"That went well," Chris murmured.  He was standing just inside the doorway, and he smirked at the three, not missing India's bright expression.  

"Yes, it did, didn't it."  All of her apprehensions had disappeared once the show had gotten under way, and with the first one down, she was feeling confident.  
She patted the orange-haired man's back as she walked past him, and she gave a smile to the three guests.  "You did very well.  Now, as I said out there,
we're going to have cameramen following you around this evening.  As you've probably realized, you're all being put up in the same hotel.  The other pilots are
there as well, but it would be better if you didn't go looking for them.  At least not until after tomorrow.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to introduce them then.  I
know you were all brought here separately, but the limo can take you back together, if you like."  

"No thanks, I'll walk back."   Duo didn't have to look to know Heero had turned toward him, and he kept his gaze on the woman.  She seemed doubtful.  "It's
only a couple of blocks."

"Well, in that case, let me introduce you to your cameraman."  She waved a hand, smiling as a black-haired man stepped up, a camera balanced on his
shoulder.  "This is Paul.  Since you're separating, he'll be following you."

Duo raised an eyebrow, his lips raised in a smirk as he thought how easy it would be to lose the man.  But he wouldn't.  "Well, that's fine by me, nice to meet
you, Paul.  Hope you can keep up."  Everyone was watching him and he grinned suddenly.  "Just let me change out of this suit first."  He turned, but didn't get
more than a step or two away when he stopped.  "By the way," he said suddenly, looking over his shoulder at the black-haired woman.  "I'm not wearing this
tomorrow.  I mean, it's cute and all, having us dressed alike, but I stopped with the uniforms years ago."

India nodded, then turned to the other two.  She couldn't help but notice the intense way Heero was looking after the other boy, and she smiled quickly before
clearing her expression.  "Is something wrong, Heero?"

Eyes snapping to the woman, Heero shook his head sharply.  "I'm ready to go."

"I'll go with you," Relena said quickly, a bright smile lighting up her face.  "We have so much to catch up on."

"Good, then."  Calling over another cameraman, she introduced him.  "Joel is going to go with you two."

"Oh, I guess that's all right," Relena said slowly.  She frowned at the man for a moment, then blinked suddenly and glanced toward the way Duo had gone.  
"You might want to watch the door, he'll probably try to sneak out."

Suddenly glad Joel was already filming, India's eyes glittered eagerly.  "Why do you say that?"

"He has a tendency of disappearing," Relena murmured, her manner off-handed as if it were common knowledge.  Slipping her arm through Heero's, she
smiled at the boy.  "I'm ready, too."

* * *


One wide violet eye fills the screen, long black lashes framing it, then they close slowly, pale skin contrasting vividly.  The camera pans suddenly, as the figure
turns, a long sweep of golden-brown hair cascades past, then falls in waves.  The figure is wearing a long, black coat that billows around the person's ankles,
purplish gray smoke is rolling with glints from the dim lights somewhere above.  Then the person turns just a bit, gazing over his shoulder and those violet eyes
are staring at the screen, the pale face infinitely sad.  Long bangs fall down, dipping into his eyes in places and his expression seems to fall as his eyes close
and he turns his face away slowly.  

Suddenly the camera seems to pull back, the figure growing smaller until the view swings around him and zooms in again, this time his face is revealed.  The
coat is closed in front, straight folds of cloth falling to his elbows as his arms are crossed at his waist.  Black gloves hide his hands, and one lifts, a microphone
held and raised to his lips.  Music sounds, slowly raising in volume, low somber tones and the boy shivers visibly, eyes closing again.  The tone changes
suddenly, rising in pitch and the boy's voice is heard, a medium tenor that intones a single steady sound.  The note ends and his eyes open again, slits of
purple visible through black lashes and he's singing.  There are no words, simply pure melodies that make a song, rises and falls that seem to radiate
sadness, futility, and something more.  

He stands motionless, his coat and hair swept by the mist and only his left hand moves, rising slowly.  Black-gloved fingers delve into the neck of his coat, and
his head bows, the tone dropping slowly as base in the background builds with an ominous speed.  Then his head tilts back, eyes closed and a small silver
cross is revealed, thin chain shining against the black cloth.  His voice rises in a keening sound, a lamentation.  The note holds for what seems like an eternity
then fades, the tortured expression smoothing from his face and the camera zooms in, two bright trails shown as tears fall from his eyes and the mist rises,
filling the screen.


Turning to face the camera that focused on her, India smiled, shaking her head a little as she lifted her microphone.  "That is the newest clip out from the Dark
Collection."  She paused for a moment as the cameraman panned to the audience, capturing the expressions as everyone seemed to be blinking in shock and
not a little confusion.  Then it returned to her, and she smiled again.  "Don't feel badly if this is the first time you've heard of this.  A new type of music, Dark
Collection doesn't include words, but," she dropped her eyes, pausing again, "it doesn't need words, does it?  This collection of music has, till now, only been
seen by the most wealthy on earth and in the colonies.  Luckily for us, the author himself was kind enough to allow a sneak preview.  I know what you're
thinking, what does this have to do with the Gundam Pilots?  Well, that was none other than Duo Maxwell."

There was a loud murmur from the audience, and India grinned, the camera focusing on the three guests who sat on the stage.  She'd felt the same, the first
time she'd learned of it, and the looks Relena and Heero were giving Duo were excellent.  The girl seemed furious, and Heero, well, the normally cold boy's
eyes were very wide.  Duo was seated casually, one leg crossed over the other, and his hands were folded in his lap, a small smile curving his lips.  He looked
much different from the boy on the screen, dressed in pale jeans and dark blue silk.  As he'd said, he hadn't worn the suit.

"Duo?  I guess it's obvious now, what you've been doing since the last war.  So tell us, where did you come up with this new type of music?"

Duo glanced up, his eyes moving over the audience members closest to him, and he gave a small grimace at the odd looks they were giving him.  He wasn't
embarrassed, not really, but it had been a huge sacrifice to identify himself.  Remembering the extra compensation he'd been given for the early airing, he
sighed and smiled at the camera.  "It's not really new.  I've always wondered why people went to things like operas, I mean, why go if they don't understand
what's being said, right?  Well, I went to one myself and I realized that what they're singing doesn't matter.  It's the *way* they sing it.  The emotions, that's what
people go for.  So I just took out the words altogether."

"And it worked?"

Nodding toward the large screen that filled the wall behind them, Duo grinned.  "Obviously.  My first tape was made in a cheap film studio, and I only showed it
to one person, but he loved it so much he offered to fund me.  Since then, I've sold my clips to about...thirty people in total.  You can't really say it's popular,

"Why so few people?  The clips cost so much, do you want to limit the people who can see it to only the rich?"

"That's not it.  See, I've seen concerts, and there's no way I'd perform."  He stressed the word as if it were something dirty.  "Plus, the proceeds don't go to
me.  And I didn't really want to be wide-known."

"Well, I'd say you're going to be known after this."  India grinned as laughter sounded around her, the audience members shaking off the spell the tape had
caused.  "Relena, Heero, what do you think of this?"  Neither answered, and she raised an eyebrow, glancing at the audience.  "Speechless?  I bet you had no
idea he'd end up doing something like this."

"I've seen the tapes before," Relena said suddenly, her blue eyes narrow.  "I can't believe this."  Heero's eyes snapped to her, and she looked uncomfortable
suddenly, not sure what to make of the boy's incredulous expression.  "What?"

"You've seen this, and you didn't recognize him?!"

The boy sounded as if he wanted to shake her, and India could practically hear people leaning forward.  "Are you saying you recognized him, Heero?"  The
boy didn't answer, dropping his eyes as he glared at his folded arms.  "Well.  Shall I bring out the person who funded Duo's career?"  The audience seemed to
wake up, and she beamed at the cheers.  "Pilot of the Gundam Sandrock, Quatre Winner!"  

The people were focused on the black door as it opened, but India caught the way Heero stiffened as if he'd been shot, and the glare he sent the blonde boy
might have killed him on the spot.

Stepping through the door, the boy seemed to glow beneath the lights, his light blonde hair glinting.  Pale blue-green eyes flicked about as if he were nervous,
and there were a number of whistles accompanying the cheers.  He was wearing a white suit that made him look dignified, and his tentative smile was greeted
with an increase in volume.  Then Duo stood and crossed the stage.  With glinting eyes, he laid his hands on the boy's shoulders and pressed a kiss to
Quatre's lips.  The crowd went wild, especially when Heero nearly leapt out of his chair in an extremely telling move.

Blushing furiously, Quatre managed a small smile, and he shoved the boy back.  "Duo, I'm going to get you for this one, I swear."  He could hear the people
screaming, and he was certain they thought them to be lovers.  The American grinned, and he let himself be led across the stage.  It wasn't until they reached
Heero that he found himself faltering a bit, and he was shocked by the rage that blazed at him.  But Duo didn't seem to notice, and he was drawn past and
pressed into the chair beside Duo's.

It was a minute before the crowd calmed down enough for her to be heard, and India raised the mike.  "That was quite a greeting.  Are you two lovers?"

Duo laughed when Quatre promptly slapped a hand over his forehead, the boy's dark blush not quite hidden.  "No, just good friends.  If it weren't for Quatre
here, I don't know what I would have done with myself.  See, after the war, I didn't really have anywhere to go.  And he let me stay with him for a while."

"A while?!  You're still living with him!"

Relena's cry caused the crowd to erupt, and India moved forward quickly.  "You seem to know a lot about Duo," she said quickly.  

"Have you been stalking me?" Duo asked, leaning forward to stare at the girl as Heero was seated between them.  "Why the hell would you stalk *me*?  What,
you couldn't find Heero so you thought maybe *I'd* know?"  The girl's cheeks darkened, and he glared, turning to face the crowd.  "This girl has to be the most
obsessed person I've ever met, and I've met a lot of psycho's in my time.  She followed him throughout the entire war.  Sometimes I think she got herself
kidnapped on purpose because she couldn't find him."

"You're speaking of the Mariemeia Rebellion, right?"

"Yeah.  I know she was still looking for him, we had to move at least three times."  Duo blinked suddenly, leaning back in his chair.  Relena had jumped to her
feet, and he was shocked to see her in front of him.  She looked as if she were about to attack him.

"You *were* with him!  I knew it!  You disgust me, Duo Maxwell.  What?  Heero didn't want you so you had to corrupt Quatre?  You took advantage of him
because he was the weakest of the five of you, is that it?"  Relena gasped when she was suddenly shoved backwards, and she waved her arms for a moment
before regaining her balance.  The longhaired boy's hands were curled into fists, and she moved away quickly, wondering why no one was protecting her as
he advanced.

"Quatre is *not* weak.  He's the strongest person I know.  If you have a problem with me, then that's just fine.  But leave him out of it!"  Duo was so angry he
might have struck her if Quatre hadn't grabbed his arms.  

"Don't," Quatre said quickly, pulling the boy back.  "You don't have to defend me, Duo."  The boy glanced at him, and he smiled quickly.  "We both know that
Miss Relena can't think when it comes to Heero.  Besides," he whispered, lowering his voice so the audience wouldn't hear, "she's making a complete fool of
herself.  Look at Heero."

Sure enough, the dark-haired boy was glaring at the girl, and Duo calmed slowly, moving back to his seat.  It was another minute before Relena did likewise,
and he looked at the audience, noting that they were enjoying the hell out of their display.

"Well, guess it's out in the open now," India said, laughter following her words.  "Heero?  How does it feel to have these two fighting over you?"  The boy's eyes
flicked to her, and she was surprised to see him blink as if confused.

"They weren't fighting over me," he said quickly.  He was still trying to get over his anger that Duo would sell himself to people, if only his image.  The added
fact that the boy had been living with Quatre only enraged him further.  But he had been listening to the argument, and it was obvious to him that he hadn't
been the true focus of it.  "Relena has hated Duo since they met.  People like him, but she gains friends because of her name and her position.  She's just
using me as an excuse so she doesn't have to face the truth."

"No!" Relena cried, her face growing red.  "Don't you get it, Heero?  Why do you think he always tried to get between us?  He's gay!"

The crowd was screaming, and some boo's sounded, but laughter soon rode over the sounds as people focused on Duo.  The boy's head was bowed, a
fingers splayed over his forehead, but it was obvious who was laughing.  When the audience grew quiet, he looked up, a wide grin curving his lips.  He was
looking at the people.  "Relena?  Do you know who the first boy to kiss me was?  Heero."


Relena's cry was barely heard as the audience members screamed and cheered, spurred on by the fact that Heero's hand had snapped out, clamping down
on the girl's shoulder so she couldn't bolt out of her chair.  She was struggling, but he held her easily, not denying it.  In fact, he was gazing at Duo, the
American looking down at his hands, which were folded in his lap again, a pleased smile curving his lips.  The girl continued to scream her denials, and India
raised the microphone.  

"Well, I think this would be an excellent time to go to commercial.  Relena might need a few minutes to calm herself, then we'll get to the bottom of this, right?"  
People cheered her, and the camera swept over the guests again, pausing for a moment on the struggling Relena then on Heero and Duo, before a glimpse
of Quatre, who was leaning back easily, his eyes on Duo.

As soon as they were clear, Heero released Relena who stopped struggling.  Her cheeks were flushed, and she seemed unsure what to do.  The Japanese
boy continued to stare at Duo, and Duo leaned over to whisper in Quatre's ear.  It was a long, quiet commercial break.

"You *do* know Trowa's here," Duo whispered, "right?  If you ever want a chance to bring it all into the open, this is it."

"Is that what you're doing?" Quatre asked, turning to face the boy.  "I thought you didn't want him to know you remembered."

"Yeah, but that's because I thought Relena would have caught him by now.  Since he still doesn't like her, I've got a chance."  He didn't have to turn to know
Heero was still looking at him, he could feel the boy's gaze.  "Besides, the more dirty details, the more viewers.  Which means, this program will bring in more

"Duo, you didn't have to come on this show.  I've offered to make donations."  Frowning, Quatre sighed when Duo patted his cheek affectionately.

"Don't pretend you haven't been making secret donations," Duo whispered smoothly, "Did you really think I wouldn't find out?  No, you're already doing more
than your share.  With the money from this show, and my own tapes, L2 won't even be recognizable."

"You could just come out and say that's where the money's going.  People would donate to it."  Quatre sighed again and shook his head.  "But you don't like
direct donations, I know.  You're so stubborn."

"Yep."  He could hear the signal being given, and he faced forward quickly, his eyes on India.

"Welcome back," India said as the camera focused on her.  "We've just been told that Heero gave Duo his first kiss," she paused for the aww's that sounded,
smiling.  Turning, she faced the guests.  "Duo, when did he kiss you?"

"During the first war.  I'd gotten caught by OZ, and Heero came after me."  He smiled at the encouraging cheers from the audience, but his expression was
mocking.  "Only, he didn't come to rescue me.  He was planning on killing me, well, both of us, so OZ wouldn't be able to learn anything.  I *guess* it could be
seen as romantic.  Anyway, he changed his mind and we ended up escaping.  The kiss actually took place on the shuttle to where he was hiding. I was pretty
messed up, so I kept dozing off, but I definitely remember him kissing me."  Again, there were cheers, and he snuck a look at Heero, flicking his eyes away
after taking in the boy's scowl.  "He thought I was asleep, and afterward he acted like nothing happened, so we didn't have sex or anything.  In fact, it *might*
have been a friendly kiss...if it were anyone but Heero."

"That's all it was," Relena said suddenly, leaning forward in her chair.  "I *knew* he didn't do anything with you."  Looking at the audience, she raised her chin.  
"Heero has trouble expressing himself, that's all."

"What do you have to say about this, Heero?"  India looked at the dark-haired boy, smiling since he was still staring at Duo.  To her, it was obvious that Relena
was missing the picture completely.

"You were awake," Heero said slowly, his eyes glued on Duo's as the boy finally faced him.  "And you never said a word."

"What could I say?" Duo countered, raising an eyebrow.  "If I asked you why you did it, you'd have just shut up.  Besides, I stuck around, didn't I?  After the
war, I was there, until *she*," he flicked a thumb at Relena, "got kidnapped.  And that whole time, you never even hinted at anything."

"Neither did you."

"Shit."  Duo rolled his eyes, leaning back in his chair.  "What did you expect me to do, Heero?  Throw myself on you?  Get drunk and make a pass at you?  Or
maybe you thought I'd take the direct approach and just ask, is that it?  I already had it figured out, you know, you were 'acting on your emotions.'"  His voice
was scathing, and he glared at the boy beside him.  "And after that, you didn't have those emotions anymore, right?  Because if you did, you'd have acted on

"I didn't lead a good life," Heero said coldly.  "Emotions like that have no place in a war.  And then, after the war, you disappeared."

"I was with Quatre!  How hard would it have been to find me?" Duo asked, his expression incredulous.  "Relena found me."

"I didn't look there."

"Fine.  I'm right here, now.  There's no war going on, so what's the excuse?"  Duo turned in his seat, propping his elbow on the back and bracing his forehead
in his palm.  For a second, he thought Heero was going to kiss him, then he let out his breath as the boy continued staring.  Shaking his head, he turned in his
seat and folded his arms over his chest.  "Some things never change."

Standing suddenly, Heero grabbed the boy's wrist, jerking him out of the chair so they were facing each other.  Duo's eyes were wide, but he didn't look
startled.  The catcalls and cheers from the audience made him glare, but he released Duo's wrist, his hands moving to frame the boy's face and he leaned
closer.  A minute passed as he stared at the boy, then his eyes flicked to Relena who was shaking in her chair.  His eyes narrowed to slits, and he pulled back

It was irritating, the wait, and India had expected some passionate kissing.  Then her mouth dropped open, echoing the screams around her as Heero
suddenly bent and lifted Duo off his feet.  "Oh my God!"  The mike was held at her side, so her words didn't reach the cheering audience, and her shoulders
shook with laughter.  The Japanese boy never even glanced back as he carried Duo off the stage.  Remembering herself, she waved to Chris, whom she
could see through the doorway to her right.  The man nodded quickly, and she turned her head to the screen above the stage.  The two boys were abruptly
visible, moving down the hall backstage.  If anything, the crowd was loving it.

Duo was grinning widely, his arms wrapped around Heero's shoulders, and he blushed when he caught sight of the cameraman following them, ducking his
head.  Heero reached the door to one of the dressing rooms, and stopped suddenly.  Whirling, he had a gun in his hand and Duo gaped, the cameraman
jumping back quickly.  "Heero!  Where did you get that?"

The boy didn't answer, his eyes narrow.  "Go."  The man nodded quickly, backing up some more, and Heero turned, entering the room and slamming the door
behind them.

Duo shook his head, stepping back after Heero let him down.  The Japanese boy walked past him and placed the small revolver on the mirrored table.  "I can't
believe it.  A year, and you're still pulling guns on people."  The boy turned to face him, and he blinked, his instinct to move back again.  "I guess you *can*

Stepping to him, Heero raised his hands till his fingers slid into Duo's loosely braided hair, his thumbs brushing the boy's cheeks.  With no distractions, he
didn't hesitate, but kissed him, Duo's arms sliding around his waist.  They were pressed together, and their mouths moved as if each were starving.  The boy
let out a low sigh when he moved his mouth away, and Duo's head fell back, his pale neck exposed.  Tasting the satiny skin, Heero's fingers flew over the
buttons of the silk shirt, pushing it aside so he could slide his hands in.  He rubbed his palms over Duo's chest then down, curving beneath his arms as he
pulled him closer.  His forehead brushed over the boy's neck till his lips touched him, and he heard his name whispered.  All he could think of was that the boy
had wanted him to act, that he'd been waiting for that all this time.  Anger at missed opportunities spurred him, and he ran his tongue over one of Duo's
nipples, his fingers squeezing the boy when he gave a soft cry.

He wanted to lean on something, to bare his body to those strong hands, and his lips curved into a smile.  This was what he'd longed for, why he hadn't taken
the first step and revealed his feelings.  He wanted Heero to take charge, to need him.  All of the controlled power he'd seen bottled up in the boy was now
being let free and Duo curved his hands up beneath the black coat of Heero's suit.  Jerking free the shirt beneath, he wasn't satisfied until his hands were
pressing skin, feeling the wiry muscles.  He winced when teeth nipped him, but even that increased his lust; he wanted that power to control him, the power he
connected with Heero.  Then the boy moved, and he opened his mouth willingly as they kissed again, their tongues curling and twining restlessly.

Had the door opened slowly, neither would have been in any state to notice, but it was flung open, crashing loudly against the wall.  Heero growled against his
mouth, and Duo's eyes flew to the open doorway before he turned his head away, groaning.  For a moment, they stayed together, then Duo stepped back,
pulling his shirt closed, a blush marring his cheeks as he kept his face away from the door.  He didn't have to look to know the camera was there, and his
hands twitched for his gun.


The boy's voice was broken by harsh breaths, and Duo turned, swallowing sharply when he saw Heero's eyes.  He looked ready to kill.  Blinking, he looked at
the two people in the doorway, nodding when the cameraman stepped back.  "I think-"

"Shut up!"  Relena was leaning against the doorframe, her wide eyes filled with hurt and fury.  She couldn't get the scene out of her mind.  "No one cares what
*you* think.  Heero...don't do this.  Can't you see he taunted you into this?  He *dared* you to, Heero."

The girl wasn't in position to see the Japanese boy's expression, but Duo was and he took a step back.  As much as he liked the fact that Heero wasn't going
to be turned against him, he couldn't stand the absolute violence in those narrow eyes.  "Relena...just be quiet."  The former pilot was glaring at the floor, and
he stepped to him slowly, a light hand falling on the boy's shoulder.  Heero jerked, his hands curling into fists, then his eyes flicked to Duo and he blinked.  
"She isn't worth it.  Besides, this isn't exactly the most private place, eh?  You aren't planning on changing your mind, are you?"


"Great."  Duo looked up at the doorway, and smirked to see that the cameraman was half out of sight, only the camera itself in view.  Relena was leaning
heavier on the door, her relief evident and he glared at her.  What he'd said about privacy was true, but he wanted to hit her for interrupting.  Instead, he
waved a hand at them.  "Okay, you two can go back out there, the show's over."
"I'm not leaving the two of you alone," Relena started, but she closed her mouth sharply when Heero's head snapped around, his eyes focused on her.  "Of
course," she said suddenly, as if the boy had spoken to her, "I trust you, Heero."

Snorting, Duo buttoned his shirt, his back to the door.  He tensed when arms curved around him, but the doorway was empty and he leaned against Heero for
a moment.  "Too bad they ruined the moment.  But the show's half over.  If we go back out there and don't say anything, they'll introduce someone else and it'll
go faster."

"It had better," Heero said coldly.  He tugged on Duo's braid, ignoring the boy's surprised expression as he released him.  "We need to talk."