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

Papillion + Part 4

Exiting the Movie Theater later that night, Heero was in a rare form, the likes of which Relena had never seen. He actually seemed relaxed, and even a little bit happy, as they discussed the story line and special effects of the movie. Relena learned very quickly that you do not take a combat pilot -- let alone a former Gundam pilot -- to a movie like "Star Wars -- Episode 15" without expecting to hear about how unrealistic the whole mess is.

"I don't care if it is Hollywood. That was not a good battle scene at the end. I mean... you just can't DO those things in zero gravity, Relena!" Heero argued with the girl, trying to sound insulted that she didn't find the movie to be a total debauchery the way he did.

"Yes, I know that, you know that... the rest of the universe knows that," she argued back, patronizing him. "But it was a movie, Heero. A mooo-veee. Get it? It was all effect." The girl laughed.

"I don't know," he responded as they got into the waiting limousine. "It all just seemed really far-fetched if you ask me, what with this 'dark force,' and the way they could just materialize from thin air to get from place to place."

"That's cellular transposition."

"What?"

"Like... have you ever seen Star Trek? No, I guess not. OK, stupid question, I know. But anyway, it was an old television show back before the colonies existed. They could travel in a similar way in that program. They would get into these tubes and press a button, and it would break them down to a cellular level, then move the cells one by one through space. Pretty advanced for the times, if you ask me, since here we are and we still can't do that. Neat, even if it was all fake."

Heero looked at Relena in utter confusion. "Star what?"

"Don't worry about it. It's not important."

"Yeah, don't forget. I've been in the dark for almost eighteen years. Sarcasm was a new thing for Heero to try out. He seemed to be picking it up quickly. "And who is this Jedi Master Luke Skywalker that everyone in the movie keeps referring to? Where is he? And why is he so important?"

"He's dead!" Relena laughed out loud, then placed a small kiss on Heero's cheek. "You're really cute sometimes, you know that? It's along story. Look, I'll explain the entire series of movies to you some time when we have time to sit down and watch them all, OK?"

By the next evening, Heero would return to his bedroom to find not only a video system with a nice big screen set up, but also a high-volume video disc containing all of the Star Wars movies (all fourteen prior releases, that is,) the Star Trek movies and the television episodes, and a few other notable classics. There were the Indiana Jones movies, the Lethal Weapon movies, the Terminator movies, and slipped in for good measure, one of Relena's favorites, Titanic. For nostalgia, she also included the Austin Powers movies, to see if Heero would pick up on the similarities between himself and the International Man of Mystery who, having been cryogenically frozen, finds himself awake during a different time and a different era. As odd as it was, you could almost argue the same thing about the former Gundam pilot. It was almost like he'd been frozen in J's little lab, only to be let out to do his bidding on the world, then put back away again like some delicate thing that needed watching and protecting.

 

When he showed up at Preventers headquarters later that week, Heero didn't know what to expect. He wasn't so sure whether he'd receive a warm welcome or not from his fellow former pilots, considering how he'd left without a trace after the Eve War. There was a high possibility that they'd be pretty annoyed at him, and for the first time in his life, Heero actually cared about this. He was worried about the idea that his friends could and probably were angry with him. With apprehension building inside him, Heero quickly made his way through the lobby, noting the echo that followed him, and into a waiting elevator. He pressed the button that read 12, then leaned against the metal wall and sighed.

The elevator soon chimed, announcing its arrival on the 12th floor as it lurched to a stop, and the doors pulled open. As Heero looked up, his stomach immediately sank. Here we go, he thought, as he stepped out of the elevator to face the one person he had been hoping to avoid.

"I don't fucking believe it." Duo Maxwell said with biting apathy. He had been waiting for the elevator when Heero got off. "Heero fucking Yuy, in the flesh. To what do I owe this honor?"

Heero was dumbfounded. He realized a long time ago that his partner and closest friend would probably be angry about his leaving the way that he did, but deep inside him, the hope remained that maybe things wouldn't turn out that bad between them. As he stood there facing Duo, those hopes were dashed to bits.

The former pilot of the Gundam Deathsyche Hell didn't seem as though he'd changed much in a year's time. His beloved rope of chestnut-colored, braided hair still hung behind him; his stature looked pretty much the same too, although he may have grown an inch or two taller since the last time Heero had seen him. Then there were those strange, violet-blue eyes, still every bit as confusing as they had always been, only right now they seemed to be turning red with fury.

"I... " Heero didn't know what to say. What could he say? He stared into turbulent violet eyes that demanded some kind of an explanation from him. "I'm sorry, Duo." It was all he could muster up before breaking his contact and looking at the floor.

Duo, on the other hand, had plenty to say, but he was late for an appointment. He checked his watch and cursed. Then shaking his head, he passed around Heero and pounded the elevator button with his fist, getting on when the doors opened for him. His eyes remained hard on his former partner as the elevator doors closed, his pained look displaying his displeasure and annoyance.

"Shit," Heero cursed under his breath, then turned to make his way to Sally Po's office, hoping he didn't encounter any of the other former pilots along the way.

 

Sally Po was a little more cordial than Duo had been. She even greeted Heero with a loose embrace, something that he didn't expect. He reminded himself to not push away or act standoffish, something that Relena had talked about with him. "Nothing will offend people faster than making them feel like you can't stand to be near them," she had said while trying to teach him how to accept a hug and not be so stone rigid about it. It was something that she was good at -- hugging people -- since in her line of duty, she did it frequently, whether she wanted to or not. It gave a feeling of friendship and trust, and as the Foreign Minister, it was her job to keep everyone happy and trusting of her.

As it would be expected, Sally was very interested to know about Heero's account of his last meeting with Dr. J. Being a doctor herself, she was awestruck to hear about Heero's past, what little he knew, but it was the method in which he was force-trained that had her shaking her head. To further solidify his story, Heero even let her see the remaining stitches at the incision site where J had removed the computer chip, and she went as far as to offer to remove the sutures for him, since the skin looked well healed by now.

"So... what do you want to do with yourself now, Heero?" Sally's questioning tone was very serious.

"I'm here, aren't I?"

The blonde woman sighed, tapping her desk with the end of her pen. Then she looked straight at the Japanese young man. "Just because you're here doesn't mean that you want to be. After everything I've just heard, I'd think that you'd want to get as far away from this as possible."

Heero shook his head. "No, that's not it at all. As I mentioned to Relena, this," he looked around the room, "is what I'm about, Sally. Being able to be a part of it by my own decision is what makes it OK for me now."

There were a few minutes of silence as Sally contemplated Heero's position. "Just because we have peace now doesn't mean there isn't anyone fighting, you know. There are crackpot organizations popping up all over the place to challenge us. We just dealt with one in the L5 cluster, since there still isn't a permanent government there after the destruction of the main colony. You'll see action -- probably nothing like what you're used to, but it's still a life and death job."

"I figured as much."

"Well, Heero," Sally began, "I have to be honest with you. I can't tell you that I wasn't thrilled when Relena called me and informed me that you had surfaced out of thin air the way you did. People like you, with your abilities, are hard to come by, and I'd be a fool not to welcome you back."

"Thank you," Heero said.

"Are you sure you can still handle it? The pressure?"

"I think so."

"That isn't good enough, Heero. You know that."

"Yes. I can handle it."

More silence. Sally turned in her swivel desk chair to look out of her big pane glass window onto the cityscape before them. "It's a remarkable thing that we've done here, obtaining peace. We've worked so hard for it. You know this as well as I do. Probably more so. But it's fragile, Heero. One wrong move... one word misunderstood and... " She turned her chair back to face him. "I trust you, Heero. Always have. If you want in, you're in."

"I want in."

"Then welcome aboard, agent Yuy."

 

Before leaving Preventers headquarters, Heero was escorted to the human resources office where he filled out employment papers and was fitted for his field uniforms. On days that he was not scheduled to be out of the building he could dress business casual -- khakis with polo shirts or oxfords -- which was pretty much the standard. He would have to get Relena to take him clothes shopping soon, so he had some new clothes for his new job.

On the way out of the building, he stopped at the reception desk in the lobby. There was a middle-aged woman in a smart business suit answering the phones. Heero moved up to the desk and waited for her attention while she transferred a call.

"May I help you?" the woman asked, a pleasant smile on her face.

Heero cleared his throat. "Can you tell me if agent Maxwell is still in the building?"

"One moment. I'll check." She turned to her computer and tapped a couple of keys on the keyboard. "Yes, according to my computer, he hasn't signed out yet today. I don't know if he's in his office or not, but I can find out. Shall I page him for you?"

Heero paused for a moment. As much as he didn't want to confront the other young man's anger and disappointment, he didn't want to start his new job on bad terms with one of the other agents, either. Truth be known, he was beginning to experience a lot of guilt about the whole situation. He needed to talk things over with Duo.

"If you don't mind," Heero finally answered.

"Who shall I say is paging?"

"Heero Yuy. I was just hired on as a new agent."

The woman smiled again. "Very nice to meet you, agent Yuy. One moment please." She picked up the phone receiver and dialed a few numbers, then waited. "Agent Maxwell, there's an agent Yuy that would like to... oh... yes, I see. Very well. Thank you." She put the receiver back in its cradle and turned to Heero. "I'm sorry, agent Yuy. Agent Maxwell is not seeing anyone right now."

"What did he say?"

The woman's cheeks reddened somewhat. "He said to tell agent Yuy that he he's busy and doesn't have time for excuses today."

Heero sighed, lowering his eyes in disappointment.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, agent Yuy?"

Turning to leave, Heero said "No, no thanks. I'll see you tomorrow then." He walked across the empty lobby, disappearing through revolving glass doors and into the street.

+

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