Okay, from here to about the next two chapters I think, I'm going to deviate a little bit from the original story line on Quatre's thought process. You may or may not agree with me on how I dictate his behavior. In my opinion, Quatre is a man, and will do things that men do. Yeah, he loves Trowa, but he's not going to hound him. *makes face* You'll see what I mean, hopefully, if I didn't scare you away first.


Another Murder of Crows: Part 14

I turned off the radio, the sound of an opera singer screeching at the top of her lungs killing my ears, and looked myself over in the mirror for the umpteenth time. Duo decided to do my hair so that it would look nice when we go out tonight after the debriefing. It turned out that Zechs told half of the truth: yes, there was beer, but not at the palace. We would have to go to some bars right outside the edge of New Port City, so Duo and I decided to drag along Wufei and Sally for a double date. Sally touched down about an hour after we did, being called away from L–2 the same way the rest of us were. Nobody had a clue about what was going on, besides me, but I was beginning to wonder if the information I was told had either been vague, or something else happened altogether.

Anyway, Duo used some kind of mousse or spray in my hair to give it more volume when he blow-dried it, so it was now more airy and bouncy. My blood red silk shirt came easily down to my waist, but not too much where sitting down would wrinkle it. I left it unbuttoned to about the center of my chest, then left the bottom three buttons undone as well, showing off a little of my bellybutton. The pants Duo bought for me at the mall were amazing; they were dark grey leather, so dark it looked almost black, and hung especially low on my hips, indicating to everybody that there was no possible way I could have on underwear. They were tight but not skin tight. They fit close enough to follow the curves on my body, but loose enough to where it didn't stick to my skin. I had on my customary hiking boots, these in pitch black, and I was set.

I kept staring at myself in the mirror, transfixed. This is not me. I don't dress this way. But at the same time I was loving it, enjoying the feel of the silk against my skin, the way the leather hugged my hips, and the sound it made when I moved. I felt powerful, sexually. I felt that I could walk out of that door and with the simple twist of my hips or a careless smile, I could have someone on their knees. I could have anyone on their knees, and that feeling boiled my blood.

I walked away from the full length mirror, pacing the room waiting for Duo. That's another thing. I know Heero is trying to pull something. Duo's room is in another wing of the palace altogether, away from everybody. Wufei's and Sally's room is at the end of the hall, thank Allah, and Trowa's room is right across from mine. In ten steps I could be at his door. Needless to say, I'm very unhappy about the room arrangements, and I suspect this was Heero's doing, because he has always been the one to cook up the room assignments. To make matters even more interesting, I think Relena's and Heero's quarters are right above mine.

My feelings exactly.

I waded over to my bed, and started folding the clothes that I pulled out when I was trying to find something to wear, and placed them in my drawers. We were going to be here at least a week, so I might as well get comfortable. After emptying out the suitcase, I ran across the key, the black one with the crow's head, and placed it into the drawer, one of my pink shirts going on top of it for assurance. Closing it, I went back over to the mirror to play with my hair some more, wondering what was taking Duo so long.

As if on cue, I saw the door open and shut quietly, the footsteps still heavy on the carpeted floor. Duo came to stand right behind me, looking at me in the mirror while I looked at him. He also wore a silk shirt, this one dark blue, and black leather pants that were so tight I can't understand how he even got them on. The military boots were mid–shin high, and his hair was down mostly, but held together in the back by a single ponytail holder, with wisps of it coming out to frame his face.

"Wow. You look great Duo."

"Man oh man," he said, resting his hand on my barely clad hip, "Quatre, if I had met you dressed like this before Heero, man. He wouldn't have stood a chance."

I blushed hard at the praise, and Duo turned me around and shook me slightly. "No no no. None of that blushing stuff. Tonight, you are not Quatre Raberba Winner. You are," he dug around in his pants and pulled out an ID, must be a trick he learned from Heero, "Jupiter Jones, an American visiting....somebody. Anyway," he laughed, handing me the fake ID, since we aren't legally old enough to drink, "that blushing is not going to work tonight. Tonight, its about us. We are the shit, and are dressed like the shit, so we need to act like the shit. The world revolves around us, and us only. Got it?"

I took the ID and slipped it into a slit in the pants that barely passed for a pocket, and nodded my understanding. "Got it."

"Good. Now," he hooped his arm around mine, and threw his nose in the air, "let us greet our subjects. I'm wanted to make sure we were late so that we can make an entrance."

"So that's your excuse," I said dryly as I closed my bedroom door behind us. I know how Duo is. He and I use to go out all the time before things started to get hectic, and we never dressed this way. No, he's up to something. He's going to show out tonight. Big time. Heero AND Relena together in one room? Outside the office? How can he resist? I just hope whatever he's doing doesn't backfire.

We walked down the marble staircase side by side, but at separate rythmns. The mismatched fall of our footsteps sent a constant echo across the expanse of the hall, sounding like distant thunder. I heard before I saw Wufei, his voice carrying up to us as we were on our way down. Declaring immediate dismemberment when he saw us, since we were taking so long to arrive, he froze instantly when he saw us, Sally not two steps behind him.

"Quatre?" Sally said in disbelief.

"I'm sorry, Quatre's not home right now. My name's Jupiter, and I'd like to show you my four moons," I said, slipping my thumbs between my waistband and waist, splaying the rest of my fingers on my hips.

"Oh Quatre please, you'll have to have a better line than that."

"Sorry Sally but I'm trying!" I pouted, kicking at an invisible rock.

All three of them laughed. "Quat–er–Jupiter, you don't need a line. You look...great," Sally said, cupping both sides of my face. "Have more confidence in yourself, okay?"

I nodded weakly at her and smiled. "Okay."

"Nuh uh, none of this," Wufei gestured at us, finally able to speak. "I'm not going anywhere with them looking like a couple of man hoars. Hell no."

Duo laughed even harder and draped an arm around his shoulders. "Well, you exactly can't talk Wuffie, since you're wearing my pants." Wufei had on a pair of Duo's pants that were cut up, but not nearly as bad as the ones I wore the other day. He had on a black t–shirt with the sleeves cut off, and a gold and green dragon decorated the front. His hair was actually down for once, but tucked behind his ears. Sally also had her hair down, and wore the usual green shirt and pants she always did, but with Sally's figure...um...not much is left up to the imagination. "And besides," he continued, "this makes Sally look like our pimp!"

"Hmmm, I kinda like that," she said, winking at me.

"Well I don't!" Wufei almost snarled. "And the only man hoar she has is me!" Huffing once, he grabbed Sally's wrist and started dragging her towards the dining hall. Duo and I stared after them for a minute, completely dumbfounded.

"Did he just say what I thought he did?" I asked, completely amazed.

"Yep, but don't let him know. He'll kill us if he realizes it."

"Roger that," I told him, as we started towards the dining hall. Along the way, the various servants and butlers of the palace, including Pagan himself, were giving us funny looks. Needless to say, I was uncomfortable. Again. "Uh, Duo, maybe we should've waited until after the debriefing to get dressed to go out."

"No way man. First of all, screw them. Second of all, you know how we are. Relena starts on her long winded speech on how we can solve this peacefully, Heero grunts his usual responses, Wufei tells her how killing them now saves us time from killing them later, I say something intelligent like ‘drop dead psycho home wrecker', and you have to play referee. Hopefully, we'll be out of there by ten o'clock. Third of all, screw them."

"Uh...You said that already."

"I did? Well, its as true now as it was when I said it the first time."

I faced the ceiling, quickly praying to Allah that we don't kill each other tonight. This will be the first time in a long time, that all five of us will sit together in the same room. It has been quite a while for Duo and Heero to face each other in Relena's presence, without it being totally about business. I have absolutely no idea what Wufei could possibly be thinking. The friendship between he and Heero has been strained ever since the Mariemaia incident. Then there's Trowa. I'm glad he's good at dodging knifes. Duo's might not be as good as Catherine, but he does have a lethal aim.

Finally, we were at the front doors that lead to the dining room. I was ready to just throw them open and walk on in when Duo placed his hand on my chest, stopping me.

"Now, hold on. We need to enter in style," he said, flinging his hair behind him, "because we are sexy bitches!"

I turned to face him. "You were watching Austin Powers weren't you? That's why you were late."

"What? How can you accuse me of something like that?"

"You run, you hide but you never tell a lie--"

"Oh shut up." Ha! Guilty. I managed to glare at him as I opened the door and step down to the dining hall.

When we first entered, I refused to look at anything but the far wall. I could feel their eyes scour over my body, and a blush fighting its way to the surface. But then my curiosity won out, and I glanced at the others out of the corner of my eye. Zechs didn't seem to care at all, which is what I expect from him. Noin was staring affectionately at him, so I don't think she even noticed us entering the room. Sally was openly smirking, and was obviously trying to gage everyone else's reactions. Wufei had the tiniest ghost of a smile also, but managed to wink at us when we locked eyes. Dorothy had the look of a cat ready to pounce on its prey–not a good sign–Relena looked as if she was going to vomit all over the table, and Heero seemed about as delighted as a dead deer carcass. I wanted to laugh.

My eyes fleeted to the one person that I hoped would care to judge his reaction. Trowa sat stock still in his chair, his arms crossed across his chest as always, his face betraying absolutely nothing. Nothing. Not a thing. I wanted to tare my hair out strand by strand, not because he doesn't care, but because *I* want him to care. I can't believe I'm not over him.

"If everyone could take their seats please, we can begin. I know some of you want to get out of here as quickly as possible," she finished, smiling at me and Duo.

I smiled back cheerfully, even though I know it didn't reach my eyes, and moved to take my seat. This table was one of those large ones, long enough to seat United Nations members and their families. Relena sat at the head of the table, where I sat to her left and Dorothy sat across the table from me. Next to me was Duo, then Wufei, and finally Sally. At the other head of the table sat Zechs, with Noin on his right side (Sally was on the other, of course), then Trowa sat next to Noin, who sat next to Heero, then Dorothy. As soon as everyone was situated, servants came in to bring dinner, and I was surprisingly pleased with the selection. There was a chef salad, which I adore because they have shred egg in them, grilled chicken, which was spicy, with wild rice, green beans, coleslaw, and tea. There was more brought out, but I didn't pay attention to what it was, just anxiously waiting for everyone to get their servings so that I can get started. I lost my formalities with this group a long time ago.

I was shocked when I glanced at Duo's plate to find that he only had a small salad and a little piece of steak. I had more food on my plate than he did, and I know I'm going for seconds.

"Duo, are you alright?" I leaned over and whispered to him.

"Yeah, just waiting for everyone else to eat to make sure she didn't poison my food."

I gawked at him quickly before leaning back and looking behind him to see Wufei looking at me. He only rolled his eyes to me before declining some finger sandwiches and facing forward again. But soon enough everyone was eating, the room quiet except for the occasional clanging of silverware against the porcelain plates. After a while though, Relena broke the silence.

"I hope everyone's enjoying their dinner." There was small murmurs of praise before she continued. "Good. Since we at least got a bite in, let's begin shall we?" She wiped the corners of her mouth delicately before clearing her throat. Duo, Heero, Wufei and I calmly put our forks down on our plates and waited. It's always the same. She tells us her idea, Heero agrees for the most part, with defense ideas added in of course, I usually agree with him, but Duo and Wufei have better ideas. Always. I don't know why we just don't skip ahead to the argument and get it over with.

"I'm afraid Col. Une is not able to join us. She, along with Hilde helping her, is trying to keep everything going as smoothly as possible at the Preventers. But I understand perfectly what is going on, and Zechs is here to help as well." His eyes met up with hers, where he only smiled slightly and winked at her, before going back to his food. "This is what's happening. White Fang is trying to rouse up past members in order to take control and ‘free the colonies.'" She did her fingers in the quotation marks. "In any case, I want to talk to them and find out why they believe that they are still in captivity, as they say, and since their base is on earth it is easier–"

"Wait--wait wait wait wait," I interrupted, "they're on earth?!"

"That's right," Dorothy supplied, "their base is in the capitol of Norway. We will be visiting Monday morning to see about their grievances."

"Relena, it might be a bad idea for you to be here. We should escort you back to headquarters," I said. "That way, we would see them before they arrive, and we could protect you better in space."

She waved her hand at me, dismissively. "No need. We are safe here. Heero and Zechs have set up a perimeter around Sanc, so any large movements would be detected." Heero nodded.

Duo shook his head at that. "Yeah, it would detect any large movements, but what about small ones? It will only take one person to kill you. That's all they need is one person, or persons, to trip the wire and have us chasing after them, while one other person comes in and offs you."

Relena's eyes widened at that, and Heero glared at him. "What, you didn't think we would've thought of that? That's taken care of too."

Duo threw his arms up in exasperation. "I don't know what you thought of, but if you did then I won't worry about it, okay? But just in case, how many guns do you have and where do you have them?"

Zechs answered, slurping some spaghetti. "They're in the basement. We have pistols, handguns, machine guns, automatics, but mostly the M–16's and the AR–15's with the heavy barrel. Over four thousand rounds in ammunition."

"Good," Duo murmured under his breath, "good."

"There's also the handheld missile launcher," Noin continued, " but I don't think it will be needed."

"Better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it," Sally threw in for good measure. Everyone nodded in agreement.

"So how is this going down?" I picked up my fork and took a bite of my salad. Heero stood up and walked over to Relena, pulling out a map and unrolling it for Duo, Wufei, and I to see.

"Relena will talk to the leader in one of the office buildings that they have downtown. Duo and I will be on her detail," he looked to Duo, who nodded in agreement. "Zechs will be monitoring everything, just to make sure no one will be sneaking up on us or trying to knock her out by poisoning her or something. Quatre and Wufei, I need you to guard the entrance and exits. There are only two. Don't let anyone in, and if someone comes out that's not us, you know what to do." Both Wufei and I nodded our understanding. I could see Relena stiffen at that comment but she didn't say anything. "The rest of us will wait here, in case she needs to leave in an emergency or if she gets hurt on the way here." He looked pointedly to Sally, Noin, and Dorothy. "Now, the leader, since Zechs declined their offer, is Norwegian, which is why they're on earth, and he speaks his native language. We don't know if he doesn't speak English or if he's just doing that on purpose, so that's where Trowa," he glared at me, "is needed. He will be with Relena to translate. He's fluent in the language."

Heero stood back a second and watched our faces, waiting for the information to soak in. "Are there any questions?" I sat back and looked at Heero, nodding my head in agreement. This will work, as long as they don't try anything, and they probably won't. If its taken them this long to even get started, and this stuff can wait until Monday, then they aren't that strong of a threat.

Wufei leaned forward, folding his hands on the table. "Do you know where the base is?"

Heero gave a curt nod. Wufei sat up, aghast. "Then what the hell are we doing? Let's go over there, kill them, and go home. Simple." He picked up his fork and started to eat again. I wanted to laugh so badly.

"Yeah," Duo started, "look. You want to see them on Monday right? Okay, I can go home, get some C–4 bars, be back here by tomorrow morning, and BOOM! We could level their asses out in no time. So long White Fang, see you in the next world."

"Wufei and Duo how could you!" Relena stood up and shouted. Now it begins. "How could you two even consider that! Peace can not be maintained through assassination."

"The hell it can't!" Duo started to stand up but Wufei and I each grabbed an arm and kept him glued to his chair.

"No it can't! It has to be dealt with in an organized and peaceful way. I would think that you two, with how much you have lost, would understand the most with what I'm trying to accomplish. Do you want more people to suffer the way you did?"

"No Relena, we don't," Duo said, a little bit solemnly, "but some people don't understand peace talks. They only understand when someone knocks them on their asses. With our gundams gone, and not that much in the mobile suit department left that's worth fighting with, we are stuck to stopping things before they start, and we could take them out before the sun even rises. Your position is important to settle disputes, whenever a representative has a problem with another, or if there's a disagreement on how to ship something between colonies, but when someone wants to take you off your pedestal," he said none too gently, earning a glare from Heero and Relena, "then we need to get them before they get us, because they won't care about ‘how peace is not maintained through assassination'. They will only be interested in the victory."

"I agree with Duo," Wufei piped up, "this may be our only opportunity."

"I will not allow this," Relena stated coldly. "You will NOT do this."

"Oh ple~ease, get off of that! I do what you tell me to because I allow you that much, and I believe and respect what you're trying to do in promoting peace. Relena, I will follow you to the ends of the universe to protect you, but not if you're bent on getting yourself killed, okay?!"

"Oh, but I bet that you would do it for Heero."

"Oh course I would!" Duo jumped up from his chair, almost knocking it on the floor. "I love him Relena. You and everyone else in here knows that. You should know better than anyone else, seeing that you are with him. I would do anything for him, which is why I am here now putting up with your shit. And who are you to talk, miss ‘here I am, come kill me' and chasing after him all over the freakin' planet–"

"Duo, you don't dare speak to her that way!" Heero's tone booked no argument. Zechs stood up and placed his balled up fists on the table, leaning forward and glaring. Wufei also jumped to his feet in Duo's defense, and I stood up then, trying to find the path to prevent an all–out fight.

"Look guys, knock this off. This isn't going to help her at all. How about this. We do as Heero and Zechs says okay?" I looked pointedly at Duo. He only blinked at me. "Just hear me out. Before she arrives, we set the explosives up so that they can only be detonated manually, that way we don't have the possibility of the explosives going off prematurely. If all hell breaks loose, and once she's safe, we can proceed to...detonate them. Are we all agreed?"

Nobody said anything for the moment, so I turned to Relena, pleading to her with my soul. "Relena, I know you don't agree with this, but we really don't know what their intentions are, and in case something does happen, the world will not be prepared to deal with it. We are the best. If something happens to us, there isn't much that could stop them if they really wanted to take over. If they clearly want you dead, or kill you or us in the process, we need to make sure that they don't walk away as well. Is that compromise suitable?"

She didn't say anything at the moment, just stood there chewing on her lip. I thought of something else. "Why don't you talk it over with your brother and Noin. We could discuss this further tomorrow, when everyone's had a chance to cool off, okay?"

I nodded to Wufei who grabbed one of Duo's arms and I grabbed the other, sitting him forcibly in the chair as we sat down ourselves. Zechs took his seat then, but Heero remained standing, eyes fixed on us until he slowly stood away from the table but wouldn't sit down. He remained standing by Relena.

Duo harshly wretched his hands free from Wufei and I, and crossed his arms. "So what else are we going to do here? You expect to win them over in one meeting?"

Relena sighed irritably and rubbed her forehead. I took a sip of tea, and had a waiter place a chicken breast on my plate. She started talking again. "I hope so, but also this is something Sally and I had planned for you." She dropped her hand and looked pointedly at Duo. "This is a chance for all of you to relax and enjoy some of the peace you have fought for. We may stay here a week or two, but won't exceed a month."

"Well, that's great Relena, thank you," he said wanly, "and I'll show you my thanks later, Sally." He winked at her.

She sat further into her chair. "Duo, you can thank me by making me my money tonight on that corner, understand?" All four of us broke into hysterical laughter, of course none of the others had a clue what we were talking about, but that didn't matter. I glanced over to Trowa, who still had that expressionless face on, and mentally shrugged. I don't know why I bother.

Soon after the tension died, we all grabbed a glass of champagne and I ended up drifted off towards one of the gardens in her yard. Duo said he was running back to his quarters in order to get some glitter he forgot about. Anyway, she had many concrete and marble statues decorating the landscape, the manmade waterfalls and birdbaths added to the serenity of the environment. I felt strange about the fact that a stone statue of Eros [6] was placed in the center of the garden. This is very contradicting to Relena, but it is art after all, and she is an art lover. Right.

I sat down on a nearby stone bench, listening to the soft trickle of running water as it landed on itself, only to be shot out of the mouth of a marble fish again. I was deeply embedded in the dark shade of a tree, completely hidden from sight, even by the moon. I closed my eyes and thought about space, feeling my eyelids grow heavy. Space has always made me sleepy, the way it was always still and quiet, especially when I was floating around in Sandrock. Sandrock. I miss you so much...

The sound of someone swearing, loudly, jolted me back to wakefulness. Whoever it was had gotten closer, a lot closer, and my body tensed up in fear of being seen. Suddenly Heero shot into view, a few feet away from me, followed by Wufei.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Heero snarled. That greeting got my attention quickly.

"What the hell is your problem?!" Wufei snarled back. "I can't believe you! How can you stand against Duo that way? Huh?! He is trying to make sure she comes back in one piece and all he's getting for his effort is a bunch of shit from both her and YOU."

"He was wrong! I am no longer with him Wufei! I will not stand against Relena, especially when her life is on the line. He is not to raise his voice at her, and his attitude is not acceptable."

"No, SHE was wrong. She started screaming at us! I know she doesn't like our views, but at the same time we are the ones that are going to be fishing her ass out of trouble. I understand that you want to take care of her and protect her Odin, you love the girl, but even you know that waltzing up there like we're on the god damn yellow brick road is not safe. We will be on their territory, playing by their rules. We need to have another agenda. Quatre's suggestion is a good and reasonable one. If something goes wrong, we can blow their asses to kingdom come, or better yet, if it appears that a settlement will not be reached, we still have the advantage over them. Either way our asses will be covered."

Heero didn't say anything at first, just paced angrily in front of Wufei. "I'll see what Zechs thinks. In the meantime, this conversation did not take place."


"And her ideas will not be challenged this way once she is my wife."

"What?! You're engaged?"

I gasped, quickly covering my mouth to prevent me from screaming. They didn't seem to notice, probably because Wufei was in as much shock as I was. I am happy for them, really, but Duo will not take this well at all. I don't even want to think about it.

"No," Heero said flatly, despite the news he was telling, and my heart slowed down a bit. I could've sworn I was about to have a stroke. "I plan to propose to her soon though."

"Oh hell," Wufei ran his hand absently over his face. "Look, don't do anything until you figure out what you want, okay? I'm still pissed about the fight you had with Quatre in the kitchen. He is right. You can't have them both. Choose one of them and stick to them. This possessive shit you got over Duo is going to end, as in five minutes ago. And I love Quatre too, he's a kid brother to me also, but you're not his father, and that shit is ending. Period."

"Oh, so you're all knowing now huh?"

"Yeah," Wufei said dryly as he started to walk away, "yeah I am. You want to be all bad when watching over Relena, so I'll do the same for them. I will be a pain in your ass as much as you're a pain in mine. In the meantime, put her in check, like you were told before, or you will have to deal with ME, and I don't give a shit about whether or not I hurt your feelings." He smiled ruefully then, waiting for Heero's response.

He only glared, and I could feel the hatred rolling from his body. "You should know by now that I don't take orders anymore Wufei, so we'll see who ends up fucked."

"Whatever." Their conversation ended, both stalking off in different directions. Glancing at my watch, I saw it was almost eleven. Great. What a way to start the evening. I remained on the bench for a few minutes, trying to recover my wits before getting up and slumping off towards the front gate before they realized I was missing. The conversation rolled itself in my mind and I sighed out loud, knowing that so far, only one thing rang true.

We were screwed.


[6] In mythology, Eros is the god of sex. ~__^

*Notes* As far as the dinner food, I know its not what you expect. See, I went to this one party that was supposed to be like a royal type thing, with all this fancy food and stuff. Well, when I got there, I was surprised to see that yeah, they served duck and cavier and stuff, but then they had ribs and potato salad and cornbread, etc, etc. *drools* So, I figured that the boys would rather eat steak than fish eggs. *shrugs* That's just me though.