Trial and Error + Chapter 2//Operation 'Equations'
Mission duration: 1 day 22 hours
First Step: find more reliable source of information on romantic relations. Check source of information Relena Peacecraft (RP). Since she is the one who raised the alarm on this situation, she should have a handle on it.
Note: Mission is, as usual, need-to-know basis only, so caution and subtlety must be used in getting the required information.//
"Relena, what can you tell me about love?"
Relena had been delicately pruning her roses, and nearly whacked off half the bush.
"I read the book you lent me. It was very..." Heero's lips twisted but he decided to make a stab at diplomacy, "entertaining. But I should think that in real life people have a good deal less difficulty in finding a lover. Judging by the fact we still have a human race. How does it really work? I'm not familiar with the subject."
Relena was still staring and waving the clippers around so he removed them before she hurt herself.
"I-" Relena cleared her throat. "Well..." And suddenly her smile was brilliant and she looked at him with pure affection. Heero guessed she must be happy to see he'd decided to be interested in something other than work. It was what she was always pestering him to do.
"Oh Heero, I'm so glad you asked!" Relena gushed. "What do you want to know?"
"Well..." Heero felt suddenly at a loss. Relena had a meeting soon. She was so busy he couldn't monopolize her time by asking her to explain all the parameters of the 'love' issue. Considering how many books, songs, poems and movies centered on the subject, there was probably quite a lot to say. He had to be efficient.
"What forms the basis of an attraction between two people?" He asked.
Relena seemed a little surprised, but then she seemed to understand. She toyed with one of the pink roses she'd accidentally chopped off, then stuck it into her lapel, to join the small white rose she already wore there.
"There are many reasons why people fall in love, Heero."
Damn he knew it wasn't going to be that easy.
"Can you give me one?" He asked, eyeing his watch.
Relena appeared puzzled but then she said, looking at her gardening gloves fixedly: "Sometimes, when you work with someone...you're thrown together a lot, and end up spending a lot of time in each other's company. You get to know one another. You learn to rely on him, on his presence, you get used to the way he thinks and acts, and that can often lead to...affection. You see, take me and-"
"You need to go to your meeting, Relena." Heero had heard enough. Co-workers. That opened up possibilities.
"Wh-what? But that's not for-"
"You have to clean up." Heero nodded towards her gardening pants. Although much more comfortable and efficient than her suits, Heero doubted they were adequate for a meeting with the colony plenipotentiaries, who were unreasonably fussy judging from their reaction that first conference years ago when one of them had tried to kiss Relena's hand and found himself in an arm-lock with a gun to his head.
"Oh right. Okay, let's continue this while I change-"
"I have something to do, Relena. I'll leave you with Simmons. She can help you on with your dress too if need be."
"Erm, I'd rather-"
"Here she comes now. Goodbye Relena, I'll see you this evening. And thanks!"
He walked briskly up the path bordered by early-blooming pink and yellow roses and flowering lilac bushes. Though Relena had renounced the crown and turned Sanq into a republic within the hegemony of the world nation, the people had still gently but firmly insisted the foreign minister reside within the palace of her forebears. It was the old summer residence, not as imposingly grand as the old Peacecraft fort that had been burned and blasted years ago during the war. It was much smaller, more manageable, and could house part of the World Nation's foreign affairs division as well as Relena and her entourage. Relena had even described it as cozy, which had sent Heero to check the term up in a dictionary then shake his head slightly, but well, Relena's way of looking at things was always special...
He ignored the vast, pleasant gardens, the small winding maze-like yew alleys, the artificial lake...the material never had much impact on Heero, he'd only ever looked at the palace in terms of defense and security. He was even less attentive that day, as his mind ran over different equations. Co-workers, yes, that actually made sense - to his relief - that people who could work well and fight well together had a good chance of being compatible. Now to figure out some likely pairings...
//Mission duration: 2 days 9 hours
Project 1: Co-workers.
Two matches are immediately obvious. 5 and Sally Po (SP) are partners when he has a field mission, and they were allies during the war. That will be easy to arrange.
3 and Catherine Bloom (CB) work together in the circus, and 4 was commenting just the other day that to be partners in a knife-throwing act implies great trust and understanding. 4 said he did not have that kind of relationship with CB, which implies that he considers 3 and CB to be exceptionally close. Actually what 4 said was 'I'd never let that harpy hurl knives at me', but meaning was clear. Unfortunately CB is an unknown quantity and not much is known about circus environment. Known to involve lions and clowns but that is extent of current information. Further recon required.
But Operation 5xSP can start tomorrow.//
"You want me to what?!" Wufei stared down at the camping gear in his hands. Sally was looking through the backpack that had been hurled at her with a bemused air.
"You've not had field duty for awhile, Chang." Heero said firmly. "You need to keep fit if you are to be able to maintain your duties as-"
"What, Relena's...baby-sitter?" Sally put in, smirking at the sudden deadly scowl from her target. Wufei went a very strange shade of magenta. Sally was often teasing him about his 'cushy palace job' while she was 'out doing the real work', Heero remembered, and winced internally. Not the best of starts. Wufei was glaring at Sally and she was all but laughing in his face.
That got the glare turned in his direction. "What is this, Yuy? Do you have an issue with my performance?"
"What?" Heero blinked.
"Are you thinking of removing me from my present duties? Did I do something to offend you?" Wufei was looking at him fixedly. Sally suddenly stopped laughing and gave Heero an uncertain look too.
Where had this come from-...? Heero glared back.
"I just want to make sure you're in optimal shape, Chang. I count on you to insure the safety of Minister Darlian and that's of prime importance to me."
Wufei seemed to calm down a bit. "Very well." He said quietly. Sally started to smile again.
"Here's the map with the outline of the required mission, a three day trail hike. You will drive to - " Heero found it snatched from his hands.
"I can read a map." Wufei grumbled, hoisting the pack on his back. "I'll go do your little exercise. But I go alone."
Heero nearly bit his tongue but fortunately Sally got in before he did. "Alone? What's wrong with my company, Chang?"
"I'd make a list but I don't have the time or a sufficiently long piece of paper." Wufei smirked.
For answer Sally hoisted on her own pack with an acid smile. "Well orders are we go together, what a pity, hm?"
"Shut up and try to take it like a man, Chang!"
"Are you insulting my manhood?! Sally? Get back here-"
"Hurry up, Chang! Oh boy, you're dragging behind me already!" Sally was out the door and heading towards the car. Wufei trailed after her, still arguing.
Heero stared bemusedly at the door. The hiking plan he'd given them would drag them through the woods of Sanq for three days. If this was a sample of what it would be like, they'd come back in love or in body-bags.
"Beautiful. Just beautiful."
Heero turned to find Duo leaning against the living room door with a newspaper in his hands and a dreamy look on his face.
"I came to see what all the yelling was about." Duo continued, catching Heero's glance. "Did you really bundle Fei off on a three-day camping expedition with Sally at a moment's notice?"
"Yes. For training purposes." Heero said firmly.
"How wonderfully devious and sadistic of you." Duo laughed delightedly. Then something like worry came over his face. "Er...you're not...mad at Wufei for...anything, are you?"
"Well..." Duo's paper crinkled as he smoothed it carefully. "Sending him away at the drop of a hat, maybe, uh, maybe you had a reason to get rid of him?"
"He's coming back in three days, Duo. A bit of field work will do him a lot of good, and will help him defend Relena all the better."
Duo blinked at him owlishly then grinned. "Sounds good then! But damn I wish you'd included a bug in that camping equipment. I'd love to eavesdrop on them. I can never get enough of Sally giving Chang an earful!"
Heero wished he'd thought of that too...though not for the same reason as Duo. He wanted to know if the operation was successful or not.
//Mission duration: 3 days 11 hours
Status: Under way
Further information obtained from 4, without compromising mission secrecy of course. Turns out 4 is quite happy to discuss 3 and CB relation at great lengths. In fact, considerable effort and a distraction were necessary to extract from conversation.
Memo: Plaster over bullet hole in wall and stop 4 from adding extra fly-paper to every room, since shooting flies, however annoying, is not actually a normal habit. Additional efforts to persuade 4 of that may be necessary, he seemed nervous and has been going around with a fly swatter since then. But as a distraction the subterfuge was efficient. And the fly is very dead.
Conclusion: Apparently the 3-CB relation is not as supposed. 4's conversation indicates they are like siblings rather than lovers. He described CB as 'protective big sister', 'no one good enough for her little brother', 'so joined at the hip the only time I can see him alone is when he's at home' and a few unflattering terms regarding CB which are unusual for 4, who is normally very understanding and diplomatic. His attitude is another negative re. 3xCB; it would not do to pair off one of the subjects with a girl that one of the others cannot stand, as this would compromise group stability. Re-evaluation of 3 necessary.//
Heero stood up and erased the arrow linking Trowa and Catherine on the whiteboard, and added a side-note to never even think of putting that arrow between her and Quatre. He might be ignorant about relations but he wasn't stupid.
He picked up the laptop again and, after scowling at the whiteboard some more, typed.
//Next step: Acquire more information about ways to foster an intimate relation between two people.//
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