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

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 26

Heero put the tray of bagels and spreads on their table and then sat down. He pointed out the lox to Duo, who quickly blew a kiss to Heero with one hand as he was reaching for a sesame bagel with the other. Heero suggested to Quatre and Dorothy that they share from the tray.

Trowa sat down on his chair, gracefully balancing a coffee mug and tea cup with saucer, both full of steaming hot beverages in his hands. The saucer floated to Quatre's place at the table. The mug switched hands and then was placed on the table near the previously used mug. Trowa did have a certain amount of elegance, as if his hands should have always served tea or played music and never held a gun.

Dorothy was in the middle of relating to Duo what the rest of the Squadron had been doing and had begun complaining about her new assignment. It was apparent Sally had called up files and requested any agents who were known to speak Spanish. Heero saw a sort of logic in that and knew that Sally must be very stressed, as the highest-ranked Preventer on site and currently responsible for the coordination of all the work on going in processing, recovery and investigation after the collision.

Heero listened, but he was looking at Trowa's coffee mugs. He knew there was something... and then he realized that it was that Quatre had chosen the seat to Trowa's left and that the handles of Trowa's mugs were turned in that same direction. Heero recalled Trowa to be at least ambidextrous. For certain Heavyarms weighty left arm and the way Trowa had his controls balanced had required that Trowa have a strong left arm and quick, accurate movement of the fingers of his left hand on the buttons of the control stick.

Was that coincidence? The Gundam had not originally been designed for Trowa. Interesting that Trowa did seem to be left-handed.

Unfortunate if he and Quatre lifted their cups at the same time. There was the potential for elbows clashing and hot liquid spilled in laps. That would be unpleasant.

"...Doesn't seem to realize my family is Hispanic and not Latino," Dorothy said and Heero raised his eyes to notice the haughty sidelong glance toward Trowa. Heero occupied himself with arranging small mounds of spreads for dipping around his plate and slicing his sesame bagel into many small wedges.

Trowa cursed Dorothy in Spanish, Heero was reasonably sure that was what he did. Then Duo said a whole string of words in Spanish and Heero caught enough to get the gist of what he said: that Duo did not want Quatre to have to point out that they shouldn't be fighting, it was especially distasteful in light of current events.

"What is that 'Nuevoyorkeño?'" Trowa chuckled.

Duo flicked Trowa off.

Dorothy rolled eyes.

"What kind of bagel is this?" Quatre asked quietly. A calculated attempt at making peace, Heero noted.

"Chocolate chip?" Duo offered.

"Chocolate chip... bagel?"

"Try it, it's good."

"You like them?"

Duo shrugged. He was chewing. He mumbled and lifted his own sesame bagel with cream cheese and lox.

"He means that he prefers classic types of bagels, but people in Los Angeles or Tokyo probably think chocolate chips in a bagel very trendy, like octopus on pizza," Heero explained, mostly telling the truth. He picked up a thin wedge of bagel and dipped it in hummus then placed it in his mouth.

Duo nodded.

"Share one with me," Trowa said.


Trowa folded his right leg over his left, twisting in his chair as he did to face Quatre. That way he faced him and as he drank his arm did not interrupt Quatre's space. "You were worried about wasting the food if you did not like it. You can share with me. I don't often eat breakfast, so if you do like it, you can have as much as you want."

Quatre smiled. He lifted a chocolate chip bagel and broke it in halves. He offered one to Trowa, who took it in his right hand.

"I am sure Sally is very stressed or she would have considered your background, Dorothy. We must all do what we can," Quatre said reasonably.

"I am determined to do my assigned work of course; I was just saying I did not understand the reasoning behind the transfer. Hilde and Danjel got assigned to Wufei's team."

"I think I know how you must feel," Trowa said very quietly. Heero thought that everyone looked at Trowa then. "When I arrived on Tuesday I did want to do whatever I could to help, but I had preconceptions about how I would be asked to help. When Sally told me my assignment I felt that it was a 'desk job' and somehow not as important. Also, I felt I did not have enough in common with these people to be able to relate to them. But, I learned soon that I was mistaken. They are all real people that are scared and sad. It doesn't matter if you only speak three words of Spanish or if you speak none at all. What Sally really needs and what these people need is kindness. They need people who are kind enough to understand their pain and to listen to them tell what they know in whatever words come to them. Perhaps Sally does understand that you and Quatre don't speak the same dialects of Spanish. Maybe Sally believes that you are a kind person."

Quatre laughed. His smile was greater than the small laugh that escaped. Heero was sure Quatre was very happy about something.

"So we are back to kindness?" Dorothy said, maybe to Quatre or to herself.

Quatre tipped his head to her in agreement and continued smiling brightly. The slightly darker blonde hair that grew on his face still looked new and unusual to Heero. A few years ago Quatre would have appeared to be the youngest of them. Now he looked like he could be older than 18, though youthful.

"Eh?" Trowa asked softly.

Heero understood then, somehow. He looked to Quatre to be sure. "He saves up all his words for very inspirational speeches?"


Trowa shrugged.

"Heero's speeches are usually scary," Duo announced.

Heero lifted a brow to question that statement. Sometimes he said disturbing things; that much was true. It was not on purpose.

"I like scary, though," Duo laughed.

"Trowa believes one should not speak unless they have something good to say, unless..." Quatre turned to Dorothy, "You bring up a subject, which he is sensitive about. If you make reference to an orphan's ancestry, it is not entirely kind. I think there are times when a sort of fighting is acceptable. We should defend ourselves."

Dorothy thought and then shrugged one shoulder. "I do not think it is wild speculation. Some things are public knowledge. Trowa does look as if he could be Latino. His current permanent residence on file is in Rio. Latin does refer to the Spanish and Portuguese influenced regions and people of the Americas. And his S's and C's are dirty."

Trowa then claimed that he did not care what Dorothy thought he was, but he thought it offensive in general that people still used phrases like 'Dirty Portuguese' to describe a dialect and similarly disrespectful phrases to describe groups of people.

They were saved from further disagreement by former Quasi-Tokusa Mimai. He wheeled up in his motorized chair and waved his pad in Heero's direction. Heero gave him a salute, thinking it more playful than mocking. "I am likely on that list," Heero said.

Mimai was scanning the other faces.

"These two have assignments to join us over at the Ramada," Trowa explained, so he knew this man too.

"I know my job," Duo announced, raising his hand.

"Yuy. You started working before we were able to make regular shifts so you have some options today, in order to help transition all the workers to equal shifts."

Heero gave a nod and waited.

"We are running three eight hour shifts starting at 8, 4 and Midnight. There is room that you can choose a shift. Some people are still volunteering for double shifts but it is not required or recommended. You can leave now and meet the shift in progress and then come in at 4 or Midnight. Or, you can wait until 4 and work until Midnight. I don't recommend working 4 until eight, as my data says you already gave us over 24 hours."

Heero glanced at Duo, tried to read his wishes. He returned his attention to Mimai again. "I will go out shortly and come in at Midnight."

Mimai pressed some keys. "And tomorrow, unless Colonel Po transfers you, would you go out at 8 or at 4?"

"Eight, unless you badly need people on second shift."

"Second shift is the most full. We could use you in the morning."

"Then it makes good sense I be on first shift. Let me know if third looks week. After today I could try 12 to 4."

"No, no, We should have everyone smoothly transitioned by then. The one shift a day, out there, it is enough. You will report to Kelly. Do you know who that is?" Mimai referred to his pad. "M. Kelly, local firefighters, Deputy Chief."

"Aa, his brother died yesterday," Heero said quietly, remembering that he had met the aforementioned man.

"I heard," Mimai said solemnly, "And I wish to express condolences to all of you on the loss of Gibson. Ugly business."

"Thanks, Mimai, let me know if you need any help," Duo said.

"Aa, you give yourself a chance to heal, Maxwell, before we are putting you on the waitlist for wet prosthetics."

Duo laughed. "I know I am lucky to be alive. Don't worry, Heero's got my back. Don't think I could permanently scar this body on his watch. Right Heero?"

"Aa, correct. I have his back," Heero said awkwardly.

Mimai winked and then did a three point turn, heading away from their table.

"Midnight?" Duo asked.

"Midnight," Heero confirmed.

Duo grinned. "You can bet I'll be answering that call to prayer," Duo said.

"Pardon?" Quatre said.

"I think Duo is talking about a different sort of prayer?" Trowa guessed.

Duo started singing. "Life is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone. I hear you call my name and it feels like home..."

Trowa laughed and then he did something Heero really did not expect. He joined in. This was strange: Duo and Trowa singing together. "When you call my name it's like a little prayer. I'm down on my knees, I want to take you there. In the midnight hour, I can feel your power. Just like a prayer, you know I'll take you there."

It seemed like Trowa let Duo solo the next verse and Duo sang as he did a funny little dance in his seat. "I hear your voice it's like an angel sighing. I have no choice, I hear your voice, feels like flying. I close my eyes. Oh God, I think I'm falling out of the sky, I close my eyes. Heaven help me!"

Quatre looked confused. Heero wasn't so confused as surprised Trowa sang at all, much less well. Maybe they should cast him in a Movie-Show.

"What's that Gospel?" Quatre asked Duo, before Duo could answer Quatre turned to Trowa, "You sing too?"

Trowa shrugged. He was actually smiling and looking at Duo. "Never would have guessed."

"Well, you know me," Duo said and darted a hand to Heero's chest to tug at the tank he wore to expose the rosary beads still hanging there. "Never would have guessed about you," Duo said back at Trowa as Heero straightened his shirt and felt uncertain whether he wanted Duo tugging at his clothing in public.


"That we... know the same song," Duo explained to Quatre.

"So, Duo, this special service is the same you had planned for Friday then?" Trowa asked slyly.

Duo punched Heero in the arm. "You told Trowa?"

"Itai, you know I have an old wound there!" Heero said, almost loudly, pretending to actually be hurt. Duo had shot him in that arm, twice. "I tell everyone. You know everyone knows." For a pet Duo was being awfully domineering in public.

Duo crossed his arms at his chest. "It's different if you tell Trowa. He'll find a way to use it against me."

"I was just going to ask you to keep the noise down out of respect for other people's beliefs."

"Ha. What you need is to call on God more often, Trowa!" Duo accused.


"You know you want to feel his power penetrating you to the most inner part of your being. It's really so deeply spiritual and uplifting. You ought to try it. You know you want to call his name."

Trowa somehow managed to draw more hair in front of his face and said nothing.

"I don't understand," Quatre said.

"Sex, Quatre," Dorothy said bitterly, "Heero and Duo have been lovers and they're using a pathetically transparent code to arrange to have sex with each other tonight while we are all here."

"Oh." A long moment of silence. "Well I knew they were... but why would you be asking Trowa if he wants to have sex with Heero?"

No one dared reply.

"Though," Quatre continued, "there does seem to be a lot of it going on. It is understandable, people feeling such strong emotions right now and feeling stressed and wanting assurances that they are still among the living or that there is more to feel than pain. Mostly it is casual."

"I didn't think it could just be me," Heero said.

Quatre laughed.

"That noticed," Heero said flatly. "I noticed many people seemed to be coupling off."

"It is not just you," Quatre assured Heero.

Duo cleared his throat. "I never said 'Heero.'"

Trowa was draped over the table with his head in his arms and shaking, but he was only laughing. Heero had an idea he knew why Trowa was laughing. He was trying to picture Duo, Heero and himself involved in some sort of threesome as it were.

"Bang Boy?" Duo called.

Trowa laughed more.

Duo sighed.

"Trowa was just thinking of this character in a movie that reminds him of you, Duo..."

"Yeah, funny? This time I'm off trying to save the world and you two are locked up in a room together... watching porn and sleeping with each other."

"Sí, pero, no 'banged' uno a otro, así que todo bueno!" Trowa laughed, raising his head to regard Duo with his one visible eye. If Trowa and Duo's Spanish was non standard Heero's was just poor, but he thought Trowa was trying to explain to Duo that he and Heero never had sex.

"And my Spanish sounds funny?" Duo laughed. "Go on, laugh, watch porn. I trust that Heero's faithful to me, at least until the Twelfth. Somehow, I don't think I have to worry about you stealing him at all. We know who you want."

"The Twelfth?" Quatre asked. "Perhaps... it would be best if we leave, Dorothy."

Did Quatre somehow now think that Trowa and Duo wanted each other? Heero was clueless about sex, or he had been, but he could see Duo and Trowa clashed violently. Actually, they might be too much alike.

Trowa was looking across the table at Heero and though he didn't say a word Heero understood. He was accustomed to being able to read Trowa's form of communication, though he didn't understand how he did it. Trowa was saying Heero was better than he was at so many things and that Trowa needed help. Heero didn't think he agreed entirely that it was true, but he would help Trowa if he could.


"Yes, Heero?"

"It was impolite for us to discuss such things in public, but we must have all felt we could trust you very much and share things with you, or we wouldn't have started. Doesn't that make sense?"


"I know how you know about Duo and I. Sometimes I just know things. You understand?"

"I do."

"Trowa and I understand each other well, but we aren't lovers. And, if you think he and Duo are attracted to each other, then I'll have to assume you've gone insane again... and that would be unfortunate."

Duo didn't get the joke that time. He and Trowa stared as if Heero's threatening tone had been serious. Heero was about to feel very foolish, but then Quatre laughed and smiled brightly. "You act according to how you feel, Heero. I think that is why I can read you so well."

Heero gave Trowa a look. It said, "You see, Quatre knows, so you may as well act."

Heero realized that was much easier to say than to do. Trowa's problems were not like Heero's or Duo's, not entirely. He wasn't always sure how he felt. It would have been easier for him if Quatre acted and he just accepted. Trowa had been doing that for a long time.

Of course, right now, having gone through discovering his own desires, Heero could appreciate what Quatre must feel. It would be wrong to allow Trowa to be that dependant. Where was the appeal in having a willing lover if you knew that lover was numb enough that they might comply as easily if you said `kill yourself' or `act like you feel something' or if someone else was giving the orders? Their willingness to give themselves to you would be so casual it was meaningless.

Heero shivered. "I have to get to work," Heero said. He stood up.

Quatre was saying that all jokes aside perhaps they should organize some sort of interfaith prayer service. He asked if anyone knew of Churches in the area.

Duo stood quickly and swayed without his walking stick. Koi quickly stood and pushed weight into Duo's leg while Heero grabbed Duo's arms to hold him up. Heero looked at Duo and understood. He looked back down to Quatre then. "Trowa can help you if you want to do that. He interviewed some members of Star of the Sea. Trowa can explain. You should get to work now too. I am sure Trowa knows the way through the tunnels."

Quatre stood up. "Oh, Duo... I didn't know it would upset you."

Duo laughed weakly. He leaned purposely then and Heero continued to support his weight as Duo whispered at his ear. "You have issues with the PDAs, don't you?"

Displaying affection in public? Heero wasn't ashamed to be seen with Duo, he just felt it was somehow wrong... weak or rude... to demonstrate in a public place. It was mostly concern for how uncomfortable they would make others feel. "Aa."

"I'm hurting," Duo said very quietly.

Heero understood entirely then. It took some sacrifice of pride just for Duo to admit it and he was not being flirtatious or exhibitionist. Duo had been emotionally off balance since the mention of 'churches.' That his body swayed had been a symptom of his real difficulty and not physical weakness.

Heero hugged Duo tightly. He drew Duo's head down to his shoulder and then pet his hair. Heero felt Duo shiver and he tried to comfort him then by rubbing his back.


"You can be sad, Duo," Heero whispered. "Very strong people are sad now when they see what has happened, but it happened to you."

Duo made some small affirmative sound.

"You have felt hurt before. You know I can't lie to you and promise it goes away, but it will hurt less, good or bad, it will start to hurt less, you know that."

"...died..." Duo whispered the rest was so soft and tinged with sorrow that Heero did not know what words he used.

"I know. It is not fair and it hurts. I know. It will keep hurting for a while, and then you will feel better. You will enjoy the good things we have left, you know?"

"...need you..."

"Duo, I am here. I will be careful. I will help you get through this. I want to help you. I don't mind doing it. I don't think less of you. The truth is, I need you too."

Duo lifted his head, trailed lips across Heero's cheek and then kissed him on the mouth. Heero was without regret in receiving the kiss. Somehow, it felt chaste and open-mouthed at the same time. That kiss said Duo did not only need someone, but he loved Heero and was happy Heero was the one with him now.

Heero did feel uncomfortable being in front of so many people then and turned his cheek to Duo. That Duo nibbled at his ear said he was feeling better and had become playful. "Better?" Heero asked to be sure.

"Still hurts, but not so much."

"I better suit up. I will see you tonight."

Duo whispered, "You can trust me to make sure we'll have everything we need."

"I trust you," Heero said at a normal volume.

Duo laughed, "It's good to hear that."

"Do you want to watch Koi?"

"No, you take him. I promise not to do something stupid like slip in the tub while you are gone. I'd rather the dog was watching out for you."

Heero patted his leg and Koi moved to his side. He gave a brief nod to the others. "Quatre, I hope we can spend more time together. Later."


Heero left the table, aware for a short while of the conversation there.

"Oh, our Duo is all grown up and having sex," Trowa said.

"Yeah, yeah, I was having sex before you met me, Bang Boy."

"And he is with Heero!" Quatre said enthusiastically.

"Aw, get a room already, you two."

"Why we commandeered some sort of cheesy love hotel is beyond me. My room seems to have some sort of Byzantine vampire harem theme... like out of Dracula."

"Aw, no fair!"

Laughter. "Can I see it?"

"You can sleep there if you want. It's huge and..." Heero moved out of range of hearing.

Heero left the hotel with Koi for the attached tent. He got Koi into his suit and helmet and then suited up himself. Heero checked the recently posted projects and then took the appropriate gear.

Heero moved through the airlock area and finally he was outside again, within the damaged Colony. It seemed Heero had often been in damaged Colonies, what with being a Colonial who grew up and survived the wars. There was something about this that seemed worse and it had nothing to do with the loss of life or that it was not wartime. Other tragedies had matched this in those aspects.

The beach. It was the fact that they had put a beach in space and that the collision between shuttle and Colony had consequently created this alien-looking and organic landscape. That was it; this looked like a city on Earth that had been struck by calamity.

It mattered because the achievement that had allowed a place in the Colonies to be so Earth-like had been destroyed. Heero supposed that some might say this was a sign from Powers That Be that it was wrong for humans to live in space and to dare create such environments.

That would not stop progress. People had said that about Colonies in general and about artificial wombs and many other things Colonials had created.

They would eventually restore this Colony and in the future they would build even more impressive environments contained within colonies, and they would be even more secure.

That was the good thing that may come out of this. And... the fact that they knew the Earth was with them in this. People on Earth would send materials to aid the cause and then, they would come to visit and to share the places that were made.

Today the air looked a little more clear and Heero's suit indicated the temperature was a little higher and a nearly breathable mixture. He switched on Koi's helmet comlink and then his own and heard the chatter of people at work. "This is Yuy reporting for duty," he called.

Overlapping voices greeted Heero and Koi warmly.

"We're digging in F7, we will be glad for your help."

Heero went to work. Hours of digging through mud and sorting artifacts into bins of shuttle parts, colony parts, personal items and human remains. The last was not pleasant but he'd accepted the reality of it in the days before. Fortunately Heero wasn't squeamish in nature.

There were enforced breaks to get food or water and to check that seals on suits were intact. There was no danger of pressure bruises now, but frostbite might be possible.

Heero went in for a dinner break at 8. A phone call told Heero that Duo was in the tunnels running a secure hard-line but that Duo would still be back to meet him later. Heero found Trowa was with Quatre, Dorothy and Mariemaia in the casino. Their work shift ran only during daytime hours, when survivors had appointments and so they were off work for the night.

They were playing poker with a fifth, a Preventer Agent Mariemaia introduced. "April Barton, no relation."

Heero sat down beside Mariemaia to eat the strange American potato salad he had found. It basically consisted of cold red skinned potatoes and some dressing. Heero couldn't be sure who would win. It did not seem to be a serious game, in that they were all helping Mariemaia along. She seemed distracted most of the time Heero was there.

He knew she had felt close to Gibson. And though Heero knew she had seen blood and violence and death before, he thought Mariemaia had never seen someone she cared about slowly lose their hold on life in a hospital bed. Research indicated that kind of thing might hurt more than a gunshot and blood and a body several days later in a coffin.

Heero left Koi watching Mariemaia after his dinner break and went back to work.

Coming in shortly after Midnight Heero found the hotel crowded with the changing shift. There continued to be some level of coupling off, but it was not blatant. Heero did not see anyone he knew. He made his way up to his room.

The door was locked and Heero knew that Duo had both keys. He knocked. Heero heard Koi yap from inside the room. The door opened just a crack. "Hey," Duo's voice said, a bit lower than usual, which made him sound very sexy.

"May I come in?"

"Sure, Baby, been waiting for ya, but I need ya to promise not to laugh at my hair. It's just like this so it won't get wet when I give you a bath."

Heero could not see the hair, only a sliver of Duo, mainly one eye, and a flickering brightness behind. "I will suppress any amusement at the appearance of your hair, let me in, I'm cold."

The door opened.

Heero looked at Duo's hair first thing. The bang across his forehead formed the usual locks but the rest was in micro braids again, of the sort worn by Colonial geisha, only now those were twisted together in a number of thicker braids and these were tied or woven together in some way to form large loops of hair. It did look a bit strange, definitely out of place with the décor and the clothing Duo wore.

Heero laughed.

"Get out," Duo whined. Well, it was like a whine, long and sad rather than a command.

"I did not laugh at your hair. It was the clothing. The combination of red satin robe and white tank top seemed somehow appropriate to the décor. The hair I think I like."

"Don't mess with me."

Heero closed the door securely then looked Duo over again. "I don't know if I would think it appropriate in public, it strikes me as feminine..."

Duo hobbled away, angrily.

"You know what I mean, like you're trying to be Princess Leia or..."

Duo stopped. "Oh." He turned around. He grinned. "Naughty Sensei, you've got a boyfriend and you get all horny thinking about him got up as a space princess."

Alerts popped up in Heero's mind. It's a trick, he told himself. Don't answer!

"Would you be really turned on if I didn't have clothes on at all?"

Was that a trick? This should not be happening! They'd planned this! How had Heero failed to plan for this contingency? What was he supposed to say? That of course Duo always looked good naked? That Heero didn't notice his hair at all? Or should he say that he was sort of aroused by the idea of Duo posing as someone else?


He had to say something! Heero forced a smile. "I love you."

Duo tipped his head and seemed to study Heero. The hair was interesting but the cheesy clothing kept Heero from actually being aroused by the overall picture of Duo for the moment. Duo would look good naked, but then he would look good naked no matter what his hair looked like. "Are you nervous?" Duo asked.


"Don't lie," Duo laughed.

"I didn't lie, I mean, I am not nervous about being with you, Duo." Heero cringed mentally, wishing he knew just what strings of words to send to Duo.

Duo tipped his head the other way. He laughed, loudly. "Oh!"

Heero stood absolutely still. He would feel like killing himself if he'd messed things up again!

Duo was still laughing. "Heero, they weren't trick questions. I was just really trying to figure out what you liked."

"I like you, Duo, you are the one I am planning to have sex with and I do love you."

"Right, no arguments here, Baby, I've totally got a hard-on for you..." he smiled and Heero dropped his eyes, but the robe hid Duo's body fairly well. "But let me put it this way: I did my hair like this strictly to keep it above the water and I was afraid you would think it looked silly with the clothes, which on their own, you would have though damn sexy."

Heero shrugged. "On you..." he added quickly.

Duo shook his head. He knew that was a rehearsed sort of reply. "Heero... really... but if the stupid hairstyle does something for ya, I'm not going to get mad. I am trying to turn you on, duh! So, like, let me know how to play it."

"I don't want you to think..."

"Ah, you can be in charge, Heero, but it would be wise to encourage your pet to do a little thinking. I may come up with some ideas you really like!"

Heero sighed.

"I know... I knew what you meant. You're fun to tease." Duo was serious. "You don't want me to think that you really would rather be with a girl."

Heero nodded. It wasn't logical, but he had felt afraid that Duo would think that.

"Look, I didn't touch your mobile, as commanded, so how about you go choose some music to play and meet me in the tub. I'll show you how securely male I am."

Computer. Play music files. Heero could do that. He inhaled deeply then went about choosing the sort of music he liked and setting the files to play. He walked toward the bed to get an idea of where the volume should be set and returned to make a slight adjustment.

Duo was standing in the bathroom with his back to Heero, the robe was on him, but Heero saw that he must have already removed it and then put it on again, because the underwear and tank were on the floor and Duo's shoulders where bared as the robe seemed purposely arranged to appear as if slipping.

Heero walked in closer. Today the bathroom was only lit by a few candles and so it was quite dim. Heero walked up behind Duo and slipped his arms around Duo. There were freckles on Duo's shoulders. Heero had known they were there, a scattering of orange-brown spots on very pale skin. They just seemed very obvious right now, with the red fabric just below and the loops of warm brown hair just above. They seemed exotic; Heero didn't have freckles. They reminded Heero of jungle cats and women painted with henna and Celtic music.

Heero gazed at the back of Duo's neck. The freckles stopped there, so the skin was evenly pale where the vertebrae showed through the skin. The braided hair seemed pendulous then and Heero thought Duo had moved just enough to put his hair in motion.

Heero felt weak with need, closed his eyes and pressed his lips to the nape of Duo's neck.

"Nice, Heero."

Heero's lips smiled. He did not know why he liked Duo's neck and shoulders really, but he had discovered of late that Duo happened to like kisses on his neck and shoulders. It was not an absolutely perfect match, in that Heero was more content with admiring the back of Duo's neck and stroking his spine with fingertips while Duo would prefer lips and teeth along the side of his neck and the outside of his shoulders, but it was close enough that general massage and kissing of the area of Duo's neck and shoulders made for mutually pleasurable foreplay.

Heero thought Duo's interest in this area was related to his death fixation. The implied threat of Heero's teeth breaking skin or of pinching Duo's neck in such a manner as to cut off supply of blood to his brain excited Duo. Truthfully, implying that he was able to kill Duo, without actually killing him, was pretty exciting for Heero, although, the logical part of him acknowledged that this might be deviant or even disturbed, that he thought up ways he might be murdering his lover.

One of Duo's hands was holding the robe closed while the other clutched the top of the walking stick. Heero quickly wrestled the stick from Duo's hand and it fell to the floor with a clatter. Heero forced Duo to bend back then, putting a hand on his jaw. Duo went limp, trusting Heero not to snap his neck or let him fall.

Heero leaned over Duo's shoulder and sucked at his neck, as if pretending to be a vampire.

"Oh, yeah, I am so yours," Duo told him.

Heero lifted his head. "That reminds me, Duo-chan..."

"Don't let me fall!" Duo said suddenly.

Heero had not been planning to allow Duo to fall, but he knew the stance Duo was forced into was awkward, especially on one leg. Heero repositioned his hands and helped Duo straighten. "You were especially assertive in public today..." Before Duo could get too defensive and think Heero meant his sadness Heero continued, "I do not mean when you needed comforting, I mean when you pawed at my clothing and punched me and several times claimed me by your choice of words."

"Well, I..."

"I do not think that is a how a good boyfriend should act and I know it is not how my pet should act. You need to be better behaved, Duo-chan. I do not mean to hide how I feel about you. Our friends do all know we are together. So, there is no need for strangers to see an exhibition or for you to show off my body or any marks you put on me without my permission."

"I'm sorry. Really. I guess you are right. I just got so excited that Trowa and Quatre were with us again and maybe I was jealous."

"Duo, you know I didn't do anything with Trowa. He is my friend. When he slept in my bed it was the same as if Midii slept with me. We watched some anime and porn movies, but we weren't feeling turned on at all, especially not by each other. You know he is more interested in Quatre and I still only want to be with you."

"I know... but... it was Trowa. Don't you understand? All that time, next to protecting the Colonies, what I was trying to do most was look out for you. I was really starting to like you and I just kept hearing or seeing that you were going off with Trowa somewhere. You kept leaving me behind."

"I wanted you to be safe."

"I wanted to be with you!" Duo said loudly. He calmed himself and managed to turn half around so that Heero saw him in profile. "I will try to do better, because I do want you to be happy. I honestly didn't mean to embarrass you or make you uncomfortable. I just got excited and jealous and wasn't thinking. I'm sorry. Since I had to leave Friday I was alone. You can yell at me in a minute for bringing up what we're not supposed to talk about, but I'm telling you I didn't have anyone, you said Gibson wasn't to touch me and I did what you said." Duo looked at Heero. Heero felt hurt and Duo saw he was hurt. "Well, it was all mission without anyone there when I had nightmares or anyone touching me. I need touching, Heero. And you had Trowa! Maybe it wasn't sex, but you know it was intimate and emotional and... I'm sorry."

"Sit down!" Heero said, not meaning to sound so angry.

Duo hoped and sat down on the cover of the toilet seat.

Heero sighed. "Duo, listen to me. Let's not mess up again. Let's not fight now. If I did hurt you, then I truly regret it. I do not want to hurt you anymore. But, Duo, you have to get it straight in your head. I did not kill him."

Duo gaped.

"Somewhere in your mind you thought it. You didn't mean to, but you blamed me. Did you hear yourself just now? It's my fault that you and Gibson felt so alone the few days before he died?"

In an instant there were tears streaming down Duo's face.

"I feel very bad that you are hurt," Heero said as kindly as he could. "I feel very bad that he is gone. But they were separate events, Duo. The fact that I wanted you for myself and viewed him as competition was not related to his death. I did not cause the attacks. In fact, I did what I could to stop them. Yes, I feel some guilt. Not guilt over his death, but, because now I realize that he may have been a better friend to you that you led me or yourself to believe and I asked you to give up a friend. Now I don't have the opportunity to make amends for that."

"Oh God! I didn't even get that I blamed you!"

Heero stopped down before Duo and touched his cast. "I know you did not do it on purpose. I am not angry with you. Do you just want to go to bed, to sleep? We can do that if you feel bad."

Duo looked up and then shook his head. "Damnit, I need you. You owe me. Please. You said punishment wouldn't be related to sex."

"Duo, I wasn't trying to punish you. Duo..."


"Duo... I want to make love to you."

"Oh," Duo sighed.

"We're doing it again though. We are upsetting each other. Help me out here. Be a good pet? Let's just relax and start over. Can we? You were planning a bath, right? I know I've been sweating in an airtight suit all day. Let's just get a bath and figure this out."

Duo nodded several times.

Heero stood and then taking a step back began to remove his own clothing. "I am going to have to wash some clothes," Heero said casually.

"Oh!" Duo said, wiping his face with some tissue. "I washed your other set of clothes with mine today."


Duo laughed. "No problem. I know I'm not really good with cooking and cleaning, but I do know how to take care of clothing!"

"Thank you. It was useful and thoughtful. A good boyfriend would do some laundry."

"I will be a good boyfriend!" Duo declared firmly.

Heero bent at the hips and kissed Duo's face. "I think you will be my boyfriend."

Duo turned his face toward the tub. "Let's not get into it. Just help me into the tub. Please."

"Sure." Heero offered Duo a hand and helped him up onto his better leg.

"We both agreed," Duo whispered.

"I know. No regrets. I am not doing this out of expectation of payment or return, Duo. I want to do all of this. It's just, I cannot help but have hopes for what will happen. Still, I understand. You and I have no commitment past the Twelfth. I am accepting of that. I am grateful I have been able to enjoy you as much as I have already."

"Heero... thank you. It helps me to think of all these days as dates right now, but at the same time, I feel I should admit: I am pleased you are the one I have been dating. It is obvious isn't it?"

"A privilege every time I see I have pleased you, Duo. A privilege every time I see you are willing to please me."

Duo's voice went low again, "You're sexy as Hell, especially when you don't even know it."

"You're really sexy when you forget to try to be."

"Give me some props for the times I try, Heero," Duo teased, "You know I can make you want me with by just baring shoulders and swinging my hair."


Duo grinned and hopped closer. He draped his arms about Heero's shoulders. "You've heard all Colonials are androgynous, bisexual and deviant?" Duo laughed softly at the question.

"So I heard on Earth."

"Those people behind the Moon are the worst! It's that Dark Side influence, ya know?"


Duo licked Heero's lips. "It's all true, Baby. Lucky you."

"Aa... so you are saying that you will not get offended by being asked into roles that others would believe more masculine or feminine?" Heero suspected this was what Duo was trying to tell him, after he had choked trying to think what to say about the hair.

"Nope. I understand a whole lot of attractions and kinks. I couldn't blame you for wanting what you want. You have demonstrated very well that it is me in particular you want and that you like my body, so I won't be upset if you start to want to spice things up. That seems reasonable to me."

"Chili Pepper, you are spicy enough."

"I thought I was Curry."

"I changed my mind."

Duo grinned, biting his lip and raising his eyebrows. "Ah, well, you let me know if you want to kick it up a notch, Wasabi. I'm pretty set on who I show to the world, but in private, I might cater to your requests. `K?"

"So, you will take the braids down after our bath and let me use your hair as a leash?"

"Hey, if you promise not to yank too hard you can use them as reins and go for a ride!"

That put very interesting imagery in Heero's mind. "Let's get you out of this," Heero suggested, putting his hands on the edges of Duo's robe.

"Ah! OK, but, tell me first that you like Christmas!"


Duo laughed his nervous laugh. "You know... if you open this present you'll see a lot of red and green things inside."

Heero shook his head to show he didn't understand. He tugged at the robe and Duo let it fall with a defeated sigh. Heero saw and understood. "Your bruises turned their color," he stated flatly.

"Yeah. Now they don't even compliment my eyes!" Duo complained.

That seemed so funny to Heero. He laughed, his head falling back and then his body inclining toward Duo. "It is a bit early for Christmas decorations, Duo."

"I was trying to be festive," Duo said with a slight roll of his eyes.

Heero put his hands on Duo's hips and stepped in to put his body against Duo's. "I like this present. I wonder who gave it to me."

Duo chuckled. "You forgot already? Heero, I am God's gift to you!"

"Aa, right. Which God is that?"

"Death of course."

"I will have to remember to thank Shinigami, then. I think he must like me a lot to give me such a gift."

"Yeah, not that being in Shinigami's favor is something you should be happy about."

"I killed a lot of people," Heero agreed.

"You don't know. Maybe he's pissed you decided to give up killing and thinks I'll be your death. Even so, it's a nice package."

Heero rocked toward Duo. "A very nice package, Duo-chan! I don't care if you are Death, as long as you are mine."

"And I am so yours. Get me in the bath before I change my mind again."

Heero picked Duo up in his arms and moved the few steps to the tub. He could lift Duo even more easily in the lower gravity and Heero sat down on the edge of the tub to lower Duo into the still water. He thought it smelled like flowers, unless he was just noticing the candles.

Duo made a sort of purring sound and settled in one side of the heart-shaped tub.

Heero swung his legs over the side and then sank down into the water.

For over a minute they listened to the ethereal music and soaked.

"I was pretty good, ne?" Heero asked.


"We had witty banter just now?"

Duo laughed. "Yeah. We managed to distract ourselves from the argument and get all into each other again. I guess you were pretty good, Heero. I'm proud."

"I feel like I should write it all down."

"Oh no," Duo said, "You have to come up with all new material for the next date."

"I like that there is going to be a next date. And this one is not yet ended."

Duo sat up straight and took some things from the shelves placed about the tub. He leaned heavily on the edge of the tub and rearranged his legs so that he was on his knees.

"Are you all right, with your leg like that?"

"Yeah, and the drugs are kicking in." Duo managed to scoot forward until he was kneeling between Heero's legs. He read the label "I'm afraid we'll have to smell like Tropical Flowers. It comes with the room."

"I don't mind."

Duo put some soap on the sponge and then started to wash Heero by touching the sponge to his shoulder. "This is OK? If I wash you?"

Heero gave a nod. "Do I get to wash you then?"

"No." Duo grinned. "But you can watch me."

Heero smirked. That seemed like a pretty good idea at the moment. This seemed so much like Heero's strange dreams. He was in a bath and someone else was washing him. They were alone.

"There's no one here. You can drop the sponge and use your hands."

Duo went still. "What?"

"Put the soap on your hands. Touch me."

Duo dropped the sponge and it floated on the surface of the water. "Whoa, I just had this weird sense of déjà vu," Duo whispered, "No, it was a dream..."

"You had a dream that you were my bathing servant?" Heero asked anxiously.

"Nein," Duo said slowly, "Ich träumte, daß ich in einem Bad mit einem stattlichen Mann war. Ich wusch ihn. Er bat mich, meine Hände zu benutzen. Dann hatte er ein merkwürdiges Aussehen auf seinem Gesicht. Ich fragte ihn, was ist es? Er erklärte mir, daß ich ihn an jemand von einem Traum erinnerte. Und dann Soldaten..." Duo stopped, completely silent and still as he realized, as did Heero, that he did not know German that well and that it had not even sounded Colonial.

So Duo had not dreamt that he had been Heero's bathing servant; he had dreamt of being in a bath with some other man who then asked him to use his hands. And in that dream Duo's partner had been distracted by memory and confessed that Duo reminded him of someone from a dream. And then something had happened involving soldiers.

Heero gazed steadily at Duo, a smile forming on his lips and a lightness inside him. In a moment he seized Duo and kissed him as deeply and hungrily as he ever had. Duo wasn't just a gift from God, he was Heero's soul mate!

on to chapter 27

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