Author: Honor A. De'Mandoren
See chapter 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Common Sense + Chapter Five
Epiphanies

Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change.
- Frank Lloyd Wright

+

It was maybe ten when I woke up. Zechs was spooned up behind me, a very warm and solid presence. Smiling to myself, I just laid there and soaked up the moment. Ah, to snuggle with a sexy man early in the morning...could this day get any better?

We hadn't done a lot of talking the night before, just enough to be assured that we were on the same page. This wasn't a one night stand, this wasn't a brief fling because we were hot for each other. Zechs wanted a real relationship, and I wasn't about to let go of him anytime soon. He was MINE, mine, mine, mine.

He stirred sleepily behind me, nuzzling in more. "Mm."

"Morning," I murmured to him softly.

"Mm," he replied.

There is one potential drawback to this relationship. Neither of us were morning people. Now who was supposed to bring me my coffee? "Zechs."

"...wha?"

"We have to move."

He made this noise, something between a growl of disagreement and a mewl of distaste, then he settled again and went back to sleep. Not exactly the response I was going for. "Zechs."

An unfocused blue eye peeked at me behind his bangs. "'m not moving."

Yup, definitely not a morning person. Normally I would agree with him, but I absolutely had to take a shower. I was sticky--neither Zechs or I had been able to let go of each other long enough to clean up--and my hair was a complete mess. Besides, I was hoping to do something about the carpet burns on my back and shoulders. Sighing, I started pulling free. "Let me up. I'll shower first."

He protested a little, mumbling something about me being warm and comfy, but let go when I started dragging him out of the bed with me. Apparently he was willing to sacrifice me for the greater cause of sleep.

I feel SO loved.

Half-asleep, I stumbled into the bathroom. As I started the water going, I looked at the towel rack to make sure that the maid had stocked up on towels. With two people having long hair, we went through towels really fast. There was two fluffy ones...I guess that will work. For me. Zechs would be in a spot, though. I made a mental note to request more towels, then stepped into the hot spray of water.

Ahhh...hot water. I can forgive the cretin that invented working hours just because some genius invented hot showers. Love it, love it, love it. I had shampoo in my hair, and was working it through to the end when the light went on.

DUH!

Snatching up a towel, I sprinted out of the bathroom, damn near killing myself as I tripped over the lip of the shower, and into the bedroom. "ZECHS!"

He might not be a morning person, but he was a soldier. He was upright in bed with a gun out in about two seconds. "What?!"

"We're idiots!"

"...not again." Sighing, he put the gun back under his pillow. "Now what did we overlook?"

"What is the one person that a rich kid will never notice? The one person that has complete access to this resort without question?"

His eyes went wide. "Staff."

"Bingo! The cleaning people can get their hands on anything of ours whenever they want!" I could tell by the way that his eyes had glassed over that I had lost his attention. "Zechs?"

"Duo," he croaked, "either go back to your shower or get dressed."

It suddenly dawned on me that I was half-naked, and dripping wet. Oh-ho. "Aw, poor Zechsy. Are you having a hard time focusing with my fine, manly physique being displayed in front of you?"

"Yes," he growled back. "And if you want to get all of that shampoo out of your hair, you'll go *finish* your shower."

Turning around, I sauntered back into the bathroom. "You know Zechs," I called over my shoulder, "you can always join me."

That's when I let the towel drop to the floor, and disappeared back into the bathroom.

Funny, it took about two hours to get all of that shampoo out of my hair. Wonder why...

+

After all that extended foreplay in the hot water, we managed to get our hormones under control and back to business. We did promise to meet someone for lunch (and barely managed to get there on time) but as soon as we were in our rooms, it was back to the old ball and chain.

Assuming that Zechs's theory about bored rich kids was right on (and I think it was, it just made too much sense) and my theory about the staff was right, there was a lot of footwork to do. The first thing we had to figure out was the people who normally trafficked the area. Heh. You know what that means.

Security footage.

"Zechs~!" I whined.

"Duo, it was your idea."

"But I don't want to do it! It's boring."

"It needs to be done," he replied placidly. Of course he can be placid, he was doing something that was remotely more interesting, namely updating Une on what we had figured out and our suspicions on what was going on. My lover had the brilliant idea of asking for background on the people staying at the resort. We'd have a better idea of knowing who had the schooling and experience to hack into systems that way.

Moodily I sank back into my chair and hit the fast-forward button again. I may have to watch all of this footage to figure out all the players involved, but I didn't have to do it at normal speed!

"Hey Zechs?"

"Yeah?"

"I have this brilliant idea. Let's just blow the resort up."

"...and how is that going to help?"

"Well, for one thing, it would make me feel loads better."

"Duo, I know you're bored but just hang on for another ten minutes and then I'll help."

See, my sex appeal can be useful. I can charm people into doing my share of the work.

"They're going to take me away, ha-ha!"

Yes! Distraction! I snatched my phone up and flipped it open. "The charming, beautiful, sexy Duo Maxwell is speaking."

<<Duo, I want to talk to my brother.>>

...security footage isn't that bad, really. I see that now. It's all a matter of perspective. "Er, he's sort of busy..."

<<NOW, Duo.>>

Better Zechs than me. I handed him the phone. "Your insane stalker sister is on the phone."

Zechs grimaced at me, but answered it dutifully. "Yes, Relena."

I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he sat there for a full five minutes without saying a word. Judging from the way he started frowning, Relena was ranting about something. Probably me.

"Relena, shut up. I said SHUT UP. I've put up with this for over a year, but I'm tired of you sticking your head in the sand. Duo isn't some kind of player, and he certainly hasn't been influencing me in any way about you. Let me spell out a few home truths, shall I? One, Heero is not interested in you. If I've read the signs right, he's more interested in having a love affair with his laptop than you."

I choked, putting both hands over my mouth to keep from laughing.

"Two, I'm not interested in dating women. Not your society friends, and not Noin or any other woman." She said something in response to that, and his expression became murderous. "Relena, I've known since I was sixteen that I had no interest in women like that. Duo had nothing to do with my feelings on the matter."

Why, why does she see me as some kind of Casanova?

Abruptly Zechs's temper snapped. I could tell, and memorized that expression for future reference. My Lightning Count goes really quiet and still when he loses his temper. "Relena, *be* *quiet*. I will only say this once. Duo is not to be blamed for your ugly temperament. And if you ever again belittle my lover in my hearing, you'll never know what hit you." Quite calmly he snapped the phone shut and handed it to me.

I was nearly moved to tears. "You..." admitted to the one family member you have left that I was your lover. Knowing that she'd be pissed, you did it.

There was this soft, gentle smile on his face when he leaned in close and kissed me. "You are much more important to me than she is."

My voice was a little shaky when I replied, and I was smiling so broadly that my face felt like it was split in half. "Gee, Merquise, thanks for the compliment."

He chuckled softly and kissed me again. "Let me finish this report, love."

Love. He called me love. "Sure, babe."

I saw his eyes sparkle at the endearment, right before he went back to typing at his computer.

Somehow, looking at security footage just wasn't boring after that.

I kinda expected Relena to start calling people and ranting, and was not in the least surprised when Quatre called me about ten minutes later. "Hey, Q."

<<Duo, I just had a very interesting phone call.>>

"From Relena, in which she told you that me and Zechs were lovers and what were you going to do about it," I finished for him dryly.

<<...yes, precisely. She wasn't just raving, apparently.>>

"Nope." I winked at my lover when I said it. "Any questions?"

<<When? How? Is this a permanent thing or am I going to have to pick up the pieces when this mission is over?>>

"When? Last night. How? Zechs pinned me to the wall and ah...persuaded me to see things from his point of view. And yes, it's quite permanent." Prudently I added, "Make sure to tell the guys that first, will ya?" We have a tendency to jump to conclusions in our 'family' and if the conclusions are bad ones, well...we're also trained to shoot first and ask questions later. I didn't want my lover full of holes, thank you very much.

<<Can do. I better let you go now. I think Relena's calling everyone, and I need to start on damage control.>>

I grimaced, but he was probably right. "Go. Tell them to call me if they have questions."

<<Right. Bye, Duo! ...wait, one last question. You guys are using protection right?>>

I just know my face was heating up. I carefully didn't look at Zechs. "We're not exactly to that level yet, okay? Now, mother, go do your job."

<<Now, Duo, there's no need to be embarrassed.>>

"Embarrassed my ass, you just want details! Hentai!"

He had the absolute gall to giggle. <<Bye, Duo. Say hi to Zechs for me.>>

"Perverted, horny little bugger," I grumbled to my phone. With a sigh I filled Zechs in. "Relena is calling everyone. Quatre was calling to see what was fiction and what wasn't. He'll straighten everyone else out for us so we can focus on our job."

"Ah. And the reason why you're beet red is because...?"

"Because the rat was digging for dirt, that's why," I growled. Curse my fair skin, it always gets me into trouble.

Zechs grinned. He seemed to find this whole thing vastly amusing.

I stuck my tongue out at him and went back to my security footage. At least they didn't talk back.

+

The security footage did tell us a couple of things. One, there was only three people that weren't part of the normal traffic. Two of them were apparently prospective employees that hadn't been hired, cause I never saw them again after that one interview. But the third guy I did see, twice.

Mr. Fatso.

Fatso was middle-aged, roughly my height and about as round as he was tall. He was very careful to never let his face be caught on film, and to wear gloves to not leave any fingerprints behind. In this kind of heat, the gloves were very conspicuous.

"It's gotta be him," I muttered to Zechs.

"Probably," he agreed thoughtfully. "Who's the woman meeting with him?"

Now there was where our luck had improved. The cleaning lady didn't have the same common sense to hide her face, and with a twitch of my fingers and the magic words, I promptly ID her. "Margaret Halloway, on staff for eight years. Shall I tell you her shoe size?"

"I'm more interested in the rooms she's over."

I tapped into the resort's main frame and cross-referenced her name with the schedule. "Second floor, rooms 200 to 300." I did some more checking and added, "Half of those rooms are empty right now."

"And can you tell me who is in what rooms?"

"Yup." In something under ten seconds I had it all up on screen and ready to print. "Let's start comparing that list to the one Une gave us, shall we?"

Zechs leaned in close and pressed a kiss against my temple, a sweet gesture that melted me like so much butter sitting in the microwave. "You're brilliant, you know that?"

"I have my moments." My voice was a little husky. Now was not the time to pull Zechs onto the nearest available flat surface and do interesting patterns on his body with my tongue--argh, why did I have to think that?! Now the visual is making me even more horny!

"Duo?"

He's got this little amused smile on his face that makes him look even sexier, if that is possible. "What?"

"You're looking a little...flushed."

I gave him my most evil, frustrated, this-is-all-your-fault glare. "That's because you're leaning over me and you're being all sweet and sexy."

He smirked and stepped back a foot. "Does that help?"

At the first available opportunity, I am so paying him back for this. "You get your tight, sexy ass back over here buster. If you think you can just stir me up then walk away, you're crazy!"

+

It took about an hour (after being 'distracted' that is), but we came up with three suspects based on the info that Une sent us, and the info we had hacked. "Their names even sound snooty," I muttered.

"It's going to mean serious trouble if it's them," Zechs sighed. "Churchill is of course of *the* Churchills, and his father has a lot of political power. Nottingham is just as bad as the other, and Victoria Wooten is of very old money. We're going to have to be careful on how we collect evidence. Any loopholes, and they're going to slip free."

"They're going to get off easy no matter what we do," I pointed out dryly. "They have the money and connections to do it. And if we're right, then they aren't guilty of anything more serious than stupidity, so they don't really deserve a stiff sentence."

"Why do I hear a 'but' in there somewhere?"

"But," I gave him a Shinigami grin, fierce and blood thirsty, "I really want to nail them for this. Their criminal stupidity has probably already cost lives."

"So how do you propose we catch them?"

"By being particularly evil and sneaky, naturally."

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