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

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 30

Heero looked at the clock floating above the column of code. 7:25. Duo would be late for school if he did not hurry. "Duo, it's 7:30 already! Schnell!"

Duo hobbled from the bedroom in most of his uniform. He was showered of course, dressed for the most part, and his hair was in a single neat braid, but he had not collected his things. "It wouldn't take me so long, except everything has some new hiding place and I can't see where anything is."

Heero started to say he knew where everything was and Duo should ask but Duo just went on talking.

"And it's your fault I'm cranky! You stayed at that computer all night and never came to bed. You didn't even try to help me wake up. Hilde hits snooze and snuggles until the alarm goes off again when I..."

"Clearly, I am not Hilde."

Duo rolled his shoulders then began lifting objects as if he would find his things beneath them. "You didn't sleep with me either."

"You get yourself out of bed when you stay elsewhere, Duo. I was trying not to smother you. You said..."

"I know what I said," Duo grumbled.

"You knew I had work to do."


"I managed to get some new clients and the greater part of my work does involve use of the computer as opposed to field work. If you want me to have time to go out on dates with you then I have to work when time is available. I do need to work as much as you need to work or go to school."

"Where's my tie?"

"On the coat rack with your school jacket. Your lunch box is on the island. Your backpack, walking stick and shoe are near the door."

Duo limped to the island and opened his metal box. "Heero, you put lunch in my lunch box?"

"Shouldn't I have? Is that 'smothering'?"

"No, I mean, I just never put lunch in here..."

"Aa... I won't do it again. What does go in there?"

"Important stuff like condoms, makeup and mechanical pencils... aw, Heero, you put a note in my lunch and everything?"

"Don't read it!" Heero said quickly, "Not now."

Duo closed the box and skipped to Heero's desk with it. "You are so unbelievably sweet, Heero! You weren't at the computer all night. You made me a lunch and wrote a note and everything! I bet no one else in the class has a boyfriend who does that!"

"I just wanted you to have a good day at school," Heero said as Duo stooped down beside him. He turned away from the keyboard as Duo grinned at him. "So, uh, where's the stuff that was in the box?"

"In your pencil case," Heero whispered hesitantly.

"I have a pencil case?"

"It is the detachable section of your backpack."

Duo laughed. "Oh. Usually I just put ID and money in there."

"I put that in your inside coat pocket," Heero confessed.

"I'm not mad."


"You can fix me lunch any time, not that you should feel obligated. And I guess the pencil case is a good place for pencils. I'll have to move the money though. That's just where pickpockets look for ID, Heero."

"Right. I suppose you would have a more clever place for those things."

"Thanks for getting my stuff ready for me, really. Sorry I got all cranky. I'll have a better day if you give me a kiss goodbye."

"Khoroshó." Heero leaned toward Duo and pressed a kiss to his left cheekbone. "give that one to Relena."

"One for me?"

"This... is for you," Heero said. He closed his lips over Duo's lower lip alone and then drew back, only to work his tongue between Duo's teeth and suck forcefully at his mouth. Duo fell into his lap, moaning and Heero entirely regretted spending the night at his computer when he could have been in bed with Duo all that time.

A minute passed. Duo sat panting breaths against Heero's neck. "Oh, Daddy, write teacher a note saying I had to stay home today," Duo pleaded in a frighteningly youthful voice.

"You need to get to school," Heero said slowly.

Duo was looking toward the computer screen. "Liar! It's only 7:29 now!"

Heero tried to smile disarmingly, but he probably just looked guilty or frightening.

"Bet I could leave at 7:40 and still make second bell," Duo suggested.

Heero knew exactly what Duo was suggesting. "No. But if you are good, maybe I'll hit snooze and do more than snuggle tomorrow."

Duo grinned. "Clearly you are not my previous roommate."

"Now...you really need to get to school."

Duo put a hand to the desk to push himself up onto his feet. "You get some sleep, Heero. Tonight's my date and I don't want you falling asleep on me."

"I got a lot of work done, so I can get some sleep before you get home from school."

Duo put on his tie then straightened it. The jacket and backpack came next. The lunchbox was held in his right hand and the walking stick in his left. "Later," he said.

"Have a good day!" Heero called after him.

Heero counted the seconds it would take Duo to get down the stairs. He went to the window and watched Duo walk around the corner of their building on his way to the tube entrance. The public school students in their dress code appropriate outfits bowed or pointed, laughed or whistled.

Some girls in the uniform of another school approached Duo as he walked and asked him questions. Heero imagined that Duo was informing them that he attended SJC and was 18 and a senior and even that his boyfriend lived in this building. The girls probably thought that all sounded very grown up; they did not look very old.

When they got around to asking how he hurt his leg Duo would probably answer, "I fell." That would be true enough without revealing more than Duo wished to reveal.

Heero knew school was not for him. He was content with testing out of the high school level and with his professional courses and certifications rather than a more generally academic university program. Heero did enjoy seeing Duo finish school this way. It wasn't just that he looked adorable in that uniform; Heero liked that Duo got to experience something very close to normal life.

After Duo was long out of sight Heero left the window. He opened his mobile on the desk and it whirred into function. A list was displayed of all the tasks Heero had planned to complete today. The first entry was: walk Koi. Heero commented it out as if it were a line of code. He had walked Koi just before Duo woke and simply not gotten back to his list since.

Call Vero. It was early yet to call him. Heero also didn't know if he was quite prepared for the conversation he had planned.

Soundproof bedroom. He could start on that. Heero checked his lease. There was no reason he couldn't add some kind of sound baffling or absorbing material so long as it was fire resistant in keeping with local building codes and Heero informed the superintendent that improvements had been made within this unit. Heero had already researched coast of materials and installation options.

Heero logged into the local home improvement supplier's site and started filling out an order. When Ursula had decorated she had introduced a lot of color but the walls had remained a standard off-white shade. Heero thought that the panels he was ordering, available with a pre-primed and interior finish wall surface on one side, should be painted once up to look best.

It was not too early to call Ursula. She would be awake preparing breakfast for Midii, Vasili and Vero. Heero understood that she had performed the chore since she was a child and did not feel it unfair, as they provided for her in many ways.

Heero picked up his phone, dialed and then fit the headset.

"Allo," Ursula answered. She appeared on the small monitor slightly out of frame.

"It is just me, Ursula," Heero said, since she did not seem to see her monitor. "Can you talk?"

"Da. Good morning, Heero. I am using the phone mounted in our kitchen; I am preparing some eggs and feel they should not be left to sit."

"I understand. I wanted to ask your advise on some decorating."

"I will do my best to help you. Is everything back to normal with you then? We received you message several days ago and I assured myself that you would contact us again when you were able."

"The truth is I have been within S4 since Friday but have been busy with important matters up until last night. Perhaps it would be best to plan to call everyone again to give everyone updates."

"I think others would also appreciate knowing you are well."

"Thank you for the advice."

"Is Duo well?"

"His left leg is broken but he is recovering and he went back to school today."

"Then I shall hear from Adin how Duo is doing."

"They do seem to gossip."

"Not too much."

"Ursula, I want to put some sound baffles in my bedroom and I feel they require painting to look part of the room. What color should I paint the room?"

"The bedroom?"


"I think a rather dark blue. Both rooms have some black and green or green blue and some red. You might want to go more toward blue for the bedroom. The space is small but..."

"What name would that sort of blue have?"

"You plan to do this today?"


"Finished today?"

"If possible."

"Did you include the ceiling, Heero?"

"Oh... no."

"It sounds like your intention is to considerably reduce noise leaving the room. You should put those panels on the ceiling as well. That answers my own question for me. The blue will make the room dark, but a glossier type of paint in white on the ceiling will make the room less close and reflect light back down into the room."

"I will recalculate the number of panels I need including the area of the ceiling."

"We might paint the other room as well, though not the ceiling. Not if you want to finish today."

"Is there time? You would help me?"

"Yes. When can you have the panels up? I can be there at 12:30 after my massage appointment. I can bring the paints and paint tools and covering for the furniture."

"If I order now I can have the panels delivered before noon."

"Do that. I will see if I can find additional help."

"Thank you. You are kind."

"It is no problem."

I will see you later then."

"Ja ne."

Heero took the phone from his head and returned his attention to the order form. He did home calculation and rounded up to the next full panel and then also added a few other tools and supplies to his order. Heero confirmed the order and received a message that the delivery would be made between 10am and noon.

If he was to be doing labor in his apartment all day he could put off a bath or shower until later. Heero decided to take a nap. He went into his room and lay down.

It was 10:45 when the sound of the door's buzzer woke Heero. He checked the delivery for the ordered items then tipped the carriers. Heero then went to work.

The painting in the main room could be done around most of the furnishings, but the installation of the panels would require more room to work. Heero moved his things from the bedroom. After some measurements to confirm his previous numbers Heero figured out the least number of panels he would have to cut and still cover the width of each wall. He made cuts as needed and installed the panels, pressing them into place and then attaching them with light nails and a gun. The height of the panels matched the walls nearly perfectly but Heero could contribute that to the square, box-like modular Colonial construction and standardization of building materials within the Colonies.

Heero saw the ceiling would be difficult to install without a partner. He expected Ursula would arrive shortly so he took new measurements to account for the width of the panels on the walls in calculating the area of the ceiling.

Heero had just figured how many panels and cuts he would need to put the ceiling panels up, when Ursula arrived. Vero came with her, but he said right away that he could only work for an hour and a half and then he had to finish work for his father.

Heero had wanted to ask Vero something, but he wanted to get this work done as soon as possible. Vero started painting the walls of the main room as soon as Ursula could cover furniture and give him instructions.

While the main room was being painted Heero and Ursula put up the ceiling panels and then prepared the bedroom for painting. They used poles and paint pads on the ceiling, making it a gloss white as Ursula had described. While the ceiling was given time to get dry enough that it did not drip and was at least tacky, They went into the main room to help get those walls painted.

Ursula planned for one wall behind the kitchen appliances to be sage green and all the other walls of the room to be a darker green, one with just a hint of blue. These colors, Heero had to admit, looked right with the decorations already in place, including draperies and the Waterhouse and even the model cars that would be placed back on the shelves.

Vero stayed long enough that the main room was painted and then he had to leave. Heero didn't get a chance to talk to him alone as he had wanted.

Heero went into his bedroom where Ursula had begun painting around the fixtures and door and window surrounds to prepare for using the wide paint rollers. With the both of them working in the smaller room and the paint and rollers being of decent quality the small bedroom was painted in relatively short time.

Afterward, Heero was tired. He helped Ursula clean up the largest part of the mess made by their work. Heero managed to sweep the room, lay out the hooked rug with abstract design in black blue and green and then move the low bed and dresser back into the room. Then, the walls still being wet and Heero being tired, Heero abandoned his plans to move the rest of his things back into the room. He got a quick shower and then immediately collapsed on the bed he had recently put back into the room.

It seemed no time had passed and Heero was aware of being woken as someone touched him and instinctively grabbing hold of that person. Heero blinked. He had a fistful of microbraids and he was pulling on them so that Ursula was forced to remain leaning over him. The robe she wore, his robe, was falling away from her body as she leaned and Heero became rather slowly aware that he was looking at her breasts.

Heero blinked again. "Nice," he said. And then he really didn't know why he said that.

"Let go," Ursula whispered.

Heero released his grip on her hair and Ursula stood.

She stood straightening the robe, head bowed. "I would say the same to you, but, Duo was just here..."

Heero did not really listen to what Ursula was saying. He realized what time it was and that he had not dressed before falling asleep. Duo probably was just emotionally insecure enough to imagine Heero would break his promise not to even think of being with anyone else during their 'trial.' Heero took some shorts from the dresser and pulled them on.

Ursula was talking, but all that registered was, "So sorry" and "has the wrong idea." Heero already had known both of those things.

He knew calling out wouldn't help until he got out of the bedroom. As soon as he got out of the bedroom Heero was calling. "Duo!" He ran out of his apartment, to the steps and down several flights of stairs. Heero wondered how long it had taken for Ursula to wake him. He wondered how fast someone with a broken leg could move.

Fast if it was Duo. And Duo Maxwell did run, but he was even more likely to hide than he was to run. Hiding would have taken less time. If he was not hiding then he was so far down the street Heero could not catch him.

"Duo," Heero said levelly. He began walking back up the steps. There were only a few older kids about, returning home from school and on their way to change before going back out to see friends. "Duo, come out. Think about this. Come inside and talk to me."

Heero walked up another flight of stairs. The door of his apartment had been left open. Maybe Duo was inside again. "Duo?" Heero called. He went into his apartment then.

Ursula was dressed again in her jeans and sweater. She was folding her painting smock into a plastic crate where other tools had already been stowed. "Duo is gone?"

"Apparently," Heero said. He left the apartment door wide open.

"I should not have used your bathroom or opened the door wearing your robe."

"Duo is a fool," Heero said. He walked into his bedroom and took some jeans from a dresser drawer. As he was standing to fasten his jeans Duo appeared in the doorway. Heero was really starting to suspect Duo was not as disabled as he pretended, broken leg or not.

"I am not a total fool, Heero, clearly you two were really busy redecorating our apartment, all of a sudden, and you got so hot and sweaty from standing around painting all day that you had to take showers and you must have just fallen asleep without getting dressed because you didn't want to come to bed last night...?"

"I did fall asleep without getting dressed, but the rest of that was fairly inaccurate."

Duo raised an eyebrow. "Whatever. I saw Breakfast at Tiffany's."

"An old movie in which an American actor plays a stereotyped Asian character?" Ursula asked.

"A movie in which the kept boy in the apartment upstairs introduces his 'benefactor' as his decorator."

Heero shrugged and opened another drawer to find a shirt. There was nothing he could say to Duo when he was like this. Every time Duo lost his temper Heero learned something. Duo didn't mean to get angry, he just did sometimes. When Duo realized he liked someone he could get more than a little protective and very defensive. Heero needed to understand just what had set Duo off and then try to make him feel better.

Heero needed to say the right thing.

Heero pulled on his shirt, a plain white tee. "Duo, I do not want to argue. I am not aware of doing anything that should have upset you. I am going to see my friend to the door now. Why don't you lay down and listen to some music. Listen to your music as loud as you like and think about what you really mean to accuse me of doing."

Heero left the bedroom. The bedroom door slammed and that was the last Heero heard from Duo.

"You will be OK?" Ursula asked slowly.

"He's all right," Heero said. "You do not have to worry about us. Unfortunately Duo is accustomed to loosing what he has and just being happy makes him nervous. At least I've figured that much out now." Heero smiled to himself. "I wish I had really understood his motivations when we had that other argument."

"I am sorry I did not help matters."

"Do not be sorry. The apartment looks very nice, Ursula and you are always good company. Duo might have acted nervously around anyone. I trust you will keep this all confidential of course."

"I saw nothing."

"Do you need help with that?" Heero asked of the crate Ursula was lifting.

"It is not heavy. I can get a taxi easily in this area, near the bridges."

"May I ask you something?"

"Of course."

"I was going to ask Vero, but I did not. I am not sure if you would have this information..."

"What do you need to know?"

"Our Family. We have prostitutes?"

"Yes. I know about the family holdings. Vasili gave you 'L Street' among other holdings. The L Street House is very profitable, very classy."

"Do we have Dominatrixes?"

"No, I do not believe our family does. Another Honorable Father employs some. Of course The Family are not the only ones who employ courtesans or masseurs or B&D therapists. All are legitimate here and licenses are easy to obtain so long as one meets all requirements, not like S3 where they mistake all for common whores and they are very strict in granting business licenses, even to guild members."

"I thought all prostitution was illegal in S3 even now... since the plague years."

"Oh, yes, it is, I was referring to the members of the sensual therapists guild which includes erotic massage professionals and dominators and some of the actors. They do not perform sex, except, for those members who separately belong to the Prostitution guild as well. You do not need to tell me why you are asking, but if you need to find a companion for yourself or a friend, I suggest you check that they are guild members in good standing. Here in S4 there are independents who are licensed and not guild members and though they may be quite professional, you can't be sure. Of course, there are prostitutes in S3 too, but they operate illegally and have no organization behind them to keep them respectable, they can't even keep a pimp, because the local security force is so strict in this area and prosecutes pimps to the extent of the law."

"I am not really looking for a companion for anyone exactly," Heero laughed, "I just need some information that I think a dominatrix might have and I need to find one who is trustworthy. Forget I even asked you about it, please. There is someone else I can still ask for help. I appreciate that you tried."

"Of course. Good Luck with Duo."

Heero opened the apartment door that Duo had apparently closed on his way back in. "Oh, he will soon realize I cannot hear him ranting and figure things out."

Ursula bowed and then walked to the stairs.

Heero watched Ursula move down the stairs, somehow still elegant with the crate on her hip. He closed the door quietly and looked around. Koi was curled in a chair. The curtains and art and shelves were all disturbed and piled atop furniture.

It would look better tomorrow when the paint was completely dry. Heero and Duo would both feel better if they went out. Heero sat in the chair near Koi's chair, leaned back and closed his eyes.

Heero heard the music as the door opened.

"Oh, figures he would fall asleep on me again! I don't know how he does it. How can he...?" Duo stopped talking. He listened. He walked to the bedroom door and closed it. He listened. He opened the bedroom door, walked through and closed it behind him. Heero imagined Duo was screaming something. The door opened.

Heero heard the slight sound of the latch and hinges but no music.

"Heero?" Duo's voice was muffled somewhat, but Heero could hear him through the open door.

"Duo? Were you saying something?" Heero asked, eyes opening.

Duo walked from the bedroom. "You soundproofed the apartment?"

"The bedroom."

"You soundproofed the bedroom?"

"It would have been rude to disturb the neighbors homes and then expect them to pretend they had not heard."

"You can't hear the door buzzer if the doors not fully open I guess."

"Probably not."

"You should have seen her when she answered the door, Heero. She didn't look serene and all. She was rushed and straightening your robe around her and nervous."

"You waited at the door rather than pick the locks?"

"Yeah, I would have gotten around to it, but I was wondering why you wouldn't open the door and imagining all the worst reasons."

Heero stood up. "Does your Daddy know where you went after school?"


Heero watched Duo and waited for the concept to sink into his mind.

"Oh!" Duo settled his weight back onto his better leg and did his best to look innocent. "My daddy's dead, but you look like you could be my new daddy if you want to."

"I don't know... you do not even seem to know you should change out of your uniform and into play clothes."

Duo laughed happily. "I'll take off the uniform, but how will I know what play clothes to wear unless you tell me what games you want to play?"

Heero smiled as Duo danced backward into the bedroom, somehow. "Mind the paint!" he called.

Duo called back. "I want you to play with me!"

Heero's lips quirked into a smile and then he rushed into the bedroom. He saw Duo pulling off clothing. "You are the only one playmate I want," Heero whispered.

Heero closed the door.

Five pm, Heero woke, opening his eyes to see Duo sitting in their bed, still naked, but for the blue velvet bondage gear, and apparently doing homework. Heero stretched his limbs as he observed Duo. He seemed to be working with a mobile computer and a digital pad.

Heero slid across the sheets to lay on his side at Duo's back. He lifted a hand to Duo's spine and ran his middle finger over the vertebrae. "Hey," Duo greeted him.

"Hey," Heero repeated. He lifted the end of Duo's braid and smoothed his thumb over the soft hair.

"I can put this stuff away if you like."

"If you have work and you can get it done now I do not want you to stop for me. You must have a lot of work to do, with graduation coming up and taking time off."

"You don't mind?"

"I worked last night," Heero said. He pulled Duo's braid aside and pressed a kiss to his spine.

"I didn't curl up behind you and kiss you as you worked."

"I didn't work naked."

Duo chuckled. "This is so weird."

"It is?"

"Yeah. I haven't ever done exactly this before. I've sat in a bed doing homework with someone, and in one case they were my lover, but it wasn't like this."

"You didn't... sit in bed naked and in bondage gear for Hilde?"

Duo laughed. "Yeah, I did, but... it was different. I just... never felt so... comfortable," Duo said, clearly having a little difficulty finding the right word. "I-I don't mean in that bad sedentary way! It's good!" Duo laughed.

Heero smiled. He sat up behind Duo and touched his hand to Duo's shoulders as he would to begin a massage. "Sedentary. Is that a vocabulary word of yours?"

Another laugh. "I think it was, once. I just meant."

"I know. I like being with you too."

"Nnnn, that feels good. You're getting good at that, Heero!" Duo declared, rolling his head and relaxing his shoulders.

Heero smiled. He was working his fingers into Duo's muscles. He was not well practiced at massage yet, but he was confident he understood the principles of it well enough that he would make Duo feel better rather then worse. "You still want to go out tonight?"

"Yeah, not that staying in wouldn't be fun, but if we stay in all the time that would be sedentary."


"Late movie. Just a movie, but we've never just gone out to see a movie together."

"Sounds good."


"You are not going to get much work done with me all over you."


"I can let you work alone for a little while and get us dinner. Do you mind if I call out for food?"

"I don't expect you to cook for me all the time, Heero," Duo said seriously, "You know I can't cook very well, so I'm used to take out."

Heero said nothing to that, though he was curious to know the true extent of Duo's cooking ability. He took some fresh clothes from the dresser and a shirt from the closet. Heero was sure that some combination of jeans and button-down was almost universally acceptable as a date outfit. He went into the bathroom to clean up a bit and dress.

Duo was still typing and he still tempted Heero to crawl all over him with the way he looked. Heero only tortured himself by standing inside the bedroom door and looking toward the bed. It had not always been so but Heero thought Duo was the most beautiful person he'd ever met. Even before that, Heero had never thought Duo unattractive, he simply hadn't paid very much attention to beauty or attraction if he had been aware of it.

Duo glanced up, flashing a smile.

Heero opened the bedroom door and left, thinking that he must truly be in love with Duo Maxwell. He closed the door softly behind him. Koi looked up from the kitchen area, licking water from his snout.

"Time for your dinner," Heero said. He put food in Koi's bowl and then changed out the water bowl for fresh water from a bottle.

Heero went to his desk then. He powered up his mobile and looked up restaurants in the area. Many of them would deliver anywhere within the same colony, but unless he craved food they did not have in this Quarter or neighborhood Heero didn't see the point in asking that effort or paying the higher tips.

Heero placed a food order and indicated that he would pick it up himself. He could walk Koi while getting dinner that way and not have to calculate a tip and get himself that much more exercise while he was at it. It was the most efficient solution.

The rooms being soundproofed and the door closed Duo wouldn't overhear what Heero did. Monday night. Hilde would probably be at her apartment.

Heero dialed Hilde from his mobile computer. He adjusted the volume just to be sure. The rooms were not absolutely soundproofed, only significantly dampened.

"Duo... Oh, it's you Heero. I thought maybe you had let Duo call from this line."

"No. I wanted to call you."

"Oh. What's up? How is Duo?"

Heero smiled. "He is fine. He's doing homework. He moves about very well for a man with a broken leg. Shall I have him call you later?"

"Oh no, don't remind him. I want him to remember or not all on his own. Anyway, I might have a chance to get back there tomorrow."


"Yes. No danger in telling you that. Of course, many agents will be out patrolling and pursuing known fugitives and suspects but many of us will also be in a meeting with the Director. That's public knowledge."

"I trust the Preventers are more than able to secure the location of their own meetings."

"We are. And if all of us meeting at Headquarters inspires some group to attack, well at least they're not attacking civilians and we'll be able to face them."

"I doubt there will be any attack."

"So do I," Hilde said seriously.

"I was calling to ask your advice on a more personal issue."

"If you want a list of Duo's turn-ons forget it, I'm just not going there."

"No. It's not that exactly."

"What can I do for you Heero?"

"I need information. I wish to contact a trustworthy dominatrix."


"Christie is a dominatrix?"

"Ah, right, you met her at the movie-show."

"Yes. Is she really a dominatrix? Member of the guilds?"

"Yeah. They have to be over here. Why couldn't you ask Duo? He's in the guild."

"Guild? Which?"

"Sheiße," Hilde sighed, "I thought you would have already known or I wouldn't have said. This makes me look like such the good agent, huh? That's an old slip-up."

"I am a friend, Hilde, for real. You mean that Duo's been in the 'Therapists' guild since he did that phone work?"

"Right. That's how Duo knows so many people who are video boys or dominatrixes or do erotic massage and all that."

"Well, I cannot ask Duo..."

"He's in a bad mood? It's about... Gibson?"

"I think so. He seems OK most of the time, but..." Heero paused. "Do you think it's the right idea? I don't want to hurt him or find I can not do enough to help him. He needs..."


"Professional help. It would take me too long to do enough research to help him. Though, I will do the research anyway. He needs someone now."

"They know each other well, Duo and Christie."

"I gathered as much."

"You met her before and if you tell her it is for Duo she won't mind that I gave you her number. You'll probably be able to work something out."

"I appreciate the help, Hilde. Very much. I will find a way to repay you."

Hilde sent the number over the line. "Just be good to Duo."

"I will." Heero smiled. He suspected he could do more for Hilde. He copied the phone number and stored it in his address book.

"Will you be there tomorrow?"

"I haven't received orders. I suppose it might be mainly your team that is meeting."

"Dorothy's going to be there. The agents that were on the processing staff were relieved. The civilians have been processed and others will be seeing to their needs now they have the information they need."

"Perhaps it's just us that have been left out. Une knows that there is another matter we have been taking care of."

Hilde shrugged.

"I have to go pick up dinner now," Heero said flatly.

Hilde laughed. "Better disconnect then, Heero."

Heero pressed the key and sighed. He rarely knew how to get out of a conversation once it was begun.

He got up from the desk and walked to the bedroom door. Heero knocked once to be polite and then opened the door. Duo had some clothes on now, but even dressed he had not removed the bondage gear. He looked up and waved.

"I am going to go out to get dinner and walk Koi."


Heero closed the bedroom door again. He took down Koi's leash and collected his keys, ID and Money from the desk. Heero opened the apartment door and then called to Koi. The dog came to him and Heero fastened the leash to his collar.

It did not take very long to walk Koi along the skyglass park and then walk to the restaurant and back to the apartment.

When Heero got back to the apartment and opened the door Koi seemed more excited than usual.

"Duo has lit candles again?" Heero asked. That did seem to be what Koi was communicating. Opening the door confirmed it.

Duo was sitting behind the tea table, on which a pair of blue tapers burned. Ursula had left those. As Heero moved into the apartment he saw that Duo's computer was on the desk facing the table, tuned into a news broadcast with the volume low. "Candlelight dinner," Duo explained.

Heero agreed with a nod. He had understood that, but now he suspected he should have made a comment, otherwise Duo wouldn't have had to provide a cue. "I see. It looks nice. The apartment will look better when the paint is dry and I put everything back up."

"I don't care about the décor," Duo said.

Not at all? Heero wondered.

"I mean, I've been known to spray paint furniture or throw velvet over things. I'd like if our print was back up. That's not why we're eating by candlelight. It's romantic. Do you know, firelight is flattering to all human skin tones?"

Heero put the bag of takeout containers on the table. "Fire can be naturally occurring," he pointed out, "It would fit with that whole Romantic natural equals beautiful theory."

"Don't analyze, Heero, just sit down and let me look at you."

"I am going to wash my hands."

"OK," Duo said simply, "I'm all cleaned up. Guess I'll get the food out."

Heero gave a nod and then went to wash his hands. He returned quickly and sat down opposite Duo. "You got orange chicken and sesame!" Duo chirped. He looked good in candlelight; Heero had to admit that.

Heero lifted one of the bottles of beer Duo had put out. It was a Japanese Quarter microbrew, one Duo had picked out when Heero did their online grocery order on Sunday. "The food is all right? The menu is fairly westernized but based on various Asian cuisines."

"This stuff is very Chinese-American; I love it," Duo said, pointing out the containers with a pair of chopsticks. There were other containers of food but Duo seemed delighted with the chicken in particular. Duo picked up a piece of chicken and popped it in his mouth. He chewed quickly. "Mmmn, it's hot and kinda sweet at the same time and hot in the warm way too. It's really good."

Heero lifted some tofu and vegetables. He looked up at Duo as he swallowed that mouthful. His skin looked warm. His eyes were dark and sparkled. His hair shimmered. Heero remembered that Duo and Hilde's apartment had had many partially burnt candles in it. "The candles are a good idea. You are beautiful always, but the light is particularly flattering."

"Tell me about it. If I wasn't starving I'd be sitting in your lap about now."

The way Duo was looking at him, Heero really felt weak. He did not know what to say. He thought Duo in his lap sounded like a good idea. He didn't like that Duo should be starving. "I should have let you get a snack after school."

Duo shook his head. "You were great after school. I was stupid. You..." Duo trailed off and looked past Heero. He pointed to something with his chopsticks and Heero turned. Relena was on the news.

Heero stretched an arm to the desk and increased the volume so they could hear the audio better. "Did you know she was going to give a speech or press conference?"

"I only know that she did go to speak to Sister Tess today as we planned and that after school she had agreed to talk with Sally and she had asked to meet with that other Septem guy... oh, and Zechs was going to send another message after she finally talked to him. He said he might contact me regarding Relena."

"That is Gwinter Septem there," Heero said, gesturing toward the small flat screen.

"I see the mental files are intact."

Heero scowled. "He is one of the more visible and active delegates. Their family has always been politically active in the Colonies."

"Yeah, for the Alliance."

"That does not matter anymore," Heero whispered. He had always had orders, back then, he had fought because he had orders and objectives others gave to him. Duo had fought because he was Revolutionary and Patriot, desiring independence for his people. Heero had been taught that there was injustice. Duo had experienced the injustice first hand.

Forgiving certain actions of the past might always be more difficult for Duo, because he had felt strongly opposed to them. Many people had this problem, it was what caused war to continue or to begin anew, people not being able to forgive or surrender.

In such a case, surrender was not weak. It took a great strength and resolve to see that one must surrender when the alternative was being destroyed by continued war. Of course there were things that should be fought for, but if fighting brought one to a point in which a peaceful resolution was possible, peace was preferable to war and worth some compromise.

They had peace now because even people that felt strongly opposed toward each other understood now that fighting would not help the way they felt. Sometimes, one acted in opposition to their feelings because it was more reasonable or logical. That was being human.

Feelings were not to be ignored and should be guides, but being able to refuse to act on rage or fear or lust was what set humans apart from animals. It wasn't very romantic, but it gave them peace.

Hopefully, in time, living in peace, the negative feelings would fade and then no one would have to act in opposition to their feelings, because they would no longer hate or fear.


Relena was resigning. She did not want to resign. She loved having the influence to do good in the world. Yet, her job created stresses that she could not withstand at present.

It was a hard decision. She was giving up in a way. Surrendering. But, in another way, she was fighting for herself now, the way she had been fighting for all of them.

"It is not wrong, Relena," Heero said aloud, "It is time you found peace for yourself now you helped all of us find it."

"They will not be kind to her," Duo said skeptically. He meant the media.

"They might. It is hard to tell. There are some people they just won't touch in that way."

"I do not wish to leave politics," Relena said, "I simply require extended personal leave. I am young and though I am grateful the public has never held this against me, the truth is that I have many things yet to accomplish that may not best be done while serving such a demanding public office. I do wish to return to some political office at some time, but I have no designs on any office in particular for the immediate future. I know that many people may feel confused by the timing of my decision. I hope I can address and even alleviate some of those concerns with my second announcement."

"It's the mobile suits," Heero said. "I am sure."

"Funding for new mobile suits requested by the MCP has been approved. Recent events will not stop the ESUN or its citizens from manufacturing or using mobile suits for peace oriented purposes."

Before the broadcast was concluded it had been confirmed that there was a government contract available for mobile suit manufacturers, but only for a short time, as the schedule had been sped up.

"You can do it," Heero told Duo. "You can sell your Tinman to them."

"I would be so busy."

"Duo, I know how you feel about mobile suits. This is what you want to be doing. It is the perfect opportunity."

"I like it here, with you."

Heero nodded his understanding. "I like being important to you, but everyone must be true to themselves before they can share themselves. Duo, you need to submit your proposal to them."

"It is an impressive mobile suit."

Heero smiled. "Yes. You also have a highly qualified crew. It will not take long to adapt your design to whatever specifications the MCP require."

"I will need to be at the shop even more than before."

"I know."

"I-I want to be able to see you."

"We figured it out before," Heero said. "Two short dates a week plus something more on the weekend? Your missions changed that, we adapted. We will adapt again."

"I was ready for this, Heero."

"I believe you."

"I was really ready."

"Let me give you keys. Duo, it won't be too much for you. It won't be smothering or pressure. If you can't live here... but you have the keys. Then you can come here any time you want, even if I am not here, and just rest and feel safe."

Duo laughed. "You definitely can't have an affair with your decorator now, because I could walk in at any time and catch you."

"Duo, I never..."

"Yeah, I know. It's good to know you trust me with the keys." Heero thought he was covering slightly. He didn't joke about Ursula because he truly believed Heero was going to cheat. Duo was afraid that if he was in Heero's place he would have cheated. This was bothering Duo.

"I trust you with more than the keys, Duo."

on to chapter 31

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