Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
It had taken an enormous amount of willpower to leave Duo asleep in the bed, and it might have even been considered cold, but Heero knew that if he woke Duo he would not leave the bed, and if he did not leave the bed Duo would not get back to work, and if Duo did not get back to work he might not graduate school this semester or he might lose a good opportunity to win a contract that would give his business a chance it very much deserved, and if Duo failed in school or business because of him Heero would feel guilty, and then Duo would need to tie him up and beat him. As much as the idea of physical manifestations of the bonds between them appealed to Heero he was not a masochist. He had to leave the bedroom as stealthily as possible, so he did.
Of course, Duo had woken before Heero had gotten out of the apartment and launched himself at Heero with an action that was part hug and part offensive strike while Heero was in the shower picking bits of hardened candle wax out of his hair. Duo being in the shower with him had broken down the mental barriers Heero had put up to keep himself from basking in the bliss he felt long enough to wash and get out of the apartment. Heero was then aware of everything Duo had made him feel the past night and he felt it all again. He acted on that feeling.
It had taken a lot of willpower to keep that action confined to a long passionate kiss and close embrace.
This time, he really was going to leave.
"Can't you just stay?" Duo asked. They were in the hall. Duo's hair was in a single neat braid drawn forward over his right shoulder and that was visually balanced by the dark bruise on the left side of his neck, just above the collar of his tee. Heero was struck, trying to think what the word for bruises created by the suction of powerful kisses was. Duo's hands touched Heero's chest through his t-shirt. A moment later Duo's fingers were in the back pockets of Heero's jeans. If Duo had been trying to lift something from his pockets, Heero wouldn't have felt it. "You'll be back tomorrow morning as it is. It's just a day. You could stay."
Heero wanted to stay. He had thought that the sex had been so intense because Duo had been so grateful and inspired and turned-on by the punishments, but then Heero recalled that Duo had assumed Heero had been inspired by alcohol on Tuesday, when he wasn't. He decided it might have partly been the domination, but a large part of it was the chemistry between them in general. All those hormones and pheromones and primitive instincts to seek certain geometric proportions in the human body.
Yes, they were of different sizes and shapes but they were both 'attractive' on a purely mathematical scale pre-programmed into all human beings. That made them want to get close. Once they got close enough to catch each other's scent it was all rather inevitable. Then there was taste and the textures of a body and the intangible shared history and the emotions associated with their social interaction and the emotions...
All this had occurred to Heero the night before. After most of the food had been eaten, just after Heero had orgasmed, when Duo's legs had not yet slipped from his shoulders and their eyes had met, Heero had wondered why it was Duo he wanted to be with.
In a strictly societal or anthropological way it was not uncommon for males to want to be with multiple partners. Perhaps not at once, or even one after the other, but it was supposed to be normal to want to go from one to the next. He really wanted Duo, he did not want Vero or Trowa or the prettier boys from his neighborhood.
Heero had thought about it, laying on his back, cooling down. He must really love Duo. Love might have something to do with the memory of emotions felt during their shared experiences. They had been together in some life or death situations and recently been present for each other while they each went through an array of strong emotions. There was no one else who could possibly 'get' Heero more than Duo did.
Plus, they'd had sex, a lot from Heero's perspective. Heero did not think a man could have that many highly satisfying sexual experiences with a person and not form an emotional attachment based on the positive feelings associated with that individual.
Heero had decided that defining his theory of why love happened in his head did not make him want to be with Duo any less. As he was thinking that, Duo had scooted across the bed and asked how long and slow Heero thought he could stand to fuck him.
Duo wanted sex all the time. Even being bottom, as they said, he wanted it, though, Duo had enough experience with Heero now to know Heero did not ignore Duo's dick, even when he was asking to be fucked. Heero liked Duo's dick. He liked the fucking. He liked sex so much, slow was just as good as fast.
Compared to the 'quickie' at Christie's, what they had last done had seemed long and slow, but Heero thought he knew what Duo meant. "I don't know, how long and slow could you stand?" Heero had asked.
Duo had chosen that moment to nuzzle close to Heero's face and Heero realized afterward he must have expressed some sound of surprise or pleasure, because Duo had continued rubbing his nose against Heero's nose for what seemed like a long time and Heero had not wanted him to stop. He found it at least mildly erotic, the nuzzling and Duo's close unfocused eyes. Heero had been able to sense their eyelashes tangling with each other's. They had stopped when Heero had gotten an erection again and felt impatient to find release in Duo's body. "How slow?" Heero had asked.
"Oh, go as slow as you can. If I beg you to go faster, you win."
The element of competition had excited Heero more.
Heero had won. All his recent training and the fact that he'd had sex recently had prepared him for the task. It had been worth it, even if he felt he was torturing himself at moments. In the end, he felt entirely in love with Duo, and he made a new discovery.
Duo could be made to go beyond the screaming. When Duo was mildly aroused and pleasured he could keep up chatting and joking. When he was feeling 'well-fucked' he got very loud, cursing and screaming Heero's name. It was nice to hear his name like that, but Heero liked what came after it more. When Duo felt he was being made love too and having a spiritual experience and entirely pleasured, all the noises he made went soft. He was Duo, he still vocalized, but it all sounded low and sweet and, Heero thought, beautiful.
This time, he really had to leave, but Heero was having difficulty coming up with a reasonable excuse to not stay one more day.
Duo bowed his head and rubbed his cheek against Heero's cheek.
"I have to make sure Midii is taking care of Koi."
"Oh. Yeah." Duo moved his hands from Heero and stepped back.
"Midii needs to get home and Koi's been without me a whole night and there is some work I should be doing."
Duo shrugged and laughed. "I guess it wasn't really fair to ask you."
"Payback for me trying to sneak out."
"Yeah," Duo said, lifting his head higher, "Don't you do that again. I'd rather you wake me."
Heero made a slight nod. "Get some sleep and try not to be too distracted at work. You can bring some work to do on the shuttle Saturday."
"So our destination involves shuttle travel?"
Heero shook his head slowly, only to say Duo was too obvious in his query. "Correct, my plans do not include staying in S3."
"How much work should I plan to do during our trip?"
Heero shook his head.
"Do I need any special clothing for the activities you have planned. You should tell me. You know I like to dress appropriately."
Heero laughed softly. Duo liked to dress extravagantly. "Bring one..." Heero tried to think of the proper term, "Semi-formal outfit." He thought semi-formal was correct. "The rest of your clothes may be casual or dressy as you like."
Duo tipped his head. "Will there be... weather?"
"I can't say, so you will just have to be prepared for anything."
Duo sighed melodramatically. "OK, but I am not wearing the uniform."
Heero did not understand. Duo seemed to be trying to read his blank expression.
"Boy Scouts... be prepared," Duo prompted.
"I am certain a normal person would have found your joke very amusing."
Duo shrugged. "It's OK, I still don't get all your jokes." He grinned. "And after last night, I'm thinking normalcy is overrated."
Heero felt he might be blushing. They had already communicated their approval and satisfaction several times. "It was all as much your doing," Heero said politely; it was also true.
"Did you have some freaky blind ninja master training or something?" Duo asked excitedly
Duo grinned. "I thought when I convinced you to wear the blindfold it would be sorta like payback, but you seemed more competent and in control than before, I thought."
Heero smiled at the memory. He had rather enjoyed the involuntary reprioritization of sensory input. It was a lot more fun that combat training in a lightless room. Heero could vividly remember the varying textures of Duo's skin across different parts of his body. "Your beards growing in," Heero said, realizing he had made a mental note to mention this to Duo when he had noticed the night before. He touched Duo's face, but he could barely feel the skin was not smooth.
"Really?" Duo touched his own face, "You can feel it?"
"It was more obvious when I knew I would not be able to see. You used the putty?"
"Yeah, sorta pulls it up from the roots so it grows back finer. Doesn't actually hurt much."
"I have used it."
"Think I should shave or something? There's not much there to pull on. I'm tempted to use that stuff Hilde has, but it supposedly causes hair to not grow back at all if used often and I end up thinking that years in the future I might want to grow a beard and be pissed off that I can't."
Heero smiled. "You will figure it out."
He should leave. Heero leaned and Duo leaned as well, so that their lips met without either taking a step. Duo put a hand to the back of Heero's neck. It was a good kiss, soft, and Duo tasted like mint. Heero let it continue until Duo dropped his hand. Naturally, Duo had kept his hand there just long enough to make Heero think staying approximately another half hour would be a very good idea. It wasn't such a large part of the day and many things could be done in a half hour.
Work could be done.
"I really..." Heero inhaled deeply. "Sayonara."
Duo tsked. He did not like hearing anything as final sounding as that.
Heero checked the shoulder strap of his satchel and then reached for the doorknob. "Saturday, 08:00." He saw Duo shift his weight to his stronger right leg. There was a sliver of skin between Duo's shirt and the low-riding baggy, black dress pants he wore. Heero forced his eyes away and turned. Behind him Duo laughed
Heero walked to the stairs, relieved to be free of the apartment and the temptation to stay. "Mmmm, it's not so bad seeing you go after all." Heero froze and looked back over his shoulder. Duo was leaning against the doorframe, his eyes low on Heero's body.
Heero looked to the stairs again then started down.
"Like that outfit, Heero, you just need a backward red baseball cap."
Heero could not think of anything biting or witty to say. His boyfriend stood at his door calling out vulgar complements to boys walking by! Heero had thought he had better taste than that.
Heero made his way from Gotham to New London by public transportation. The train tube stations were too hot and if the Colony was meant to simulate early summer in England, then they were simulating a heat wave. Heero arrived at his hotel room feeling uncomfortably hot and in need of sleep.
Midii was sitting in her bed with her mobile computer on her lap. Nanashi hissed when Heero lifted the cat off his bed and dropped it. Koi leapt down from an armchair and then greeted Heero with sniffs and kisses of his tongue. "Were you a good boy for Midii?" Heero asked.
"He was fine. I took him out just a little while ago. Is it normal for it to be so hot, Heero? It was not so hot when we went out the other days."
"Maybe the environmental controls are malfunctioning." Heero smiled. "It is almost like having weather, ne?" Heero set his satchel down on his bed.
"Malfunctioning? Isn't that serious?"
"I doubt it. If there was a very serious problem there would be announcements. The hotel desk would call each room with a recorded warning." Heero rolled onto his bed and lay back against the pillows with Koi still standing over him.
"So, it's probably being taken care of by experts? We're not drifting into the sun or anything?"
"Aa, actually it might be the part of the month this part of Side Three is in direct sunlight. It would be more difficult to cool then. The rest of the time they likely run heaters."
Midii sighed. That seemed to make sense to her. Heero sensed her looking at him and shifted his eyes from Koi. Midii was staring at him. "Good night?"
"Yes," Heero admitted.
"I can see." She laughed, "That's an impressive hickey."
"Thank you! I have been trying to think of that word. How you would describe the bruises in American..." It had all felt so good at the time, but Heero and Duo both had woken sore and bruised. Heero figured the good parts were worth the pain.
Midii laughed at him. Do you have something in your hair... there?"
Heero lifted a hand to his head. He was sure all the wax had come out. It had gotten into his hair by accident, though spilling it on Duo's shoulder had been on purpose. Heero touched something behind his ear and remembered Duo had tucked them there when they were in the bedroom dressing.
"Hashi?" Midii asked. "You're hair is a bit short to wear sticks, Heero."
He glared then looked to the cheap, black plastic chopsticks that had been delivered with their food. "These are very special chopsticks," Heero said defensively. He held the set in his right hand and touched them to his lips. He smiled. "They are not just used for eating food."
"I do not think I would want to use them for food after whatever you used them for."
"I do not know what you think I used them for. They touched skin is all." They had touched food, but then they had touched Duo's lips, and generally touched Duo.
Heero lay the chopsticks on his chest and folded his left arm behind his head. A moment later he lifted his right hand to pet Koi.
"Not going to give me the details?"
"No," Heero said. He smirked. He only gave Midii specific details when he thought they were relevant to advice he was seeking. "After I hired the prostitute and the dominatrix I ended up punishing Duo myself and he had an epiphany, which I was fairly certain should have taken repeated sessions to reach. Then we went to Hilde's for the night. We ordered from a Japanese restaurant. We went to bed. Duo had to go to work, so I left."
"Have you been reading fan fiction or... anything?"
"Only when you forward it to me."
"Let me guess, Your favorite author, Commandatrix Sashimi, wrote a new fic in which Akairo and Blaec were involved in some sort of bondage game and then they ate sushi off of each other's bodies, or something similar to that?"
"You read it?" Midii asked.
"No." Heero slipped from the bed, taking his chopsticks with him, and sat on Midii's bed beside her. As he expected there was a work of fan fiction displayed on the screen of her mobile. "May I?"
Midii pushed the computer toward Heero and he set it on his stomach, leaning back to rest his shoulders against the headboard. Heero chewed idly at the chopsticks as he scanned the text. This was conformation of what he had suspected.
"What would you say if I told you I know who this Sashimi is IRL?"
"Is it you?"
"What would you say?"
"Who is it?"
"Midii," Heero scolded.
"I would want to know who it is. They are such a good writer and..."
"You think the erotic scenes they write are very hot and you wonder if Sashimi is anything like the characters or has fantasies like yours?" Heero inquired.
"I do know who Sashimi is. I know her."
"So, she is a girl! I thought so. Most of the writers are, but I wasn't sure." Midii had a sort of glazed over look to her eyes. She blinked then. "Do I know them?"
"I think you met her once." Heero smiled.
"Heero! Who is it?"
He was reading part of the story. It was so clear that although the stories had begun before Heero and Duo had been together that they had always been partly inspired by Duo. Clearly, without knowing Shizen's secret, the author had always thought Blaec reminded her of Duo. Maybe she had imagined herself in Akairo's place at times, but now he was obviously inspired by Heero, or Heero's relationship with Duo.
Blaec even had a set of red velvet bondage gear that he liked to wear in public. The commander of the space station had said it did not belong with his uniform and Akairo had promised their commander he would, as team leader, make sure that Blaec dressed appropriately.
In the fic they went to a particular night club and to a private room, and that was where Akairo put Blaec in bondage and with extremes of pain and pleasure had gotten Blaec to admit that he had been holding in his anger and pain over the incident involving a certain space ship disaster. Heero guessed that incident had been depicted in the series or in a previous fic.
Except for the details, which were more relevant to the characters Akairo and Blaec, the story was very close to what Heero and Duo had done. Somehow, she'd even guessed right about it being six-nine before they left the room. Heero supposed could have overheard without even meaning to and told her on the phone.
"It's Hilde," Heero said. "Hilde's been writing stories about Akairo and Blaec, only they are things that Duo and I have done, or things she believes we should be doing."
"Duo's girlfriend? I mean... his roommate."
"She is like a girlfriend," Heero said quietly. Hilde had know they had ordered food and, from the details in story, Heero was sure Hilde had never actually spied on them, but only guessed what they might have done based on what she already knew about them.
The rest of the story, after Akairo and Blaec had eaten off each other was quite different from what Heero and Duo had actually done.
"I wonder if Duo told her about that..." Heero wondered aloud.
"Here, where Akairo actually eats sticky rice passed to him on Blaec's tongue and Blaec..."
"Says Akairo is no Tsukiyomi?" Midii finished. "I had to look that name up. I did not understand. Seems to be an ancient Japanese god."
"Aa. The moon god. The other day Duo told me about a myth in which Tsukiyomi kills someone for giving him food that came from their mouth. I know, it is a strange story, but, you see, when Akairo says, 'I would kill anyone else who offered such a thing,' he is saying that from anyone else he would consider it disgusting and unclean, but from Blaec, he accepts the rice. That is sweet, ne? He is saying that he loves him."
"Oh! He is! That is sooo sweet."
Heero smiled, tapping his chopsticks against his lower lip.
"That is believable to you?"
"It sounds like the way I would have told someone I liked them... before. A disciplined Japanese pilot like Akairo might not be as believable if he just told Blaec he loved him, unless the writer established how Akairo had come to chose to express what he felt so explicitly and why. Saying that he would kill anyone else who acted as Blaec did, and not killing Blaec, that is as good as saying he is in love with him."
"I understand that, but you are saying you think she is writing Akairo as you. Don't you tell Duo you love him? You tell everyone else."
Heero laughed softly. "Hai, Midii, but a month ago I would not have. I chose to make an effort to express how I feel and as result, I am likely more open than would be considered normal... to those I care to speak to."
"We all appreciate it very much, Heero. And, you are hardly sappy."
"On Duo, definitely, but that must be love. People of all sexes and races and ages and preferences can fall in love, and when they do... well, you know better than I about that."
"I would eat sticky rice from his mouth, gladly."
Midii laughed and then Heero laughed with her.
He knew Midii wanted to hear about Hilde, but Heero was reading again. Foreskin, Heero thought. He wondered why Hilde chose to write that Akairo was uncircumcised while Blaec was circumcised. "Why do you think she writes that only one of them is circumcised?"
"You think Hilde is... the way you would think from her stories?"
"You answer first," Heero said.
"She posted about that before. Some fans think that if you are going to write hentai stories that it doesn't really matter if you try to stay in character, because it's all so unofficial. Others think you should try to write how you think the character really would act or be in a certain situation, based on the official information that is known. A lot of people say that since all the members of Gonin Team are from space stations, except Koi, that they should all be the same in that aspect. Usually they choose cut, because in our world Colonials more often are, at least I hear that. But I think writers who live on Earth are used to seeing uncut, so they might write them that way. Sashimi... Hilde, wrote that since it is officially established that they are all orphans and that there are no official nude pictures it's fine to write them either way."
Heero laughed, and then he laughed more.
"What? It's not all that funny," Midii pouted.
"There are groups of women chatting about whether anime characters are circumcised or not," Heero laughed.
"You wondered too!" Midii shouted. She shoved at Heero's arm.
"No! I wondered why Hilde would write that way about characters obviously inspired by real people who are both... the same in that aspect."
Midii huffed. "Answer my question."
"I do not know Hilde very well and I have not read all the stories you have..."
"What do you know?"
"She was one of the Colonials that joined OZ voluntarily during that period of the war before the schism between Romefeller and the Treize Faction. There was some incident that involved her pursuing Duo and he ended up saving her from friendly fire and taking the hit himself... I mean, his mobile suit did. I am not sure of the details but I think she cooperated with Duo further by helping him get to the Lunar Base. I do not know how much of that was known by her superiors, but by the time White Fang was around Hilde was living as a civilian again. Duo lived with her then. That was when I had gone back to Earth the second time. Duo had remained in the Colonies and was in hiding for the most part. I know Hilde and Duo helped Quatre find Trowa. I know that when Trant Clark found Duo he was with Hilde. I know Hilde brought Deathscythe to Duo and that was how it happened that they dueled, after Trant had forced Duo to go with him. And she also got into Libra..."
"Libra? The thing that was going to fall on Earth?"
"Aa, White Fang's space battleship. She snuck onboard and stole plans that I used later to also infiltrate Libra. I remember Hilde was pursued on her way to us, after stealing the plans. Duo saved her. He was very concerned for her. She was the one that told us Relena was there."
"Oh, you went to save Relena."
"And to find Milliard, but that was when the Eve Wars took place. After that there was a lot of debriefing and negotiation and the government was constructed. Then there was the mess with the Barton Foundation. Hilde joined Preventers around the time we did. I wasn't doing well, so I left. Hilde stayed with Duo all this time, and I think that she knew Duo had some interest in me from the start. I am not sure how their relationship is, exactly. They've lived together, they've had sex, but they both have other lovers. I am fairly sure they are both bisexual, I mean, they actually use that term for themselves."
"She likes girls."
"And she is the one that writes these stories?"
"The stories are amazing."
"They are rather interesting."
"Heero, does Hilde know that you know she is Sashimi?"
"I do not think she does."
"Are you going to tell her? Do you think she wants people to know the kind of stories she writes?"
Heero read part of a sex scene still displayed on Midii's computer. The other Preventers would probably tease Hilde if they knew. Heero was fairly sure Duo did not know. Apparently other Preventers had known of the porn movies based on their agency, and perhaps of the frightening accuracy, but none admitted to watching them on their own or approving. As Heero had been able to determine, the writer of those scripts had once been a maintenance worker at Colonial Preventer Headquarters. If they even suspected anyone at headquarters was writing anything mildly erotic, they might treat them with suspicion.
The stories were not bad. Hilde wrote in English with a style that read like published English language novels Heero had read. She seemed to know a lot about sex too, though it could have been research more than experience. Heero had no idea what it was like to be uncircumcised and he'd never had a lover who was so, but it sounded believable and highly erotic when she described how Blaec's tongue 'delved' and 'twirled' beneath the skin while he was performing oral sex on Akairo.
It would have been better if there were pictures, Heero thought to himself.
Heero had never performed oral sex without a condom. He wondered if this 'blowing' and 'inflating' Hilde described happened. He seemed to recall something similar described in at least one of the books he had read as research.
"I think I need to go back to my research. She makes me feel like I am not doing it right."
"How wrong could you be doing it?" Midii asked, laughing again.
"I don't think Hilde would have had unprotected sex with many people. Duo would not have approved. Do you suppose she just read a lot of other erotic fiction?"
"You mean... she mentions details that you don't know about and you actually are a man who is having sex with another man?"
"Yes," Heero admitted.
"You could read some more. It is hard to be certain what is the best way to learn, other than through experience. I've read a lot of this fan fiction, often erotic, but there's no certain way of knowing who is writing from experience and who is repeating what they read once inaccurately."
"I was wondering..."
"If you... get an erection... do you feel it a lot?"
Heero studied Midii's face, wondering if she was serious.
"I mean, I'm female. Sometimes, depending on the language I am reading in, the choice of verbs confuses me. Sometimes it seems like they are saying a man 'felt' himself get hard and other times it seems like he 'saw' it before he was aware of feeling it."
"How is it for a woman? Do your 'thighs go up in flames'?" Heero asked seriously.
"No. That is an exaggeration."
"So, do you feel it? The physical process of becoming aroused and prepared for sex?"
"It depends..." Midii said. "You can feel it. You do mean the sensations in the sex organs, not the overall warmth and increase in heart rate?"
"If you are paying attention, you feel a slight warmth and sometimes a sort of tingle or ache. If you are very aroused and not doing anything about it, you can definitely feel something like aching. But, then, if you just make yourself ignore it, it all goes away after a little while. There's the wetness too, you don't usually feel the wetness exactly, or not at first. If a girl is really wet, she can actually feel a sort of... flow."
Heero considered. "I think it is fairly similar for all humans."
"So, you do feel it?"
"Of course you feel something, but it depends, as you said. It depends what you are doing at the time. It depends what you are wearing. Naturally, a male humans genitals being on the outside of the body, it matters what he is wearing."
"Right, because of friction."
"So, for example, you could look down and see a sort of bulge in your pants and become aware only then?"
Heero considered the new question. "It is hard to describe, what part do you not understand exactly?"
"The physical process of becoming aroused," Midii said, seeming to do an imitation of Heero's voice, or attempting to do so.
"Well, you know the biology of it? The 'fills with blood'?"
"Well... there is tissue filling with blood, so there is naturally a shift in weight. I suppose you feel that first, I mean, apart from having awareness of a sexual situation and shift in respiration and the more general changes. Although, you could get an erection without being aware of focusing on sex in any way."
"I think I understand the reasons it can happen, I just don't understand what it feels like."
"Aa." How to explain to a girl? "There is the heaviness if you will. Then there is being 'stiff' or 'half-hard' and then you have an erection."
"But, doesn't it feel like something?"
"Of course it feels like something!" Heero told Midii.
"So, does it feel heavy, or hurt or ache?"
Heero shrugged. If he kept visualizing erect penises in his head he might just be able to give Midii a play-by-play as it were. "I said it was heavy, in a way, at the beginning. But, heavy might make you think it is a large weight, and it is not very heavy, it is simply that there is a shifting you can feel. Shifting is a better word."
"Then it stands, so you do not feel that same sort of shifting or weight, because the tip is up, not down, you understand. And, when it is up, you are aware of course. You just are. It involves instinct... deeply imbedded programming, in the kernel of the male brain, that tells you to seek friction and penetration. So, the primal part of you is very focused on that, but the mental part of you can override that. You can consciously decide to ignore the sensation and think about things unrelated to sex and penetration. Then, as you said, it will go away."
"So, there is no 'painfully aroused' as in fics?"
Heero considered that carefully. "It depends on how inclusive of sensations your use of 'pain' is and what the character is wearing. If the process starts and you are naked it is very different from going through it while wearing snug pants made of a fabric that does not give. Also, they may be speaking of psychological pain, resulting from denying this primal urge, you understand?"
"So, you always feel it?"
"I think you would always potentially feel it, but you might not be conscious of the beginning of the process depending on what is going on around you. You might not be very aware of the process until already half-hard, and it would show at that point, at least in some clothing. Does that answer your question about the verbs?"
Heero sighed, very much relieved. "Would you like to hear my plan?" he asked after a silence.
"I want to take Duo with me to do the Moscow job this weekend, alone."
"You won't need me?"
"If you want to visit Earth I can find you a very safe shuttle to take, or I can take you myself early next week, but I thought, maybe you would do something else for me here."
"What is it?"
"You seem to be well informed about business matters. Duo's start-up needs some help. I think Hilde is the one that has the most business sense. Otherwise, it is Duo, Meiser, Howard and Yuji and some other acquaintances from Hilde's school may have joined their team early. They are all highly skilled with technical things and Howard might have some good connections, but they do not seem to be strong in a... they do not seem professional when you visit their factory. I thought, with Duo gone, if I could somehow help you insinuate yourself into Hilde's confidence, you could go there and help them get organized. Maybe we could place an order for something and pay in advance so that they could afford to hire an administrative assistant."
"You really want Duo to get that contract."
"Yes. I have no idea what the competition will be like, but Duo needs this opportunity. I have seen the mobile suit he has. It has a lot of potential. They have the technical expertise and the machinery to make the prototype, they needs a good presentation. They need to understand the big picture."
"The politics on Mars and who will be using the mobile suit and how that should effect their design."
"Exactly. Duo is their programmer and I am sure that the work he will bring on our trip will be related to this project. I will be able to help him. It will be his own work, but I may be able to see things he cannot or point out ways to improve. I will help Duo. If you can, I would like you to help Hilde organize the others and their project.'
"This is like swaying an election. You know who you want to win and you know that you are either unable or unwilling to rig the results, so you use your skills and resources to convince the candidate or the voters to do what you want them to do."
"Yes," Heero agreed, not wanting to ask when Midii had participated in such political games. "I know I want Duo and his company to win the contract. I do not presently have the ability to sway the judges, but I do know what I would look for if I was one of the judges and I want Duo to be able to impress a judge."
"How will I gain Hilde's confidence?"
"I am still trying to figure that out. Perhaps I can try honesty, say that I think you can help her. Perhaps I can ask her to be charitable and give you a place to stay while I take Duo to Earth."
"I could easily seduce her given what I know now."
Heero said nothing for a minute. Midii sounded dangerous. "No," Heero said, "Not unless you became interested in her personally. Hilde had been only friendly to me, I could not let you hurt her."
"I think it will have to be largely honesty then," Midii sighed.
"I will think about it. We have time."
Heero sat up then put his feet to the floor. "I want to check my reservations and look over the assignment, then I need to sleep, but we can go out to eat later if you like?"
Heero sat down on his bed, neatly lining up the contents of his satchel and then repacking what he did not need immediately. He checked his mail and dialed his home computer to download Lowe Security files for the next assignment.
After working Heero slept.
Over dinner at a local pub Heero told Midii what he knew of Howard, Meiser and the business of constructing mobile suits. He suggested that he would ask Hilde if she would mind letting Midii stay with her while Heero was gone. It would mean Heero encouraged Hilde to believe Midii was nervous about space travel and being in the Colonies, but that would not be an outright lie.
Midii supposed it might work.
Saturday morning Heero checked out of their hotel and took Midii and Koi... and Nanashi to Hilde's apartment, along with their assorted luggage. Hilde opened the door for them. Heero began to say that he was there for Duo and that they would probably have to stop at S4 on there way elsewhere to drop Midii home, since she did not have anywhere to stay here now their assignment was complete.
"Is that the traitor?" Duo's voice called loudly from within the apartment.
"He says you stole something from him, Heero," Hilde said.
Heero smiled and opened his satchel. He glanced up and saw Duo stomp into view. Heero was sure Duo still intended to go away with him, he had promised. He seemed to be in the process of getting dressed, wearing only leather pants, but having his hair fixed and his jewelry on.
"Traitor, you stole from me again!" Duo accused.
Heero took the magazine from his satchel and offered it to Duo. "I only borrowed it without asking so that I could find the correct size of backer and archival sleeve."
Duo took his magazine. He smiled. "I thought you'd gone OCD on me or something."
"If I had a disorder the compulsions would come before missions; I am just highly organized."
"Is that the post-war issue that was so controversial?" Midii asked. She knew already, but she was pretending she had not already looked through the magazine.
"Yeah, you want to look at it?" Duo asked. He pushed the magazine at Midii.
"Be careful with the pages," Heero said.
Hilde tsked. "That's your copy, Duo? I think the sticky pages would detract from its value." She smirked.
Duo shoved Hilde's shoulder. "I read, ya know, there's articles."
Hilde laughed, clearly disbelieving Duo.
"He does read. He's even memorized the page numbers and stats of all the models," Heero told Hilde.
"God, I hate you!" Duo blew hair off his brow. "You're good at packing, Heero, come help me out," Duo suggested.
"Not touching that one," Midii said in a low tone as she flipped pages.
Heero wondered and then decided he did not want to know. He followed Duo to the bedroom. "Your luggage seems to be in order," Heero observed.
"You have four bags."
"You say that as if it's a girl amount. They're small bags, see, I categorized: clothes, stuff, work stuff and naughty stuff. Hey, are we going anywhere that involves a strict customs scan or search?"
"Yes, but do not worry about it. Just, let me help you close these bags."
"Not going to tell me where we're going?"
Duo picked up something from the clothing bag. "So, I can wear this?" It was a shirt made of mesh.
"Yes," Heero said seriously, "You can wear what you want. We will be on the shuttle." Duo looked disappointed. Heero thought he should say something. "It would just be awkward if you wore it in public and drew admirers while on a date with me. I might have to kill people and that would be messy."
Duo laughed slightly as he pulled on the shirt. It really did not hide his body, it only covered his torso with a black sheen. "That was a good try, Heero, you could make a girl happy if you tried. You could have just told me whether it would be too cold where we were going."
"Oh." Heero had not really understood the question. Or, he had thought Duo would look sexy in the shirt and it had biased his interpretation. "I thought that it was not wise to ask men for fashion advice."
Duo laughed loudly. "Next time I'll call Trowa, OK? I'll say, 'Tro, can I wear this?' and then he'll say something like, 'Yes, if you are trying to flaunt your pale, scrawny torso, Slut,' and I'd say, 'Thanks, all I wanted to know, Honey.'"
"You are not 'scrawny.'"
Duo tipped his head and smiled at Heero. "Have you seen Trowa or Quatre undressed?"
"Parts of them," Heero admitted.
Heero nodded his understanding. Duo was not scrawny, but compared to the deeper ripples of muscle Trowa or Quatre had built, he might appear small in comparison.
"It's all good, I was going to wear this jacket anyway," Duo said. He lifted it from the bed. It seemed to be a motorcycle jacket, of the racing style, which meant it had clean aerodynamic lines and hugged his body. It was red with black stripes. "I can still make you proud with the jacket on, but if you want to see me out of it, feel free to peel."
Heero helped Duo put the few remaining articles in his bags. Duo arranged his luggage, slinging straps over his shoulders where necessary and picking up the remaining bag. He wobbled and stooped for the walking stick on the bed. He looked like the devil on a mountain hike, but he was carrying all of his own luggage with a broken leg.
They returned to the living room where Midii and Hilde were sitting on the couch, still looking at Duo's magazine.
"Midii," Heero prompted.
"Hilde said that I could stay here, since it would be out of your way to drop me home. I did not realize it really used that much more fuel, until Hilde explained."
"Aa, to launch from this Colony, turn around and land takes nearly as much fuel as traveling to any other Colony, even though the distance is less."
"I explained that," Hilde said flatly.
"I would like to take my 'zine now, Hilde. Drool on its pages will detract from its value," Duo said.
Hilde laughed and placed the magazine back in its sleeve. Heero took the magazine from her and returned it to his satchel. He said goodbye to Hilde and Midii and then turned to the door where Koi was guarding his luggage.
"Heero, what's up, you have more bags than I do!" Duo teased.
"Yes, but I am traveling with a canine and I have gone shopping since I arrived here." Heero picked up the rest of his things then turned to say goodbye to the girls again.
"Oh. Yeah. Bye!" Duo said, blowing them kisses.
"Da Svidániya!" Heero thought that sounded like Hilde. Sometimes, her sense of humor was annoying.