Author: Octavius
Archive: Don't have one. Only my lj: http://octavius- x.livejournal. com/
Pairing: 2x1, mentions of 3,4,5
Rating: NC-17 sexuality for the very end, PG-13 for the rest.
Warnings: None that aren't in the rating.
Spoilers: none
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em that would be BANDAI. Don't have any money either.

Bibliophile

It's nearly impossible to grow massive amounts of trees on the colonies. Sure the occasional park evenly spaced out over the building plans is all right, but there are no forests, no tree farms. Christmas trees have to be shipped in every year from earth. There's problem with the gas intake and outtake systems that results in too much oxygen buildup and not enough CO2 to keep up the phosphorylation. Supposedly it's possible; there are computer programs in place to monitor and regulate, but no one takes the chance. Stories filter down onto to the school playground of early colonists who combusted because of stray sparks or by lighting cigarettes.

Trees used for pulp making and paper are grown off world either on the Mars Colony, or on specially designated satellites where the oxygen levels can be totally contained with a minimal amount of staff. It's dead expensive because CO2 has to be drawn out of Earth's atmosphere, compressed, and flown up, with the water, and soil, and solar panels. Thus paper is used mostly for ceremony on Earth, and even less in the Colonies. Besides electronic tablets, they mostly have compacted plastic sheets that are almost transparent and made out old soda bottles. It's a convenient process and they're recyclable over 300 times, but it's like newsprint, and books tend to come and go according to the fashion. Around people's houses somewhere they will have at least one paperback or hard bound lurking on a table or in a bookshelf.

Once when they has been using one of the Winner libraries as a tactical planning station, Heero had seen Trowa run a knuckle down the spine of a hardbound Nietzsche with the same expression of concentration he had seen when Trowa had restitched his shoulder then touched his face afterwards. The same expression as when he played the flute, and when he -so carefully- handed Quatre his glasses making sure their fingers didn't touch. Much later he's stripping off his shirt to climb onto the shit mattress they'd manage to find, when he stops. Duo's on the other side, curled up, facing the wall. In his right hand still with his fingers tucked in and marking his place is The King in Yellow, and in his left the spine crackly with its layers of cellophane tape, is Johnny Got his Gun tucked close to his heart.

Heero had never touched a paperback in his life until age 8, and then it was Odin's Bible as he went though their bags salvaging weapons, fake id, protein supplements. He didn't think about it then, but he's sure it felt different than the books at St. Mary's -the paper ones that weren't allowed to leave the library with their big heavy parchment pages.

J had made sure Heero had known all the classics. Even now when asked about Oedipus Rex, or Kafka's The Metamorphosis he can recite them both backwards and forwards, their major thematic principles, and significance to literature. It's useless information. When he told J this, he old man goes very still. He doesn't turn around even though Heero had seen him exit the program specifications he had been working on, and he can't hear him typing anymore.

Instead he tells Heero creakily, "The reason there are so few real paper books left, is not because of the non-viable nature of photosynthesis in the colonies, the air pollution here, or even because no one is reading them. It is a little known fact that during the original war to unite the Earth sphere there was a short period of Nuclear winter in the Northern Hemisphere and since the allies could not abandon their offensives -it was suggested- that the books being kept in the libraries under the conquered nations, and eventually in those of the homes of the allies, should be shipped to the fronts and burned for fuel so that the soldiers wouldn't freeze to death."

Heero doesn't quite understand any of this. Not when Wufei is turning pages of The Woman Warrior with intense concentration, not even bothering to push his glasses back up his nose. Definitely not when Wufei threatens a reenactment of the Boar's Head Gaudy if Duo doesn't "Shut his fucking obscene mouth." Not when Duo reads him the description of a kiss and breathes in one shaky little gasp of air. He holds one of Duo's books in his hands limp, cracked open, and feels nothing.

Sometime later Duo will turn over, prop his head on one hand and say, "This is the part where you're supposed to tell me something romantic like that 'my eyes are as lavender as amethyst lilacs' or some other BS."

Heero looks at him for a moment. There's medical tape on Duo's collarbone where it had split the skin, a crisp of sweat salt at the hairline of his braid, and on the inside of his elbow a deep bruise the exact shape and color of a plum where an hour earlier Heero's thumb had clamped down and moved that hand from its place on his hip, rocking the two of them forward, to the hot cock nudging his stomach.

"But they're not."

Duo just sort of snorts at this, then fishes around for his pants and leaves.

He figures he gets it later when Duo's laid open for him like a book. His skin the paper, his scars the edge of a page, black gunpowder line of hair down his stomach the hidden binding. They fuck later, slowly, Duo in from behind breathing the same line as before about the kiss into his ear, breath hitching after each word. When Duo moves his hands down to palm his hips, Heero thinks of Duo's hair laid out, sinking down like ink into the white mattress and forming all the words he'll ever need to understand.

(end)

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A/N: um plausible science? I do not know how many trees you would need for oxygen build up, but oxygen is very flammable and I imagine that would be a problem for the colonists.

The Boar's Hear Gaudy is celebrated at Queen's College, Oxford. It originates from the story of a student being attacked by a wild boar and saving himself by stuffing his Greek text down its throat whereby it expires. I swear I'm not making this up.

The King in Yellow- a tribute to some GW story I read when I was 14 and loved. Duo owns this book in that fic.
Johnny got his gun- Anti-war novel in which the main character looses most of him limbs/senses afterwards he wants to show soldiers the atrocities of war.
The Woman Warrior- Non-ficiton tales of a Chinese immigrant told by her 1st generation daughter. I imagine Wufei would have problems with just the title.

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