LSE // 11-27-02
(The Black Queen - Chapter One: Arrival)
rated: PG13 - violence, language, content


"Ma'am?" the customs agent asks, peering towards me and trying to see
past the stiff, black bird cage veil.

I lift my head and smile, sparkling my eyes at the man in a way I
know they like. I'm pleased with the resulting flush to the young
man's cheeks. He is rather cute. At my side, Heero glowers, and I
have to lower my head again to hide my grin. Heero's adorable when
he's jealous.

The agent clears his throat, nervously looking to the papers before
him. "Reason for travel?"

"Personal," Heero replies in a 'don't you dare doubt me' tone.

"Length of stay?"


The agent blinks, clearly startled.

I lean forward slightly, tapping the desk with lacquered nails,
"Mister Yuy is being ever so kind in helping me set my late husband's
affairs in order. I haven't the slightest idea how long it will take,
but I shouldn't think more than a month or two. Ah...Would there be
anything special needed if I were to stay longer?"

"No, ma'am, that's quite alright. It says here you were born on
Earth, so there shouldn't be any problems if your stay overlaps a

I give a sad smile befitting a widow and step back from the counter
slightly, mashing Heero's toes with the point of my heels as I do.
This isn't a mission, I want to yell at him, act like a normal human
being! But, for Heero, this is normal. Psychos can't be choosers. Or
something like that.

"My deepest sympathies for your loss, Mrs. Solo," the agent says.

"Thank you," I reply.

He smiles again before stamping the papers and returning our
travelcards and IDs. I nod to him and all but drag Heero away from
the terminal, heart in my throat. We've made it. No security check.
No authorities bursting out from the shadows to drag me away.

"You were flirting with him," Heero says accusingly in his flat

We're safely away from the gates, but that doesn't stop me from
looking cautiously around before replying, "Why can't I have a little
fun, Heero? You're not... jealous are you?" I put a hand over my
mouth in lady-like modesty as I laugh. Giggle.

"No," Heero says stiffly, a small pink blush betraying him, "I am not
jealous. Are you hungry?"

"Starved, but something tells me I'll give it away if I start woofing
food down. That's most unlady-like," I answer, eyeing one of the
restaurants lining the walkway. It all smells so good! My stomach
gives an agreeable growl and I turn to Heero, "Maybe just a snack?"

Heero nods, walking over to the machines and getting me something. I
step away from the surging tide of people, glad to be free of the
crowd. Presently, Heero returns. "I don't see how you're able to walk
in those," Heero says with a bit of admiration in his voice, handing
over the bag of roasted almonds.

The scent is pure ambrosia, and I eagerly begin to devour the snack
with as much control as possible. I look down to the slim black pumps
Heero's referring to and shrug. "Helen Solo has great and mysterious
talent. And good balance," I add, tapping my foot to hear the
satisfying click of heels against the marble. I can see why women put
up with the discomfort.

"Widow's black becomes me, don't you think?" I ask cheerily,
smoothing the black material of my skirt over my thighs.


I start to grin wildly in typical Maxwell style, but quickly school
it into a female's modest smile. From the corner of my eye, I catch
someone watching my and freeze. Heero instinctively notices and
casually looks in the same direction, expecting some official come to
take me. I can tell from the sudden, dangerous glint, but it's only a
pair of school-boys, staring. Staring.. I'm frozen, eyes caught
sideways at the boys, fighting the urge to run. Scream.

"Duo?" Heero whispers, voice lowered so far I barely catch it. The
name shakes me from my fears and I try to smile reassuringly.

That's right, I'm Duo. Two school-boys are no threat to Shinigami.

"Duo, we can go back to L4,' Heero offers in the same low voice. He
never wanted me to make this journey in the first place.

"No!" I cry, a bit too loudly. Heero places a cautious hand on my arm,
calming me and warning me in the same motion. "No, I won't run. I can
do this," I insist. The boys have left no, but it's not their eyes I
feel. Eyes are on me. My air, my veiled face, my supposedly female

Despite my insistence, I'm beginning to panic. Dammit, dammit! I was
so close! Heero's grip tightens as my eyes start to close. The
world's spinning; I can't breathe. Mustn't show weakness. Mustn't let
them know it bothers me, their eyes. No. Weakness.

Slowly, I open my eyes and command the world to stop moving. "Heero,
would you please get me a cup of coffee?" I ask with as much
composure as possible. I clench my hands to my side to keep them from
shaking. Heero reluctantly goes in search of my request as I find the
nearest bench and collapse into it.

I clutch my handbag to me, feeling the reassuring presence of my
knife concealed within. For protection. I'm able to relax.

What am I doing here? Looking for her, of course. Reflexively, I
touch the chess piece dangling between my breasts. Breasts. That's
going to take some getting use to. They look spectacularly real;
another miracle of technology. The bra's uncomfortable, and they're
heavy, but at least they look real. Strange.

While I wait for Heero, I fetch out my false ID and study the woman
staring back at me. Secrecy is of the upmost importance is this to
work. If the authorities found out Duo Maxwell was back on Earth, and
very much alive, I'd be locked up in jail. Or worse. The idea isn't
comforting, but this ID is. Heero and Quatre did a great job getting
all the right officials to look the other way. Winner's money went a
long way, plus my expert hacking skills fixed the proper records.

My new alias, this new self, is flawless in creation.

I am now Helen Solo, a sick joke to myself, but a suitable alias for
one Duo Maxwell. Heero, Quatre, neither knows why I picked that name,
Helen... Solo. Twisted. I'm sure they understood the play on numbers
with the last part, So, but no one... Not even Heero, knows who Solo
was. I never told him, or anyone else for that matter.

Today is Tuesday, and Duo Maxwell is supposed to walk into his
doctor's office in two hours. I'm unsettled by the idea I'll miss an
appointment, after I tried for so long to keep a steady attendance.
Unfortunately, the Good Doctor is on L4 and I am on Earth.
Fortunately, Quatre knows the man, and he'll make up some plausible
explanation as to why I'll no longer be coming. Heero wasn't happy
about that, but I convinced him I'll be okay. And I will be.

I jump slightly when Heero sits beside me, wary concern marked across
his face. I smile coyly and peer through the stiff veil. "Thanks,
doll," I say as I take the steaming cup from him.

Heero stiffens, "Stop that."

I blink innocently at him, mascara coated eye lashes slowly closing
and opening in girlish surprise. "Stop what?"

"This...manner," he says, gesturing to me, "it's just wrong. Don't
take it too far."

"You're the one who told me my braid was too noticeable. 'How many
men have long, chestnut braids,' you said. I think this is a nice
alternative. A widow with a braid is hardly suspicious, and its not
even that noticeable," I add, patting the tightly coiled knot atop my
head and under the pill box hat.

The braid is why I'm Helen instead of John or... Bob. My braid is
instantly recognizable; Duo Maxwell is instantly recognizable. Helen
attracts little attention. They will never find me.

"That doesn't mean you have to... flirt," Heero mutters, cheeks
glowing red.

"Heero," I sigh, trying but failing to conceal a giggle. "Am I not
acting butch enough for you? I didn't know Helen was like that."

"I'm serious," Heero looks away, clearly uncomfortable with so much
human-ness. The man's a freaking robot sometimes. Part of his
training, I guess. It's been so long bow, since the war ended. Ten...
eleven years. We've all grown. Heero's no longer a skinny boy, he's a
built young man. Sexy.

The warmth of the coffee fills me, destroying lingering chills and
uneasiness. I abandon the soft, feminine voice I've been using,
speaking quietly in my normal, carefree tone, "Just when we're in
public. Underneath this, I'm still Duo. Okay?"

Heero nods, visibly relaxing, "Of course you're Duo."

"Come on, Relena's waiting. Think she'll recognize me?"

"No," Heero replies instantly without hesitation as he stands. He
offers me his elbow with a very un-Heero wink.

My laughter follows us out of the terminal.


Author's Notes: This was three pages of my handwritten copy. I have 22
pages so far, fronts and backs, and I didn't even scratch the surface
of my plot. Muah. Muahahaha... *yawns* Tomorrow is Thanksgiving (my
least favorite holiday) so I might not get to stick the chapter up
until Friday, sorry! ...I got two new pairs of shoes!
Yeah, I'm really tired. How are you liking the sequel so far? *bounce*

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