ChApTeR 3

   Heero always woke up before Relena. Every morning around 0530 his internal alarm would go off. He would slide out of bed, take a shower in the adjacent bathroom, get dressed, then step out onto the balcony to get some morning air and take a quick glance around the grounds before going back in to wake his fiance up at 0630 so she could begin her day.
   This morning there was a light drizzle that helped cool off the normally scorching air of the season, and Heero spent his time on the balcony examining the security of the grounds as well as thinking about last night. It must have been a nightmare, he concluded. He'd checked the room upon awakening, but could find no proof that anyone had been there. He must have had a particuarly strong nightmare, related to the war perhaps, and the paranoia had simply carried over into consciousness. He rested his hands on the rail and watched a familiar figure making its way across the lawn towards the gate guards, voice faintly floating up to him, though the words were difficult to make out. Laughter floated up on the morning air, and Heero snorted quietly in dry amusement. Trust Duo to have already made friends with everyone on-site. He'd always found it easy to befriend others with his charming personality and slightly wicked sense of humor.
   Relena's scream shattered his wayward train of thought and sent his heart into his throat. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Duo already racing for the building, but the acknowledgement barely registered.
   Heero came crashing through the balcony doors, gun already out, safety off, heart hammering. He took in the scene in a quick glance.
   Relena was sitting up in bed, backed up against the headboard, mouth still open from her shriek, eyes wide in shock and fear. There was a man standing over her bed, his back to Heero. The hood from the cloak he was wearing was up, so Heero wasn't even positive it was a man, aside from the strong set of shoulders he could make out under the rain-spattered material.
   This all went through his head in an instant. He was across the room in two quick steps, gun swinging up to press hard against a suddenly tense back. Heero glared furiously at the cloaked figure before him, heart still drumming in his ears at the close call. His voice sounded frightening to his own ears. "Put your hands in the air and turn around slowly," he ordered coldly. Outside he could hear Duo's heavy boots battering the stairs as he came running.
   Slowly the man started to turn, hands raising to shoulder level. Relena gasped, looking at Heero quickly. "Oh--" she said quickly, some of the fear fading. "Heero, it's--"
   The door burst open, and Heero's gaze flinched that way unconsciously, even as he kept his gun trained firmly on the man before him. Duo stood in the doorway, huffing for breath. His eyes had already found the cause of all the commotion, and he was aiming his own handgun unerringly right between the man's shoulderblades. "What the fuck is going on?" he demanded harshly, glancing quickly from Relena to Heero.
   Heero blinked in surprise as the stranger growled his name. Slowly the man finished his turn, and Heero stared blankly into familiar narrowed eyes. "Get this fucking gun out of my face before I take it away from you and make you look foolish in front of your woman."
   "...Chang." Heero forced himself to lower his gun, staring in disbelief at his old comrade. "What are you doing here?"
   "Oh, Jesus," Duo sighed in exasperation, clicking the safety on his gun and shoving it down the back of his pants. He gestured towards Wufei with a scowl of mixed apology and aggravation. "Sorry, Heero, that's my bad. He showed up last night. You'd already gone to bed, so I figured I'd tell you in the morning."
   Wufei reached up with cool dignity to push back the dripping hood of his rain cloak. "I didn't mean to cause a commotion," he said stiffly. "I knocked, no one answered, so I came in to check on things. This woman," he sent Relena an impatient look, "screamed like a banshee when I tried to wake her."
   "You startled me," Relena said meekly, looking both relieved and embarrassed at the same time. Belatedly she seemed to realize she was only wearing a thin nightgown, and prudently tugged her covers around her neck.
   Wufei politely averted his eyes, turning his stern gaze back on Heero, who still looked slightly bewildered. "What, Yuy?" he snapped.
   "What are you doing here?" Heero repeated. "I wasn't able to get ahold of you. How did you know about all of this?"
   "I watch the news, Yuy," Wufei stated dryly. "It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the Prime Minister would be in danger sooner or later. I'd been meaning to come back to earth on my own errands, so I decided to check in."
   Heero blinked. "...Thank you," he forced himself to say. But despite the difficulty of the words, they were sincere. He was surprised that Wufei would go out of his way to check on them.
   Wufei grunted, turning his attention on Duo. "Maxwell, I can't believe you're up before noon," he noted caustically. "Does this mean you're going to bring me up to date like you promised last night?"
   "Wait--" Heero held up a hand when Wufei made as if to follow Duo out of the room. "You're staying?"
   Wufei frowned back at him impatiently. "Am I unwelcome?"
   "Of course not," Heero said in exasperation. "I only meant--"
   "I'll only be here a couple of days," Wufei sniffed. "I don't need to get my own affairs in order just yet." He inclined his head towards Relena, then left the room with Duo.
   "Chang?" Relena said after a long awkward silence. She released her blanket and looked inquiringly up at her lover. "You mean... that's pilot 05? Chang Wufei, wasn't it?"
   "..Yes." Heero turned towards her, holstering his gun. "You met him only once," he recalled. "And that was years ago."
   She nodded. "I didn't recognize him," she admitted. "I woke up to some strange man standing over me..." She smiled a little sheepishly. "Sorry. It just scared me, that's all."
   Heero shook his head, raging at himself internally. False alarm or no, it was still unexcusable. If that had been the enemy, he could have killed Relena before Heero had gotten into the room. He could have killed her as he slept. Why the hell had his door been unlocked anyhow? He always locked it before they went to bed.
   Uneasiness churned in his gut as he remembered once more the previous night's fright. Not a dream, then? Had someone gotten into the room last night? But if someone had, why? And who? The place was a fort. Duo had tried a dry run, seeing if he could infiltrate after all their work yesterday. He'd almost made it past the fence, but had only one foot on the inner grounds before he'd been caught. And Duo was damn good. Which meant either he was dealing with a real monster-- but then, why hadn't the killer slain Relena last night in her sleep? --or someone who was already on the grounds had entered his room last night.
   But there was no need to bring this up with Relena. It would only frighten her more. He would just have to be more vigilant, that was all. Go back to guarding her door, even if she did plead with him to go to bed. She felt safer when she could curl up beside him, rather than having him just outside the door, but for his own peace of mind, he would have to post guard duty instead.
   "Heero?" Relena was looking at him curiously. "Everything all right?"
   Heero dragged his attention back to her and forced a nod. "Yes. Chang's appearance is just a surprise, that's all."
   Relena smiled. "It is," she agreed. "I mean, it's touching that he's going out of his way to help you out. Especially since he barely knows me." She slid out of bed, reaching for her robe. "Well, I'm definitely wide awake, now. I'm going to take a shower."
   Heero nodded distractedly, heading for the door, mind already on security.
   "Heero?" Relena paused by the bathroom door, looking at him coyly over her shoulder. "You want to join me?"
   "I already showered," Heero said, opening the door and missing the small pout she made. "I'll see you downstairs." He shut and locked the door behind himself and made his way quickly down the stairs.
   He found Wufei being briefed by Duo in the den. Trowa was absent, likely patrolling the grounds or fetching breakfast. Duo arched a brow at Heero's entrance. "Wasn't expecting you right away," he admitted. "Don't you gotta calm Princess Purity? Give her some 'comfort'?" He leered.
   "Don't be crude, Maxwell," Wufei muttered in disgust. He checked his watch. "I'm going to find Barton. He can take me on a patrol of the grounds." He strode off.
   Duo was studying Heero from across the den, nibbling absently at a breakfast bar. "Hey, I been meaning to ask you about that, if it's not, um, too personal."
   "What?" Heero began rummaging through the couch cushions for the missing remote. He wanted to see if there were any more stories on the "Gorgenstern Butcher" on the news.
   "You 'n' Relena." Duo dropped into the armchair, flicking crumbs off of his shirt. "It's a little hard to imagine you an' her bumpin' uglies and all, but I guess if you're getting married you've already done it, yeah?"
   Heero found the remote under the coffee table and began flipping through channels. "What are you talking about?"
   "My bad." Duo held up a hand in mock apology. "Slang. Right. Let me speak in terms you can understand." He cleared his throat officiously. "Have you or have you not had sexual intercourse with one Relena Peacecraft?"
   There were commercials on the news channel, so Heero turned a hard look on his old friend. "I don't see that it's any of your business," he pointed out coolly.
   "Why not? I'm just curious." Duo grinned. "And it's not like Heero Yuy gets embarrassed about that kinda shit. If you recall, you asked me during the war if I was sleepin' with Hilde. Some shit about it impeding me in my mission. Which, by the way, I was not. Sleeping with her, I mean."
   Heero frowned. "Yes," he said after a long moment. "We have--"
   "Good god, Heero, if you actually say 'had sexual intercourse', I'll throw a couch cushion at you," Duo interrupted hastily, making a wry face. "Just say you slept with the chick." He hesitated, looking intently at his breakfast bar. "Huh. Like I said, hard to imagine. Do it often, do you?"
   Heero's frown deepened. "Why are we having this conversation?"
   "C'mon, humor me. If only to shut me up."
   Heero turned his attention impatiently back to the television. He saw no reason to answer, but at the same time, he couldn't bring himself to be offended by the other boy's blunt question. Duo had always been the only one he could talk to-- in his own way. And while he certainly had no burning need to discuss his love life, he had caught Relena discussing it with some of her girl friends. She's said something about it being good to discuss it, to appreciate what you had, and get insight. Apparently some of her friends had made many helpful suggestions, or so she'd said with a smile.
   Heero shrugged abruptly. "I'm unaware of how often couples do the act, or how much is deemed appropriate or normal.." he ignored Duo's rolling eyes, "but we have copulated perhaps five times."
   Duo sprayed crumbs across the room.
   Heero turned a stony look on his friend, reaching up to wipe a damp bit of breakfast bar from his cheek.
   "Sorry," Duo sputtered, coughing a little and staring back in wide-eyed disbelief. "It's just... well, partly cuz I can't believe you just said 'copulated', and also... Jesus, man! You two have been an item for almost two years now! And you've only done it a few times?!"
   Heero frowned. "Is that considered an inadequate amount of times?"
   "Christ, stop talking like a robot," Duo snapped, getting to his feet. "Why do you always gotta get all analyzing and shit when it comes to subjects you don't really understand?" He walked over and clapped a hand on Heero's shoulder, looking at him intently. "Look, buddy, most couples do it a lot. And I mean a lot. As in, almost every day. Maybe several times a day. Everywhere. Anytime. Just because. At the park. After work. Right after taking a shit, even."
   "I get the point," Heero cut him off impatiently. "I wasn't aware of this."
   "Come on, man, you've got to be kidding. Hasn't she wanted to do it lots of times?" He winced. "Knowing you, though, she's probably dropped hints all over the place and they've flown right over your head." He peered at his friend curiously. "But what about you? Damn, man, are you saying you don't... want to?"
   "Don't you like it? Sleeping with her, I mean?"
   "We sleep together all the time," Heero pointed out. "In the same bed."
   Duo let out a deep sigh of long-suffering and thumped his head against Heero's shoulder. "No, Heero," he said patiently, voice muffled against the cloth. "I didn't mean that literally. It's how you say you're.." he snickered, "'copulating' with someone. You sleep together-- have sex."
   Heero shrugged his free shoulder. "It isn't unpleasant," he admitted. "But I don't see a reason to do it that often."
   Duo lifted his head and studied his friend with sudden curiosity. "You don't," he declared abruptly.
   "Enjoy it," Duo said, almost to himself. He flapped a hand. "Well, I mean, I'm sure it's not horrible. Sex is sex. But... you don't really want to sleep with her." Heero looked back blankly, while Duo's eyes flicked back and forth, examining his face. Slowly Duo's mouth stretched in a wide, lazy smile; an almost predatory look that made Heero instantly wary. "Who do you want to sleep with, Heero?" he murmured.
   Almost belatedly, Heero realized just how close Duo was. He was still leaning on his shoulder, his face inches away from Heero's own. His height was more obvious this close up, as well. Heero took a step back, suddenly flustered. At having someone enter his personal space, no doubt, he decided. "I'm finished talking to you about this," he said shortly, and turned his eyes back to the television.
   Duo only chuckled and left without another word.


   Heero was more grateful for Wufei's assistance than he was willing to admit. While Duo was invaluable when it came to helping him set up security, Wufei was able to take it a step further. Duo tended to point out where an infiltration could occur, and where someone could attempt to sneak in. Wufei, on the other hand, was much like Heero in that he eyed things from a primarily brute force sort of view. Where Duo might suggest burying the bottom of the fenceline to prevent someone from wriggling underneath, Wufei would bluntly admit that with only three guards at the gate, someone like himself would simply walk up, kill them, and keep going.
   Which was exactly what Heero would have done himself, so he listened to the other warrior's observations closely. Plus it gave Relena no room to argue. He couldn't exactly be labeled as paranoid when there was another soldier with the exact same mindset.
   "This... Gorgenstern Bill. Explain to me why such a thing would make a madman so intent on killing off so many politicians."
   Heero glanced at Wufei with raised brow.
   They were on the rooftop, looking over the security from a bird's eye view. Wufei had a set of binoculars to his eyes and was sweeping the landscape just outside the mansion, searching for any hilltops or other high, concealed spots where an attacker might try to spy on the improvised fort.
   Wufei felt Heero's disbelieving eye on him and lowered the binoculars to frown at him. "I've heard of it, Yuy," he snapped impatiently. "And I heard about all of the noise it made when it was being pushed for a vote. But I wasn't interested enough in it to do much research into it. Dead politicians make it a bit more interesting, however. The authorities seem to think this lunatic is singling out those who pushed the Bill through. Mind explaining why?"
   Heero shrugged slightly. "I'm not too clear on all the details," he admitted. "Relena could explain it to you better."
   "Then I'll talk to her later. Give me the basic idea."
   Heero scratched absently at his jawline, eyes scanning the grounds below. Faintly he could hear Duo's voice, and by the way he was flapping his arms at a bewildered guard, was having some sort of argument or heated discussion. Relena was inside, attempting to finish the stack of paperwork on her desk while Trowa stood guard over her. "If I remember correctly, Paul Gorgenstern was a pascifist. He was killed around the same time the original Heero Yuy was. His actions and speeches were mainly focused towards the colonists, however, which is probably why his death wasn't given as much attention as Yuy's, who was more of an idealist than anything else, and used the media to his advantage to get his message of peace across to everyone. I'm not too sure what Gorgenstern's original promises or hopes or whatever were, but the Bill was supposedly created to continue his work."
   Wufei frowned. "If he was an activist for the colonists, why are they protesting this Bill? If it's based on his ideals, wouldn't this Bill in some way cater to them?"
   Heero shook his head once. "Apparently not. Like I said, I'm not sure of all the details, and I don't completely understand what all the fuss is about. Relena would probably be able to explain this better. But from what I could discern, the Bill doesn't follow his ideals exactly, and the colonists seem to think the government is trying to trick them. They claim the government is leaving too many loopholes and backdoors, creating a Bill that looks like it's a good thing for the colonies when actually it only leaves them vulnerable to Earth's government."
   "They don't want to be slaves," Wufei summed up shortly.
   Heero's eyes narrowed slightly. "That's an odd way of putting it, and probably completely incorrect. Whatever they may think, this Bill will help them. It will give them a voice, and rights."
   Wufei snorted, returning his fierce gaze to the grounds below. "Heero, don't try to think like a colonist. Your head might explode."
   Heero turned to face the other boy fully. "I was born in space, Wufei," he reminded him in clipped tones.
   Wufei didn't even bother to glance his way. "Yuy, be honest. You don't know where the hell you're from. Not really. Perhaps, yes, you were born in space, but that doesn't make you a colonist. You've been between earth and space so much all your life that you don't have any roots to speak of."
   "Is that a subtle way of saying I don't belong anywhere?" Heero asked. He meant the question to sound dispassionate, but he heard the slight edge to his own voice.
   Wufei's eyes slanted sideways to regard him without interest. "Maxwell is a colonist, Yuy. A true colonist. However muddled his roots or his background, he's a colonist through and through. More so, perhaps, than any of us. You, Yuy, are a drifter. So don't try to understand the emotions or politics of space or earth. You can't understand something you don't have any personal feelings for." He paused deliberately, eyes flicking towards the door behind them, indicating where Relena was working inside. "The same could be said for people."
   "What is that supposed to mean?" Heero snapped.
   Wufei leaned forward, but was not foolish enough to get too close into Heero's personal space. "Figure it out," he suggested in a low voice. He handed the binoculars over, voice crisp and business-like again. "I'll relieve Barton. If the Prime Minister isn't too busy, perhaps she can explain the Bill more thoroughly."
   Heero shook off his irritation and accepted the binoculars with a curt nod. He didn't watch Wufei leave, but lifted the eyepiece and studied the gate.
   Four guards.
   If he was intent on getting in a place like this, four guards certainly wouldn't stop him. Or Chang Wufei, for that matter.
   And while the killer had so far stuck to stealth more than flashy entrances, he wasn't about to take any chances. He unclipped his radio from his belt and brought it to his mouth. "Duo. Stop yelling at that man and tell him and Robertson to get to the gate. I want at least six people posted there at all times."
   Below, he saw Duo turning to look up at him, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the sun. He was too far away to see the other's expression, but he could hear the grin in Duo's voice crackling over the radio. "Right-o, Heero. I was just about to smash this guy's face in with his own gun anyway. I can't believe all these dingbats root for the Dodgers."
   "Get back to work, Duo," Heero snapped, then winced internally. Duo, he reminded himself firmly, was here as a favor. As were Wufei and Trowa. "Please," he forced himself to add.
   Duo's laughter sounded loud on the radio. "Don't use words you don't understand, Heero."
   Relena's shriek of horror, echoing from deep in the house, cut off any further conversation.

Author's Notes: Yes, I know, I'm a bad bad author x_x; This chapter took way too long to get out. I've been focusing mostly on HB, tho, so forgive me ^^;;

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