Rating: FRT, as per the FR Rating System
Status: complete, one chapter
Summary: Heero and Trowa go to a theme park. No, really.
It was really kind of pretty.
"Step right up! Buy your honey a piece of history!"
White gold in a narrow, elliptical band that neatly snapped around the wrist.
"You! Yes, you! Have you ever seen a piece of jewelry like this?"
The clasp itself was the only ornament. Tastefully masculine, yet...pretty.
"Direct from the Orient! Reproduced from the very bracelets worn by Antony and Cleopatra as a symbol of their love!"
And then, of course, there was the key.
"Slave bracelets here! Get your slave bracelets!"
He should have realized that Trowa was vain. Prancing around without a shirt, exposing his ammo and his pecs on a mission.
"Hey, Heero. Just for a laugh let's buy a pair."
And what was that flip in the air thing he'd done when he'd captured Heero right after infiltrating OZ?
"What the hell are these things?"
"They're slave bracelets, Heero. A few hundred years ago they were all the rage. You put it on your wrist, lock it with the key, then give the key to the one you love."
Anyone else would have simply pointed a gun at his head and ordered him to freeze, but Trowa had to make a big production out of it—bounding into the air and doing a lateral double twist thing, or whatever the hell that was.
"When you stop loving each other, you ask for the key back. It signals the end of the relationship. Heh, they're not very expensive. Just for fun, let's get a pair. What do you say, Heero?"
Why had he agreed to even go to a theme park in the first place? Trowa had a way of talking him into doing all kinds of crap he'd never do if he were thinking straight. They'd spent the day wandering from ride to ride, listening to kids screaming like idiots and getting sick on animal-shaped ice cream bars. Heero estimated he had no more than another €5 in his pocket, and now Trowa wanted to buy slave bracelets. What the hell for?
"Fine. Whatever." He reluctantly shelled out his share of the money and tossed it on the glass counter top. At least now that he was officially broke, they could go home, right? Let's hold that thought.
"Great." Trowa studied each bracelet in the glass counter, weighing the merits of each, while Heero tapped his fingers on the glass in irritation.
It wasn't that he didn't like the theme park. Really. Doing anything with Trowa was fun, even if it wasn't. But what was the point of it? Grown adults who should know better eagerly getting their pictures taken with people dressed in silly animal costumes; paying five times the regular retail price for crappy t-shirts and ridiculous ear-shaped beanies; waiting in 45 minute lines for 45 second rides—just what was the point of it all?
"Which set do you want to get, Heero? I like those in the very back. See them? With the brown, blue and gold cloisonné."
The seller pulled out the pair Trowa pointed to and placed them on the counter for Heero to examine. As if seeing these things up close is going to change my opinion of them? This is pointless.
"That pair over there is nice too, with the red and gold, but I think I prefer the brown. Which ones do you like best, Heero?"
"I don't care. Just pick the ones you want."
"Okay. We'll take these," Trowa told the seller while handing him the money. "No need to bag them; we'll just put them on now." He tried the key in the clasp of the first bracelet. "Works just fine." With the clasp unlocked, he slipped the bracelet over his left wrist and locked it. "So what are you, Heero? Right or left handed?"
"Huh? Oh. Right-handed."
"Okay, then we'll put it on the left wrist." Before Heero could protest, Trowa slipped the bracelet over his left wrist and locked the clasp. "I'll just keep this," he said, waving the key in front of Heero's eyes before pocketing it. "And you keep this one." He forked over the key to his own bracelet while Heero stared stupidly.
"So we just wear these damn bracelets the rest of our lives?"
"Yes, or at least until we tire of each other. Like I said, when the relationship ends you ask for the key back and then you're free."
"What if I'm so mad at you at that time that I don't feel like giving it back, just to spite you?"
"Then I guess I have to find a pair of tin snips and cut it off my wrist."
"So what's the point of these damn keys?"
"Heh. It's just for fun, Heero. Don't take it too seriously. Hey, we never went on that ride over there." While Heero continued glaring at the jewelry now sullying his wrist, Trowa headed for yet another silly ride—a water ride where you sat in giant swans and floated into a tunnel. Why wasn't Trowa getting tired of this place already? His legs felt like lead but Heero followed after, confuddled by the need to keep Trowa in sight. He hadn't felt that way during the wars; why did he feel so dependent now? So enslaved?
His life before Trowa had always been unencumbered, and now he had this key. A key Trowa would ask him for when they were through. Finished. Over. Was Trowa already thinking in terms of whatever they had together coming to an end?
"Heh, funny this ride isn't that popular. We're next in line to get a swan."
"Huh?" Oh, right. The stupid ride. "If there's no line for it, it must be lame. What kind of ride is this, anyway?"
"It's called the Tunnel of Love. Here, get in."
Heero grudgingly climbed into the ridiculous swan and pulled his hands out of the way when the automatic bar came down across their laps. At least this will give me a chance to rest my feet. The swan began lumbering forward with a jerk and they were tugged through the large doors leading into the ride.
What the fuck is this?
Apparently, the ride itself was meant to be scary, with the swan floating past large dioramas of horror scenes from history: Jack the Ripper slashing one of his victims, Gilles de Rais torturing a small boy with a braquemard, Torquemada interrogating a witness during the Spanish Inquisition, Lucrezia Borgia poisoning a husband, the death of Adolph Hitler and various scenes depicting the Marquis de Sade, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, Attila the Hun and Ivan the Terrible. To two former gundam pilots who'd seen plenty of fried bodies and severed limbs during the war, the scenes seemed kind of cheesy. I wonder if Vlad the Impaler ever wore a slave bracelet, Heero wondered.
The damn thing was still circling his wrist, and Heero absently rubbed it, running some quick calculations in his mind. If they left the park the second the ride came to an end, they could be home in time for Cyber Grrrls on the Tech Channel.
"You okay, Heero?"
"You keep rubbing that bracelet, like it's uncomfortable or something. Is it too tight?"
"No," Heero answered sullenly, placing his hands back on the lap bar. "It's just pointless. Like this ride. And this whole day."
"Yeah, pointless. What are we doing here? This is a waste of time. These rides cost a fortune and they only last a few seconds. What's the point of throwing our money away on all this?"
Trowa considered it a moment, fashioning an explanation in his mind. "We're here to spend time together in a setting where there's nothing else to distract us except frivolity. No work, no duties, no household chores. Nothing is expected of us here other than to have a good time, so we can fully enjoy each other's company in a way we can't at home." He looked at Heero for a moment in that way he had that made the other think he could see right through him, then turned his attention back to the animatronic characters.
"I don't understand, Trowa. I thought you were thinking about breaking up with me?"
"Breaking up? What are you talking about?"
"These bracelets," Heero answered, glancing down at his wrist. "You said we give the keys back to each other when we're finished. You must be contemplating that possibility or you wouldn't have mentioned it."
"Hmm. So you think that's what this day has been about? An elaborate plan to leave you?"
"I don't know. I have no idea why we're together or why you stay with me. I've been confused from day one. Why did you ever ask me out in the first place?" It was something Heero had been dying to know for months now.
"You don't know? It was you who gave me the key."
"Key? What key?"
"You told me to do as my heart tells me. For some reason my heart told me to ask you out—so I did. I've never regretted it. Have you?"
Heero contemplated it a moment, then shook his head. He regretted nothing, except that after all this time he still had no idea what made Trowa tick. The swan suddenly crashed through a door that opened into fading sunlight, and Heero took the key from his pocket to study it. "So what keeps you here?"
"Here with me. I'm not very interesting or wealthy or charming. Why haven't you left me?"
Trowa smiled and let his gaze drop to the key in Heero's hand. "That. Things like that. You studying a simple key, wondering what the big mystery is behind it. Your confusion over the pointlessness of a silly theme park. During the war you had a handle on everything, but now that the war is over the ordinary machinery of life escapes you. I find that endearing. I love you, Heero, and I don't want to leave you."
The swan came to a stop at the end of the line and the lap bar rose automatically. Trowa climbed out and waited for Heero to do likewise, but the other remained seated, fingering the key in his hands as if it had just revealed a secret to him. "These keys serve no purpose then. If you ever do leave me, Trowa, I don't think I want it back." He rose from his seat, then turned toward the man-made lake behind them and launched the key high over the water.
Trowa watched the key fly until it splashed into the lake. The symbolism was unmistakable; he was now trapped in his bracelet...at least until he decided to get a pair of tin snips. Heero climbed out of the swan, watching Trowa as he reached into his pocket for his own key. Or rather, Heero's key.
"What are you waiting for?"
Trowa tossed the key up and down in his palm a few times before giving Heero what he obviously wanted—a reason to stay with him. Drawing his arm back, he hurled the key as far as he could. It sailed over the people climbing out of their swans, and several turned to see what had whizzed overhead. "There. Now we're stuck with each other. We're both trapped in these bracelets, perpetually enslaved."
Heero grinned and took Trowa's hand, admiring the bracelet in a way he hadn't when they first bought them. It really did look good on Trowa's wrist. Why hadn't he seen that before? The sun was going down when he pulled Trowa toward the exit and noted the blatantly obvious:
"I think we were probably enslaved long before we ever got these damn bracelets."