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Cinderelena (part 5)

Storyteller


Duo felt his insides melt and he wanted to run the other way but if he did that, Relena would hunt him down and kill him. So he looked everywhere but at the Crown Prince. Which was why he had forgotten to announce Relena to him and got his foot stomped for all his troubles.

"OWW! Hey-sorry! Give me a break, would ya? May I present, the Lady Relena," he muttered, quickly pulling away to see if she had broken any bones. This would be the very last time he did Relena any favors! He caught the younger Prince chuckling in mirth and winked to him. He hastily stopped adding anything else to that wink when he realized the Red Guard frowned rather nastily at him and turned the wave at Quatre to a greeting to everyone else.

"Iím her escort, Duo. Nice to meet you all," he smiled at them all and quickly tried to dodge Relenaís kick but failed miserably.

He could feel the Crown Princeís hard stare at him even with his back half turned away. Love at first sight, he told himself, sucks. He kept an ear on the conversation while observing everyone else. It would be good if he could recognize all the nobles by sight, he thought absently. It would make his life easier when he had to escape from them or maybe even steal from them.

Suddenly Heero was talking about him. "..Who is your escort? He seems to be very worried."

He spun around quickly and cursed his body for reacting before his brain could think it through. "Oh sorry. Itís a reflex action," the words tumbled out before he got control of his tongue. He promptly lost it when he gazed into the Crown Princeís eyes. Luckily, Relena stepped in front of him and hid his view of him.

He sighed inaudibly and resented the gesture she made at him. He started thinking of ways to get back at Relena for this. She hadnít the right to be so rude to him! Maybe it was worth another wish to get her gone permanently from his life. Oh he wonít kill her, but maybe a few years with a stepmother worse than Lady Une might improve her disposition.

"Ö.with your escort," Crown Prince Heero finished. Duo started again to hear the low, clear voice address him for the second time in the evening. His heart did double-time and nearly broke free of its moorings. What was getting into him? Heíd had a few girls before, and even liked one well enough to consider her for quite a long time. But heíd never felt so strange and clumsy in front of another boy before!

"Be good, Duo. Donít mess this up."

Do vowed to ignore that. Oh, heíd mess her up good. But then...No, he will never tell a lie. Run and hide yes, but never lie. He desperately wished he could kill the nerves in the elbow Heero (when did the title Crown Prince disappear to be replace by simple, casual Heero?) held to guide him away from the throng and to a closed off balcony. He stepped free and took a few jaunty steps forward.

A new thought struck him and Duoís heart did another drop. Heero was probably going to marry Relena. Why else would he bring the escort outside for a talk? For some reason that made him sad and miserable. Relena didnít deserve HeeroÖ.

"My name is Heero," the other boy said calmly.

"Yeah," he summoned up a weak grin. "I know, your Highness. Iím Duo, Duo Maxwell, at your service."

"No need to be formal. Just Heero is enough for me."

Just Heero? There was no way he was Ďjust Heeroí to him. He was everything but that! What's wrong with me tonight? Duo wondered. Here he was barely an hour with the Crown Prince and he already thought of him as a lover and as his. Scrub your brains, Duo, its gathering cobwebs, he told himself.

***

Relena had finally wandered off to talk with the other nobles and left the three boys feeling very relieved. She had not been subtle at all as the whole topic of the conversation revolved around weddings. Quatre wondered whether Lady Une knew her wayward stepdaughter was wandering around and decided that it was not his business. "See him?" Quatre whispered to Trowa.

The three of them, Quatre, Trowa and Wufei were in the upper galleries from where one could look down see all that happened in the balconies below. Quatre felt guilty at spying on his brother, but he was concerned for him. Besides, Trowa wanted to know what was happening too and Wufei had made a wager that Heero was going for Duo and not Relena.

"There," Trowa said quietly. He moved aside and gently showed Quatre where to look. Wufei hid a slight smile at the way the two cuddled close together without even realizing it consciously. The King had the power to separate them, and he didnít want to see that happen to his friends. But as a foreigner, and not even the Ambassador, there wasnít much he could do. Maybe there was some other way he could help, Wufei mused.

"Theyíre kissing!" the blond prince whispered excitedly.

"Actually, Heero is doing it," Trowa reported. "But Duo seems to be enjoying it too."

Quatre watched the scene below with avid interest. Heero had pushed Duo up against the wall and was kissing the long braided boy deeply. Duo didnít seem to be protesting much; he had his arms around the Crown Prince and the crisp night air brought sounds of moaning up to their level. Relena is going to be very upset about this, Quatre thought, not even pitying the girl much.

Suddenly Duo tensed and pushed Heero away. Quatre could hear the bells ring the twelfth hour. Heero looked surprise and didnít react in time to catch Duo who cursed loudly and dashed away.

"What?! Trowa!" Quatre said sharply but the brown-haired Red Guard was already moving away. He pushed himself up and together he and Wufei dashed after them. Why had Duo suddenly pushed Heero away? Maybe, maybe Duo didnít like those kind of pairings, Quatre thought with a sickened feeling. But how was his brother taking it?

"Heero!" Quatre changed his course and went after his brother while Trowa and Wufei gave chased to Duo.

 ***

"DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!" Duo cursed himself, as he ran and brushed tears away at the same time. Relena jogged by his side, barely keeping pace with him. Already their fine clothes had faded and Duo was dressed in his old black priest-like clothing and Relena in her tattered worn dress.

The carpet had taken them only out of sight of the pursuing guards then faded into nothingness. From there they had to dash and run, taking to the alleyways and backlanes to avoid the guards.

"DUO!" Relena cried, breathless. "What did you do? Why are they chasing us?" the girl reached out to grasp Duo by the arm and jerked him about. "Duo, if you made Heero hate me-"

Duo slapped her without a secondís thought. "You, you you! Thatís all you ever think of, Relena! Youíre a selfish, spoiled brat!"

Relena gaped at him then touched her red cheek carefully, as if she didn't believed it happened. "You - you - you dare hit me?"

"Go home, Relena. Stay there and die for all I care. Donít you ever call me again," Duo hissed at her and disappeared into the night. Relena could find her way back herself, he thought nastily.

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