Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
"Jesus Fucking Christ!" Duo groaned. Heero supposed that meant he was not really asleep.
"I thought his middle name started with H," Heero said in deadpan tone. He could not sleep either, so he was reading his magazine by his penlight. Heero switched off the small light, guessing he was keeping Duo awake. The remaining glow from the string of blue, white and red lights Duo had obtained and hung outside the window showed Heero that Duo tossed from one side to the other and reached to readjust the damp cloth folded over his eyes.
"I don't want to look bleary and puffy-eyed in a photo shoot that's gonna be hyped across the sphere," Duo had said.
Duo made a low chuckling sound. "Yeah, Jesus Holy Christ; 'Fucking' was his Confirmation name."
Heero reached to pet Koi, lying at his other side, and scanned the windows again. The lights outside kept the fire escape lit and made sure trespassers would be silhouetted against the window sheers. The festive stringed lights did not cast enough light to make the interior visible from outside; in fact, the glare on the glass probably prevented anyone from spying through the windows.
Still, Heero kept finding himself looking toward the windows expecting to see a figure there.
"I could not sleep."
"You weren't the one keeping me up. Can't you hear them?"
Heero had been concentrating on Duo's breathing pattern and trying to determine if he was awake. He listened now. Faintly, he could distinguish sound from the living room. "Aa, Quick and Johnny are not asleep."
"Not asleep? They're fucking?"
"What do you mean 'why'?"
Heero did not know, he did not honestly care to know why, but somehow that was what had first come to his mind and been spoken. "Forget it."
Duo did not forget. "Because they are a heterosexual man and woman that have experienced danger together? How the fuck should I know?" He whispered angrily.
"I suppose I mean 'how do you know?'," Heero whispered calmly. He switched his penlight on again and looked for the last sentence he had read.
"Man, you don't have to be able to understand the conversation, just listen to the way their voices are pitched and the timing. You'll see. They'll switch to stifled gasps and grunts soon enough."
"Well, this explains why Quick asked me if I had condoms."
"Whaaa? Then you had a pretty good idea they'd do this!"
"Aa. Why does it bother you? We must have done it where other people could hear. I know we did."
Duo made some noncommittal sound.
"Did you want to have sex? I thought that you were trying to sleep."
Duo moved the cloth from his eyes to his chest and then folded his arms behind his head. "Nah, I mean, I kinda always want to, but we need the rest, even if we can't sleep very well."
"OK." Heero went back to reading.
"So, are they really cute?"
"Oh, I glanced at them. July is a beach pictorial, but it's nothing compared to what you had me in on the beach, and they do not have such lovely sun-streaked hair as you."
"Reading an article then?"
"Yes. Had you realized that so much funding for terrorism came from other illegal activities? Drug trafficking for example."
"Huh? Is that true, or is the article just based on someone's angle or lobby? I mean, when you needed something and you were a terrorist, what did you do?"
"I am not actually sure how they paid for the Gundams. I usually stole weapons, parts and ammunition."
"Yes. When I needed explosives, if I had time, I made them from chemical components. I also bartered for goods or did black market trading and used dead drop delivery."
"Some funds came from individuals who were convinced the cause was just. I think Barton did that. I think he or Quinze did go around selling the idea of a revolution to certain individuals. Preaching that it was all revenge for Yuy, so they'd get money, even though it seemed it was really self-advancement Barton was after... all along."
"So, do you think the article has no basis? We are not the only sorts of terrorists and it was a time of clear war and revolution. There have been times, in certain parts of the word, where the cash crops were plants that produced drugs, that sales of the product funded revolutions."
"Yeah, I think that happens sometimes."
"So, this article is saying that the recent attacks, like those on X18999, were indirectly funded by sales of 'designer drugs'."
"Ah, like the completely unnatural stuff you cook up in a lab?"
"Often given catchy street names and even 'designer' brands names and marketed for recreational use in club environments. That is what this article is saying."
"I guess it's possible. I mean, how would I know what a drug lord does with all their money? Maybe they get tired of having cars and chicks and flashy clothes and private armies."
"Maybe they want to use the private army for something other than defense?"
"Yeah, but didn't Wufei investigate all that? Didn't he determine that it was anti-mobile suit motivated?"
"Well, the articles says that certain statistics are based on the information released to the public by Preventers. But, who is to say that people who produce drugs cannot be against mobile suits or have friends that are against them? The writer seems to have done the correct research and cited sources for some of the data."
"What has that got to do with gay men?"
"So, even though all drugs and prostitution and so on are not related to terrorism, some may be, so the article is warning people to know who they are supporting."
"It is wise advice. One should always know who they are supporting when they make a purchase, even if it is legal."
"Well, in war time, the businesses your Family owned probably did fund terrorism."
"They did, and sales of arms and the revolution in general."
"So syndicates could be behind terrorism sometimes, cartels."
"Yes, that is what I was thinking. This issue of Homo was released in the last week of June and the article was researched and written before that. What if Romeo read it?"
"That's quite a leap."
"Maybe. But, is it any better or worse than our other theories?"
"So far we have no theories about why Romeo took money, or why he did it the way he did or what he was going to do with it."
"Exactly. So, I propose this theory, that Romeo also knew of the argument that certain drug cartels..."
"Are these guys in France actually mentioned in the article?"
Heero scanned the text to be sure. "It says 'European drug ring' and mentions the name of a suspected ringleader, which authorities have not been able to prove is connected to terrorism or to drug manufacturing."
"So, what were you saying?"
"Romeo knew of this idea: that individuals who had evaded the authorities and believed themselves above the law were behind, at least in a financial sense, the terror attacks, so he schemed to take their money and..."
"Do what?" Duo asked.
"Do something to get back at them. I do not know exactly."
Duo yawned. "It's a theory at least. I don't know if we'll ever figure out what Romeo was up to, or where Janice is. She could be anywhere."
"But would she be?" Heero whispered. He was afraid Duo had talked himself to sleep. Quick and Johnny were having sex.
Heero turned off his penlight and placed it and his magazine at the foot of the bed. He scanned the window once more, patted Koi, turned to kiss Duo's face and then went to sleep.
When Heero woke, he was sitting in the bed and holding his gun.
"Heero. Heero, wake up," Duo called to him.
Heero shook himself. There was no one else in the room but Duo, Koi and himself.
"I think my alarm scared you."
Heero looked over the weapon then returned it to its hiding place, inside a beltless belt holster, beneath the pillow.
"C'mon, time to get up. Gotta get washed and check wounds and find something to wear."
"I think I should look professional, but also stylish," Heero said thoughtfully.
"You usually do, except when you just look like a kid. C'mon, you think I like being the one to wake up first?"
Heero shrugged. He did not see what difference that made. It was not Duo's job to get him out of bed. Heero slipped from the bed and followed Duo into the bathroom.
They washed quickly, checked wounds as planned and reapplied bandages as necessary.
They each attended to oral hygiene, combed hair, used the toilet and applied fragrances, as they deemed necessary. While Heero was waiting for Duo to finish fixing his hair he covered the bruise on his face. It had faded; but he thought it was still too noticeable, given that photos might be captured during the interview.
Heero left the bathroom to select clothing. He pulled on a clean pair of shorts then chose his velvet jeans and one of his white dress shirts. He did not want to look like one of Duo's fashion experiments for the interview. Heero wanted to feel more comfortable when they pried into his life.
Heero also selected the few pieces of jewelry he was going to wear, the beaded chocker Duo had given him, the green brooch they had found in the Père Lachaise, and Duo's class ring.
Heero did not put on his clothes, but made the bed then lay his outfit out over the duvet. He took the little bottle of green nail polish from his trunk and sat on the chaise near the window to paint his nails.
Koi had moved to the side of the chaise and Heero was watching traffic on the street behind their building when Duo came from the bathroom. He had a towel on and went to knock at the bedroom doors. "Frère Johnny, Frère Johnny, dormez-vous, dormez-vous?" He sang to them. "The bathrooms empty if you want to wash up."
"I think so," Duo said. He went to his various bags to look for clothes. "Greenery?"
"I think I'll just wear jeans and a t-shirt."
The bedroom door opened. Claudia came in wearing his nightshirt. "Just going to the toilet," she said.
"What's that sorta 'ping'? You hear that?"
"The comlink," Heero said.
"I think I lost it in the bed!" Duo rushed there and looked under the sheets. Heero saw him fit the small device around his ear. "Maxwell."
"Understood. The door's still broken, so just have everyone come in."
"Magazine crew here already?" Heero asked.
"Hai." Duo tapped at the comlink to switch it to standby. Duo finished dressing quickly, in his black and blue Haten jeans and the sort of tee that advertised a band or recording; this one was black with a white cross design screened on it.
He left the bedroom to see if Johnny was awake and to get breakfast ready.
Heero remained on the chaise waiting for his nails to dry. He saw Johnny come into the room, draped in a blanket they had found for him the night before. "Duo said I could sleep on the bed."
"Sleep more toward that side," Hero said pointing out the wall near the bathroom. "You will not accidentally find my gun then."
"Oh. Did Duo have one as well?"
"It is there on the table now," Heero answered, pointing again.
Johnny made some sleepy sound and climbed onto the bed.
Duo appeared in the doorway. "Can any of you help me?"
"I need help getting dressed."
"Well, I need help out here."
Heero opened his mouth to suggest some compromise, but Duo was gone. He could hear other voices outside the bedroom. Heero got up from the chaise and walked to the bed, with Koi following.
Heero gathered that Duo was explaining that he was getting breakfast together and introductions were being made.
A moment later, there was a knock at the bedroom door and people were walking into the bedroom carrying things. And then some of them actually looked up toward the bed, just as Claudia was coming from the bathroom in a towel.
"Did Duo fail to explain that we had guests staying with us overnight?" Heero asked. "I apologize for not greeting you properly. I am waiting for my nails to dry before I dress myself."
"You painted them," a man asked. Heero recognized him from a vid phone conversation; he was Daniel Crowe, a freelance reporter that had done several articles for Homo in the past.
"Yes, green. It is really quite fashionable at home and I tend to like a bit of greenery."
"Very fashionable color in the Colonies, where you have the blackness of space and the cool gray tones of lunar concrete and metal alloys at every horizon." Heero did not recognize that man, only that his manner of speech seemed a bit fey.
The petite woman holding the camera bag laughed. Heero had not met her, but he had seen a headshot of her in the magazine in the contributors section. She was also technically freelance but contracted to do a lot of work for Homo each year. Her name was Cerise. "Heero," she said, "It is good to see you are comfortable in so little clothing."
Heero forced an awkward smile, though it probably looked like he was sneering. She was to be their photographer, but he was not sure her should consider her comment appropriate. "We can get to business now if you like, but I do need to get dressed and have some breakfast before I feel up to answering any tough questions."
"I need to get my clothes," Quick said.
Heero nodded to her. "It is fine. Take your time. You can dress in there if you want." He indicated the bathroom." Heero addressed the others. "Please excuse us. You may have guessed from the guards downstairs or from seeing news, we had some difficulty here last night and everyone was awake until quite late, so we are having a late start today. This is Claudia and Johnny."
Johnny then sat up and scrubbed a hand through his dark messy hair. He looked longer toward Daniel. "I know you."
"What was your name?" Daniel asked.
"Johnny Vasquez. A party on New Malibu maybe?"
"An actor, aren't you?"
Daniel nodded. "How do you know each other?" he asked Heero.
"I only met Johnny last night, but experiencing danger together makes people close." Heero tested the surface of his right pinky nail with his left index finger. It seemed dry to the touch, so he decided he might dress carefully.
Daniel approached slowly as Heero was pulling on his velvet jeans. "My assistant is speaking with Mr. Maxwell."
"I do not think he likes that any more than I do. Makes us sound old."
"Of course, Heero. Naomi is speaking with Duo. I mentioned that we would like to ask you a few preliminary questions privately, off the record, as it were."
Heero picked up his shirt from the bed. "As good a time as any."
"Is there anything you would prefer us not to discuss during the interview, either out of concern for yourself or for... Duo? You have made it clear that the main purpose of the interview is to reveal personal information about yourself."
"There are things I might have told you not to ask about a few days ago, but we had a break-in here and we've had at least a dozen Preventer agents and two separate criminal groups going through our luggage recently. I doubt we will have any secrets involving our sex lives left, soon."
"I was told there had been a disturbance here and local news has been reporting that there was a bomb threat in this area last night."
"Yes, but it is not yet known for certain if the target was Duo or myself or whether it was the building. I do not think it is right to explain to you know why it could be the building, as there is still an investigation underway. If you are interested in reporting on this situation, I can only tell you that my friends and myself, along with residents of this building were all in various levels of risk and that the danger has been dealt with for the time being."
"So, as far as you are concerned, anything goes?"
"If you ask a question I do not want to answer, I will say so." Heero checked his nails again. He slipped Duo's class ring on his left thumb then lifted the choker to fasten it around his neck. "If you ask Duo about anything in the past, or his missions, that is fine, but do not press him if he seems to answer evasively. Duo does not lie."
"I read that somewhere in doing my preliminary research. It is true then?"
Heero nodded. "He may omit what he does not want you to know or answer in carefully chosen words or ignore a question completely, but he will not tell a lie."
"Do you lie?"
Heero smirked. "When it serves my purpose."
"Probably not to you. The interview was my idea and I have no motivation to lie to the public. I actually want to refute the incorrect things that have been said of me. I am not ashamed of anything enough to lie about it. The acts I am most regretful about, I will confess to committing." Heero lifted the brooch and pinned it over a buttonhole at the open collar of his shirt.
"That is green too."
"Yes. It is my favorite color."
"What is Duo's favorite color?"
Heero smiled. That was a very investigative question. "I would guess red, but he has never told me outright."
Quick came into the room, dressed, so she must have put on her clothes somewhere else. "We are having breakfast now," she said, "Heero, I put the gear in the kitchen."
Not the very best place for it. "Acceptable," he said.
Heero moved to his luggage and stepped into his slippers. Koi leapt from the bed and followed as Heero went into the living room. The computers and clutter had been replaced by coffee, bread and chocolate fondue.
"Apparently," Duo started and then seemed at a loss for words. Heero stared and tried to determine what Duo wanted him to know. "Our landlady had most of what we needed."
"Aa." Janice's apartment had the fondue set and chocolate. The bread and fruit had been purchased more recently.
"They'll walk the dog too, if you ask," Duo said, confirming that some items had been brought to them by the Preventer agents and that they were still being closely guarded.
"I would rather do it myself," Heero said. "Who will take him?" He knew that allowing Koi to go with one of the agents was the best option for the time being.
Duo answered with a gesture.
"Would you take Koi out?" Heero asked the agent.
"No problem. I will take care of him. We have a dog at my house."
Heero patted Koi's flank and told him to go with the young man. He turned back to the living room then. There was a space beside Duo on the couch and Heero took it.
Delorme let them know that he wanted to put a guard at the rear windows and Heero agreed with a nod. The other agents left and then Rachael came in. She told Heero to let Delorme know when they were through with the magazine business, as they still had other business to attend to. She went into the bedroom then.
Heero was introduced to Naomi, who had been speaking to Duo about the interview process. The stylist, Fred, introduced himself. A few other names were mentioned, but they were clearly subordinate to Fred or Cerise, so Heero did not think he would be required to remember their names.
Claudia stayed to have some breakfast and then went into the bedroom.
Daniel got out a recorder, but did not activate it yet. Cerise was preparing a camera to take some candid photos. While they ate and prepared for the interview, they spoke, off the record as it were.
Daniel noticed Heero was wearing a wrist brace and he could also see that Duo's arm was bandaged below the sleeve of his t-shirt. "Duo's injury happened last night, but my injuries are unrelated to that. If you must note them in your article, just say they were accidental. It is true. How I acquired them is more embarrassing than interesting."
"Heero doesn't want to hide anything from you, he's just more interested in having you report on the way his life is normally than on the unusual things that happen."
"Is it normal for unusual things to happen to you?" Daniel asked.
"Some days it seems that way. The truth is, you might say, I was injured in a struggle with Duo, but I think that no matter how you wrote it, readers might misunderstand and think we do not have a very positive relationship."
"I see," Daniel said.
"It was completely accidental. It is not normal for us to injure each other."
"Apart from bite marks and hickies," Duo said, laughing.
"Occasional scratches and bruises."
"I will just leave out everything about present injuries," Daniel said.
"Can you remove the brace for photos?" Fred asked.
"It is just a sprain; it was getting better until I aggravated it last night. I can take off the brace."
"You can say I was grazed by a bullet; I don't care about that," Duo said.
Daniel made some notes on his mobile computer while Fred and Cerise went over their ideas on the photo shoot. "The interview will run in the October issue," Cerise said.
Naomi, who was a staff writer apart from functioning as Daniels assistant for this interview, said that she had confirmation that the interview would run in October.
"Would you consider wearing costumes? To go with a Halloween theme?"
"So long as I am not in drag," Heero said.
Duo laughed. "Costumes are fine with me. You want to see mine?"
They then got into a conversation about Duo's work with Movie-shows and the history of male actors and entertainers dressing as women.
The conversation ended when the agent brought Koi in. Heero called the dog to him and Koi came to sit beside his right leg.
"What was the dog's name?" Daniel asked.
"Koi," Heero told him.
"Whose dog is it?"
"He's Heero's," Duo answered.
"Duo gave him to me as a gift. It was a sort of anniversary present. The anniversary of the day we met."
"If you are ready, I would like to start our interview."
"Go ahead," Duo said. He drank some coffee.
Daniel switched his audio recorder on. "I have made some preliminary notes about the setting of the interview for my introduction. I have it noted here that it is a rented apartment in Paris and that we are being guarded by Preventer agents as the night before there was an incident here, but that at the time of the interview we were not at liberty to discuss the case. Is that correct?"
"Your information seems correct," Heero said.
"Let's start off easy, Could you verify yourselves for the recorder?"
"I am Duo Maxwell."
"Heero Yuy da," Heero said quickly.
"Is the first interview for either of you since the end war?"
"Do school weeklies count?" Duo asked.
"So you were interviewed by a school reporter, Duo?"
"I may have given some statements immediately after the coup was overturned, but not since then."
"A lot has been written and reported on your activities during the wars, particularly your involvement in the eve Wars and with the overturning of the Barton Foundation's coup against the ESUN. After that coup, in 197, you both became Preventer Agents. Is that so?"
"Yes," Heero answered.
"Are you still both agents?"
"Yes. I am on reserve and Duo is active."
"Though, currently awaiting reassignment," Duo added.
"Problems with your current position?"
"No problems with the position, but I am going to be moving and I would like a post closer to home."
"Heero, you went into reserves after a relatively short time."
"It was a few months. Yes."
"Since then, or rather, until a few months ago, there was little public focus on either of you. The wars still being in recent memory, there were many retrospectives put together. Quatre Winner was always quite visible to the public in these and other news. Wufei Chang was promoted through the ranks of the Preventer organization and became a familiar face at the press conferences out of the Colonial HQ. Trowa Barton continued working as a performer, with a circus he had joined during the war. Duo, we saw you occasionally at our former Foreign Minister's side in the capacity of a guard."
"You live in the L2 Colonies?"
"Yes. Now, and before the wars also."
"There was not much media coverage of you in your home colony, but over the past couple years we had occasional 'Duo sightings' in other Colonies, mainly the Capitol." Daniel looked to his notes.
"Z-four-zeros-one," Heero said helpfully.
"Yeah, I was attending school there and that's where Preventers Colonial HQ is located."
"But Heero, you practically disappeared at the time you went into reserves. The file pictures of you taken around the time of the war became familiar to many throughout the Sphere, as we had no new photos. Some people were even speculating that you were dead."
Heero laughed. "Were they? I had not heard that one before."
"We had a pool at work as to when and how he would return," Duo said.
"Who won the pool?"
Duo laughed softly. "Yeah, I know him quite well."
"Heero, could you tell us what you did during the time you were away?"
"The short answer is that I traveled. I suppose the more interesting answer is that after the wars and all the fighting, I just did not feel... OK. I worked as a Preventer for a while. The missions usually involved dealing with remaining mobile suit manufacturers or surviving splinter groups from Romefeller, OZ, White Fang or the Barton Foundation. It felt like being in the war. Being in those wars, the things I did then, nearly destroyed me. So, I left. I wanted to just live... in peace. I regretted many things that I had been involved in, though I was glad it all had led to peace. It took me all that year to feel OK about myself, to feel I could around people again."
Heero felt Duo's hand rubbing his leg. Another time, it might have seemed erotic. It was comforting. Heero had managed to tell the truth without strongly suggesting that mental illness was involved, but anyone who had suffered would be able to read that truth between the lines.
"When you say you wanted to be around people again, do you mean that you had been secluded from people in general or that you wanted to see certain people in particular?"
"When I traveled I was near people, but I was rarely if ever close to them in the emotional sense. I did not socialize. There came a time when... it was Christmas. This past Christmas. I am not religious, but I did have a sense of the day being festive and important to many. I was very much aware that it was a day that had represented peace, before it had been marked by war the previous two years. I felt a strong sense of relief, of peace, that there was no fighting last year. I was living alone at that time and I felt that I wanted to share that with someone. I wanted to... to have someone to spend Christmas with."
Duo's hand was on Heero's knee and he thought of the Holiday List Duo had made for him.
Daniel nodded and made some notes. It did not seem exactly the question he had wanted from Heero. He had wanted Heero to get around to saying he had been reunited with Duo.
"The people that had been kindest to me before, like Duo and Relena, they were all in the Colonies, so I decided I would go there. I would go home, because they were then living in the place I had grown up. It took me a few months to arrange to return in the way I wanted. I came back to the Colonies in April."
"Your arrangements included founding a business."
"Yes. I had not been working since leaving Preventers. I needed to work. A man needs to support himself somehow. Colonial rent is not that cheap." Heero laughed. "So I founded Lowe Security."
"The first news the public had of you in over a year was when you were seen at the apprehension of the fugitive Trant Clark."
"Did you look for him?"
"It was entirely coincidence that I happened to be on the same train. I did recognize him of course. During the war, in one of the power struggles between OZ factions, he had managed to make Quatre and I his prisoners, though he had not captured us. He forced me to use the ZERO system for the first time."
"A lot has been written about that system, but most of it is in very technical terms."
"Duo might be able to explain the system better than I, because he works with mobile suits still. I can only say that even though I eventually learned to work with the system, it is not something you should hook a fifteen-year-old up to. It basically forces a pilot's emotions to be omitted from decision making in battle, thus it removes the human component of mobile suits battle as the mobile dolls did. It makes the pilot a biological component of the mobile suit's hardware and software and not much more."
"And what is the result of that for the pilot? What is the experience like?"
"If one merges fully and works with the system, the pilot's goals in effect become the suit's goals. The system is considered a psy interface because data is transmitted directly to the brain from sensors, making reactions faster. If your goal is to destroy a large section of a space battlestation falling toward Earth while simultaneously surviving backward entry into the atmosphere, then you will do it. If, however, you are not in a mental state to merge willingly and fully with the system, or if you do not really have a clear goal, enemy or mission, then using the system causes corrupted data to reach the pilot. It would cause severe hallucinations, and at the same time, the suit continues to function. A pilot who cannot work with the system may think they are doing good and end up destroying entire Colonies."
"Yeah, let me just say, I used that system exactly once, and it was because Trant Clark was threatening to use ZERO to destroy a colony if I didn't. The hallucinations are scary as shit. I mean, enough to make a Gundam pilot retch…"
Heero thought of Epyon.
Duo went on talking. "Actually, whatever is the scariest thing you can imagine, that's probably what you'd see if you used it. The darkest most horrible thing about yourself, the thing you fear you could be capable of, you'll see it happening. Not just see. You'll experience it and if you survive you'll realize later that it was a hallucination!"
"So, Trant Clark was the pilot of Wing Gundam ZERO at one time?" Daniel asked.
Duo laughed nervously. "They probably don't make that too clear in the historical records. Doesn't reflect well on any faction, really. Yeah, it was designed by the group of scientists that built Tallgeese and who each went on to build one of the five Previous Gundams, but it was not built until Quatre discovered the plans during the war. Quatre piloted ZERO first, and it is public knowledge what he did, but he had his trial and was acquitted. I mean, he just wasn't fucking sane when he did that stuff. But, when Quatre and ZERO were captured." Duo flashed Heero this look that said 'thanks for that.' The completely sarcastic tone was communicated as well. "Trant Clark appointed himself to study the system. The other guy that was in charge then, what was his name Subaroff?"
"Tsuberov," Heero said. "He was pro-doll. He wanted to remove the human element from battle as well."
"Yeah. I gather Trant Clark was defying Tsuberov, who was his superior at the time, when he took off to test ZERO and threaten colonies!" Duo rolled his eyes and threw up his hands in gesture that communicated what a good idea he thought that was.
"And Trant Clark was the one who made participate in these ZERO tests, Heero?"
"Yes. And Quatre as well, though Quatre had used it before."
"Still, not a good thing to mess with Quatre after…what happened."
Heero smiled knowingly. They were not to bring up Trowa. "Yes. Quatre was not himself after…what happened. Not for a long time."
"Until I met up with him again and gave him that information that he needed to continue to make amends."
"So, Heero, you recognized Trant Clark on the train. A line from Vladivostock to Moscow, was it?"
"Did you apprehend him yourself?"
"No, I contacted Preventer HQ and they sent two agents to board the train and others to meet us in Moscow. I only identified him and reported his location. Sobieski and Gibson actually took him prisoner."
Naomi said something to Daniel about Gibson.
"Gibson, he was the pilot that crashed at X18999?"
Heero glanced at Duo.
"Gibson volunteered for the mission to board the shuttle," Duo said. "I took control of his mobile suit and got him aboard. I then attempted to use the suit to stop the shuttle, while Gibson faced the hijackers and worked to change the course of the shuttle away from the colony. They were armed with bladed weapons. I heard the sounds over our comlink as they stabbed him. Gibson managed to recover briefly and gain control of the shuttle, but only in time to control its crash. The shuttle hit the mobile suit I was in, then the suit and the shuttle both crashed into Playa Del Stardust. The fuel on the shuttle caused it to go up in flames when it hit, so Gibson was severely burned, though he did survive the crash. The suit landed on a church, which coincidentally had been evacuated. I ended up with a broken leg, a few nasty burns and abrasions, and a lot of bruises. Gibson was still alive when I'd been found and put in a cast. I sat with him. We knew he was going to die. The burns were just too severe and too deep, and the stab wounds... he did not look pretty on the outside then, though he had been a seriously cute guy. He was my friend. I kissed him. Just before he died, I kissed him goodbye."
Daniel, the others, they were silent for a while. Heero saw Cerise start, as if it occurred to her she should have taken a picture. Heero caught her eyes as she was lifting her camera and shook his head.
"Had you been involved?" Daniel whispered.
"He was my friend," Duo repeated.
"I want to go back to April for now," Daniel said, his voice a bit stronger. "Rather, Duo, could you tell us what you were doing during 197?"
Duo nodded. "I was going to High School. I probably could have tested out, but I wanted to go. I wanted to do something that was normal, to not be extraordinary. I attended St. Joseph Cupertino in the Colonial Capitol."
"He's the patron saint of the Colonies," Heero said.
"Yeah." Duo laughed softly. "Originally of aviators maybe. Definitely, he was the patron saint of astronauts, that's where the Colonials got it from. Some levitating monk."
"I remember when I was preparing to go home I looked for information about the people I had known and I found Duo's yearbook."
"It was Relena's too."
"They went to school together," Heero said. "Relena's yearbook entry was interesting, but not so interesting as Duo's. At the time, I thought he was saying that he wanted to die. I was concerned for him."
"What did it say?" Daniel asked.
"I don't even remember. I wrote it with my friend Adin one night, all hopped up on caffeinated beverages. I think I said 'Qu'est une Petite Mort entre des amis?' I don't even know if that's proper French! Heero did not quite grasp the euphemism, until I told him later."
"Un Petit Mort?" Daniel asked.
"Yeah, Heero thought I was asking him to kill me. Guess I was, from a certain point of view."
"So, after you were seen involved in the apprehension in Moscow, that is when you returned to the Colonies?" Daniel asked Heero.
"Yes. I met Midii on the train as well. She is my business partner now. She and I stayed in Moscow for a few days while I finalized some business arrangements. That was when the media really started to focus on me. That is when I first had the experience of hearing and seeing the speculative stories and rumors regarding myself. They said that I had left Relena for Midii and I had never even been with Relena... romantically."
"Or Midii," Duo added.
"Correct. I was not involved with Midii, either."
"Had either of you been with anyone, romantically, during the wars, or last year?" Daniel asked.
"You answer first," Heero said.
"It's OK. You tell them first."
Heero sighed. "My involvement in the wars and my mood afterward did not leave me time or inclination to enter a relationship with anyone, and I am not a casual sort of person that I would be with someone outside of a relationship."
"Nice answer," Duo told Heero. "I was just the opposite. I did not want to be in relationships with anyone. Did not want to bother. Guess I thought it'd give me more to lose. And the war didn't leave much time for anything, even one night stands."
"And we were young then."
Duo laughed. "Yeah, we were. I have had one girlfriend though. I dated otherwise. Wasn't serious about anyone. Hilde and I are close friends now."
"She was the girlfriend," Heero explained.
"Yeah. Now she's a friends sans privileges."
"So, Heero, you were never with Relena?"
"Not in the sense of being a couple. We spent time together and we care about each other."
"He saved her life numerous times," Duo added.
"She was not the only one."
"And now?" Daniel asked, "Are either of you seeing anyone?"
"Each other," the both said at the same time, and then laughed.
"So you are a couple, or dating?"
Heero glanced to see if Duo wanted to answer.
"Right now, we are pretty serious, we just made plans to buy a house together."
"And during the war, you were not involved with each other?" Daniel asked.
"I think there may have been interest," Heero said, "But neither of us acted on it."
"There was no much time to act back then, but..." Duo smiled for Heero.
"It is, for my part anyway, the sort of thing that is only realized in retrospect. At the time, I was focused on goals, on missions. I barely considered living past the end of the war, so I just did not consider having sex or falling in love. I was trying just to survive, yet I can see, when I look back, that I was affected by Duo's presence whenever he was around. I acted differently toward him than I did anyone else. Relena was not the only person I risked my life to save, and I do not count risking my life for a large number of people, I mean, risking possible death just to see one person safe when you were not aware that they were absolutely vital to the peace effort. Risking your life for someone, just because you wanted them to be alive; I did that for Duo. He did it for me as well."
"You could argue that we would have done the same for anyone, because we're such good guys. I mean, it was pretty early on that I ended up rescuing Heero. I barely knew him then. But later on, I know there were so many times we were in the middle of a battle and I was wondering if he had made it out all right."
"You just wanted the beam cannon."
Duo laughed. "It was completely foolish and illogical when Heero rescued me, though."
"I actually went there prepared to kill him and take my own life as well, if necessary, so that no information could be gained from us. When I got there, I could not do it. I just had to get Duo out, make him safe."
"By the time of the Eve Wars I was already having seriously erotic fantasies about this one in his flight suit," Duo said, "And then he went and saved the world!"
"I had some help."
"You said neither of you acted on any feelings you had toward each other in the past?"
"Well, not before Hero left and went into reserves. If he had stayed a few more months, I might have done something then, but he was gone, and even I did not know where he was."
"I was using aliases," Heero admitted.
"When did you first see each other after Heero returned home to the Colonies."
"I remember this so vividly," Heero said. "It was in the hall outside the Director's office, in Preventer HQ. He was wearing his skirt that he works in, his uniform shirt was completely open and there was a smudge of oil on his face. I could not stop staring. I did not even realize that I was attracted to him yet. I did not know I was homosexual. I just felt so... nervous and stared at him. I even stuttered."
"You were nervous? I had not seen him in over a year! I had only seen a few video clips taken around that same time, but they did him no justice! It's like you see some kid when he's barely seventeen and you think he's hot, but then you see him at eighteen and you're like God, he's fucking hot! He stood there, looking at me with those eyes and playing words games. I think I was trembling!"
"So, Heero's eyes are one of his good features?"
"Yeah, but it's not just the way his eyes look. I mean they are really nice eyes, stormy blue and just a really lovely shape, but it's the way he looks at you. Heero's so intense!"
Heero laughed. "He never says it like that to me."
"Baby, why do you think I am always begging you to look at me?" His voice went even lower when he said that. It was his bedroom voice.
"He says in his bedroom voice," Heero deadpanned. "Point taken."
"That day you saw each other again, did you get together at that time?"
"It did not happen that quickly," Heero said. "We saw each other again at Relena's birthday party. I think it was the day after. We ended up leaving the crowd to talk somewhere."
"Yeah, I think maybe that is when I started to think it was not just physical attraction. Maybe 'started' is not correct. There were probably times before that when I knew that I liked Heero, that I wanted us to be friends. But we just sat in Relena's kitchen and had this really serious talk. I think that is one way people can tell they are falling in love, when you can just talk to someone and have this feeling of satisfaction and like... completion."
"Then I asked him to come upstairs with me."
Duo laughed, almost giggled. "You must understand, when I went into the kitchen, I was thinking, 'I must say something to my buddy Heero to make him feel better.'"
"I brood from time to time."
"And I left the kitchen all like, 'Yes, Master Heero, please let me come upstairs with you.'"
Heero laughed. "I think that may be exaggeration."
"Well, I did not say that to him, but I was thinking it. I went in there thinking Heero needed to be cheered up, but he ended up saying all these beautiful comforting things to me. It really made me happy that we could care about each other like that."
Heero slipped his hand across the small of Duo's back and pulled him close. "It was an emotional time. I do not think it is true that either of us is an overly emotional person. Ordinarily it would be difficult for anyone to get us to reveal our feelings."
"Not that it will come across in this interview."
Heero smiled. "I just mean that we are practiced at hiding how we really feel and that after being apart for so long and being people who experienced the war together, these first few meeting we had became intensely emotional, because everything that we had repressed or feared to say just came out. Duo said he thought there were beautiful moments, and there were, but we also fought."
"Oh, yeah, and Heero knows curses in at least three languages."
"Duo has quite a temper."
"Was there any difference in particular you fought over?"
Heero had to think about that. "Well, the argument I am thinking of happened because Duo mistook my silence over something as anger and became defensive. But it was as much my fault that we fought."
"I invited him to my place for the weekend. We had not so much as kissed at that point, but I was getting seriously erotic vibes from Heero. And, I also just missed having him around."
"I agreed to go to his place. We argued some more, over stupid things, and we talked some more."
"He kept touching me," Duo said, "I had not known Heero to be physically affectionate before, with anyone, but he kept touching me and hugging me. I did not know what to think, except that it felt pretty good."
"I knew that day I went to Duo's that I wanted him. I definitely was attracted to him and I probably loved him. I was just not sure if our lifestyles were compatible. I mean, I cannot see myself being casual, but I did not think he had a serious relationship before then."
"He asked me to sleep with him. It was so hard."
"I mean, difficult to not just do him right then."
"Very difficult, in retrospect, I think I should have just asked him if it was OK to do what I wanted, as it turns out he wanted the same thing. I woke up and he was dreaming about me."
"True. True. I remember that dream. It was so hot."
"He took me to a movie-show and he played Christian, in Moulin Rogue. I had never been to a movie show. It was amazing. I do not think that most people realize that Duo can sing."
"You sing?" Daniel asked.
"Very well," Heero assured him.
"I can sing a bit."
"Duo has many skills."