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

Papillion + Part 9

The following day the surveillance mission of the Lunar Base began, with Duo and Heero first making a visit to the "high power," to see what they could see. They didn't see anything, but there had apparently been an anonymous tip that there was a shuttle that would be leaving the Earth for the moon, probably a shuttle loaded with smuggled supplies, which interested the Preventer organization greatly. What was also particularly interesting was that whomever these people were, that were supposedly carrying out illegal activities at the closed-down Oz military base, they already had enemies willing to spill their secrets to the Preventers. With that in mind, and not knowing who or what they were dealing with, the investigation was labeled even higher priority, making it a considerably more dangerous investigation.

With plain-clothes agents watching all of the smaller shuttle-ports closely, the two partners were sent to observe the main port, the one right in Brussels, where the bulk of the larger shuttles arrived from the colonies and other locations in space. Even though a quiet entrance at a less busy port could possibly be the intended destination, Sally's guess was that it would be the larger port, since a supply shuttle bound for space at one of the smaller ports would stick out like a sore thumb. At the main port however, it would blend in with all the other supply shuttles that constantly arrived and took off throughout any given day. Heero and Duo were sent to watch the traffic that was moving in and out of the port.

The long-haired man got up from his uncomfortable seat facing the window view of the cargo-loading area at the shuttle port. "I'm goin' to get some coffee. You want some?"

"Yeah, sure. No sugar. Thanks." Heero didn't change his gaze from the window as his eyes were peeled on the crew loading up a shuttle that was scheduled to leave for the L4 cluster.

Duo disappeared down the busy corridors of the shuttle port, his keen eyes alert as well, watching everyone and everything, while maintaining a good level of casualness. He was dressed in a pair of well-worn jeans, a pair of work boots and a T-shirt that said "smile if you think I'm gorgeous," as he played the part of Joe average, who would be waiting for a person, or a package, to arrive that day as he stood in line at the coffee bar to get a couple of cups for himself and his partner.

As he waited for the return of his friend, Heero checked his private email account on his laptop computer once more before shutting the system down for the third time that morning. He looked up in front of him to check the cargo terminal tote board for departures and arrivals again, then rose to check the windows on the other side of the long, wide hallway as well. Once he was satisfied that he hadn't missed anything, he turned to walk back to his seat facing the main shuttle dock. Duo was returning now with two steaming cups of coffee, complete with the little cardboard cuffs that kept your hand from burning. He also had a little wax pastry bag with him that contained a couple of blueberry muffins that looked too good for him to pass up.

Sitting down heavily beside Heero, Duo handed him one of the cups. "Anything?"

"No." Heero blew steam off the coffee before attempting to sip it. His expression contorted as he burned his tongue anyway on the first mouthful.

"Here." Duo handed him a muffin wrapped in a napkin. "We never got any breakfast this morning."

"Thanks."

For a few minutes, the agents sipped coffee and ate their muffins, all the while maintaining a relaxed watch on everything that was going on around them. People shuffled in and out of the terminal, most of them donning some sort of uniform since this was, after all, the cargo loading area and most of the passenger shuttles were on the other side of the building. Every now and then a special package or crate would be unloaded directly into the terminal where security would scan it and approve it before release to whomever had been waiting for it, but for the most part, all cargo was unloaded on pallets, by skid loader, into the nearby warehouse. There, trucks usually arrived to pick up newly arrived goods, or deliver, if they were items shipping out, and it was this operation that was being watched by the two Preventers, keeping an eye on what was being loaded onto the outgoing shuttles.

Heero cleared his throat. "Relena took me out dancing last night." His face began to redden at the mere mention of his previous evening's activities.

"Ah! I told you!" Duo said with a chuckle. "She thinks she's got you, lock, stock and barrel, Heero."

"Yeah."

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"How did it go?"

Heero paused. He stared out at a small shuttle being loaded with what looked to be pallets of bags of animal feeds. "I guess it was alright. I didn't know how to dance. She had to show me. It was embarrassing."

Duo laughed. "Oh man! I can just picture it now...you, dancing!"

"OK, very funny." Heero interrupted, his blush spreading across his face and over his nose now.

"Did she make you slow dance with her?"

There was a sigh as Heero turned to face his friend with a silly smirk on his face. "Yes, she made me slow dance with her."

"And?"

"And what?"

"You know."

"No, I don't know. That's my whole damn problem, Duo!"

"What happened after you slow danced?" Duo leaned back in his seat and crossed his leg over the other knee. Having finished his muffin, he casually propped a magazine in the space it created and started to flip pages.

"We danced some more, then left, since it was getting late."

"And?"

Heero shot Duo an annoyed look as he continued to leaf through the magazine, one of the complimentary travel magazines found all over the shuttle ports that advertised the shuttle companies and all tropical vacation destinations they could take you to if only you could afford it. "She wanted me to kiss her. In the limo, on the way back."

"Did you?"

There was a pause.

"Yes."

Duo didn't say anything for a few moments, as his tongue seemed to have gotten thick and dry in his mouth. It was as if he hadn't even heard Heero's answer, as he concentrated on the magazine in his lap, not seeing the pages but concentrating at the same time, but he did eventually look up to face his friend. There was a strange look in his eye. Almost a look of disappointment, although Heero didn't seem to pick up on it.

"Did you...want to kiss her?"

"I told you already. She wanted me to kiss her."

"So you kissed her because she wanted you to, and no other reason?"

"Yeah."

"Oh." Duo looked back down at the magazine, then up again. "Did you...feel anything? You know...remember what I was telling you yesterday? About instinct, and things feeling right?"

Heero dropped his head in embarrassment. As he did, a sinking feeling occurred within the depths of Duo's being as he anticipated the other man's answer. "I really disappointed her, I think."

"Huh?" Duo said, a little surprised. He hadn't noticed, but his heart rate began to increase ever so slightly as fleeting ideas of possibility began to form in his mind.

"We talked, she and I, about what you told me. She agreed with what you said. That there's a feeling that should be there when you have an attraction to someone. She tried to explain it to me..."

"The way she feels about you?"

"Yeah."

"How do you feel about her?" This time Duo did notice his elevated pulse as he asked the question. He felt a slight sweat forming at the base of his neck, under the ribbed collar of his T-shirt, and prayed that his discomfort with the conversation wasn't obvious. He prayed that he would survive his sudden and urgent need to vomit. There ya go, Heero! Perfect example of how you're supposed to feel when you're stuck on someone. See that mess on the floor there? YOU did that to me!

Heero let out a long sigh, reliving the awkwardness that he'd felt when he told Relena that he didn't seem to feel any attraction to her the evening before. "I had to tell her that I didn't feel anything. Nothing like you said I would, at least."

Duo let out a breath that he didn't even realize he'd been holding. Heero noticed, but made no reaction.

"There was no 'electricity,' or 'natural urge' there at all. I feel really bad about it too, because she was disappointed. She took it well, but I know she was really upset."

"Well, uh..." Duo faltered, covering it up with a silly grin. As much as he felt bad for the girl, his pity was short lived, as it was overtaken by his own feelings of relief. "She's a big girl, Heero. She'll get over it. You did the right thing." It was a small victory for Duo, yes, considering that just because Heero didn't like Relena, it didn't necessarily mean that he didn't like any women, but it was a victory all the same, and right now, that was all that mattered to him. Score one for agent Maxwell.

Then they were both silent, pondering, until Heero broke the strange mood by pulling his computer out again to check email. Duo chuckled. "Some things will never change, eh Heero?"

+

They remained to wander the shuttle port for the rest of the day with no results, having monitored each and every outbound shuttle and not finding anything out of the ordinary, which was not surprising. For the next three days they repeated the same schedule -- they stopped first at the "high power," just to take a peek at life on the moon, then returned to the shuttle port to resume observation. They picked a different location each time, so it wasn't completely obvious that the terminal was being watched, but still came up with nothing other than more of Heero's revelations of his new life, that is, until the fourth night.

On the fourth night, as Heero was making his last check of the shuttle schedules that were posted on the internet, he came across something new. They'd been checking the schedules religiously for any cargo shuttles that were headed out as far as the further colonies, planning their surveillance based on the shuttles going in and out and keeping an eye on the goods being set up in their holds, but this was something unexpected. Gate 3, Dock 2, arriving at 2:11 am and departing at 3:18 am -- a very ambitious schedule, even for the fastest of shuttle crews. This shuttle hadn't even been listed anywhere on the scheduled an hour ago.

It was the shuttle port's responsibility to post any and all comings and goings, on not only the tote boards in the terminals, but on their internet schedule site. It was not only a public courtesy, but it was the law, so that everyone knew what was flying in and out of Brussels. This shuttle hadn't been scheduled just a short time ago, and now here it was on the list, mere hours before it was due arrive, and then subsequently depart again. Though it did happen, although infrequently, that a shuttle would change its arrival port and land somewhere that it was not originally scheduled, thereby adding a new departure to the tote board at the last minute, this seemed somewhat suspicious to Heero. An early-morning arrival and departure, previously unannounced, and it was headed to the L3 cluster, which was fairly close to the moon as the shuttle flies. Looked like something that definitely needed checking out.

He checked his watch that was lying on the desk. It was 10:45 PM. As he started throwing on clothes again, Heero picked up his wireless phone that was lying beside the watch on the desk and flipped it on, keying his auto dial for Duo's number. He put the phone up to his head to hear the digitized ringing sound.

"Yeah?" Duo's voice finally answered after five rings, sounding gravely and harsh. He had already been in a deep sleep when Heero's call came.

"I have something. We need to go to the shuttle port."

"Now?"

"Pick you up by eleven-thirty."

Heero clapped his phone shut and started the shutdown procedure on his computer to close it. Hopping on one foot, he struggled to get his boots on and the ends of his jeans pulled over them, then threw on a T-shirt. When he was dressed, he grabbed a pen and notepad from the desk drawer and scribbled a message for Relena, which he left on his undisturbed bed, then in a flash he was gone. In the garage of the mansion he deactivated the alarm to his company-provided car, a black Acura sport coupe, got in and drove off just as soft lights appeared in Relena's bedroom windows.

+

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