Disclaimer: This is fanfiction based on the characters and universe of Gundam Wing.

Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Chapter 97

Heero woke, startled and slightly disturbed by the dream he had just had, and within moments, was aware again that he was lying on a bed in the back of Quatre's personal jet and that it was only Duo's body that touched him, and not several bodies, as in the dream.

Heero was on the edge of the bed away from the small shade-covered windows and he could see the dogs lying on a blanket on the floor and, across the aisle, another bed where Quatre lay, seemingly asleep.

Duo shifted, as if to announce to Heero, whose back he was spooned against, that he had an erection. Heero was not really interested, or he was not interested at the moment, but he could not blame Duo for communicating his desires, whether he was awake or asleep. Heero's response did depend on what state Duo was in. He had slept with Duo enough now that his body, consciously and subconsciously, was familiar with Duo's patterns and rate of breathing and the very beating of his heart. Heero surmised that Duo was now half awake.

Duo's body seemed to cling to that half-slumber more than Heero's. Even when there was danger and Duo seemed to respond consciously, he was operating greatly on instinct and subconscious levels of brain activity. He would wake later and decide to run or hide, but he probably could kill while asleep.

Thus, Duo's shifting and groping was subconscious activity, though Duo was in the process of waking. Heero responded by lifting his left arm, and in the process freeing it from the slight weight of Duo's arm and forcing Duo's hand out from under his shirt, where it had subconsciously wandered.

Heero took Duo's sleepy hand in his and brought it up to the base of the neck and placed it over the ring he wore. It was now on a length of black satin cord Duo had found and Heero did not fit the larger loop over his head, but put the doubled length of cord around his neck and passed the large class ring through the opposite end of the loop, as if fastening a button, so that it stayed close to his neck and moved little. If someone grasped the ring and pulled, they might choke the life from him, but then, grasping the cord elsewhere might have the effect of loosing the ring from the loop before Heero was strangled, and so Heero viewed this as being advantageous, as there were only one-and-a-half ways to die from wearing it, instead of two, if he wore a fixed loop about his neck. If he really thought he would get into trouble, he transferred the cord and ring to a wrist or ankle, or left it at home in a safe place.

Duo's signs shifted and Heero knew that within seconds he would wake fully and say something. He waited. "Heero." It was the slightest whisper.

"Aa." He knew the next question. "Iie. I know it was not my dream."

"I-Heero, I'm sorry-no, I'm not sorry, because even if it was my dream, I can't control what I dream."

"You could if lucid."

"Fuck-!" He still spoke in whisper.

"Duo, I did not mean that I believed you had been lucid, only that a person could have some control of dreams. Maybe that dream did not originate inside of either of us... entirely."


"Quatre is asleep."

"Shit. Is he lucid?"

"I do not know."

"But... you could find out."

"I do not wish to try right now."

"Man, I knew it couldn't really be my dream with Quatre being the one in the middle of everyone, but somehow, I didn't guess it was him." Duo drew his hand down Heero's chest and splayed his fingers over the place Heero's heart beat. "That means, like..."

"That the shared dreams are not something that is between only us two. Possibly if we are close to any person with the abilities, it will happen."

"Talk about security breach."

Maybe it was that serious, but then, maybe not. "Perhaps. It would be wise to find out to what degree it is true. Maybe there is a way to control it."

"In your sleep?"


"Maybe it's only Quatre, because he's so close to us, like in friendship, or because he's always had that weird cosmic soul or whatever."

"There are many theories and terms that attempt to explain such phenomena. It is of a higher priority to understand how it is, than what it is called. We really should try to understand that."

"Except that a while back you seemed nearly to be going on faith."

"It seems true that some things can be done without the knowing of how."

"Then, just believe that Quatre can't influence your dreams or overhear our thoughts. He is asleep. That means we can mess around, and it won't bother him."

"Except that it might not bother him, even if he is awake."

Duo laughed very quietly and slid his hand to Heero's abdomen where some small portion of skin was bared between jeans and shirt. "He is a little hentai."

Heero thought that it was wrong to call Quatre little, but he knew what Duo meant. "It would bother me."

"Sure? I can do it without even using my hands." Heero thought Duo was speaking of his dick, but Duo rolled from him, and then Heero felt it.

Something touched his stomach, where Duo's hand had been a moment before. It was not memory. Heero did not know what it was, except that Duo caused the feeling. There was no skin-like texture in the touch. It was like the air around Heero pressed in on him there. Pressed and moved toward his head. Heero had no grasp on how it worked, whether Duo inserted the sensation into his mind without being aware of being telepathic, or if Duo had mental command of air molecules or it was something else entirely.

He watched his shirt rise and billow and felt the thing that touched him spread in shape and roll over his nipples. It felt good. Heero wanted it to stop. He tried to speak, but all he managed was a very quiet rasp. He was frightened, really.

"Heero? Did you say something?"

It was still on him! "Verdigris." It was a whisper, the most he could manage. Heero shivered, curled, flailed soundlessly and stared at the off-white ceiling panels.

"Heero!" Duo's voice was louder, like a rapid hiss. "Heero! I am not doing it anymore. Look. Look at me!"

Heero swallowed saliva, blinked and lifted his head to look at his body. It was Duo's real hand on his chest, outside his shirt. He could feel the fingertips pressed to the curve of his shoulder. Heero did not know what to say.

"It's OK. I won't do it again, if you don't like it. Was it really gross?" Heero felt Duo's hand lift and he saw Duo scoot away. He backed up to the slightly curved interior wall of the jet, drew his legs up before him and then wrapped his arms about his knees. "I'm sorry."

Heero looked to see if Quatre was awake. He seemed to be asleep, still. He rolled over then and pushed himself up. He moved toward Duo and knelt close beside him. It had happened once before, an invisible pair of fingers pinching his nipple, but somehow, this time had just felt different. Maybe it had been that Heero saw his shirt billow and understood that he had not only been made to feel touched, but there was actually something invisible there to touch him. "Duo, it was not... gross. It was just something I was not ready for. I was... I did not intend it, but I was just frightened."


"I should finish. Duo. I do trust you, but the idea frightened me. The idea that anyone could do that."

"It frightens me." Duo whispered, very softly. "I do not even understand how it works, but I think I can do it more now... do a lot more things. I wanted you to like it, but I'll totally understand if you don't. It's not normal."

"I do not need normal", Heero replied, almost mouthing the words, his voice was so low. "I just needed you to stop then, but if you told me when it would happen... Duo, I know the chaos is good, but with this."

"No, it's OK, I get it. It's OK."

Heero could see Duo was not really OK, but this was unavoidable for the moment. "I will tell Quatre to give us a room with two separate beds."


Heero smirked. "And you can call me from your bed and tell me what you are doing and I'll tell you I really feel it."

"Can I come over to your bed afterward?"

"Depends how good you are on the phone."

Duo moved from the wall and leaned in toward Heero. "I am so good on the phone." He kissed Heero lightly on the mouth. "You know I do have to actually show up for the tests." Heero knew; he knew what Duo was going to say next. "but we can spend the rest of the time in bed, as far as I'm concerned."

Quatre lived in what he termed a village, but which was more accurately a former secret resistance military base complete with camouflage capable airfield, hangers carved from rock and underground bunkers, which had lately seen the addition of residential and small commercial buildings and irrigated hemp fields. Heero could see other aircraft unloading on the lighted tarmac from the windows of the private jet as they landed.

It was a small private field, relatively speaking, and unable to handle spacecraft, but the markings identified the mobile suit carrier on the runway as private and local, so it could be reasonably surmised that the Tinman had been transferred from a shuttle at a spaceport, likely Baalbek.

As they debarked, Heero saw there was a flatbed hovercraft waiting to receive the trap covered mobile suit and a small fleet of unmatched luxury vehicles waiting to take guests into the village. Heero picked Relena out of the crowd of blue and olive Preventer uniforms immediately. In another second he had identified several others, including a man named Auda that rushed to greet them.

Quatre clasped Auda's arm and then drew him into a one-armed embrace. He had grown slightly taller than the other man, Heero noticed. Likely Rashid would still tower over both, if he was here. They began speaking in Arabic and Heero forgave Quatre the habit. It was wise actually, though slightly rude to his guests, as Quatre had been away and would want to quickly and securely know the status of things, in order to form his strategy. It would be strategy, even if it was only deciding what room to serve refreshments in.

This was Quatre's way, Heero understood, and he did love Quatre as a friend and veteran of shared unpleasant experiences. Quatre would not neglect Heero too long. He would see Duo had left Heero and make a point to entertain Heero, even if it was to give him someone else to talk to. Duo would be gone.

Heero shifted his gaze to his side and then followed Duo's obvious gaze toward the hovercraft. "You should go check on it."

"Thanks," Duo whispered. He said `thanks', but he really would have gone without permission. Heero did not really blame him. Mobile suits were fun to play with, as fun as cars and guns combined. At the moment, Heero wanted one.

He watched Duo run toward the hovercraft and saw a few people at its side waving at him. Heero then saw that Relena had spotted him. She came across the fuming asphalt followed by guards; the sun had set, but everything still seemed to radiate warmth absorbed during the day. Wufei and Sally had both found their way into this detail, but more were needed. It was not only Relena they had to protect, but three other government officials of the MCPs council, all present to witness the trials of MaxTech's prototype. Heero recognized Gwinter Septem from files in his head, over Relena's shoulder as she embraced him.

"Where is Duo?" Relena drew back and gave Heero space to answer.

"There, already gone to play with his toy."

"Yes, but he must feel like that when you are with your computer." She grinned.

"That only happened once," Heero said under his breath. Relena did not really need to know. Heero left his computer to pay attention to Duo many times.

"He and Hilde must have things to talk about." Heero was not fully certain whether Relena meant the mobile suit or the baby would be discussed, but perhaps, he thought then, that was just why it was `things'. "I only saw her briefly. They came in through Abu Habbah." The spaceport that mainly served Baghdad and points west, it was nearly to Baalbek as Alcatraz Extension was to LA. It infrequently accepted passenger craft from the Colonies, but was the advised landing site for freight. Some regions made such regulations simply to make it easier for them to set up their customs facilities.

Adin had come with her. He was standing off to the side from the group looking into the darkness beyond the pools of light. Quatre returned from his briefing and suggested they all get into the cars. It was hot still, but it would get much cooler during the night, before the sun rose to heat everything again. Heero could see most people were still wearing eye protection of some kind. That was not uncommon for travelers from the Colonies to Earth. Heero suspected the pavement might be too hot yet for the dogs.

"Come to the car with me," Quatre said quietly to Heero. It seemed he did not wish to be seen choosing favorites. Heero called to the dogs and followed. Quatre climbed into the back of a platinum colored utility vehicle with gold trim. Heero helped the dogs up and then got inside. There was enough room left that Wufei joined them, and Auda climbed into the seat in the front, beside their driver. Heero saw that Sally and Relena went to another car.

"Will Trowa be here?" Wufei asked as the vehicle began to move. Heero lifted one of Nu's forepaws and examined the pad. It did not appear injured.

"He called here to leave a message. He's completed a fuel stop and is a few hours behind us. He knows his way to the house, so he will find us when he gets in."

"Then we will all be together again."

Quatre nodded. "Are your dogs all right, Heero?" There seemed more of an accent in his voice, especially when he said `Heero' that time, but it was nothing that was offensive to Heero.

"They seem so, but I do not think the heat is very good for them, especially Nu."

"Koi should not do too badly, I have some of the remaining Pharaoh Hounds living here and they seem well suited to the climate, though I admit I do not leave them on hot pavement. Nu is a sledding dog, right?"

"Husky, but he is not trained to do much of anything. The breed is specialized to cold climates."

"The house does have climate control. I am sure he will be fine once we get inside."

"But it's Duo's dog, this one?" Wufei asked. "He told me about him."

"Yes, Nu is Duo's. Koi is mine."

"I left Mei-Long with Doctor Tang."

"Have either of you seen Duo's mobile suit?" Quatre asked.

"I have."

"What's it like?"

"Well, that would be confidential."

Quatre huffed.

"It is like he reverse engineered Gundams to find what was common to all of them and then reduced size and power and increased efficiency to create what seems their predecessor."

"But Tallgeese was the predecessor."

"But Duo's mobile suit is nothing like Tallgeese."

"Tallgeese was flawed. It was an experiment. It was too powerful for most people to handle and hardly efficient considering its fuel consumption and mass. That is not what the MCP needs. They need something that can be mass produced and operated by many but which can be easily adapted for various terrain and tasks."

"Like the Leo."

"But the Leo was only a downsized Tallgeese," Quatre said, "The Taurus is ZT's best selling model by far."

"The Taurus was decent."

"But you've seen ZT's new suit," Quatre said.

Heero set his face blankly.

"I hear things. Mailed Security a button from the Sagittarius's console through Zodiac's interoffice mail."

Heero laughed. "Yes, but I also forged a MaxTech employee account. Fair is fair."

"Was Duo's suit good enough?" Wufei asked.

"That is not for me to decide."

"Which would you rather play with?"

Heero smiled. "Both."

"Polypilotry; nice."

Heero sighed. "Lost my harsh mistress; no one to keep me from it."

"I am sure I can find something here to entertain you, Heero," Quatre said in playful and sultry tone. `Sultry' sounded like a romance novel word. Maybe Heero read it in one of the fics Midii sent him. "Do you play tennis by any chance?"

"Trained to assassinate aristocratic targets and establish cover within high schools in Japan."

Quatre smiled. "I want to teach Trowa to play. I think he has the body for it. So far there has been little chance."

"It will include his wearing shorts I suppose."

Quatre made a bubbly laugh, "Oh, Wufei, you do understand me!"

"Wearing appropriate or traditional garments for competition I understand entirely, the four of you thinking each other `hot' is another matter."

Quatre was looking at Heero when Heero looked at him. "Is it really?"

"All four of us?" Heero asked.

"Thinking the other three hot?"

Heero thought about it.

"You all look so different, there is no real competition, it is like having one of each flavor," Quatre said thoughtfully.

"But, Wufei, I think you are hot, too," Heero said, deadpan.

He blushed. Chang. Wufei blushed.

"I am sorry," Heero whispered. "Forgive me. It was inappropriate."

"I do not think you should be sorry," Quatre said, "Wufie is adult. He knows you are not trying to hit on him, Heero. He should only be flattered you acknowledge his hotness."

Wufei made a small sound to clear his throat. "I was only embarrassed to be taken by surprise. I expect such things from Maxwell!"

"Do not tell Duo I said it!" Heero groaned.

Quatre snickered.

"He will make something out of it and repeat it many times and embarrass us both."

"Then just mention the time he..." Quatre started. He could not think of anything embarrassing Duo had done.

Heero could not think of anything either. "Duo is just too kewl."

Quatre giggled.

"He got captured... several times."

"We all got captured," Heero groaned.

"He formed a mad crush on his homicidal, suicidal, war buddy," Wufei suggested.

Quatre laughed. Heero thought it was funny that Wufei had used `mad crush', but supposed Duo had actually used the phrase in his presence, or it was the English chorus in some Japanese pop song. Heero resolved to ask Midori about it next he spoke to him. Maybe he needed some lyrics.

"I think that is not such an embarrassing thing since Heero has recently confessed to the Sphere that he has returned Duo's feelings. It cannot really be a crush, then."

"In any case," Wufei said quietly, "I do speak to females and listen to what they say."

"Since when?" Heero asked.

Wufei growled.

"Since Sally," Quatre answered brightly.

"And so I have heard it said that certain acquaintances of mine are found highly attractive. I feel it safe to assume this is true; I only meant that I have yet to understand the digging on each other, hotness aside, when there are also many attractive women surrounding us."

"See interview," Heero said flatly. "I do not have to talk about this." He did not appreciate Quatre's laughter.

"They never threw a suitable female counterpart at me, did they? They were all interested in one of my friends or a lesbian, weren't they?"

Heero smiled.

"Everyone knew about Quatre and Trowa," Wufei said. "Yuy, did you know?"

The way he spoke made Heero question his meaning. "Know about Quatre and Trowa?"

"No. Did you know, back then...?"

Heero turned and looked at Wufei from the corners of his eyes and then bowed his head. "Trowa asked me a similar question. I suppose you have more right than some to ask, or to hear it from me in person. I did not know I would love Duo, or anyone. I did not know I would live. It really did all happen suddenly. Duo is hot, but that is not why I am with him. I just realized that I was attracted to him, entirely I mean, and his being a very beautiful man is a nice perk."

"And I bet he's good in bed!"

"That was not what I was asking! Duo is my friend. It would be awkward, if they broke up, because I also respect Heero. That is the only reason I asked!"

"There is nothing that can ensure that a couple will never break up. Even a marriage can be dissolved. Only your own dedication to each other can keep you together, so long as you have it. I am human; maybe I will hurt Duo, or he will hurt me but... if you did not know we were lovers, you would not worry. Right? We could come to blows... I mean punches, Quatre... and you would all trust us each to defend ourselves. It should not be different because we have sex."

"Yes, I know, but someone who is close to you can hurt you more," Wufei said softly. He knew, because he was in love with someone.

"Yes, but betrayal can happen in war or politics and is not exclusive to sexual relationships. You, you are the ones that should know best; Duo and I are not children. If something happens, good or bad between us, we will deal with it. Maybe I will ask for your help or advice, or Duo will, and we will appreciate what you give, as friends, but we will try to work things out on our own, first. I will trust you with Sally if you trust me with Duo."

"But what is Sally to you!?"

Heero smirked. "A friend."

"And Adin. You trust him?"

"Yes, but that is not why he is with Relena. He is with Relena because Relena can trust him."

"I understand."

"But Duo is good in bed, isn't he?" Quatre pressed.

Several different answers quickly came to mind, but they were all suggestive if not in flagrant violation of TMI protocols, so Heero said nothing and kept smiling.

Heero had traveled near this village before, but he had never seen the inside of Quatre's house, except for a few nondescript walls the phone lenses were placed before. Most people had such walls, if they valued privacy, while others set their phones before expensive artworks to show they had them, or a poster, to show their interest. There was a lot to notice on entering the house, but Heero registered the people before reflexively scanning for surveillance devices or defense systems. There were a lot of women.

Quatre had a lot of sisters, and as he was the youngest child of the family, he already had some nieces and nephews nearly as old as he was. Not all of his family lived in this house; but if even 10 percent of his siblings were staying with him, that was nearly three women already, and probably more if they had children.

Heero attempted to catalog the names as Quatre introduced them. Heero actually had mental files on some already, and though he did not have a complete file for each, Quatre's file would include a list of their names, even if Heero had not seen the faces before. He also had a mental roster for the Maganac Corps, a number of which were present wherever Quatre was.

This house, villa as Quatre called it, was not his family home, that was in the Colonies, but only `Quatre's house', yet it had room enough to accommodate the family should Quatre host a gathering, and so there was plenty of room now to house four government officials, a mobile suit tycoon and their various entourages.

Heero also noticed that the air was not only cooler than outside but slightly more humid. Often the process of cooling air made it dry, and so Quatre clearly had a good quality climate control system, likely purchased from a Colonial supplier. There were a lot of indoor plants and water features, both a need and a source for the moisture. And there were animals.

Quatre had mentioned dogs, but Heero saw at least one cat, and some lizards perched on the branches of a potted tree.

There were servants also, a number of them and in uniform. The women had modest but western styled smocks or dresses made of green and white ticking and the men wore various styles of shirts in this same striped fabric with white trousers. They seemed more resort staff that what Heero would expect of butlers or maids.

Quatre left Heero, the dogs and Wufei with Auda to speak to the servants. The other cars had arrived and the lounge they waited in filled before Quatre returned. He announced then that he advised everyone allow his staff to guest rooms and bathrooms and toilets so they might freshen or rest after their journey. Though it was past supper local time, some refreshments would be served for the guests in several rooms made available for their entertainment during their stay. The next meal that would be served would be breakfast. Quatre mentioned that they had two days before the tests and that there was time for everyone to get adjusted, whether they started by sleeping now or remained awake until breakfast and napped tomorrow.

Quatre waited until the servants had escorted most of the guests from the lounge and only those most closely acquainted with him remained. "I will show you to your rooms personally," he said then. "I do not really anticipate much going from room to room, not that it is my business if anyone does, but I did try to assign the rooms so that those who seem likely to meet with each other and speak are close." Quatre led the small group, made up of Heero, Wufei, Relena, Sally and Adin, from the lounge and through a hall to a staircase. They could see another group, with Gwinter and his young daughter just turning to the right at the top of the stairs.

Quatre took them left at the hall above the stairs and stopping at the first door there along the right, said this would be Wufei and Sally's room. From the hall, it was clear the bed was not an authentically oriental furnishing, but it was a low platform style. "The first two rooms past the staircase are taken up by your agents, and then the rooms for the MCP representatives and further down the hall more of the Preventers. I will have Duo's people around the corner past my room; that's just up here." Quatre pointed out the approximate location of his bedroom on the left, facing the outside of the building and not the courtyards. "If any of you feel inclined to mingle with the others, the staff has been instructed to direct them to areas downstairs for refreshments or entertainment. The larger media room and gaming rooms and access to the courtyards are on that level. Though, I thought you might want to be able to see each other without feeling like you were at work, so my upstairs rooms will be available to you. I have had food brought up."

"The whole house is yours and you have your own apartment up here?" Sally asked, leaning in the doorway of her room.

Quatre laughed. "It is my house, but there are often many guests and the rooms downstairs are so big, and rather awkward if you have less than a dozen guests you wish to chat with. The books and movies I buy for myself are up here. Downstairs are the copies we buy for the house because they are new or popular. There are no doors, so you will see the rooms if you walk along this way. I will be up at least until Trowa arrives."

Wufei returned to the doorway from a survey of his room and asked Quatre where the bathrooms were. Quatre explained that a few rooms did have private baths, but he had assigned the rooms more with a thought to position in the hallway and not to need for private baths. The ones along the hall were plentiful enough to serve a full house, so he did not anticipate problems. The doors had been painted blue to mark them from the bedrooms.

"And if you do not wish any servants to disturb you with their cleaning, remove the ribbon from the door handle and take it inside the room. Replace it any time you wish the staff to go in to clean and straighten."

"It is like a hotel," Adin said quietly.

"I grew up with 29 sisters and near as many servants," Quatre said, "to run a household with so many people, it just makes things more efficient to hire people to specialize only in cooking or cleaning for large numbers, and marking the doors assures that those who need privacy can have it."

"But your house will seem very large to people who have lived most of their life in the Colonies," Relena said, "my family was rather affluent and our house on Earth had many large rooms and servants, but whenever we stayed in the Colonies on my father's business, we had much smaller quarters."

"Well, I was my father's heir," Quatre admitted, "and blessed to make a few good investment of my own. Our house in the Colonies houses as many people, but the rooms are all much smaller. You are right, it is a luxury to have so much space on Earth. But please, you are all welcome! Use the big rooms downstairs if you like. The media room is like being in a theater. And the grounds are quite lovely night or day and well patrolled by my own men."

Heero could tell that Adin was overwhelmed by Quatre house, and Relena seemed to know it too. For that Matter, Quatre probably knew, but perhaps he was used to such reactions. "Which room will be mine?" Relena asked, "It is no trouble for you? The arrangements?" She meant that Adin was to stay with her and that they were unmarried and generally attempted to keep their relationship as discreet as possible, only so they did not have to deal with the Colonial paparazzi as much.

"No problem. From the stairs to that corner there is considered private even more so than the house in general. The servants that work here are different from those that work elsewhere in the house; I selected them myself. Things that happen here, never happened."

"That is a little frightening, Quatre," Heero said flatly.

Quatre laughed. "You make it sound like I have had people tied up and molested against their will!"

"I am certain it was all consentual," Relena said.

"Relena, I am so sorry!" Quatre said as brightly as ever. "This is your room here." It was on the left side of the hall, facing the outside of the building, rather than the courtyards.

"Thank you. Perhaps we will see you later."

Adin put his hand to Relena's back and led her into the bedroom. A moment later Sally shut the door to her and Wufei's room.

"I do not think I made a very good impression on Mr. Barnet."

"Adin is all right. Where is my room?"

"Here, between Relena's and mine." Quatre moved down the hall and opened the door. There were two beds, but each was wide enough to share. One was closer to the door, and the other closer to the pair of narrow doors t the balcony. " I will take the hall..."

"No, the hall," Quatre said, understanding. "The balconies are physically more difficult to reach. Do not worry in any case. There are a lot of men and defenses between the outside and either approach. If I can get Trowa to stay here, you should have no problem."

Heero nodded and ushered the dogs into the room.

"I do have a room for the dogs, if you want to take them down. Of course, I have no problem with you keeping them here either."

"I will have them here for now. Maybe tomorrow you can show me this dog room."

"Very well. Do you think you will go to sleep?"

It might seem typical for Heero to sleep when he had downtime, but the war was long over now. It was important to remember that. "No. We slept on the plane."

"I did as well."

"I know."

"Well, if you want, I'll probably be across the hall watching a video or something. If you get bored or hungry..."

"I will get a quick shower first."

"This room does have a shower and a toilet, but it is just the little room, and leaves you will less closet space. You can use the big bathroom in the hall, if you want."

Heero dropped the leashes and went to check the small bathroom. It was not any smaller than the one in his apartment in the Colonies and larger than some WCs. "This will do. Thank you."

"See you soon," Quatre said. He left and closed the door to the hall.

The luggage had been brought up in advance, Heero saw. Quatre and his staff were well organized. He unpacked a few things onto his bed, got out all the dog's bowls and toys, filled the water dishes in the bathroom sink, and then left the dogs to get his shower.

Quatre and Sally were in the small media room when Heero found it. He had seen such rooms before, mainly on television. There was one large monitor that became focal point of the room, a lot of seating for viewing and a small kitchenette, which would have been a whole kitchen in the Colonies, tucked in opposite the monitor to facilitate making snacks without losing view of the picture. Such rooms could have been used for keeping track of news, but Quatre was sprawled on one of the couches watching some type of vampire movie and wearing what Heero would term loose, flimsy middle-eastern garments. This clothing was red and looked appropriate to the movie and perhaps also scandalous.

Maybe people from Earth would think his leggings and snug sleeveless shirt inappropriate lounging attire, but it was very normal in the colonies. Baggy sweatpants had too much weight and volume to make it into bags packed for spacetravel so only people who were rich and wanted others to be sure to notice would wear them.

Sally did not seem bothered by anyone's attire. She was dressed in Hong Kong designer clothing, or knock-offs thereof, and reading what seemed a graphic novel. Heero had seen many shelves of books in an adjacent room. Heero amended the book to being manga when he glimpsed the cover.

"A three-walled media room does rather make the investment in a theatre sound system pointless."

"There is a sliding wall, but I only use it when I have geeks over," Quatre said and looked slyly at Heero. "If you do not close it now, I will have to say the same thing when Duo arrives."

Heero examined the outer corners of the room and found the slots for the sliding wall. "Geeks. You calculate more in your sleep than..."

"Because I am a really good pilot," Quatre said, "but I am not an a/v nazi." elitist."

"But Quatre, you won't be able to properly hear the crunch of fangs in flesh as if it was happening to you!" Sally complained, and after a moment, Heero realized this was meant to be an imitation of Duo's voice.

Heero climbed onto the wide, deep, puffy couch and sat near Quatre. He did not bother to ask what movie they were watching. Heero knew Quatre liked horror movies, and though he found low budget slasher flix entertaining, he preferred big budget costume horror movies.

Heero leaned back and vaguely paid attention to the movie. The sound effects sounded much better seated center, with the wall slid closed.

Adin joined them shortly. He was wearing leggings as lounge wear as well, but he paired them with an old concert tee that fit him loosely. He did not sit very close to Heero or Quatre, but near the arm of the same couch.

Trowa was next to arrive, as Quatre vampire movie was ending. They had yet to hear from Duo, and though Heero did want to see Trowa, he was disappointed when he saw Trowa was the one that slid the wall open and shut. He was wearing a western styled shirt, like cowboys wore, and well fit antique washed jeans. Trowa always looked good, Heero thought, like he looked good in clothes without trying. Thought, the trucker hat and mirrored shades seemed a bit strange. Heero supposed Trowa was an actually celebrity trying to hide his identity rather than a fashion victim wearing a tacky trucker hat and shades because he did not understand celebrities only wore those things to hide and not because they had been at all kewl before the celebrity put them on.

Trowa dropped to the couch between Heero and Quatre. He took off the hat and shades and tossed them the other side of Quatre. "You look good," Quatre said to him. He sounded like someone's submissive boyfriend to Heero, though he did not really think of Quatre as a submissive type.

"I just picked up this shirt from some mall on the way here," Trowa said, "I kinda like it. I think it will work really well for Dias de Los Muertes."

Heero turned his head and looked. There were little skulls in the patterned fabric. Duo might look good in a shirt like that. Heero was only good at picking out solid colored garments and simple things like jeans and tees, even if Duo did call him fashion plate. Heero thought he might really envy Trowa's ability to look well dressed without effort.

Trowa twisted and reached across Quatre's lap to take the remote from the indent in the cushion beside Quatre's left hip. It seemed strange, and Heero realized this was because Trowa was left-handed and could have reached for the remote very easily without twisting or giving away his motivation, but then, he would not have been able to lean close to Quatre and come so close to kissing him without doing so if he had done the efficient thing. This meant Trowa was getting quite confident in his flirting and quite obvious in his attraction to Quatre.

"Um, that's coming up in October, right? What will you be doing for Dias De Los Muertes?"

"Duty maybe. Duo begged off though. Got off too." Trowa lifted the remote to select a new movie. There seemed a wide selection of channels as well as devices loaded with discs to choose from. "I think Bell likes him. I mean, nothing inappropriate, it's just he's been extra hard on Duo in training and on missions. I think Duo thinks Bell has it out for him, but I am pretty sure he approves of Duo in every way and just want to help him stay sharp. He approved Duo's leave for Halloween."

"They can't expect you to work if your partner has leave. Let's go to Mexico," Quatre suggested.


"Not this movie, Trowa! Sleepy Hollow! From Hell. I'll even watch Edward Scissorhands."

Trowa turned to Heero. "Have you ever seen this movie?"

"Only movies with space pirates."

"Heero hasn't seen it, Kat. You want to show him some hospitality."

Heero had not seen those other movies either, but he was not going to get between them any more than he was.

"Where is our partner?"

"With his machine."

"Does that just piss you off?"

Heero did not answer. He did not understand why everyone seemed to think it good revenge when Duo spent time with a machine instead of him.

"You can sit closer then. Duo's not here to act weird about it." Trowa got up, and took the remote, to go to the kitchen behind them. Heero scooted to his left so he would be closer when Trowa took his seat again. Duo could get jealous, but Heero was certain they had worked out that Trowa was interested in Quatre only.

"Is this a really bad movie?" Heero whispered to Quatre.

"No, it's good, it's just we've seen it before."

Heero nodded, but he did not really understand any better why Quatre had protested Trowa's choice.

Trowa returned to the couch with a bowl of buttery popcorn and sat between Heero and Quatre to watch the movie.

When Duo showed, Trowa's pirate movie was probably halfway through. He stood for a while, looking at the screen, then sat down between Heero and Adin. He grinned at Heero, but that was the only special greeting he got. Duo then scooted closer to Adin and they began whispering to each other.

Duo had changed his clothes. Skirt, snug black shirt with a cross on one sleeve. His hair was only half braided so that it made a sort of bushy tail over the lower part of his back.

Trowa's left hand offered popcorn. Heero lifted his fingers to his mouth and took the popcorn. "Thanks, but I was not seeking to manipulate him."

Duo turned, hearing some key phrase, maybe `him'. He crawled over the cushions on hands and knees and smiled wickedly at Trowa. "Hey, partner, long time no see. Nice shirt."

"I'll let you borrow it for school one day if you are good, but I need it back before you go on leave at the end of the month."

"kewl." Duo turned his head and nipped Heero's right earlobe. Heero reached his right hand to the side, felt for Duo's leg and then ran his hand up Duo's thigh, over the skirt, and cupped his ass. "Hey lover," Duo whispered, "sorry I was gone so long." He shifted slightly, waited for Heero to notice, and received the kiss when Heero tipped his head to give it.

"It's like a free show," Sally said over the top of her manga.

"And I know the kinds of shows you like to watch!" Duo said. He lowered his voice again. "Ne, Heero, can I make out with Adin? If you let me, I'll let you kiss Trowa. I'll let you kiss Trowa and Quatre both."

There seemed so many things wrong with that request. Heero withdrew his right hand to his lap. "I just kissed you and you are asking if you can do it with someone else?"

Duo laughed nervously. "well, I was on my way over to ask before I kissed you."

"And you were not convinced to forget it?"

"But you could watch. It is not like cheating if you watch and say it's OK. Lots of guys would like to see their boyfriend make out with some pretty boy. I still go home with you."

"And... what... Duo... what even makes you think Trowa or Quatre would want to do it if I even wanted to?"

"Shit. You had to make this come up?" Trowa asked Duo.

"Baby, `cause Kat and Tro are like lots of guys and I know they'd like to feel you up a bit and..."

"Duo, you ass, you have to make it sound like we are out to get him! It is not like I have your boyfriend out of his clothes and am asking you which end you want!" Trowa was quickly gaining a peculiar Earth-baby accent. "I only said that hypothetically if Heero actually wanted to do it that I would not be opposed and I am pretty sure Quatre was the same, but `not being opposed' is not the same as wanting to do it!"

"Duo," Quatre said, all diplomacy, "just because Trowa or I may have confided certain moral positions we take that does not mean that we do not also respect the morals and opinions of our friends. We would not offer it...except if we were joking... unless we really thought Heero was interested in things like that, and he really does not seem to be interested, Duo."

Heero rubbed his temples. "I think I am really going to have an aneurism," he groaned.

"Baby, I won't do it if you say no, but it should be OK to ask! It is not like I was suggesting we all have a circle jerk!"

Trowa sighed rather melodramatically.

"Man, I was just asking. You had net access from a young age and no parental controls! You must know how it is, even if you didn't do these things! I'm not a freak. Lot of people would want to do such things. Even circle jerks are normal!"

"For whom?" Heero asked.

"Mutual masturbation is just sex without actual contact. It's still sex. Maybe it is normal or innocent until some young age, like thirteen, but then it is just a way to have sex," Trowa said, obviously irritated. He sighed, "But technically you could be a virgin if you never had contact with the other person, and no kind of sex is wrong or cheating unless you already had rules or a relationship with someone to forbid such things... but I am sure you and Heero do have rules, so it is just mean to drag us into this as if we want Heero to break the rules."

"Well it would not be breaking rules if Heero changed the rules! Heero, you do not have to change the rules, but I just want you to know, that if you wanted to, I would not mind letting you make out with Quatre and Trowa, so long as it did not lead to ejaculation, because I would not want them to break their rules about that, but then it would only be fair that I get to make out with someone else, too, right? And you three did look so cozy when I came in here."

"OK. Let's see it!"


"You want to make out with someone else? OK. Let's see, then!"

Sally laughed. "Heero is rather like Hermione."

Trowa laughed.


"Heero is like Hermione, because everyone thinks they are the perfect smart one, but they are really sensitive and upset when their intended says stupid things. And Duo is like Ron, because most people think he is the joker, but he is really a brave and loyal fellow, who is possessed of some strategic ability."

"Can I be Harry?" Quatre asked.

"I have green eyes like book Harry," Trowa said, "You can be Draco. You are the rich one."

"Just because I am blond? I want to be Harry? It was really traumatic when my parent's died!"

"And it was not traumatic when my parents got blown up?"

"But I am better friends with Ron!"

"All right! I am Draco! I hate you, Potter!"

"You are just saying that to cover your true feelings!"

"Right, Potter. I am not really mean, I just need to be loved... repeatedly and very hard!"

"Where did I put my wand?"

Sally laughed loudly and dropped her book. There was not a child in the world who did not know who Harry Potter was, and even Heero knew some of the other characters. It really looked like Sally was reading a book about Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Heero had heard she was in that category of girls who randomly paired anime characters, especially if they were in shonen anime and not really meant to be paired with anyone.

"Man, you're irritating. I knew this one was some yaoi fangirl, but you two are such movie slashers!"

Quatre stopped laughing and sighed. "It is really mostly Trowa."

"There is nothing wrong with it! It is not like I do some geeky thing like write stories about it or digitally manipulate captured movie stills to illustrate them. I just think certain movies are more entertaining to watch if you pretend that certain characters are getting it on between the jump cuts and fades to black."

"Uh huh. Which one of you gets to be Jack tonight, then?"

"What the fuck do you care? You were about to make out with Neville and you changed the subject!"

Duo sat back on his heels and pouted. "You were really going to let me do it?"

"Well, I do not think I was going to like it, but I wanted to see if you really would go through with it."

"Why am I Neville?" Adin asked.

"Neville's actually a really kewl character!" Quatre said. "We can watch all my HP movies tomorrow!"

"I thought the later ones were more interesting."

"Many of them had different directors," Trowa said.

"Hey, maybe Adin can make out with Trowa or Quatre and we can just watch!"

"Why should they make out?" Heero asked.

"Well, you didn't want to do it, right?"

"No," Heero said. "I am going to bed." He got up and walked quickly to the wall and slid it open. He did not think he had really wanted to make out with one of his friends, but maybe for a second he had felt cheated. He had dared to give Duo the permission, and then nothing had happened. Nothing at all.

Maybe he had wanted something to happen, but he was not really sure about it.

on to chapter 98

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