Drums of Heaven

Part Three: Say Yes Quickly

Is what I say true? Say yes quickly,
if you know, if you've known it
from before the beginning of the universe.
--- Jalaluddin Rumi

Heero's pack had been ready to go for two days, waiting by the door, so he had little delay between slamming the laptop shut and reaching the door. He needed only to shove his camera into the lockbox where Bernie could retrieve it later for safekeeping. At the last minute he grabbed one of the miniature digital cameras, then glanced around the apartment one more time. Heero paused, staring at the still-damp prints from that morning's work. His cell phone rang and he flipped it open without thinking twice.



The photographer nearly dropped the phone, but managed to recover in time. His next words sounded vaguely strangled in his ears. "Relena?"

"I was hoping I could catch you," she said, and chuckled. "I mean, I wasn't sure if you'd answer."

"Oh." Heero shifted in place, then tucked the phone between his ear and shoulder as he pulled his door shut and locked it. "What's up?" God, does that sound lame? What do I say, anyway?

"I... " She paused, and Heero could practically see her rolling the words around in her mouth before she spoke again. "We know you've been trying to track Trowa and Duo."

"Yeah?" Heero winced. That probably sounded sarcastic, when he was really only surprised. Then, on second thought, he wondered why he was surprised. Quatre was the kind of person to have eyes and ears everywhere.

"There were alert bots on just about every piece of information related to Trowa and Duo, and nearly every one has been accessed in the past week. Not by you," Relena added with a soft laugh. "But by a variety of signatures that would indicate you've got a crew working for you that's nearly as adept as Quatre's."

"Relena, I have a shuttle to catch."

"And I have a question to ask you."

"Okay... "

"Why are you trying to find them?" Relena's voice was low, and even. It held none of Quatre's pain or Wufei's anger. It was a politician's controlled delivery.

"Because... " Heero paused outside his building and looked around for a taxi. Scowling a little, he waved one down and climbed in before he answered. "Because... I have to."

"Maybe that's not good enough," Relena replied. "Maybe you'll make everything worse."

"It's already worse," Heero retorted, then sighed. "Everyone was... "

"Everyone was supposed to remain friends, and we didn't. And now you're coming back to save the day." She sounded amused, but Heero caught the hint of tension.

"No," he said, curt. "No," he repeated, softer. "I just... "

"Yeah, you 'just' a lot of things," she said. "Heero, I love you. You know that, right?"

"Uh... " Heero was stunned.

She laughed, a quiet sound tickling his eardrum. "I love all five of you, completely. Desperately so, sometimes. It's been horrible, five years of knowing my two best friends are incomplete because you had to leave. I understood why you did, I think, and they do, too... but it still hurt them." She paused and he heard her exhale slowly before she continued. "So I'll say what they won't or can't: it's your choice. But don't come back unless you're going to stay. None of us can take losing you again."

"Hn." He just couldn't think of anything to say, but it was clear she required a response of some kind. He wasn't expecting her to laugh out loud in reply, however. His eyebrows shot up even higher as he regarded the phone briefly before returning it to his ear to reply. "I'll... think about it."

"You do that," she purred, and cut the call.

Heero stared at the phone for several more seconds before flipping it closed and putting it away.


The trajectory between L1 and L2 was shorter during the winter rotation, and a weary Heero landed on L2 four hours later. It was early afternoon on L2, despite his body being convinced it was nearly midnight. Shrugging his bag on his shoulder and feeling a little naked without his camera bag, he took a taxi to the moderately priced hotel he'd used on his last photography trip. Fifteen minutes later he emerged from his room, the beginnings of a plan in place.

An hour later, Heero returned with shopping bags from several thrift stores, and was soon back on the street. Now his jeans were black, tight, and starting to rip at the knees. He'd brought his old steel-toed black boots, and they no longer stood out now that he had a dark blue long-sleeved t-shirt and a black flannel men's work shirt, patched at the elbows. He'd also purchased a leather jacket with easily fifty years since it first saw use. Nodding to the startled desk clerk, the photographer dug his hands into his pockets and headed into L2's late afternoon.

First, find Duo, Heero decided. He'd gone over his conversation with Relena several times, but each time he shied away from hitting too hard against the questions she'd raised. Why was he going? What was he going to do? Lecture Duo? Remind Duo that he should be a good boy? Save Duo?

God, no, Heero thought, scowling as he stared out the taxi window at Sector Two, crossing into Sector Four. No, he did enough saving Duo... during both wars.

Heero pushed the thoughts away. Find Duo and Trowa, first. Then...


The taxi dropped him off three blocks from Duo's last location, and Heero shrugged the coat a little closer as he walked. He'd forgotten the extent of L2's weather controls incompetence. The chill of deep space never really seemed to leave this place, and he wondered how Duo could have handled it. The idiot was always the one complaining the most about cold, yet he grew up with this?

Heero grunted. None of them grew up. They were all born old.

He was brought out of his reverie rather abruptly when he came around the corner and discovered that Colony L2, Sector 3, Area 17, Block 4, Building 25, Floor 7, Apartment 738 didn't exist.

There wasn't a seven-story building there, just an empty lot between two other low-rises. The dark-haired man's jaw dropped for a second, then closed with a nearly audible snap. Of course. Duo was too good for it to be so simple, even if it had been hell finding even that much. The corner of Heero's mouth started to curl up, and he fought back the urge to laugh out loud, standing on the sidewalk with no evident reason for doing so. It was just too perfect.

Shaking his head, Heero turned and headed back the way he'd come. The colony's lights were fading, but at the rate he could move, it wouldn't be truly dark until he'd crossed back into Sector Two. His rolling walk ate up the sidewalk as he sunk himself into thought. Get back to the hotel, use the room's laptop system, and contact the forum. Perhaps they'd found more in the meantime. He reassured himself that at least he was on L2 and could react faster if they found more recent activity.

It was a sign of how much he'd let himself lose his conditioning that he nearly slammed into someone as he turned a corner. The man barked something, and Heero looked up just in time.

"Sorry," he mumbled, catching himself gracefully as he lurched backwards.

"Yeah, kid," the man snapped. He was a little taller than Heero, completely bald, about fifty pounds heavier, and his skin was the color of deepest space. His hands were wrapped around a girl, scantily dressed but not even shivering in the colony's chill. Her skin was sallow and her eyes were tired. The man twisted the girl to his other side and glared at Heero. "You lost?"

"No," the photographer said, scowling.

"Runaway?" The man pulled the girl closer, one hand on her breast. She didn't react, and the man kept talking. "Down here for a good time?"

"Hn." Heero stepped backwards again, preparing to head across the street at the first break in traffic.

"Sure thing," the man said, then grinned. One of his front teeth was plated in gold, but the other one was missing. "Want to make some extra money?"

Heero paused. His training was telling him to just walk away, but his gut instinct was whispering quietly. This is Duo's world, it was saying. If you want find Duo, you need to be in his world. Finally, Heero shrugged, casually. "Maybe."

"Maybe!" The man barked, laughing, and pushed the girl away to dig something out of his pocket. "Deliver this, and you get ten creds. Bring another back and you get forty more."

Heero stared down at the guy's filthy palm, reluctantly taking the small object. He stared at it for a few seconds. It was the size and shape of a romchip but coated in lime-green plastic. Deliver and bring it back. He glanced at the man, suspicious. "Just deliver it?"

"And get another one back," the man said with a grin. "Maybe different color, but not your business if it is. I've got better things to do than be a gofer," he added expansively. "I'll be here." The man's grin flashed again in his dark face, and Heero was startled again by the gold tooth next to the empty space.

"Where do I take it?" Heero pocketed the object in his jacket and took the ten credits, slipping them into his jeans pocket with his own money.

"Around the corner, block down, you'll find a kid, about your height. Blue hair, named Jeet. Give it to him." The man turned his back on Heero, then, snuggling closer to the girl with audible commentary of what he wanted the girl to do.

Heero stood there for a second, annoyed that the man would turn his back on Heero, then shrugged again. All missions have to start somewhere.


There was a clump of women standing at the corner, but no boy about his height with blue hair. Heero stared at the women – clearly prostitutes – and pondered whether he should ask, or just dump the chip in the trash and keep walking. There was no reason to do this, he knew, but at the same time, it was somehow comforting that he was already off-balance. He fought to keep his face impassive, aware a wry smile was tugging at his lips.

Duo! You always turned everything upside down, did it all wrong and somehow did it better than I ever expected, he railed, amused at the same time. I haven't even found you, and you've still managed to throw me off-balance.

"Hey, babe," one of the girls called. "What's your game?"

"Jeet," he replied automatically.

"Oh," she said, her tired face falling back into a frown. "You're one of those. He's not here." The girl turned away, but he stepped forward and caught her by the arm.

"Where can I find him?"

"Dunno," she said, jerking her arm away from him neatly, her dirty blond hair swinging around her face as she moved. "Ask Enny."

"Looking for Jeet?" A second girl stepped forward. Her hair was green and lanky, pulled back into a high ponytail. Her jeans jacket was intact, but she was wearing a sparkly blue tubetop underneath and a skirt of about the same amount of fabric. "You wanna wait? He should be back soon." She pushed up her jacket sleeve, glanced at her watch and frowned. "Any minute now." It was clearly a matter of some irritation, and Heero's interest was piqued.

"You his keeper?" Heero tried to sound casual.

"No, his pimp," she shot back, catching him off-guard with a wide grin.

"I've got something," he started, but before he could move his hand she'd grabbed him by the arm, turning him around with a glare.

"Don't," she hissed, motioning with her head towards the girls as she strode down the block. Heero took the hint and followed her, stopping when she did. "You're not Sammy," she announced.

"Sammy the bald guy?"


"He's busy," Heero said. "He asked me to bring it."

"Gimme the ten credits," she ordered. When Heero didn't move, she stuck her hand out like she was going to reach into his pockets for him. He sidestepped her hand and dug out the credits, handing them to her with a scowl. She tucked them away. "Jeet's supposed to be back, but if he isn't, you gotta do the trade yourself. You up to it?" She looked him up and down, grinning widely as if it were the most hilarious question she'd asked all week.

"Trade?" Heero's eyebrows shot up, and he shook his head a little to get his bangs out of his face. His head was starting to argue with his gut, fighting the original instinct that had landed him in this. "Why don't you do it?"

"Because, man," she said, rolling her eyes. "I've got the wrong equipment." At Heero's continued stare, she snorted. "The john's gay, man."

Heero grunted, struggling to let his face drop back into its old wartime expression of wariness. "What kind of trade?"

Enny looked at her watch again, her brow furrowed. "Two minutes, damn it. Where is he... " She looked up and down the street, watching the passing cars, before turning back to Heero. "You put that," she held her fingers out, thumb and forefinger as if measuring something small, "in your mouth. The john shows up, you kiss him, he takes it, and gives you another one. And you score twenty-five more credits."

"Twenty-five more?" Heero's expression clearly said: for what?

She slapped herself lightly on her forehead, exasperated. "Are you retarded? Because ya don't kiss a john, but this guy's different. He pays extra for that. Besides, it's the cover for the trade. Or do I need to use little words so you'll understand?"

"Why me?"

"Because Jeet's not here," she said, as if that explained everything.

Heero was unconvinced. He was pretty sure she had just told him that he was supposed to kiss some guy, push the romchip into the other guy's mouth, and get one back. The whole idea seemed ludicrous. Why not simply palm it? He opened his mouth to say something and was startled to find she was pushing the romchip into his mouth. He blinked, wondering when she'd pick-pocketed him so skillfully.

"He's pulling up," she muttered. "The guy on the bike, over there."

"What do I do?" Heero asked, the romchip tasting cool and alien on his tongue.

"Walk up, swing your leg over the bike, and kiss him." She turned Heero around and pushed him back down the block. "Do I have to give you a lesson?"

Heero glanced over his shoulder at the girl, who was looking up and down the block with an angry expression. Steeling his shoulders, he let a smirk slide across his face. Gotta be in Duo's world, he reminded himself.

There was a surreal moment as he took a deep breath, letting his mind shut down, rearranging his perspective into mission mode. Five years, a part of him chanted, five years too long, and then the voice was gone, silenced. He approached the bike, and the man's back, studying it carefully.

The man was probably taller than him, Heero thought, noting the long legs sprawled out, holding the large bike upright. It was a powerful machine, broad and sulky, and the man was pushed back, away from the gas tank, leaving a space for someone in front of him. His hands were on his thighs, and his face was turned away, looking at the other side of the street. His dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail at the top of his head, the thick hair standing out like a pinwheel. His shoulders were broad, and when he shifted on the seat Heero got the immediate impression of muscular power.

Heero stole up behind the man, silent as night, twisting to swing one leg over the bike. He slid closer even as the man turned, startled, but Heero's lips were already on his. Instinctively the man tensed, and Heero closed his eyes, tasting the biker's chapped lips. Trade, Heero's mind insisted, and the photographer obediently opened his mouth a little, pushing the romchip to the front of teeth, waiting. A pause, and the other man's head tilted for better contact, his hands slipping onto Heero's thighs, pulling him closer.

The photographer's hands clenched at the man's shoulders; momentarily off-balance from the sensation of a tongue in his mouth and the way his feet were no longer under his hips as he leaned into the man. The biker's clasp grew tighter as the romchip slipped from Heero's mouth, and a second later the tongue returned, this time pushing a romchip back behind Heero's teeth.

One of the biker's hands slid across Heero's ass, and two fingers tucked down into his back jeans pocket. A second later Heero was yanked off the bike, barely able to get his breath before he realized he was plastered against concrete, but still standing. He opened his eyes, blinking hard, realizing he'd been lifted off the bike and thrown against the nearest building. He could see blue hair in the corner of his vision, and registered an angry voice in his ear.

"Mine," it was saying. "Fucker, no moving in."

Heero's vision resolved itself and he started to push against the wall but thought better of it. Instead, he let his muscles relax as though surrendering, and nodded, once. "Understood," he replied quietly. "Get off me."

"Yeah, you got it," the boy replied hotly, pushing Heero up against the wall again as he stepped away. "Tell Sammy I ain't putting up with no competition."

"I'll tell him." Heero said as his eyes met fierce gray eyes, large in a face framed by a shock of neon blue hair. The boy was almost as tall as Heero, but dressed in a shocking pink jacket, no shirt, and black vinyl shorts. Heero wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "You can keep him."

"Fuck yeah," the boy retorted. Behind him, the biker's voice was a low rumble, an amused growl. "Coming," the boy said over his shoulder, his eyes still on Heero as he spoke again, his voice raised for the biker to hear him. "What about Day?"

The biker's affirmative grunt appeared to please Jeet. "Hear that," he taunted Heero. "Double for me, and none for you. Now vamoose."

The bike roared into life behind them, and Heero saw it pull away from the curb out of the corner of his eye. The biker was already staring off down the street, and Heero could only see the peculiar ponytail. In a flash the boy was gone, clambering onto the back of the bike with a one-fingered wave back to Heero.

As the bike pulled away Heero returned the gesture, his mood almost wry. He shook his head, turning to go and nearly tripping over Enny. She was watching him carefully.

"That looked decent," she said. "How much didya get?"

"Get?" Heero glared at her. "Other than kissing concrete?"

"No, you idiot," she replied. "From the john."

"I don't know," he said, and dug into his back pocket. He was surprised to find his hand coming up empty. "Nothing."

"Oh," she said, her eyes wide. "That's a compliment."


"Geez, you really are retarded," she told him. "Whores get paid. People don't." Enny studied him for a second, and grinned. "Either that, or he knew you were a virgin. I figured he'd pay double for that pleasure, though."

"Hn." Heero stepped around her, annoyed to find she turned just as quickly to follow him. "What do you want now?"

"That was a first, wasn't it," she crowed. "You've never kissed a guy before."

"What?" The dark-haired man shot her a baleful look, doubly irritated. I want a shower, a hot dinner, and a shuttle back to L1. His lips tingled, even though he'd been certain the kiss had as much passion as licking an envelope. He felt cheap, but that secret voice was whispering something about feeling cheap only because he'd been hoping it would feel... something. Heero sighed and walked faster, but the girl kept up with him easily.

"You don't like guys?"

"I... don't know," he answered truthfully. The day's disappointment was rapidly crashing down on him.

"You like girls better?"

Heero didn't answer for a second, but stopped at the corner, watching the busy street. "I don't know." Any other words were choked back when the girl grabbed him by his jacket's lapels and pulled him close, shoving her tongue into his mouth. She tasted like cigarettes and cheap coffee.

"What was that for?" Heero glared at her when she released him, flustered to see she was grinning widely again. This is not my day, he grumbled silently.

"See," she said, amiable. "Doesn't matter who you're kissing, mebbe. You don't know 'em or like 'em, it'll be all the same no matter what's between the legs. But if you do know 'em... " She smirked.

"Whatever," he said, stalking off without a backwards glance. This time she didn't follow him.


On to Chapter Four

Back to chapter Two

Fiction : GW :

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