NOTE: see part 1 for notes, warnings
AUTHOR: shira

Papillion + Part 15

At the start of the workday the next morning, Heero appeared outside Duo's office door bearing the gift of two cups of aromatic lattes. He stood, waiting for his partner to notice him, but Duo was either deep in thought, or asleep, as he faced out his office window; Heero wasn't quite sure which.

"Ahem."

Swinging around in his chair, Duo looked up with surprise. "Oh, hey Heero. Come on in." He did.

"Wake-me-up?" Heero handed over a cup.

"Thanks. I was just spending a couple of minutes...thinking."

"That what the burning smell is in here?"

The seated man smirked. "Good one." Heero sat in the chair against the wall, next to Duo's desk. For a long time he said nothing, only looked between his latte and his partner, until Duo couldn't withstand the silence anymore.
"Something on your mind?"

"Well...kind of. I don't know." Heero adjusted himself in the chair, but could only gaze at his friend for a while longer.

"Yeah?" Duo felt a tension in his partner's aura, and it made him uncomfortable.

"I don't know...I just...Duo, I'm confused."

"How so?"

Heero blushed. "Just...all this stuff with Relena. It's really getting to me, because I know she's really upset with me about it all." "Has she said that?"

"Well, no, she hasn't come right out and said it but, I can tell. She...she's been asking a lot of questions about you and Hilde, and...I can just tell that she's disappointed in me."

Duo sat for a moment, inhaling the sweet smell of his latte. "Heero, you shouldn't feel bad if she doesn't 'do it' for you."

"I know, but I can't help it. I just do."

"So, she keeps asking about Hilde?" Duo fidgeted in his seat now.

"About you in general," Heero said, hiding his eyes, not wanting to make contact with his partner's.

Forcing a calmness in himself, Duo asked "I wonder why?"

"Because," Heero laughed, blushing. "Because I think she thinks that you have feelings for me. I think she feels threatened by you."

Duo coughed on a mouthful of latte. Then trying to act natural he said "She does, eh." He thought for a moment. "You know Heero, I don't want to stick my nose where it doesn't belong but...if she's making you uncomfortable like that, have you given any thought to getting your own place?"

Heero sighed. "I've given it a little bit of thought, yeah." He eyed his partner for reaction, sure that what he was seeing was indeed 'reaction,' as Duo squirmed before him. Equally, his own gut wrenched as the conversation went on.

"I mean, if you don't feel that way about the girl, and she keeps hounding you about it, well...I'd tell her to get lost but, seeing as how you want to stay good friends with her, and you are living in her house after all, I can understand not wanting to piss her off. Getting your own place might be your only answer. That way after the initial ' break up', there shouldn't be any hard feelings, right?"

"I suppose. But..." Heero stopped. He sipped his latte and tried to collect his thoughts. Tried to put together the words he wanted to say in his mind, but nothing came to him except his conscience telling him that he was once again treading on uncharted territory.

"Hmm?"

Heero shook his head. "I don't know. I don't know what I want, Duo. It's all just giving me a big headache."

The long-haired man smiled sympathetically, and with some relief that the spotlight had faded for the moment. "Give it time, Yuy. You have friends, a good job...life is looking up. Someone will come along. You'll know it when they do. Trust me."

"I...I do trust you, Duo." I trust you all too well, because I think that someone has come along and he's seated right in front of me. "I guess I just have to wait until that spirit kicks me in the ass."

Grinning, Duo sipped more on his latte, all the while his brilliant eyes never leaving those of his partner's, and he realized that there was something in them today that was different than before. Recognition. Realization. Understanding, maybe? An entrapped butterfly tickled the insides of his stomach as his head once more filled with thoughts of coming clean with his attractive partner -- telling him the truth, that for the entire year he was gone, he had been pining for him privately, and as badly as Relena had. That he'd hoped to be able to express his feelings to Heero, but he was afraid to, not knowing how the other man felt about him "in that way," or what he even thought of the idea of an unconventional relationship.

It was something that they had honestly never talked about, the question of preference. Really, before Heero had returned in his "new and improved state," it was a subject that might never have even come up between them, due to the fact that Heero didn't like making a habit of letting people get to know the "real" him. As it turned out, /he/ didn't even know the real him. In respect to the other guys though, Trowa and Quatre's relationship had just kind-of been accepted by everyone in the group, and didn't seem to cause any concern to Heero, but Duo deducted that that was simply because Heero just didn't think about love or affection, period.

Additionally, Duo often questioned the likelihood that in a group of five guys, each from a different colony and with a different story behind them, /four/ of them would turn out to be gay. Maybe it was something in the training? Or exposure to the Zero system, since they'd all been subject to it. But that wouldn't explain the fact that Wufei was, undoubtedly, straight as an arrow. Quatre, on the other hand, was as queer as a two-headed quarter. Trowa though, Trowa was a little confusing, and Duo suspected that he was willing to accept love wherever he felt comfortable with it, kind of like himself. Perhaps the unorthadox tendencies of the former gundam pilots stemmed too, from being in positions where you had to accept who and what you had, without complaining that it wasn't what you wanted. But deep down inside Duo realized that these ideas were all silly, because he knew that a person's preference was born with them, Zero system or no Zero system, so that blew most of his theories out of the water. He was able to be with anyone, male or female. Quatre was gay, Trowa was...Trowa, and if anything, it was all just a really crazy coincidence and nothing more. Adding Heero to the "non-conformist" mix would surely make it even more of a coincidence, but there was no other viable explanation to it all.

But back to figuring out Heero, the only thing that gave Duo a smidge of hope that he could beat the odds in the game of love was the faint glimmer of recognition in the blue-eyed man's gaze looking back at him, equally confused, but seeing what was happening as well. At least what was happening from Duo's point of view, that is. His heart in his throat, Duo could only nod in agreement and try to convey in his own gaze that he wanted more...more than just a friendship from his partner and friend. He wanted companionship too. He wanted everything. Time would just have to tell, in this case.

+

Less than thirty-six hours later, Preventer's headquarters was a flurry of activity as plans for deployment of a group of teams were being laid out. The discovery of the activities at the moon base was, apparently, still a secret, but as soon as Relena made her report to the Nation's leaders, it would be splattered all over the news within hours, so the chance of correcting the problem quickly and with secrecy was about to be cut short.

As the Foreign Minister arranged for an emergency meeting of the Leaders in Brussels via teleconference, Preventer units were being assigned and shuttles and supplies were being readied for what was being called "Operation Stealth Brigade". Sally and Une, who would be in attendance at the Foreign Ministry's emergency meeting, would try to convince the Leaders that immediate action to try to disarm the base was the easiest and least violent way to end any skirmishes before they started. With the digital images that had been downloaded from Heero and Duo's spying, and other evidence, including some interesting wire feeds that conformed the fact that an attack on the Earth Sphere Nations was indeed eminent, there was a landslide vote to take action now, rather than wait for something serious to happen. It was agreed that with the proof that they held, the Preventers had the upper hand, and should run with it in an effort to maintain the peace on Earth and the colonies. In this way, even if the use of force was required to take the base, it would be isolated, and dealt with before the masses even realized that there had been a bona-fide threat.

By four o'clock local Brussels time, Sally and Une received the "OK to go" from the Nation leaders, and the first of the Preventer shuttles were cleared to leave for the Lunar base.

+

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