Story Notes:Originally published in 2001.
“Okay, bring ‘er up,” Noin commanded. A rusty, deteriorated metal box was dumped on deck. Sea water poured from the cracks, and it was covered with a growth of coral. Noin hastily bent over the box as her many assistants began to scuttle around excitedly. “This is it!” she exclaimed. “I’m finally gonna lay my hands on the Jewel of the Heart!”
To those of you unfamiliar with the Jewel of the Heart, it was an enormous stone, the biggest cut ruby on earth. It was shaped like a heart, and fitted on a silver ring, making it worth billions. Noin had been searching for years for this ring, and had gone so far as to salvage pieces of the Bitanic -the infamous ship which struck a giant iceberg and sank like a rock on her maiden voyage.
She pried the box open with a crowbar, and an array of shellfish and other slimy, nasty things poured out. “Jesus CHRIST!” she cried, and covered her nose. “This stuff is foul!”
She reached into the depths, rummaging around. Nothing. Just a bunch of whips and chains and handcuffs- “Hell, what was this guy doing in his private life?” she demanded. She reached further in and felt something. Was it the ring? No. Just a piece of paper. “GODDAMMIT!” she swore, storming to her feet and stomping around. “SIX INSTITUTIONAL GRANTS AND 500, 000 DOLLARS LATER, AND WHAT DO I HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT?! A FUCKING DRAWING OF SOME NAKED GUY WEARING THE JEWEL OF THE HEART!! WHY IN THE HELL DO I-”
Noin stopped short.
She looked down at the drawing in her hands. No mistake. He was wearing the Jewel of the Heart. But she wasn’t looking at that. She turned the drawing upside down, to the left, to the right...
“Oh my fucking God.”
Heero Yuy, at the ripe old age of nineteen, was rearranging a flower display on his kitchen table and only half paying attention to the small television set. His niece, Mariemeia, was reading a children’s book when the newscast caught his attention.
“...in other news, scientists have linked the Jewel of the Heart to a drawing of a young man-”
A sketch of the nude boy wearing the ring flashed on screen, and Heero dropped the vase with a shattering crash.
“What is it? What’s wrong, Uncle Heero?” Mariemeia cried.
Heero’s eyes and mouth opened as wide as they could go and a fiery blush sprang to his cheeks as he screamed, “OH MY FUCKIN’ GOD!!”
Noin ignored Sally’s protests and snapped, “Look. We just had a phone call from some guy who knows the boy in that drawing. He might have connections with the Jewel of the Heart. Hell, he might even know where it is!”
“But he can’t have possibly been on Bitanic! He’d have to be OLD! Like....two hundred or something! I think he’s lying!”
“Well, too bad,” Noin retorted. “He’s on his way.” A helicopter sounded in the distance. “In fact, he’s here now.”
Sally groaned and Noin walked over to the helicopter as it landed on her ship. A boy emerged from the chopper with a bag and nothing else. As soon as he was on board, the helicopter took off again.
“Ah, hello,” Noin greeted. “You must be Heero Maxwell-”
Heero dropped his bag and screamed, “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SHOWING MY NAKED ASS TO THE WHOLE WORLD ON NATIONAL TELEVISION?!”
Sally and Noin and the rest of the crew drew back in shock.
“You mean-” Noin began. “That you are the boy in that picture?”
A blush lit Heero’s face and he snapped, “Of course I am! And you’d better expect a lawsuit on this, ...uh. What’s your name?”
“Noin. Lucrezia Noin,” she shook his hand.
“Much obliged,” Heero said politely, then went Zero again. “The nerve of you people! That was a private moment-”
“Sorry to interrupt,” Noin persisted. “But we have some important information to discuss with you.”