Relena shifted in her seat, playing nervously with the fragile wineglass before her. She cleared her throat, glancing up quickly through her lashes at the stern-faced man before her. An uncomfortable silence had settled over the table the moment Heero had excused himself to use the bathroom. Resentfully she decided her old friend had deliberately abandoned them so they could "talk". As she observed the sour look on her dinner guest's face, she knew he had come to that conclusion as well, and was less than pleased about it. He stared balefully at her, and she squirmed self consciously. Of all the men to be stuck with by herself for two minutes, she'd had to find herself struggling to make small talk with one of the most unfriendly men she'd ever met. True, she didn't know him very well, and it stood to reason that Heero would want the two of them to meet and get along, but still...
Did he have to glower at her like that?
Well, she was the host. She might as well attempt to be sociable. "So... Wufei," she started with a delicate cough. "You were a Gundam pilot, right?"
She waited expectantly, before realizing he wasn't going to offer anything more unless she directly asked him something. "Um. So you and Heero were friends during the war?"
He snorted, somehow managing to look down his nose at her and make the former Queen of the World feel small and common. "Hardly."
She blinked. "Oh. Then.. you were enemies?"
"We were neither," he snapped somewhat impatiently, as if she was unable to grasp something simple and commonplace. Relena, confused and uncomfortable, lapsed into silence.
He muttered something in a language she didn't recognize and looked away, studying the trappings of the lavish room with an arrogant look. His shoulders were tense, however, his arms crossed over his chest defensively. Relena recognized instinctively his longing to bolt. He may be acting all high and mighty, but he was just as on edge as she was- perhaps more so. For some reason that made her feel a little better, and she took a few moments to study him, musing to herself.
Physically he looked the same age as herself and Heero- nineteen -though his bearing was that of an older prince. It wasn't that he seemed to find himself better than everyone else; rather, that he somehow always found himself surrounded by idiots and weaklings. That was what she had been able to discern from Heero's comments and the things Wufei himself had said so far. It would explain why he and her friend seemed to have clicked. If Wufei wanted to be around someone strong, Heero was about as strong as they came. She had a feeling that if she were to spend an entire day with the man, she would either end up respecting him greatly or wanting to choke him with her stockings.
She heaved an internal sigh. She supposed she should be grateful to him, in a way. Heero had come all this way just to introduce them, and she hadn't seen the ex-soldier in far too long. She tried to keep in contact through e-mail and phone, but he was bad about returning her messages. Last week she'd been delighted to hear the receiver pick up on the other line, only to hear a muffled growl that somewhat resembled a human voice. Belatedly she realized it was three in the morning on L1; half a second later she realized the voice was not Heero's. There'd been some shuffling, a rude voice muttering dark threats to "get the stupid onna off the phone", and then Heero's voice had come over the line.
Heero had a roommate?
She'd asked about it, and by the end of the conversation he'd decided to bring his roomie to earth to meet with her. She'd been a little surprised, but mostly delighted. It had been almost a year since the last time she had seen Wing's pilot face to face, and if he wanted her to meet one of his friends, so be it.
Chang Wufei, she'd quickly discovered, was not the easiest man in the world to get along with.
If he didn't have such a low opinion on women, she thought to herself with a little sniff, things would probably be going much smoother. She hoped Heero wouldn't pick up any of the man's habits. Secretly, she was a little impressed at his ability to be polite and yet scathing at the same time. Some of his remarks left her wondering if she'd just been insulted or not. She resolved to learn that art and use it against some of the more detestable politicians she was forced to deal with.
She eyed him with resignation as he continued to look anywhere but at her. She'd met friends of Heero's before. Duo had been a strange mix of cheer and darkness that left her instinctively wary, but she'd liked him well enough. Quatre Winner was a polite young man whom she respected and liked very much. Trowa... well, she'd only met him once, and he hadn't spoken to her much. He'd been pretty aloof, preferring the company of his prior team mates and his friend Catherine to anyone else. They had all attended her eighteenth birthday... all except for Chang Wufei, proud pilot of Shenlong.
"So," she said abruptly, startling the young man into looking at her. "You're roommates with Heero? How long have you been living together?"
His eye twitched, his fingers digging into his biceps. He looked ready to dart off at a moment's notice. Relena stared, wondering what on earth was making him so jumpy. "Year and a half," he muttered.
Her eyebrows rose at that. Why hadn't Heero introduced them earlier? Still, his answer relieved her. If they'd been able to put up with each other that long, surely he couldn't be that bad. Heero was extremely picky in who he chose to hang around. His friends were few and close.
"So you two are pretty close, then," she concluded with a smile.
He squirmed, avoiding her gaze. Something glinted in the light, and Relena caught a glimpse of jewelry- a clan ring or bracelet maybe? -before Wufei suddenly dropped his hands into his lap, as if realizing she had seen it. A mixed look of relief and resentment crossed his face, and Relena glanced over her shoulder to see Heero returning.
"Did you fall in, Yuy?" Wufei growled.
Heero's expression never changed as he took his seat beside the proud warrior once again. "Would you have fished me out?" he asked mildly.
"I would have left you to drown," Wufei snapped irritably, then added something biting in that strange tongue again that made Heero's lips twitch in a small grin. Relena assumed it was Chinese and hoped he wasn't saying anything bad about her. Belatedly she wondered when Heero had learned the language.
He reached for his wineglass, cobalt eyes pinning Relena in place with familiar intensity. Instinctively she lowered her eyes, and gave a start. Heero was asking her something, but his words were garbled. She stared numbly at his hand as he lifted the glass and took a swallow, then set the delicate crystal back on the table.
She blinked and dragged her gaze up to meet Heero's questioning look. "Ah.." She shot a quick look from his hand back up to his face. She felt as if she'd swallowed a rock. "Heero," she squeaked, "where'd you get that ring?"
He looked down quickly, as if he'd forgotten he was wearing it-- the simple gold band wrapped around his left ring finger. Beside him, Wufei was practically squirming.
"It was Duo's idea," Heero said blandly, with a mixed tone of vague affection and exasperation. The look in his eyes was carefully blank and unreadable, however, as he studied Relena solemnly.
"Duo's idea?" Relena repeated, still staring at the ring. "Um. What do you mean?"
"It's mostly an American tradition," Heero said with a shrug, as if that explained everything. "We thought it was trivial at first, but there's no harm in it. And it makes things easier."
Wufei shifted in his seat and muttered something under his breath that Heero ignored, lifting his glass for another sip.
Relena sat staring at them dumbly, trying to think of something to say. Heero was going on in his brisk tone about problems with rebels in L2 that he'd been helping Duo with, and inquiring about the peace on earth. He was in soldier mode, and the realization jolted her somewhat from her numb state. She was immediately suspicious. Heero had managed to relax somewhat after the war; his friends were good for him. He usually lapsed back into soldier boy mode only when he was uncomfortable or at work. He wasn't at work.
"Heero," she interrupted bluntly, "who has the other ring?"
He looked at her steadily, and for a moment she had a wild hope. Maybe she'd been wrong. Maybe Duo had told him to wear the ring to avoid hopeful women that could distract him from his job or something. That idea was better than the alternative. There was no way Heero was.. was.... She shook her head. She couldn't remember Heero ever mentioning any woman with anything resembling affection in his voice. This had to be just some sick joke on Duo's part.
Heero was looking at Wufei, who was scowling darkly at him. To Relena's confusion and irrational amusement, his bronze cheeks were stained with the beginnings of a blush as he glared daggers at his partner.
Reluctantly he drew his left hand from his lap and held it up, still glaring balefully at Heero as he silently offered threats of death and pain at the humiliation he was being forced to suffer. Heero looked suitably unimpressed.
Relena didn't notice the internal war going on three feet in front of her. Her eyes were fixed with confusion on the swordsman's hand. Or his ring finger, to be more specific. And the gold ring around it.
She was completely lost for all of five seconds-- until reality slammed home with the force of an eighteen wheeler.
Well, she thought dazedly, that explained a lot.
Two heads snapped around, eyes widening in surprise as Relena suddenly burst into near-hysterical laughter.
She leaned back in her chair, tears streaming down her face as she wrapped her arms around her aching ribs and laughed until she couldn't breathe. Heero came around the table and thumped her on the back sharply between her shoulder blades until she was able to suck in a few lungfuls of air and regain control of herself. He hovered over her, eyes narrowed slightly in wariness as he looked at her as one would a mental patient. She waved him off weakly, wiping her eyes on her napkin and giggling insanely to herself.
Wufei was watching her with wide eyes, as if he couldn't decide whether to be wary or offended by her sudden outburst. Slowly Heero walked around the table and lowered himself into his seat once more, eyes locked on Relena.
Relena finally managed to regain the majority of her composure and straightened in her seat, clearing her throat officially. At the wary look on their faces, she very nearly burst into helpless laughter again, and had to bite her tongue sharply to keep a straight face. "So..." she said carefully. "So, Heero, you and Wufei are... lovers?"
A faint blush spread across Wufei's cheeks once more, and he glared at her in mortified fury.
Heero was characteristically unfazed. He nodded once, face calm.
"For... a year and a half, I take it?" she asked, glancing towards Wufei.
"A year, actually," Heero corrected briskly. "We were simply coworkers for the first six months that we lived together."
"I see." She struggled to keep her voice calm. "And Duo told you it would be a good idea to.. get married, right?"
Heero nodded again, as if there was nothing out of the ordinary with what she had just said. Wufei looked as if he wished he could sink into the floorboards, or maybe commit hara-kiri with his butter knife.
"I see," Relena murmured again, looking from one ex soldier to the other for a long moment of silence. She beamed at them. "Well!" she said so suddenly Heero blinked and Wufei's hand twitched towards a sword that wasn't there. "Congratulations! I just wish I had been there for the, er, wedding."
"It was done in a courtroom, actually," Heero said, still serious.
"Wait a minute," Wufei sputtered, staring at her incredulously. "You don't care??"
She looked at him innocently. "Why would I? I mean, you do love each other, right? That's all that matters."
Wufei balked, and even Heero looked uncomfortable. Well, as uncomfortable as Heero Yuy got. He kind of twitched, though his face never lost its composure.
Relena's smile faded a little and she looked at them closely. "That's why you marry someone," she said slowly. "Duo explained that part to you, I hope?"
When she was met with no response, she changed tactics. "Heero," she demanded bluntly, "do you love Wufei?"
Heero's eyes widened a fraction. Wufei almost choked on the greenbean he'd been nibbling on.
"Heero," Relena protested, leaning forward and staring at him earnestly. "Why on earth did you marry him if you can't even admit whether or not you love him or not? Do you love him or not??"
"Onna-" Wufei started furiously, but Heero lifted his hand and covered his mouth calmly, never losing eye contact with Relena.
"...Yes," he said simply.
Wufei's wide eyes jumped from Relena to Heero in shock. Heero lowered his hand, but Wufei looked too numb to say anything, staring at Heero as if he'd never seen the boy before. Relena looked incredulously from one boy to the other, wondering how on earth the two of them had ever managed to go through with Duo's insane idea. Maybe Wufei had been drunk at the time, she mused idly.
Wufei turned a suspicious look on her. "Why doesn't this bother you?" he grumbled somewhat defensively.
She looked down her nose at him. "Really, Wufei," she sniffed, "do I look like the kind of person that has the luxary to be prejudice?"
"But- I thought you..." he glanced from her to Heero. Heero looked clueless.
But Relena understood. Abruptly she realized why Heero hadn't introduced her to his lover until now. Wufei had refused to come. Because... "No, Wufei," she said gently. "Maybe once, a long time ago. But I realized it would never work. We have our own lives, our own perception of things. Heero may protect my ideals of peace, but he would never fully appreciate or understand them because of the way he was raised." She shrugged. "Puppy love. Just a crush. I.. grew out of it. I'm just glad he's found someone who can share his strength and his pain, his memories and his expectations."
Wufei fell silent. Heero looked at the both of them with narrowed eyes, catching only some of the meaning in the conversation. Oblivious to the end of Relena's prior feelings for him. She offered him an affectionate smile to reassure him that things were good between them all. Some of the tension went from Heero's shoulders, and he gave a curt nod, laying a hand on Wufei's shoulder in a gesture that was mostly unconscious.
Pargan entered the room at that moment and strode over. He leaned over to whisper in Relena's ear before leaving once more.
Relena placed her napkin on the table and rose with a slight bow. "Excuse me. There's a call I have to take. I'll be back in a minute or two; hopefully this shouldn't take long."
"Actually, we have to be leaving, too," Heero said, rising. Wufei stood beside him. "Our shuttle leaves in half an hour."
"Oh. OK." Relena offered her hand, smiling warmly. "Try to visit more often, both of you." Wufei accepted the hand after only a moment's hesitation, then she shook hands with Heero.
She saw them out, then hurried upstairs to take her call.
As she reached her office, she seated herself at her desk with a little sigh and reached for the phone, eyes drifting towards the large bay windows to admire the beautiful summer day.
She spotted movement below and ignored the phone, rising to her feet and stepping closer to the window. Peering down, she felt a grin tug at her mouth at the scene below.
Heero and Wufei had paused underneath the sakura tree by the side of the path leading to the gate. Heero's hand was cupping the back of his partner's skull, mouth slanted against the other boy's as he kissed him soundly. Wufei's fingers were curled around the perfect soldier's waist as he leaned into the kiss, despite the blush on his face. The sun flashed against twin bands of gold, and Relena turned back to her phone with a light heart.
"I told you you'd be surprised," Duo's voice came smugly over the line.
"You could have given me more warning than that," Relena snorted, sitting down and fiddling idly with her letter opener. "I lost it when I realized what you'd been hinting at. Heero thought I'd lost my mind."
"If I'd told you, it wouldn't have been a surprise," Duo pointed out impishly.
Relena rolled her eyes. "So you're the one who talked them into it?
"You do realize that those two numbskulls are allergic to the word 'love', right?" Relena demanded with a little frown.
"Only to the word," Duo said, and she could hear the smile in his voice. "They're more aware of the actual emotion than either of them is willing to admit."
"Anyway, now that I know you approve, I have another surprise for you," Duo said cheerfully.
Relena's eyebrows rose. "Oh?"
"Do you remember Trowa Barton...?"
Author's Notes: hehehe Don't ask. ^_^ The idea just wriggled into my head last night and wouldn't leave me alone, so I decided I deserved a little fluff/humor amidst all the angst my muses are putting me through with my other fics.
There's two pieces for this story; the next one is 3x2 (the only pairing I haven't done! woot!) and along the same vein. It should be out shortly. ^^
Hope you enjoyed this pointless piece of sap! Ja!
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