[Won't you come out and play with me?
Step by step ... heart to heart
Left right left ... we all fall down
Like toy soldiers]

Heero had to read through the mission twice to be certain he'd read it correctly. He glanced up as Duo started walking by ... still
upset at the fact that they'd been interrupted. "Duo..."

She halted in mid-stride ... recognizing that tone of voice. "What's up?"

"How'd you like to go to a party with me?"

Duo gaped at Heero a minute before frowning in suspicion. She circled around him and read the mission over his shoulder. "Aw
MAN! Heero ... only YOU would use a mission as an excuse to ask a girl out on a date."

Heero smirked at her. "Does that mean you're going?"

"Formal? This is a formal affair? UGH! One of RELEENA'S parties? Aw MAN! Does that mean I hafta wear a dress?" She made
a face as if she had just been told to do the most disgusting thing in the universe.

"Yup ... dress, makeup, jewelry ... the whole nine yards."

"Nuh-uh! NO WAY! You ain't getting me into no dress. You better find someone else 'cause there ain't no way in HELL I'm
gonna wear some frilly getup!"

"I'll give you back your braid if you agree." Heero had planned to do that anyway, but he needed her for the mission. There was
no one else he could take ... not that he would WANT to take someone else.

Duo's eyes narrowed as she looked at him. "That's low! That's really low! That's practically blackmail!"

Heero met her eyes. "Is it working?"

"Uhhh ... well ... ummm ..." She sighed in resignation. "Yes, it worked." She bit her lip to hide her disappointment.

Heero saw the look and shook his head before turning back to the screen. He figured he might as well soften the blow to her
pride. "Besides ... I'd like to see you in a dress." He flushed a little at the mental image. "The party is tomorrow night."

Duo slowly smiled. "Ne ... will you go shopping with me? I hafta find a dress ... and I don't know what would be appropriate for
one of Releena's flings. Besides ... you can't stare at a laptop screen all day. So ... will you?"

Heero shook his head. "Can't. I have several things to do here to make this mission run smoothly. Why not take Quatre? With all
his sisters, I'm sure he has some idea what would look good on you."

"I'd rather go with you."

Heero paused and sighed. "Duo ... I'm not saying I can't go to get out of going with you. I really need to make sure everything is
planned out."

Duo shook her head. "Don't you get the chaos theory? You can't plan life, Heero." She sighed and gave him a ghost of one of her
usual smiles. "Still ... if anything goes wrong, and you don't plan, you'll wonder if you could have planned for it. I know you too

Heero nodded. "Go on and get. I'll see you later." As an afterthought, he called out as she walked towards the stairs. "Jewel
tones! Deep blue or purple. Those colors will bring out the color of your eyes."

Duo froze and stared at Heero before nodding. 'Oh I'll get a jewel tone, all right.'


Catherine frowned as she approached the estate. She was still confused by Trowa's cryptic call.

'Cathy ... I need your help. Come as quickly as you can and don't let anyone follow you. I'm in no danger, but a situation has
come up that requires your expertise'

She shook her head as she rang the doorbell. She smiled warmly at Trowa as he opened the door. "Trowa! What's the meaning of
calling me here?"

"Hello Catherine!" Heero entered the room, ignoring the look Catherine gave him. "As Trowa told you, we need your help. Trowa
... would you please bring her to Duo's room?"

Catherine found the questions in her head multiplying, and she just had to ask the one that was nagging her the most. "Trowa ...
why am I here?"

Trowa took a huge breath. "I convinced the group that we could trust you. You haven't given me away yet ... and that goes a
long way into my recommendation. As to why I called you ... one of the pilots, I have just discovered, is a girl. Problem is ... her
life has made being feminine a liability. She has no idea how to be a girl. We'd like you to help her out. She has to go to a formal
party tonight, and Quatre has only gotten the etiquette and ballroom dancing down with her. She needs ... the woman's touch."

Catherine nodded as they approached the room. She waited as Trowa knocked on the door and smiled at the fair blonde boy who
opened the door. "You must be Quatre. Trowa's told me about you." She looked into the room and saw a young girl sitting on the
edge of the bed scowling at what looked like a pile of royal purple cloth. Catherine nodded at Quatre. "I'll take it from here,
gentlemen. Now shoo!"

Duo watched as the two boys left and sighed. "I don't know how to get the blasted thing on!"

Catherine chuckled. "You can't expect to get ready for a formal party in twenty minutes. We have the whole day to get you
ready. We start from step one."


Heero scowled as he went over the mission parameters once again. 'Why am I having a hard time waiting for the time to leave?
What is Catherine doing that is taking so long?'

Wufei smirked. "Calm down, Yuy ... one would think you were nervous!"

Quatre giggled from where he was cuddled against Trowa. "This is probably the first time he's asked a girl out on a date, mission
or no mission. I think he deserves to be nervous."

Trowa nodded. "I agree with Wufei. Calm down. Catherine knows what she's doing."

The sound of soft footfalls caused all four boys to look towards the door to the library where they were all waiting.

Catherine almost laughed at how nervous Heero looked. As it was, she settled for a small, pleased smile and stepped aside to
allow Duo to enter.

Heero had stood up when Catherine entered, but Duo's entrance made him sit back down. His jaw dropped as he took her
appearance in.

As he had thought, the deep violet of the dress accented her eyes ... making the color more prominant. The dress had thousands
of tiny glass beads embroidered into it so it glittered with every movement she made. The bodice hugged her upper torso and the
skirt flared gently to just below the knees. The reason for her wanting the braid returned was suddenly apparant. Her hair, once
again the long mass of chestnut, was half in a braid that formed a crown on her head and half loose. Ribbons that matched the
color of the dress were woven into the braid crown and flowed in streamers to her waist. She wore very little makeup ...
apparantly had no need of it, and her jewelry was simple. Amethyst stud earrings and a simple silver chain. She wore iridescent
nylons on her legs and her feet were in purple shoes that, once again, looked like ballet slippers. She looked absolutely embarassed.

Wufei spoke his opinion aloud. "Goddess!"

Heero blinked as the first true human thought blasted through him. 'THIS is the girl who's been flirting with us? Wow!' He
pushed himself to his feet. "Hai!"

Duo blushed and ducked her head. "I feel ridiculous in this getup."

Heero shook his head. "You look beautiful." He took her hand and gently kissed the knuckles. "You'll probably outshine the

Duo swallowed and nodded to Heero's tuxedo. "You look wonderful. You would fit in anywhere even when you stand out." She
bit her lip and shook her head when she realized she was babbling.

"We'd better leave. Wufei and the others will serve as a backup, but we'll be by Releena the whole time." He offered his arm to
her and almost smiled at the way she blushed when she slipped her arm in the crook in acceptance.

Catherine smiled as she watched the pair exit the house and head for the limo. "They make a cute couple."

Wufei nodded. "Perhaps we'll make a good trio. You have our gratitude. If you ever require any assistance, you need only ask."

Catherine had raised an eyebrow at the 'trio' thing, but she figured it was really none of her business. "Thanks. I'll remember
that." She turned to Trowa and smiled at him. "And YOU ... don't do anything stupid!"

Trowa nodded. "I won't."

Quatre grinned. "I'll make sure he stays in one piece."

Catherine turned her gaze to the petite blonde. "You know ... somehow that makes me feel better." She reached out and
affectionately ruffled Quatre's hair and laughed at the resigned look she got from him.


Duo spent the entire trip staring out the window. She had to keep telling herself that this was just another mission.

Heero had to admit to himself that he was concerned that Duo was growing paler by the moment. He couldn't really blame her.
Releena was a stubborn creature who had the idea stuck in her head that he was meant for her and only her simply because she
had found him on the beach. He reached over and touched Duo's arm. "Relax or you'll pass out."

Duo sighed. "I've only been to one fancy party in my entire life, and that was when I snuck in to steal some food. I've never been
a guest." She shook her head and turned to Heero. "I hate ta admit it, but I'm scared stiff. I don't fit in with people like that."

Heero chose not to bring Quatre up. He knew Duo considered Quatre a friend ... hence why she was so comfortable around the
Arabian. Heero chose to run his hand up and down her arm in a soothing motion. "You'll do just fine. I wouldn't have asked you if
I thought you would botch this up. You're a very resourceful young woman ... and you can make any situation work in your
favor. Who knows. Some of the people there might see you as refreshing."

Duo giggled a little. "Jeez! You make me sound like a soft drink!" She gave Heero a warm smile. "Thanks."

Heero nodded and looked out the window. "We're here."

Duo took a huge breath. "Yup! It's showtime!" She sat and waited as Heero walked around the car to open the door for her and
help her out. She looked up at the mansion that was about the same size as her own and sighed. "Whelp ... here goes nothing."
She took Heero's offered arm and pasted a polite smile on her face ... just like Quatre had taught her. One thought made that smile
widen in genuine glee. "I wonder what Releena's gonna say when she sees you escorting ME to this thing! With the reporters
here, she can't be rude to me. It'd ruin her public image."

Heero paused and smirked. "Don't antagonize her. She'll expect you to be gloating."

Duo's smile turned into a smirk of her own. "But when I don't deliver, that'll antagonize her more. Oh ... this is going to be fun!"