Pairing: will be 1+2+1, 1x2x1; reference to past 1xR (Rx1?)
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters, but the story's all the product
of my own little mind. Emphasis on the "little".
Warnings: Part 3 has no warnings. This is an AU fic. For warnings for
future parts, see previous parts. If you see what I mean...
+ Part 3
Heero watched as his companion
ate salad, a leaf at a time, with his fingers. He had found himself seated
next to the striking stranger at the top table in the banqueting hall;
Relena, as hostess, sat halfway down the table, flanked by the President
of the Earth Sphere Unified Nation on one side and his deputy on the other.
Heero had, however, secured himself a good vantage point; it was unsurprising,
he thought, to end up next to Duo Maxwell. Who had probably done the same
"I read some reports in some magazines," Duo was saying, "about
how disgustingly opulent the menus were at these do's." He made a
dismissive gesture that encompassed the whole hall. "And how each
course costs more than the world's poorest people have to spend on food
in a year . And it was true. It was appalling. So I thought, I'd do
something about that." He grinned. "So here I am." Heero
had an idea that there was more to this story, and he found that he wanted
to hear it. He kept quiet, inviting Duo to fill the silence. Duo seemed
like he was going to accept that invitation, but his words were cryptic
to Heero: "Just never let them tell you being poor means you can't
achieve anything." He smiled; it was a strangely fierce, determined
expression, but then it faded to one of almost ruefulness as he continued.
"Not that you'd have to worry about that."
Heero knew he was referring to Relena's riches that now, seemingly, were
Heero's too, though he never thought of it that way. He spoke up quietly
to point his out. "It hasn't always been like this."
Duo looked at him in mild surprise, then seemed to realise. "Ah,
of course, you were saying. You were in the war, weren't you?"
Heero nodded. Duo had asked how he and Relena had met, so Heero had merely
said he had been a soldier, and had met Relena then. Then, they had had
to take their places at the table, and that conversation had been lost,
"Yes, I remember." Duo looked at him from the corner of his
eye. "Me and my partner went to see the gundam, y'know, at the exhibition."
Heero felt a spear of chilling sensation work its way up from the pit
of his stomach, freezing him. 'He knows.' He tried to remain as casual
as possible. "What did you think of the exhibition?"
"It's very impressive, isn't it? The gundam..." He met Heero's
eyes, expression serious. "It still affected me. Even though it's
just a museum piece now, even though they dismantled all the working parts...
It still got to me. Whoever piloted that thing..." He looked away
briefly, but then brought a sure gaze up to meet Heero's again. "He'd
have to be... some human being..." He shook his head.
Heero sensed it. He felt like he was very close to something... he could
reach out and touch, but he couldn't see it. The awe in Duo's voice...
could only show the attitude of someone who had been there, seen the gundam
doing what it was designed for. "You were in the war too," he
Duo nodded. "I wasn't one of the ones they `found', though,"
he said wryly. "I guess you were?"
Now Heero nodded, unwilling to elaborate. He had a strange feeling that
if he even tried to half-explain, his suspicion that Duo already knew
the truth would lead him to reveal it. The knowing look Duo gave him sent
a fresh shiver of cold through him; but, he realised, it wasn't a look
of smugness or satisfaction: it was one of sympathy. Understanding.
"I didn't want to be found." Duo's voice cut through the momentary
silence between them. "I wasn't doing it for the recognition, so
I didn't let them know who I was or what I'd done. I just wanted to get
back home and keep doing what I always had. But then...." He paused
a minute as if trying hard to phrase it in the best way. "I looked
around me, and saw how people lived. saw how I had lived. and it
was just wrong! No-one should have to endure what I did." Heero looked
and saw his eyes were serious. Heero saw fire. Duo continued. "So
I decided I should do whatever I could to change things. I decided to
do it for myself, work out how I should do it. And I figured that the
only way to do that would be to come to big things like this and talk
to the people who decide what goes on in the world. I've always been good
at talking," he smirked, "so I figured I ought to use my talents."
He stared off into space. "Of course, people said to me, What? A
diplomat? An ordinary brat who lived on the streets for half his life,
and was a soldier for most of the other half?" The smirk turned into
a dark smile. "The main reason people don't try things, y'know, is
because they think they won't succeed. Think it's a waste of their time,
they'll make fools of themselves and have nothing to show for it after
all. Think they'll be seen as naive. That's why people say things can't
happenóbecause nobody tries to make them happen, because they're
put off when everybody says they can't happen." He chuckled. "So
I thought I'd try it anyway. I mean, I've experienced some pretty bad
times, so I wasn't afraid of anything worse. And so, here I am. Of course,
I'm just a," he adopted a supercilious tone, "`junior representative'óbut
it's a start, considering I only graduated  a year ago. They're letting
me have this as a kind of trialóa test, more like. I think if I
fail they'll tell me to go home and do something I'm good at instead,"
he laughed, "but I've worked hard to get here. I'm not going to let
it go to waste." Again, that determined look. Heero felt a growing
sense of admiration for his new acquaintance. He was unafraid, willing
to take chances. His attitude was refreshing; it stirred memories in Heero.
So he couldn't hide his surprise at Duo's next words. The young man turned
to him, an oddly unreadable expression on his usually open face.
"I don't know why I'm telling you all this."
Heero was genuinely surprised; that did not sound like the sort of concern
he would have expected from Duo. Maybe he had been mistaken. Even that
thought startled him a little ó how did he know that? He had known
the man for only a few hours. How could he know what sort of behaviour
was to be expected from him?
But that voice cut through his thought again, and he looked back at his
companion as he spoke.
"I don't know why I'm telling you these things, because I know you
Heero again felt that coldness still his body; like he was caught. Although
the feeling scared him, it was also strangely. exhilarating. He looked
away from his companion's steady gaze.
Dinner was over. "Come on." Automatically Heero got up and followed,
to a wide terrace outside through some open glass doors. Duo leaned on
the railing, looking up. Heero glanced back into the room, seeing no-one
notice them: no-one else stepped out into the fresh darkness. He turned
away and stared out.
A spear of cloud bisected the moon; it moved away quickly in the breeze,
leaving the three-quarter moon bright and exposed. Heero stared at the
sky. It was the only thing visible over the high walls of the building
complex. He let himself forget those walls, and thought of the colony
he came from.
"I wish you could make out the colonies from here." Duo's voice
Could he be?
"I just like to remember they're there. and I have somewhere to go
back to." Whether or not it does all go wrong.
"You're from the colonies as well?" Heero kept his voice soft
too. Duo turned and smiled at him. "Yeah. L2, S-7981."
"L1. B-16682." 
Duo resumed his sky watching and there was silence for a long moment.
"I love being colonial." Duo's words were sudden. "Because
it reminds me that there was a day when one man said `I'd love to live
in space'. And he didn't let anyone tell him he was crazy; he didn't let
anyone say it was impossible. But he went and, eventually, he did it.
And I'm proud that he did."
Duo continued to stare upwards. Heero stayed silent, needing no words.
He followed Duo's gaze, thinking. Everything Duo had said was like hearing
a story he'd heard a long time ago but forgotten; and now, hearing it
again, he remembered every detail, and the words fitted a pattern somewhere
inside his head.
He wondered where he had gone, that this stranger should come and find
him when no-one else had; and he hadn't even realised he was lost.
Duo turned back to him finally, a hint of a smile on his face. "I've
enjoyed talking to you. Heero. We should get together again sometime."
"Yes. We will."
 I read something similar about the G8 summit in Osaka... but I don't
 I use the word graduated in the British sense of having been to university
and got a degree. Don't think about the timescale too hard!
 Hm. These came into my head, dunno how you're meant to classify colonies.
Anyone who guesses the significance of the numbers and letters wins a
Comments, pretty please?!?
[part 2] [part 4]
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