Afterwards + Part 17I didn't wait for Heero to change his mind. As I contacted Marie and Une and made flight arrangements, I made him pack our duffels. If I kept him busy, he might not have time to think of ways to back out. I sent email to the others, letting them know where we were going in case things went bad as Heero called Ange.
I knew Heero had been working himself too hard before I moved in with him. Ange told him to take the week off. He had plenty of vacation time built up, according to her. I wondered how much, but Heero had cut her off before she could say. Obviously quite a bit- I'd have to come up with a good way to use some of it. I made a mental note to check with Ange when we got back.
We were at the shuttle port a few hours later. Heero looked a bit dazed when we sat down to wait for our flight to be called. I guess I had rushed this a bit, but I didn't want him to change his mind.
I had seen the look on his face when Odin's picture had popped up on my computer screen.
He needed to do this.
"You okay?" I asked him when the silence had gotten to be too much for me.
"Yeah," he smiled for me then. "Just recovering from 'Hurricane Maxwell'." I knew that wasn't what was bothering him, but I also knew that he'd tell me eventually- whether he wanted to or not.
"I'm not that bad, Yuy!" I protested, playing along. "There was no reason to hesitate!"
"Didn't G ever tell you that you had to make a plan before rushing into situations like this?"
"We have a plan," I retorted. "We get to Europe, get a hotel, and when it gets to be a reasonable hour, we go and hunt Odin down. Then we corner him and ask why the hell he didn't die like he was supposed to." As I hoped, that got me a chuckle.
The flight attendant called our flight and we got to our feet.
"Mission accepted," Heero muttered to me and I grinned back at him.
I knew this had to be hard for him. I had heard the wistful tone in his voice when he talked about Odin. There was a reason that Heero had changed his name to honor Odin- he had genuinely cared for the man, despite his profession. It had taken a lot for him to share Odin's memory with me, as I knew the memory depressed him.
But he had still done it. It amazed me sometimes to realize how much Heero cared for me. He had shared his memories with me without protest when I asked, despite the pain, even when I had hidden some of mine from him.
We found our seats and I took the one by the window. We settled in and listened to the flight attendant go through her routine. Heero was frowning again, deep in thought. I doubted they were pleasant ones. After we were in the air and the engine noise died down a bit, I decided to do something about it.
Sometimes the direct approach works the best. I poked him in the ribs. "Stop that!" I told him.
He jumped a bit and gave me a shocked look. "Stop what?"
"Brooding. Talk to me, don't close yourself up. Tell me what you're thinking."
Heero's response wasn't anything like I had been expecting. "Something's not right."
"Huh?" Was my intelligent answer. I had been thinking he was going to tell me that he was nervous or concerned about seeing Odin again.
"Something was wrong with that ID screen."
"I don't know what- that's just it!" The frustration was evident in his voice. "I know something was wrong with it- but I can't put my finger on it." He was frowning again. "This is really bothering me Duo- I saw him die!"
"You might have been mistaken," I countered. Heero thought about that for a moment and I knew he was replaying the memory in his head. I reached out and took his hand in mine, holding on tight. He blinked and his fingers squeezed mine back before letting go.
"I don't think I was," he said after a moment.
The stewardess reached our seats with the drink cart. "Would either of you gentlemen like something?"
"Water," Heero told her and she fished a bottle from her cart.
"Coffee for me please, Jane," I told her after automatically scanning her name badge. She smiled and picked up a cup.
"He wants decaffeinated," Heero told her. Her hand moved to a different cup.
"I do not!" I protested.
"Yes you do." He countered. "You'll be bouncing off the walls otherwise."
"I will not! I need the caffeine to stay awake."
"No, you don't. You have plenty of time for a nap." He looked up at Jane. Her green eyes were dancing with laughter. "Decaffeinated please."
"Yes sir." She handed him the cup and he gave it to me. "Would you like cream or sugar sir?" she asked me.
"Cream please." Gods only knew what Heero would say to sugar. She handed me the little creamers and moved on down the aisle. "You are so bossy," I muttered at Heero.
"You love me anyways," he smirked. That made me smile.
"Of course I do." At least the idiot was trying. After our conversation last night I had hoped I had finally convinced him that I did love him. I could only wish that his doubts wouldn't start up again.
I repressed a shiver. Damn, he had scared me badly when he'd just taken off like that. The last time he'd left me after that kind of conversation, he'd vanished for three years.
Last night he'd run down to the water's edge.
I panicked. I remembered standing in the cool darkness of his house, listening to him pour his heart out to Quatre on the other side of the door. I remembered listening to him tell Quatre that the only other thing he could do to get over me would be to walk out in the waves and never come back.
When he'd fled from me and headed towards the ocean I thought my heart would stop. I had chased after him, slipping on the sand, beyond panicked, knowing that if he went into that icy water I'd never have the chance to clear the misunderstanding between us.
Knowing that I'd follow him anyway.
"Duo?" Heero's hand was on mine again, his fingers tight. "Are you okay?" I blinked. He was looking at me with concern, and I took a deep breath.
"Fine," I freed my hand from his with a reassuring squeeze and mixed the cream into my coffee. A topic switch was in order. "So, what explanation can you come up with for what we found, if Odin is dead?"
Heero frowned again and I could almost see that remarkable mind of his sorting and discarding possibilities. I waited patiently, drinking my coffee as he thought.
"I don't know," he admitted after awhile. "If Odin was dead- reported or not, the entry should've been marked 'missing, or presumed dead'. But his accounts are active."
"Someone else could be using those accounts," I suggested.
"To pay utilities? It seems a bit simple. Why not just sell everything off? Why keep up the appearance that he's..." Heero stopped.
"The picture," Heero looked at me. "That's what was wrong. With active accounts the pictures are updated- you have to go in and have your picture taken every five years. Odin's picture- he was the same as I remembered him. He should look older than that."
"Then someone else is using the account." I frowned. "But how are they getting around the picture? You have to go in person after all."
"Hacking the system?"
"Possible. But why? Why keep up the appearance that he's alive?"
"I have no idea," I admitted. "Suppose we'll find out when we get there." I yawned then, exhaustion catching up with me.
"Unless it's a trap," Heero tapped his water bottle, which rested still unopened on his tray.
"A trap for who?" I replied before thinking it through. Then it hit me. Shit. "Who'd be after you? Did anyone see you with him that day?"
"Other than Trieze? I have no idea." Heero replied flatly.
I blinked at him. What the hell?
"Trieze saw you?"
"I shot his mobile suit that day." I waited for a minute, but Heero didn't continue.
There are times when Heero can drive me crazy.
"You shot Trieze?"
"No, his mobile suit. With a rocket launcher. Though to be fair, he might not have known who the hell I was." Heero finished, evidently thinking that was enough information, and I resisted the urge to smack him.
"You didn't mention that."
"I didn't know it til years later when I read the reports." Heero met my eyes. "It was after my little attack that Trieze ended up in the hospital where he met Leia Barton."
Which led to fathering the child that started the Mariamaia Rebellion.
"You sure get around, don't you?" I shook my head, keeping my tone light. If I knew my Heero he had no doubt beaten himself up with guilt for that little incident numerous times. Despite the fact that he would've had to have been psychic to have avoided it. "Well, I doubt that this is some great plot on Trieze's part- he is dead after all."
"I agree. It's also not his style." Heero nodded in agreement. I yawned again and he gave me a faint smile. "Get some rest Duo. We'll figure it out when we get there."
"That's quite a statement coming from 'Mr. Mission'," I teased and leaned against his arm. The cabin lights were dim due to the lateness of the hour. It would be easy enough to fall asleep for a while. Heero's shoulder was comfortable. "You sound like me."
"Guess you just have that effect on me." I could hear the smile in his voice. "Get some sleep." His mouth brushed the top of my head affectionately.
A harsh whispered insult broke the mood. Even in this day and age, certain prejudices still exist. I felt Heero tense under my cheek. I glanced up at the unfortunate man across from us who had dared to whisper that word in derision. The jerk looked pale and a bit frightened. I didn't have to guess about what had scared him. I twisted my head a bit to look at Heero.
My lover was staring at the jerk, the look on his face reminiscent of the war, the cold hard mask that told you that the wearer would kill you without thinking twice. I had seen it directed at me many times, not realizing that it was a mask.
This time though, I wasn't so sure. But I didn't really feel like intervening to save some prejudiced jerk's life. Instead I let my mouth curl up in Shinigami's smile as I thought about how much fun it would be to choke the man with his own tie.
Heero's mask promised a quick death. Mine promised that I would delight in every minute of pain first. I imagine the combination was a bit disconcerting. It had been in the past.
The jerk paled further. In the dim lights of the cabin he looked ghost-white and I wondered if we could make him faint. His eyes darted back and forth between Heero and I, and I knew that he wanted to look away, but didn't dare.
Still smiling at him, I leaned up to whisper in Heero's ear. I'm sure the man thought that I was telling Heero how we should slaughter the jerk, but instead I whispered a suggestion of how we should spend some time in our hotel room.
Heero did not blush. But his expression turned faintly depraved and he turned his head slightly to brush his lips over my cheek.
"Should we really talk about this now?" He murmured in my ear, his breath dancing across my cheek. I slid my cheek against his caressingly.
"I'm trying to make him faint." I breathed back in his ear and his lips curved into the smile I was hoping for. The one that echoed mine.
The man across from us rose to his feet and fled down the aisle to the bathrooms.
"Bet we don't see him for the rest of the flight," Heero shook his head and turned to kiss me gently. "Evil, Duo. That was evil."
"But satisfying," I pointed out. "That will be the last time he makes a comment like that where someone can hear him." Heero took a deep breath, fighting a real smile.
"Get some rest, troublemaker." The affection in his voice made me feel warm. I curled back down on his shoulder and closed my eyes.
[part 16] [part 18] [back to Merula's fic]