see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
+ Chapter 4
Glancing into the bedroom,
I saw that Heero had finally fallen asleep, the notebook he'd been so
insistent on purchasing laying on the floor beside the bed where it had
evidently fallen when he dozed off. I didn't know what he was writing
- he hadn't offered to show it to me and I wasn't about to snoop - but
he'd kept at it for a good hour despite the fact that his head seemed
to be aching quite badly.
I'd probably let him overdo things this morning. But it was so damn hard
to say no when he looked so hopeful and happy... I'd never, ever seen
Heero look like that before. 'And probably never will again once he gets
his memory back,' I reminded myself firmly. 'So don't go getting used
to it, Maxwell.' I sighed at the depressing thought and used the camera
to take a picture of him sleeping peacefully, sprawling carelessly across
the bed in a way that he would never let himself under normal circumstances.
I'd already used the hotel's photo service to order prints of the photos
I'd taken earlier and had the original digital photos placed in the photo
service's reorder database. If I was really, really lucky, the Preventer
assigned to monitor the hotel's communications and so on would be Wufei
or Sally or someone else who would take one look at those pictures of
an open, smiling Heero and know that something was really fucking wrong
and get some damn backup here *fast*.
With even more luck, the photos would still be around when we got out
of this mess and I'd be able to keep them, my guilty little secret from
this screwed up mission. My little reminder that there *was* one hell
of a nice guy deep inside of Heero and that I needed to stop just accepting
him the way he was and start digging that nice guy out the way I'd tried
to a few times during the war. Before I'd been cold-shouldered for my
efforts a few times too many. Before I'd put up my own emotional shields
to protect me. Before I'd decided to just be grateful that Heero and I
worked so well together as long as I kept things strictly professional
and let things go at that.
Oh, we'd gotten a *bit* closer than that over the years; completely professional
partnership had given way to cautious friendship. But cautious friendship
was about the most I'd been prepared to try for. I'd been frozen out too
many times during the war to open up more than that around Heero. After
being around "Odin" though... Well, I guessed that I'd have to take a
few chances and try again. That little bit of Heero that was "Odin" deserved
With a final glance at Heero's peacefully sleeping form, I turned and
walked over to flop down on the couch. I had a lot to think about. And
too damn much time to do it. There sure as hell wasn't anything *else*
I could do right now.
One good thing about Heero's amnesia - there was no way that anything
we'd done today was even remotely suspicious. We'd been a couple of honeymooners
enjoying the resort and nothing more. That could throw the bad guys off
if they bought it - or it just might make our watchers even more suspicious
and paranoid, wondering what we were up to.
The thought of anyone coming after us right now scared the shit out of
me. Heero was completely vulnerable. In a hand-to-hand fight he might
do okay, kinetic memory and the fact that his damn training is so deep
it's pretty much instinctive might just be enough to get him through in
one piece. But I wasn't sure about that. And if bullets started flying,
I *really* wasn't sure how he would handle it.
If the situation triggered off the return of memories, we'd really be
screwed. He'd admitted to a few flashes of confusing images today - stuff
caused by a sharp noise or the glint of light off metal or a raised voice
- and each incident had resulted in him freezing, eyes closing and hand
raising to rub his forehead. If he did that in the middle of a firefight...
God, the thought was scary as hell.
If I thought they'd actually let us leave, I'd have us both on the next
shuttle out of here. Let Wufei and Sally come in and finish things up
later. But leaving early when our stay was "on the house" due to Heero's
injury would be damn suspicious. Just the confirmation of something not-quite-right
that would convince our suspect that we needed to be taken care of permanently.
'I need my partner back. Much as I lo - like him the way he is right now,
I need Heero, not "Odin". I need my paranoid, professional, always-prepared-for-everything
partner.' At least, I needed him if I was going to get us *both* out of
there safely, mission accomplished.
There were pretty damn good odds that I could get myself out of here and
accomplish the mission. Even better odds of just getting myself out and
scrubbing the mission. But getting both me and Heero out of here safely
while Heero was in his current state, mission accomplished or not... Well,
those were odds I didn't like. Not at all.
'Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the accident was just that, an accident. Maybe
it was a coincidence that it happened right after we made our first check-in
call. Maybe we're not a hairbreadth away from our cover being totally
blown. Maybe I just have to sit tight for the next few days and wait for
Yeah, right. Maybe. But I wasn't counting on it.
The knock on the door a few minutes later didn't help my tattered nerves
any. I just about jumped out of my skin when it startled me out of my
introspection. 'Great. Wonder what the hell this is about; didn't order
anything from room service...'
I checked the peephole before removing the silly safety chain. 'Oh my
*god*. We are in such deep shit...' I swallowed hard and pasted on my
best "gosh darn I'm happy to meet you" grin before I opened the door to
greet the man I'd seen through the peephole. The man who *owned* the fucking
hotel. The man we were there to investigate. Oh, and of course, the two
bodyguards that accompanied him everywhere. Bodyguards that Rashid would
look downright puny alongside of.
"Hello!" I exclaimed brightly. I let my eyes widen and gasped, "Oh my
- aren't you..."
He smiled - a typical false politician-type smile - and held out his hand.
"Yes, I am. Jules Mattis, owner of the Starlight Resort, at your service,
I shook his hand enthusiastically, "It's such an honour to meet you Mr.
Mattis. You've done wonders with this abandoned old satellite. Such a
wonderful way to reuse the place - the hotel is beautiful." I winced internally
and slipped in my persona's necessary gauche remark, "It must've cost
an awful lotta money to build it. You must be awfully rich..."
Mattis's smile slipped a bit as he retrieved his hand from my over-enthusiastic
grasp. He recovered nicely though, politely overlooking "my" social ineptitude.
"Yes, well, I get by. Now, I just wanted to stop by and see how you and
your spouse were doing after that dreadful accident. Is there anything
"Oh no, not a thing. We're just fine. Everyone's just been so *nice* about
everything. I'd invite you in, but - well, Odin overdid things a little
earlier and he's sleeping now. I'd really rather not wake him..."
"No, no, of course not. I hope that he's feeling better soon. I just wanted
to invite the two of you to a private party that the hotel will be holding
in two days. Dinner and dancing will be held in the new arena to celebrate
the grand opening of the new sports complex," he explained. "Formal dress
is, of course, required. The hotel's men's clothing boutique will be delighted
to outfit you and your husband, compliments of the resort of course."
"We'd *love* to come," I gushed, then hurriedly added, "Assuming that
Odin feels up to it, of course..."
"Of course," Mattis agreed, inclining his head slightly. "My secretary
will have the invitations delivered to you and inform the boutique to
be expecting you both. I must be on my way now but please do feel free
to contact the resort's main office if I can be of service. My apologies
on behalf of the resort and myself personally for the dreadful accident
that has so marred your time with us. Please rest assured that we are
taking every precaution to ensure such a thing will not happen again."
"Thank you, I'm *so* happy to hear that, and I'll be sure to tell Odin
everything you said," I answered. We exchanged polite goodbyes and I closed
the door as he and his silent escorts turned away.
'Oh *crap*...' I dropped onto the couch with a groan. That damn party
was going to put me right where I needed to be to sneak into the supposedly
unused part of the satellite. Having that opportunity handed to me on
a silver platter was just a *little* bit too good to be true. Giving us
those invitations was just good PR if we were just a couple of guests
who happened to have been in a rather nasty little accident during our
stay. It was also one hell of a good way to set a trap if they did know
or even just suspect who we really were.
And how the hell could I leave Heero alone at the party and go sneaking
off to investigate the suspected weapons factory while he was in his current
state? I'd be gone half, three-quarters of an hour *minimum*, and probably
considerably longer than that. Not only would he be on his own for that
long but he'd have to cover for me. Which meant I'd have to find a way
to tell him *something* to explain what I was doing. I massaged my temples
"What's wrong, Max?" a voice asked from behind me.
I jumped halfway off the couch, heart racing. "Shit. Don't *do* that to
me, Odin," I scolded. "Don't sneak up on me like that..." 'How the hell
did he get that damn close without me noticing him? He may not remember
anything but he still moves like Heero when he wants to be quiet...'
"I'm sorry, I just didn't want to disturb you; you seemed to be thinking
very hard about something..."
I slumped back against the couch and sighed again, "Nothing too important
Odin. Mr. Mattis, the hotel owner, just came by to invite us to a party
in a couple of days. I was just wondering whether you'd be feeling up
to something like that by then." Not quite a lie, but not the whole truth
either. Just as much of it as I dared say out loud. I rubbed my forehead
again, wishing that the headache that was starting would go away. Cool
fingers pushed my own away and started to massage my temples. I tensed
for a moment, caught off-guard yet again by an unusual gesture of tenderness
from Heero. Forcing myself to relax before I hurt his feelings, I murmured,
"Mmm, that feels good."
"If it's still a couple of days away, I think I'll be okay. Do I like
I managed not to choke at the innocent question. Just. "Uh, you go to
them sometimes," 'when Quatre gives you The Look or Une makes it a direct
order that is...' I added silently before finishing, "but you're not exactly
a party animal, Odin."
[chap. 3] [chap. 5] [back
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