Drums of Heaven

Part Thirty-Two: Alone Could Win Or Lose

Did you think you didn't have to choose it,
That I alone could win or lose it?
In all the places we were hiding love,
What was it we were thinking of?
--- Peter Gabriel

Act normal, Heero instructed himself. He got up at five in the morning on New Year's Day, and blindly lived through the day, returning at four to find an empty apartment. At three in the morning Duo returned, slipped into bed, and they held hands until Heero woke up for work.

The second day, an email from Hilde arrived, and a copy was waiting in the shared laptop's public folder when Heero got home from work.

It was chatty, as usual. Apparently Hilde had met a very charming businessman dressed as Aladdin, and spent over an hour with him on and off the dance floor. She went on to comment that he worked in economic development and was on the colony for a large project. He'd been coy about the specifics and she couldn't possibly repeat what he had said, because corporate spies were always a possibility.

Hilde's email went on to mention a funny incident in the women's bathroom, when she met a pretty girl who needed help fixing her veil. The two women had chatted about their dance partners, and the pretty girl had joked that the best dancers were thieves. The Highwayman stole her jewels and left her with a kiss, Robin Hood stole the kiss and gave it to the poor, and Puss-in-Boots stole what was left to give to his Master.

The email also mentioned that Hilde had danced with the Cat herself. She'd been disappointed to hear he'd found no one to play the part of his hapless young master, the Marquis of Carabas. She concluded with the note that she hoped her brother had enjoyed the event, and she looked forward to seeing him again.

It was clear what it all really meant. First, either Quatre hadn't told Hilde much, or what little he could say in a public, syndicate-run venue was something she wasn't willing to say, even in a coded email. Second, Relena had enjoyed seeing each of them. And third, Trowa and Quatre didn't speak to each other.

Figures, Heero thought, and deleted the email. The entire night was truly a fairy tale: glitz and glamour that left nothing in the morning. Subdued, he spent the rest of the evening sorting through his most recent photographs.

By the next day the rest of the wait staff finally dropped the joking about his relaxed and non-hung over state on the Morning After, as his inner voice called it. Inside, however, he often found himself thrumming in excitement, tempered with a certain strange ache in his chest. Heero wasn't sure what the problem was, but he was pretty certain the familiar ache signaled he'd erred again, somehow.

Finally, that night, Heero made a decision. On the way to work the next morning, he stopped for coffee and purchased a phone card as well. Later, during his lunch break, he headed to the nearest pay-vid and placed a call.


January fifth: twenty-two days until mission start, and ten days since his last day off. When morning arrived, Heero didn't wake up until almost noon. Groggy, he stumbled to the bathroom, showered, and dressed. Duo was still asleep. Heero shook his head, watching the other man turn over in his sleep. Duo had pulled two ten-hour days after New Year's, working the lunch shift in the Café, and Heero figured Duo needed the sleep. Sighing, Heero slipped into his leather jacket, checked his wallet, and quietly let himself out.

Twenty minutes later he was in the L4 station bay, being accosted by a green-haired girl wearing a orange fake fur coat that fell to her knees. Under it she was wearing blue jeans and a rugby shirt. For once she looked less like a pimp, and more like a young woman just out of college.

"All right, heartbreaker," Enny said, pulling away long enough to look him up and down. "Which hotel do you recommend?"

He frowned and shook his head. "There's a good Greek place not far from here."

"The spanakopita of love," she drawled, and laughed. Hooking her arm through his, she hefted a small backpack and let him lead the way. Once they were on the street, her cheerful demeanor grew more serious as she glanced over at his down-turned face. "You sure? It'd be on the house. I've not been off L2 in six months, and I was getting a little stir-crazy."


"I'll take that as a 'I'd love to, but I'm all out of stir-crazy cures'... " Enny tossed her ponytail, and bumped Heero with her hip. When he gave her a crooked grin, she laughed again.

It wasn't long before they were settled into a small booth at the back of the Greek diner, and had placed their orders. When the drinks arrived, Enny took a sip, sighed dramatically, and then pushed the glass out of the way.

She put her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her hands. "Talk to me, babe."

Heero stared at the red-and-white tablecloth. He'd wanted someone to talk to, and he couldn't think of anyone else. It was no good getting in touch with Bernie. He'd decided immediately that he didn't want to involve his agent in the mission, since anyone he called could potentially end up under surveillance. If not by the L2 syndicate, then by the L4 syndicate, once they became aware of his existence.

That left Hilde, who was obviously out of the question, and Enny. The problem was that now he couldn't find the words. Finally he looked up at the silent girl, noting her raised eyebrows and sympathetic expression. When he still didn't say anything, she smiled a little.

"I'll start then," she said softly. "You finally got somewhere, didn't you... and now you're trying to figure out if where you are... is really where you want to be."

"How... " Heero couldn't think of what to say, and the girl chuckled.

"This is Duo we're talking about, isn't it."

"Duo... " He gaped, then his eyes shuttered in suspicion. "How do you know his real name?"

"I was there when he hijacked the Leo, you ninny." Enny took a sip of her drink, clearly enjoying the way Heero's jaw was hanging open. "Close your mouth. I was a battalion trainee with Hilde."

Heero struggled to find his voice. "You flew a mobile suit?"

"Nope. Just a peon mechanic." She flashed another grin, and then grew serious. "Duo and I grew up... in the same kind of circumstances. But war is good, if that's where you are. When they'll take anyone, even street kids, it's a chance to be someone. Once the war was over, those of us who survived... " She waved a hand dismissively. " ...we weren't really needed anymore. The market was flooded, y'know? Not like I got much of a high school education that year. Too busy learning how to fix Verniers and memorizing resistance levels for Virgo cannons." Enny shrugged, a rueful grin flitting across her face. "So I ended up doing what I'd probably would've done anyway, if there hadn't been a war. I'm just a little more full of useless knowledge than your average pimp, I guess."

Heero could only nod.

"I know what you're doing," she said, and her voice dropped to an even softer level. "And because I know you're wondering, I was one of Hilde's contacts when she decided to follow Joe's path. I agreed because if this goes through, I want someone arguing for me when I apply for Preventers."

"Pre--" He cut himself off, too startled to finish the word.

"I want to do undercover work. I can shoot straight, fix anything, and get out of any trouble twice as fast as I can get into it." The girl sat back, grinning smugly, and tucked a stray green strand of hair behind her ear. "No one else knows. Jeet's ignorant about you guys, but I want to get him out, too. He's got real skills when it comes to drawing. He could be more than just a whore, if someone gave him a chance."

A thousand questions were flooding Heero's brain, and none of them had anything to do with his original purpose for inviting Enny to L4 for his day off. Bewildered, he could only stare at her as he tried to process the information.

Giving up, he shook his head, still in shock. "What do you know about Hilde's goals?"

"Very little," she admitted. "Only that I vouch for her, put in a good word on her behalf when needed, and keep my ears open. When I hear about a job that would get attention, I make sure the right people know her team's the one that can do it." Enny laughed quietly. "Actually, the past few months I haven't needed to do anything. You guys really are that good."

Heero made a thoughtful sound, and nodded. Their dinner arrived, and both were silent until the waiter had left.

"Enough with the conversation skills, heartbreaker." Enny leaned across the table and poked Heero in the shoulder. "Talk to me. What's going on that's got you so bothered you needed to fly one pimp halfway across the sky?"

"Duo and I... " Heero paused, studied his drink, and began to tell Enny about the past two months.

He wasn't surprised to discover she really was a good listener, and he began with their arrival on L4. Heero spoke with a clinical detachment, up to and including the events of New Year's Eve. Her eyes opened a little wider while Heero blandly reported the way Duo had technically been the bottom during the act, but that Heero felt like he'd been the one having the act done to him. Behind his indifferent mask, however, he was relieved that Enny didn't laugh, nor did she frown. She merely listened, her face solemn, and didn't speak until he'd fallen silent for several minutes.

"That's rough." Enny sighed, and poked at her moussaka. "Duo's... got some issues. I don't know where they come from, but I know what I've seen, and what Jeet's said."

"We all have issues."

"But everyone's different," she pointed out. "Jeet first came onto Duo back when he and Hilde showed up, after Joe went down. Who wouldn't? That thief is one good-looking guy. Thing was, he wouldn't let Jeet do anything, but Jeet kept at it."

She noticed Heero's confused look and smiled. Heero was startled to see a light blush across her cheeks.

"Duo doesn't do too well when someone wants to give him attention," she explained softly. "I know because Jeet got cranky at being paid fifty credits to give a blowjob and getting thrown out the moment he put a hand on Duo's crotch. He said it was like Duo's body wanted it, but his mind couldn't accept it."

"He still does that." Heero smirked a little, thinking of the way Duo had flinched each time he'd been touched. It had taken a bit before Heero had registered the motion as a definite flinch and not as nerves, but having his hand knocked away during sex had settled the matter.

"I think it was a month before Jeet made any progress," Enny mentioned in a thoughtful tone. "What you're going to get here is my own take on it, just speaking as someone who does a lot of people-watching," she warned the dark-haired man. "The reality may be different, but I think I've got a good handle on these kinds of things."

Heero nodded, taking another bite of his kokoretsi while he waited.

"Disclaimers done." She sighed and leaned forward, resting her cheek on her fist as she watched Heero pick at his food. "Duo's a street kid, to his bones. We don't get noticed unless we're in trouble for something. It's a shock to be noticed in a good way, and you can start to crave that. But it comes at a price. You learn early that nothing comes for free. People always want something from you, and as long as you give it, you get what you want. To be liked, wanted, or needed, or whatever."

"Duo's always been well-liked." Even if I never said so, Heero thought, and scowled a little, remembering all the times he'd told Duo to shut up and go away during the war. "Except that he talks too much when I'm trying to work," he added reluctantly.

"That'd just make him try twice as hard, if you were someone he respected," Enny replied. "My guess, at least. Anyway, relationships aren't easy. It means you have to be vulnerable... open... intimate. But if you're doing all the work, and running the show... you can keep the barriers up. I'd bet Duo was just keeping the walls up between you, to protect himself."

"But we had sex... " Heero protested, his head down.

"So?" Enny leaned across the table and snagged one of his tomatoes.

"It was... sex," he explained, his tone uncertain.

"Listen to me, heartbreaker." The girl pointed at him with her fork, jabbing it for emphasis. "I've had days where I've had sex with six johns before lunch. Sex, on its own, doesn't mean jack."

Heero stopped chewing, stunned. She's right, the small voice told him. I know she's right, he thought, but what do I do about it?

Enny rolled her eyes. "Maybe he just needs time," she suggested, in a calmer voice. "Or maybe he needs you to tell him to shut up, sit down, and take what you're going to give." She shrugged, her green ponytail bobbing behind her. "But if you do that, you'd damn well better not live up to your nickname."

"I don't plan on it."

"Good." The girl grinned, an impish expression. "After lunch... want to go shopping? I need some high-class call girl stuff for this L4 stint, and I can't find a damn thing on L2."


Heero was exhausted by dinnertime, but in a much better mood despite that. Enny proved to be an excellent shopping companion, if only because she was willing to say out loud what he found himself thinking about many of the recent fashions. He was especially pleased at her delight when he surprised her by insisting on paying for a dress that she had tried on and decided was out of her price range. He started to doubt the value of the gift, however, when she announced she wanted to wear it that night.

"What for?" Heero stared at the shopping bags she was carrying. "You're wearing clothes already."

"Pay attention, heartbreaker," she replied. "We're going out tonight. Your life story of L4 didn't include any nightclubs, and I hear there's a great one over in Sector Three."

"Which one?" Heero racked his brains for the names of clubs. Some of his coworkers mentioned them in his presence, but he had never paid attention.

"Glow." Enny dug through the bags and made a face. "I'll need shoes."

"More shopping?" The dark-haired man sighed deeply and let his shoulders slump.

"Any excuse in a storm," she retorted, handing him one of the bags to carry. As soon as he took hold, she grabbed his arm with her free hand and started dragging him down the sidewalk as she chattered. "That red dress would look great with the boots I saw in the shop on the corner."

Heero sighed, and cursed the day he'd just assumed Enny would show up, listen, offer advice, and leave quietly. Should've known better, the small voice whispered, but he found himself smiling despite the inclination to scowl.


Enny didn't suggest they head back to his apartment, which relieved Heero. He really didn't want Duo to know he'd invited the girl to L4, for some reason he couldn't put a finger on. Instead they stopped by the station, and he rented a one-night locker for her to stash her new clothes. She changed in the bathroom, returning quickly with her face washed and made up, wearing the new red dress. It was short, flaring around her hips, with long sleeves and a modest scoop neck. It showed off every curve, and Heero found himself smiling again when she turned in place to show it off.

"See, I told you these boots were perfect," she said, angling one leg like a fashion model. The boots were knee-high, and black, with a low heel.

"You look elegant," he finally said, and gave her a crooked smile when she blushed. Surprised, but a little pleased, he helped her into the orange fur coat. "This doesn't really go," he added.

"There's hope for you yet," she observed, but didn't explain. "Dinner, a movie, and then dancing, heartbreaker!"

"Stop calling me that," he muttered, but didn't protest when she took his arm and led the way to a Chinese restaurant near the club.


At midnight standard time, Heero found himself in the club's line with Enny.

They'd ended up stopping by the apartment anyway, when the girl had declared that he simply couldn't be seen in the clothes he'd worn all day. She'd waited quietly while he changed into black jeans he'd bought to replace his ripped pair, and put on the dark blue Chinese top Hilde had given him. She'd run her fingers through his hair, announced it a total loss, and dragged him back out again in time for them to catch the movie.

Now, in line, he once again found it easy to be around her, and he understood better how she and Hilde had become such close friends. Both had the same kind of easy charm, although he suspected for Enny it was a cultivated art, as opposed to Hilde's true innocence. The light-hearted chatter let him simply listen and smile at appropriate points, which he found easier to do as the evening wore on.

At times he even found himself replying, which startled him. Days of speaking only to customers and cooks, and nights alone by himself had let him sink back into his reclusive, silent habits.

"Check out that dress, on your nine," Enny was whispering. Heero surreptitiously turned his head quickly to see an older woman in a dress slit up to her hipbone and cut in a low V down to her bellybutton. The green-haired girl giggled softly. "I bet she's got double-sided tape under there."

Heero blinked, trying to visualize using such an item when dressing, and barely registered handing the doorman the fee for both of them. Enny nudged him in the ribs, and he grinned ruefully.

"My sense of fashion is corrupted beyond reason, now, thanks to you," he told her.

"Ah," she replied, and sighed again, dramatically, as she threw her arms open in a show of surrender. "My work here is done!"

"Idiot," he said, affectionately, and then halted, his face falling momentarily. "I mean... Never mind."

"Something I said?" Her eyes were wide, but she hadn't missed the expression that had flashed across his face.

"No, just... " Heero shrugged. "Just an old nickname."

"Enough of the bad things," she told him, and tapped him on the nose. Enny put her coat on the coat check counter, accepted the tab, and handed it to him. "You have pockets. Hold that for me. Now, time to dance."

"I don't dance."

"You do now."


Two hours passed, and Enny graciously let Heero sit out about half the songs. She made a point of coming by the table to drag him onto the floor at regular intervals, however, and reassured him that he had better grace than he gave himself credit for. In return, he found her a competent and fun partner, even if some of the moves made him wish it were Duo leaning up against him, and not a green-haired girl in a bright red dress.

He was leaning against a side table, nursing his second shot of whiskey, when she reappeared, looking a little flustered. Taking the beer waiting for her, she downed a large swallow before setting it down with an authoritative clank.

"How many long-haired men do you know, that wear all black and always put their hair in a braid?"

Heero frowned, puzzled, then shrugged. "Just one. What about it?"

"On your two."

The dark-haired man froze, his glass halfway to his lips. Slowly he turned his head, in time to see Duo, hand in hand with a tall blond man, slipping off the dance floor. They disappeared into the crowd, and Heero could only stare at the last place he'd seen them.


"Before you panic, something to tell you." Enny's voice was loud enough to snap Heero back to attention. "I asked around. He's a regular, gets here at one in the morning. Never leaves with anyone, and doesn't always mess around. Sometimes comes with other folks that are known to work at a hotel."

Heero just stared at her, and then realized his hand was still raised. Scowling, he threw the rest of the shot back and set the glass down on the tabletop. He was about to push away from the table when Enny stepped in front of him.

"You want him," she hissed, "then you've got a choice."

"I do?" The dark-haired man glared at her, and was gratified to see her take a half step back. "Looks like to me he's made his choice."

"Only if you mean by default, because it doesn't seem to me he's made a choice at all," she retorted, pulling herself up to her full height. She was still eye-to-eye with Heero's chin, but he let his glare go down a notch despite that. Enny poked him the chest as she spoke. "Give me the coat check tab, and I'll get myself home. You, however, are going to walk your sweet ass over there and tell Duo what-for."

"Really," Heero said, his voice flat.

"Really," she replied hotly. "There's just one thing. Who's the biggest threat to your relationship? Duo, or the competition?"

"What?" It wasn't the question he was expecting, and he wrinkled his brow, trying to figure out what she was getting at.

"If you want to make it completely obvious there's a problem between Duo and his boyfriend, you trot right over and punch Duo. But if he's yours, then take on your competition. That's a message the thick-headed braid-wearing thief might get."

"I wasn't planning on either action." Heero crossed his arms. Enny wasn't standing down, and he didn't want to shove her out of the way.

"You are now, heartbreaker," she said, and kissed Heero on the cheek. Then she took him by the shoulders, turning him in place and giving him a gentle shove between the shoulder blades. "Remember, fight for him, not with him. Get. See you in a few weeks."

Heero stumbled forward from the shove, scowling, and then squared his shoulders. There was nothing to lose but Duo, he told himself sternly. Besides, the little voice whispered, Enny's take on matters had seemed on the level so far. Nervously he tugged on the bottom of his shirt and strode off, pushing his way through the crowd.

Navigating around the dance floor took longer than he expected, and Heero was starting to wonder if he'd lost Duo altogether when he saw the long-haired man leaning up against the wall, pinned in place by the taller blond. A hot wave of jealousy streaked through Heero's chest, and he growled under his breath as he pushed several people out of his way.

As he got nearer, he could see Duo's face, and recognized that strange jester's mask where the smile didn't reach the eyes. It gave him a little reassurance, but didn't dim the possessive fury flaring up to full throttle. Clenching his fists, he covered the last few feet without being noticed. Heero took a deep breath and tapped the blond on the shoulder. The man turned to look, a question on his lips.


Heero punched the man, a right hook straight to the jaw.

The guy recoiled. Heero stepped forward, glaring, placing himself between the blond man and a stunned Duo. The blond glanced at Duo's expression, then at Heero's narrowed eyes. He moved towards Duo, his mouth open to speak.

Heero kicked the taller man in the side of his knee. The man fell awkwardly. Heero followed with a solid blow of his fist between the man's shoulders. When the man didn't get up right away, Heero nodded, satisfied, then turned to Duo. The longhaired man's mouth was open, his eyes wide in shock.

"Come on," Heero said, taking Duo by the arm. "We're going home."



On to Chapter thirty-three

Back to chapter Thirty-one

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