ChApTeR 6

"You have a meeting with those Senators this afternoon."

Relena looked up quickly from where she was sitting at the small bedroom desk, paperwork spread across its surface. "What? That's today?"

Heero nodded to Wufei as he left, then reached out to shut the door behind him. "I'd prefer if you cancelled it, but..."

Relena shook her head firmly. "I can't. This meeting is important, and it's been postponed once before because one of the Senators had a death in the family. If I try to back out, I risk insulting someone."

"You have a good reason," Heero pointed out. "Just tell them you can't make it on account of possible death."

Relena stared at him. "That's not funny, Heero," she admonished quietly. She began tapping her pen against the desk unconsciously. "You've been hanging around Maxwell too much if you can make such inappropriate jokes."

Heero frowned. "I was being serious. And I told you that you and Duo need to get along better."

"I've tried," Relena snapped, glaring down at her paperwork. "I've tried to be polite, but none of your friends like me, Heero. You can't make someone like you."

"Trowa doesn't have a problem with you," Heero insisted. Belatedly he realized he'd just admitted without saying that he was aware that neither of the other two were particuarly fond of her.

Relena snorted. "Trowa doesn't seem to care one way or the other," she pointed out. "He treats me with the same distant manner that he treats everyone else. It's kind of sad that I prefer his indifference to the forced civility of the other two."

"You're not giving them a chance." Heero crossed his arms over his chest. "Wufei doesn't like anybody-- women especially. And Duo doesn't trust people easily."

"Neither do you," Relena interrupted. "But you gave me a chance. Duo still seems to think I'm an enemy. It's as if that day when he shot you-- when I tried to protect you -- happened just yesterday and not years ago." She hesitated. "He treats me as if I'm in his way. Like I was back then-- getting between the two of you."

Heero stared back, nonplussed. On a literal plane, her words made no sense. But if he attempted to sift through those words and find the meaning underneath... He shook his head uneasily. Why would Duo think Relena was 'between' them? Was it because they hadn't seen each other in so long? "Duo should know that my relationship with you won't interfere with our friendship," he said firmly. "Besides, he's the one that disappeared and didn't keep in contact."

"Oh, Heero." Relena sighed heavily and got to her feet. She offered a wan little smile. "In a lot of ways you can still be so naive about human emotions. But I hope you're right. Maybe I'm just being paranoid."

Heero scowled, displeased at the "naive" comment. But she wasn't exactly wrong, either, so he kept his arguments to himself. "The meeting is at twelve-thirty. We'll get there early so that I can check out the building. We get there, you have your meeting, and we leave right afterwards." He glanced at his watch. "You should take your shower now. We'll leave around eleven. I'll be just outside the door."

"Heero." She hurried over when he turned to leave, reaching out and wrapping her fingers around his wrist. "Wait." She reached past him and locked the door when he paused to look at her quizzically. Smiling, she pressed up against him. "You know," she murmured, "it's been a long time since we last... well..." Her eyes slid towards the bed.

Heero arched a brow. "Your safety is my priority."

"Yes, but..." She ran her fingers softly up his arm, looking up at him from under her lashes. "This will relax me. And..." she hesitated, blushing. "Don't you want to?"

Heero didn't answer at first, looking from her to the door, torn. She needed to shower and get ready, and he had his duties. He should be stationed outside her door, guarding it. This was no time for, well, that.

He remembered Duo's teasing, and frowned inwardly. Did it really bother her that they hadn't done the act in awhile? He'd assumed she would feel the same way as he did; that because of current events, the thought of sex would never even have crossed her mind. It wasn't as if they'd done it that much before the whole Gorgenstern Butcher incident, anyway. And yet lately she seemed to crave it, and pouted when he missed her signals completely and she had to point them out later. Maybe it really would relax her, and make staying in the house a bit easier for her.

Relena was watching him carefully, and her smile faded as she read the internal debate on his face. She pulled away slowly. "Heero?"

The disappointment and hurt in her voice didn't leave him with much of a choice. He slid his hands through her hair, cupping the back of her skull, and kissed her without a word.

She was beaming when he broke the kiss, her fingers clutching his shirt. She moved closer, and he wrapped an arm loosely around her waist to hold her still as he gave her the kisses she wanted. After a few minutes of this, she wriggled free, took him by the hand, and led him to the bed.

It was always like this. Careful. Restrained. Gentle.

He handled her as if he was making love to a porcelain doll. She was soft and vulnerable, from her yielding mouth to her slender arms and soft skin. He could hurt her, break her, completely by accident. It had caused him considerable anxiety the first time they had done this. Unwittingly, he had been so cautious and slow, that it had taken longer than usual. Which gave her plenty of time to reach her own satisfaction. She had seemed pleased, but had assured him that next time he need not be so nervous and restrained.

But he wasn't willing to take any risks. He would never let himself go, always kept himself strictly in check. He was terrified of hurting her on accident.

It was no different this time, though as she had once or twice before, she attempted to liven things up. Sometimes she seemed to have no problem with slow and careful, but other times she seemed almost impatient-- desperate --and wanted something more.

Heero ignored her body's silent but urgent pleas and kept himself in check. She wanted this a lot more than he did, so it wasn't difficult. And when finally she cried out in ecstacy, nails dragging down his back, he loosened his restraints enough to let himself come.

She was content and relaxed afterwards, all smiles and fond carresses. Satisfied that she had gotten what she wanted-- peace of mind --he took a quick rinse-off shower, got dressed, and left her to get ready for her meeting.

Duo was heading down the hall, and waved a bit to get his attention. "Hey." He nodded over his shoulder to the man following him. "Heath is gonna watch the door for a couple hours."

Heero frowned. "It's my shift."

"Not anymore it isn't." Duo checked his watch. "You 'n' me are going on a little field trip."

"What?" Heero's eyes narrowed. "I'm not going anywhere. Relena has a meeting at- -"

"At noon, yeah, I know. It's ten-thirty now. Let's say you and me go case the place. Give it the fine-tooth comb treatment."

Heero shook his head. "Bring Trowa with you."

Duo arched a brow. "No one's as paranoid as you are, Heero," he noted, amused. "I'll know where and what to look for, but you'll be more suspicious of situations and people than any of us. You might notice something-- or someone --that we'd dismiss as unimportant."
Heero hesitated, glancing back at the bedroom door.

"She'll be perfectly safe," Duo assured him, stopping in front of him and nodding for Heath to take the chair by the door. "She's got plenty of guards, the place is like Fort Knox, and Wufei and Trowa will be here. She'll be fine for a half hour or so. She can meet us there." He trailed off, looking Heero up and down. "You showered."

"Yes. People do that."

"You showered earlier this morning," Duo pointed out, arching a brow. "Why take another one?" His eyes drifted towards the door, and his expression shifted into something carefully nuetral. "Ah."

"Cut that out," Heero snapped, irrationally embarrassed, if even only by a little. "Mind your own business, Duo."

"I notice the complete lack of denial here," Duo teased, but his smile looked forced. "Well at least she'll be a bit more mellow the rest of the day, yeah?" He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "C'mon, soldier, gear up. A little recon will be good for you; get you out of the house and give you something real to do. Relena will be fine, and you'll feel better knowing you've given the place a complete look-over. Tro and Wufei can escort her there. And you know those two sure as hell won't hesitate to use lethal action if something doesn't look right."

Heero gnawed on that for a minute, torn. He would feel better if he'd looked over the place himself, and Duo was right-- Wufei and Trowa were more than capable of watching her for about an hour. "All right. Let me tell Relena."

"Great. I'll meet ya outside. I'm just gonna drop by the kitchens and grab a snack for the trip."

Heero shook his head. "Of course."

Flashing a grin, Duo turned and strode off, braid lashing behind like a tail.


The meeting was to be held at a five-star hotel that had often been host to high profile individuals in the past; actors on vacation, politicians, even royalty. Tourist season was just around the corner, but in the face of the Gorgenstern Butcher scare, the management had promised to keep their doors closed to the public this one additional day so that the heads of state might feel more secure.

It was forty miles away from the Peacecraft mansion, so Trowa graciously offered the use of his beat-up truck, and Duo claimed the driver's seat. He chattered aimlessly about inconsequencial things for the first ten minutes while Heero listened with half an ear, focusing most of his attention on the job ahead.

"..and that was when I knew the sperm whale would save my life."

"Mm." Heero started to nod in acknowledgement. A moment later the words caught up to him, and he turned his unfocused eyes from the window to stare at his friend blankly. "What?"

Duo grinned, eyes hidden by dark sunglasses. He was driving recklessly fast in Heero's opinion; they were taking one of the less travelled roads in order to beat traffic, and the truck bounced around as they hit bumps and cracks in the asphalt. "Just checking to see if you were listening. You're zoning out again." He arched a brow. "You seem to do that a lot when I start talking. Is it some automatic response you developed during the war? Maxwell starts talking, eardrums cease functioning?"

"Something like that."

"Wowww, you've been working on your sarcasm, I'm so proud of you," Duo teased.

Heero offered a distracted scowl, turning his attention on the road. "Slow down, Duo. You're going to lose control of the vehicle."

"Pfah! We'll be fine." Duo took a hand from the wheel to wave it in careless dismissal, and the truck lurched to the left as it hit a pothole. Heero's fingers tightened on the door handle in a vice grip.

Duo laughed at him. "Come on, Heero, chill out. You self-destructed your own Gundam while you were in it and you're paranoid about a little car crash?" He fell silent for a moment, smile fading. "Of course, you had nothing to lose back then. Things are different now, huh?"

Heero glanced at him sideways. "...Yes," he admitted. "I suppose they are."

"You know, you really piss me off sometimes," Duo said abruptly, fingers wrapping tightly around the wheel. Heero stared at him, startled, but Duo continued to stare straight ahead. "You're willing to throw away your own possible happiness just to please her," Duo continued rapidly. "To make her happy, to 'do what's right', to keep the peace, or whatever the fuck your reasons are."

"What are you talking about?" Heero demanded, his temper stirring. They hit a pothole and the seatbelt tightened around his chest like a vice. The little truck was pushing sixty. "I told you to slow down."

A wicked smile flashed across Duo's face. "Make me." Heero watched grimly as the needle on the speedometer began to creep steadily higher. Another bump jarred his teeth in his head, and the seatbelt's embrace reminded him sharply of the restraints in his Gundam-- snapping to keep him still as Wing was jostled about in a battle.


"Shut up and let me drive, Heero," Duo snapped. "I've been driving since I was a kid. And don't change the subject." He jerked the wheel, narrowly avoiding a nasty pothole. Heero was slammed up against the door at the abrupt move. "I wanna know, Heero," Duo called above the wind whistling through his open window. "And be honest. Tell me why you're marrying her. Hell, explain why the hell you're sleeping with her in the first place. You never looked at her that way during the war. Hell, you barely treat her much differently now than you did back then."

Heero glared at his old friend in frustration. "Why do you hate her so much, Duo?" he demanded sharply. "She's never done anything to you."

"Hate her? HATE her?" Duo turned his head briefly to look at him. "Jesus, Heero, I don't hate her. I rarely bother to put that much energy into disliking someone that much. We don't get along, yeah, and I certainly don't like her too much, but I don't hate her. I just wish she would quit being so damned selfish."

"Selfish?" Heero repeated in disbelief. "How is Relena selfish? She sacrificed everything for her country. She always puts her peoples' happiness before her own. She's fought since she was fifteen to bring peace. How is she selfish??"

Duo made a noise of disgust. "You always talk about her like she's some higher being. Like she's better than any of us." He shook his head, taking a turn in the road at an alarming speed that almost made the truck tilt. "When it comes to what she wants, she's only human, Heero. And you've always been the one thing she wanted for herself."

Heero's eyes narrowed. "There's nothing wrong with wanting happiness for yourself," he said shortly. "She deserves it."

"Yeah, maybe she deserves to be happy," Duo admitted. "Doesn't everyone? But Heero..." he took his eyes from the road briefly, lowering his head so that he could look at Heero over his sunglasses. "No one should sacrifice their own happiness for someone else's. No one. Least of all any of us. We did that enough during the war."

Heero shook his head, knuckles white from the grip he had on the dashboard. "You keep talking about my relationship with Relena as if I've been tricked into something," he pointed out angrily. "As if I have no idea what I'm getting myself into."

"No, I think you have a fairly good idea of what you're getting into," Duo interrupted. "I just think you're doing it for the wrong reasons. She isn't what you want, Heero. Neither is the life she offers you. You've accepted the future you two have planned. That doesn't mean it's a future you want. But it's the only one you can see. You'd rather accept a future that's a lie than take the trouble to look for other options. You're too scared to take a risk and find a way to make yourself happy. I never thought the great Heero Yuy could be such a coward." He twisted the wheel suddenly and slammed on the brakes.

Heero grunted as the seatbelt caught him just in time to prevent a head-on collision with the windshield.

"We're here," Duo said cheerily, turning the key and killing the engine. He pushed his sunglasses up to rest on the top of his head and flashed a grin Heero's way.

Heero pushed himself slowly upright, staring outside. They'd arrived at the hotel; Duo had parked close to the back entrance. He fumbled for the seatbelt, releasing the clasp and breathing a small sigh of relief as the pressure finally loosened from his chest. He turned angrily in his seat and grabbed Duo by the front of his shirt, hauling him up close and glaring into his eyes. "What I do with my life is none of your business, Duo," he growled. "I'm tired of this. You have no idea what will make me 'happy'."

Duo's hands were raised in surrender, but he looked completely unafraid in the face of Heero's seething resentment. "Maybe not," he admitted. "But neither do you. I'm just here to try and help you realize that there are other options out there."

"No there aren't!" Heero shouted.

There was a moment of strained silence as they stared each other down. Finally Heero pushed Duo away and reached for the door handle. Duo reached out, quick as a snake, and seized his wrist. Heero glared at the door and refused to meet his friend's solemn expression.

"So that's it," Duo murmured. "You really believe that. You think she's the only option you have. That you'll ever have. Relena loves you. She knows the monster in you, but she loves you. She always has. Not every man is so lucky."

"Let go of me."

"She's not the only option, Heero," Duo said quietly but firmly. "She never has been."

Heero turned his head at last to glare at him. "What are you talki--"

Duo lunged forward, his free hand snatching a fistful of dark hair, and crushed his mouth against Heero's own.

Heero jumped violently, trying to yank away instinctively, but the fingers in his hair tightened and held him still.

"Hnnf--!" His arm jerked, but Duo's fingers were wrapped tight around his wrist, holding his hand pinned to the side of the door. He managed to twist enough to raise his other hand, and wrapped it around Duo's throat tightly.

Duo pulled back marginally, his breath falling hot on Heero's open mouth. "You going to kill me now, Heero Yuy?" he murmured, a dark smile twitching at his lips.

Heero was struggling to breathe properly, scrambling for the scattered pieces of reason his mind had exploded into. He stared numbly back and tried to think of something to say.

Duo gave him about three seconds, then pressed his mouth against Heero's again, ignoring the warning grip on his throat.

Relena's lips were soft, yeilding, warm. She tasted like peppermint from the candies she nibbled on while working at her desk. Kissing her was like taking your first sip of cold fresh water on a hot day. Soothing. Comforting.

Duo's kiss was an attack. It was rough and sloppy, all tongue and lips and sometimes teeth. He tasted like cigarettes and soda, and getting kissed by him was like being eaten alive. It wasn't pure or good or comforting, or anything like it was supposed to be.

It was demanding, forceful, and merciless.

Heero's fingers slipped slowly away from Duo's throat and he put up no struggle when Duo moved closer, pressing him up against the door. His brain was still scurrying to catch up, to wake up from its stunned daze, but his body was acting on its own. His mouth began moving, trying to keep up, but this was no gentle carress, no plump cherry lips that begged for his touch. He was being devoured, and the only way to survive was to go on the offensive. He opened his mouth wider-- a tongue slipped quickly past his teeth and began exploring, and his own lips became aggressive, rough. Duo released his wrist, and a calloused hand slid down Heero's side in a hard, quick exploration. The truck's cabin was filled with harsh, quick breaths.

The hand skimmed over his hip and dipped in between his legs, and Heero arched into the touch helplessly, his mouth going slack for a moment as a gasp tugged at his breath. He realized his own hand was gripping Duo's arm. The hand in his lap was just as merciless as the mouth, and his pants were almost painfully tight.

This was... this wasn't like anything he'd ever...

This was not caution and gentleness and soft skin. This was carnal. Dominating. Hard muscles, strong fingers, a broad chest rubbing against his own.

This was...


Heero turned his head to the side quickly-- wet lips slid across his cheek --and shoved hard. Caught off guard, Duo fell back against the driver's side door.

They stared at each other across the cab, panting, mouths bruised and cheeks flushed. Duo's eyes were darker than Heero had ever seen before. Dark and hungry.

Hissing a curse, Heero fumbled for the door hand, found it, and threw the door open. He leapt out of the truck and walked away swiftly. He stopped after a few yards and wiped a shaking hand roughly over his wet mouth, staring down at the asphalt with wild eyes.

He heard the other door slam, and a few moments later Duo followed him. He prudently stayed out of arm's reach. "Heero?"

Heero struggled with the boiling shock, confusion, and anger inside of him, and finally managed one harsh word. "Why?"

Duo didn't answer right away. He walked around slowly so that he was in front of Heero. The hunger was gone from his gaze, and his expression was serious. "I told you, Heero," he said quietly. "Relena was never the only option you had."

Heero dragged his eyes up to stare at his old friend, his mind still reeling.

The hardness in his pants still hadn't died.

"Do that again," he said roughly, "and I'll kill you."

Duo opened his mouth to protest, but Heero didn't want to hear it. He didn't want an apology or an explanation. He just wanted to go. To get away from it, to put it from his mind. He shouldered Duo aside and strode towards the hotel. He was nearly to the door before Duo slowly turned and followed without a word.


They split up to check the hotel, and by the end of the hour Heero had managed to shove the incident to the farthest corners of his mind and do his job. When they met up to exchange intel, they each acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. All business. Nothing funny here.

The only hint that something had occurred was Duo's unnatural subdued attitude.

Finally the guests began to arrive. Duo went to watch from the second store balcony while Heero patrolled the floor. He had almost convinced himself that nothing had happened at all. Then Relena came through the doors, flanked by Trowa and Wufei.

The sight of her brought on such a wash of guilt that it choked him. He wasn't sure he could look her in the face, so he left Wufei to watch her and sent Trowa to join Duo while he continued a slow circuit of the room. He found it hard to concentrate on what he was doing, and every time Relena looked his way through the crowd his skin itched and he felt sick to his stomach.

Then all the dignitaries took their seats and the meeting began, taking up all of Relena's attention, and Heero managed to relax a bit and focus better.

Relena's voice rose to address the assembled members. "Has Senator Yule been delayed?"

Heero glanced over; the men and women seated were twisting their heads back and forth, searching. One of the seats was empty.

"He arrived before I did," one woman insisted.

"I think he said he was going to the restroom," the man on her right put in. He checked his watch, hesitating. "That was nearly ten minutes ago."

Heero looked sharply towards Relena. She was shooting him a desperate glance. That look told him all he needed to know.

Senator Yule was another supporter of the Bill.

Wufei was standing close to Relena, and his hand was already inching towards the blade sheathed at his side as he looked around the room quickly with narrowed eyes.

Heero turned and looked up, catching Duo's eye. The uncomfortable tension and the uncertainty was banished by more pressing issues. Heero jerked his head to the side in a silent command, and Duo nodded grimly, motioning to Trowa. The two headed quickly in opposite directions, and Heero took off for the bathrooms at a fast walk, hand resting on his holster. A flabbergasted cleaning lady pointed him in the right direction at his sharp inquiry.

He burst into the men's bathroom, only to have his worst fears confirmed.

He stepped slowly into the room, holding the door open with a foot, gun out and aimed at the ceiling. He glanced around warily, heart thundering in his ears.

"Stop! You idiot woman! I said stop!"

Heero turned quickly at Wufei's approaching shout, grabbing Relena just as she appeared in the doorway, panting for breath after her haste to catch up. Wufei appeared an instant later at a dead run. Heero wrapped his arm around her waist and held her back. "Relena, don't--"

She took one look at the scene and gave a shrill shriek, hands flying up to her mouth.

Wufei snatched her arm and swung her bodily away, his hand flying up instinctively to cover her eyes. His eyes were angry and apologetic as he met Heero's accusing glare. "She took off the second you headed this way. I didn't think a full body tackle would sit well with the other delegates."

"Just get her somewhere safe," Heero snapped, stepping over the body and quickly opening each stall door. Empty. "Tell Trowa and Duo to block the exits and search the entire hotel. This was done recently; the killer's probably still somewhere inside. And get the other dignitaries out of here."

Wufei nodded and half-dragged the sobbing Prime Minister back towards the meeting.

As soon as they were gone Heero cursed furiously, slamming his fist into one of the mirrors. The glass cracked loudly at the heavy blow, shattering his reflection into a dozen miniature images.

Trowa appeared in the doorway, gun drawn and eyes sharp. "Heero, we've blocked the exits, but we need to get these people out of here." He hesitated, eyes widening marginally as he stared down at the mess on the bathroom floor.

His eyes slowly moved, taking in the blood splatters that covered one wall almost all the way to the ceiling. "God," he croaked. "He's..."

"All over the place," Heero finished grimly, stepping over one of the numerous chunks of flesh scattered all over the floor. The head itself was still intact, face frozen in a mask of horror, mouth wide in a silent scream. Grimacing slightly, he reached out and carefully pulled a scrap of paper out of the open mouth. He unfolded it slowly and read aloud in a voice shaking with anger,

He crumpled the letter and glared towards the bathroom stalls. After a moment's hesitation he stepped into the first one, nearly slipping on the blood all over the tiled floor, and lifted the toilet seat. He stared down into the bowl for a moment before checking the other stalls.

"The rest of him is in the toilet," he explained at Trowa's curious look.

Trowa's mouth twitched in a hint of disgst. "Fish bait?" he guessed grimly.

"Go," Heero snarled. "Get them out of here. Find the bastard. He has to be in the building somewhere." He looked up suddenly. "The cleaning lady."


"A cleaning lady showed me where the bathrooms were a minute ago," Heero said quickly, stepping over the mess and slipping past Trowa. "This floor was supposed to be cleared of personnel."

"We'll find her," Trowa promised, looking around warily. "Go. I'll take care of the Senators."

They got the rest of the frightened delegates out without incident, but a thorough search of the building proved fruitless. The only people left in the building were a thoroughly panicked hotel manager and two maids who were just as scared. Neither of them was the cleaning lady Heero had met in the hall.

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