledge of clothing and fashion.
Something about the way the jacket hung and the heeled boots beneath the jeans made Heero think that the word 'gaucho' might be appropriate to describe this look. Trowa definitely appeared rather Western and Latin.
"Trowa," Heero said.
He was carrying a bag in his left hand but Trowa stepped up to Heero's barstool and grasped Heero's shoulder with his free hand. He kissed both of Heero's cheeks, a slight touch of hi lips to one side of his face and then the other. In a second he was distant and cool again. Trowa placed the bag on the bar and looked directly at Midii.
"I brought these for you; I know how you like them."
Midii managed to tear her eyes from Trowa to open the bag. She removed a lemon. It was large; Heero noticed as Midii lifted it to her nose. No doubt imported from earth. Staple crops were grown on the Colonies out of necessity, but fruits were not grown in space in large numbers and were small and expensive. Of course, importing organic materials independently took some effort. The human populations on the space colonies and Earth were already mixed such that they all carried the same diseases. Blights and diseases in plants and animals were not yet so blended and populations had to be segregated to prevent contamination.
But, as Heero watched, Midii glared at Trowa and he wondered if the lemons symbolized something else to Midii. And then Heero wondered what Trowa was doing there. Last he had heard Trowa had still been on Earth, as all the circus he worked with was at this time of year. Usually in the later months they toured the Colonies.
"I learned a new drink, may I show you?" Trowa asked. He moved through the door in the bar as elegantly as he moved everywhere. Midii and Marina both watched, like they wanted to protest, without protesting.
Trowa spent a few moments looking around their bar for the utensils he required. He took one of the lemons and with a knife and board sliced off several thin round slices. He dropped those in a tumbler. Next he found their sugar beneath the counter and heaped several spoonfuls atop the lemon. A plastic lemon juicer ground the sugar and lemon together in the glass and the broken fruit scented the air more strongly. He took the vodka bottle Midii had previously used and filled the cup.
Midii looked at the glass as she peeled off the rind of another lemon, circling around to create one long spiral.
"It has a name... but I don't remember it. Try it." Trowa pushed the glass toward Midii.
"Well, didn't seem to be any sleight of hand there." Midii lifted the glass and drank. "Aa, like lemonade."
Trowa shrugged. "It's pretty wicked for lemonade. But I make good lemonade too."
"Yeah, I recall you getting stuck with KP."
"That was a long time ago, getting stuck. In any case, I am self reliant. I can even cook."
"Aa, that reminds me," Midii said. Heero felt anxious as she turned her gaze on him. "Heero, I'm hearing these rumors that you make sushi."
"Really?" Most likely that was an exaggeration. Heero had probably told her himself when inebriated or half-asleep. It was a strange sort of relationship, this mutual confidence in each other.
"Is it true?"
"My Mad liked sushi and he thought I should be able to do one thing that was traditional. I am best at making oshi, though I can make other types." Maybe this line of dialogue was for Trowa's benefit.
Midii took down a new bottle of vodka and broke the seals. "Ursula would like to receive an invitation to dinner from you."
Midi smiled. "She would, but you should invite me also, since I do go everywhere with her."
"Bodyguard?" Trowa asked.
Midii tossed her hair as she turned her head to Trowa. "Ursula is my friend."
Trowa said nothing as Midii fed the long string of lemon peel into the bottle.
"Will you be colony-side long?" Midii asked, Trowa presumably, though she didn't look at him. "You should try my limonnaya in exchange for your drink but it won't be ready for at least two days."
"Or on Tuesday."
"I will try to be here."
"You mean if you don't have another assignment?" Midii scowled. "Heero, he's been sent here to get information from us."
Heero thought this was likely. Une might have ordered it half out of need or regulation and half out of her odd maternal concern for Heero; she might have wanted one of Heero's brother's watching over him. Trowa would have followed orders from her. Trowa's rank in Preventer Defense Force was Major, even though most of the time he'd only been working part-time. Heero thought the actual arrangement was that Trowa worked at the circus, just as he had during the war, and if any small skirmish or trouble spot came up within a short flight Trowa would go take care of it, so long as he was back by showtime. And, Trowa had always been Une's favorite. This Une too, though, they were not related.
Heero made a purposeful sigh. "I do not care if the Director has assigned Trowa to be my keeper. I am flattered by the attention she gives me and pleased to see my friend again." Calculated, but true. Heero added a smile for Trowa.
"Actual display of emotion other than a slip up of self-loathing or frustration?" Trowa teased, "looks good on you."
"Kind of space cowboy," Midii said. Her tone said insult.
"Did you cut off your hair before or after it showed beneath a wig once and blew your cover?" Trowa asked coolly.
Midii picked up the nearest utensil, which was the knife and waved it toward Trowa. "You aren't one to talk about hair!"
"There ya go, there's the real you," Trowa laughed, "Not like that sweet innocent flirty act."
Midii made a wordless noise and stabbed the knife down through Trowa's fingers and into the bar top.
"I wouldn't hurt a friend of Heero's... I wouldn't hurt my friends anymore."
They were interrupted by Marina's frantic shouting. Heero wasn't sure if Trowa's Russian was entirely fluent, but anyone could have gotten the massage. Marina was not happy about the knife in her immaculate highly-polished wooden bar. She was making nonsense in her anger, saying that mahogany didn't grow on trees and how much it would cost to replace the bar. The Lonely Hearts wasn't a cheap spaceport bar and she would not allow fights. Whatsmore, Marina continued, though she was protective of people of all genders that worked under her, she could not condone them attacking customers.
Suddenly Marina's sweetness returned and she was leaning across her wounded bar and smiling at Trowa. She was paying him a compliment by continuing in Russian, whether Trowa knew it or not. "Do you want the girl fired, Officer?" Marina asked, "You understand we want no trouble. You can have your drinks for free."
"He was poorly raised and doesn't speak any language perfectly... well... maybe English," Midii said.
"You know Midii?" Marina asked Trowa.
"To my great fortune."
Heero rolled his eyes. "Marina, let me know how much it costs to repair or replace the bar. I will need Midii to leave with me now and I will take our friend here with us. Please excuse her."
"Da, da... of course... Heero."
Heero gave a nod. He put his gear into his satchel. He turned to find Vero and saw Vero's attention was already on him. Heero signaled that they would go upstairs and Vero returned a slight nod.
At the door Heero pat his leg and Koi got up from the window shelf and came to Heero's side.
"Did Quatre give you a dog also?"
"Did he give you one?"
"He offered when he was moving. Catherine took some for him. He seemed to have received some ridiculous number of them from a rich friend who thought he should start a kennel and Quatre was trying hard to find homes for the greater part of them."
Heero decided to return one honest answer with another. "Duo gave Koi to me, but Quatre gave it to him. Duo was not able to work well with the canine."
Trowa laughed as they came to the sidewalk. Midii was still inside speaking to Marina but was on her way out, so Heero waited. "Does Duo really work well with anyone?"
"Yes," Heero insisted.
"Well, he's better on his own."
Heero slit his eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Well, doesn't he try to get missions where he's on his own? He's no good in command but he doesn't take orders from just anyone. I mean, you were OK with leaving him behind."
True. In a way that was all true. Heero almost revealed too much. Instead he said, "Maybe he just doesn't get along with you, Trowa."
Trowa looked to the door where Midi was exiting the bar. "Well, I learned to be self-reliant out of necessity, but I also learned to be a soldier, and that means I can follow orders when I have confidence in the ability of a commander and I can give orders if I have to but I don't see the point on taking a weak soldier along. Not that this is what makes me proud or happy." Trowa bent and offered Koi his hand. "Very few humans are so pure as animals."
That statement seemed separate from what Trowa had been saying before, until Heero supposed Trowa might mean that there was this 'purity' in himself or Quatre. Trowa didn't trust very many people. Heero could understand that. He had his own paranoia and distrust to deal with.
"Well, let's go upstairs. Ursula is at work, so we can get our own work done."
It was difficult to work with them, though Heero worked with either very well. After minutes Heero took refuge in the kitchen and then announced that he would go out to get a few things to make dinner so that they could eat late, when Ursula got home.
He left Koi with them, amused with chasing Nanashi around the apartment. Trowa had expressed genuine horror when he heard Midii call that name. Heero thought he had become attached to 'Trowa' as much as he was to being called Heero.
Heero took his time in picking up supplies from his apartment and from shops. At home he took some time to contact Midii from his home computer to check that both she and Trowa were still alive. "I will leave you two to kill each other or whatever you have to do to make peace," Heero had told them.
They were alive and agreed to working together, even though Trowa refused to admit he was assigned to watch Heero or that he knew anything about the work the Preventers were doing.
Heero returned a few hours later and then kept mainly to the kitchen. They had made peace, but it was a tentative sort of peace, like Pax Romana with Heero as the Caesar. They both wanted to please him at the moment.
Trowa refused to give them any information that could only come from the Preventers, but he agreed to contact his personal informants, of which, apparently he had many from all parts of the sphere. None people he had served with personally in any war, because they were usually dead or Preventers now, but people who had known him when he was a soldier or whom he had met while traveling with the circus.
Midii as well had contacts. Mostly in Europe and the more northerly parts of Asia, but some net contacts were placed all over the world.
Of course Heero had contacts, he guarded them well and Midii did not know of many of them. Mainly these were entities that may or may not be single human beings, but which might possibly be AI of some level or several people behind one identity. Mainly they had never met face-to-face but could supply needed computer gear, or just about anything at all to a mailing address or dead drop. Their expertise was not directly related to politics or the military, but since they dealt in information, it could possibly be.
Heero had the sort of contacts that supplied spacecraft or weaponry, even today, but he'd since allowed Midii and even Lady Une know many of these, of course, informing the contacts of that transfer of information. Just giving out names and numbers without permissions would be like narcing and Heero didn't really want to do that. He tried to be as fair and polite as he could manage.
Later Ursula came home, still wearing her customized furisode and having her hair and makeup done. Her usual slightly above blank expression left as she expressed surprise at finding Heero and Trowa in her apartment. Midii took Ursula away into the bedroom to talk and later Ursula came out with her in more casual clothing.
She greeted Trowa politely and then thanked Heero for preparing dinner, saying that she had brought home some pastries from work that they might eat as dessert and offering to make tea.
"You make or serve tea at work, you must be sick of it," Midii said, "Let me."
Ursula agreed with a nod and then knelt on the floor near their table where Trowa was working with a small digital pad a headset vidphone and some paper. Midii went to the kitchen to make the tea while Heero finished preparing dinner. She let Heero know, without really saying so, that Ursula was to ply Trowa for information, in her own very feminine and polite manner. Heero knew that he always felt comfortable with Ursula. She was trained to put people at ease and it never seemed contrived when she did it.
Heero wondered how Trowa would react. Trowa was not very trusting and didn't seem naturally prone to being impressed by geisha or women in general.
They sat around the low table enjoying a later dinner. Ursula complimented Midii on her service. Midii had brought out glass teacups in metal holders rather than any small stoneware or china Ursula was most prone to use in her Japanese services. The tea was loose and brewed in an enameled silver pot through a silver tea ball that would keep most of the leaves out of the cups. Midii balanced a sugar cube over each cup on a wire holder and poured the hot tea over these, melting the sugar into the cup as it filled. This caused Trowa to ask Midii if she had ever served absinthe. She did not answer in any words, but her smile said maybe she had.
Heero had made a quantity of oshi. Ursula complimented Heero on how even and level each square looked on its tray. Heero politely thanked her and insisted they were imperfect. He had not made any sushi in a long time, though he had been a master of making oshi at fourteen and quite knowledgeable about other forms, such as nigiri or maki. He had even made inarizushi before.
In addition Heero had presented a few hand made pairs of nigiri, these made with smoked salmon, and a few sushi rolls.
Dr. J had said that the chef did not eat with those he made food for, but since they were at home and Midii was drinking tea Heero thought it was entirely acceptable he eat dinner. It was annoying that some part of his training had caused him to hesitate so long.
Heero even let Koi eat some of the rice. If the entire assemblage of sushi was imperfect, Heero knew the rice itself was flawless. Midii was allowing Nanshi to eat some of the fish, but not the salmon. She did seem to like that smoked sliced stuff as much as Duo did.
Heero wondered what Duo was doing. He said so aloud.
"I honestly don't know," Trowa said, "He left before I arrived. But, I heard that you are his boyfriend."
Somehow that topic had been avoided with Trowa until now. "Yes," Heero agreed simply.
"Had Quatre been called in as well?" Midii asked.
"What do you know about Quatre?" Trowa demanded.
"Oh, just what everyone knows. He is famous," Midii said, almost smugly, "I've seen him on video. He's really good looking. Isn't that right Heero?"
"Well, I think we agreed that he is entirely well-proportioned, fit and mature. My opinion is rather biased against him since I am rather helplessly drawn to Duo."
"I don't think it is funny."
"It is when I picture it."
"Don't you think Quatre has grown to be very attractive, Trowa?" Midii asked.
Trowa huffed, slightly. "I learned not to judge people on appearances."
It was time to change the subject. "So, do we think there is a threat?" Heero asked.
"I think we know there is," Midii said.
"The Preventers will take care of it," Ursula said sensibly. "They have personnel from all former nations and organizations and the best information systems and resources. We can trust them."
"I trust them," Heero said, "But..."
"Our guilt and paranoia doesn't let us sit back and trust others to keep us safe," Midii said. It surprised Heero she could be so candid. "I know that I feel I have to keep trying to watch my back and watch out for my friends."
"Wouldn't it be better for us to focus on the things the Preventers can not?" Ursula asked quietly.
"Such as?" Heero asked.
"They have the resources to do the sort of research you are doing. You all seem to have underground informants, but don't you think that some Preventer agents, being formerly what they are, have the same sources? I know that The Family likes to support local security and emergency forces as well as the Preventers, as much as they can, mainly because it serves their own interests, but also, because communication might save the lives of many people. What the Preventers can't do is rally the public or prepare them for attacks or go door to door counting emergency suits and first aid kits. To do so would cause more panic than good, even here."
"Emergency suits?" Midii asked.
"It is my fault for not making you drill yet, Midii," Ursula said. "All colonial buildings have exits to the levels below the street as well as to street level. In an emergency everyone is to go to the lower levels and get in suits and await news."
"But... if there was one of these death holes? Don't they usually come from the outside?" Midii wondered aloud, "then, why go into the levels which are closer to the outer surface of the colony structure?"
"Not all threats to safety are collisions from outside," Heero said, "Having everyone in the outer layers and in suits makes evacuation to shuttles and emergency pods easier. If gravity is lost or air or heat, the smaller spaces are easier to seal off and supply with air or heat while the large interior may be uninhabitable. Besides, if there is a collision, it's going to cause devastation anyway. Lives may be lost, but only in one section. The other sections will be safe."
"And we have many emergency automated sealing systems, rigid curtains that seal off parts of the interior city and the guns that shoot sealing foam toward the breach," Ursula added. "Don't they have emergency drills and procedures on earth? I recall in Japan, at school, we had fire and earthquake drills."
"Yes," Trowa said, "During the war some places had air raid drills."
"We could go to the churches," Heero said.
"Don't many people go to a church in their community? WE could go to the leaders of the churches and tell them we suspected possible danger and they would know some appropriate and comforting way to warn people or make them aware without causing panic."
"That is a good idea," Midii said.
"I think Father David could help."
"Who?" Midii asked.
"He works at Duo's school, but I met him... he seems like he wasn't always a priest... or maybe he was a... chaplain? Isn't that what you call a sort of priest that is also in the military or associated with a security force."
"Catholic?" Trowa asked.
"Infamous through history for intelligence work. The church, historically you understand, has done a lot of harboring refugees and forging documents and generally collecting information. I've heard about Duo's past, the way he swears no one at that church really harbored rebels or were rebels...but it would not be unreasonable for the Alliance to suspect a priest or a nun of such work."
"Not that I think it a good thing they resorted to such brute force and massacred civilians...but...in war...sometimes you have to suspect civilians. A six year old can carry a machine gun or a bomb inside a teddy bear."
"A child could be an intelligence operative. A little girl especially could be taken in and sheltered if found, but be working for the enemy. To some it seems sneaky and dishonorable, but to others, it seems very honorable and intelligent to send or allow children or nuns against the enemy."
"I'll go make up a list of churches operating in the colonies and where the superiors of each are located," Midii said. She picked up Nanashi and went into the bedroom.
"You upset her."
"It wasn't personal. It was business. She needed money and she found it in dealing information. She didn't force your hand. You let her into the camp, you failed to realize what she was doing."
Trowa hissed at Heero. "Shut up!"
"I... didn't mean it."
"You did. It was my fault and she let me live." He had to survive knowing he had unwittingly allowed an enemy to gain an advantage over him.
"You are not the only one who was every betrayed or responsible for allies dying!" Heero said firmly, "Don't you dare regret that you survived now! Do what the rest of us do! Do everything you can to make up for it in the future. Do anything to make sure others do not have to go through what you did."
"Perhaps you could compose a message for us to distribute to churches and community organizations so that I can ask my Father to have his people distribute."
"I will type something."
"Then I will do my part for society and clean up the table."
"Thank you, Ursula. I did not mean to disrupt your...home."
"Aa, I learned a phrase on Earth, 'Mi casa es su casa,' When you are here, act as if this was your home also."
Heero replied with a nod.
"Lo siento," Trowa whispered, "I am sorry."
Ursula picked up his nearly full tea cup. She smiled. "Do you drink coffee, Trowa?"
Ursula studied Trowa with a steady gaze for several seconds. "Mocha?"
"I know how to make coffee also. Would you like a mocha, Trowa?"
"It is no trouble. I will make us all some coffee drinks. It looks like we will be up working the phones."
They were up that night making calls, warning community leaders in a secret and anonymous way that now would be a good time to remind their flocks as it were to make those monthly checks of their emergency plans and equipment and to preach about vigilance and fortitude and that fragile peace was worth protecting.
Heero collected al the other data they had amassed, from their own secret informants and forwarded it to Director Une, on the off chance that she would need any of it or use it. He sent it anonymously, but Une would know. She knew the way Heero wrote.
And the next day, Sunday, there was a sense of relief. Heero didn't feel paranoid or anxious. He got up from Midii's bed, which he had shared with Trowa and walked into the common room. Ursula was there with Midii and Vero and breakfast was made and when Trowa joined them he was not too moody and cynical as the night before.
Trowa made some calls in private, it seemed he had called in to Headquarters. Afterward he let Heero know that he was free, though it seemed implausible that Trowa would have left his sister and the circus just to take a vacation. Heero was sure Une had ordered him there.
In any case, Heero offered to entertain Trowa.
He took leave of his family and collected Koi and then escorted Trowa to his apartment. It felt very normal, Heero thought. Once they had spent a lot of time together and always been professional and almost friendly and this was not very different. Heero worked on his Lowe Security cases while he let Trowa shower. Trowa made a sort of stir fry dish for lunch.
"So, it's really true you are with Duo?"
Duo was away on a mission and Heero was in his apartment but he knew what Trowa meant. "We are attempting to be a couple," Heero explained, "I think it is understandable that our pasts have created some difficulties."
"Right." A pause. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"That you could be attracted to men," Trowa said quietly. He almost always did speak quietly.
"I honestly didn't know I could be attracted to anyone."
"I thought maybe Relena. Or Sally. I thought Sally sometimes, honestly."
"Sally." That seemed so ridiculous to Heero. "Not Sally. I could see people thinking it was Relena I suppose. I am attracted to her in a way. I want her to be in my life. It's just not..."
"Sexual." Heero cleared his throat. "I am trying to be with Duo because I realized I do feel that way about him."
"Oh, it's sex?" Trowa asked. He seemed disappointed but it was hard to tell if Trowa felt any emotion.
"I am in love with him."
"Are you...? I mean, does it make you very uncomfortable to talk about it? You did ask."
Trowa made a slight nod. "I just wanted to know, since you say you didn't know yourself, if that means you never thought about me that way?"
Heero blinked slowly. "No. Did you want me to?"
"No! I didn't mean that..."
"Oh." Heero did not actually understand. "You didn't want me to?"
"I am learning that sometimes it helps to talk about this stuff, you just have to decided if you trust me as a confidant."
"When I heard that you and Duo were together I was not sure what to think. I was afraid that you had always known and chose not to tell me. I think I would feel uncomfortable if I thought all that time you could have been attracted to me and I didn't know. It would disturb me that I couldn't tell. I don't think I want anyone to think about me in that way."
"Oh. Well, if you didn't know for sure, why did you sleep in the same bed as me last night."
"I don't think I would have liked to sleep alone in Midii's bed, besides, I didn't really sleep."
"Aa." Now Heero was confused. "Do you want to feel that way about anyone else? Do you want to have a lover?"
"I used to feel... asexual. I was very surprised to be so attracted to Duo. I honestly never felt like that toward anyone else. I wasn't sure I was normal or if I could be." Heero laughed. He wondered why he still trusted Trowa to be his confidant. "I guess I am glad I did end up here. I like the sex."
Trowa laughed. Heero liked when Trowa laughed like that.
"So... you haven't felt really attracted to anyone? How do you know you are homosexual."
"I know. And I had a lover once." Trowa scowled, "It was probably mental to do it so young or to be fixated on him, but you can only be on point so many nights in a row before you find some way to deal with the pressure or you snap."
Heero knew then who Trowa meant. "Duo said he did it young. I don't know what that is like, because Duo has been my only lover."
"What about Quatre?"
No response. That was telling in itself.
"You realize that if I can see it then it must be really obvious to the more normally socialized people."
Trowa shook his head. "I would have guessed that of everyone you would understand best. I thought maybe you felt toward Relena the way I feel about Quatre. He's so..."
Heero knew. Quatre had been idealized. "Maybe, but lately Relena and I both realized we should not have idealized each other. That is exactly what we hate when others do it to us and it was just cruel of us to do it to each other when we should have been uniquely able to understand each other's position. The world does not see our flaws. It feels like an insult when they don't remember all the mistakes I made, like it was all even more pointless than I feared because now no one can learn from those mistakes."
"We are all special. I have felt things, Trowa...and I'm not innocent."
"I feel like I should protect him, even from myself."
"He's strong. He can protect himself. You can too."
"I feel like I would make him dirty."
Heero laughed. "You're feeling a lot tonight, huh? You ever think that Quatre might want to be dirty?"
Trowa laughed. "I have a few feelings left in me it just takes a lot to bring them out."
"Then you must love Quatre."
"Oh, I knew that," Trowa said seriously, "I just wasn't sure I wanted him to ever have sex with me."
"You ever watch anime, Trowa?" Heero asked.
"Aren't cartoons for children?"
"That seems to be a common misconception. There's this series Midii and Duo got me interested in. Maybe we could go rent the discs. Or, I could show you the fan fiction Midii is constantly forwarding to me. She found a new batch and sent it while you were in the shower."
"That grin on your face is really disturbing, you know?"
"Well, I hated it at first when everyone did this to me, but I see why they did it now."