Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero had expected grunginess for some reason, but though there was smoke and some litter on the floor there was nothing dark or very dirty about the interiors of the sprawling Ibiza. It was not even as labyrinthine as Heero would have guessed. That was part of its mind-boggling power: one could look over a rail, around a partition or through a painted glass window and see the arena-sized main room and through more archways and windows, further rooms. A glance in any direction and Heero could feel lost in a crowd of tens of thousands of dancing humans.
The music Heero heard in the mezzanine was slower than he had expected, but then nothing was entirely what he could have expected. It seemed... trippy. Heero was sure that was the word. Music that for its vague lyrics and steady beat and soaring synthesized melodies would have sounded amazing to one dosing hallucinogens or stimulants. It would have come alive for them.
It looked strange enough to Heero. He felt like he was on drugs. The way the tubes of neon were timed he sometimes felt that time quickened and slowed as he walked. The strobes gave people trails. A single large soap bubble drifted across his path.
State of the art holograph projectors were in use, simply to make it seem that butterflies danced in the air.
Lasers drew patterns of color in the smoke.
The sense of being in low gravity added to the hallucinatory feeling. Heero did not feel that his body weighed very much. If he jumped into the air, he would fall slowly.
No one looked human. Heero tried to be logical about it. That's glitter applied to her skin, he told himself. Some people are willing to surgically implant hardware beneath their skin when they haven't lost a limb or an organ and horns or spikes might look good to them, Heero told himself. Contacts. Make up.
"That girl is wearing nothing but paint!" Heero told Quatre.
"They usually have at least a thong beneath the paint or latex!" Quatre called back.
Someone grabbed Heero's arm. She wore an OZ soldier's jacket and cap with a white bikini bottom and black thigh high boots. She grabbed the leash handle hanging at Heero's thigh. "You wanna take me prisoner?"
Heero stared at her, wondering if she was insane. Over her shoulder Quatre was moving his lips and gesturing. "She thinks you are in costume!"
Heero lifted his right hand and mimed holding a gun, as a child might. He pressed his first to fingers to her temple and smiled. "Omae o korosu."
She did not seem to speak Japanese, but she understood there was a gun to her head. She lifted her arms. Behind her back Quatre seemed to be looking at her ass. Heero quirked a brow to that.
The girl turned and saw Quatre raise his head. He smiled for her then leaned in and kissed her face. He then dismissed her with a shooing gesture of one hand.
"You kissed a girl you don't even know!" Heero shouted.
Quatre laughed and then looked panicked. "Oh, My Gawd, there was totally some mysterious powder all over her face! Heero! We have to shut the place down and sweep for biochemical agents!"
Heero glared. He knew Quatre was mocking him with this act. "We'll find plenty of mysterious vials here!" Heero rolled his eyes.
Quatre laughed then kissed Heero's face.
Quatre beckoned and Heero followed again. It was difficult just to get through the club, because it was so crowded. Just moving along this level above the largest dance floor meant twisting and winding through a viscous mass of flesh. There were hands straying everywhere. Heero couldn't tell friendly from accidental from groping from pickpockets; people just touched him.
Two grown, but slender, men in Barton Foundation Youth uniforms were making out with each other against the railing.
Heero had not seen Duo or Trowa yet. He had only glimpsed what Duo had been wearing and had not seen Trowa at all. They were of a similar build, so Trowa might have borrowed clothes from Duo.
A kilt. Heero thought he had seen a kilt on the video screen when he had seen Duo. Truthfully, he had mainly noticed skin and hands and water. Heero had the impression that Duo had work sleeves though his chest had been bare. So he was looking for a tall beautiful young man with many long braids in a kilt and sleeves.
Scanning the crowds, there were many tall young men, and some wore skirts of various styles and some wore braids of various styles.
He is pale, Heero thought. Duo's skin is very white. That gave him something else to scan for along with the braids and kilt.
"This is where they have the water!" Quatre called.
The room beyond the archway before them had its own DJ and music, very trance-like and filtered, as if one were listening to music underwater. The walls were cyan with uplights rigged to simulate a pattern of sunlight on the sea floor. Chubby winged statues pissed water into the room and the floor was covered in grates to allow water to drain and be recycled. Heero hoped they ran it through purifiers, or else he would not want to be in this room toward closing.
A timer on the wall showed the time until the next rainfall from the overhead sprinkler system.
Heero could see the raised platforms, but Duo was no longer on any of them. Heero scanned the mass of wet dancers with matted locks of hair swinging and so much slick skin bared. The bodies coming into the room pushed Heero toward the dance floor. He knew he was strong enough to push them away, but then he was strong enough to hurt someone.
Heero rode the wave onto the dance floor, drops of water hitting him. He did not see Duo anywhere. Heero knew how tall he was and how tall Duo ought to look in comparison and there was no one of that height that looked like Duo here. Heero did not see Trowa either.
He could see Quatre far away.
Heero had a sudden fear that Duo would leave the club and look for him at home and Heero would be here all day looking for Duo. Duo was not in this room anymore. Heero had no clue where he had gone.
Heero left the room, pushing people out of the way as gently as he could and continuing until he reached the open railing.
On the dance floor below there were platforms above the crowd. Dancers and acrobats and contortionists did their acts above the crowd. There was a pool fenced off with a wall of acrylic, right in the center of the main floor, and swimmers did a synchronized routine. In the air above the dance floor other performers did wire and trapeze stunts.
There were so many people.
Someone touched Heero. He turned quickly and saw it was only Quatre. "Do you see anyone?" he asked.
"How can I see anything in that crowd?"
"Heero, we should try to have fun! Maybe if we just go have fun they will find us!"
Heero could see them truing to imagine what room would interest Duo or Trowa most and then going there. He would feel like he was doing something then. "So, what's your pleasure, Quatre?" Heero called.
Heero rolled his eyes.
"I see Trowa, Heero!" Quatre leaned over the rail and pointed. Quatre seemed to be directing Heero to look across the club to the people against the rail at the opposite side of the dance floor. Heero saw people, but he could not pick Trowa out yet. "Oh, there, that caramel-cinnamon hair and that face... and that body!"
"Where? Do you see Duo?"
"Trowa! Oh, Trowa, see me!" Quatre pleaded. He waved his arms overhead. "He's flirting! He's not supposed to be flirting with other people!"
Heero thought he saw Trowa, across the club and further toward the DJ booth than they were. Duo did not seem to be with him. Heero saw some sparkly people surrounding Trowa, who seemed to be wearing the same basic white button down and black jeans he had before, though the shirt was hardly buttoned or tucked.
"We will have to go around this way as fast as possible," Quatre shouted. He turned from the rail quickly, the tails of his long shirt rippling around his legs. Quatre surveyed the mezzanine floor. "How does it look Heero? Could I run in here?"
The reason one did not run on the surface of Moon was that in it's low gravitational field a good run or jump could achieve escape velocity and then one would drift into space. If there was a ceiling, running and jumping could launch one into the air and then they would hit the ceiling. How they hit the ceiling was another matter. If they spun before hitting and hit the ceiling with their feet they might launch from the ceiling.
It was not Zero g, short of reaching escape velocity a person would always fall toward the floor, they just would not fall very hard.
"In theory you could maintain a spiraling run around the corridor," Heero called, "But there are too many obstacles for that, the best you can..."
Quatre was already gone. He'd jumped the crowd and was in the air above them and moving away from Heero.
If Quatre got to Trowa and lured him away then Heero would not get a chance to ask him if he had seen Duo. Heero decided to test if the magnets were strong enough to hold his weight to the ceiling against gravity. He jumped up onto the rail and from there jumped to the ceiling and kicked his feet up.
He landed on the ceiling, a hand bracing himself against the wall. The magnets held, though his feet slipped slightly inside his boots. A hesitant step told Heero one shoe at a time was not going to hold him.
Heero put his hands in his pockets and then shuffled backward across the ceiling. There was no traffic, so he could move a lot faster than he might on the floor. There were two corners to take before getting to the other side of the club. When Heero had passed one and reached the area near the entrance some people below noticed him.
A young man made his way up to the ceiling and smiled at Heero as he shuffled along beside him.
That boy left at the second corner. Heero turned and looked along the hall for Quatre. He did not see him at first, but then he caught sight of the tan pants and black jacket sailing across the hallway.
Heero shuffled down this section of hall after Quatre. He could see when he looked over his shoulder that Quatre's shoes caught the metal railing. Shortly after, Quatre jumped across the hall. He repelled off of the wall and then was sailing toward the railing again.
By that time many people had noticed that not everyone was content to travel on the floor and others had taken to jumping through the hall, just for fun. Heero moved as quickly as he could, staying on the side away from the railing.
Turning to look for Quatre again, Heero witnessed one of the less skilled jumpers careen into Quatre. Heero dropped to the floor quickly, apologizing to the people he rubbed against on the way down and scanning for Quatre.
He fell slowly, moving toward the railing. The back of Quatre's head hit the archway between the columns that supported the ceiling over the rail. Heero kept moving toward him, pushing his way through the crowd. He saw Quatre's body tuck itself into a ball and roll forward as he fell. He sank down between the bodies near the rail.
Heero continued forward and saw that somehow Quatre had managed to fall directly into Trowa's arms. Quatre's arms were about Trowa's neck and Trowa's arms supported Quatre's legs and back. Trowa looked at Heero as he approached and did not seem at all surprised to see him.
Heero waved lamely. "Hi."
"Is Quatre all right? I saw he hit his head," Heero called over the fast music that seeped from the spaces below and to their side.
Trowa dropped Quatre's legs to free an arm. As Quatre stood leaning against him Trowa lifted his free hand to the back of Quatre's head. "No blood. No swelling." Trowa did not raise his voice at all, so Heero really had to read his lips to understand.
Trowa lifted a hand to brush hair from his face and so Heero did not see what Trowa said to Quatre. He saw that Quatre nodded.
Trowa dropped his hand and Quatre laughed. His hands slid down from Trowa's shoulders to his arms. "You have to let me go, Trowa, you are getting me all wet!"
Trowa took his arm from Quatre's back and nodded. As Quatre hopped up to the rail to sit Heero could see how damp Trowa's hair and clothing were. "We were in the water room. Natural fibers..." Trowa pulled at his shirt and when he let go it slapped right back down against his skin, nearly transparent and soon conforming to his shape.
Quatre tossed his head cutely. "You should take it off, Trowa. It will dry faster."
"I will leave it on."
He had scars. Heero had seen them, but he did not know if Trowa knew that he had ever seen them. Not just healed over bullet wounds. They all had those, except Duo, who had amazingly smooth and intact skin for a soldier, as if projectiles could not touch him. Trowa had a significant amount of scarring on his back and based on Heero's level of medical training he would guess they were very old burns. Heero had always guessed that in the past there had been an explosion of some kind and Trowa had instinctively turned his back and curled so that only his back was exposed to the intense heat.
Heero had seen people who had walked out of blast areas and battlefields and such injuries did not seem uncommon.
"Oh," Quatre said.
Trowa was turned toward Quatre, trying to think of something to say, or just marveling at Quatre's pants.
Heero caught Quatre's eye with a tip of his head and then rolled his eyes toward Trowa as he drew a line across his own stomach with his fingers.
Quatre's hand touched his own stomach. He had a scar there from a puncture wound made by a fencing foil; it was obscured by his translucent shirt and the embroidery decorating it, but they knew it was there.
"You wear less in front of audiences at the circus, Trowa," Quatre teased.
"That is different. They are all so far away from me."
Quatre smiled and reached for the front of Trowa's shirt. "That is good. Maybe we should button you up. Save this sight for Allah and your future spouse and not flaunt your beauty?"
Heero leaned against the rail and watched the hall for signs of Duo. He laughed at Quatre's question. Quatre was flaunting everything.
"Allah approves of this?" Trowa asked, wagging a finger over Quatre's attire.
"What kind of question is that, Trowa? I am entirely covered up," Quatre insisted.
"If only Allah and your future spouse are to know what you look like naked then you will have to marry everyone here."
"I do not think everyone here is looking at me with the way Heero is dressed!" Quatre said loudly, "But if you refuse my proposal I might ask Heero." Quatre laughed and turned his head toward Heero. "You will leave Duo for me, won't you? Marry me? We will be fabulously rich and have exquisitely decorated houses and maintain peace by protecting the world from careless zaibatsu and hackers who are not in it for the cause of free information and terrorists with flawed morals and bad fashion choices."
"Sure Quatre, if you propose and Trowa refuses," Heero said flatly.
"What was I thinking with that vest and khakis thing?" Quatre ranted.
Trowa held up his hands. "I wasn't going to bring it up because I thought it might have been my own cultural biases that made me find your attire..." He stopped.
"You know what it is... western clothing!" Quatre ranted. "Stereotype or not I believe my people are culturally western fashion impaired. We have very lovely clothing of our own but when we go to school in European or American founded schools and try to dress in western clothing we just look wrong. I am sure that is the real reason we hated America before we decided to be enlightened and above such things. We hated how bad we looked in the clothes they made!"
"Quatre, you didn't look that bad," Trowa laughed.
"Aa... I do not know if that is true or not, but have you ever noticed how Americans will decide that for one year everyone will wear bindi, or 'harem pants,' or Chinese characters stamped on all their clothes, or skirts made of sari fabric and they think that very kewl and fashionable but very few of them can pull off the look without looking stupid?"
"Speaking of... Duo was here. I thought he would have wandered back by now. He knew I was going to stay here for awhile and watch the wire stunts."
"You don't know where he is?" Heero asked.
"I thought in one of these rooms nearby, but I can't be sure. He's wearing this kilt. I think his outfit would look ridiculous on anyone else, but it actually looks right on Duo."
"Duo can wear traditional clothing of any culture in the middle of the day and not look ridiculous or mocking," Quatre said. He smiled down at Trowa from his seat on the rail. "So, do you want to help me save the world from bad fashion, Trowa?"
"I don't know that you would want me. I am the most conservatively dressed Latino in the Earth Sphere. I have traveled most of the Sphere, trust me on this."
Quatre laughed. "What about the circus costumes?"
"OK, I had to make those, because everyone supplies their own costumes and props, but they are just costumes. They are supposed to be flashy."
"And what about the Gundam, Trowa?"
"That was not my fault! I thought it should be camo-painted. Dr. S had a meeting about it. He asked the crew what color scheme we should use for the Gundam. For a while no one spoke, so I said, 'I think a blue-green camo would be wise...' and then Trowa said, 'I am not going to be sneaking around and hiding in trees!' Then I said, 'What about dark blue with green trim?' Trowa said, 'I am going down there as an enforcer, to take over. I am not piloting any queer green Gundam! It should look dangerous and be highly visible! You paint it really bright colors, but not green.' So, just to spite him, I painted it orange, red, white, blue and yellow. I didn't know I was going to have to pilot that thing."
Quatre wiped tears from his eyes.
Heero was laughing and he did not know if he could stop. "You are lying. You made that up."
"No. Trowa thought it looked really good after we painted it too, which was disappointing. Trowa was an ass; you should all be grateful I assumed his identity."
"Very grateful," Quatre said.
Heero wiped his eyes and realized Duo was standing less than a meter away from him. "Duo!"
His eyes skipped over Heero. "You can all hear each other?" Duo shouted.
"I suppose it's half lip-reading and half telepathy," Quatre said.
"He said it was lip-reading and telepathy," Heero said. He noticed Duo looked hard at him when he spoke. He did look interesting. Somehow on Duo the blue velvet bondage belt over the predominantly red kilt looked good. Somehow the chunky braids tied off with pink ribbons, the fishnet that covered his arms and ran across the top of his chest, the collection of prayer beads and crosses hanging from his neck below the blue collar and the single boot laced up to his right knee all made sense.
"Oh! That figures! Trowa and I had to resort to leaning in really close to communicate." Duo grinned and winked at Trowa. His eyes moved quickly to Quatre. "Well, step down and do a turn for me."
Quatre slipped from the rail, raised his arms and did a turn in many baby steps so that his hips swayed when he moved.
"All right! Nice pants! Where'd you get them?" Duo shouted.
"A boutique in Baghdad."
"Kewl! What are they made out of?"
Quatre leaned back against the rail then kicked his left leg up so that his heel rested on Trowa's shoulder. "Lambskin. You want to touch them?"
Heero saw Trowa's eyes move down the inside of Quatre's raised leg while Duo's hands moved up along the outside of Quatre's leg. "Oh, God, these are so kewl!"
"You are wearing real lambskin pants?" Trowa asked.
Quatre bit his lip. "Yes. Is that bad? It's not cruel to animals, really. It's not like having snakeskin boots! We raise them well and they are killed humanely and payers are said and we eat the meat and use the wool. There's practically no waste."
"I don't care if you bludgeoned them to death; these pants are worth it," Duo chirped. "Do you think they come in black?"
"There's no bludgeoning!" Quatre insisted. Heero though the would have removed his leg if he could, but Quatre would have kicked Trowa or Duo if he did.
"It's OK," Trowa said. "I actually have snakeskin boots."
Quatre laughed softly. "What about being the most conservatively dressed Latino?"
"They are very classy snakeskin boots, and it's OK, because I have eaten snake before."
"Yeah, but can you deep throat snake, Trowa?" Duo asked, laughing at his own joke.
Quatre's skin went pink. Trowa turned, allowing Quatre's leg to fall. Duo stepped away from Trowa. "Ask your boyfriend," Trowa said.
"I do not believe you actually said that in front of Heero," Duo laughed.
"I do not recall anything about snake, but I have seen Trowa put away some eel," Heero said. He needed to distract Duo now. He reached out for the ring in Duo's wrist cuff and pulled him toward the rail. Heero then sat on the rail and pulled Duo the rest of the way by his hair.
Heero slipped the leash from his waist then reached around Duo to the front of his collar to clasp the leash to the ring there. Heero gave the leash a tug. "Now you have marveled at Quatre's pants, where is my greeting?"
Duo turned and looked at Heero with such a contrived sad, pouting face that it was funny. Heero laughed. Duo's brow furrowed and he pouted for real. "I didn't think you would come. You said clubbing wasn't your kind of thing. I was too surprised to give you a really nice greeting."
"Clubbing is not my kind of thing, but you are."
"Witty comebacks failing..."
Heero kissed Duo's lips lightly then drew up his head to be sure Duo understood him. "You do want me here with you? I am not holding you back from flirting with someone else right now? Maybe I should get a booth with Trowa and Quatre and you would like to go find someone to dance with?"
Duo's gaze was so pleading. His eyes... were...
"You have no idea what you are holding me back from doing," Duo said breathily. A split-second and he was kissing Heero.
It was hot. Heero definitely felt he was the one being kissed. He held the leash and a fistful of braids and wrapped his legs around Duo. He felt Duo's hands on him, moving beneath his shirt and sliding over the pants he wore.
Heero realized, he was just another apparently costumed young man making out in front of everyone in the nightclub and he did not care. No drugs taken, but he had lost his inhibition.
Without giving up on kissing Duo, Heero opened one eye to see if Quatre was watching him. As he suspected Quatre was looking toward them, with Trowa leaning in to speak at his far ear. "Duo, you'll make sure Heero has a ride home? You won't change your mind and expect me to find him?"
Heero lifted a hand and shooed Quatre away. He would not let Duo change his mind.
"Trowa and I are going to go dance. Maybe we'll see you around."
The next time Heero opened his eyes they were gone. He was not surprised. When he concentrated his brain said minutes had passed.
"Let's get out of here," Duo said.
Heero slipped down from the railing. "Leave the club?" He'd only just gotten over his paranoia completely.
"C'mon." The rest was spoken in body language, a tip of the head and the swing of a hip.
Heero fell into step at Duo's left side, sheltering his injured leg and ready to act as a crutch. He didn't think Duo would let him right now, even if he needed it.
The street sounded nearly silent after being in the club. Heero hadn't realized how the auditory barrage had effected his hearing. Heero swallowed.
"It's not pressure. Your brain will readjust soon," Duo said quickly.
"So..." Duo turned to face Heero and lifted Heero's right hand. "You OK... I mean... can I say something?" He was nervous.
"Hai," Heero said seriously.
Duo smiled. Heero thought he genuinely liked the sound of Japanese. His eyes were on the ground though, not even on Heero. "About the way I left the teahouse..."
"Nothing to talk about. It has been a good day. So, we had an argument after school? I blame that on low blood sugar. We had the fantastic make up sex, the take-out Chinese by candlelight, shared popcorn and a movie, had tea with good friends and got to go to a fabulous nightclub. A lot to feel grateful for."
Duo sighed. "Yeah, that was all good," He agreed with a smile as he remembered his favorite parts, "but I knew you were upset. I knew and I was upset and I ran off to a club with Trowa and left you behind."
Heero tugged on the leash. "I found you."
Duo smiled then frowned. He turned and took a step away, breaking Heero's hold on the short leash with his speed. Duo turned back to Heero then and made some exacerbated gesture. "I-I want to tell you something, Heero... but I don't. You know?"
Heero did not know. Duo might avoid saying something if he thought he would have to lie to put it in words. He sometimes could not find the words in any language to say what he felt. Heero was aware that Duo was as experienced and habitual as he was in hiding his true emotions. Heero also knew Duo felt many things strongly.
"I do not understand... yet."
Duo gestured, as if trying to grasp something. "I think I feel something... or maybe I know something, but I'm not sure if it's true. Maybe I have something important to say... but I can't say it yet." Duo rolled his eyes and turned away. "That sounded so stupid. Ya know, no one else puts me at a loss for words."
"Everything that you say always sounds a lot kewler that what I say."
Duo shook with quiet laugher. He looked at Heero across his shoulder. "You've got a wit on ya, Heero, it's just really peculiar."
Duo heaved a sigh.
"You look cute tonight."
"Bishy for sure."
"It is very you. I could have imagined you looking like this."
Duo tipped his head toward Heero. "You. Fashionplate. As usual."
Heero shook his head.
Duo stepped in close. Heero moved his hands over the strange texture of the fishnet on Duo's arms. "Aaaw, I wanted you so bad when you were kissing me," Duo said at his ear, lips grazing Heero's skin. "I wanted to take you up to a booth and lean up against the cool mirror and beg you to fuck me with the reach around." His tongue flickered over Heero's ear. "Wanted to stare at me being fucked by you and you fuckin' me. Wanted to scream for you and cum all over the glass."
Heero shivered. "Well planned out fantasy."
"I was kissing you and I wanted it and then I started thinking about other stuff." The sexiness left Duo's voice. "I thought about the stuff I don't know how to tell you yet. I just wanted to get out of there."
"Thought you were not a tease."
"I'm not, which is why I'm tryna figure how you feel about it, so I know what to do."
"How do you feel about it?" Heero asked.
"Kinda on the fence about it. I want you. Always want you. I don't think I want to do it here. I don't know if I'm ready to leave here."
"The practical thing to do would be to take your shuttle back to Zee Four Zeros One, sleep as much as possible, and see if we can get you to school before their day is over."
"Yeah, I know."
"But you won't have many chances to be here for a while, it seems illogical to not take advantage of being here now. That is, if there is something in particular you want to do."
"Do you dance?"
"Would you dance with me somewhere, just for a while? We can go be practical after that."
"Acceptable," Heero said flatly.
They walked down the main street, vaguely in the direction Heero and Quatre had come from. Duo seemed to know where he was going and holding his leash again was like walking Koi. Duo pulled on the leash as he moved toward every thing that interested him.
"Here!" Duo said, "I want to go in here."
"The towers," Heero said as he looked at them.
"Yep, New York, New York. Ya know the towers were clipped by the shuttle that took out the sign in '69? Still standing."
"C'mon, there's rooms here you'll like!" Duo put his hands to Heero's hand that gripped the leash handle. He removed Heero's hand from the leash, but held onto his hand to lead him toward the towers. "Ah, there!"
Duo had them rushing up to a girl on the street. She recognized him immediately and called him by name. Red hair, stripped tights, dress with neckline nearly as low as the slits in her skirt were high.
"Hey Amy!" Duo kissed her face.
"Duo! What have you been doing? Are you OK?" She looked at the cast on his left leg. "You're walking already?"
"I'm fine, really. Don't want to talk about all that," Duo said, waving the subject away. "So, how's it look inside?"
"Oh, I can't believe you're here. Hilde didn't say you would be here."
"Shit! Hilde's here?"
"Everyone's here? It wasn't even planned. I guess we just had some good nights this past weekend and everyone knows that Luna Sea is big on Mondays.'
"It's big all the time... guess I see your point. On the weekend the other places have good events and a lot of them are dead during the week."
"Well, lots of people you would know. Where have you been? I know there was the crash, but before that. Hilde said..." Amy seemed to notice Heero for the first time, or she bothered to look at him then.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude," Amy said to Heero.
"This is Heero. We have a sort of arrangement, so I've been spending a lot of time with him and not going out to the usual places. It's good; I hope we work out something long term."
He did? Heero looked up to Duo, wondering. Duo had not said that to Heero in any words. He didn't lie, so he must have meant it. He didn't seem to notice how important his words were to Heero. He just went on talking and asked Amy about getting in.
"You have money today?" Amy asked.
"Yeah," Duo groaned.
"Here." Amy gave Duo some foil cards. "If you were here earlier I would have had no problem getting you in for free. If you'd called ahead I could have gotten you paid to show up, but as it is we've pretty much met the quotas for today. John brought a whole shuttle of people from S3."
"He's here?" Duo asked nervously.
"A lot of them."
"The usual rooms?"
"I suppose, unless they got drunk or pissed enough to get back at those Earth-baby college guys that are always trolling around and went into one of their rooms."
"Ah, well, I'll see ya then." Duo waved the cards then walked backward toward the door. "Least we get a discount, that's good."
"They let you right in and put you up on the cameras at Ibiza?"
"Yeah, but they don't get so many just like me. It's different here. They got twenty-four dance clubs between the two towers, a sorta 'style of music for every hour of the day' thing. So, the spotters want to draw in a smaller number of people for each room, while they just draw in people in general at Ibiza. Ya know? Twenty-four big parties instead of one ridiculously large party."
They passed by the doormen and then inside Duo showed the cards, discount passes, at the ticket booth. Heero had to give his ID to be checked, which made him feel slightly more secure about this club.
"So," Duo was explaining, "If a bunch of my friends all showed up before me on the same night, they let some of them in free and I have to pay, because we're all going to end up in the same rooms." Duo pointed to an elevator. "We want The Eleventh Hour."
Heero supposed that was the name of a particular room, in keeping with the style of music for ever hour theme. "What did Amy mean about 'their rooms'?"
The elevator doors opened and Duo pulled Heero in after him. "I think you will catch on if you see better than if I explain. It doesn't matter. You and me are going there to dance together, not for anything else."
"Right," Heero said. He felt some suspicion, as if Duo was hiding something. Heero felt Duo was hinting to something and had been all day perhaps. This thing that Duo thought he knew but could not explain. This might be related to it.
Whatever it was, Duo had refused sex over it. Heero wondered if these people Duo knew, like John, had anything to do with it.
For one second Heero envisioned Duo confessing that he was sick. No, Heero thought, Duo could tell me that. It's something emotional.
It had to do with the trial and Duo's old habits, Heero was feeling confident this was true. But, rules of the trial, which they had agreed to, prohibited them from actually discussing whether Duo still continued to have other lovers.
Heero had always assumed that Duo had. What if he had not?
Heero did not want to get his hopes up, but this was tempting and might explain some of Duo's actions. What if Heero was already Duo's only lover?
The doors were opening.
He hadn't been clubbing in weeks. He had outright admitted that. What did that signify?
'You have no idea what you are holding me back from doing.' Duo had said that. Had Heero actually kept him from being with other people? He had requested Duo not be with Gibson and Duo had done that. Hadn't there been others?
"We're here," Duo said.
Heero stepped off the elevator. This was nearly like what he expected a dance club to look like, only he had not expected the Halloween decoration. Everyone was like Duo. It seemed unbelievable to Heero. Everything that he had thought of as 'just Duo' someone else was doing. Everything that Duo had worn someone else wore.
Clerical garb, black leather, skirts on boys, eyeliner, dark nail polish, braids, long hair, crosses, piercings, romantically out of fashion fashion... they all had it.
It was rather disappointing to see just how similar some of them looked. Heero understood about 'their room' now. Any average person would have immediately looked out of place. Heero probably looked out of place. Worse, the dyed green hair and shiny black pants might make it seem like he was trying hard to be them and failing.
Heero grabbed the leash, pulled Duo down, and kissed him.
"What was that for?" Duo whispered. Heero could hear him easily. There was music playing, but the speakers were directed in toward one part of the room where people danced. The rest of the room was devoted to bars and seating.
"You are my one... of you."
Duo laughed. "I am yours," he agreed. "Can you go to the bar and order me a drink? I'm going to go talk to the DJ."
Heero glanced toward the bar. "What kind of drink?"
Duo was already walking backward, away from him. "A Vampire."
Heero went to the bar and hopped onto one of the stools lined up before it. There was one bartender present, efficiently serving the patrons seated about the bar. It was not quite so busy as the bars at Ibiza, with rows of customers shouting to the bartenders.
She approached Heero. "What will you have?" The words were slurred together, not from drinking, Heero thought, but from giving the greeting so often.
"I would like a Vampire."
What did laughter mean? "Duo said I should order him a drink called a Vampire."
She was already pouring different brands of alcoholic beverages into a tall glass in a metal holder. Magnets in the bar to prevent spills in the low gravity, Heero guessed. "Anything for you?"
"I do not know what I should order. I have only had a few brands of sake, vodka, beer and grape wine." Heero thought about it. "I think I had champagne once, but it was from California, so is that champagne?"
"It is called 'California Champagne.' You willing to try something new?"
She smacked to bottles against the counter to pop the caps off and then poured some part of both into a another large glass and metal drinking vessel. She pushed the second glass toward Heero. "Try it."
"What is it?" Heero asked.
"Snakebite." She smiled. She showed him the bottles she had poured from. One brand of ale and another of cider.
"Ale is like beer?"
"It's like beer," she said stressing the 'like.'
"I do not know what 'hard cider' is," Heero admitted, sniffing at his glass. He had never really had purpose to educate himself on the many different types of alcoholic beverages and none of his warders had ever had cause to teach their boy to drink.
"Cider's is to apples as sake is to rice."
Heero lifted his glass to his lips and sipped. It was not something he had tasted before but it was not unenjoyable.
Duo sat down on the stool beside him. He spoke to their bartender for a minute or so and paid her. "We're going upstairs," he told Heero.
"I thought this was 'your room'."
"See the ceiling height? Eleventh Hour actually has two floor inside it. Think of it as going up to 11:30." Duo pointed out the stairs, near the bar and on the same wall as the elevator they had come from.
Heero shrugged. He slipped from the barstool and carried his drink to the stairs, knowing Duo was close behind. A half hour later there was still a bar and a dance area and seating but now lights painted the room an eerie green... Gundam Eye Green. The dance floor was surrounded by a henge of twisted metal. Apart from the lighting fixtures and required fire suppression system the ceiling was covered in mirrors and flowers. They didn't seem to be real flowers, though the room did smell sweet, rather like incense.
"Well, here ya go. It's fanciful, but it's pretty kewl I guess. Like a big playhouse for adults," Duo said with gesture that encompassed the space before them.
Heero rolled his eyes slowly up to Duo's face.
"You don't know what a playhouse is?"
Heero shook his head.
"It's what it sounds like. It's a miniature house that children play in."
"Like a dollhouse but for scaled to living children."
"Exactly. So, ya like?"
Heero scanned the room. Not everyone here wore such dark colors. Some girls were dancing in white gowns. There was some violet and burgundy about.
Heero loved the music. He could have tolerated the music downstairs for Duo's sake. He could have listened to many kinds of music and appreciated it, but this was what he knew he liked, traditional and modern sounding at the same time, melodic, perhaps ethereal.
"You want to dance?"
"Sure, but I'm gonna finish my drink first." Body language told Heero they should sit down for a while. They walked to the upholstered bench along the wall and along the way Heero noticed several people waving to Duo or casually nodding toward him while in conversation with others. Sometimes Duo waved back.
Heero saw Hilde coming as soon as they sat down.
"Isn't that a large amount of liquor? It likely has a higher percentage of alcohol, yet they give you roughly the same liquid volume as a serving of wine or maybe even beer."
Duo lifted his glass as if in a toast. "All the better to warm me up, My Dear. If I had wanted a shot I would have asked for one."
"Are you sad? When I try to get drunk on purpose I am usually sad." Heero looked into his own glass. "This has... kick, ne? I think I feel it."
"You're fine. The sake was hours ago and that one glass won't get you really drunk."
"Are you fine?"
"I know you know I'm fine."
Heero rolled his eyes. Hilde came to his side and leaned her hip into his arm. She tousled his hair. "Hello Hilde," Heero said as Christie pulled up a chair to their table and two boys stepped up behind her.
"Don't you have school tomorrow?" Hilde asked Duo.
He pointed to Hilde and the two boys. "You are all still in High School too, so don't get on my case."
"I was already planning to take courses into the summer semester because I do go part time," Hilde said, "You don't have much time left."
"Whatever happens happens. I mean, it's not like I'll be out of a job. I'll still have the same jobs if I want them, whether I graduate this month or not."
"Christie," Heero said.
"This dialogue can't be interesting to you. Would you care to dance with me?" Heero stood and offered a hand.
"Yes. Thank you." She took Heero's hand and he helped her to stand.
"Please excuse us," Heero said, with nod to Duo. He waited for Christie to take his arm then walked slowly to the dance area. "I confess to having an ulterior motive for taking you from the table, but if you would rather not talk business, I would still dance with you."
"Hilde mentioned suspicions, said you might call."
"I meant to, but I have been busy today. It's Duo." They reached the dance floor. Heero closed his eyes for a moment to listen to the music. "I have never danced with a partner to this music."
"Try an open configuration."
Heero took Christie's left hand in his right and danced backward, drawing her after him. She smiled. Heero raised his voice slightly to speak to her amid the speakers. "He needs to feel punished for something he has been feeling guilty over and I do not feel up to being everything I think he needs. So, I have resolved that I should have a proper dominatrix do it for me. I would rather it was not another man, though I am not sure it makes a difference to Duo, the gender decision was based on my feelings."
"I could do it for you, Heero," Christie said as they made a skipping-like movement through the fog blown onto the dance floor. "I can be entirely professional and make sure he knows I do it all in your name, you can even be there. But... have you told Duo about this?"
"I wanted it to be a surprise."
"I really think you should talk to him before we make any agreement, or I could recommend another reliable dominatrix to you."
Heero understood. "You were involved?" He had suspected as much from the way he had seen them act in each other's company, but Heero had not brought it up with Duo, mainly because of the rules of their trial."
"I really think you should ask Duo. He is my friend now and I know you are involved with him now, so I wouldn't want to give away secrets that are his to tell."
"Christie, please, Duo and I agreed not to discuss certain things right now. Just tell me... what was it?" Heero stepped in close as they danced.
"You're the boyfriend, you don't want to know."
"I don't want to, but in this case I need to know if I should trust you at all."
Christie nodded. "A while ago, we used to just hook up, to have sex. But, then Duo stopped that and made it clear he wanted to be friends. I was OK with that, so, we're friends. We mess around a bit, I give him a beating for free once in a while." She grinned. "It is not serious... not like it has been with anyone else. Not like with you. No one knows what to make of you."
Heero saw the slight tilt of Christie's head and scanned the crowd as casually as he could as they danced. It seemed a lot of people were looking at him, or else they looked at Duo. Heero sensed it was not just because they were pretty or famous. They were all gossiping about what type of relationship Heero and Duo might have.
Heero focused on one task. He had promised Duo a punishment. "Are you saying that you think Duo likes you enough that he would fixate on you and not me if we arranged for you to punish him?"
"It occurred to me. I don't want to make a fool out of myself, but if a girl like me is giving it away without strings and a guy like Duo, that isn't entirely homosexual wants to stop and be friends... it does seem to signify something... maybe emotional attachment."
Maybe, but Duo just had issues. He didn't want to let anyone be friend and sex partner, because that would be too much of an investment in one person. If they died, it would hurt. That was why he kept some things from Hilde and made up excuses why he didn't love her. That was why he had not told Heero that he loved him for a long time. That was why it had hurt so much when Gibson died.
Foolish of Duo not to see that making a sex partner of someone who was a co-worker and rather noble and witty was more of a risk than he had planned. Duo could be foolish in love.
Everyone was foolish in love, perhaps.
"I will call you, Christie. I understand why Duo does some of the things he does. He will be all right with you."
"I'll mail you sample contracts and rules... service options."
Heero nodded. He saw Duo sauntering toward the dance floor. His leg would likely hurt again in normal gravity, but he was enjoying the mobility now.
Heero spun Christie away from him and she broke into a solo dance.
Duo walked through the smoke and green glow into the henge of debris salvaged from a past set of towers. Heero didn't bother with the leash. He grabbed Duo's braids to bring him close enough to kiss. Heero was sure then that everyone in the room was watching them; he didn't care.