Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero was in his bath. Koi was lying on the tile floor guarding him while Heero was seated in the copper tub enjoying the hot water moving over his body. He rather liked this bathroom. If he got a new house, he would like a tub in which he could stretch out a bit more, but this one was nice. The fixtures were all new, but made to look antique, so there were rather powerful water jets within the small metal tub.
Heero had woke with sex's equivalent to being hungover, which meant he was feeling pretty well fucked. His muscles ached, his throat was sore from shouting, his right wrist just didn't feel right at all, he was absolutely dehydrated, starving and hadn't eaten since the shuttle flight and he was bruised, even on his face.
Overall, Heero was not the least bit regretful about the night before. He had set out to learn certain things about himself and he had learned. There had been rough moments, emotionally and physically, but there had already been feelings that were more pleasant since then, and Heero was confident his body would heal. Ultimately the sex had been great. Though his body continued to feel like shit, Heero's mind felt absolutely blissful. He was more at peace with himself than he might ever have been. And he knew Duo was happy.
Duo was a little too happy. Almost happy enough to ruin Heero's blissful mental state. This was why Heero had launched a preemptive strike and sent Duo out for breakfast before he could drive him crazy.
If there had been a cheerleading costume in the apartment, Duo would surely have put it on just to give himself a proper cheer. As tempting as that image was, Heero forced it out of mind. He did not need any more sex right now. Well, maybe if Duo wanted to curl up in bed with him and deep throat Heero's cock, Heero might go for that, but otherwise, he was not interested.
Sure, later he would be, there was just no discounting hormones, but right now, Heero just wanted to relax in his bath.
Koi lifted his head and barked once. Duo was home. Heero heard the front door open, the rustle of baggage, the shutting of the door. "I'm Back, Baby! Hey, you aren't still in the tub? I got all your stuff, I think!" He was shouting easily from two rooms away. Duo's voice grew closer. "Had a bit of a language problem trying to find out where to get any kind of medical supplies."
"Arigato," Heero said quietly as he heard Duo's boots on the tile. He opened his eyes then.
The bag was put on the vanity. "Still in there, huh?" Duo skipped over Koi and sat down on the tub surround. Duo reached across the tub to place his hand on the opposite edge and leaned his weight into that arm. "Are you sore?" He leaned down and kissed Heero before he could answer.
Maybe Heero was a little interested. It was Duo, he had looked so happy all morning, and they had both already brushed their teeth. He sucked and pulled at lips and gently nipped, all to tell Duo not to stop. There seemed no worry of that; Duo was interested. They only broke the kiss when Duo nearly fell into the water.
Heero raised his left arm and deflected Duo's body from the tub. He saw Duo lean away from him to regain his balance. His braid was wet and smacked moistly against the back of Duo's shirt as he straightened. "Damn," Duo said as he twisted and lifted the end of his braid. He squeezed water from it into the tub. He then seemed to notice that his shirt was damp. Duo frowned then began unbuttoning his shirt.
"So," he said, not looking at Heero, "How are you feeling? You've been in there all morning. You should feel clean by now."
"I feel clean," Heero laughed. It seemed ludicrous to think that he would feel dirty in any sense of the word, but maybe his time in the tub was triggering guilt in Duo. "I will be fine. Get my water?"
Duo nodded sharply then stood and went to the bag. He pulled out a plastic bottle of spring water and brought it to Heero.
Heero took the bottle, opened it and tipped the bottle to drink. The cool water made his throat feel a whole lot better and he knew his body needed it. He watched Duo lean back against the vanity and cross his arms over his open shirt. It was white, like something to be worn beneath a suit jacket. Duo rolled his head, as if his neck felt stiff. He dropped his arms then and removed his shirt. He stuffed it over a towel rack. "I was going to get changed anyway. It's kinda warm out."
"Come sit near me again."
Duo shrugged then stepped back over Koi to reach the tub. Heero did not know why Duo had persisted in wearing those riding pants; he looked so good in straight-legs. Well, Heero knew; Duo had rigged those pants with cargo space. Still, Duo had him thinking like a fashion victim. Why should Duo wear something so functional when he looked so good in slim black jeans? Heero forced his gaze upward. Dog tags today.
Duo sat down again, his back to Heero. "I thought maybe you were feeling sore," he said casually."
"I am." Heero said in the same tone. He lifted his left hand from the water and slipped it between Duo's arm and ribs to reach his chest. Heero hooked a fingertip through the nearer nipple ring and tugged gently.
Duo hissed. "Don't tease."
"I can tease. I do not need your permission."
Heero smirked to himself. He changed tactic. "You took off your shirt in front of me."
Duo laughed. "You're naked and wet! I hardly think me being shirtless compares!"
Heero moved his hand to Duo's back and scratched lightly. "You could be naked and wet too."
"I thought you were sore!" Duo said too brightly.
"Do not get too cocky about it."
"Seems I was just cocky enough!" Duo warbled.
Heero smiled. "Why did I ever bother to rescue this guy? He's obnoxious, incredibly cocky and talks way too much!"
"Why does that sound like something I would say?"
"I was doing my Duo voice," Heero said flatly.
"Mocking me then!"
"Yes." Heero continued to scratch Duo's back. "A little. I did not expect you to sound guilty after the way you have been doing your victory dance all morning." Heero was not just saying that. There really was a victory dance; it mainly involved Duo's pelvis pumping the air accompanied by various grunts and cheers.
"Hey, don't expect me to say I have regrets! You loved it. I was just gonna offer to go easy on you if you were feeling sore. It happens. That's not guilt, Baby! I saw the supernova smile! Can't tell me you weren't lovin' it at the time!"
Heero arched his back, clenched his toes, folded his arms behind his head, sighed, smiled and felt like he was melting into the water. All of that. "Yeah, it was good," he said happily.
Duo was up and doing his dance again. "Uh, yeah. Uh, yeah."
Heero just smiled. Objectively, this was a most juvenile display. As the boyfriend, he found it rather endearing in a way he did not really want to admit. As a lover, he was finding Duo's dance at least mildly erotic. Heero ran his hands over his stomach and chest. "It was not just that you turned out to be some kind of sex machine..."
Duo laughed happily. "Oh, that is burned into permanent memory! Never saw that one coming."
Yes, Duo liked that one: 'Little Sex Machine.' "Mmmm, but it was not only that. I just felt so good. I just... let go."
Duo knelt at the side of the tub, his arms folded over its edge. He smiled at Heero. "That's pretty kewl, ne? I knew you could do that. You stopped worrying about doing it right or whether we were pleased enough. You just told me what you wanted and let me do it for you. You let go a lot before, but this time... it was even more. It was absolute. Heero, I think you could be like that, no matter what we did, ya know?"
"Is it like that for you sometimes?"
"Oh, yeah. Fuck! Why do you think I get off on being with you so much? I can trust you enough to not be worrying about some issue in the back of my mind the whole time. I do like playing with you, knowing what I'm doing and seeing how you react, but then I can just stop thinking about it and do it."
"Because it is second nature?"
"No. It's just nature."
"Aa. I understand. After a point, you just throw yourself into it, and your body just knows to do it."
"Yeah, totally. The spirit and passion part. But, uh, I think playing games is fun too."
"Both is good."
"Oh, yeah! I adore it all with you, the whole love, sex, game play, therapy deal! I'm fucking doing a dance!" He rolled his eyes brilliantly. "You don't see me doing a dance after wanking in a shower and shit. It's a fuckin' display of jubilation!"
Duo bent over the side of the tub with laughter, sending his braid into the water again.
Heero waited a few moments and then he said, "I want to live with you."
Duo lifted his head. A small laugh escaped his lips, but his gaze was focused and serious.
"You did not ask me outright, but you hinted, and we already said that we were ready, so if you move to Earth, I want to live with you."
"I was..." Duo did not say what he was. He just launched himself forward, put his arms around Heero, and kissed him. That said what Duo was: in complete agreement.
Heero pushed himself up from the tub and Duo let Heero lean on him, so that he was able to climb from the bath without breaking the kiss. Koi moved out of the way and Duo flipped the switch to light the heat lamp above. Duo's hands were roaming everywhere, but that was fair, because Heero was twisting Duo's nipple rings.
"I am so yours. Still yours," Duo whispered. "Tell me what you want. If you say nothing I'll stand here and kiss you until my jaw aches."
"Breakfast," Heero said as Duo was sucking at his throat.
Duo groaned and stepped away. Heero let him go with one last flick of a fingernail to his left nipple. Heero turned to the vanity where his various toiletries were neatly laid out. The bag Duo had brought in was the other side of the sink. Heero peered into it. "Tempted to answer otherwise, but I cannot neglect my body's needs too long, can I? You would not think me sexy if I did."
"Yeah, I guess. I'm hungry too."
Heero removed the items from the bag. There was no food in it. "There was another bag."
"Yeah. Thought you'd tell me not to bring food into the bathroom or something."
"I probably would have," Heero agreed.
"I figured. I got coffee and bread and some assorted fruit, like you asked for."
Heero removed the wrist brace from its packaging and fit it to his right arm. "Tighten this up for me."
Duo stepped closer and fastened the bands on the brace snugly. "You sure it's OK? I don't know how you did it, Heero. The links were Gundanium."
"Adrenaline, plus, I twisted my hands opposite each other as I pulled. It was the torsion that broke the ring. I could not have snapped it with linear force. And, I did not do it without injury."
"I would have had you free in a second if you gave me time."
"I was not thinking that way."
"It's the same hand," Duo said, thoughtfully.
"My right hand?" The same as what?
"That time... when I came to break you out... there was blood all over your hand..."
Heero remembered. "I suppose my wrist hurt, but the blood was not from breaking the restraint itself. I reopened the bullet wound when I strained my arm to free myself."
"Yeah, the bullet wound."
"It will be fine," Heero said calmly. "It's just strained and the brace will help. I have injured this arm a lot of times." Heero smiled, looking at his upper right arm. "Actually, I have injured most of my body, I just notice injuries to this arm more because I need to use it all the time. When I self detonated, it was my left arm that was most injured."
"Yeah, yeah, I've heard the stories from your number one fan. How is it taking care of your physical needs when you're piloting Heavyarms with a bum left arm? I'm familiar with all the specs, you know."
Heero rubbed his right arm and laughed softly. Duo had been warbling and gesturing wildly with his hands. He really took personal offense every time Heero was not relying on him for support. "I did not take such good care of my body then, though, Trowa did suggest it."
"Yeah, he just admires everything about you."
"I admire Trowa, but I do not wish to make love to him."
"Just use him for sex then?" Duo asked. He was not really serious.
Heero turned back to the vanity. "You know I am not that casual. If I was not in a relationship and I felt a need for sexual gratification that I could not find on my own, I would go to a professional."
"Really?" Duo asked. He leaned over, set his elbows on the vanity and glanced up to Heero.
Duo offered the small bottle of moisturizer. He must have seen Heero puzzling over the items Duo had purchased to cover the bruise on Heero's face. "Light upward strokes."
Heero nodded and then began to apply the cream to his face. Duo had not meant to mark him and had apologized more than once already. It was not result of his tormenting Heero, but of panicking when Heero neglected to breathe regularly. Heero could not really blame Duo for the bruise. Duo had given warning. Heero could punish him for it, but if he saw Heero was not breathing, Duo would slap his face.
Heero had not even realized Duo had hit him so hard until Duo had apologized for the mark.
"Did you always think that way, or just since actually becoming a pimp?" Duo asked.
Heero smiled at that.
Duo offered the tube of concealer and a piece of foam. "When the other stuff is set, use this. Downward strokes this time. Blend the Hell out of it."
"I do not pimp. I just own the brothel."
"You knew what I meant," Duo said lightly.
"I never gave prostitution much thought before recently, but I did mean what I said. I feel that way now."
"You know it's not like that everywhere though, right? I mean, it's different with the ones on the street."
"I would not go to them. Most major cities do have established services, they simply do not always aggressively advertise. You have to know who to ask."
"And you know?"
"I am told that a good hotel concierge always knows."
"So, hypothetically, would you go to a professional if you were in a relationship?"
Heero leaned in toward the mirror to see his face better. "I hired professionals for you already. It was a pointless question."
"I mean, for yourself?"
"Depends on circumstances. Perhaps in under certain conditions I would. Hard to answer hypothetically."
"What if I did it?"
"Hmmm, what's the alternative?"
"We have good enough communication skills to know when our relationship has problems and we make the decision to hire any sort of professional help together. Together I would probably be OK with, assuming the alternative is not being happy together anymore. If it helped us, I would do it."
"Seriously? I mean, thinking up the ideal hypothetical answer is different than going through with it."
"I think so. As it is a hypothetical question, I cannot really know unless it comes up in real life."
"Yeah. I don't know what I would do. What if it wasn't a professional? What if one of us just did some stuff with someone else, but still wanted to stay in our relationship?"
Heero turned to Duo and glared at him. That was different.
"I see that is a 'no.'" Duo laughed and held up his hands. "Relax, Baby, it was just hypothetical. I'm totally satisfied."
"If it was sex with someone else, I do not know if I could forgive you, especially if you tried to hide it from me."
"Hey, I'm not looking to hook up with anyone, Heero. I was just curious. I was kinda wondering what it would be like if we actually did stay together... until we were older. What if one of us just wasn't interested or couldn't... or didn't understand some particular fantasy the other had?"
Heero sighed. "That is when you address the issue of professional help, be it sessions with a psychotherapist or prostitute."
"So, if you just couldn't get it up one day, you'd schedule me time with some pretty boy so I could get a proper fuck?"
Heero laughed! "Why am I the one who cannot get it up?"
"Didn't want to jinx myself," Duo warbled.
"We could try drugs and toys first, Duo-chan."
"You ever think about it? I mean, if we don't die, then we'll get old, right?"
"That is the usual way of things."
"So, do you ever wonder what happens? I mean, I'm kinda guessing I'd turn into some old lecher, because everyone's considered a lecher when they're old and thinking about sex. I think I'll need to be institutionalized the day I start to confused the muscle cream with the lube, ya know!"
Heero laughed hard. He was picturing Duo wrinkled and gray-haired and feeling tingly heat on his dick and ass because he had gotten the tubes confused again.
"It's a pretty fucked up, picture, right?"
Heero wiped tears from his eyes. He was picturing Duo frantically beeping for a nurse. "It would not be so bad if they let us share a room and the nurses were cute."
Duo laughed. "I am picturing you ranting at nurses and threatening to kill them because you think they moved your paper cranes."
"In my imagination you took up some hobby like origami or bonsai or some shit and you're all obsessive about it and have to arrange your things around the room in some way only you comprehend and you keep ranting when you can't remember where you put everything."
"That is not funny at all," Heero said seriously.
Duo still laughed. "It looks funny in my head."
"Well, in my head you accidentally got some of that prickly heat stuff on your balls!"
"I am such an old dumbass!"
"You are so hot!"
Heero went still and questioned Duo with a gaze.
"You are so fuckin' hot. Do you even realize that you are naked?"
"I told you," Heero said seriously, "Your people are the ones that have issues with nudity."
Duo grinned. "So, when we live together, are you going to walk around the house naked?"
"Only in the rooms where I sleep, bathe and dress... but you will, if I tell you to."
"As long as we're alone."
"Yes. A little exhibitionism is fun, but I do not wish to be inconsiderate to others."
"Use this powder. It will blend things even more so it is not obvious you put concealer on the one cheek."
Heero took the compact.
"So, what do you think about paying for half the house?"
"I will do it if you need me to."
"No. I don't need you. I can do this on my own. I do not need you to support me that way. I'm asking if what you feel about me includes wanting to enter into a financial investment together."
Heero finished the dusting of powder and checked his face in the mirror. He looked the way he usually did, which meant the attempt was successful. "So... boyfriends that own a house together?"
"Boyfriends sharing a mortgage," Duo corrected, "Don't worry, you get some tax benefits, and it builds good credit, assuming you do not default. If I can come up with the money, I am sure you can."
"It was not a question of money," Heero said quietly. "We could be boyfriends that own a house together eventually."
"With a high mortgage payment. If you think about it, it's more likely we'll sell the house or be more than boyfriends."
Living together, paying bills together, having sex with each other, being in love, it was all a lot like what marriage was supposed to be. There were no solemn vows. Heero had already believed they could live together, he did not foresee finances becoming an issue between them. He had to believe that even if they somehow fell out of love that they would not do something petty like fight over the house. "Tell me that if we break up neither of us can keep the house."
"What if I want the house?"
"Then do not ask me to share. It is the logical thing. Agree in advance that if we are not together that we will sell the house."
"Fine. No problem. What about things we buy while living together, for the house?"
"If we cannot mutually agree on who should keep them, then we must sell and split the money."
"You do not believe we will ever break up. That is why you agree so easily."
"You don't really want to break up, Heero, you just feel safer having the contract. It is not an unintelligent move, so, I agree. We'll be civil about breaking up, hypothetically. Less chance to hurt our friends, anyway."
"So, how would you feel about taking another loan once we settle and customizing a house to suit our particular needs, if we do not find one ready to suit us?"
"I may as well agree to that. I can pay the amount off over time and I do have other places to stay while construction is underway."
"OK, settled then?"
Duo smiled. "So, if you have particular ideas of what you want in a house, run them by me. I'll see what I can find or arrange to add."
"Where will you be looking?"
Duo shook his head. "No. Let's not talk business right now. This is one of our vacations. I am happy you brought it up, Heero. If you hadn't, I was planning to ask you about it this weekend."
"I am... content. You are still welcome to stay at my place any time."
"Have the keys."
Heero turned and took his bottle of water from the tub surround. He collected the bottles of painkillers and vitamins from the bag.
"Did I get the right stuff? I speak a bit of French and I can understand and read some of it, but I'm hardly fluent. People speak English, but everything is packaged or labeled in French."
Heero checked the bottles. "No, this is fine. Most drug names look the same in languages using a Roman alphabet."
"It's just over the counter, but...?"
"What is it?" Heero asked as he opened the small container of painkillers. Either way he held the bottle it hurt his wrist to twist off the cap.
"You ran out?"
"I told you. I may have some at home, but I had not restocked my first aid kit."
"Do you find you take them often?"
When he was hungover, when he had been drinking, when he had a headache and eyestrain from sitting in front of his computer staring at code for a day, when he pushed his body too far, when he got a headache without knowing why...
"You overdose. I've seen you. If it says take one, you take two. If it says two, you take three."
"They are not prescription strength."
"No, not narcotic or highly addictive, but that doesn't mean it's good to take so many so often. I'm not saying you have a problem, Heero, I'm suggesting you cut back before you develop a problem."
Heero shrugged. "I can tolerate a lot of pain, Duo. I have felt and survived a lot of pain. I just do not see the value in doing so when it can be avoided." Heero saw Duo begin to speak and cut him off, "But if it makes you feel better, I will cut back."
"It would, honestly."
Heero returned some of the pills to the bottle so that only one remained in the palm of his right hand. "Then I will take une and see how I feel in dix heures." Heero flashed the usage directions at Duo then popped the pill into his mouth. He set the pillbottle down then and drank some more water. "Did you take your meds today?"
"Yeah. You were still lounging in bed then."
Heero nodded. "I will get dressed so that we can have breakfast." Heero went into the bedroom and pulled on undershorts shorts and a pair of indigo jeans. Duo skipped past, saying he was going to get the coffee brewed. Heero put the rosary beads over his head. He collected a shirt, socks, oxblood riding boots, and satchel along with the water and vitamins and then went into the next room.
This was the living room, but as there was no dining room and little seating in the kitchen, Heero thought they would eat here. He found some bread, butter and chocolate spread already on the table. Heero set his things down on the slip-covered sofa and then went to the kitchen.
Duo was watching coffee brew and playing air drums with two butter knives to music in his head. He laughed when he saw Heero, clearly not meaning his activity to be viewed. Duo then put the knives on the counter with a bread knife and some plates. "You can start breakfast, I want to wait to get some coffee."
"I can wait."
"Smells good. You should have gone to the bakery. I wanted some of everything."
"Do you like French food?"
Duo shrugged. "Don't think I've had much, but I know they make bread and pastry!"
"They do," Heero agreed. "I thought you said you bought fruit."
Duo hiked his thumb to a section of the kitchen behind.
Heero looked and saw a basket piled with croissants and fresh fruit. "We will have breakfast for a few days."
"That's what I thought." The machine hissed as Duo pulled the carafe to pour coffee into a mug. "Oh, did you want some? Take this mug and I'll wait for the next."
"No, take it. I'll drink water. I may want to drink coffee when we come home later, so it is good you got some."
Duo balanced the knives and plates in one hand and Heero carried the basket.
They sat on the sofa together, eating breakfast, while they each used their own computer to check news and messages. Heero's businesses were doing well. There was a client who wanted some testing done in S2, not far Quatre's family home. Heero would probably have to help Adin out with the fieldwork. Relena had sent a message asking if Heero would like to get dinner together some time.
Heero peeled a banana and then began to eat it.
"Did you see this shit about 'Lapin Blanc'?"
"Lapin Blanc? The hacker?"
"Yeah. He's apparently been traced as far as Paris and is wanted for questioning about a murder and the crashing of several computer systems at Treize Khushrenada International a week or so back."
"I think Lapin is a 'she' and none of that seems her style."
"You know her?"
"Virtually. A Paris base would be consistent with what I know. Was air traffic control affected?"
Duo scanned the article. "No. Ticketing systems went down and flights were delayed out of the airport. They think the suspect used the crash to leave the city undetected in some way."
"Well, do they know her real name? How would they detect her with just an alias?"
Duo shrugged. "Doesn't say, they just suspect the airport was Lapin, it says. Another hacker was killed and evidence found at his home suggested that Lapin may have information about the murder."
"Does not say she is suspected of committing the murder?"
"Her thing is information distribution, be it pirated copies of media or making downtown billboards read: 'An Alliance Specials officer carried out orders to assassinate Colonial spokesman Heero Yuy for his denouncement of the military industrial war machine.'"
"I always heard that, but it was never absolutely proven."
"A few people knew who had done it, but mostly they were assassinated as well."
"It is not important any more. Earth and the Colonies have unified." Heero shrugged and finished off the banana. "I suppose that the truth is that Lapin might know about the murder, but is likely hiding from the murderers, rather than trying primarily to avoid the authorities. Though, she has crossed that line into altering data and crashing systems rather than just seeking information and passing it on to others. They could charge her with a number of crimes if they found her."
"She's probably not the only one," Duo warbled.
Heero shook his head slowly. "I only did it for political causes. I gave it up, but for accessing data. There is really no harm in that."
Duo shrugged. "Almost done with breakfast? What do you want to do today? There is that parade that will pass through Champs Elysées. That might get very crowded."
"I have been to Paris before. What do you want to do?"
Duo laughed. "I didn't really think about it. I mean, I guess I want to go to the Louvre, and shop."
"We can go there Sunday, to the museum. We can do some shopping today. Did you want to see any of the cathedrals or the Eiffel Tower?"
"I guess. It's a shame we will be so busy tomorrow, we could have more time."
"Yes. Though, they should be calling us today to arrange to set up for the interview and their photo shoot. Would you...?"
"Like to go to a cemetery?"
"Yeah?" Duo asked happily.
"I know one that you might like. It is really not uncommon for tourists to go to the old cemeteries in Paris."
"That sounds kewl."
"All right. We can get dressed, tidy up, get Koi and then go pick up some flowers."
They went about these last chores quickly. Heero wore boots beneath the legs of his jeans. He had chosen to wear one of his sleeveless shirts, but he felt it was more respectful to wear long sleeves to visit a gravesite, so Heero borrowed a shirt from Duo and tied the sleeves about his waist when he did not need to wear it. Duo did not seem to have respect for anyone in mind today. The shirt he wore was sleeveless, collarless, barely reached his navel and was literally constructed from pieces of an old American Flag.
Heero questioned the sense in wearing the Stars and Stripes in Paris on Bastille Day, but Duo claimed that the French could appreciate irreverent fashion statements and that the colors were the same that stood for Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité.
They exited the Metro at Philippe Auguste; Heero knew the way from there. They walked along a few sections of street, Duo carrying chrysanthemums, Heero carrying red roses and Koi just following, until they came to the gate of Père Lachaise.
Heero pulled on the borrowed shirt and buttoned it. He saw Duo grin at him. "You look like a priest."
The shirt beneath was white and its mock-turtle collar did form a band around his neck that was partially exposed by the second shirt, which happened to be black. "Not with these jeans and boots." Heero suddenly felt awkwardly dressed.
Duo shrugged to say he did not care and they passed by the guard station with only a nod from the guard within. "They get grave robbers?" Duo whispered as they walked ahead, into the cemetery, with its old cobblestone paths and stone monuments.
"Vandals or loiterers."
"Kids coming to the graveyard to drink, smoke and fuck?"
"They can try," Heero said. He walked to the right, turned right again then took another path to the left. Koi ran ahead, up the slope. Heero glanced to see that Duo was following. He was taking his time in reading names on the monuments. "There are a lot of famous people buried here, but there are a few I want to show you first," Heero called back.
He waited as Duo nodded and then jogged to meet him. Heero then went after Koi. "Here, do you know who this is?"
Heero smiled. "You know him. He was an American poet and rock star. He died in this city."
"Aa. That was the group he was the singer with. You know some of their songs?" Heero tried to sing one; it was difficult without the music. "Before you slip into unconsciousness, I'd like to have another kiss, another flashing chance at bliss, another kiss, another kiss." Heero closed his eyes. "The days are bright and filled with pain, enclose me in your gentle rain, the time you ran was too insane, we'll meet again, we'll meet again." He peeked at Duo with one eye and he was grinning. Heero tried to remember the rest. "Oh, tell me where your freedom lies. The streets are fields that never die. Deliver me from reasons why you'd rather cry. I'd rather fly. The crystal ship is being filled. A thousand girls, a thousand thrills, a million ways to spend your time. When we get back, I'll drop a line."
"Whoa! You knew all that? Is it supposed to sound like that?"
"I think I got most of it right. Jim's voice is a little deeper, and he tends to sound like he has been drinking and smoking." Heero smiled, being rather proud of himself. "I did not think I would remember it, but I probably last heard it in Paris, so that helped bring it back. There was this girl that played it for me."
Duo's face smiled, but he shook his head. "A girl? In Paris? Played that song for you? More than once?"
"How old was she?"
"Around our age."
"And you didn't have sex with her?"
"Why would I do that?" Heero asked seriously.
Duo laughed. "How did you know her?"
"She found out who I was."
"You mean she recognized that you were a Gundam pilot?"
Heero shook his head. "No. She knew me online and she figured out that the person she knew online was me, who was a Gundam pilot, and she asked if she could met me."
"And you did?"
"She was..." Heero laughed, "elite."
"She was a hacker?" Duo asked, "Not this Lapin Blanc?"
"No. Quickening. Quick for short."
"What else did you do but listen to The Doors and hang out in cemeteries?"
Heero shrugged. "Talked about the war, existentialism and music, drank some wine, and built a computer."
"And you never fucked her?"
"Duo-chan," Heero growled.
"Was she ugly?"
"No. She did not wear makeup or trendy clothes or fix her hair carefully, but there was nothing wrong with her physically."
Duo was shaking his head. He was almost laughing.
"What is it? Why is this important to you?"
"I just thought you said you were alone then is all."
"I was. I did not say our meeting was without awkwardness. I certainly did not touch her. It was like communicating by text, face to face. It is social, I suppose, but it is not..." Heero tried to think of the right way to put his thought. "Not like this." He gestured between Duo and himself. "It is real in that there is another mind involved, but it is less real."
"Online, but you met her for real."
"It does not matter. I was different then. Why do you act like... I had sex with her? Do you assume I would have sex with my other friends?" He had made that mistake before, Heero thought. "Forget it. Give Jim some flowers. He does not seem to have any."
"He's been dead a long time."
"I'll show you someone who has been dead longer." Heero watched Duo lay some chrysanthemums at the base of the monument adorned with Greek lettering. He looked around to orient himself and then led Duo to another grave.
Heero walked Duo past the marker and then put his arms around him. He rubbed Duo's back reassuringly. "I would have done this already, but I am sure the cameras can see us near Jim's grave."
"Guess all the subversives come to visit him?"
"Not all." Heero stepped back and pointed out the grave he wanted to show Duo.
"Oscar Wilde!" Duo flipped his sunglasses into his hair. "So, this is Oscar Wilde's grave."
Heero sat down on one of the lower gravestones. "Give me a flower."
"You have thirteen!"
"These are for someone else. I just need one. I am sitting on this lady's headstone. It is the least I can do."
Duo laughed and handed Heero a flower. He dropped the single flower to the grave below him.
"So, this'd be a good place for some sodomy?"
Heero gaped at Duo's choice of words. He smiled then. "Tempted, but electronic surveillance is not so fun to put on a show for as real people."
"Do not want something like that showing up in the gossip shows."
Heero agreed with a nod.
"It's not a bad place to be lain to rest?"
"I only know of one vacancy here."
"I would be surprised if there were any."
"A very limited amount of space. You have to be someone whose life affected the whole world to be put here now. You can give Oscar the rest of those flowers if you like." Heero stood up. He could not see Koi. Heero called for the dog.
"Don't suppose there's a recent grave around here?" Duo said, he was squatting before Wilde's gravestone.
"No." Heero whistled. He could hear Koi barking. "Koi. Come."
"Maybe he saw an animal of some kind," Duo suggested.
"If the house does have a yard, it would need a fence."
"Right." Heero saw the dog bounding toward him. He bent and rubbed Koi's neck and scratched his head. "Heel, Koi," he said then, firmly. Heero straightened and saw Duo was standing also. "We should go this way now." Heero waved in the direction he wished to go.
Duo took Heero's left hand as they walked among the graves. Heero turned his head to smile at Duo. His hand felt warm to Heero.
They came to the newest section of the graveyard Heero knew of. He stopped before a pair of graves. One had a simple marker that had been placed at the time of burial that identified the occupant as Millard Peacecraft, to the left Treize Khushrenada's grave was marked with a larger stone of white marble topped with sculpted figures of a lion and a lamb resting together. A lion's head and a family crest were carved into the face of the stone, along with the name and dates.
"Oh," Duo said.
Heero loosed Duo's hand and stooped to place the roses on Treize's grave. "I brought Duo this time. The grave looks nice, no need to clean it. I brought you some fresh flowers, your favorite kind."
"Most people I know that die... have their ashes scattered into space one way or another. It is nice to have a grave to visit. Maybe next time I am in Marseilles I will give the Marshal some roses on your behalf, you have as much reason to see him as I do and all your sacrifices must weigh down your soul. Maybe if those of us here take care of your unfinished business, we can be sure you have moved on. You have too much manners to haunt anyone, but for some the memory of your actions is painful enough. I hope that God or whatever power there may be allows you to enter Heaven or Nirvana or be reincarnated, if that is what your soul requires. Thank you for telling me to live when I needed to hear it and for giving me the Gundam. It was evil and we were all happier seeing it with Millard, but it was an expensive gift to give to a boy with only a broken Wing and a field of death in exchange. I traded it for ZERO and everything was worked out in the end. We will all take care of Mariemaia, so you do not have to worry about that. I think you would love her very much."
"That was a nice thing to do, Heero," Duo whispered.
"You can say hello to him if you like."
"No, I don't think I can think of anything good to say. I'm glad we came here though."
"We can leave."
"Yeah, let's just take the Metro to Roosevelt and shop or something. They are having sales on occasion of the holiday!"
"OK Sounds fun."
"Maybe we'll have time tomorrow or Sunday to find where the Parisians shop, rather than going to the areas they expect tourists to be."
"I could find out." Heero patted his satchel and as he did he saw Duo sway and fall. Heero darted forward and caught Duo's shoulders before his head could hit the cobblestone. "Duo!"
"I tripped on something," Duo said slowly. He looked back along the path. "OK, I'm just a little freaked out. I swear it felt like something tripped me."
Heero looked around. Koi was with them, the path was relatively level. There was nothing wrong with Duo's shoes. No one else was nearby. "Did you get hurt? Can you get up?"
Duo crawled up onto his hands and knees. "Was it this?" He picked something small from a stand of grass beside the path. Duo looked down into his hand. "What the Hell?" He looked around. "But that didn't even really happen... right?"
Heero looked into Duo's left hand. He could see the band of the ring Duo always wore, and he could see a small, dirty, gold brooch with a green stone in it. "Let's just get out of here now." Heero offered Duo his left arm. Duo clasped his arm and Heero pulled him to his feet.
They stopped when they were through the gate and on the street. Heero removed his second shirt and tied it about his hips. He saw Duo rubbing his thumbs over the brooch. He stepped in toward Heero and pinned the brooch to the collar of Heero's shirt. "Green's your color."