Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Duo noticed the danger first. Heero only noticed the state of the doors to their rented flat after Duo threw an arm into his path to keep him from going ahead. The doors had been forced open and hung ajar. Silently they both scanned the small hall and stairway, and then made for the wall beside the doorway.
Duo spoke in signs, indicating that he would go first and then call for Heero.
Heero did not like the plan, but he agreed that it was most logical, and communicated this with a nod. Duo was the stealthier and more disarming, and he was not even slightly injured. Heero held Koi back with one arm and listened as Duo slipped into the apartment.
Heero heard nothing, and he believed this meant that whomever had broken in had already gone.
Heero loosed Koi and moved into the flat, carrying their purchases. Duo was standing in the small foyer between kitchen and living room. From this space, Heero could see that the flat had been ransacked in a search for something.
"I didn't find anyone here. The windows are locked and intact, so I think they came and left by the door. How do you think they knew we were here?"
Heero did not answer immediately. He moved into the living room. The upholstered furniture lacked slipcovers and cushions. Books had been thrown down from shelves. Accessories were broken and toppled. A plant had been overturned. This did not look like burglary, but a desperate and rushed search for something.
"The only one who knew the actually address we were staying at was your friend, John, unless you told anything else. I might suspect a taxi driver of recognizing one of us and getting ideas about making money from the situation, one way or another, but this is not burglary."
"Random gang thing?"
Heero moved cautiously into the bedroom. All of their luggage was disrupted as well. The dressing table was wrecked. One of the large armoires was fallen onto its doors. The back had several holes cut into it indicating that the furniture was to contain electric devices. The television was tilted on it's own stand, but intact. The discs from the shelves below were scattered. Heero saw one of his blank discs near the door.
"Help me right this," Heero told Duo. He put his satchel down among the ruins of his wardrobe and then put his hands beneath the fallen armoire. Duo lifted on the other side and they stood it upright easily. The doors swung open. There was nothing inside. Heero looked at the furnishing closely. There was dust on it that had been disturbed, but in some places, it was still thick. The pattern said several devices had been stored within. There were tack holes and pencil scrawling on the inside of the doors.
There had been a computer in the armoire. "Duo, did you look in here before we left, at any time?"
"It was already empty. I looked in all the various cupboards when I arrived, to see what spaces we would be able to use."
Heero moved toward the bed. On the floor near one of the nightstands, there was a framed photo. Heero lifted it. The glass was cracked. Heero saw the photo was of a young man and woman standing before a sign that read 'Elysium.' The way the woman was positioned in the man's embrace, Heero could see the back of her shoulder. She had a tattoo. It was a white rabbit.
"Duo!" Heero dropped the picture to the bed. "Where is your computer?"
"I don't...!" He darted to the living room.
Heero went back to his satchel. He opened it and assured himself that he had his mobile and their camera. "The guns? Where did you put them?"
"Under the bed!" Duo called. "Not on the floor, but tucked above the rails."
Heero crawled to the bed and looked beneath. He could see nothing on the rug beneath the bed. He looked carefully at the underside of the bed. He reached and felt one weapon and then the other. That was a relief. Now they might not have to report this break-in. If the guns had been taken and used in a crime... these were registered... they would have been traced back to Heero and Duo. They would have had to report them stolen.
Duo walked back into the bedroom slowly, head low. "It's gone."
"It was just your old school machine."
Heero already knew. It mostly had all Duo's favorite photos saved on it. "But you copied everything to my mobile or they are still on the camera, right?"
"So is there anything necessary on it?"
"You set up a remote dial-in for it?"
"I did, I used to leave it at Relena's sometimes and just call from home to get the files I needed to do homework."
"And you know the passwords for everything?"
"It's my computer."
"We will just dial-in and destroy everything. If the machine is on, we can do it."
Duo nodded. "Have you got this figured? I can't figure it all out. We were not the targets."
Heero held a finger to his lips. "Check for bugs as best you can. I am going to look at the front doors and see how bad it is. I will check the phone line then and get started on damage control." Heero stood up and placed the guns on the disheveled bed. He lifted the picture frame from the bed and waved Duo over.
Duo looked over Heero's shoulder as Heero pointed out the tattoo. "Lapin Blanc."
"Oh! Is that what 'lapin' means?" Duo hissed at Heero's right ear.
Heero nodded. "I was listening to Elmer. Lapin Coquin!"
Duo laughed quietly. "But this is John's cousin, Janice," Duo whispered very quietly. "And I think I've seen this guy before... somewhere."
"Suspect this is Romeo Tulle, they were known to be close IRL as well."
"That's the alias of the murder victim," Duo whispered.
That Heero had not known. "Romeo's dead?"
"That's what they said. I guess he was her boyfriend."
"I think so."
"If someone killed my boyfriend, I might run away for a while."
Heero put the picture down on the bed. "I will go check the door. Do not use too many lights, until we are certain no one is watching the apartment."
"Heero, you don't want to call anyone?" Duo whispered, still standing just behind him.
"We do not know who did this. The guns were where you left them, so we do not need to report the crime if we do not want to."
"The agents in IT division are still Preventers. If she is innocent of the murder and in trouble, they could help her."
Heero nodded. "This is not an area in which I have any right to give you orders. Do what you think is right. I have told you what I am going to do."
Duo touched the scar on Heero's right arm. "Let me know what you find out from the hardline. There's no sense in either of us deciding what to do before we have all the information.'
Heero smiled. "I would have thought you the impulsive one."
"Go do your work. I'll start cleaning as I search."
Heero left Duo and went through the living room. He went to the kitchen, which was also in disarray, and poured Koi a fresh bowl of food and water. When that was done, Heero went to look at the doors. They had been forced open and one door's edge was scraped and indented. It did not receive the locking mechanism from the other door squarely. A piece of trim that had covered the gap between the doors was snapped off, leaving splintered wood below and above the lock. There was a chain latch, but it was to be used when people inside the apartment wanted to be secure and did not latch from without.
Heero closed the door as close as he was able and slipped the latch into place.
He went for his mobile and hooked it up to the hardline in the bedroom. Duo was still working on the area around the bed. Cleaning up would take them both some time. Heero ran some telecommunications testing software and found there was a tap on the line. "I am sure there is a device on this line. I want to go check if it is on the premises."
"I'll go with you."
"I can take Koi with me. The chain on the door will keep it closed fairly well and give some warning, so if you stay here you will be safe."
"Guess I should not be worried about you."
"Come lock the door after me, anyway." Heero took a penlight and a multitool from his satchel and then went to the foyer. Duo was already there. He flashed a smile then ushered Heero out the door. "Knock when you get back."
"Ryokai." Heero patted his leg for Koi to follow and the dog padded out from the kitchen.
Heero found his way to the basement easily. There was another apartment on the first floor and it seemed the apartments had access to the small basement. There were some utility devices, furnace, water heater, water filtration, electrical panel... Heero found the hardlines coming into the house. Two lines were designated for the second floor apartment. Heero had not checked for different lines within the flat. Both of these had small foreign devices patched into the line.
Heero made mental notes about the design and manufacture of the devices and then headed back upstairs. He knocked at the door. Duo opened it part way, released the chain and then opened the doors enough that Heero and Koi could enter.
"Anything?" Heero asked.
"Doesn't look like it."
"There are two lines coming into the apartment, both are tapped. Looks professional, but not law enforcement. I do not think the cops or IT does know who she is, but someone else knows."
"The ones behind the murder?"
"If she was the murderer, there would seem no reason for others to still be after her. Romeo was her boyfriend and associate. If many of their associates were looking for her, I think I would have heard. They all seem to belaying low."
"Yeah, there's been a lot of arrests lately, over this. They are probably all running scared."
"No, just the one. They rest are hiding." Heero went back into the bedroom. "It is a shame that Romeo is gone. If I needed a virus to use on your computer I would have asked him for it."
"You really knew them?"
"Never met any of them in person, but I have a lot of contacts that I do not meet in person. If I need anything, I could get it. They are much more willing to dead drop or use mail service than to meet."
"Any idea why he was killed?"
"No. First I heard of the murder was from you. I tend to follow Colonial or Asian news more closely. I have no idea what they were working on recently or whether it could be motive for homicide."
"I don't see anything here that will tell us who was here. There could be prints from anyone in here, or hair. I don't know how thoroughly it was cleaned before we arrived. If they had any intelligence they wore gloves to do all this."
"Are you thinking it is not worth reporting this?" Heero asked.
"Well, we know that it was not random or just burglary, because they passed over pieces of art and jewelry and even other electronics to take the one computer. Every room was torn apart. And it seems we were not the targets. That leaves someone searching for something belonging to... the former resident."
Heero nodded. "That was my conclusion. Or, they are searching for clues to her current location."
"We should contact John. I should."
Heero went to the windows. He stood just beside one of the tall narrow windows and turned his head to look through the glass and across the narrow street. He could see into the back rooms of several other houses. He could make out no obvious spies on the roofs, ground or inside the apartments. Of course, there were a few flats, across the way, that were dark, so he could not rule out spies.
Heero let the sheers fall over the window again and turned back into the room. "Lets see if we can take care of your computer. If we do that, I have a few ideas for how to progress."
"We are not obligated to solve even a part of this case, but someone has involved us now, a relative of a friend is certainly involved, and in a way, you knew her as well."
"I do not know if we can solve the murder on our own, but I would like to find out what has happened to our landlady." Heero sat down on the floor near the former computer armoire and took his mobile from his satchel. "Sit here. See if you can access your computer from here."
Duo sat down beside Heero and tilted the machine to face him. "OK. I haven't used this operating system as often, but... I just input the addy of the individual machine here, right?"
"I can run emulation of the two most common OSs. Here, let me change it. You can work faster that way."
"I do know how to use other systems."
"I know," Heero told Duo as he typed at the keyboard, "but you are very familiar with this system and the speed advantage will help our effort." Heero turned the machine back toward Duo.
"OK, this does help. I just do this... and here... default that..." Duo talked his way through the process.
Heero leaned toward Duo and watched the screen. AS soon as he saw Duo had made the connection, he knew the other machine was powered on. "Wait. Do not touch anything yet." Heero reached for the keys just as Duo was lifting his hands. He pressed a key combination and then another. "Now here," he said, pointing out part of the very graphical interface.
Duo's hands returned to Heero's mobile. Hs fingers touched the keys lightly. Heero noticed how Duo slid his thumbs over the touchpad to manipulate the cursor. "So, you made this show only the remote system, and this remains working here?" Duo asked softly.
"Aa. Bring this up. Run it."
"Just select... or run?" Duo's head turned half away from the screen as he asked the question, the movement almost put his lips to Heero's face.
"It's a shortcut."
"That's... but the way you said..."
"Gomen. I am used to having more direct control." Heero saw the program Duo had selected start up. "Used this before?"
"It's a cloak?"
"Just... this is the one I watch to see my work?" The cursor danced around one area of the screen.
"And this is what the user is doing now. They will not be able to see your work on their screen... unless you attempt to use the same files, they may figure it out then."
"They are still trying to get through all my passwords."
Heero laughed softly. "Manually."
"Deleting will not be good enough."
"Your computer is set up that way?"
"Retrievable after deletion, unless..."
"There is a way to do a more permanent deletion," Heero put his hands on Duo's hands and moved his fingers to a particular combination of keys. "Like that. We should still fuck the drive afterward to be sure, but this should keep amateurs from accidentally seeing the files we do not wish them to."
Duo began selecting the risqué and private graphics files and deleting them. Heero watched him work.
"It looks like your system is very safe."
"Yeah. I don't like people to be able to get to anything personal or vital. It was my school computer, so sometimes I let others look at the machine or use certain applications. That way, I could just let them, and know they could use the software without being able to see all the files I'd been working on."
"I like it," Heero whispered.
"Can we see what they have been trying to do? Or if they used my computer for their own work?"
"Did you leave your computer set up that way?"
"Yeah, I had a keystroke tracker background running. They could have turned it off if they noticed, right?"
"So you could see if others had tried to use your computer?"
"Yeah. I know Hilde's passwords that she uses at most online shops!"
"Mm. We should talk to her about computer security." Heero saw Duo was activating that tracking program. "Just save... yeah... you can drag... wait." Heero straightened and reached to his satchel for his digital pad. He found the cable to link it to his mobile and made the connection. Heero pointed out the docking software to Duo. "Send the log to the pad. I can read it while you continue to delete any personal files that are on your computer. For now, we will not destroy the system."
Duo slid his thumbs over the touchpad and bar and tapped at the keyboard.
The logged keystrokes were saved to a file and sent to Heero's digital pad. He started to look over the log while Duo continued to rapidly delete files from his computer by remote.
"They must have been here during the parade, when people were out or watching their televisions. The machine was powered on and used after that time," Heero said.
Duo nodded but continued to talk to himself as he worked, "Sayonara, Cookie Jar. Delete. Delete. Delete this. Let them check out the anime and music if they want. They're probably mostly legal copies."
"Duo! I've got two mail accounts and a password for something..."
"Yeah?" Duo continued to work.
"I can check them out when you are finished."
"Yes, I want to delete all," Duo said to himself, or the computer actually.
"It looks like a they composed and sent some mail from your computer. This person, 'Brey' says that... I do not know all these words. I need to run French translation. I think he is saying that he is the one that tapped the com lines. Also, they know that other people are staying in the apartment. He refers to the girl and she, but does not mention a name. Duo, he knows it is your computer and I think he is saying that he believes we have been assigned to the case by Preventers."
"Not an entirely unrealistic assumption. I mean, if they had anything to do with the murder and we just show up in the residence of the person they are pursuing, they may assume we know more than we do and that the only reason we could be in Paris was to solve the case."
"I wonder if that works for or against us?" Heero wondered aloud. "Are you almost done?"
"Almost... I know I got the stuff we were most concerned about, but there are a lot of little files that could give them information about me if they knew where to look."
"Take your time then." Heero leaned in toward Duo again and looked at the screen. I think the computer has been turned over to someone else now, I mean, since this Brey person reported finding it. Someone is definitely trying to access password protected files."
"Little do they realize it was all anime and porn and has nothing to do with Preventers," Duo laughed.
"Are you very sad to lose that one? You have two other computers."
"I have three, just two that are mobile. I also have a pretty sweet machine at the garage to do all my design and programming on."
"I would make you a new mobile if you wanted one."
"Yeah? How much?"
Heero tsked his tongue against his teeth. "I would do it for free. I will just have Tobey order the parts through the store. It is not a computer store primarily, but we can still get decent prices on components from the manufacturers. I think I will have to hold onto that investment."
"Relena told me about Tobey. I wish I had met him."
"He is a sweet kid," Heero said. "A little in awe of everyone, but that keeps him eager to please."
"Long as he is not doing it in bed."
"He is wary of my bedroom and never actually sleeps at my place. He just comes over to deliver supplies after work and stays up building things or playing video games."
"You should get him over to L Street."
Heero laughed. "Oh, yes, I would like to encourage everyone to patronize the businesses I own. That would mean more money for me to spend taking vacations with you. You will continue, even if we live together? Our vacations."
"Of course I'd like to, if I can schedule around work and school. I do not have schedules yet. I might be getting to see more of you in the future, but I would miss the traveling. I like seeing different parts of Earth."
"I do not know what I should do about the car dealership. I am convinced it must be a front for something. How profitable is it to sell cars within a colony? Most people have no need for them. At the same time, I wonder if Sato has contacts on Earth, as I may require a car if I move to Earth. Or, do you think we will live somewhere densely urban?"
"You said you did not want to live in a city. Anyway, don't worry about it. I've thought of transportation already and I've got my eye on a few things you might like."
"You are going to buy me a car?"
"Not telling, but we'll share what I buy. If we just fall out of love and split up you can fight me for them."
"When you are finished, use my phone to call John. Just warn him that the flat was broken into and that we suspect his cousin may be in trouble."
"OK. I'm just about done. Just double checking."
Heero looked over the rest of the log while Duo worked. He was done shortly and Heero took the computer. He spent a few minutes watching the way the other user worked, then disconnected from Duo's computer.
Duo took Heero's phone and called his friend in the Colonies. While he was talking, Heero did some searching on 'Elysium.'
Duo came to Heero's side, his shin touched Heero's arm as he was typing. "John says that he also suspects she is in trouble but that he does not know where she is or what sort of trouble it is."
"I expected as much."
"He says we should call a locksmith about the door, He'll give us money. He did not know there would be any danger for us, staying here."
"That is a good idea. Use the hardline." Heero did not recall seeing any phones in the house. All manner of communications equipment had been removed. "You can patch my phone in, there's a cable for it. To use the hardline."
"Yeah, I know how to do it."
That was true; Duo did know a lot about communications technology. "I just wanted you to understand that it was important to use the tapped line. The people that were here will see the call. Be brief and specific."
"I get it. So, I should just keep it simple and say that the apartment I am staying in has been broken into and I want to hire the locksmith to... install a new lock?"
"You probably know more about breaking and entering in particular."
"I suppose the easiest thing would to be to add an additional lock above that one. I do not know what to do about the damaged door. It's wood."
"Yeah. I'm not sure about that either. It looks kinda old. Do you think they can patch it somehow or do you have to find a door to replace it."
"I now see the value in architectural salvage."
"Yeah... me too!"
"I noticed there was a piece of trim not part of the door itself, but securely glued. Most of the damage was there. It might be that we could find a piece of that trim to... sort of splice in."
"OK. For now I will call about putting an additional lock on the door for security. When should they come?"
"Early tomorrow if possible." Heero put his mobile in stand by and shut it. "I want to go out tonight."
"Are you serious? This place is still a wreck?"
Heero nodded. "If I stay here, I will only be driven to clean it all tonight. If we go out, I may feel tired enough to ignore it until tomorrow."
"We have the whole team from Homo arriving at eleven!"
"We should have time. Anyway, the nightclub in that photo of Lapin and Romeo is open until 6am and it seems like the sort of place we might meet associates of theirs. It is worth a try, to look for information. I think if we latch the door and bar it with something that it will be safe to leave Koi here. We can go down the fire escape and walk to the club. We do not have to stay long. Then we can still get some sleep before having to go through all this and deal with the interview."
"Yeah, I guess it is logical. Do they have remotely good music, at least?"
"You might like it." Heero shrugged. "You can wear that I suppose. I think I will change my shoes and shirt." Heero packed his mobile and pad in his satchel again then began to dig through his clothing. He did a little cleaning while he was at it, placing things back into the truck in their former arrangement. Heero removed his socks and boots in favor of his tabi and geta. He thought Duo was correct that they looked well with jeans. He did remove the leather thong from his ankle. It fit inside boots, but sometimes pressed against his leg painfully. Heero moved the ring to its gold chain when he found it on the floor, and put it around his neck. Heero removed the shirt he had been wearing and pulled on the old Flying Monks gym shirt Duo had given him.
He could hear Duo on the phone. Heero smirked, it was just amusing to hear Duo speaking French, "Parlez-vous anglais?"
Heero fished the rosary beads from under his shirt, shouldered his satchel, stood and he was ready. Duo was still on the phone, trying to explain that he required a locksmith to come to the apartment tomorrow, even though he was in the apartment now and the locksmith worked 24/7. Heero went to the front door and propped the folding stepstool under the door handles.
"Pardon. Pardon," Duo was saying when he returned. "I did not mean to suggest that I could not trust you with the address now..." Duo was trying not to suggest that the apartment would be empty, particularly on the tapped line, but it was difficult to tell the truth and explain why the locksmith should come the next day and why Duo was nervous about giving out the address.
"Tell them we will be having sex," Heero suggested.
Duo glared at him for a moment, then his expression softened and he smiled. He laughed lightly then said, "Yes, I am sorry, of course I can give you the address now, I just want you to be clear on coming tomorrow. The truth is, my lover and I do not wish to be disturbed tonight. I was not sure it was polite to say that before."
Heero walked to the windows and examined their locks. He heard Duo laugh and then give the address. "Oui! Merci beaucoup! Demain, oui. Et vous. Bonsoir!" Heero looked back to Duo. He removed the headset and sighed. "I guess everyone speaks the language of love!"
Heero opened one of the windows. Duo checked his pockets then hopped over the stuff on the floor to join Heero. "Duo, I think I was very turned-on when you had your hands all over my computer," Heero confessed.
"I thought you hated anyone to touch your computer or your mobile suit." He rolled his eyes. "Your anything."
"My pet," Heero said quietly, "I thought so too, but I think I liked it." Heero stepped out the open window onto the metal grating of the fire escape. "Maybe you could come to my place and try fixing the dishwasher. If you did..."
"Jesus Christ, Heero! You never got the dishwasher fixed? You told me a while ago and I know it was broken before that."
"Well, Trowa looked at it, but he told me what I thought he would tell me."
"You need parts?" Duo asked, sitting in the window.
"OK, OK. Tell me later what model it is. I'll call people see what I can do."
"You are a good boyfriend."
"I might not be able to do anything," Duo warned.
"If you let me watch you try to fix it I will do something really nice for you."
Duo smiled. He looked pretty in moonlight. "Ah, but I will just do it because it is right, and not for the reward."
"And I will just reward you because I think it is right."
"And doing really nice things for me does not feel bad for you?"
Heero smirked. "Well, that is just bonus."
Duo watched him for another moment then turned and closed the window, but for a crack. "We better get down before I drag you back through the window."
"You could not drag me."
Duo moved to the ladder. "Can you get down from here in those shoes?"
"Well, the trick is to take ladders with the middle part of the shoe, ne? They are quite functional. I took them to a shop and had treads nailed on."
Duo slid down the ladder rails to the next level. Heero saw him looking up as he climbed down after him. "You took the shoes in for repair, but the dishwasher is still broken?"
"If you cannot fix it, then I will call someone."
They dropped down to the narrow street between the houses and walked to the end of the block. Heero glanced to the street signs to be sure of their position then started walking.
They reached the nightclub after a few minutes. There was a man at the door. He looked them over and then let them pass through the door. They walked through a scanner, no alarms were set off, and they were sent ahead. Duo offered to pay the cover at the small ticket booth and Heero allowed him.
The interior seemed to have once had some other previous function, perhaps as a church or as a theater. The main floor was taken up largely by a dance floor and around the perimeter of this space, on a second level, there was a sort of gallery, with railings overlooking the dancers. There was a stage far to their right, past the deep mass of dancing flesh. Immediately to the left, just around the near corner, was a bar, and further past that an area of candlelit tables with chairs.
It was not immediately apparent in the flashing color-shifting beams of light, but as they moved into the crowd it seemed the walls were covered by various murals and art installations.
The music was currently something Heero was unfamiliar with, but it made him feel 'doomy' was an appropriate adjective, though it had bounce. "Think we should take a quick look upstairs?" Duo called to Heero, even as he leaned in to be heard better.
Heero nodded assent and looked for a staircase. There were several, metal and spiraling. He headed back toward their right for the closest one.
Upstairs there was a second bar and some alcoves and small chambers devoted to various diversions. Some wallspace had full relief biomechanical forms built into it. In other places there were digitally created photographs of people in Victorian Era clothing dissecting animals and generally using antiquated devices.
Heero would have to say that technology was the common theme.
"It's kinda not what you would think of as 'Elysium'!" Duo shouted.
"You know, it being paradise in Greek Myth!"
"I knew," Heero told him.
Duo nodded but looked unhappy.
"Let's go downstairs and get drinks."
Duo nodded back. "So, you really hope to meet anyone here?" Duo asked as they moved down the stairs.
Heero looked up and made a brief nod.
They came to the bar and found an open area along the steel-topped bar. "Do you know one French drink just to blend?" Duo asked.
"I have not really had mixed drinks very much. Someone told me one. I cannot remember the name. Something that is named after a rock song. Sake and Chamourd in some amounts."
The bartender approached.
"It's a Purple Haze," someone the other side of Duo told them. He was a young man with carefully mussed dark hair in a white dress shirt and a dark colored velvet jacket, probably navy. "Two?"
Duo turned toward Heero and grinned.
"Are you buying?" Heero asked, leaning forward so he could see around Duo.
"Just want to do another favor for another American in Paris, and you seem to be together... it would be rude to buy just one of you a drink... if you are."
Duo turned to speak to the other man. "Yeah, we're together. You can buy us drinks, though."
The man raised his hand to beckon the bartender and spoke to him in fluent French. He ordered the drinks. Heero watched the bartender pour the sake and Chambourd into glasses in a warming tray. Duo was chatting with the American.
"Johnny Vasquez," He said.
"Really? I thought, maybe you just looked a bit like him. I sort of thought you would be younger."
Duo coughed. "How young do I look?"
"I mean, I just remember the images from the retrospectives they show every year."
"Don't pay much attention to the trashy infotainment shows?"
"Guess that explains it. Would I have seen you?"
The drinks were placed before them. Heero picked his up and tasted it. It was good, warm, and he knew it didn't have to be to make his insides feel toasty.
"Did you see Best of the Best?"
"The movie about mobile suit pilots? Were you in that?"
"No, but... I will be in the television series based on it. We start shooting soon, that's really why I am here. A friend of mine also found out he was cast in a new role and we are celebrating. I think he's on the dance floor now."
Heero saw Duo lift his drink and turn away from the bar. "Yeah? Might I have seen him?"
"He does adult video, or he has up to now. He's going mainstream with his next role. I see him now. There. The Japanese boy in the mesh shirt." Johnny pointed out into the crowd of dancers. "He's American, but it helps his career if most people believe he's Japanese Colonial."
Heero turned toward the dance floor and saw that Duo did the as well. Heero scanned for the Japanese-American boy. He heard Duo cry out, 'Oh, shit!"
Johnny laughed. "You know his work, then? He is going to die when he meets you two."
Heero still did not see whom they were talking about. Johnny was waving to someone. Then Heero saw the purposely-tousled hairstyle, the compact musculature sheathed in black mesh and leather, and the confident stride. "Oh God!" He said.
Duo turned and laughed at him. "God?" He mouthed.
Heero tipped his glass and took a deep gulp of alcohol. The young man walking toward them was a complete stranger, yet Heero was thinking, he knew exactly what his cock looked like.
The boy stopped just behind Johnny. He seemed to notice Duo grinning at him and his face said he knew the feeling of being recognized in public and not always liking the attention. Then, he seemed to recognize Duo in return. He turned to Johnny and then peered around Duo to get a better look at Heero. It looked like he was blushing, a lot.
"This is Duo Maxwell," Johnny said, "He has not actually introduced his companion, but they are together. WE were just chatting, as I bought them drinks."
The young man smiled a lopsided smile and offered his hand to Duo. Heero was thinking of the places he had seen that hand, but then, Duo's hand had been in similarly interesting spots. "Atashi Station," the young man said. It was obviously meant to be his name, but it sounded like something only a porn star would use and at the same time, made Heero think of Star Wars movies.
"Nice to meet you. This is my boyfriend, Heero Yuy."
"A pleasure," Heero said and made a small bow.
"A pleasure," Atashi said, he bowed similarly, as if imitating Heero.
"Can I get you a drink?" Duo asked Atashi.
"Whatever you are having."
Duo turned to signal the bartender, leaving Heero to be social. "I saw some of your work," Heero said wondering afterward if this was not an entirely lame thing to say.
"You, uh, didn't see 'Blues' and 'Serve' and 'Measures,' did you?"
Heero nodded. "I skipped some scenes," Heero admitted softly.
Atashi shook his head. "I can't hear you."
Heero leaned in close to the other young man and spoke at his ear. "I saw the trilogy, plus, some movie with you as a transfer student. I had to skip some scenes in the Preventer movies."
"You liked them?"
Now Heero felt embarrassed. "You must be a good actor," He said, "You faked a Colonial accent very well."
Atashi leaned back and smiled weakly. "It is all just to sell movies. I'm American and my real name is Carson Watts." He leaned in toward Heero again. He smelled sort of musky. "I'm thinking of using 'Cary Watanabe' when I crossover."
"Congratulations. Johnny told us you were just cast in a new role. What is it?"
"It's a live action movie based on some Colonial anime that is popular right now."
"Oh." Heero had a bad feeling about this. "They cast you as Akairo."
"Do you read the Industry rags or something?"
This guy was just making money at playing people like Heero. "I met the character designer for that anime. She is a friend of mine now. She said Akairo is based on me, as a Gundam pilot, that is."
"Yeah," Atashi said. Heero still thought of him by that name. "You aren't offended by those…uh, I mean by the character 'shiro' in those Preventer movies?"
"I suppose I should be flattered in a way. I was not that experienced when I first saw the movies; they were even educational. And, you are pretty well-hung!"
Atashi laughed nervously. "Yeah, that was actually all me, no effects or prosthetics. I can't watch my own movies, though."
"I suppose that would be weird. I could not watch your Shiro in certain scenes."
They had run out of things to say for the moment. Heero was glad to see Duo waiting with a second drink for Atashi.
"Here," Duo said as he offered the drink. "Johnny says that his series is going to shoot at New Edwards."
"Have you heard yet?" Heero asked.
Duo shook his head. He had requested a post there while he was attending Stanford. "I'm going to Stanford," he told Atashi.
"Isn't that a technical school?"
"Well, it's isn't vo-tech, but the university is known for having excellent technology programs. I'm going for Mech Design, but I might pick up some programming and I'll be sure to get some theory in."
"You must be really smart," Atashi said.
Duo grinned. "Yeah, I'm not just a pretty face!"
"He's a great body as well," Heero said.
Duo smacked him in the stomach with the back of one hand.
Heero gave Duo a stern look.
Heero stepped up and kissed Duo quickly on the lips. He turned to the others. "Excuse me. I sometimes forget Duo and I are not alone. He knows I admire him for continuing his education and his work with mobile suits, so I can joke with him, but I should not have let you hear that joke."
Duo gave Heero a quick kiss. "I do have a great body, though!"
"Yes, you do!" Heero agreed.
Duo beamed a smile.
They both noticed Johnny and Atashi watching them curiously.
"Guess we can get sickeningly sweet," Duo laughed nervously.
"Sickeningly sweet," Johnny repeated for Atashi over the music.
Atashi shook his head. "It is good, how you stick up for each other."
"No pun intended!" Duo laughed.
Johnny laughed also.
"We are not always sappy, we can get positively hentai!" Heero told Atashi.
"It seems to come with the work…making double entendres and the like, without knowing."
"Just a member of SAG, or do you belong to another guild?" Duo asked.
"Me too! Did phone work in the past. I keep up the membership because I never know when I'll need a favor or to earn some extra money. I have friends who still work."
"You do have a good voice."
Heero thought of Duo calling on god and smiled.
"Ever act?" Johnny asked. "The group performing tonight, the singer did the voice for the anime character that Cary will be playing."
"Akairo no seiyuu ka?"
"He asked if you mean Akairo's voice actor," Duo explained. Heero was just realizing that Atashi did not speak Japanese, despite his looks.
"Yeah, everyone calls him Midori, on account of his hair. He did a lot of that voice work and got into signing professionally and now he's hooked up with this performance art rock type group and they've been playing around Europe."
"I loved his voice," Duo sighed, "He's almost as sexy as Heero."
Heero changed the subject. "Johnny, why are you in Paris now? Duo and I are just on vacation, but you seemed to speak the language very well for an American."
"My family has owned some land south of here for a long time. A farm. The smog in LA is really bad in summer, so we often come here. I invited Atashi this year."
"Bad air pollution?" Duo asked.
"They have that in the Colonies?" Atashi asked.
"In some colonies, but usually the can get it under control. I hear it was difficult in the old days, but now, you don't even have summer unless someone pushes a button."
Johnny smiled at this.
"The set's going to start," Atashi said.
Heero could see the techs going over props and instruments on the stage. The recorded music had stopped and an announcer was speaking in French.
"Who are these guys? Are they good?" Duo asked
"Depends what you like," Johnny said. "The members are Colonials and some Earth Babies from Japan and Europe. They're called Maudlin Manic."
"Sort of shock rock type deal. Usually is with a name like that."
"With Horror and S&M type props," Johnny clarified.
"Not my favorite thing, but it could be entertaining," Duo said, "Especially if Midori is singing."
Heero thought that in the Colonies green hair was just not very uncommon. He saw former dancers moving closer to the stage or leaving for the stairs or the tables."
"I am going to go up near the stage," Atashi said, throwing back the remainder of his drink.
Duo leaned against Heero and spoke at his hear. "Want another drink?"
"None for me."
Duo kissed Heero's face then turned to order another drink. Johnny and Atashi were interesting in a way, but Heero knew he had come to Elysium for a reason. "I am going to find a seat at a table."
"It's been nice meeting you. I think I'll stay here. We might meet up with Midori and the others after this set, if you want to meet them."
"Sure," Heero said, but he did not really anticipate partying with actors and musicians tonight.
"Heading for a table?" Duo asked.
Heero nodded and Duo's nod back said he was staying with him.
"Maybe I'll see you around, Johnny. Maybe on the set sometime?"
Heero nudged Duo with an elbow and they made their way through the thinning crowd to the tables. Duo slipped his right hand into a rear pocket of Heero's jeans. "I don't think we're really going to find help here. How about we just go back to the flat and you do me?"
That was tempting, especially as Heero could feel Duo's hand squeezing his ass. "A little possessive in public for a pet."
"Baby, you didn't want a slave. This is just the equivalent of me purring as I rub against your leg! Pets can be entirely possessive of their masters. If you don't like my behavior, just punish me already."
Heero shook his head, though he smiled. He was not really upset; he just tended to feel uncomfortable with certain public displays of affection. He was OK with holding hands and kissing. Exhibitionism was something different, something he wanted to control. "Duo-chan, try a little harder to help me. If we find nothing, then I will gladly take you home and do you!"
"How can you spot a hacker in a crowd, anyway? It's not like they'd have their computer out…uh…just typing away in a nightclub…like that girl there."
Heero followed Duo's gaze and he saw her: just a few meters away, blonde hair in a high ponytail, light eyes focused on a glowing screen, dressed in a black tee and brown leather pants. "Quick."
"She's gorgeous," Duo whispered. Heero was the only one who could hear.
He pulled Duo over to the table by his braid. The girl did not even glance up at them. "You arrived in Paris over a day ago," she said in her distinctly Parisian accent that Heero could only imitate poorly. She looked up then. "You want to have sex?"
"Perfect! We can use my cable!"