Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero woke early as usual. He had several days behind him in which to adjust to the time zone and the sun's observed ascension over the horizon. The hammock was swinging, just slightly, and the air felt warm and moist against his exposed back and arms. Otherwise, he was covered by Duo or his jeans; in some places both.
Duo was covered by wisps of hair, the blanket he kept entirely to himself, or else Heero's limbs. Heero could just make out one eye clearly through the locks of hair that fell across Duo's forehead. He could see the eyeball dart from side to side beneath the lid. Duo was dreaming. Heero wondered if it would be a good dream. He could recall one dream from the night before and it had been strange. Not the usual lives in ancient times or fantasies involving Duo.
Heero decided to wake Duo. He called to him and then blew air into his face. "Wake up, Duo-chan," he whispered.
Duo's brow wrinkled and his eyes scrunched tightly closed. His right hand that had hung in the air beyond Heero's hip pressed in toward the small of Heero's back and made contact with his skin. He said something. It might have been 'Heero,' but it was not even that intelligible.
"Is it a good dream then?" Heero asked quietly. He wondered if he could just look and see. Some of the things he had done entirely by accident frightened him when he considered that it might be possible to do them with another person, or that someone else might have the same ability to initiate intimate mental contact with them against their wills.
Duo winced and groaned. "It should not be this hot in the morning," he grated. He took his hand from Heero to swat the blanket from his body. Beneath the hammock, Koi yelped as a section of blanket fell over his head. "Gomen, Koi," Duo mumbled.
"You really have a rough time waking."
"Genius," Duo said as in accusation. "I can be alert when I have to." Duo made some wordless humming sound. "I just would rather wake slowly."
"Were you dreaming?"
"I guess. I don't remember."
"I had a very strange dream," Heero told him. "Kurt Wild, Brian Slade, The Tinman and Toto picked up The Scarecrow and The Lion in the Mos Eisley Cantina and then when they got to the Death Star detention block Dorothy was there. They had to get the picnic basket to Auntie Em for some reason, but then Vader was there, only instead of being injured and in the suit he just looked like Anakin had, except he had a long braid."
"And instead of surrendering to the force Kurt just totally made out with him?" Duo asked.
"No." That would have been a different sort of dream. "But they did sing a duet. Then, they got to Oz."
"And Treize wasn't dead and he was hiding behind the curtain?"
"No. Instead of a Wizard they ended up meeting the Emperor in his throne room, there was no one behind a curtain. But Yoda jumped out of the picnic basket and dueled with the Emperor! And then for some reason Anakin thought Yoda needed help, or maybe it was an accident, but he knocked over this bucket of water and the Emperor stepped in it."
"And was electrocuted by his own force lightening?"
"No. He melted. He melted and said 'I would have gotten away with it, if it were not for you meddling kids and your dog!'"
Duo started laughing. He laughed loudly, almost rolled from the hammock and then laughed some more. "Man, Heero, I'd ask what you'd been smoking if I didn't know better."
"It was strange," Heero admitted.
Duo sighed, suppressing the last of his laughter. "So, no Natalie Portman? Toni Colette? Carrie Fisher?"
Duo snickered. "I'd at least have Natalie Portman show up if it were my dream. She could have teased the Emperor mercilessly until he got so aroused his heart gave out."
"He had followers who would clone him if he died," Heero informed Duo. But then he thought, "She might have just pulled a gun on him while he was making a speech to taunt the others."
"Yeah, except it's a rule in movies that you let the villain make their speech before attacking."
"Why is that?" Heero asked. "It is so illogical. If you were really set on killing them, why not get it over with. If you distrust them enough, nothing they can say is going to be trustworthy information."
"I don't know Heero? Maybe it's just more honorable to let them have their last words."
"I could have killed Treize," Heero said.
"Yeah. It's not sporting to kill the insane, ya know?"
Heero shrugged one shoulder. It was not the first time Duo had referred to Treize as insane. Heero did not think he had been. He had been calculating and lucid to the end. He'd orchestrated wars and even his own death. Heero still did not entirely understand how Treize thought. He was not really sure if Treize had forced the path of history or whether he had foreseen history and surrendered to playing his part in it.
"How you feel? Hungover or anything?"
"I feel all right. I should get in to the toilet I think. I drank all that water before falling asleep."
Duo laughed softly. He had started drinking earlier than Heero, but they had probably consumed equal amounts of alcohol over the course of the night. Duo's head start gave his body a longer time to process toxins, meaning he should be feeling even better than Heero. "I thought you were pretty bad off for a while, until Wufei started singing karaoke too. Now, I knew he secretly followed J-pop charts and found karaoke entertaining, but when he started in on the Motown classics I knew he was gone."
Heero had not even suspected that Wufei liked karaoke. Then he recalled the night before in increasing detail. "I do not believe I sang that Gloria Gaynor song!"
Duo cackled and the hammock swung. "That was brilliant!"
"It was horrible. You did not sing at all! You are the one who can actually sing!"
"I was having too much fun watching Trowa do Cher to bother to show him up."
"I did not know who Cher was before, but everyone seemed to think he did a good job."
"Yeah, who woulda thought?" Duo snickered.
"Would you like to lay out on the beach with me?"
"I need to get changed."
"See if you can get up first. I don't want to step on your dog." Koi was lying more toward Duo's side of the hammock.
Heero drew his arms and legs away from Duo and rolled, managing to place a foot to the wooden decking before he fell from the hammock completely. He sprang up on both feet quickly and then scolded himself mentally for skipping workouts and stretches. His body hurt.
Or maybe it was sleeping in the hammock. It had seemed so pleasant before he had fallen asleep. Heero had secretly told himself that it was what it would have felt like if he had accepted Duo's friendship from the start instead of betraying his trust. He could have just suggested they use the parts from Duo's Gundam to repair Wing in time to destroy the shipment. He could have promised to return to help repair Duo's Gundam and even meant it.
It would not have felt exactly the same. Duo would have been about the same size as him then. They might have both clutched guns in their sleep instead of leaving Koi beneath the hammock. Still, it had felt good to rock in the hammock with Duo. Worth a little discomfort, if that was truly the cause.
Duo and Koi were both standing and stretching their bodies. Duo was down to his swim shorts and as he finished stretching, he lifted his shirt from the deck. With a glance, he agreed it was time to go inside. They entered the house through the glass door off the greatroom, noticing sleepers on the outdoor furniture and on the floor and furnishings inside. They went upstairs and several people were asleep on the floor there.
"I'll just use this bathroom here and then we can get our things," Heero whispered.
Duo acknowledged with a nod.
Heero opened the bathroom door; the room was empty. He closed the door on Duo, used the toilet, washed his hands and rinsed out his mouth. Duo and Koi were waiting right outside the door when Heero opened it.
"Think any of the others slept in there?" Duo whispered.
Heero answered with a shrug. He listened at the bedroom door and heard nothing. He put his back to the door, closer to the hinges than to the knob. He extended a hand and turned the doorknob slowly. The door opened a crack and Heero could see Quatre and Trowa were asleep on one bed. He opened the door further, looking overhead and also around the frame for booby traps. He found none.
With a tip of his head, Heero told Duo it was clear and then walked inside. The hair was still in place on the dresser. Heero removed it and then removed his belonging from the drawers. They were planning to leave today, so Heero thought he would just pack everything again and take his bag down to the beach.
While Duo was at the closet carefully and silently collecting his own luggage Heero got out of his remaining clothing and put on his sunbathing suit and sarong. Heero stood up then and noticed the camera. He reached up to remove it, turning to look over his shoulder as he did.
Had Trowa and Quatre not noticed the camera? Heero hoped they had not done anything too embarrassing in its view. It was motion sensitive. Had he neglected to announce he was placing the camera there the day before?
Heero saw Koi sniffing at the edge of he bed and patted his leg for Koi to come to him. Koi came and then Heero left; Duo closed the door after them. "I'll take a shower later, but I want to brush my teeth real quick," Duo said.
Heero agreed with a nod. He had not brushed his teeth yet, but they had agreed on previous days that laying out on the beach was something that could be done prior to washing and dressing for the day.
They made their way through the sleepers again and onto the beach. Duo made a sort of tent for himself out of rocks, a beach blanket and some barbeque tools. Heero wanted to be in the sun, so all he had to do was lay out a towel to lie on. He opened his mobile on one end of his towel while he waited for Duo to put his sunscreen on.
The computer had recorded something from the camera. Heero chewed at his lip as he checked the size of the files in the log. Whatever he had recorded amounted to a lot of video, mostly in one large file.
Please do not be what I think, Heero thought, as Duo crawled toward him with the sunscreen. Heero played the largest file. Over two hours of video. It began with Trowa walking past the camera. Then Quatre walked past the camera. Then Trowa pushed Quatre up against the wall opposite the camera.
"Oh Shit! You spied on them?" Duo demanded, palms pressing hard against Heero's back as he leaned forward to view the screen.
"No. I thought I was obvious enough about placing the camera to guard our room. They could have moved it."
"What's that there? I can't see everything because of the glare." Duo's shadow moved over the mobile's screen as he tried to get a better look.
"Quatre's hand?" Heero asked flatly. They had gone directly to groping at clothing.
"I meant, the time count. You have two hours of this?"
"You think it's all...?"
Heero set the video to playback at fast speed. Frames skipped by as Trowa and Quatre kissed, touched, and ripped off each other's clothing.
"Damn! And they were the most sober ones, except for Quatre eating those brownies. Never did find out how many, though Howard admitted one should have been enough."
Heero did not answer. Quatre and Trowa, his friends, his naked, pierced and painted friends, were grinding against each other at unreal pace. Like bunnies, Heero thought. His friends... his naked, muscular, well-hung friends. "We should really not watch this," Heero whispered.
"We should really not," Duo said even more quietly. "Make it go slow again."
Heero hesitated for a moment and then lifted his fingers to alter the playback again. Trowa was clearly sucking Quatre's cock. Heero could only see the tight braids on the back of Trowa's head, and then Quatre's torso, but there was really no mistaking what was going on.
All Heero could think was: Quatre must really work out. Is it just yoga, he wondered. He touched his fingertips to his own chest and then pressed inward, feeling for muscle mass. Heero was by no means flabby, but Quatre's torso seemed to ripple a bit more.
Duo slipped from Heero's back to his side, leaving one arm draped across his back, hand still slick with sunscreen. "No audio?"
"The mic activated but it was within the dresser. It would only pick up loud noises."
"He is nice to look at."
"Works at it."
"He knows the camera is there."
"I could have had him, if I pushed. I probably could have."
"I really want you, though."
"Aa." Heero turned his head and looked at Duo. No cocky grin, just a soft look in his half-lidded eyes and moist lips barely parted. "Aa," Heero said again. "I really want you." Heero shifted his weight and brought his far hand to Duo's face. Duo leaned in toward him as Heero rolled onto his side. Heero licked Duo's lips once before grasping Duo's lips in his.
Duo moaned, and then Quatre made some low noise. It must have also been loud, originally.
"OK?" Heero whispered.
"Totally, could you..." Duo tilted his head to offer his neck. Heero complied with the request. He began by tugging at Duo's earrings and then worked his way down the side of Duo's neck, sucking at his skin. "Yeah, that's good. Do it," Duo said.
Heero thought Duo might be talking to the video, but he did not care. Whatever turned Duo on right now was good. Just a slight flexing and Duo's dick was pressed up against his. It felt great. It made Heero the one calling out approval. "Duo!" He whispered, "You are the one I want."
"Oh, I really love when you're the one calling my name," Duo said, lots of stress on 'love.'
"Tell me what they are doing," Heero said in a growl.
"Uh. Tro's working him with his hands and mouth. I think Kat's gonna come soon."
"What about you?" Heero whispered before biting down on Duo's neck.
"Aw, fuck, keep doing that an I'll come."
"What else would you like me to do?" Heero asked, lips at Duo's ear.
"Aaah, totally interested, Baby, but thankfully not at the point of no return, or I wouldn't care just how abrasive sand can be."
So, he cared. Friction plus grains of sand was not a very good combination, specifically not in a sexual sense. Heero closed his eyes and tried to be just slightly less aware of how it felt to lie on the beach holding Duo against him. "So, what do you think?"
"Outdoor shower near the hammock?"
"Well, if not, we can warm each other up afterward."
Heero assessed the situation and determined that risking that he might possibly have to take a cold shower was worth having a clean wet Duo working to warm him. "Ryokai."
As it turned out, Howard's outdoor shower did have hot and cold water, though the old controls meant mixing the temperature manually by means of two separate taps. Otherwise, the shower was just a nozzle attached to the side of the house, a drain in the concrete platform the decking was aligned with, and three bamboo screens lashed together, but it was enjoyable with beach, palm trees and rocks visible from within the shower. Heero might have enjoyed the scenery more if Duo had not been also within the stall. Rather, Duo was scenery enough.
"Do me right here," Duo said when they had washed. Heero did not argue that. Anywhere else would have been entirely public at the time. When they were quite finished with each other, Duo ran the water and they rinsed off again.
They left the shower and found Koi guarding their bags. Heero put on a pair of undershorts and his sarong. Duo wore a pair of thong underwear beneath his black kilt. Duo suggested they get breakfast.
They walked around the corner of the house and saw Quatre and Trowa were seated beneath an umbrella at a round table on the deck. Quatre waved to them and asked them to sit. "We have tea and coffee," he informed them.
Duo sat down first, in the process of combing out his hair. Heero took a chair beside him and looked over the tray on the glass tabletop. There was a carafe of coffee and a pot of hot water along with tea bags and some sliced bread and rolls.
"I prefer coffee in the morning," Duo said. "Did you make it Tro?"
"Yeah, but there's nothing wrong with it."
Duo laughed and poured himself some coffee.
Heero took some time looking through the tea before selecting a green tea.
"You guys sleep well?" Duo asked.
"Yes," Quatre answered coolly. They looked so entirely casual, washed and dressed with sunglasses in their hair. Trowa had removed the braids Duo had given him. Even with the fading bruise over his eye and a fresh one on his throat, Quatre looked elegant. Of course, Trowa always did.
Heero wondered if he ever looked like that and not just cold or else obviously someone who had recently been having sex. If Quatre and Trowa had been at the table long, they might have heard them in the shower.
"How has your morning been?" Quatre asked.
"Fine," Heero answered.
"About as stimulating as your night was," Duo replied.
Quatre smiled just slightly and sipped tea. In his own seat, Trowa sipped from his coffee mug. If they felt anything about having performed for Heero's camera or having Duo confirm that he had seen the video, it did not show.
They must have excellent silent communication, Heero thought. Even on the video, there had been no discussion at all they had just done it.
That got a glance from Quatre. He had clearly not been in control the night before. At one point during the movie, he had become irritable and complained that he could not feel Trowa, when he was holding his arm. Heero had realized that being high had not taken Quatre's empathy from him, but lessened his control.
That made sense. Alcohol impaired faculties in normal people and many other drugs could do the same.
Heero and Duo had exhibited more apparent control of their abilities when unconscious than conscious.
There was a lot they did not know.
"How long are you staying?" Quatre asked quietly. He was changing the subject, even when there had been no spoken conversation. Something in particular had bothered Quatre just then, but Heero did not know which thing he had thought might have set him off.
"Friday. Right, Heero? We're here Friday during the day but not Friday night?"
Heero nodded. "We really need to get back."
"How were you going back? Do you already have tickets reserved? I brought a shuttle."
"We could all go back together then!" Duo said. He and Heero did not have other reservations.
"You should go back with Quatre," Heero told Duo. "There is something I can do on Earth and it will just take more time away from your work. I should only be a day later in arriving in the Colonies."
"What do you have to do?" Duo asked softly. He was not arguing, but he was saying Heero should have let him know earlier.
"I did not know, or rather, I had not confirmed this possible outcome until I received mail from Midii. There is another shuttle on Earth that I need to pilot to the Colonies."
Duo nodded understanding.
"We both have to let each other do what we must for ourselves," Heero said, trying to smile.
Duo laughed half-heartedly. "Yeah, it'll take you less time without me, though, I probably could help you with piloting a shuttle."
"It is new, so it is a better test of its performance if it is piloted in a routine manner as it will most often be." That was mostly true.
"New shuttle," Quatre said thoughtfully. Statistically, space shuttles were most often known to fail on their first launch. Heero had never investigated why that statistic was true; as with other complicated machinery and electronics, there were many things that could cause failures or accidents. It likely had to do with human error in constructing or using new equipment.
Duo frowned. Pushing the machine to its limit would by some people's opinion be the better test of its capabilities. Duo was test pilot material. He could handle the stress of taking a shuttle to its extremes and would deal with difficulties he encountered instinctively, before difficulties became system failure.
"I am not a bad pilot, Duo," Heero said firmly. "You can trust me to fly a shuttle, ne? It is for Midii and I will be making her put it through more demanding tests under my supervision. She would not react normally if she suspected you had already tested out her shuttle for her."
Duo smiled. He was probably thinking he did not want to be Midii for anything.
"You're giving Midii a shuttle?" Trowa asked. He sounded calm, but that did not mean he really was.
Heero smiled slightly. "It is not 'giving.' She is my partner. It is a company shuttle."
"What'd she invest?"
"A lot," Heero answered truthfully. It may not have been money, but at this time, Heero felt Midii had proven her dedication to the company. They would not have had what they had now if not for her work.
"Then we only have two more nights here," Duo said.
Heero felt that he should not have brought up work, except that he needed to be honest about whether he would be traveling home with Duo. He smiled purposefully. "It is Wednesday. What is on the schedule?"
Duo said he would check and bent to his bag for his mobile.
"He's your assistant?" Trowa asked.
"More like a partner," Heero said, "We just decided to keep our schedule on his mobile."
"I guess we should go back to Oahu?" Duo asked.
"If we could find Wufei," Quatre said with just a hint of laughter.
"I am sure he will turn up," Heero said calmly.
"I'd sleep in if I'd drunk that much," Duo laughed. Quatre laughed along with him. Abruptly Duo stopped. Heero gasped when he saw the cause.
Wufei was staggering from the house dressed in a purple crocheted blanket. Heero did not think he had ever seen more than a few strands of Wufei's hair loose, and there it was, long and tousled. Wufei had bed hair; it would have looked good, if he did not have such a sickly look to him.
Quatre stopped laughing, or tried. He snickered as he rushed to make Wufei a cup of tea.
"You OK?" Trowa whispered as Wufei fell into a chair between Trowa and Duo. Wufei groaned wordlessly. Trowa took the sunglasses from his hair and fit them to Wufei's face. Quatre pushed the tea across the table toward Wufei.
"Man, you'd think Chang'd just meditate it away or something!" Duo said loudly.
Wufei slowly raised a hand and flicked Duo off, as they say.
"Stop!" Quatre scolded.
Heero grinned at Duo. "In the name of love," he said flatly.
"Before you break my heart," Trowa sang.
"Least I didn't sing that disco song!" Wufei accused hoarsely.
Duo laughed. "Honey, Heero wasn't the one singing Chapel of Love!"
Wufei groaned and put his head to the table as the night came back to him.
By Friday Afternoon at the spaceport Heero felt like he was Dorothy saying goodbye to her friends before she got into the balloon's basket; even Wufei had let himself be hugged. Heero disliked seeing them leave without him. He could not go with them, nor could he click his heels together and just be home. He had work to do.
Quatre hugged him. He wrapped his arms around Heero, kissed his face lightly and then laughed softly as he withdrew. "Don't stay away too long," he ordered.
Heero stood smiling. Then he moved and hugged Trowa, and Trowa let him do it. "There's no place like home," Heero whispered as he rocked back down onto his heels. Trowa was smiling at him and Heero knew what had gotten Trowa through the war. It had nothing to do with Judy Garland.
Heero finally came to Duo. He did not have to say goodbye to Koi, as the dog traveled with him. Heero did have to say goodbye to his lover. Twelve days they had been together. Heero knew he was going to feel the loss the second Duo walked up to the shuttle.
"I am going to miss you most of all," Heero said.
Duo gave him a lopsided smile. "I should never have let you watch that movie."
Heero lowered his eyes and laughed with Duo as he realized what he had done.
"Here, take this. Read it after I leave." Heero felt Duo push something into his hand, a digital pad.
"I loaded some things onto your computer."
"A virus to prevent me from sending naughty messages to other boys?"
Heero shook his head. Duo was the one who claimed to like older men. "I made sure that we both had copies of all our photos. And I submitted my reports."
"Reports...?" Duo began, but then he remembered. He grinned widely. "I guess now I should be sorry I complained when you were at the computer so late last night."
Heero smiled at him. "I will punish you for that lack of faith," Heero promised very quietly. He lay his freehand on Duo's shoulder and stroked his neck with one finger.
"God," Duo said coolly.
Heero made a slight bow of his head in agreement and then rose onto his toes to kiss Duo's face, just aside his right eye, where the cheekbone was most prominent.
"Atashi..." Duo started; it made Heero smile. Duo did not finished whatever he meant to say, instead he kissed Heero forcefully until he was forced to draw a hissing breath through his nose.
Heero stood almost too stunned to speak. His Duo-chan really was quite good at kissing. "You smell good."
Duo smiled warmly, hands on his hips. "That's good to hear," he said, then rolled his eyes briefly before focusing on Heero again.
Heero moved his hand to Duo's braid and used his grasp to draw him into another kiss. He tasted like strawberries.
"We do have a launch window to meet," Quatre said kindly.
Heero took a full step back from Duo. He thought it would be crueler to make Duo regret leaving by expressing his own regret or longing. "Give me a call when you get back to the flat."
"I'll call," Duo said. He made that sound like a threat, somehow. He bent then and rubbed Koi's head. The dog let him, craned his neck to encourage Duo's hand. "You take care of Heero," Duo said, smiling.
Heero felt like they were really saying goodbye for a long time, that they might not see each other very much over the next month. He hoped they found a chance to see each other, but he could see that Duo was resigned to the same possibility.
Duo looked up at Heero once more. "See you soon." It was neither a lie nor question, but a statement of intent.
"I hope so," Heero replied.
At that, Duo gave a nod and then turned away from Heero and walked to the ramp. Wufei walked after him and then Quatre and Trowa both waved to Heero before joining them.
Duo turned once while climbing the ramp into the shuttle, but he did not wave. It seemed he smiled. Heero watched him enter the aerospace craft and then took Koi's harness in hand and walked, under the watch of security personnel, back across the tarmac to the air terminal.
Heero had a flight to Moscow via Neo Kansai. Even traveling west, the trip was long, as Honolulu and Moscow were quite distant from each other. Heero slept most of the time he was on the commercial aircraft.
During the layover in Japan, Heero placed a call to Ivanov. He spoke to the older man and indicated that he should arrive the next day to pick up Midii's shuttle, which they had ordered two months ago. Heero was told that Lubov would meet him at the Moscow's spaceport with the completed shuttle.
Lubov was waiting for Heero at the gate when he arrived Saturday morning. "Miss Ivanova," he greeted her with a polite bow. She quirked a smile. "Lu," Heero corrected.
"Are you in a hurry to get to the Colonies? Can you stay for lunch?"
"Lunch would be good, thank you."
Lu walked with Heero to retrieve Koi and their luggage. The particular airlines would not allow Koi to ride within the cabin, so Heero had been forced to acquire another carrier and put Koi into the live specimen compartment. Heero could not imagine the days when animals had been loaded into common cargo compartments. They had not been properly ventilated, heated or cooled.
Even so, Heero released Koi and checked that he was well.
After temporarily storing his luggage in lockers and washing up in one of the restrooms, Heero rejoined Lu and they went to one of the business class restaurants within the spaceport.
It was better than the fast food establishments, as it was walled off from the pedestrian traffic and they could sit down and wait to be served.
Heero suggested they get business out of the way first. Lu presented him with the shuttle's registration, keys and operating guides. Heero placed these in his satchel. Their waiter brought them the water they had asked for and they gave their food orders.
"I contacted your associate, Miss Une, as I was not sure how she meant the name to be spelled."
Heero simply nodded and then sipped water. Midii's shuttle was registered as The Vestiaz.
"We have been seeing you often on the news."
"I did not think you would watch those type of programs," Heero said slyly.
Lu laughed softly. "I think I narrowly missed seeing you when you were last in Moscow. It was just before that assassination attempt at the Bolshoi. I arrived here to sign for our Gundanium shipment and I saw The Zero as we were loading our truck."
"I suspected that was your shipment. Duo and I were in the customs queue just behind the pilots that delivered your shipment." Heero smiled as he recalled how Duo had flirted with the agent. He was not really happy about that, but the memory was amusing. "I thought of calling you, but we did not have much time here. I had a test to do and Duo needed to get back to the Colonies."
"Of course. How is your friend?"
Heero smirked. "He is more than a friend. We are really quite committed."
"We saw photos of you in Hawaii. Oh, I like the hair."
"Do you?" Heero combed his fingers through the hair that fell over his face. "It's dyed, but it is my real color."
"Yes. And you look very tan." Lubov paused, smiling, eyes somewhat evasive. "Father did not believe it when the news stories became obvious, but I think I suspected."
"Oh," Heero said softly, realizing Lu was referring to his being homosexual. "I have heard they can do a test at birth to determine extreme predisposition one way or the other, but... I am an orphan." That was true. The records that had existed had been false. "But much of it is also based on environment, or rather, experience, I believe." Heero laughed. "It seems that many girls do know, even before I did. Not Relena, but then she is naïve in some areas. As I was, so I feel I can say that."
"If you can laugh at yourself then you can laugh at those who are like you righteously."
Heero nodded slowly. A waiter brought their food. Heero spoke to Lu again when he had gone. "I really was naïve in some areas," he confessed.
"How is business?"
"We hear you have gone back to your roots."
"For now. I do not trust anyone else to be in my position right now. There seem to be a lot of rumors about me."
"You are famous now." They ate some food and then Lubov asked another question. "Have you heard about the MCP's mobile suit contract?"
"What have you heard?"
"Zodiac Tech is working on something new and they seem confident they will win the contract. They are being very secretive of course, but we believe that whatever it is, it is called Sagittarius."
"Sometimes I miss Khushrenada," Heero said. He laughed sadly. "I often did not understand his plans or even see how far they reached, but at least I could see he was in control." Heero thought briefly of the time Treize had really seemed to doubt his own ability to control. "Even Barton understood that Treize had already included all twelve Zodiac signs in his plans."
"You mean that Sagittarius is going to be based on an old unused OZ schematic?"
"Nyet. Tallgeese represented Sagittarius within Treize's scheme. The mobile suits Zodiac Tech has built, since the re-legislation, are entirely their own work. They are filling in the places left by the mecha they are no longer permitted to build. I suppose I thought them ignorant, and perhaps they are, but it might also be clever marketing. They might next create a Libra or a pair of counterpart mobile suits called Gemini."
"A mobile suit named Libra?"
"That would fit with their current activity. Of course, they are only on Sagittarius now."
They finished lunch. Lubov said she would take care of the bill. Heero was not against women buying him lunch, so he agreed.
"I can take you to the shuttle," Lu offered as they left the restaurant.
"I am certain it is satisfactory. If you would just tell me where to find it. I need to walk Koi."
Lu glanced to the dog prancing around Heero's legs. "It is in the first hangar near the launch ramps. You will have to check for a launch window and file your flight plan. We were not sure how long you would stay before leaving."
Heero gave a nod. "I can do that. No problem."
"Then I will just thank you for the company and say 'sayonara.'"
Heero smiled for her. "Sayonara," he said, then bowed politely. He wondered if he could teach Koi to bow.
"Call us if you need anything," Lu said. She looked at Heero for a long moment and then walked past him and down the wide corridor.
Heero reached down and patted Koi's head. "We will go outside soon," he said. He needed to get to the commercial launches desk. Heero recalled its location from his past visits and study of the ports blueprints.
There were several uniformed employees serving the desk. Heero waited for an available agent and then approached. He gave his name, shuttle's designation and present location, and his intended destination. The agent input the data into a computer terminal and waited. The process only took seconds.
"There are two shuttles to launch before you, also of preferred launch status. I can get you a ramp launch at 14:30."
Heero calculated the time he would wait. "Accepted."
"The vehicle will be serviced and transported to Ramp 2 by 1400."
"Here is your confirmation." The desk agent handed Heero a printed card.
Heero thanked the agent and then made way for the group waiting behind him. The assigned window gave him plenty of time to take Koi out and then get back in time to collect luggage and make his own preparations for launch.
Though separating the dangerous element of a spaceport from residential development was customary Moscow had sprawled out to meet its spaceport years ago and though houses were at a reasonably safe distance from the rocket fuel storage and heavy machinery gliding toward the Earth the highways and industry came right up to its high electric fences and guard towers. There was less greenery around the port than in many colonies. Within the fences grass had been left in a few areas where it was not considered a safety hazard but birds had learned over their generations to consider the port a no-fly zone.
This did not make Koi happy, as Heero often took him to parks and recently he had been allowed to explore an ocean. Heero could not very well play fetch near the traffic. They settled for walking laps around a block of warehouses and then, when Koi had marked Moscow as his territory as well, they jogged.
Heero leaned against the stone façade of an old building and watched Koi snuff the air. "First thing we do when we get back to the Colonies is arrange to take a meeting in the gym," Heero promised them both. "I have spent so much effort being hard on Duo that some days I forget to be hard on myself." Heero smirked at that. "We have a lot to protect now, Koi. We have to stay strong, but not only strong. We have to be very smart. And fast." Heero shook his head. "I wonder if Quatre really stays flexible looking like that. I wonder how fast he can be."
Koi made a canine sound.
"Yes. That's right. Even if his body is not fast, his reflexes are. And Quatre has always been good at predicting his opponent's moves." And he showed me that it is possible to block someone else from getting inside your head, Heero continued in thought, but I could not manage to do it against him... and I am still not sure how to keep myself from receiving subconsciously.
"One more lap?" Heero asked.
Koi looked up at him attentively.
Heero gestured to the dog with his hands as he spoke. "Around the block, Koi. Race me." Then he took off running. Heero did not care what people thought when they ran. The Sphere was their backyard.
When the lap was done, they jogged back to the terminal and retrieved their luggage. Heero led Koi through the port to the hangar, showing appropriate ID at security checkpoints. Wouldn't want someone to smuggle a bomb onto a shuttle, would they? Security personnel amused Heero, they always had. Even when he was willing to cooperate entirely he was still thinking of ways he could deceive them.
In a way, the challenge of it made him feel safer. It was not quite as easy in some places, and he considered the fact that most people were not as dangerous as he was.
Duo was dangerous. Better not to think about that right now, but Heero had been having flashes of Thursday night ever since Thursday night. Duo had seemed irritable, knowing it was the last night of their vacation, and so Heero had put him in restraints. He had bound Duo ever way he could think to bind him, including covering his eyes and gagging him with a scarf.
He had struggled, but Heero had expected it. He was really getting used to Duo's particular range of moods and he understood that when Duo needed the restraints and control most was also when he struggled most. If Duo had seemed guilty there would have been a lot more punishment and pain. He would have needed it. He had only been afraid and struggling with the weight of duties he knew he must go back to. So, Heero had spent the night removing garments, adding restraints and talking Duo through how vulnerable and controlled he was.
He had still struggled and Heero had debated with himself whether rough sex was the answer. He had decided that he should try all means of restraint first and thus had resorted to threading Duo's collection of different colored scarves through the rings of his bondage gear to tie Duo in uncomfortable positions, just to show he could.
That had been interesting. Duo was very flexible. But it had not given Duo everything he needed.
He was seeking freedom from responsibility and a prisoner still had the responsibility to escape or at least to avoid being of use to their captor. That was, until they were made to realize that there was no possibility of escape and that everything they did was expected by, planned for or desired by their captor. When a prisoner had absolutely no hope of escaping or resisting, they were free to surrender. No former duty could bind them. They simply belonged to the one who kept them.
Not everyone's game, but it was Duo, a lot of the time. Not just a game either.
It took courage and strength to be one who would fight, to fight so that others were spared and protected, to carry all the sorrow and to live with all the ghosts. Duo could do that. He did not have to think about it. He could fight, even though he did not want to.
The more difficult thing was having the courage and strength to surrender, to endure being captured and imprisoned. That kind of endurance most people did not have. It was beyond saying you would flee to fight another day. It was just beautiful.
Beautiful and something Duo had done more than once. He had fought and endured for others. Sometimes Heero thought he might start to sound like Dorothy when she spoke about Relena; he admired Duo so much.
He begged Heero without words to make him OK with his actions, to make him want to keep going in this world. He begged Heero to be the one to do it. He begged Heero to free him... by making him his captive.
The gag had done it. Once Heero had got the gag on Duo and he had been unable to argue with himself in whispers Duo had been free. He had not struggled.
Heero had lain over Duo, whispering to him soothingly and he had understood. He watched Duo's brow above the blindfold and his lips and jaw around the gag and recognized the completely relaxed and joyful expression.
"Release them all," Heero instructed quietly, "and come with me." He had put his hand to Duo's dick to help him along, but he doubted Duo had needed it.
Clips and knots had loosed, and as Heero had felt Duo's climax, he had actually seen scarves and hair fluttering through the air all around Duo…and the room's a/c had certainly not caused that strong a current.
It had been Duo's most successful escape attempt ever. For others, getting someone into a submissive state only to have them free themselves was probably not the point, but for Duo it was, now. His eyes, when the blindfold had slipped from his face, even before his hands had been freed, had been stellar. Like binary blue stars, Heero thought, brilliant, super-heated, and just beautiful.
Heero loved that sort of zen moment when Duo lost his desire to escape and thus became able to escape. He had enjoyed the lust and confidence he felt getting Duo in his bindings, but that moment had been priceless. Heero had helped him do it.
He was going to make sure his Duo-chan knew how to surrender when it was needed, and that he knew how to escape when fighting was called for.
They were going to make it very difficult for anyone to control Duo again. Only Heero would do it, because Duo chose to allow him.
Maybe Duo would be controlled by his child's needs, but that was also Duo's choice now and a different sort of training.
Still, seated in the pilot's seat of the loaded shuttle with Koi perched in the co-pilot's chair, Heero could not shake the occasional flashes of his last night with Duo. More than the memory of events, echoes of Duo's heat, scent and taste came to him.
Sometimes Heero thought that he might go to so-and-so's online dungeon and read a FAQ and Duo would be explained to him, but he knew this was not true. It was always more complicated and delicate than anyone could explain in text or even with photos. It was not even the same every time with Duo.
There were not always distinct 'times.'
It had just happened. They had each acted on their feelings regarding each other and happened upon this weaving of control issues into daily life that sometimes combined with their sexual kinks to create intense experiences. Heero did not know how to explain most of it. He could tell his friends who had touched what part of whom and when. He could try to explain how he had felt, but really, a lot of it could not be recorded and communicated.
Much of what they did was never told. That night, beneath the tacky sheets in that ruined resort was still hard for Heero to describe, and he had learned a lot since then. The closest he could come, was to say it had felt like a sacred rite, but he had never actually taken part in religious ritual. And the time at the flat…Heero could honestly not find words to describe precisely why it had suddenly seemed a good idea to let hot wax fall on each other.
Heero could certainly attempt to philosophize about what had happened to Duo Thursday night, but whatever he said did not truly do justice to the events as experienced.
Maybe Duo would know better words.
"Vestiaz, this is Control."
Heero reached for the button that allowed his communications to transmit from the cockpit. "Vestiaz."
"All systems green. Confirm that you are prepared for launch."
Heero relayed his status.
"We are now at T minus 300." Five minutes until the shuttle was catapulted from the launch ramp.
"Received. Confirmed. Understood." Shuttle launches used to be much more military and controlled, but now, or especially in the last few years since communications and travel had been restored between Earth and all Colonies, there were even private civilian shuttles and pilots making landings and launches. A certain amount of procedure was maintained by necessity, but Heero found that there was now a lot more chatter over the lines.
Short responses in English usually kept the chatting to a minimum.
It was almost a security risk; Heero had heard recipes and favorite search engines given out during countdown.
Heero got up from his seat, moving carefully over the slanted floor, to Koi's chair. He petted the dog's head and scratched his neck. "I am going to strap you in now." Heero then pressed Koi's spine toward the back of the chair and adjusted the harness to the canine's body.
Launch and acceleration from Earth's gravity well resulted in some of the strongest g forces a shuttle passenger would be required to endure. Koi had survived it before in a padded carrier and many animals could survive, but Heero thought the chair actually offered better support, even if it was designed to best accommodate humans.
There had been dogs in space before men. No reason to spare the dogs now when they had helped pioneer space exploration.
"Good Boy," Heero said. He kissed Koi's snout then patted his flank.
Heero moved back toward his own chair. He strapped in, glanced at the countdown and then to Koi. "See, I am strapped in as well. Nothing to worry about.
Heero's phone was ringing. Heero gave Koi a reassuring look, or one he imagined was so. He reached to the pocket beside his seat and opened his satchel. The phone rang again and Heero activated it, answering the call.
He could hear Duo's voice asking if he was there as Heero fit the phone to his head. "Here," he said.
Duo smiled at him from the small screen. His voice spoke directly into Heero's right ear. "You said to call when I got back."
"Where are you? Still in route?"
"Have not launched yet."
"On the ramp now. Launch in… 190 seconds."
"I'll let you go then. Don't want to distract you from a launch."
"Thank you, for the other night."
Duo chuckled through the phone. "Still thinking about that one?"
Heero did not answer.
"Hey, me too. Heero, you read that file I gave you yet?"
"On the pad?" Heero asked slowly as he remembered it. "No, I forgot. I mean, I mostly slept on the planes."
The tiny picture of Duo nodded in understanding. "When you clear Earth, read it. Should entertain you while on the space lanes."
"How long ya got now?"
"Yes…" Heero looked over at Koi. He had his head turned toward Heero and Heero worried that Koi would not hold his head forward at launch. "I am not certain Koi will hold his head upright when we are launched."
"Shit! He's in the cockpit with you?"
"Got any treats nearby?"
"Yes," Heero said, reaching into his satchel.
"Hold the treat over his head in a way that will get him in the right position and then ya know…do whatever you do to train him."
"Yes. That is a good idea." Heero reached out to the side and held the biscuit in front of Koi, just beyond his reach. "Here, Koi. Head Forward." Heero gestured by squaring his own head with his shoulders. "Head Forward for launches."
Koi eyed Heero skeptically, as if afraid he would miss a command or a hint at how to get the treat if he looked away from him.
Heero waved the treat in front of Koi's nose and that got him to move.
"Aw, Man, what've ya got? Two minutes? I don't wanna see this! What if he gets a lethal case of whiplash or something?"
"Duo," Heero growled at him, "Your morbid sense of humor is not helping."
"Who's joking?" Duo warbled nervously.
"Do not worry," Heero said calmly. "I can do this." He allowed Koi to eat the treat and quickly retrieved another.
This time Heero tried the command without holding the treat for Koi. "Head Forward for launch, Koi. Head Forward." Heero made a purposeful nod.
Koi turned for a moment to note the gesture and then slowly began to turn. Heero quickly fed him the treat. "Good Boy! Head Forward." Heero made no movement of his head that time.
"Is he doing it?" Duo whispered.
"He is doing fine." Heero glanced at the countdown. He retrieved another treat but did not offer it to Koi. "Good Boy," he said quietly, "Head Forward." Heero made his own body fold neatly into the area of his chair. The computer would activate the firing of rockets at the correct moment so as to supplement the ramp's acceleration so that the shuttle could achieve escape velocity. Heero would not have to move until they were free of Earth and then it would be safe for Koi to move.
Heero only had to keep him from moving until the catapult activated, then the force of acceleration would keep Koi pinned in his chair.
Heero thought that if he gave Koi the treat now, he might choke during launch if he did not have time to swallow first.
"Head Forward. Good Boy," Heero said calmly, not making a move. He could see Koi from the corners of his eyes and the dog was not moving.
"Stay, Koi. Head Forward."
"You know I love you, right?" Duo whispered.
"I love you too," Heero said calmly. "We are going to be all right."
"I'll loose you during launch…"
"That was likely. The phone would not lock to the next satellite fast enough to compensate for launch speeds. The signal would be lost.
There was an audio message from control that Heero was not required to acknowledge manually and then the catapult activated.
"Just call me when you get home safe!" Duo said quickly.
"Ja ne," Heero managed.
Heero could see Duo smiling and then the signal was lost. Koi was barking, but he was sitting straight in the harness, his head back against the rest.
Then the shuttles rockets and boosters fired and they really went fast.