see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
+ Chapter 12
I woke abruptly and realized instantly what had awakened me. Heero was
shaking violently; his face tightly drawn.
"Bad dream?" I asked softly. He nodded silently and pressed more tightly
against me. I wondered which memory he'd just encountered. Obviously it
had been a bad one. "Let's go have that shower." I made my voice become
a little louder and teasing for the benefit of the bugs, making sure to
keep my eyes on his so that he'd realize I wasn't really dismissing his
dream that lightly, "Maybe we can make you forget all about that old nightmare,
He nodded slightly and answered in a tone that was flatter than I liked
to hear, "That sounds like a good idea."
By the time we got into the shower, Heero had the shaking under control.
And that didn't make me as happy as it should have. It was too much of
a sign of his usual behaviour returning. He waited until I had the shower
running before stepping close to me. Taking his cue from my actions this
morning, he spoke Japanese. Or rather, *mouthed* Japanese silently, taking
my own precautions earlier one step further. "An accident, a training
mission that went wrong..."
I winced. Okay, that was a bad one. There was only one training mission
that went wrong that I was aware of and that damn nightmare had the power
to make him shake like a leaf even under ordinary circumstances. It was
one of the few things that would leave him actively seeking contact with
another human being. I'd held him in its aftermath on more than one occasion
back during the war. Of course, after showing that much vulnerability
he would inevitably be even more closed off and cold for days afterwards.
"You've dreamt about that before. It always upsets you," I told him simply,
mouthing the words rather than vocalizing them. I slipped one arm around
his shoulders and gave him a reassuring hug, careful not to pull us too
closely together. I sure as hell wasn't ready to deal with those issues
again and I really doubted that Heero was either.
He shook his head and pulled away, turning his head to meet my eyes, making
sure that I could read his lips. "No. Not just that. I remember everything
up to that. Or - almost everything... It's hard to be sure. And after
that - there's still only disjointed fragments."
Ouch. No wonder he'd woken up shaking. Comparing that to a similar-sized
chunk of my own past - I might not know everything about Heero's past
but I did know that he hadn't had a true childhood anymore than I had
- getting it all at once like that would *not* be pleasant.
His brow wrinkled and his eyes narrowed in concentration, then he shook
his head again and rubbed his temples. "You know who I was?"
I nodded silently and mouthed in return, "01," grateful that we were able
to avoid speaking even in whispers. "I was 02."
Our identities as Gundam pilots had never been widely known and I hoped
to hell that Mattis wasn't aware of that detail even if he knew that we
were Preventers. I didn't think he was; he would have taken much more
aggressive action against us if he knew. Either that or cut his losses
and run like hell. Depending how brave he felt.
Well. Heero remembering as much as he had solved one dilemma for me. If
he remembered his training, or at least a large part of it, then I wouldn't
feel so bad about leaving him on his own to go explore the "unused" part
of the satellite. He would be perfectly capable of protecting himself.
Assuming that I gave him the contact info and so on in case he had to
get himself out alone.
Assuming that he was up to the party at all. I gave him a sharp look.
Heero was rubbing his head again; evidently he had another headache. Not
uncommon following concussion but still enough to make me a little concerned.
Though the returning memories were a good sign; the fastest improvement
in mild to moderate head injuries usually came within the first one to
six weeks afterwards. And he'd passed the magic forty-eight hour mark
without exhibiting any symptoms of more serious problems from the injury.
"You okay? No dizziness or nausea? Blurriness or double vision?" I asked
just to be on the safe side. I went ahead and spoke aloud this time; nothing
in that was inappropriate for our cover.
"Just the headache," he answered, dropping his hand away from his head
and meeting my eyes. "Nothing more severe."
"Okay." He probably knew the symptoms just as well as I did now that he
remembered at least part of his training. I went back to merely lipping
the words as I explained, "After the war we joined the Preventers, a peacekeeping
force." Just a *slight* oversimplification of the whole time between what
he remembered and now but it covered the pertinent points. "We're here
to verify that there's an illegal weapons manufacturing plant operating
in the unused part of the satellite. The party's being held in the right
spot to get into that area easily. It's almost too convenient but I don't
want to pass up the opportunity. If we go, I'll need you to cover for
me for oh, a good hour probably, while I check some things. You up to
it?" I undid my braid and started wetting my hair down as I "spoke". My
hair did *not* need to be washed again but I wanted to be sure our little
shower trip was convincing when we got out.
Heero hesitated long enough to make me wonder whether he had an objection,
then finally said, "Yes." He poured out some shampoo and moved behind
me to start on my hair. I realized with a certain amount of wry amusement
that we were both very carefully keeping our eyes at chest level or higher.
He worked the lather through my hair in silence for a few moments, then
whispered cautiously, "I don't know whether you should try that, Max.
It really does seem too convenient." I could tell that he was feeling
his way carefully, not sure whether I would accept his input or not.
I thought about it for a few minutes. What did it really matter if I *didn't*
try tonight? If it was an innocent coincidence I would have passed up
a good opportunity. But I could find a new one once our backup arrived.
And if it wasn't coincidence, if it was a trap, then me passing up the
chance might throw them off. Make them second-guess their suspicions.
This wasn't like during the war after all. We weren't operating on extremely
tight schedules. A few days longer on the mission would mean more weapons
potentially making it onto the market but they would still be a drop in
the ocean compared to the total output of this factory alone. Not worth
taking unnecessary chances over.
And where before there was some urgency because I wanted a bargaining
chip, some evidence squirrelled away in case we landed in trouble and
I needed something to trade to at least buy my amnesiac partner's safety,
I wasn't as concerned about that now. If he was even partially back to
normal, we'd stand at least as good a chance without that sort of thing.
And if, now that he had a portion of his training memories back, Heero
didn't think the reconnaissance mission was a good idea... Well, we were
damn good partners for a number of reasons and listening to and seriously
considering each other's opinions was one of the big ones. He was a little
more cautious than me and I was a little more creative than him. We each
had our strengths and weaknesses and we'd learned to balance each other
out. Heero might not remember that but I did.
I think Heero had decided I wasn't going to even answer him by the time
I finally did. I twisted around to face him and reverted to silently mouthing
the words. "Okay," I told him simply. "You're right. It's not worth the
risk. But I think we'd better go to the party anyway, at least for a while.
Skipping it completely would be too suspicious but if your head's still
bothering you it will give us an excuse to leave early."
I was pretty sure he sighed in relief before he said simply, "Okay." As
I turned back around and let him tilt my head to rinse the shampoo out
of my hair, I hoped that things *were* going to be okay. Hoped it - but
wasn't too sure it was very likely. There were just too damn many things
that could still go wrong.
[chap. 11] [chap. 13] [back
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