Part Twenty-Two: Cover Stories, Part II
"Chang... " Heero toyed with the rice, which was so watery and overcooked that Wufei had unpacked the spoons instead of their usual chopsticks, or lunch would have taken hours.
"Sorry, they didn't have much of a selection at the deli. I didn't think you'd want sauerkraut or paella. I'll get some fresh supplies tomorrow, and we'll find a proper place for take-out."
Heero gave him his usual dead-eyed stare. "I wasn't worried about the food."
"That's because you don't have any taste buds." Wufei muttered, shoving the plate of bland chow mein away, and grabbing an apple. He took a bite and grimaced in distaste. Floury. And pretty expensive. Damn, he'd only been on earth about a year, but already he'd forgotten what it was like to live on the colonies. With a student budget to work with, too; he'd have to get creative with their menus...
"We've been so busy these last few days, we've not had time to go into details on this mission yet." Heero pushed his own plate away too. He was looking at Wufei seriously. "What exactly are we expected to do?"
Wufei's apple hovered near his lips. The week since they'd accepted the mission had been hectic: building the cover stories; memorizing them; getting the necessary items for their roles; flying to Tokyo to try to set up what background they could in so short a time; and showing themselves at a few of the places they were supposed to have frequented. They'd not had time to discuss much about what they'd do once they got to L3. But now that they were here, they had months to figure out how to get noticed by Exeter and get invited into his pack.
But that wouldn't do for Heero Yuy, Wufei realized. His partner had to have clear guidelines from the start.
Wufei watched Heero walk away from the rickety kitchen table and pace the living room, from the small couch, to the television Sam had insisted they needed. They'd have to watch it, Wufei suddenly realized. To maintain their cover. The news, and maybe a film or two. Sitting on the couch. There wasn't anywhere else to sit, and it'd look weird if they didn't. Wufei looked at it blankly; it was a very small couch...
"Hmm? Oh, well, you know the outline already. We hang out at Désirs. It's Exeter's club, one of his cash cows on this colony. He often goes there at night and watches the action. If we spend time at the club, once or twice a week, and on Saturdays, then he'll see us there eventually and hopefully give us an invitation to his mansion."
"I know that bit." Heero snapped. "What no one's bothered to explain to me is how we're supposed to get that invitation. They have hundred of people going in and out of that club. He only invites a few. How do we catch his attention?"
Wufei considered his partner thoughtfully. Heero was pacing the living room with the grace and raw power of a tiger shouldering his way through a jungle, arrogant and sure. His jeans - Sally and Lu had had a field day, dragging Heero off to go shopping, and Wufei would be eternally glad that, one, he didn't have to go, having an adequate wardrobe, and that two, he'd had the foresight of disarming Heero before the trip. The jeans were one of the new acquisitions, and obviously made Heero feel uncomfortable; he was digging his hands in the back pockets again, trying to loosen the cling of the denim against his skin. Heero hardly ever wore anything but loose fatigues, or sweatpants and tank top when he worked out. Wufei scrutinized the well-sculpted body in the tight denim and a clinging dark blue long-sleeved t-shirt that defined his partner's chest and abs, and thoughtfully weighed them against Exeter's known set of criteria.
"I don't think catching his attention will be too difficult. Don't worry about it."
"What? I don't understand. First of all, what is he looking for? The outline said gay couples, but that's a bit vague. They pretty much don't let anyone else into Désirs."
"He's looking for beautiful, interesting people." Wufei recapitulated, remembering the information they'd been given. "He invites them to dance at his mansion and to party with him. Occasionally he indulges in a threesome, when it's obvious all parties are interested. But we won't have to go there, we just need to get into the joint."
"How? Beautiful and interesting... interesting how? Do we have to dance well?"
"No, and I don't think we'll dance anything too vigorous to start with. We both move like martial artists, and it shows."
"Then what are we supposed to be doing?"
"We can't do too much of that. Neither of us is used to alcohol."
"So what are we going to be doing? How do we get noticed?" Heero bit out, sitting abruptly on the couch and crossing his arms over his chest.
"In your case, Yuy? Don't talk, sit around and try to look sexy. Even if that doesn't get us in, the entertainment value alone should be worth it."
The look that quip got him deserved its own chapter in the Heero Yuy Book of Death Glares. Wufei was suddenly thankful that they didn't have the room to spar in this apartment.
"Seriously, Yuy." Wufei stood and stretched, then turned to gather the plates. "The only qualifications are to be young, look good, and grab his fancy. I don't know how to do the latter any more than you do, but the first two we should be able to manage. If that doesn't get us in after a couple of months, at least we'll be familiar enough with the club by then to see if we can try something else: talk to one of his men; make friends with the bartender; get up on stage and dance. I don't know. We've got time to figure it out, remember... "
He put the dishes in the sink, turned on the water. Time... this wasn't one of their quick and dirty jobs. One of the most essential parts of this mission would be to get into the skin of their alter-egos. Chan Gen 'Chang' Lin, and Yuy Summers. Heero was focusing on their objective, of course, but there was so much more that would be involved. Meeting the neighbors, paying bills, touring the colony, finding places to eat, making friends with a few other students, hanging out, jogging together before classes - since they would quickly miss any physical activity, but couldn't indulge in their usual sparring. In fact, far from fighting each other, they'd have to be friendly, even here, in private. No more putdown matches; well, fewer of them anyway. And in between they'd have to act, well, like a couple. They'd have to talk about their day; go to the movies; dance together at Désirs; take walks in the park; meet up at Uni and have lunch together...
Wufei turned off the water briskly, covering the slight tremble of panic that had run through him. There was something fundamentally... surreal about the whole thing, and it... worried him in a way he found hard to define. He decided it was because of all the hurdles he knew they had to face; figuring out how to behave at Désirs was important, but it was just one of many stumbling blocks the partners would be facing. No wonder Une didn't think they had a chance in hell.
But they'd prove her wrong. Wufei glanced around the small apartment - their apartment. How hard could it be? They routinely fought side by side against impossible odds. Brothers-in-arm. How hard could it be to just act like normal people? Together? This was a mission. They were not in the habit of failing those.
Wufei glanced at Heero as he put the plates in the drainer. Was Heero thinking the same thing he was? Possibly. Their abilities to read each other were amplified by danger, in clear-cut life and death situations, and this hadn't become one yet. Wufei discreetly studied the hard profile from the kitchenette, trying to follow the train of his partner's thoughts in the stiff neck, the tightly crossed arms. Heero was staring at the television as if wondering what it was for. He looked a bit tense. Wufei couldn't blame him. But he was Heero's template in this, he had to forge ahead, ignoring the little twist of worry twisting in his stomach. Assuming an assuredness he didn't quite feel, he walked over to his partner and squeezed his shoulder over the couch's back. Heero started and twisted to stare at him. Wufei met the look calmly, silently reminding his partner that they'd have to get used to small gestures like that.
Heero sighed in self-directed annoyance at his own reaction. "Yes?"
"Let's go put the stuff away, I hate living in boxes. Then we can choose what we'll wear tonight and talk about what to expect."
"Got a lot of experience in this?" Heero asked archly, as he stood up and followed Wufei into the bedroom.
"Some. I did go to such places during my university days in China."
Wufei glanced back at the uncharacteristic level of surprise in Heero's voice. "Yes, of course. Clubbing and hanging out in bars is a rather standard student activity."
Heero continued to stare at him in surprise. Wufei shrugged nonchalantly, opening a box. "A friend of mine, Ko. He dragged me out a few times."
"Oh?" Heero blinked, still obviously off balance. Surprised that Wufei had actually had a life, a social existence, in the time they'd spent apart?
"It's not something I enjoyed." Wufei admitted. "I mainly sat in a corner, drinking orange juice and waiting until Ko was distracted enough that I could slip out and head home without him moaning at me for being an antisocial jerk."
The press of drunken bodies, the flashing lights, the noise drowning his senses... he'd have felt more at ease in an interrogation room. He'd never been tempted to repeat the experience once he'd become Heero's partner, though Sally and Lu had invited them both out a couple of times. He doubted he'd enjoy it any more now than he had then, the whole concept seemed... trivial, boring and a waste of time. Most things did, outside of the job. The partnership and the arrangement it entailed had become the centre of his life, and they kept him on an edge of excellence and adrenaline which made most divertissements pale in comparison.
"I only went a few times, but I have some idea on how to behave. Watching the crowds was about the only thing I had to keep me from becoming totally bored. From my observation, clubbing mainly consists of sitting in hard seats drinking watery beer, staring around the room, watching the opposite sex while trying not to be too obvious, while they do pretty much the same, and then occasionally dancing like scarecrows, or going into agonies of indecision about inviting a girl to dance, then hanging around her like a puppy if she says yes. Here, we'll put my books in the living room, they won't fit in here."
"Right." Heero said, picking up the box absently and turning away - Wufei had been holding one end of the heavy box of books, waiting for Heero to help him by lifting the other end, and found himself empty-handed and staring at his partner's back; but that worked too. He shrugged and opened the next box. Shoes.
"So that's what we can expect?" Heero, apparently fully recovered from his previous surprise, glanced up from the books as Wufei passed by him, carrying the shoes to the cupboard near the door.
"Yes. Well, except for the bit about looking at the opposite sex. And since we're supposed to be together, you can't look too long at anybody of the same sex either. But mainly, we'll just be drinking, watching people, trying to talk together, dancing when the music's slow, and eventually leaving to go home and study."
"Try to talk together?"
"The music will be loud."
"We can lip-read. Oh."
"Yes, oh, as in, we don't want that to be obvious."
"This is going to be... quite challenging." Heero commented, voice soft. Wufei glanced over his shoulder at the uncharacteristic pause in his partner's voice. Heero was holding some books in front of the cheap shelves they'd bought, but he was not looking at them. His eyes were focused on the upcoming mission. He looked... intense, expectant, and not all that daunted by his lack of knowledge. Heero Yuy loved a good challenge, even this kind. The fact that this was terra incognita to him, and dangerous because of that, just excited him. He was treating this like an infiltration mission into hostile territory, Wufei realized, not like it was a first date, which it was, by a stretch of the imagination. Wufei wondered if Heero would be even able to see this as anything other than a mission. Though that was, of course, the best frame of mind for him to be in. As long as Wufei fed him the right cues, Heero, as an excellent soldier, would get it right and not worry about appearances and sordid emotionality. Wufei felt the flicker of excitement rush through him too, setting the torch to his previous faint worries; this would be a test of their skill to communicate in silence, of their ability to fool the enemy - the other clubbers, and anybody else who might notice they didn't belong there. If they got it wrong, they might end up like the other three officers who'd previously failed.
"I doubt we'll have that many problems." He shrugged, careless, arrogant, and sure of their skills. Heero's eyes held a well-known gleam as he glanced up, hearing that familiar tone. "Besides, our cover story is good, and we look young enough that they won't suspect we're cops. Hell, the most they'll be suspicious of is that we faked our driver's licenses to get into the club. It's going to be hard enough to look like we're eighteen."
They worked on the boxes in silence for most of the afternoon, deep in their own thoughts. Heero started to flip through his course material with a disgusted look on his face. Then he glanced up as Wufei put away the last pieces of kitchenware.
"You mentioned getting dressed?"
"Yes. Let's go check out your wardrobe. I didn't actually get to see what Sally and Lu bought you."
"I bought it all. The only thing they did was pick things out and giggle." And you weren't there with me, the grumble clearly stated. Some brother-in-arms you are!
Wufei smirked, glad, once more, he'd been able to dodge that particular trip, and knowing it showed. Heero glowered.
"Do I have to wear these jeans? They feel... "
"I noticed. You keep tugging at them like that and they'll be completely shapeless before the week's out."
The look on Heero's face indicated he could live with that.
"You don't have to wear those jeans. It's important that you're comfortable, especially on this first visit. You'll wear fatigues." Wufei opened the closet.
" ...won't it be strange, to wear my fatigues to a bar?"
"You won't be wearing your fatigues, you'll be wearing mine."
"Yours?! But you're one size smaller than me."
"We're trying to show off your assets, Yuy." Wufei stated as crisply and neutrally as possible; he hoped Heero wouldn't ask him for any more explanations.
"Hmf. What are you wearing?"
"Black jeans and my red tunic."
"You wear that around the house and at Ops."
"So? We're not going to the opera here. We just need something to look natural in." Wufei tossed a few items at his partner, including his dark green fatigues, and slipped his Chinese tunic from its hanger. They'd go eat first, find a restaurant close to the club, maybe walk around the neighborhood. They'd memorized the floor plan of Désirs until they could draw it in their sleep, but it was always good to see the real thing too, including exits and back alleys. Then they'd pop in and have a drink, get a feel for the place. Wouldn't stay too long, not the first night. And then... Wufei realized he was staring at the bed again.
He turned abruptly, slipping on his tunic. After a moment of inner struggle, he gave in to the necessities of the mission, slipped off his fastener and finger-combed his hair out. It had grown since the war, reaching to his shoulder-blades now. He'd have to get it cut at some point... He caught Heero staring at him briefly in the mirror, measuring the move, its significance.
"Here, wear this." Wufei fished around the small box of accessories Sally had remembered to throw in. He drew out a bracelet made of a simple leather thong running through a piece of pierced jade. Heero took it from his hands and attached it without protest. He stayed right behind Wufei, watching him as the L5 Preventer set a small ring in his newly pierced ear - after throwing Heero to the wolves, his honor had pushed him into accepting this small concession and personal sacrifice to the mission. Besides, Sally had insisted...
Wufei gazed into the half-length mirror attached to the wall above the dresser. The clothes were familiar, but the hair brushing his shoulder blades was making his hands itch to pull it back and fasten it, and the earring seemed to stand out way more than that small, simple strip of metal could justify. He looked young, unprofessional, and different. It felt... weird, but he had to get used to it quickly. He couldn't afford any signs of discomfort. He glanced at Heero in the mirror; his partner had taken another step closer and was standing right behind him, staring over his shoulder. He looked fairly normal, though there was still a small shock in seeing Heero with any kind of ornament, even something as insignificant as that cheap bracelet.
Lost in thought, he started as Heero slipped his arm around his waist. Heero's face was cold and neutral in the mirror; he seemed to be trying the gesture out, deliberately and calculatingly. Wufei didn't comment, and he started to fasten the row of small buttons on his tunic's sleeves. Part of his attention was on the mirror though; he saw Heero glance around the room, as if measuring each object and piece of furniture for its strategic value, then he stared at the bed. His partner's lips curled in an expression that definitely belonged to their arrangement, rather than the roles they were playing.
Heero's hips shifted; he tightened the arm around Wufei's abs, and his groin was a solid pressure against his partner's ass.
"We'll be coming back here after the club."
"Unless you particularly wanted to sleep under a bridge, yes."
"We should get used to doing other things like normal people." Heero murmured. "Before they might plant a bug in here."
"Possibly." Wufei answered neutrally. The last week, they'd been busy and out of the safe-house, so of course, no sex. Now... well, that was something else that was going to feel weird. Fucking on a mission; that was going to take some getting used to. That, and the fact they couldn't go at it like two tigers mating either... Wufei felt a prickle of heat, excitement mixed with uncertainty and, still, a little foreboding he couldn't explain. He bent over the second row of buttons to cover the moment.
"We should try to make it sound convincing." Heero swayed his hips ever so slightly. The hand on Wufei's abdomen pressed him against that movement so that his body swayed with it. "Maybe... you could scream my name out while we're having sex."
Wufei's eyebrow twitched. This was a game - right? - Heero was trying to bait him... Heero's other hand walked up his spine to toy with the lengths of his hair.
"And I could... " Heero's voice was soft and low in his ear, speculative.
"You could what? I don't own you, Yuy, so if you want to dress up in a maid outfit or something, I have no right to object." Wufei straightened his sleeve's cuff with a crisp movement.
There was a moment of silence behind him, and then the hand drifted from playing with his hair to pressing the back of his cranium.
"It would be very easy to snap your neck in this position, Chang." Heero commented softly, eyes like polished gunmetal in the mirror.
"We have to work on your pillow talk." Wufei countered idly. "Spare me the threats. You may be the perfect soldier, Yuy, but even you can't play the role of a couple by yourself."
That was a double touch; Heero hated that 'perfect soldier' tag. The growl in Wufei's ears was a reluctant concession as their eyes clashed in the reflection - smug on one hand, a sulky glower on the other. Score, Chang.
The bouncer took one look at them and practically dragged them into Désirs. Good, apparently they'd dressed and acted correctly. Preliminary target, infiltrated.
Not that it would have been all that difficult. It was a quiet night, being a Thursday; the club was hardly bursting at the seams. There were about twenty people present, maybe a few more in the darker nooks and crannies. There were mostly couples; a small party of two girls and four guys, a group of friends looking for action; a few loners drinking at the bar.
Wufei and Heero chose a seat against the wall, on a small bench behind an octagonal table bolted into the floor. A waiter came over and asked them for their drinks selection - but not their IDs, Wufei noted. L3, true to its European roots, was rather lax about the legal drinking age. The waiter looked at them with some curiosity and asked them if this was their first time here. Wufei did the talking - explaining about their move here, university, the dead uncle and the rest. Heero was a pool of tension by his side, but he didn't think the waiter noticed; his partner was wearing his game face, the assassin's mask that Odin had crafted for him in his childhood. Wufei had already resolved not to do anything about that; Heero would never be Mr Sociable and any efforts to change him into such would feel tooth-achingly false. It shouldn't be a problem where their mission was concerned; he doubted Exeter picked his beautiful people according to their wit or extroverted personalities. Their source of information said that he rarely talked to them before having one of his men extend an invitation. No, Heero could keep his mask; it would help him feel more comfortable and in control in this rather unusual situation. And maybe Exeter had a thing for dark, silent and dangerous types, in which case, Wufei thought with a mental roll of his eyes, they were a shoo-in.
Wufei felt a tug on his hand beneath the table. He turned towards his partner. Heero was talking, he could tell by the very faint movement of his jaw, but he was whispering without moving his lips, like a ventriloquist. A very useful ability when under possible surveillance, but Wufei could see in Heero's eyes the instant he realized that it would be pretty useless in Désirs; the music wasn't as loud as some of the places Ko had dragged Wufei to, but it still easily covered Heero's discreet attempts at communication.
Wufei leaned over, put his hand on Heero's jaw to turn his head slightly, then put his lips next to his ear - Heero, startled, had gone about as tense as garrotte wire for an instant, but was now forcing himself to relax. Good.
"Talk like this." Wufei said, quietly - absently noting the smell of Heero's hair, skin and shampoo this close, familiar scents cutting through the odour of stale cigarette smoke clinging to the walls. "Keep your hand in front of your lips. They won't be able to use directional mikes in this noise."
Heero turned towards him. There was a moment of hesitation; this close, pressed up against him, Wufei could read it in Heero's body like braille. Heero lifted a hand, leaned towards Wufei's ear, fingering a lock of hair to give him an excuse to mask the movement of his lips. Wufei gave his partner full marks for improvisation in the heat of the moment. He quickly turned over the picture they must make in his mind and decided they probably looked like a couple sharing some secret, or flirting or whatever. Nothing suspicious, as long as they didn't hide their lip movements too often.
"Are you sure about mikes? Modern filtering technology." Heero questioned concisely, at odds with the 'flirting' image that Wufei had been mentally examining.
"We're good for now. They won't have a bead on us yet, not for weeks, maybe months. If ever Exeter wants to pick us up, that's when we have to be careful." By then, they would hopefully no longer have anything truly urgent to communicate this way. As he spoke, Wufei vaguely noted the warmth of Heero's skin up close, and he frowned as the tickle of breath near his ear when it caused a loose curl of hair to tease his skin. Haircut, definitely...
"The waiter." Heero said softly. "He was checking us out."
Wufei leaned back sharply - he couldn't help himself, that was really not what he was expecting, and his first instinct was to read Heero's body language to understand what his partner was trying to tell him, like a partially deaf person instinctively turning towards a speaker to lip-read. A glance at Heero's face, demeanour... he meant the waiter was a potential hostile, casing them out, Wufei realized, obscurely relieved for some reason.
"Don't worry about it, he was just curious." He dismissed, leaning back to talk into Heero's ear again. He felt his partner nod, silently accepting his assurance on the matter, as he usually did. They both knew Heero's radar was exquisitely tuned to detecting hostility and fear, but was rather off when it came to other kinds of attention. Like curiosity. Or sexual interest. Or a mixture of both.
The waiter returned with their drinks. He didn't seem to mind Heero's scrutiny - with tight black pants, a black vest and little else, he was probably used to it, and hopefully he wouldn't realize Heero was checking him over for hidden weapons and surveillance devices. Wufei smiled and paid for the drinks - beers, as light as they could get on L3. It would be the first time he'd be having anything alcoholic apart from a little rice wine during formal ceremonies at his colony. Heero wouldn't even have that experience, but with his abnormal metabolism, he would hopefully not react too badly. His partner was eyeing the glass - expression neutral, as always, so no one but Wufei would read the rather dubious look he was giving the golden liquid reflecting shards of the red lighting from the corners of the club.
Wufei took a sip. It was chilled, which was nice, but the taste made him want to grimace. He'd take rice wine, any day. But since he doubted they had that here, he'd have to get used to it. He glanced around the club as discreetly as possible, then realized that, if reconnoitring would be suspicious, curiosity on the other hand was perfectly natural. So he looked around openly.
The club was dark, with low red lighting in strategic places, and highlights of gold and amber over the bar, the dance floor and a few of the alcoves. It looked pretty much like the clubs Ko had dragged him to back in university; all hard edges and plastic. There were several raised sections here and there on the dance floor, of different heights; the braver, or more intoxicated, would get up and dance on those small podiums under the flashing lights when the weekend turned the place into a press of bodies. Empty, they looked like broken columns in a particularly chic ruin. Wufei tried to rid his mind of the image as the lights swirled once over the dance floor, lazily, blood red, fire yellow...
The small party of six were the only ones dancing at present, fairly self-consciously, with loads of grinning dares and smirks at each other, getting their courage from numbers and a few drinks. The dance floor was large, the middle of it as hostile and empty as a no-man's-land, so they were hanging out at one end, nearest the bar. The bartender was looking at them, glancing up occasionally from a card he was holding. There were two waiters for the whole floor and terraces - it was only ten o'clock at night, and a weekday, presumably that was enough personnel. They were leaning on the far end of the bar, talking together and ignoring one of the customers as he signalled for another drink.
Wufei's eyes lingered over the patrons, but didn't dwell overly long on the more significant people present. A man was leaning against a thin metal pillar in front of a discreet stairway, eyes hard and watchful, at odds with the relaxed air of the customers. Bodyguard. That meant Exeter was here. He often spent a couple of hours at the club, even during the week. Wufei didn't look at the sheet of one-way glass high up on one wall. Recon indicated that that was where Exeter was when he was in residence, working, or watching the dancers in the floor below. It was at an angle to where Wufei and Heero were sitting, so they wouldn't be visible, but that was alright. It wasn't really Wufei's intention to get noticed this first night. They'd have plenty of time for that. This was habituation.
Heero's hand reached for Wufei's face, fingers gentle on his cheek. Wufei let his head be turned away from the bodyguard, eyes flickering over the rest of the room automatically, while Heero leaned close to him. Lips brushed Wufei's ear; he quickly took another mental snapshot of their position, checking for flaws. They were both nice and relaxed. Good, very good. Just a small part of his mind boggling at the fact that Heero was touching him like that, in public. But most of him was focused.
"Bodyguard at stairs, two hostiles at back door. And bouncer."
"Yes." Wufei smiled as if Heero had said something nice. He'd noticed the two goons at the exit as well. That was fairly routine for Exeter. He should have two more people with him at least; his principal bodyguard, a hardened woman named Abigail Pels, and his aide and sometimes lover, Raphaël Romain, an ex of the Foreign Legion, who was still a pretty good shot for someone with an administrative job nowadays. Not that they would actually have to exchange gunfire with any of these people, Wufei reminded himself, not if they did the job the way they were supposed to.
The music started to get louder, and a couple joined the party on the dance floor. More people arrived; regular customers greeted the bartender, the waiters. The songs got dancy. Mostly they were modern pieces, things Wufei heard on the radios while hunting down suspects in the trendier parts of town. The fashion nowadays was some sort of electronic baroque with the 'singer' dropping a few, unrelated words here and there in a desperate panting, high-pitched voice, which Wufei couldn't determine as being male or female - or care. The combination was supposed to create a 'musical, sensorial and mental ambience', according to one of the Ops' agents who was into this shit, Wufei remembered. He found it unutterably pretentious and annoying, and he hoped that wasn't obvious in the small smile he was forcing onto his face. Heero was shifting next to him behind his neutral mask, bored after the first five minutes, with that very special boredom you felt when everybody else around you seemed to be having fun in a way you couldn't really comprehend and you weren't too sure you wanted to. Wufei was familiar with it. He leaned back towards his partner; he'd better give Heero a mission, a task, or he was going to simmer like that all evening.
"Watch the dancers. Pick a couple that don't move too dramatically and remember how they do it. We'll probably have to imitate them at some point."
"No. We'll dance something slower later, just for show. Then we'll leave." He could almost feel the slight lift of Heero's spirits when he said 'leave'.
Heero dutifully scrutinized the dancers, picking a couple of young men on the basis of their height and build which were similar to their own, Wufei noted with wry amusement, since his description of 'not moving too dramatically' had been a bit too subjective for Heero to appreciate. The couple - obviously a couple - was dancing in a way that- Wufei flicked a hand against Heero's, then indicated, with a fleeting look, another couple, slightly older and a bit more staid, who weren't making quite such a spectacle of themselves. Heero's eyes fixed on them discreetly, memorizing their every move with the studiousness and lack of feeling one would expect of a vid recorder.
This kept Heero busy for another ten minutes. That would be enough time for him to be able to memorize and mimic every one of the two men's movements and expressions, as well as lip-read their conversation and commit it to memory. Then he got twitchy again. Wufei was feeling it too - he had to force himself not to glance at his watch. It was only ten forty. They should stay and look like they were enjoying themselves for at least another half hour. He was a bit more patient with long watches and surveillance duty than Heero was, but the music and the cigarette smoke were making his head buzz and his eyes tear, and the beer had brushed his skin with a sticky heat. Yes, this was definitely a mission. The possibility of actually enjoying any of this was remote. Wufei kept his eyes and brain focused on the club, but let a part of his mind dwell on the courses he was going to start tomorrow, a pleasant distraction. First period was dialectics in-
Heero stood up, leaned towards him. "Bathroom." He announced shortly. Wufei gave him a warning glance - he knew that was hardly all Heero was going to be doing. Don't get caught sticking your nose where it doesn't belong, he indicated with a fierce flex of fingers on Heero's and a glare. They couldn't afford that. Heero nodded reluctantly - a bare dip of his head that would be lost in the lights that were beginning to swirl and dance around them, as the music and the atmosphere picked up in pace.
Wufei's mind went back to the preliminary objective. Was Exeter watching the dancers on the floor from that one-way glass? Or was he talking over business with Romain? Or were they fucking each other's brains out? Intel, from a talkative waiter, indicated this happened on occasion. Wufei caught movement from the top of the stairs. Pels; the bodyguard had just stepped out of the discreet door to Exeter's lounge. Dressed in a bulky jacket, despite the rising human heat from the dance floor; he couldn't tell what she was packing. She beckoned the man below her, who turned and walked up a few steps to listen. Wufei lifted his glass and read her lips over the rim. '- a new bottle of Langavulin. They've run out.' Oh. He automatically tracked the guard's routine trip to the bar-
And nearly choked on his beer as a scene, caught from the corner of his eyes, slammed into his awareness. His fingers darted towards a holster he wasn't wearing.
A second look at the two figures half way across the room, and he brought his alarm under control. The man had a hand on Heero's chest, but it was light, barely fingertips, and not a restraining move. The stranger's back was towards Wufei, so he couldn't tell what the man was saying to his partner, but from the tilt of his hips and the slight flex of the fingers against Heero's clinging shirt, he could pretty much guess. Heero's face was on neutral, neither his forbidding scowl, nor his deadened expression. It confirmed that the man was an annoyance rather than a threat. Wufei watched carefully. Normally Heero attacked any person who touched him like that, either with a deadly scowl, harsh words, a shove, or worse. There was a delicate tension in his body - Wufei could measure it all the way from where he was sitting - that indicated that Heero wasn't quite sure how to deal with the situation and so was letting it evolve, waiting for an opening. His eyes flickered towards Wufei, looking for suggestions. Wufei thought very quickly, then let the hand holding his glass dip slightly, touch his own chest.
Heero promptly turned towards the man who was, Wufei reminded himself pityingly, only trying to make friends and flirt a little. The words were clear on Heero's lips: 'Sorry, I need to go. I'm with him.' His chin jolted towards Wufei, and then he'd brushed the man out of his path and was heading back towards the table.
His rejected flirt looked at Heero's receding back, slightly stunned - twenty two, twenty three, Caucasian, sandy hair in a loose pony-tail- stop filling in a crime-sheet description, Chang, he's not a suspect, he was only chatting him up. Puzzled eyes travelled followed Heero, glanced ahead of him, and widened in comprehension as he caught Wufei looking back. The man smiled apologetically and shrugged. Indicating he didn't know Heero was taken, Wufei presumed. He nodded in return, hoping that was a normal reaction, and resumed watching Heero make his way through the crowd, unmolested this time.
In the back of Wufei's mind, the image of Heero walking towards him suddenly... changed. For the briefest instant, this was no longer 'Heero', his partner, the man he battled with, his brother-in-arms. Maybe he'd borrowed the sandy-haired man's eyes for a second. He was looking at Heero as a stranger would; noticing, somehow for the first time, the way Heero really moved, lithe and graceful but not dangerous, really, not unless you knew the potential in that deadly body. Heero could pass for eighteen. His face had never had any kind of baby softness to it, even after you'd discounted hard eyes and looks. But he still looked young, his features surprisingly delicate around the chin, the mouth soft and full. His eyes were large, deep blue and captivating, peeking out from behind the thick bangs. His body was... solid, even though it was still rather slender. The proportions were perfect. Wufei found himself watching the way he walked, a flutter of something undefined stirring in his gut, a growing warmth as he remembered those were, in fact, his fatigues Heero was wearing. Muscles rippled under the cloth, tighter than usual; he moved quickly, poised, not a motion wasted or out of place, a spare elegance, long-fingered hands loose at his side.
Eyebrow lifted in question at Wufei's scrutiny.
...enough beer for tonight. Two glasses in three quarters of an hour, and he was losing his focus. He'd have to build up his tolerance quickly; they'd be here longer in the future, when they would be working more seriously to catch Exeter's attention seriously.
Heero slid down behind the table again, eyebrow still raised in a question mark. Wufei shook his head minutely. By the time they got home, if Heero still remembered the incident and asked him about it, he'd have some excuse ready. Something about checking if Heero walked too much like a soldier for his cover story, maybe. He'd avoid saying that he'd suddenly and quite unexpectedly noticed that his partner - the one he'd known, had been working with, and had sex with on a regular basis on and off for the last two years - was, in fact, remarkably attractive. For a man, of course.
No, that didn't matter, actually. Heero's looks, the way he moved, his intensity, his unassuming grace... it went beyond gender. His partner was attractive. And it was rather strange, after all their time together, that Wufei had never noticed. It had just... never even entered his mental head space. Even when he'd assessed his colleague after lunch, earlier, it had been perfectly clinical, weighing how others would react, not Wufei himself... With an inward shrug, he buried the thought away. Not relevant to the present situation. Or indeed, any situation in their lives. It did give them one more good shot at actually acing their mission, though. He didn't think Heero had to be able to dance well, or provide fascinating conversation, to prick Exeter's interest.
"Can we leave now?" Heero said, putting his fist in front of his mouth. He looked uncomfortable; the man touching him had probably heightened his already raised stress levels, jumpstarted by the mission parameters, the thugs at the back door, the noise and constant motion around them.
"Let's finish our drinks, dance at least once, and then we can leave." Wufei sighed. The smoke had killed his taste buds; a good thing in a way, since now he couldn't really taste the bitterness of the beer.
"Dance?" Heero's lack of enthusiasm was obvious; his eyes picked out his former 'tutors', who were now sitting down in an alcove and making out, Wufei noticed.
"Yes. At least once. They should be playing something slow soon."
Heero's eyebrows arched but he didn't ask any questions, just finished his beer with quick, efficient sips, and then crossed his arms over his chest, staring at the DJ in his booth above the dance floor, as if to get the man to hurry up and put something slow on soon by sheer will-power.
The songs had been flowing one into the other - proof, in Wufei's mind, that they were pretty much clones, and lacked any kind of artistic merit or inventiveness to them whatsoever - but at one point there was a pause. Then a brush of music, a chord on a synthesiser, very light, a distant rumble. People began to sit down; some headed towards the bars, while couples stood up, pulling each other towards the dance floor. Wufei didn't recognize the music, of course, but gathered that this was their cue. Maybe Heero's glare had worked on the DJ on a subconscious level, he thought, amused. He touched Heero's hand and motioned him towards the floor.
The lights were dimming and beginning to flicker. Good, that would cover any lack of skill they had; well, they weren't expected to dance like gods, not at all, but it mustn't be obvious that this was a big first for either of them. The distant rumble was still shaking the floor, the music was loud. Another sound started, a trickle of insane laughter rising above the chords. Then a very rapid tick, which made Wufei think of a detonator counting down. He turned, placed his hands on Heero's shoulder and waist, twisted under his partner's fingers so they rested more firmly on his hip, and closed the distance between them.
// Wir teilen Zimmer und das Bett
Brüderlein komm und sei so nett //
Pre-colony, Wufei realized after the first few words; that music was popular in the darker edges of their generation. Since it was old, and thus considered classical music, it escaped the genteel ban that the new peacetime culture had imposed on music studios and radios. After the war, society wanted its music to be clean, wholesome, non-violent and enlightening. The song was in German, a language he didn't know, but from the tone of the singer, and... something...
// Brüderlein komm fass mich an
rutsch ganz dicht an mich heran //
...in the way the singer was almost whispering, or that small trickle of coos and insane laughter still running in the background of the track... Wufei gathered that clean, wholesome, non-violent and enlightening this probably wasn't. What had Relena and company expected? The children of war needed to express themselves, purge themselves... this didn't seem very war-like, but it sounded... unhealthy, erotic and alluring. No wonder it was popular.
A trickle of synth and... the sound broke and a rhythm erupted from the breathy pause at the end of the words. Hard, pulsing. Faster than he'd thought it'd be, though still slower than the previous dance music.
// Vor dem Bett ein schwarzes Loch
und hinein fällt jedes Schaf //
The voice had dropped half an octave, very raw and male compared to the previous androgynous singers. It throbbed, violent and smirking, with the beat.
//bin schon zu alt und zähl sie doch
denn ich find keinen Schlaf //
Not quite what he'd expected... he'd thought it would be a slow, sappy love song, with minimal movement required. Apparently that wasn't the style of Désirs. The people around them had started to move with the music. Slowly, clinging to each other, but also swaying and thrusting to the beat. Wufei realized that he and Heero were plastered together - pressed against each other by the hypnotic crash of rhythm, the stifling warmth, the sweat and smells around them - moving in rough time to the music.
Another trickle of synthesizers, taunting. Crude. The voice was deep, cloying, with a slight sneer that covered dark desires, forbidden yearnings.
// Unterm Nabel im Geäst
wartet schon ein weisser Traum //
Wufei's hips swung, his hand smoothed the dark blue shirt under his fingers unconsciously. Their bodies picked up the rhythm naturally, with the precise reaction of men who controlled their movements to a fault, eyes picking apart and analyzing the other dancers' steps and imitating them. Can't let the hostiles notice they were unused to this. Wufei automatically controlled his stance, the set of his spine, the curve of his neck; relaxed. At ease. I belong here.
//Brüderlein komm halt dich fest
und schüttel mir das Laub vom Baum //
A part of him was registering the way Heero was moving against him, but fortunately they were both too much in mission mode to really care, or, in Wufei's case, be mortified at the display they were probably making. Not that they were going to stand out much in comparison to those around them. There was a couple in his line of sight... Wufei kept himself under rigid control, clamping down on the part of him wondering, horrified, if he and Heero would be expected to dance so lewdly in the future to attract Exeter's attention. Really - don't pay attention - but - focus - but the only reason that is not sex is because they have clothes on! - who cares... The warrior and the prim scholar had a quick tussle in Wufei's mind, and the warrior won out. It usually did, these days.
A tightening of fingers against his back - he followed Heero's deliberate glance. The, ah, 'tutors' were back on the floor. They were dancing a bit more calmly than some of the others present. The two Heero had been imitating until now were near their alcove, on the edge of the floor. And they were making out with pretty much the same enthusiasm as they had been sitting down, almost ignoring the music. Heero turned towards Wufei again, eyebrow raised in a question.
//Spiel ein Spiel mit mir
gib mir deine Hand und //
The music wound up to a breathless pause in the background, the voice almost flat, toneless. Wufei hesitated, torn between making sure he and Heero looked like a proper couple, while recoiling from hampering their field of vision the way kissing would imply. They were far away from the press of dancers, off to one side, near the wall, safe enough, but the warrior's instincts were not easily quelled...
// spiel mit mir
spiel mit mir ... //
The music had crashed from its breathless peak into an abyss of pulsing sensuality, and Wufei realized the first stanzas had been a warm-up. The synth was falling and rising in a crescendo like a lover's caressing hand, pausing and teasing before plunging further. The throbbing beat was a lot less subtle... Okay, they could either move like they were fucking each other on the dance floor, or they could take the making out option.
// ...ein Spiel
spiel mit mir
weil wir alleine sind... //
A rather embarrassing consideration popped into his mind, tipping the scales; Heero and Wufei indulged in little to no foreplay normally - not efficient. The way some of these people were dancing - rubbing, grinding, thrusting - would probably- well, they were young, and had a fairly low sensitivity threshold to that kind of stimulus, seeing how they normally screwed each other. Heero's control over his body was exquisite, that wasn't an issue, but Wufei wasn't sure that he himself would be able to- and he really didn't want to- kissing was safer.
// spiel mit mir
Vater Mutter Kind //
The music sighed and stilled, pausing as if to listen to the laughter and cooing at its back; the beat took a breather, to let the synth soothe and caress... but only for a moment. Wufei brushed Heero's mouth with his own, after a last quick glance around. No one near, no threat. They pressed their lips together - down south, their hips seemed to have picked up the new seductive, sordid rhythm and were doing their own thing. No matter. Looked natural, probably. Their bodies were completely familiar with each other, fitting together in a way that could not be faked or imitated, obviously long intimate. It would help them blend in. Wufei twisted his head to get a better angle for the kiss and noticed a flash of blue as Heero snuck another glance at the dancers.
//Dem Brüderlein schmerzt die Hand
er dreht sich wieder an die Wand
der Bruder hilft mir dann und wann
damit ich schlafen kann //
Something wet and foreign brushed Wufei's lips as they pressed against Heero's. His partner had squeezed him slightly, a warning that he was about to do something, but Wufei still started. The tongue touched his lips again, gently, tentatively, almost shyly. Wufei flicked the word shy out of the previous thought. Heero wouldn't know what shy was if it ran him over in a Gundam. He was merely being careful not to startle Wufei and get himself laid out by a lightening fast punch to the gut. Wufei groaned inwardly; he was ready to bet that the men they were imitating were indulging in a little tongue play. And Heero was nothing if not thorough in following instructions.
// Spiel ein Spiel mit mir
gib mir deine Hand und//
The music gathered itself into another breathless pause, like the instant before climax, and Wufei realized he'd opened his mouth before really making a conscious decision about it.
//spiel mit mir
ein Spiel ... //
The music plunged back into its thrusting, pounding rhythm and Heero's tongue brushed the tip of his own. The synth purred and caressed and teased. Wufei put his hand on Heero's jaw, an instinctive move to give him some control, or an illusion of it... his other hand rested on the fall of Heero's hips as their bodies moved together in a rhythm they had tamed long ago. Memories of gasps, sweat, trickles of pain highlighting pulsing pleasure, fluttered in the back of Wufei's mind where he couldn't swat them away. Heero's hands slid down to the small of his back, flexing his fingers to the back and forth of hips.
// spiel mit mir
ein Spiel //
The beat was pounding through his head, his body. He snuck a glance at the room around them, as discreetly as he could. No one watching them, apparently, though his field of vision was very narrow. His tongue traveled up the side of Heero's, swept the corner of his lips. They'd never done this before. They fucked each other on a weekly basis but they never kissed like this first...
Because it was intimate. It was... something they didn't do.
// spiel mit mir
weil wir alleine sind//
Another quick glance around as their lips broke apart a fraction - breath warm in each other's mouths - the bodyguard was still at the foot of the stairs. Wufei could tell, from the angle of Heero's head, that he was keeping an eye on the men at the exit. Then their lips fused again, and Wufei's tongue idly flickered out...
Intimate? Was this really intimate? The mouth, the one he was licking from the inside, was one that went down on him occasionally. Just how much more intimate than that could you get?
// spiel mit mir
ein Spiel //
The blowjob was just sex though... this...
Wufei jerked away from the breathless little uncertainty that was threading its way through his focus. He knew where this was going; the way the beat was driving through them like hammers, nailing them to the sensuous synth cords... the way Wufei was starting to react to the thrusting against his groin... sex was definitely going to happen at some point tonight. A good, clean fuck. They'd planned to anyway, as practice for their cover stories...
// spiel mit mir
ein Spiel //
Another quick glance around - someone watching! Oh, the sandy-haired man from earlier. As Wufei focused - Heero's tongue flicked at the corner of his lips - the man turned away, looking at other dancers wistfully.
// spiel mit mir
ein Spiel //
Lips moved against Wufei's as Heero sucked slightly, drawing little spikes of feeling along the sensitive tip of Wufei's tongue.
Heero's hands slipped further down, pressing Wufei's ass into the motion, lifting him slightly so that their groins ground together, arousals hardening and pulsing in sympathy with the singer's ragged words.
// spiel mit mir
ein Spiel //
Wufei's mind was clear, distinct from his quickening body. The mission was still uppermost in his mind - and Heero's too, because it would take a lobotomy and electroshock therapy for Heero Yuy to forget about a mission. This was part of their cover, and that reality was an anchor in his mind. Wufei observed, almost clinically, the way his hands grasped Heero's face and shoulder, getting more contact in each other's mouths. His cock was hard now, and his heart was hammering, but it was a distant distraction for the warrior who stayed watchful and alert. He caught a flicker of blue from Heero's eyes as the latter took another quick peek at the enemy, then the other dancers. Wufei hoped he wouldn't find anything too extreme to imitate; this was quite enough.
// spiel mit mir
ein Spiel //
...But in the back of Wufei's mind, a pulse had started; it sang to the rhythm of the music, darkly sensuous, ominously thrilled... He didn't quell it; they were young, hot blooded, and rubbing and thrusting up against each other like tigers in heat, it'd be weird not to react. Just go with the flow, everyone else was. Go with the flow and rise above it; let it simmer where it could do no harm; ignore the hard-on pressing against Heero's, the ripples of pleasure along his skin, the taste of beer and someone else's mouth...
// Vater Mutter Kind//
The music trickled down. The kiss broke as the last, departing chord echoed like a broken whisper. The partners panted, bodies stilling.
"Can we leave now?" Heero asked tightly.
"Good idea." A mental check list quickly totaled up in Wufei's mind. They'd been to the club, they'd had a look around, they'd seen what was expected of them, they'd had a drink and danced. And they were now in no condition to go and sit down and pretend to have fun, or, gods forbid, dance some more. They could control their bodies, their training was more rigid than any hormones when it had to be, but that might look odd. And it was unnecessary. The warrior was satisfied that they'd done their job; it allowed him to listen to the dark, writhing, sensual thing inside that wanted out, out of the smoke, the crowds, the mission-related situation, and to go somewhere private.
Heero grabbed both their jackets and dragged him across the floor - Wufei thought he caught a conspiratorial grin from the waiter as they passed him, heading towards the door. The air was oppressive with smoke, the smell of sweat and perfume wafting on the heat rising from the dancers, moving to a new, seductive rhythm starting. Wufei forced himself to move casually, look relaxed, but he couldn't wait to be outside. He'd take a few deep breaths of air, rid himself of the club's ambience that clung to his skin and hair like the smell of cigarettes and the sheen of sweat under his tunic. Then he'd get his body under control. They had a bus trip of ten minutes to get back to their apartment.
The grip on his hand was bone-breaking. Heero's muscles flowed and rippled beneath Wufei's tight fatigues. Wufei reminded himself that they were no longer teenage terrorists; they were seventeen year old Preventers. It wouldn't do to end up fucking each other's lights out two alleys down from the club. That wasn't professional. Or proper. They'd have to get back to their bed first. Their bed... Almost outside - they were walking swiftly through the lobby, the coat check stand empty on a weekday -
"Hey, kids! Hold up!"
Wufei ran straight into his partner as the other twisted around like a startled panther. He turned, catching his balance - Heero's hand ground the bones of his fingers against each other.
End Part 22
On to chapter twenty-three
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