Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
They had gone just across the quarter to a late showing of a new Science-Fiction Thriller called Deep Red, which television spots advertised was set on Mars in some alternate universe or pre-Alliance time when Earth's nations had only just begun to cooperate in space. The theater was near Preventer Headquarters and Duo had chosen to see the movie there, because he knew the theater.
Duo purchased their tickets and some soda and popcorn, which Heero carried and Duo said they would share. "I don't remember ever going to a movie theater with someone, except when we saw Moulin Rouge," Heero whispered.
"You never went to the movies?"
"I saw some movies alone, in a theater and on video."
Duo shook his head. "I think sometimes I had a rough childhood but then..."
"Yes," Heero agreed, understanding. It was a different sort of deprivation they had experienced in childhood.
"At least I had some occasions to do normal things like play with other children and see movies and eat ice cream cones."
"I did have video games and books and puzzles."
"And guns and a computer."
"I always had a house, and food. And someone looked after me."
"Yeah... when Lowe died, were you there?"
"Yes. He talked to me while he was injured."
"Sister Helen was still alive when I found her. She talked to me."
They were standing in the theater lobby looking quite sad and people were having to slow or halt their steps in order to move around them in the crowded space. Heero tried to smile. "We should find our seats."
Duo shook himself. "Right." Nervous laugh. "C'mon, I promise I'll try to put my arm around you in a transparently non-casual gesture."
Heero fell into step beside Duo as they walked to the appropriate theater. "I promise I will not care what excuse you use to initiate contact."
They went into the theater. It was dim, but not yet dark. Ads were playing on the large screen. They went about a third of the way down the aisle and then located a row with empty seats that would put them between wall mounted speakers and close to center of the slightly curved screen that wrapped from the front to cover several meters of each side wall.
The row they found was empty yet. Duo gestured for Heero to go in first so that Heero would sit at his left side. As they settled into a pair of seats Duo took the soda and put it in the cup holder on the armrest to his right. "Why not in the middle?" Heero asked.
Duo rolled his eyes to say this was a silly question. He pulled on the armrest between them and it lifted to close the space between the back of their chairs, being padded on its underside. The space between the seats was partially connected by padding that housed some workings of the theater chairs, which reclined to some small degree.
Heero sat straight in his chair and leaned back while Duo sprawled, his injured leg insinuating itself between Heero's legs and his arms raising in a contrived stretch to allow his left arm to come down over Heero's shoulders. "Comfy?" Duo asked.
"Yes," Heero replied.
"Let me know if you want some soda."
Duo put his hand into the bag Heero held and picked up some popcorn. He eyed Heero skeptically. "Please tell me you've had popcorn before."
"Yes, but only in recent years."
"You want to go to a playground one day?"
"You know, an outdoor area with recreational equipment on which young humans partake in non-structured activity."
Heero didn't laugh. "I am weirdly socialized, not an alien or an android."
Duo laughed. "Ah, you'd be the pleasure model."
"Hn." Heero thought about that for just a second. "I would be an assassin droid designed to simulate human appearance and function... who then discovered emotions and fell in love with you. That is probably how it would happen. The story would not be as interesting to serious Science-Fiction fans if the pleasure droid fell in love. That's too obvious."
"I don't know, assassins that fall in love seems cliché to me right now."
Heero laughed. "Maybe we could go to a playground some time, Duo. What about bedtime stories or faerietales? Did you know about those when you were a child?"
"I know of some myths, folk tales, rhymes, and those sorts of writings. Sometimes I would go online and view messages about a movie or book or game I was interested in and others would seem to have other means of analysis... I mean, they could drawn on myths and faerietales for comparison. They would say that a certain author was inspired by some ancient myth. I think I even know some myths and religious stories. In any case, I do not have the experience of having the stories told to me by another person. Though, you told me about Little Red Riding Hood."
Duo was smiling at Heero. The lights flashed and then went out and the audio coming from the speakers increased in volume. People were hushing each other. Duo whispered. "I know more dirty jokes and urban legends than I do faerietales, but I do know some. Any time you want to hear one, you let me know. Especially if you're alone. Call me on the phone before you go to sleep."
Heero smiled. Duo had made this offer before. Heero thought it must be normal for Duo to talk at length on the phone with other people he knew. Heero used the phone of course, but he still felt awkward speaking to others on the phone and tried to limit his use to planned questions or announcements and a few pleasantries.
Duo kissed Heero's cheek quickly and then turned his head to the screen as Heero did. The movie had begun and eerie, bass-heavy music was playing as titles were projected. "Based on the novel by..." Heero thought the name sounded familiar but he couldn't place it immediately.
Heero ate some popcorn and watched the screen. The soundtrack continued with the doomy orchestration as an interior of a space ship was shown. Various characters were shown, two female, five male.
The audience expressed awe as they approached Mars. Heero had never traveled to Mars but the moviemakers seemed to have captured the feel of approach and entry into an atmosphere, yet the planet was red and gray and marked by canyons and craters and not blue as Earth would be.
As the landing scene continued and dialogue began Heero definitely felt he recognized elements of this story.
I read the book, Heero told himself silently. This was so far just the same as the erotic Science-Fiction novel he had read when he had begun his research. There was the Chinese-American military officer the others would later become suspicious of. There was the Ship's Captain who was Japanese. There was the quiet Latina-American woman who somehow did remind Heero of Trowa. The other woman, their astronomer, seemed to be some mix of English, Indian and African. That left the Brazilian Terraformer, the Tanzanian Geologist and Etan.
Heero remembered this character and he still reminded Heero of Duo. They had a sort of youthful exuberance in common. And braids. In the fictional world of the movie it was customary for Etan's modern and tribal-centric European people to wear braids in honor of loved ones or significant events. The actor had two slender braids falling from the left side of his head, badly frayed and growing out.
Heero watched, saying nothing, occasionally turning his head to gage Duo's reaction of glancing to the bag of popcorn. The movie was deviating from the book slightly but Heero recognized the same basic plot.
A team of explorers lands on Mars to survey in preparation for a larger group to come in a second ship. A few strange events and missing items soon leads to larger mysteries, such as skeletons discovered in Cydonia and the team leader disappearing during a sandstorm. They have no information about a past expedition and do not believe aliens could have reached Mars completely undetected. The team begins to get spooked and speculate wildly.
Then Etan and the equally handsome character Martin are out looking for the missing American and they share a portable shelter for the night, which leads to sharing body warmth, which leads to sharing bodies.
In the book, here had been many sex scenes. Heero wondered how closely the movie would follow that story. He wondered if Duo had known of the plot beforehand.
The movie was similar to the book Heero discovered. Shortly the survey team were all being seduced by the various natives and these natives were involved with each other as well. They were not human, it was discovered. Their pheromones made them fairly irresistible to humans. The first of them had been created on Earth and when he had impregnated a human woman and his children had then mated with each other, powers on Earth had seen fit to banish the species to Mars before it overran Earth with superior strength and senses and psychic ability.
When the survey team's leader sent a message to the ship in route to Mars revealing this and other information the natives killed him.
Shortly many of the native women were pregnant; clearly their family was inbred and had wanted to enlarge their gene pool and with dominant genes all their children would be like they were.
If any of the remaining members of the survey team had a problem with this, there was not much they could do. They were either madly in love or enjoying the sex or feeling guilty about having children on the way and refusing to abandon them.
Then the second ship arrived, knowing who they would be dealing with and of the opinion that everything on Mars but their team must be exterminated.
Some large segment of the movie depicted their war, espionage and more sex.
During some parts of the movie Duo did not so much watch the screen as he did Heero. Some of the time he even sucked at Heero's neck or raked his fingers along Heero's thigh. Heero encouraged him a little. He turned to kiss Duo when it seemed like a good moment for it and he put his hand over Duos hand when he touched him and hoped Duo understood that Heero was saying he liked Duo's touch but he would feel more comfortable if they only held hands while in the theater. Mostly Heero wanted to see how the movie turned out.
In the end many had died but the return ship that the second team had brought was being launched from Mars... but at least one of their surviving team members seemed to be suffering from morning sickness. Behind them, on Mars, in the greenhouses, many smiling babies played and demonstrated telekinetic ability.
By the end of the movie Duo had withdrawn from Heero and was quiet. He was quiet, even for a movie goer. He looked quiet. Ordinarily, even when Duo wasn't speaking his facial expressions said something.
The credits were scrolling. The theater was emptying.
"Are you all right?" Heero whispered.
"Did you mean for us to come here just to make out? I didn't know. Maybe you could just tell me or let me pick a movie I know I will not like."
Duo shook his head. Something like a smile played across his lips and then faded. "It wasn't that at all, but since you suggest it, there is this American studio remake of some French comedy about a pimp with amnesia."
Heero laughed. "That does sound bad."
Duo was still quiet and sitting.
"Shall we...?" Heero stopped as he saw Quatre standing in the aisle looking back at him. "Quatre is here."
"Huh?" Duo looked around and then he saw Quatre also.
Quatre walked into their row and sat in the chair beside Duo's. Heero saw Trowa waiting in the aisle; his hair was different. Heero could see all of his face at once; the hair was swept back and topped with an apparently forgotten pair of sunglasses.
"If you don't have definite plans with Heero maybe we could all go get some food or drinks?"
"You don't drink," Duo said flatly, but he smirked a bit.
Duo sighed, blowing hair off his brow. He straightened up, leaning forward in his chair. "I know a teahouse that is open."
"I definitely drink tea and I'm sure Trowa will survive."
They left the theater for Gekka's and then decided along the way they felt something was missing, so Duo called Wufei from his phone as they walked through the Japanese Quarter. Wufei was home and awake and said he would meet them at the teahouse. As Heero recalled Wufei did not live very far from Gekka's.
Duo was lagging, not walking at his usual pace, and Quatre was already at his side with the concerned questions. Trowa did not seem to know the neighborhood. "I guess I am on point," Heero said as casually as he could, walking past Trowa to lead the way.
"Good luck with that," Trowa called softly. A glance behind told Heero that Trowa dropped back to take the rear position. Duo and Quatre did not really need guarding, but walking in this manner made them look less like a gang than if they clustered on the sidewalk.
Wufei was in the coatroom when they arrived. Gekka herself was waiting on them, taking shoes and chatting. "Perhaps Mister Maxwell would like to pick the dining room," she said, pinching Duo's cheek with the license women of her age took with young men. Heero thought it might be mocking, the way she enounced 'Mister' when Heero believed the geisha here used Japanese forms of address for effect.
"I don't know what we should do with the five of us all together in public," Duo said.
This was remarkable. Heero had seen them all since returning to the Colonies but not all at one time. When they had been together in the past he had been absent. Even then, Heero was unsure how often they had all been in a public place. Heero had only been with Duo or Trowa in very public places since coming home.
"I did not realize that all our infamous Gundam pilots were so good looking. I should put you in my front window to attract customers."
"Do you have anything more private?" Quatre asked seriously.
"They have private dining rooms," Heero answered.
"If Mister Maxwell does not object to being hidden away from the larger public dining rooms," Gekka said, "Then I can offer you the China room. I must inform you the other private rooms are occupied." She bowed, mainly toward Duo.
"China room's fine I guess," Duo said. Heero suspected on another occasion he would have been very flirty with Gekka.
"Duo will be in a better mood once you serve him some matcha," Heero said, trying to be polite and disarming; he was not sure that he was.
"Do we want to go through the ceremony?" Quatre whispered to Duo.
Duo answered at normal speaking volume. "Gekka is the greatest Colonial Master of Tea Ceremony."
"I will show you to your room," Gekka said.
They followed, going past the courtyard's windows and up the stairs to the second floor. One of the doors they passed was open as one of the geisha knelt in the hall to slide the door closed. It was Ursula. Heero saw her eyes stop on Duo before she bowed her head to Heero. He heard singing from that room. Russians singing.
Gekka knelt to open another room for them. As the name suggested this dining room was decorated in a Chinese manner. They took places around the hexagonal table. Heero ended up between Duo and Wufei. Gekka excused her self, saying that she would be back in moments.
Quatre spoke as soon as the door closed. "You notice anything about that movie, Heero?"
"It deviated from the book."
Quatre shook his head.
"There's a book?" Duo asked.
"I happened upon it in my research."
"You didn't notice anything particular about the book?" Duo asked.
"There were many elaborate sex scenes; more than in the movie."
Gekka returned then with a tray. She set this on the table and Heero saw small bowls of steaming water and towels.
"What movie are you talking about?" Wufei asked.
"Your server will be in momentarily and she will take this away after she has your order."
"Domo," Heero said quietly.
Gekka seemed to laugh at him.
"I have a bad feeling about all this," Wufei said.
Duo just sighed.
Quatre washed his hands in a bowl of water. "Trowa? You haven't said anything either."
Trowa raised a brow.
"That's new?" Duo asked.
It was Quatre who sighed with agitation then.
"What? You guys set yourself up for that," Duo said. He shrugged.
"What are we talking about?" Heero asked. "The movie?" He washed his hands.
Their server came into the dining room and so Duo and Quatre would not answer. She asked if she could take orders and began with Wufei, who was closest to her. He ordered some rose-oolong tea, curry-filled pastry and some vegetarian dumplings. The server looked to Trowa then. He did not enjoy tea and Heero wondered what he would order.
"I think I want ice cream," Trowa whispered as someone kicked Heero's leg beneath the table. Duo winced as Trowa continued in a slightly louder tone. "Yes. Chocolate. Served in a cone."
"Any beverage, Sir?"
"Have some sake with me," Heero suggested.
Trowa seemed to think that over. "We will have sake."
Quatre looked tortured. "A cup of Darjeeling, biscuits and jam, please."
"I don't know what I want... except I think Gekka is bringing me tea," Duo said. "Heero?"
The server gave a nod and then returned to Duo with a pleading look.
"OK, I'm not sure this is on the menu, but I bet Gekka would let me have it. I want a bowl of cherries and some chocolate sauce."
"I will ask her."
"Thank you!" Duo almost sounded up to his usual level of charm.
Their server took the washcloths and tray away and left them.
"Quatre," Wufei prompted.
"We went to see a movie called Deep Red. That is, Trowa and I are somewhat lagged and off a proper sleep schedule since the shuttle flight from X18999 and decided to see it. Heero and Duo were there separately. I expected it would be like a horror movie, or maybe Sci-Fi adventure?"
"And there was a lot of sex in it?"
"Yes, but that is not the disturbing thing," Quatre said, "It did not have very much more sex than most movies made these days. Wufei, the plot... involved these Martians..."
"Areians," Heero said, "They used the Greek. They called Mars Ares."
"Heero is correct," Quatre agreed, "but my point is, these Areians were like humans but they were not. They had abilities. Superior strength. Speed. Highly developed senses. Psychic abilities including telepathy and telekinesis."
It was then Heero understood what Quatre and Duo had seen. They must have seen that the Areian characters in the movie were like them. "You mean they are like us? Or, you think they were like us?"
"You really don't see it?" Duo asked.
Wufei was looking around as if he expected someone to be eavesdropping and then Gekka opened the door. She stood up and carried a tray into the room.
"You can talk in front of her," Duo said. "Can't we, Gekka-sama? You wouldn't repeat what we said?"
She put a tray down on the table and sat in the empty seat between Duo and Quatre. She made a slight bow of her head toward Duo. That wasn't a promise, but Heero didn't expect she would talk, more so, he didn't think there was anything to repeat.
"Duo?" Wufei asked.
"Fine. We'll talk later. I need to calm down anyway."
"I shall serve for you only?" Gekka asked Duo.
"You and I will have tea together. I have become upset over several things today and I wish to apologize if I am not suitable company. This room is very beautiful. Everything looks perfect. I feel a little better now I am here."
"Thank you. It is just a room."
Gekka went through the steps of preparing the matcha. Duo watched her work and Heero watched Duo. Duo had been upset when he had, foolishly, believed Heero might cheat on him. He had become upset when he realized he did want to pursue his mobile suit design and construction and that for the time being this meant he would not see Heero so often. The movie had also upset him.
The weekend and the week before had not been easy. Heero wondered what Duo might have been like if they had not ended up together and made love. Heero was glad he had been assigned to go to the damaged Colony.
Heero did not see why the movie was so disturbing. Even if the Areians were like them in some ways, in other ways they were not. Duo and Quatre had overlooked some important plot points if they were upset by that alone.
"This cup is for you," Gekka told Duo.
"No, you may have the first cup," Duo said.
"I made it for you. It would give me pleasure to see you drink it."
"Let's give this cup to Heero, then if you insist I may drink the next cup."
Gekka nodded and placed the small cup before Heero. Heero looked at it. Duo knew he did not like matcha and now Heero felt it would insult Gekka not to drink. She was the greatest Colonial Master of Tea Ceremony. Heero nodded slowly then lifted the cup. He put it to his lips and took only a very small sip.
"This cup of matcha is so excellently prepared that I insist you taste it, Duo," Heero said. He placed the cup down on the table.
"How kind of you," Duo said happily. "To me it will taste even better for having touched your lips, but we should not put Gekka to the test to see if she is kinder than Tsukiyomi, though I am sure she is, so I will finish this cup."
Gekka laughed softly as she was preparing the next cup.
"Who is Tsukiyomi?" Heero asked.
"Perhaps Gekka knows more. I just know that he is a Shinto god that almost no one on Earth knows but that in the Colonies, or here where there are Japanese, people often use his name in a joke or a prayer if they are sharing a cup or some food."
"Tsukiyomi, he is the spirit of the Moon," Gekka said. She pushed a second cup toward Duo.
"Please, I have tasted how excellent your matcha is already, you take that cup."
"I will drink this and then fix you another."
"Why do you say 'kinder than tsukiyomi'?" Heero asked.
"In a legend it is said his sister Amaterasu sent him down to Earth on a mission. Another spirit, or god, was there; Ukemochi, who made all foods. When she heard Tsukiyomi was coming down she wanted to prepare a meal for him. Being a god she brought forth food from within herself. She faced the land and rice spilled from her mouth. She faced the sea and fish spilled forth and so on. When Tsukiyomi came down he was not amused, he was offended that Ukemochi offered him food that had come from her mouth. He slew her for the offense and then all foods were released from within her into the world. Tsukiyomi gave us food, but he killed to do it. His sister Amaterasu was not pleased when she learned of his actions. She declared that she would not look at her brother again. It was said this was why the sun and moon were not seen at the same time, but of course, silly Earthlings of ancient times invented the story. Only they might think that the sun and moon could not see each other because they cannot often see them at the same time. In any case, Amaterasu being the Sun Goddess was very important to those people, as the Sun was, so they forgot about Tsukiyomi. We restored his honor and gave him new stories, we Colonials. He watches over all the Colonies closely and he does not stand for bad manners!"
Heero smiled. "And he gave us food, so as a Colonial and a restaurateur and being named 'Gekka' as well you must be particularly devoted to Tsukiyomi."
"I must," Gekka said, laughing slightly.
A server came with the food and Duo politely asked Gekka to give them privacy and insisted he would make sure everyone was amused and had sake if they wanted it. They were alone then, the five of them, with their food to turn to if they could not face each other.
"I know it wasn't exact, it was just that whole baby thing really upset me," Duo said.
"Babies?" Wufei asked.
"These characters with the special abilities were banished from Earth in the first place just for being different, because the humans feared them," Quatre explained as he neatly spread jam over the tea biscuits on his plate. "At that time, they had done no wrong they had only had children so that there were more of their kind. Then, when the other humans came to Mars... in this movie, the Areians were vilified. It was as if their desire to have children was perverted into some kind of... I don't know."
"The typical aliens use humans to conceive or carry their spawn plot." Duo popped a cherry in his mouth. "A little more subtle than that. It just bugged me. I mean, in some ways, the characters had our abilities, Wufei, and I could just see how people could fear us one day if they knew everything and want us to leave... or worse. And then they made it seem like these characters or anyone who was different really was evil... they made it seem like all they wanted was to breed and I think they definitely suggested that they wanted to take over Earth with their dominant genes." Another cherry was held by the stem and swirled through the bowl of melted chocolate.
"So... it wasn't the movie itself?" Wufei asked, "It was what the movie made you fear could happen to us?"
"Why would they make a movie like that?" Quatre asked as he lifted his cup to drink.
"The book was different," Heero said quietly.
"I thought you put honey and cream in your tea," Trowa whispered.
"You said that before. How was it different?" Duo asked.
"Darjeeling does not need honey or cream," Quatre whispered.
"In the book, the largest difference was the ending. That ending, with the pregnancies on the ship and the babies just looking spooky... it was not even in the book. In the book they did allow some survivors to go back to Earth. Some members of both crews were on the ship. There was no suggestion that any were pregnant. And, there were babies born from the previously established pregnancies, but it was not so many as in the movie and there was nothing ominous about it. The books ending described their leader watching the ship's launch and feeling at peace and secure that his people had a home on Mars and independence. I never felt they were vilified. If anything, certain Earthling characters were villains, while other Earthlings were heroes of course. No one race was right or wrong. And, in the book there was considerably more non-reproductive and homosexual sex described along with those pairings that did result in the children being born. I thought it was an intelligent Science-Fiction premise, addressing the issue of inbreeding in colonies founded by a small group of people without an influx of new colonists."
"Then why make the movie so different?" Quatre asked. He set his teacup down and looked distraught. "I know book adaptations end up like this very often, but the whole slant and message of the story seems changed."
Trowa looked mildly concerned for Quatre and froze still with tongue touched to ice cream.
"And what if this movie is popular enough to be part of the public consciousness?" Duo made some elaborate unclear gesture to the bowl of cherries as if he was angry at it. "What if other stories teach people that the people with special abilities must believe themselves superior and want to spread their genes and so on... and then they find out there are people with special abilities...?" Duo suggested.
Heero shook his head. "It is just a movie. If it is proven and accepted that there is some new type of human and that we are these new types and that we do happen to have dominant genes, then it may very well frighten people. Change frightens people. What is likely evolution may cause panic in such an intelligent race who has learned a certain arrogance in mastering their environment for what seems like ages."
"We are rational, but we may not be flattered as a whole in thinking that our past generations produced more highly evolved humans, when we see them winning all athletic competition and taking the most attractive partners," Wufei offered.
"Yes. It's the same panic we discussed before, only, I think Duo and Quatre are particularly disturbed by the suggestion that we could be considered a threat to humankind if we do anything so natural as ever have children."
"Not that I'm having kids soon! I can't even imagine me getting anyone pregnant! Could you see me being a father?"
Quatre laughed warmly. "You might be a very good father, Duo... someday."
I do not think being a parent is like being an officer or leader," Heero said, "Many good parents who have happy and well-disciplined children would not necessarily be able to command adults or even other children. I think it must involve different skills. You could discover that you have those skills, Duo. You won't know unless you have a child."
"Again, not like I'm looking to try now, but, I didn't even do very well with the dog!"
Heero shrugged. There must be something reassuring to say. "Purebred dogs can be very peculiar. Koi was healthy when he lived with you, just undisciplined. You would probably be better than me. If I was to be a parent, I would probably just do a lot of research and try to do things by the book. Children are chaotic, so you would probably deal with improvising solutions faster and better than I could predict or analyze their behavior and decide on an appropriate course of action."
"You could make a child together," Trowa said quietly. Heero glanced up and noticed Trowa smirked and that Quatre was lapping at the ice cream cone in his hand. "I am sure you would balance each other out if you raised a child together."
"Uh... no!" Duo said, "One, I can't get into this because Wufei and I have a standing TMI agreement. Two, eighteen isn't too young, but it's still pretty fucking young. Three, Heero and I aren't even..."
Officially anything because it's all a trial, Heero supplied in his mind.
"You are getting into it," Wufei said.
Duo laughed his nervous laugh. He stopped abruptly and seemed to stare at Quatre. Quatre was leaning back in his chair and watching Trowa. Trowa was eating ice cream. He really looked a different person with his hair off his face. It made Heero stare.
"I have viable genetic materials in storage somewhere," Heero said, remembering this as he said it.
"I have the name of the lab somewhere, I just... filed it away. Even if I died today someone could have several of my children or make a clone of me if they got into that lab and knew a geneticist."
"Why?" Duo asked.
Quatre started and then turned his attention to Duo. "It's not entirely uncommon. Our family lab could still make me new siblings if I wished it and they probably could clone me... though that seems pointless after they went through the effort to see that I was natural born. It depends on how much money you have and which process you go in for, but in general younger samples show less cellular degradation and so are considered closer to the source and more viable. Many people collect materials from their children."
"Are you kidding me?" Duo asked, "I mean, I'm Colonial, I have no problem with test tubes, I could have grown in an artificial womb for all I know, but... that's creepy, thinking of all these endless rooms full of little vials of sperm or cloneable cells on ice."
"Why should that be creepy? It should not be creepy that we may have dominant genes and may have children some day. It should not be creepy that my family and friends do include a majority of test tube babies and that we have collected materials from children. We do not have frozen embryos however; it is against our religion to store viable embryos that will not immediately be placed in a womb or to create children solely as donors."
Duo shrugged. "Well, I didn't mean I thought it was wrong, exactly, just the imagery of it in my mind makes me uncomfortable. What if someone stole the stuff and made a bunch of Heeros or Quatres against your will?"
"That's as punishable by law as rape is," Heero stated.
"Yeah, but it's still a scary thought. That movie creeped me out!"
"That is your problem," Heero said flatly, "You are not at peace with what you are."
"Are any of you? Really?" Duo demanded. "I don't like having this secret and I am afraid if I told people about it they'd be afraid of me. I think... I can make a lot of things happen, only mostly I do it subconsciously and I'm not in control. How comforting is that? Not being able to promise someone you can control it."
"Control it," Wufei said icily.
"I hate that we don't talk about it!" Duo said. He got up and hobbled quickly to the doors facing the courtyard. He practically threw the doors open and then inhaled the air from the yard as if the dining room had run out of oxygen.
"Wufei, how is your work going?" Heero asked. "Duo is having some strong feelings about what happened, still. When he saw the suit he crashed after he got out of the hospital it was quite clear from the wreck that he has some very powerful uncontrolled ability and that this half-understood power is the only reason he is alive."
Duo said nothing but Heero was sure he didn't mind Heero offering that information.
"We are all under a lot of pressure," Wufei said. "Duo, I was concerned for you of course, but I had to focus on my mission."
"I don't claim that I hurt more or deserve more pity than anyone else," Duo said quietly. "Heero, tell him."
Heero understood. "I did not see the suit. Duo did. The exact phrase he used to describe the cockpit after the crash was 'a me-shaped hollow amongst twisted struts and wire.' He was unconscious and it is unexplainable how so many jagged parts stopped short of piercing his body. Some did, but many more did not. You understand how he must feel."
"Duo... if you had been in the shuttle and used that power to survive, Gibson might have still died in the cockpit of his mobile suit," Quatre said.
"God!" Duo cried.
Quatre looked at Heero and shook his head. Every time Duo told Heero he understood or he was getting over it he was still suffering. Duo might not have lied; he might have felt better each time. The pain just came back. Heero understood guilt. It could come back... overtake you in waves... paralyze you.
"Do not hate whatever saved you, Duo," Quatre said calmly. "It is not wrong or freakish that you are alive. You need to love that ability. You need to accept that it is you. I know that it is difficult. I hated the knowing and feeling sometimes. A lot of the time it just hurts."
"You're honestly all at peace with it? Honestly?" Duo asked, still not facing the room.
"Yes. It still hurts sometimes. I know things and I am sure my life would be easier if I just did not know. Still, it's me. And it's good. I knew that you were not dead. I felt that you were not dead. I know how you feel right now."
Quatre laughed. "I wasn't complaining. We have all had worse days."
Duo turned into the room and leaned back against the railing just outside the doors. He winked at Heero. Heero did not know what to think. He pushed his empty bowl away and reached for a cherry from Duo's place. When he looked up Duo was standing behind Trowa's chair. He took the sunglasses from Trowa's head and slipped them over his own eyes. They were stylish and nearly frameless and looked better on Trowa.
"What's with the hair, Bang Boy? Who could have possessed you to do this?" Duo asked. His fingers combed Trowa's hair and his voice was especially low; Heero thought Duo only sounded like that for him, but it struck him that Duo must have used that voice on so very many people.
"Does everyone here know that you get flirty when you are in a bad mood?" Trowa asked coolly. He didn't seem upset by Duo, but he seemed to frown at Heero.
Heero realized he was not moving, at all. He was sitting very still and straight with a pair of cherries hanging from his fingers, the stems having been unseparated. Heero shook himself and then pulled the cherries from the stems with his teeth.
Trowa only looked amused then.
"Doesn't he look so hot like this, Heero?"
Heero refused to answer that. He looked at Quatre, but Quatre was only amused it seemed. Maybe Duo was just joking.
"You wanna come home with Heero and me, Trowa?" Duo asked.
Heero hoped he was joking.
It was Quatre who responded. "Sure you want that, Duo? You might end up the third wheel there."
Duo grinned as Trowa shook his head sadly and poured Heero some sake. "You have a tricycle as a child, Quatre?" Duo asked.
"Of course, I was a fortunate child. A bit too fortunate."
"Quatre needs some desperate soldiers about to give his life perspective and purpose," Trowa said as he poured another small cup of sake for himself.
Duo cackled. "Or... Quatre... if two wheels makes a bicycle I could just ride."
"That I seriously doubt about you," Trowa told Duo. He reached up and hooked a finger through the ring on Duo's slave collar.
Duo took the cup from Trowa's place and drank the sake before Trowa could. "I doubt it about you," Duo said.
Trowa filled the cup again. "You don't know what I would do."
"I know who you would do."
"Duo, maybe you should go home with Trowa and Quatre?" Heero suggested, not very seriously.
"Yes, because sitting on the couch at headquarters watching old American movies about brooding, freakish or cross-dressing young men, angelic women, ghosts, witches, dead dogs... and apes... with these two sounds much more interesting than whatever you might do with Heero," Wufei said sarcastically.
"Oh, that's totally my idea of a good time!" Duo chirped, "Should we dress up Trowa as Catwoman or Vampira first, Quatre?"
Quatre gasped, involuntarily it seemed.
"Why would I be the girl?" Trowa asked.
"Man, we could all be girls for all I care," Duo announced, "I just thought Quatre would do brooding and tortured pretty well and I could do brooding and quirky or tortured.. .maybe you could too, but then Quatre would have to shave and he looks so hot with some facial hair. Really works for him."
"Sí, sí," Trowa agreed, almost enthusiastically.
Heero dropped the cherry stems and pits into his empty bowl and lifted his sake instead.
"Hey, jump in if you know this one," Duo said as Trowa smiled and fished a cherry stem from Heero's bowl. He put it in his mouth. Behind him Duo combed his fingers with his hair until he almost had Trowa's usual hairstyle. He touched a hand to Quatre's shoulders and then he sang.
Heero knew Duo sang when he got flirtatious.
This song was slow in tempo, at least it began so. Heero thought it might be a ballad. "Would you dance if I asked you to dance? Would you run and never look back? Would you cry if you saw me crying? Would you save my soul tonight?"
Trowa made a rolling gesture for Duo to continue. His mouth was busy.
Duo only draped himself over Quatre more heavily. "Would you tremble if I touched your lips? Would you laugh? Oh, please tell me this. Now, would you die for the one you love? Hold me in your arms tonight."
Trowa removed the cherry stem from his mouth and flashed it toward Duo before he placed in neatly before Heero. It was in a knot.
Trowa made a slight bow of his head to Heero and then he sang.
Heero did like when Duo and Trowa sang together. It was entertaining. He wondered how Trowa had gotten the cherry stem into a knot.
Trowa sang in Spanish. "Si pudiera ser tu héroe. Si pudiera ser tu Dios. Que salvarte a tí mil veces. Puede ser mi salvación."
Quatre made some incredibly sexy sound that was like a laugh and Duo was giddy. "Wasn't a literal translation then. I like it in Spanish!"
Trowa shrugged. All he had done was learn the song in that language and sing a few lines. But, he had a lovely voice. "Si supieras la locura que llevo que me hiere y me mata por dentro y qué mas da mira que al final lo que importa es que te quiero." It sounded very sad and romantic, whatever it meant.
"¡Te quiero... te quiero!" Duo laughed happily.
Trowa shook his head.
Heero hoped Duo was joking. It was not like he owned him... he hoped Duo was just messing around. Duo needed attention. Hadn't Heero been paying attention?
"Tell me if you know this one," Duo said smoothly. He grinned as he backed up a few steps, favoring his left leg only slightly. "Mmmm... ye~ah," Duo trilled. Heero wondered if he would know this song. He wondered if it was an American thing. Trowa was not American but he had grown up everywhere and on Earth, that could be significant.
Duo was not just going to sing. He was dancing; arms hung above his head and hips rocking to one side and then the other. "Boy, you know you make me float..." If it was a competition Duo had just taken the lead and Heero forgot that he had thought Trowa sounded lovely or sexy. "Boy, you really get me high... oooh... I feel like I'm on dope... 'cause you... 'cause you serve me on a... serve me on a regular..."
Trowa was acting disinterested but peripheral vision told Heero everyone else was watching Duo.
"Boy, you gotta stroke... Hmmm Mmmm... before you drift in me... before you drift in me deeper."
Suggestive lyrics, Heero thought, I'll stroke him.
But... Duo was moving toward Trowa again. His hands were coming down and slipping off the red shirt he was wearing. "Baby, now hold me close... Boy, let's take this overboard now."
Trowa seemed to be thinking hard. Heero did not like this game. Trowa was just trying to think what song this was so he could out perform Duo. Heero was supposed to be content to sit on the other side of the table and watch his lover dancing for Trowa? Now the one shirt was gone Duo was in black cropped tee and low-slung jeans... he looked much too good to be offering himself to Trowa!
"I want you to rock the boat..." It wasn't just the lyrics that were suggestive. Duo was simulating sex. Trowa's eyes had no heat in them, but they were all over Duo's skin. And Quatre was looking too!
"Work it in the middle..."
Quatre, Heero thought, Quatre!
Quatre turned, tongue poised against his upper teeth. He raised one brow and Heero understood what Quatre was saying, thought Quatre did not actually speak. "Do not blame me for looking, Duo does have a great body."
And males are visually stimulated, Heero thought to himself.
"Mmmn, now, stroke it, Baby..." Duo sang.
"Stimulated," Quatre repeated.
Trowa stood up, and this put his body much too close to Duo's for Heero's liking.
"Oooh, Baby, I love your stroke... 'cause you... 'cause you get me where... 'cause you get me where I'm goin'"
"Duo!" Heero called.
His eyes flashed to Heero for a moment, dark and blue, and then they were gone and Duo's hands were on Trowa. "I'm sure you'll get my vote..."
"I might have to give Trowa my vote too, Duo," Wufei laughed, "Sure you can keep up with him with a broken leg?"
Rising to the challenge Duo increased the range of his high and low notes and trilled lyrics and added gorgeous breathy sounds between words. "'Cause I believe... I believe you know just what you're doin' now... Baby...now we can coast...let's coast...let's coast..." And all the time, lacking music, Duo kept the beat perfectly with the movement of his hips. And those hips ground in circles toward Trowa. Of course, Trowa proved able to match every move, so that they never actually touched, except for a fingertip here or there.
"I have only seen them get like this with each other. I don't understand it," Quatre said.
"No, no, that's too slow," Duo sang, "Hey, go ahead and put that thang in overdrive!"
"I want you to skip ahead," Trowa sang.
"Skip ahead? Skip ahead. Skip ahead." Duo chanted, grinning.
"Now take me to the bridge..." Trowa said, seemingly on the verge of laughter. They were having fun. They were tormenting Heero but they were just having fun.
Duo gave a nod, his arms in the air again, as were Trowa's. "Stroke it for me... hmmm... stroke it, Baby, stroke it, Baby. Mmmm... work it, Baby, work it, Baby. Hmmm... stroke it... there is something I want you to do..."
It was really just a game to them. Heero did not know what he should do. If he watched them he felt jealous and aroused and confused and inadequate all at once. Quatre did not look upset. In fact, Quatre looked decidedly hungry when he wasn't laughing warmly. Wufei looked... jaded.
Whatever this was, flirting or party game or dancing or sex, it was a level of social interaction Heero was quite unfamiliar with. He felt uncomfortable. Even if Duo had been dancing like that with him, he would have been uncomfortable. Heero would not have known if he should express how much he did want Duo or if he should purposely not think about that and just take part in putting on a show for friends. Heero did not comprehend the purpose of this action.
"I want you to use your self..."
Trowa was moving away from Duo, but the game was not over. Trowa was just trying to steal the spotlight as it were. The way his pelvis gyrated, it was much quicker than Duo's perfectly steady movements but just as rhythmic.
"Like you never ever used it before... never... to explore my body... explore it, Baby... until you reach the shore... hey... have you callin'... callin' for more... callin'... yeah..."
Heero tried to think of something else. The others were having fun. He should know how to have fun too. He wondered if Duo had learned to sing like that in church, but Heero did not think Catholics were the ones known for that sort of range and elaboration. They had organs backing their choirs. Maybe things were different in V08744.
Maybe homeless war orphans sang like that on the street to earn money.