Title: Find Me
Rating: i'd give this part a PG-ish
Duo ate at a luxurious pace. Throughout dinner, Duo hadn't looked at the boy with the blue eyes again, but he could feel said blue eyes burning through him. Instead, he focused on his meal, happily feeling full for the first time in a while.
'I know you want me', Duo murmured into his mind, his lips slowly widening into a smirk.
Bella looked at him curiously. Without even looking at her, he grinned and simply said, "He's here."
Bella raised her eyebrows slightly but did not look around. Instead she refocused her attention to her pina colada and the discussion within the group. She daintily took a sip through the red straw - she'd cooed over the pretty straw more than the drink itself - and smiled at Duo. He smiled back and they laughed together.
"He's here, is he?" Michelle said in a low whisper, cutting across the conversation.
There was such thing as 'word on the street', contrary to what people thought. There were 'groups', there were 'territories', and above all, there were the marks. And you didn't mess with someone else's marks. Moments after Duo had touched the messy-haired boy, the word had spread like wildfire that you didn't mess with him, he belonged to Duo now. And people knew better than to try. Duo was backed up by Sugar and Joe, and no one messed with them.
They'd been there too long, and knew the rules too well.
'Funny', Duo thought dryly, 'how I managed to meet up with the king and queen hooker on my first night out on the street'. And he had. His first night, he'd been cold, alone, and quite unlearned. And for some reason, Joe and Sugar, then both 16 and already a formidable pair, had taken him into their wings.
'I guess all these outings are a way to pay them back', he reflected.
"Yeah, he's here," Duo said in a low voice, but loud enough for everyone at the table to hear.
They all shifted subtly, although no outside could have told. Duo flicked in the boy's general direction with his eyes, and the others, within the next 3 minutes, had all coolly observed him without his noticing. Michelle threw him an approving glance and Sugar nearly laughed.
"He seems... like a nice challenge," Joe murmured, grinning himself. "Have fun."
"I will," Duo smirked.
Bella, this whole while, had been grinning maniacally into her pina colada, afraid that if she looked up, she'd burst into laughter. A general feeling of laughing was somehow infectious, and soon the whole table was laughing for no apparent reason. The waiter walked by once, but decided quickly not to stop, and instead moved on to the next table he was waiting on. 'Good choice', Bella mouthed behind his back, sending them all into another gale of laughter.
'We're just kids', Duo concluded. 'Just kids, even though me'n Bella are the youngest and we're 17. Joe and Sugar are 22 now; damn. Michelle's 21. But we're still kids inside. This job eats away any growing up you might go through, and makes you feel just as young and as vulnerable as a 6 year old with their mommy. Except we have to fake our way through life, always smiling. Always smiling'.
The moment Heero had frozen in his glance to a far corner, the smartly dressed young man had become rather nervous. The waiter, standing nearby, took the hasty order for 2 coffees and left.
Heero had recovered in a second, instincts taking over and pasting a nonchalant look on his face.
"Ah, Mr. Winner said you'd be, ah, interested in sight-seeing, ah, around New York," the man stammered. It made Heero wonder just exactly *what* Trowa had said to the poor man. He looked like he thought Heero would erratically pull out a gun any moment. "Eh, is anything wrong, Mr. Yuy?"
Heero slowly shook his head. "Nothing wrong," he said carefully.
This only made the man more nervous. "Would you, ah, like to look over the brochures?" He hastily shoved over a pile of booklets. Nonchalantly, Heero began to sift through them, the image of the braided boy still burned in the back of his mind.
'It's him. I know it's him.'
"Mission, Wufei," Relena told him, passing him in the hall. "The Commander wants to see you in his office."
"Thank you," Wufei said stiffly. He never really liked Relena; in fact, he made it clear he strongly disapproved of any woman being in an assassin group, even after Heero tried to convince him that Relena was one of the best.
Instead of mulling on this, Wufei told his legs to direct him down the hall to Treize-sama's office. Inside already were Milliardo, Treize, and Heero.
There were times when Wufei would wonder about the Peacecraft siblings. Rumor was that their father had been an extreme pacifist and had raised them the same way. It had baffled him for weeks on end as to why these pacifist children were now professional assassins. In fact, even now both Relena and Milliardo had a soft edge to them sometimes - though never in their missions - and Wufei wondered if they were comparing their upbringing to their life. Reality was a bitch.
And they were all so young, himself included. Treize was the oldest, perhaps, at 27. Lady Une was about 26-ish, but nobody dared ask her anything, much less her age. Milliardo was next at 22, and next in command after Lady Une. Finally there were a scattering of 16-20 year olds, including Wufei, Heero, Trowa, and Relena. At first glance, the headquarters looked like a hangout for high-schoolers and college students, with Treize and Une being moderators of sorts.
"Sit, please," Treize said pleasantly, indicating a chair. Wufei sat.
Lady Une bustled in, wordless dropped a folder onto Treize's desk, and bustled right back out. None of the men paid attention to her and she did not expect them to. There were more important matters.
"Wufei, I understand this will be your first mission," Treize began. Wufei nodded, not saying anything. "Heero is to be your wingman, and Milliardo is just there as backup. I am assured enough of your skills so that I do not believe you will need someone to cover for you." He gave Wufei a quiet appraisal, then nodded his approval.
"This is the mission." Treize handed the folder to Milliardo, who opened it and glanced at the papers inside. "A world ambassador is staying at a hotel in San Francisco, and he is to be eliminated." There was never a reason why, there was never a course of action to take. The first was unimportant, the second they could come up with on their own.
Wufei, Heero, and Milliardo all rose together, silently, and left the office. With a tacit agreement, everyone walked towards Milliardo's office, which was closest.
Once Milliardo closed the door behind them, he looked at the two younger assassins. In his usual soft and smooth voice, he said, "So, how shall we go about this?"
"I'll look over these myself and perhaps give you a call," Heero finally said quietly, still ruffling through the brochures, still thinking about the boy across the restaurant.
That was all the dismissal the man needed. In record time, he had gather his briefcase and his coat, put down some money, and was out the door. It was all Heero could do not to burst out laughing right there. Instead he kept it down to a smile, the laughter still straining to come out.
As he sat at the table, he absently fingered the edge of one of the pamphlets, running his mind over anything and everything it wanted to think of. Wufei. Trowa. Quatre. That boy sitting in that booth over there, purposefully not looking at him, and driving him crazy just by that.
And Heero thought about the things important to him. Wufei had been, but what was he now? A memory Heero clung onto too tightly? Perhaps. Trowa was important; he was Heero's best friend, insofar as they had best friends. Quatre he knew as a kindhearted soul that Trowa certainly deserved, who wanted to love the whole world. In the beginning Heero had laughed cruelly at Quatre's naïveté, but now he longed for that very innocence he had denounced.
Even Relena was important to him, annoying though she may be.
An assassin wasn't supposed to care about anyone. Wasn't supposed to be attached to anyone. It distracted them, it took their mind of the mission. And yet most of them had broken that rule. Trowa had Quatre. Heero had had Wufei. It was certainly rumored that Treize and Milliardo were often together, although Relena changed the subject demurely whenever it came up.
'I have gotten too accustomed to having someone. Three years ago I would have laughed if anyone told me I would feel dependent on someone. When you're 14 you think everything revolves around you. Supposedly you should go on feeling so through 17, but I'm not that lucky. At 17, I feel like the world is conspiring against me. Always. And it's winning.'
There was a booklet listing the city's restaurants and how they ranked, and a matching one for nightclubs. There was a subway map and a road map; on a separate piece of paper, in Quatre's handwriting, was a list of places he recommended. Heero gave them a once over, then put everything down on the table. He cupped his coffee in his hands and sipped slowly. Places to see, things to do, perhaps even people to meet.
"Would you like anything else, sir?"
Heero glanced up to see the waiter standing by the table apprehensively, watching him with a wary eye. He'd been sitting there for some minutes straight, staring into his coffee. Perhaps this young man needed help...?
"Hn." Heero picked up the menu again and pored over it for a moment. "Get me this pasta dish, please."
"Yes, sir." The waiter scribbled it down and gathered the menus. He was gone in moments, leaving Heero back to his thought wanderings.
"Done, everyone?" Duo asked the table, who all nodded. "Great, let's go." He set down money for the meal and sufficient tip, and everyone began gathering their things.
"This was great, Duo," Joe said warmly. "Thanks for bringing us out. We'll have to treat you sometime soon."
"No problem," Duo said breezily. "It was nothing. We're friends, right?" He held out a hand.
"Right." Joe clasped the hand in an old tradition. "Let's go."
Duo wriggled into his light coat. "Meet you guys outside," he said, winking. The others smiled and nodded and made their way to the door.
On the other hand, Duo began to saunter over to the table some booths away. The boy with the messy hair was staring distantly into his coffee and certainly not noticing Duo's approach. Duo smirked. This was going to be way too easy.
'Just... a little jerk into my world. Just enough to keep him interested; just enough to make him want me'.
After a few more steps, Duo was right behind the other boy, who still wasn't noticing him. 'Good. I'll -make- him notice me'.
With the grace of a panther, Duo touched the boy's shoulder lightly and at the same moment lowered his lips to the boy's ear and whispered enticingly, "Hey lover. I'll be waiting for you tonight."
Heero jerked up the moment he felt the touch and one hand went immediately to his gun.
But he was frozen when he realized who it was. "Hey lover. I'll be waiting for you tonight." The words ran a sort of forbidden shudder down his spine, and the breath of the braided boy made him shiver slightly. It was the cold yet alluring voice of a professional who knew exactly what he wanted, and what his customer would want. And at that moment, Heero knew he was soon to be listed in the ranks of the customers.
The beautiful boy with the braid stepped back slightly, but Heero reached out and grabbed the braid roughly, and pulled his head back down. The boy didn't utter any protest, but came down willingly, smiling that dark smile of his.
"Who are you?" Heero growled icily.
The boy pursed his lips slightly, still smiling. After a moment's pause, he slid into the seat next to Heero in one fluid motion. Heero, startled, let go the braid. The boy tossed it behind his shoulder nonchalantly, still locking eyes with Heero.
"Call me anything you want," he said in a husky voice.
"What's your name?" Heero demanded. The coffee, nearly forgotten, was set back on the table before he spilled it.
A pause. "Duo."
"Duo," Heero repeated flatly. "What kind of name is that?"
"Mine," Duo answered breezily, still smiling. He inched over slightly until his thigh was a hairline away from Heero's. Heero refused to move.
"And... you *are* the boy I saw last night, right?"
"Right," was the cool answer. Still accompanied with a smile.
Duo decided he'd stayed long enough - perhaps too long. Enticing was all he'd been there for. Temptation. His favorite game.
He pulled himself out of the seat as elegantly as he lowered himself into it. Heero found himself watching Duo's fluid legs as he stood. "I've dallied long enough, lover," Duo drawled in teasing voice. "Find me later." He walked away without a backward glance.
And Heero realized he'd been holding his breath; he let it all out then.
Duo slipped out the door pleased with himself.
"Got him?" was Michelle's immediate inquiry.
Duo flashed a genuine, albeit mischievous, grin at her. "Did you ever doubt it?" he answered as they began walking down the sidewalk. Sugar and Joe unobtrusively linked arms and led the way, with Duo and Bella in the middle, Michelle behind.
"He say anything?" Bella continued the questioning, incredibly curious.
"He was surprised," Duo replied cheekily.
Bella swung at him lightly. "Like *that* wasn't obvious," she snickered.
"Think he's coming tonight?" Sugar said.
Duo pretended to be offended, compete with stopping short in the middle of the sidewalk. Bella bumped into him and Michelle giggled. Cued by the giggle, Joe and Sugar stopped and turned around. "Do I think he's coming?" Duo repeated in his mock upsetness. "Of *course* he's coming!" Then he flashed his trademark grin and gestured for Joe and Sugar to continue walking, which they did with their own smiles.
Heero was lost in a form of shock when his meal arrived. Mechanically, he nodded his thanks. Even the near-perfect assassin had been caught off-guard. Nevertheless, no reason to let a perfectly good meal go to waste.
He figured on calling Trowa when he returned to his room that - afternoon? Evening? Something like that. Perhaps Trowa could help him out with the... dilemma he was having. One thing was for certain: if not convinced otherwise, Heero would find himself walking back to the streetlamp under which he'd first met Duo.
Lightly poking at the pasta, Heero mused, 'Why is he chasing me? Doesn't he have other customers - regulars, even - who pay him handsomely? He must have; there's no other way he could be in this restaurant today. And with friends, no less.'
His meal was ended in a daze, and he paid likewise, and soon found himself on the busy New York City streets, a gentle breeze ruffling through his hair and making an otherwise stuffy day seem bearable. Heero began directing his steps back to his hotel, to call Trowa. And then to shower, and then probably to retrace last night's steps.
Once inside his room, Heero relaxed and let out a sigh. He slowly pulled of his light coat and dropped it on a nearby chair. A glance at a clock told him it was nearly 7 o'clock.
"Trowa, he left me," Heero said in a pained voice.
He was answered only by a startled silence.
Heero continued, trying not to cry, trying not to get angry. "Wufei left me. He says he doesn't love me anymore; he doesn't want me around anymore."
Trowa stood up and walked over to his friend. Comfortingly, chastely, he put his arms around Heero.
And Heero began to cry into his friend's arms.
"Kami-sama, Trowa," he rasped, shutting his eyes against the onslaught of tears. "I never - I didn't want to be so dependent on someone, ever."
"But you fell in love," Trowa said softly. "Heero, you are not to blame for that."
"I am." Heero tore himself out of his friend's comfort and stalked over to the window. "I am to blame, because I deceived myself. I thought it would be okay; love's supposed to last forever, right?" he added sarcastically. "Who knew someone could take him away from me?"
"Heero," Trowa said in a low voice. "You can't blame her. Love makes you blind and she, too, loves him."
"And she wins out," Heero said, in a voice laden with defeat. "Is that it? This was a battle and I never knew it? No one told me the rules; and so she wins. Ninmu feitta."
Trowa walked over to where he was standing. After a second, he murmured, slightly bemused, "Heero, I don't understand Japanese."
His friend smirked slightly at that. "Mission failed."
"Ah, I see. Heero, this wasn't a mission and you didn't fail at something. It can't be helped. And sulking certainly does nothing for you."
"It does plenty for me," Heero replied, coupled with his characteristic glare.
Trowa glared right back.
Back to Part 3
On to Part 5