And I Have Touched the Sky
by Lasha Lee

"I could mess with their heads. Give me a fur loincloth and a club." Duo pleaded to Heero.

The Japanese man glared at him and Duo grinned back. Heero sighed. "Not a bad idea, actually." He looked Duo up and down. "But that'll have to wait until we're done here."

Standing near them, Wufei made a noise of disgust in his throat. Quatre grinned and patted him on the arm. "Poor Wufei. Our token straight arrow. We have to dedicate at least part of our time here to finding him a girl."

"I will thank you to stay out of my personal life." Wufei grunted. "And to keep me out of yours." That with a frown at Duo and Heero, who were ignoring him.

"The cavemen used to club their mates and drag them back to the caves by their hair." Heero mused, rubbing his chin. "I think Grog try."

"Not if Grog value life!" Duo retorted. "Spurg taken. No can have. Take Brug instead. He have hair." He shoved Wufei toward Heero.

Trowa whispered in Quatre's ear. "At least the pirate phase seems to have passed." They watched Wufei shove Duo backwards and Heero intervene before any permanent harm was done. "Were we that bad when we first started out?"

Quatre whispered something back. "I'd forgotten that. We're lucky we didn't get arrested." Trowa chuckled at the memory.

"Ahem." Marti cleared his throat from the doorway and the young men looked up sheepishly. "They're ready to meet with you now." His lips twitched but he made no additional comments.

The five former pilots filed into the room. Heero gave a quick tug on Duo's braid and the other man bared his teeth at him. Later, Heero mouthed.

The chairs were comfortable, made of the same elastic leather popular on this world. Duo had expected a bigger group of people, but instead found only five other people in the room besides Marti, four women and another man.

That was another thing that had surprised him at first when Heero had explained it. Unlike Earth, which was throughout history primary dominated by males, Dera was a matriarchal society. Not that men couldn't or didn't hold political power, but most important decisions were controlled by the women of the world. Women, Heero had shrugged, were usually more levelheaded, more likely to negotiate with enemies than bomb them to bits, and less likely to cause wars for trivial reasons. At least, that was how it had been explained to him. Relena, he had added, had agreed with the Deran philosophy whole-heartedly. It explained as well why there was evidence on Earth that their Cro-Magnon forebearers had worshiped a goddess instead of a god.

"Heero, excellent to see you again." The eldest of the women, who appeared seventy if she were a day, smiled. "There were those who felt you would not be returning." She glanced at the strange man, who refused to look at her. "But I had faith in your promise."

Heero introduced his friends. "This is Tren Liea. Relena's equivalent on this world. And her Council."

"I had hoped you might bring Tren Relena with you." Liea smiled. "But I understand her responsibilities keep her bound to her own world."

"She sends you her greetings." Heero handed the elderly woman a letter. "And hopes to arrange a meeting soon."

"Well, I'm not too old yet to go gallivanting off through space." Liea's pale blue eyes flashed. "I may take her up on that. My Council can muddle through without me. Seb Runa." She motioned toward the women one at a time. "Seb Yanir, Seb Daom, and my son, Tren Vire."

The women nodded their greeting. After a second, Vire did the same. His eyes were the same pale shade as his mother's, but while hers brought to mind spring skies, his were as hard as winter ice. He took in the pilots, eyes narrowing.

"This war of yours was 12 of your years ago." He stared hard at Quatre. "You must have been in diapers. What kind of a world has men so cowardly they send small children out to battle for them?"

Wufei, appalled, started to rise to his feet but Heero laid a hand on his, restraining him. To his left, Trowa was seething in rage. He should have prepared them for this, but he had hoped against hope Vire wouldn't be here.

"I have explained this. We were the only ones who cared. Our age allowed us access to places and information an adult would not have been privy too. Most soldiers on our world are of age; we were exceptions."

"Vire..." Liea said sharply.

"Mother, you may have given them Dera with open arms, but by your choice Seta is MY responsibility." Vire's large hands flexed in front of him. "I want to know what sort of people might be inhabiting my world."

"The concern of any ruler." Wufei nodded, to their surprise. "In you situation I would be hesitant as well. I ask that you give us a chance to prove ourselves before judging us, however."

"The mark of any society is how it treats its elderly and its children." Vire said in a soft tone.

"Agreed. A child has accompanied us here to your world." Wufei continued. "He is a bit... high-strung, but he is also a very happy, very intelligent, very well-adjusted little boy. He has never been abused, or left hungry. You will find him as content with his station as any children from this world or your own. He has been raised with the unconditional love due any child and it shows."

Duo quickly swallowed the lump in his throat. Vire nodded. "I will meet this boy. For now my feelings remain unchanged."

"Noted, Vire." Liea sighed. It was obviously an old, tired argument between then.

Duo fought to stay awake for the rest of the conversation but politics had never held much interest to him. His lips twitched, imaging the stunned reactions of the Council if he just slid under the table and started pleasuring Heero. Damn, now that was a tempting idea.

Something snapped him back to attention.

"So Heero, you've had many months to consider my offer." Liea was saying. "Have you made a decision?"

"Tren Liea, your offer is very kind. If it only involved myself the answer would be simple... but I have not had a chance to discuss it yet with my family and my decision will rest with their wishes."

"I understand." Liea smiled. "Well, I've kept you long enough. I'll be in touch." She rose up, needing no assistance to do so. "It was a pleasure meeting all of you. If I were a bit younger I'd give you a challenge for that maclen of yours, Heero. He's every bit as good-looking as you described him in your book."

Duo, whose mind was stilling trying to sort out what kind of offer Heero was considering, blushed. "You said I was good-looking in your book?" He asked.

Heero grunted a reply but squeezed his lover's hand. "I'd have to fight you for him." He grinned at Liea. "I've grown rather attached to him. And you have to meet my pledge-son as well."

"That I very much look forward to."

Vire was silent, gazing at them again, and suddenly Duo was filled with an almost overwhelming sense of panic. He did not want that man anywhere near his son. In fact, the urge to find Jazz, grab him, throw him on the space yacht, and take off for home was almost controllable. Only Heero's hand in his steadied him.

Duo had survived long on the streets by instinct alone. He knew whether or not he could trust someone within seconds of meeting them. It was the instinct that had led him to rescue a stranger from a hospital, to put his faith and life in the hands of a young woman who would change his life.

Vire was not someone to be trusted.

"Okay, when you said apartment I had pictured some little hole in the wall." Duo looked around the suite of rooms in amazement. "You win the Deran lottery or something, Koi?"

"I told you, the book was popular." Heero looked slightly embarrassed. "I have enough money here to do whatever I like. I wanted something smaller, but Sheld picked this out for me and I didn't wish to hurt her feelings."

"Well, you've filled it up well." Duo noted. "I have no clue what any of those gadgets do so I'm not going to touch them."

"I'll teach you." Heero shrugged. "Nothing complicated."

"So what's this offer Liea wants you to take?" Duo asked, sitting down the couch next to Heero.

Heero began stroking his arm. "Do you really want to discuss that now?"

"Yes, and you aren't going to distract me from it." Duo's eyes were locked on Heero's.

Heero sighed. "Liea wants me to become an ambassador for Earth, to live here permanently."

Duo chewed his lip for a second, silent. "I see."

"Duo... I fell in love with this world the moment I arrived here. I've never felt that kind of connection with a place before. It was home, even before I knew where I was or what to call it. Sheld says it's the racial memory. I don't know, I just know that I feel safe here, content. I was hoping that you would love it too, and that you and Jazz would want to live here. For good."

"Heero, that's a big decision. I mean, it's great so far but I've been here less than 24 hours."

"I know. I don't want you to feel any pressure. I don't want you to decide yet. Give me a few months to sell you on it. Then, if L2 is what you want we'll leave and go back to L2. Or Earth. Or the sun if that's what you want. You told Jazz home is where your heart is. My heart is with the two of you. And I'll be content with whatever decisions you make."

Duo kissed Heero's forehead. "I like what I've seen of Dera so far." He looked around the living room of Heero's apartment again. "And you have a great cave."

Heero's eyes flashed. "You stay in cave, Grog make big hunt to celebrate. Kill mammoth."

"Grog a bit extreme. Spurg no need mammoth." Duo slipped away and crouched in the middle of the floor. "Spurg just need Grog."

Heero slipped off the couch toward Duo, eyeing him hungrily.

"But Grog have to catch first." Duo started to run away. A hand grabbed his braid and pulled him back down to the floor. A second later he was pinned under a panting Heero. "Grog catch mate. Now do mating ritual." Heero promised. His hands fumbled with the fastener of Duo's jeans and pulled them down. Straddling him, he freed himself, not even willing to take the extra time to undress either of them fully.

Duo moaned as Heero quickly prepared him. The Japanese man turned him over on his hands and knees and grabbed his hips, impaling him with one quick thrust. "Grog say mate too quiet." Heero stroked Duo's erection quickly. "Make big noise, scare... away... bad... spirits."

"GROG MAKING SPURG COME!" Duo wailed, and his passion sprayed the floor beneath him. A second later, he felt Heero shudder and liquid warmth filled him. He fell forward with Heero on his back, stroking his braid gently.



"You think any cavemen were gay?"

"I don't know. I suppose some of them had to be." Heero thought for a moment. "I mean, have you ever seen pictures of cavewomen?" He shuddered. "Although the lack of teeth had to have come in handy for more... delicate matters."

"We better get dressed. It's almost time for Linra's school to be out and Jazz could walk in and catch us." Heero withdrew from Duo and fixed his clothing, helping his koi do the same. He leaned back against the wall when they were done, cuddling Duo on his lap, unwilling to let him go just yet.

"There are caves on this world like you've never seen. They're crystal and give off their own light. Pinks and yellows and blues. So beautiful you almost weep when you see them for the first time. I'll take you there. I want to make love to you in one of the chambers. There are violet streaks in the crystal that always made me think of your eyes."

"That sounds great." Duo sighed. "I didn't say I was opposed to living here. I want you to show me everything. Make me fall in love with Dera, too."

An image of Vire crossed his mind and he banished it. It wasn't worth mentioning here and Heero would just think he was being paranoid.

And then Heero was kissing him again, just gentle little kisses on the corners of his mouth and his neck and the man did not enter his thoughts for a very long time.

On to part thirteen. Back to part eleven.