Another Version of Events
by Karan Seraph
Heero woke, sitting up and wishing he had a gun as a voice shouted, "Incoming!" He scanned the room. Nothing was obviously out of the ordinary. "Incoming!" A recording?
"Aw, who the fuck is calling me this early?" Duo grumbled from beneath the bright red sheets.
Heero let his mind and body relax. It was just a sound file that Duo had set to play when he had a phone call. Incoming, it made sense in a demented way. That recorded voice screamed the word.
Heero got out of bed as the phone continued to ring. He could see that Duo wasn't moving.
"Find my pills!" Duo called.
Heero cringed, concerned that Duo was hurt because of him. He found Duo's phone on the table near the couch shaped like a pair of lips, checked that the blind was on, fit it to his head then lifted a hand to the controls outside the earpiece to receive. "Maxwell's Phone."
"Allo. Heero?" Heero knew this voice.
"I will get Duo for you."
"Actually, I was looking for you and going through Duo seemed the best idea."
"Me? What is up?" There were only a few people and subjects that Heero thought Adin might contact him about.
"We got your message. I don't want to be rude. Is Duo there? Can you tell him I said Hello or tell me how he is?"
Heero looked through Duo's bags and found several pill bottles. Heero read the labels as he called to Duo, "Adin says Hi."
"Tell 'im 'e's a Bastard for waking me up!"
Herbal anti-depressent daily. Painkiller as needed. Muscle relaxant as needed. Heero pretended not to have found the anti-depressant, though Duo knew Heero knew he was taking at least one controlled substance by prescription because Heero had seen him pick it up from Tang's.
"Duo says Hello too," Heero told Adin as he walked toward Duo with the two small bottles. "He's still feeling some pain from his injuries so he's in bed right now."
"I hope he feels better soon. A lot of people were worried about him. We even heard rumors that he died and they called a school assembly mainly to deny it."
"That's interesting. Is that why you called?" Heero put the pills on the nightstand.
"Relena?" Heero sat down on the side of the bed.
Duo lifted the covers from his head. "Is Relena OK?"
"Is she OK?" Heero related.
"Nyet. Honestly, she's crying."
"Heero, what's going on?" Duo asked, twisting around as he did, no longer groggy and...
"Heero! Brain damage much?" Duo called, waving a hand before Heero's face. His hair looked so different... amazing. The spiky locks falling into his face were just the same but all the rest had turned to soft brown waves and curls, highlighted in gold, and falling to his waist... here and there a tight spiral fell from beneath the rest... one danced before Duo's right nipple.
"Sorry... I... Adin, tell me what is happening with Relena."
"Well, she's been so busy since Tuesday and I don't know if it has anything to do with what happened then, because she seemed only as upset as anyone else on Wednesday. But then she came home..."
Duo was touching his hair, realizing it was what had distracted Heero. He lifted his hands to begin a braid. Heero smacked Duo's right hand, lightly. Duo glared.
"...in the middle of the day Yesterday. Pagan brought her in. She wasn't normal, like she was in shock or something. Pagan didn't talk to me at first. I tried to talk to Relena. She just ended up crying. I don't know what to do, Heero. After that she didn't let Pagan come into her room. She lets me, all I could do was make sure she didn't hurt herself. I tried asking Pagan and he said he thinks she saw something that upset her at work, but it could have been anything. Pagan called her brother. But, Relena hasn't returned the message her brother sent."
Heero forced himself to be objective. Something at work caused an emotional response in Relena. She did not trust Pagan to help her. Her brother would be concerned. That was one of the things he and Heero had long had in common, concern for Relena. Unfortunately he was on Mars and the delay in communications prevented real-time conversation. It was more than the voodoo that kept Earth-Colony communications functioning could handle. "Did Relena view Milliard's message?"
"Well, it played in the room."
"You saw it?"
"Da," Adin answered.
Duo was looking impatient. Heero kissed his fingers and then touched Duo's lips. "What did Milliard say?"
"Just some stuff about how it was natural to be upset now and that he was willing to listen to her problems and that it was acceptable that she take time for herself. He thought she was over-worked I think."
"And she won't tell you what is wrong?"
"She doesn't really talk much. Maybe if I knew the questions to ask... she could tell me if I was close at guessing. I know that I know her, but I know her the way you know friends I guess. There are things about her past that I don't really know except for what they teach in school. I thought Duo would know what to say. I asked her if she would tell Duo. She said your name, Heero. She said she wanted to see you."
"Is she there? Will she talk to me on the phone?"
"Well, she's asleep. Do you think I should wake her. I couldn't get her to go to sleep until just now."
"Nyet. Let her sleep. Did she actually say I should come there?"
"I would like to help her, but I will have to get permission to leave. You are at Relena's house then?"
"I will call back when I can. If she wakes up, tell her I am on my way but it will take a long time. Tell her to call me if she can. Maybe you could ask someone who would be closer? Une perhaps."
"You mean Lady, the Director? Relena doesn't want to see her."
"Who else does she not want to see?" Heero asked, thinking that Adin should have given him all data from the start.
"Well, I gather quite a list of people, including Pagan and her mother and Mariemaia, and Dorothy."
"And Duo, did she say she did not want to see him?"
"Nyet, only when I mentioned him she said she wanted you to come see her. So, maybe if Duo could come and you are busy he could help. She might at least let him in to see her."
"We will see what we can do. Thank you for calling, Adin."
"I hope I did not disturb you. I had to try to help her."
"Nichivó. Spasíba, Adin." Heero removed the phone from his hair and set it on the nightstand.
"You could have spoken more than every fifth word in English. Adin does speak English."
"Most people do," Heero said automatically, sharply. "We did not get much sleep. I was on auto-pilot. I need to get dressed and find Sally. Adin says Relena is crying and perhaps in some state like shock and she refuses to see many of the people who ordinarily would be there to help her. She asked to see me."
"I can pack our stuff while you find Sally..."
"You don't have to come."
Duo glared. "Relena is my friend too, I'm..."
Heero sighed. He refused to argue anything with Duo, though it would have been easy, with lack of sleep and Duo's generally volatile nature. "I know. You have probably been a better friend to her. That does not change the fact that Relena is hurting and she asked me to come. I could not be a good friend if I refused. I know that Relena would not ask for me to come if she did not need me."
"Now," Heero added.
"Oh, I know. It was still funny to me, you rushing off to help Relena."
Heero nodded. He got up from the bed again and found the clothing Duo had washed on the couch. It was just some leggings, because they wore easier than jeans when one knew they would be getting in and out of flightsuits, and a tank top. Duo sat on the white and gold armchair and began typing at his own Preventer Issue mobile computer as Heero was zipping up his boots.
Duo grabbed some clothes as he was working, on checking the security of a line, it seemed. He pulled on some underwear and then a navy tank top that was one part of his uniform. He grinned then, still pulling down his shirt. "Sally!"
Heero could hear the audio as he was packing up his gear. "Is there a problem, Duo? It's not a good time if you're just looking for hair advice."
Duo scowled. "Heero needs a transfer if not leave."
"Reason, lieutenant?" Sally asked sleepily.
Another grin. "Well, we'd appreciate you keeping this information secure, it's not directly Preventer business, but we just heard that Relena isn't well... and especially now... if people see their favorite government official is absent that they won't feel confident about going on with business as usual... if she's not. She asked for him... of course."
"We got an alert, but the source said she didn't want to see anyone and that interfering too early could fan the flames."
Duo laughed, "Yeah, well, I doubt this fire will burn itself out without a little help, Colonel," Duo said, continuing Sally's pet code, "And my source still has access to her chambers and says she's asking for Heero."
"I'll transfer him to The Director's staff, it will be her call if he goes back to Reserves or has another official assignment. We have enough reinforcements here now that it won't be a problem if Heero leaves. Let me talk to him."
Duo made a flourish toward the machine and then hopped around the table.
Heero sat down before the lens. Sally was half dressed herself and her hair was in waves. "Colonel?"
"Duo's report is accurate?"
"The transfer's already complete. I can take care of Mimai and the roster. Thank you for everything you did here."
"But not easy. I want you to take care of another duty for me. I have a couple of pieces of cargo that absolutely must be received safely in the Capitol."
Heero had guesses what this cargo was and he didn't like either duty especially. "I understand."
"It's better they leave here unannounced in your shuttle than in one of our vehicles."
"That would be most secure," Heero agreed. "Duo plans on coming with me."
"I see. Well, if the Director has no objections then I cannot keep the lieutenant here for any reason."
Duo was looking at Heero angrily as he pulled on his pants, but then clearly he had not guessed what the cargo was.
"Any assistance with launch clearance from this area would be appreciated."
"I'll take care of it," Sally said. "Do you need refueling?"
"I have fuel for a long flight back," Heero replied. Naturally less fuel burned up accelerating meant the same distance was covered in a longer amount of time. How much fuel could be used accelerating depended on how much would be needed in reserve for emergency course alterations and decelerating. "I could make best time with replenished SRBs, but only if they were available immediately, otherwise, filling the main tanks completely will give me the best time." Heero knew the amount in his reserve tanks and that should be what he needed to break or change course with the payload estimated, so burning up much of the main tanks accelerating would be acceptable.
"I'll send one of our teams to refuel. Meet you there in one hour?"
"And our cargo?"
"Your shuttle is secured in some way?"
"I programmed in a valet passcode, it's my badge number presently."
"Then I'll take care of the one, if you pick up the other from Trowa."
"She is with Trowa?" Heero asked, more a question to himself.
Sally seemed to understand. "An hour from now?"
"Confirmed, one hour."
"Who's with Trowa?" Duo asked as Heero disconnected.
Heero forced a smile. He stood and walked to Duo who looked at him expectantly. Heero rose onto tip-toes and kissed Duo briefly. "Duo, I have to take Mariemaia and the... Gibson with me. Do you still want to come along?"
Duo laughed. For now, Heero was glad Duo's defense mechanisms were intact. "It's only right I escort him home."
"Then report what you must to Lady Une and pack everything that is yours. We meet Sally at my shuttle in 59 minutes."
Heero went about packing the rest of his things and cleaning up the room in effort to leave no trace of his presence. All Duo had to do to leave was leave a message for Une and say, "It's Duo, I need to be in the Capitol now. I'm leaving X18999."
They collected their things and taking Koi along went to Trowa's room, which was only next door, Duo informed Heero.
Heero knocked at the door, knowing it was very early. He listened for signs of movement within. Nothing.
"Maybe they tired themselves out?" Duo said with lecherous grin.
"I doubt that," Heero whispered. He lifted his hand to knock again and the door opened before he could touch it. Trowa was there, already dressed at this early hour in sleeveless black button down shirt and over-dyed jeans.
He glanced at Heero quickly before his eyes settled on Duo. "Hello, Pretty Pretty," Trowa said in a strange accent.
"Hello," Duo said, "Thank you very much."
"Do you want to come and play with me? For someone like you, I charge nothing," Trowa said in that same accent, entirely confusing Heero. "You are so very pretty, Pretty Pretty."
"My name isn't Pretty Pretty, it's Duo!"
Trowa laughed, "Really, Heero, all that noise, I thought you must be doing it the old fashioned way, but I guess not," Trowa said, returning to his own voice, but still confusing Heero. Trowa's fingers pulled at Duo's curls.
Duo laughed. He seemed to actually be blushing slightly. The color of his face was slightly off its normal pallor.
"Trowa, I am here to collect Mariemaia. I am leaving for Z00001 and Sally has requested I take Mariemaia home."
"She's not here," Trowa said.
"Trowa, let them in," Quatre called.
"Sally said Mariemaia was with you, Trowa," Heero said as Trowa stepped back to open the door. The room really did look strange.
There was no bed, except for a large padded area on the floor with many draperies around it. Otherwise the furnishings were made to resemble dark ornately carved wood and the walls, floor and ceiling simulated stone and were decorated in oriental carpets and tapestry. Quatre was kneeling on the floor on a small carpet. Actually, Heero suspected it might be a prayer mat.
"Are you leaving immediately?" Quatre asked. "Mariemaia was here with us, but she woke up in the middle of the night and I took her to Dorothy's room to sleep. Her things are here; she will need to get them if she is to leave."
Heero considered this. "Where is Dorothy's room? Mariemaia needs to be prepared to leave as soon as possible. We have 48 minutes."
"It is important we get back, but we can delay launch if we really have to," Duo said.
Heero disagreed. He wanted to get things done as soon as possible. Quatre must have seen this. "I will get her," Quatre offered. He rose from the floor and rolled the mat.
"Thanks," Heero said. "Quatre, one of us should tell her, we'll be taking Gibson's body with us. It will be in cargo, but there's a chance she might see it loading or unloading. She should be prepared."
"I will tell her," Quatre said. "I think it looks pretty, Duo," Quatre said as he passed by.
Duo groaned. "I didn't even want Sally and them to see."
"Fine. Braid it." Heero shrugged.
Duo reached back and began to braid his hair. He was only doing one loose braid, but Heero suspected there was some telekinesis involved. Duo's fingers were no doubt practiced at gathering and smoothing and switching strands of hair, but the process went too fast and too perfectly Heero thought.
"Duo," Trowa said, "seriously, did you think I was kidding yesterday or were you just being rude?"
"What are you talking about?" Duo asked casually.
"Worshiping Heero on the altar of your bed?"
Duo did his nervous laugh. "Cheap hotel, not enough sound proofing!"
"All teasing we do in private aside, I've lived in close quarters before, I would just pretend not to know, except I wasn't alone. You woke up Maia, Duo."
"Why is it all my fault?" Duo asked, "It's a free nation!"
"It's just manners, Duo! Quatre took Maia a couple doors down, but you do understand why right now she doesn't need to hear any adults screaming about anything? And, then Quatre was here... so I'm supposed to act like a fool pretending I can't hear everything... and...!"
"Well maybe if you...!" Duo started.
Heero put his hand over Duo's mouth and glared at Trowa. "Now, who is disturbing others in the building?" Heero asked. "Trowa, it was my fault. I let Duo do it. I apologize. I really did not even consider the possibility of anyone overhearing. I see now that I should have planned for that possibility. Thank you for bringing the problem to my attention. I will take more care in the future."
"Whatever," Trowa sighed, "If it works for you... but you might consider a gag when you don't know you are in an isolated or soundproofed environment."
Duo was licking at Heero's hand.
Heero removed his hand and wiped it on Duo's jacket. "Duo, don't argue with Trowa. He was concerned for others. Weren't you, Trowa? You were just going to tell me something when you stopped."
"He'll be back soon and then Mariemaia will be here."
"I think Quatre can sense a whole lot from you, maybe both of you, and especially when you are close, I mean, close to him in physical distance. It was annoying enough for me to try to get to sleep or with Duo saying his prayers, but Quatre..."
Duo laughed. "What about Quatre?"
"Well, even if I could have fallen asleep with the music coming through the headphones loud enough to drown you out, the way Quatre was tossing about would have kept me awake."
Duo chuckled. "Quatre keeping you up at night is not new, Trowa, like I was saying when Heero stopped me..." Duo dodged Heero's attempt to grab him and hopped to regain balance. "There would be no problem if you and Quatre would just screw each other."
"That's brilliant, Maxwell," Trowa said sarcastically.
Heero growled his annoyance.
"Heero, I know we're all friends and we each confide some things in you, but trust me, stay out of this," Duo told him.
"It's not your business either," Heero whispered.
"Oh, yes it is. It's an old argument between Trowa and I. Isn't it, Trowa?"
Trowa made a slight nod.
Heero growled and turned his back.
"You should have done it already," Duo said, thankfully whispering.
"I don't think I need to be taking advice on relationships from you, Maxwell. Don't make me get into it in front of Heero."
"Heero knows everything he needs to know about me, Trowa, you don't need to protect him from me. Heero can make his own decisions."
"Yeah, well so can we!"
Duo made some annoyed wordless sound. "You were right, OK. You were right."
"What's that, Duo?"
"You were right, OK? My way was wrong with Heero. But, that doesn't mean I'm wrong about you and Quatre. I'm telling you, I'm right about him. I swear."
"Why do you think that sex is the solution to everything?"
"Why do you think it's so horrible? Fuck it, Trowa, have issues for all I care, have a subscription while you're at it, but I am telling you that having sex with Quatre would be the right thing for you. I'm not fuckin' telling you to be casual. You can marry him for all I care. It's Quatre we're talking about. I think I've had some opportunity to see how you two act around each other. He won't screw you over, Trowa. But, he's not going to make the first move either."
"He tell you that?"
"If Quatre had told me anything about you it would be in confidence and I couldn't very well repeat it to you!"
"How long have you two been having this argument about whether you should or should not have sex with Quatre and myself?" Heero asked.
"Two years?" Duo asked.
"A little over two years," Trowa corrected.
Heero turned again to face them both. "You have been having this argument with each other since we were on Peacemillion," Heero stated flatly.
"Yeah," Duo admitted. "Mainly about Quatre. Sometimes about you, though."
"You told Duo to not have sex with me?" Heero asked.
"I told him not to mess with you and just have sex. I told him I didn't think you were homosexual and that even if you were, you didn't seem casual and he'd loose you as a friend if he tried to have sex with you before you both had some kind of serious relationship. Yeah, basically I said not to begin with just sex."
"You told Trowa to have sex with Quatre?"
"Yeah, I guess," Duo admitted.
"Two years ago?"
"OK!" Duo said loudly, "I admit I was less sure of myself about whether I was right..."
"Damn straight! He wasn't even legal! What if his family found out? Even if you'd been right about him on one level, everything would have been screwed up if his family found out!" Trowa said loudly.
Duo laughed, "Yeah, yeah, I know, but, I think I know some tings about Quatre that you two might not. And, he's pretty mature for his age, right? I mean, yeah, he didn't look mature, but mentally and emotionally he was pretty strong. The ZERO system could have messed anyone up. Any normal person, that is," Duo said slyly.
"But, even if I was wrong then, which we'll never know, I'm right now. Quatre's more than legal. His sisters can't really say anything about what he does. And, he obviously wants you, Trowa. So, the only thing stopping you really, is you."
"Did you tell him the story about the ice cream?" Heero asked quietly.
Duo laughed loudly.
"What ice cream?" Trowa asked.
Heero switched subjects. "If I heard that Duo told you to have sex with Quatre two years ago I think I wouldn't have known how to answer, or if I did know much about sex, I probably would have guessed it was inappropriate or statistically deviant for young men of that age, but I have to admit, it doesn't seem like a very bad idea to me now."
"Well, I know how you feel. I'm not going to say in front of Duo, but I do know. I don't think it would be wrong. I can even see how Quatre would want to do it, so long as he was certain you wanted to. So, it is just you, Trowa. Right? But, if you aren't ready... if you still have reservations about whether you can do it with anyone... then I suppose you should wait."
"Then he agrees with me. None of your shock therapy," Trowa told Duo.
"I can tell how Trowa feels," Duo assured them both, "He's obviously been affected by some past relationship and doesn't want Quatre to have the chance to reject him or leave him. Well, I'm still saying, he ought to just have sex with Quatre. Keeping Quatre on that pedestal is just cold. I mean, you ever think that maybe Quatre wants to be taken down and played with? Plus... it's Quatre! He's completely sensitive and honorable. If he agrees to have sex with you then he will not hurt you."
"And he will agree!"
The door opened.
Quatre and Mariemaia came into the room. "Everything OK?" Quatre asked.
"Did Quatre tell you that you will be leaving, Mariemaia?" Heero asked.
"Yes, he said that Sally and My Une want me to go home in your shuttle and that we need to take Gibson's body home so we can have a service for him."
"Is that all right with you?" Heero asked, "We do not have a lot of time. I need to get back quickly for my own reasons. But, I do not want to rush you. Your things seem to be here. Do you need anything else before we leave? Do you have a space suit that fits you here?"
Mariemaia walked slowly to a pile of luggage near the dresser. She unzipped a soft bag with shoulder strap. "It's here. I can carry it myself. I packed it up properly after it was cleaned and checked after coming to this building."
"Very good." That was just the sort of drill Colonial children were taught, to check a suit, to clean it, be able to pack it, to have a bag for it and their helmet that they could carry on their own and to know where that bag was kept. "Do you need help carrying these other things? We will need to be in suits to get to the shuttle, it's in a small bay and the outer doors will have been opened recently for fueling and loading."
"I can put it on over these clothes if it is a short trip." She meant it wasn't a more expensive flight suit that some professionals wore and which were not pressurized but kept the body compressed with a customized fit and strong elastic fibers that allowed movement. Mariemaia had a pressurized space suit, likely fit with water supply and more elaborate temperature controls and system for waste disposal. Those were good for long trips, but would be worn over skin in that case. They were better for children, because they didn't have to be custom fit and allowed for some growth.
"All right. It should be very secure once we are on The Zero. I will keep us out of danger, but I will show you where all the emergency pods are when we get there."
"That is the recommended procedure when traveling with children in a new vehicle."
"Yes, it is," Heero agreed.
Mariemaia went about dressing and packing the few things she had brought from Dorothy's room, so Heero turned away from her to give her some privacy, without leaving her, should she call for help. He saw Trowa was laying back on the 'bed' with earphones on while Duo and Quatre were speaking to each other in whispers.
Heero shook his head. If Quatre took charge those three would work or play well together, but Duo and Trowa were each likely to try to monopolize Quatre's time or to gossip about the other to Quatre. In a few minutes Mariemaia was ready. Heero picked up the luggage Mariemaia could not carry and Duo and Koi followed as Heero called to them.
Sally was suited up and outside the Zero when they arrived, having stopped in the tent to pick up the suits Heero and Koi had left and to let Duo change. Sally handed Heero a pad with the logged flight plan and told him that everything was ready for launch.
Heero thanked Sally and then let the others inside. Heero watched that Sally left the bay then went into his shuttle and sealed the hatch. Duo and Mariemaia were just removing helmets. Heero removed Koi's helmet then.
"You want to take care of the launch, Duo?" Heero asked as he removed his own helmet.
"Sure! Haven't piloted one of these models in a while, I could check it out."
Heero smiled. "Well, I trust you. Just tell them you're co-pilot when you talk to control, OK?"
"Right!" Duo walked quickly to the cockpit, his walking stick aiding him. Heero thought that Duo would feel hurt when they got back to normal gravity.
Mariemaia was removing her space suit.
"I stow the suits here, mid section of the passenger cabin," Heero said, pointing out the lockers. He showed Mariemaia where the waterless closet, emergency pods and bunks were. "If you didn't sleep well last night, you can get some rest. We wouldn't disturb you," Heero said.
Mariemaia closed the compartment where she had stowed her luggage and looked up at Heero. "I had a nightmare."
"Oh. Trowa did not say that. He just said you woke up... and moved to Dorothy's room."
"I had a bad nightmare that Duo and Gibson were in trouble and the were shouting for me to help them... and I couldn't help them."
"Sometimes our subconscious or even conscious fears manifest as dreams," Heero said.
"Quatre said Duo has nightmares. When I woke up, I got scared, because it sounded like Duo was shouting for real... I didn't know if I was awake or not. Quatre was there then and he said I should go with him, so I did, right away, because I thought there was danger. But when I asked if Duo needed help, Quatre said maybe he was having a nightmare too."
"Quatre said that?"
"I think Quatre lied."
"I asked Dorothy if you could really sleep in the same room with Duo and not wake him. If he has nightmares. I heard some people don't want to wake sleepwalkers, but I don't like to stay in a nightmare. I think you should wake people up. Dorothy said maybe Duo wasn't having a nightmare, but that she couldn't tell me why he would be shouting and she gave me that 'adult world' speech. I hate that speech."
"Well, it must be difficult for you. I mean, to be young but to have had some experiences that were very adult. I think I was like that when I was younger."
"Did someone give you that speech? Didn't you live with one of those scientists?"
"Yes, I did live with Doctor J. He told me some adult things, but other things no one told me about at all, and I had to learn them on my own when I got older."
"Duo didn't have a nightmare?"
"No. Not last night. But when he does, I wake him up and tell him that he is safe."
"He was shouting for real? It wasn't just my dream?"
Heero growled quietly. "Let's sit down. Duo will have us launching soon. Even from a bay, without a catapult it should go smoothly if Duo is piloting, but it will be better if we are strapped in, at least during acceleration."
Mariemaia walked to the chairs that faced the cockpit door and sat down in one. Heero left one seat empty and then sat in a third. He called to Koi then. "Koi, in the box. Box, Koi."
Koi jogged to the padded carrier Heero had secured within the cabin and ducked inside through the small door.
There was quiet.
"Sometimes real stimuli reach our subconscious in our sleep and we interpret it as dreams. You probably heard Duo and recently you had known he was in trouble, so you had a dream about that, but it was just a dream. He was very safe. I regret that you were disturbed. It won't happen again."
"It was an adult thing?" Mariemaia sighed.
"You could say that."
Mariemaia fastened her harness. "Was it sex?"
"Sex?" Heero fastened his own harness.
"Well... sometimes.. .I am at Headquarters and I go into the rec area and the agents are watching some television and I see what they are watching and they say it's got a rating that I am not allowed to view or that there's sex. I think sometimes people on TV shout when they have sex. And, they say the words I'm not supposed to. Like Duo."
She had heard a lot. What was Heero supposed to say? She was nine!
"Does it hurt?" Mariemaia asked.
"Did Une or someone talk to you before? About when people have boyfriends or girlfriends or when adults live together or get married or have children?"
"Not exactly, I just know."
"What do you know?"
"About when people like each other and go on dates and that some people are married and some people have kids and some people like girls and some like boys."
"Right. And, did someone tell you about... children? Reproduction?" Heero asked.
"I took Level 1 Sexual Education this year. My lowest level courses are level 5 and you have to be at least level 5 to take that. I didn't do really well in that class. I'm not good at science."
"Not good at science?" Heero asked, wondering how anyone could not understand science.
"I am better at history," Mariemaia said, sounding comfortable with talking about school now. We had to learn all these words, like 'ova' and 'zygote' and 'natural born' and 'engineered birth' and I just get confused."
"Aa, well, so you know the process of a child being 'natural born' then?"
"It only happens with one man and one woman. I think it has something to do with sex organs," Mariemaia confessed in a whisper.
"Right. 'Having sex' is the thing that involves the sex organs, sometimes it results in conception of children, sometimes not. So, you already know then?"
"Yes. You just put together what you know about 'having sex' with what you know about relationships between people and that's basically the information you need to know. Two people... adults... both are attracted to each other and both consent... that's important..."
"That means agree?"
"Right. They have to both agree. That's important. It's not called 'having sex' if they do not both agree. It's some else then, bad. Did someone talk to you about that? About strangers approaching you on-line or in real life and what is appropriate for people to tell you to do?"
"I only accept messages from addys I already know and I am not often in public without a chaperone. Une says some people might want to hurt me because they will not understand how my grandfather was confused and told me to do wrong things."
"Right. So, you should be smart and safe like that."
"So, are you and Duo boyfriends?"
"And you agreed to do the 'having sex'?"
"Yes, consented to have sex with each other, because we are adult and we have a relationship. You don't really need to worry about it. It's very normal and not bad or scary. Sometimes walls are thin and people overhear all sorts of actions that their neighbors do. It's best to just ignore it."
"But what if you really thought someone was being hurt? You should tell someone."
"Aa. You should tell someone, like an authority figure. They will find out if someone really is hurt."
"'Having sex' doesn't hurt?"
Heero growled. "Well, it is a physical activity. It's like playing sports, sort of. You could get a little hurt if you have bad form or did it accidentally, but, that is not the goal. It's not supposed to hurt."
"Why do people do the shouting then?"
Heero growled and Mariemaia moved away such as her harness would allow. "Because they are emotional," Heero said. He almost had said because it felt good, but he thought it best not to tempt Mariemaia to find out for herself. "People get emotional and they just shout. That's all. Sometimes it happens that way, sometimes not."
"Oh. That makes sense. I like how you talk to me, like Une does. Not like Dorothy or Quatre, like I am a child."
"Well, you are a child, but I think all people should have correct information. You do understand, I didn't really tell you very much you did not already know? I just helped you put it together correctly. It wouldn't be right for me to tell you the details. That would be inappropriate. But, I think it would also be wrong to let you go on believing very wrong information."
The shuttle moved and soon began to accelerate. Mariemaia seemed accustomed to the apparent high gravitational forces that pressed them during acceleration. Heero hardly felt it, though he registered the shift.
"What about nosebleeds?"
"E'?" Heero thought changes in pressure were more likely to cause nosebleeds than changes in gravity.
"In some shows, if a boy sees a pretty girl or sees her underwear or something, then his nose bleeds?"
"In some shows."
Heero laughed. "Did you ever think someone was cute?" Heero asked. He thought that was how young girls would say it. "Or like someone a lot?"
"Yes," Mariemaia giggled.
"Did hearts pop up around your head?"
"It's just how they demonstrate feelings in a visual medium. I guess nosebleeds are supposed to show that someone is really embarrassed or aroused..."
"What does 'aroused' mean?"
"Where can you find definitions of words used in a language?" Heero prompted.
"Yes. If you do not know a word, you should educate yourself about that word using a dictionary."
"Sex would be in the dictionary?"
"So, anyone could just read about it?"
"And encyclopedias or quotation databases?"
Heero smiled. "It has all been there all along for anyone who is intelligent enough to access the information and understand it."
"But you should ask Une about what you read. When I was young no one talked to me about these subjects and I only learned the technical information. I did not really learn how that information should be applied or used in life. It was difficult for me when I grew up, because no one had explained the social nuances and... do you understand?"
Mariemaia shook her head.
"Just, trust me. If you read about new things on your own, it will help you to talk to someone you trust about what you read. It will help you to assimilate the information more completely."
"Why aren't books rated?"
"Or, they are not age restricted. TV has age restrictions."
"Aa, and movies in theaters have age restrictions, but theatre shows do not. Art museums are not restricted."
"And they have naked people!"
"True. It is a complicated issue. Perhaps you could ask Une about it. She understands law and politics rather well."
"We are at a constant now," Heero said, "How are your zero g maneuvers?"
"I take classes."
"I would like to go check how Duo is doing. If you want to rest you can strap into a bunk. Don't worry about Koi. He might float around. He's still learning to move when we're without apparent gravity. If he seems very agitated just push him toward a wall or call for me to help him."
"OK." She smiled.
Heero released his harness and pressed his feet to the floor. He walked toward the cockpit door. Heero looked back over his shoulder. "If you need anything, just knock once and then come in."
Heero opened the door between cabin and cockpit, Duo hadn't locked it.
"Hey, Baby!" Duo said.
"That is my chair." Duo was in the pilot's seat. His hair was loose again and floating somewhat and his suit was peeled down to his waist. Heero walked to his side and looked over the controls.
Duo put an arm around Heero's legs. "We can share the chair."
"Hn." Heero made a few adjustments. "You should activate the proximity alarm when you are not actively controlling our course." Heero flipped the switch.
"If I'm going to be in one more collision, I don't want to know about it, I just want to die."
Heero wondered if Duo had taken his anti-depressants. He peeled his feet from the floor and let Duo pull him into his lap.
"I do love you in a flightsuit," Duo whispered, reaching for the seal that began at Heero's throat to open it. Heero couldn't really feel Duo's touch through the suit, any tactile stimulation would have to have a great force behind it in order for Heero to sense it through the layers of tubing and insulation. Still, he was aware of being in Duo's grasp and that was fairly exciting.
"Be a good pet, Duo-chan. Mariemaia is just past that door. We wouldn't want to disturb her."
"Then find something to put in my mouth."
Heero wanted to resist, but Duo had the front seal open and Heero could feel the roughly textured surface of the glove Duo still wore right through the fabric of his shirt. Heero's whole body twitched and jumped when he felt the glove pass over his left nipple. That slight movement provided force enough to send him flying away from Duo.
Heero twisted and grabbed Duo's shoulders. He pulled himself back down into Duo's lap, straddling his legs. Duo grinned at him. Heero frowned purposefully. "Really, Duo, she might need us." Even as he resisted Heero removed his gloves and then slipped his hands between Duo's suit and the shorts he wore beneath it.
"Who's all over who now?" Duo teased. "She won't have a clue, even if she sees..."
"Actually," Heero said, "She would have a very good idea what we were up to." Yet, he was the one leaning to press kisses to Duo's neck.
"Why?" Duo asked, not sounding very affected by the kisses.
"I told her about you and I."
"You heard," Heero said. He did not want Mariemaia to be disturbed, but at the same time, Heero was feeling more certain than ever before that he and Duo would stay together. He wanted very much to continue this relationship. Then, part of him felt it might end and that he better get everything he could from Duo before that time.
Just being near Duo made Heero want to be touching Duo.
He still had other priorities. He still desired work and challenges and could pilot the shuttle and remain concerned for Relena and Mariemaia, but when those things gave Heero a free moment, he wanted that moment filled by Duo.
"You are so very pretty, Pretty Pretty," Heero said as he combed fingers through Duo's hair.
"Mmmn, Barbarella needed to make love the modern way before her hair curled up."
"Some kind of drug induced psy sex."
"I do not use drugs recreationally," Heero stated.
"I try not to, but that wasn't what I meant," Duo sighed. "I just meant I don't like for just anyone to see my hair like this. I was so busy being worried with you that I let people see it and now they know and they'll tease me. It kinda makes me regret doing it."
"I think you look like an angel."
"Azrael maybe," Duo scoffed. Heero thought that was the Angel of Death.
"Sometimes I think you really do not understand how beautiful I think you are. I think that when you look at yourself you think that you must be feminine, or that some people will think so. Maybe some people teased you for having long hair in the past?"
"I can deal with androgynous..."
"I can deal with androgynous. But, Duo, when I look at you, you always seem very masculine to me. I don't know what angels would really look like if they do exist, but I have traveled, I have been inside museums and churches. There is an angel that usually wears armor. I think he is supposed to be a sort of Captain in heaven or a defender... Michael?"
"In paintings Michael has long curly hair, and he doesn't look like a woman at all. And this..." Heero raised Duo's hand, removed the glove and pointed out the badly chipped nail polish. "War paint."
"Yes. And it is only in modern times that men wear pants. I think it used to be considered masculine and sexy for them to wear garments like skirts. Easy access."
"I am all for easy access."
"I don't know exactly why you look different, but I like how you look. You seem very interesting and magical and beautiful. And you are also a good friend and very honorable and honest. I wanted you to know. I do like how you look and I really like the sex, but I believe I really do love you for more reasons than that."
"I love you too," Duo whispered.
Heero smiled. "I know that it took you time to be able to say it truthfully, but I know that you wanted to be honest. It feels good, knowing it must really be true now. Worth the wait. I really liked the sex."
"You like it a lot!"
"Yes," Heero agreed, "But I think feeling that we love each other makes it... hotter."
"I can't wait 'til you get me home!"
Home, with Duo. That sounded so good.