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

Papillion + Part 7

"So...go ahead. Talk." Duo said when Heero finally got him to listen. They were the only words that had come out of Duo's mouth the whole way out of the Preventers building, across the street and into the coffee shop other than "What do you want?" when they were standing at the counter, ordering their coffee.

Heero replied, his tone annoyed. "You know, you could be a little more interested in what I have to say to you, instead of acting like all you want is to get away from here."

Duo was startled by Heero's comment. "Since when do you even give a rats ass what I think, or anyone else for that matter. I'm surprised you're even here right now. Surprised you didn't just take command of the situation by telling Une that 'everything would be satisfactory,' and that you'd deal with me in your own way so that I wasn't a hindrance to the project."

"That's just the point, Duo."

"What point."

"If you'd let me explain..."

"Fine. Explain away." Duo blew on his coffee, plain with cream and sugar, so that he could take a sip. They were seated at a corner table for two out of the way of the main counter traffic. He kept his gaze from meeting Heero's.

"I want to start by apologizing for bailing out on you like I did after the Eve War. I know I should have said something, but..."

"You're damn right you should have said something." Duo's eyes were filled with hurt as he leaned down close to the table, bringing himself close enough to Heero so that the other man could hear the yell in his whisper.

Heero lowered his head.

"Did it ever occur to you that I might be really looking forward to the possibility of us becoming Preventer agents together? Or at the very least, staying in touch with you? Damn it, Heero...you know you four are the only friends I have now. They sent Trowa on assignment with Quatre, like we didn't see that one coming, and me and Wu, well...it just isn't the same, Heero. You were my partner that last year. You were the one I got to know better. You were my friend, whether you wanted to be or not, and I think that lays a certain amount of responsibility on you to at least tell me if you're going to blow me off and disappear like you did." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, then had to look away again to hide the building emotion in his eyes.

"You're right, Duo. And you have every reason to be upset. But you don't know the reason why."

"Yeah...I can't wait for this, Heero. Go ahead. Tell me why you couldn't so much as call me on the phone to tell me that you were leaving town and we'd never hear from you again. Hell, if you would have wanted it to be a secret, you could have trusted me, and you know it. I thought we were good enough friends that you..."

"I had to go back to L1."

"Yeah, so what? I went back to L2. There was nothing there for me, so I came back, to work for Sally and Une."

Heero's face twisted. "No, you don't understand. I HAD to go back to L1. J made me go back. Secretly."

Duo calmed a little bit. "But...that can't be. We all got a call. They told us it was all over, the Gundam project, and 'Have a nice day sucker.' All the rest of us got a call."

"I did too, only mine was instructions to go back, and go back quietly."

Agent Maxwell contemplated his next attack. "Yeah, so, you went back. You couldn't let any of us know that you were there?"

"Actually, no."

"Why not?"

"Because I think I was there against the collective agreement between the five of them, Duo. That's why. J didn't want any of the others to know that he'd called me back."

"He held you there against your wishes?" Duo asked, his eyes widening.

"In a way, yes."

"But..."

"He was controlling me."

"How?"

"When he finally released me, he removed a tiny computer chip from under my scalp. He had been controlling me most of my life."

Duo sat, confused now. "So...you mean you're not the person that I really know? You're someone else? You aren't Heero -- Heero was in the computer chip?"

Heero smirked. "I'm still me, Duo, but I'm a little different than the me that you knew before. I'm the real me now. Someone I never got to be before."

The other man shook his head in disbelief. "Uh-uh...you're putting me on. No way. You can quit the crap now and get to the real reason why you just took off."

"Ask Sally." Heero looked at Duo with sincerity in his eyes.

Duo stared, then turned his attention to his coffee. Stirring it around with the plastic swizzle stick that was in the cup, he watched it swirl, then put the cup to his lips for a sip. When he put it back down again, he sighed.

"So what was he making you do?"

Heero's face relaxed some. "Nothing. That's just it. For a year he just kept me there like some caged animal, and I did nothing other than help him with some experiments."

"Tell me about this supposed mind-control that he had over you." There was still skepticism in his tone, but if Sally Po didn't question it, then he supposed it would have to be good enough for him as well. At least for now.

Heero spent the next hour explaining the things that he'd been through and what he'd discovered about his headaches to Duo. When he was finished telling the story, a story that was more like a nightmare to him, and a fantasy novel to Duo, he stood and said "I think I need a refill. What about you?" Duo slid him the rest of Une's money, still in awe over the information that he'd just been given.

When Heero came back with two fresh cups of coffee, Duo's cream and sugar and his own, just cream, he returned to his seat in front of his still-perplexed friend. Sliding the sugared cup across the table to Duo, Heero smiled weakly, wondering what thoughts were happening in the other young man's head.

Duo shook his head. "That's some shit, Heero, you know that?"

Heero nodded and smiled, sipping on his coffee.

"I think now I owe you an apology, for acting like such an ass and not letting you explain."

With a big grin, Heero agreed, and his lightness surprised Duo. "Yeah, I think you do!"

"Now that's new."

"What?"

"Heero Yuy, smiling, of all things."

"I think I could learn to smile a lot, as I unlearn all those other habits. But it's going to take some time. Relena says I still really clam up whenever I get stressed. Revert back to my 'soldier mentality,' as she calls it."

"Hmm...yeah, I can understand that. Eh, we'll work on you. I'll take you out for some fun and get you smiling big time," Duo laughed, winking at his once-again friend. Then his look became serious. "Hey, you said you're staying with Relena now, right?"

"Yeah. So?"

A wicked expression appeared on Duo's face. "Damnit, man! You know how long she's been wanting to get in your pants! Heero, I have to tell you...when you disappeared, she looked like she had just won the booby prize or something. She did NOT take it well."

"She wanted what?" Heero asked, straining to keep his voice low.

"She wanted YOU! She wanted to lose her virginity, Heero. Come on! You mean to tell me you didn't notice they way she always behaved around you? The girl was in heat whenever you were near her!"

Heero blushed, thinking back to the previous night's kiss, a kiss which Relena initiated. He hadn't known what to do, so he just kissed her back. Now that kiss made a lot more sense. "Oh hell," he said with a look of dread on his face. "She kissed me last night. We were having a pretty emotional conversation and the next thing I knew, she was kissing me. You don't think..."

Duo burst out laughing. "I think she thinks she's got you right where she wants you, man!"

Heero huffed out a disturbed sigh.

"Do you like her?" Duo then asked. "I mean...hell, she is pretty cute. If you like her, then there's no problem, is there?"

Heero contemplated for a minutes before shaking his head. "I don't know. I really don't know." He looked up at Duo. "I don't know what I want, let alone whether I like Relena like that. I really haven't had a lot of chance to think about things like that, you know? I really have no idea, to tell you the truth."

"Yeah, I know. I also know this. You'll know if you like her or not. It just happens, Heero. That's why the human species keeps replenishing itself in spite of war, earthquakes and cancer. Because there is plenty of natural instinct to go around, even if you have spent over half your life with your nuts in a vice and a computer chip in your head."

"Very funny."

Duo smiled proudly, then almost as suddenly his face went blank as his eyes softened. "I know I was a real bastard to you today and yesterday, Heero, but I really missed you. It just...hurt, that I thought I would never see you again, ya know? You mean a lot to me."

With a half-smile, Heero answered "Yeah, I know. I know now, about that hurt, and I'm sorry for causing it."

There was a long, uncomfortable pause before Duo attempted to get his next statement out. "Iya...there's something..." The words became difficult so he stopped. "Never mind."

"What is it?"

"Nothing. It can wait. Just glad to have you back, buddy." The long-haired man said with a warm smile. "Glad to have you back." He pondered for another moment. "And one more thing."

"Yes?"

"Since when do you drink coffee?"

Heero smiled, shaking his head slightly. "There are lots of things that you don't know about me now, Duo. Things that I'm just learning about as well. I'm becoming a bit of a different person. The person, I suppose, I should have been all along."

"Well, you sure talk more than I'm used to," Duo said with a smirk.

"And to answer your question, I drink coffee ever since Relena got me hooked on that French Roast she likes to keep around her office. Addicting."

Duo laughed out loud. "Ah, the wonders of the mighty coffee bean! Hooked us another one, we have!"

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