Zechs



Heero and Zechs
Our Featured Pairing
July-December 2004!


Heero



Denial by astheblackrosewilts

Rating: Umm PG?
Summary: Heero Yuy is not in love with Zechs Marquise, he knows he isn't, he tells himself every day. 1xR implied, 1x6.
Disclaimer: I asked the nice men from Sunrise and Bandai if they were going to play nice and share but they said no – pouts -

Denial

Prologue

Heero Yuy is in love with Relena Peacecraft, he knows he is, she tells him every day.

Love was what had made him save her all those times, acting against his training, love for her, not love for her brother because there was no way Heero was in love with Zechs Marquise.

Their encounters didn't, inevitably, end with one of them ravishing the other. Heero didn't crave the taste of the other's kiss, the other's skin, didn't crave the other's touch. He didn't make excuses to go and see him, didn't wish he were with Zechs instead of Relena.

There had never been a first time. They had met to discuss the security system. Heero hadn't ended up thrust against the wall, his mouth being attacked passionately, he hadn't responded with something like he'd never felt for Relena.

He hadn't wondered why it was never like this with her, hadn't whispered 'I love you' when it was over, they hadn't ended up in a pile of sweaty limbs and Zechs hadn't whispered 'I love you' back. They hadn't made arrangements to meet the next day.

Heero hadn't gone half and hour early due to nervousness and anticipation only to find that Zechs was already there. It hadn't turned out like the previous day because Heero wasn't there and the previous day had never happened and neither did the next one or the next one or the next one.

It wasn't his one year anniversary with the man he loved because he wasn't in love with Zechs Marquise. He wasn't standing at Relena's side wishing he were at her brother's. He wasn't seeking him out in the crowded room to send silent apologies and make silent arrangements to meet the next day. He wasn't standing next to the wrong Peacecraft.

Heero Yuy is not in love with Zechs Marquise, he knows he isn't, he tells himself every day.

End Prologue

Denial Part 1

A Broken Fairy Tale

Relena's POV

Not many people have seen Heero Yuy like I have. I've seen him vulnerable and on the brink of death, just after he collapsed after the Mariemaia incident, I've seen him panic, I've seen him in the throws of passion. Not that it was my name he cried as he came though, no, that honour belongs to someone he should never have fallen for.

I don't think he thinks that I know, I don't even think that he knows just how deep his feelings go, he's happily living in a world of denial that he's not going to be leaving any time soon.

I just want to scream at him sometimes 'what were you thinking? How could you do this to me, to us?' I know though that love doesn't have to have a reason and it never follows logic, I had no business falling for him and now I'm paying the price, he's fallen for my brother.

I think I could have lived with that, I did, *do*, love him but I also know that for every second I stay he's moving one minute closer to, yet another, confrontation. At which time I will be forgotten completely and he'll spend as long as he's able in the arms of the man he's truly in love with.

I've heard his whispers as he dreams and I'm not so naïve as to think that they are innocent, Heero comes home to me, every night but it doesn’t stop him seeing my brother in his dreams. I've seen him break a little more each day that he's not with him and I've watched him grow more determined to ignore it. I've watched him become more of a stranger every day.

I'm watching him now, on that godforsaken laptop of his once again and I go to speak but the words freeze. I know this isn't what he truly wants and I know that for every second we continue to live in this charade our lives will be a little bit worse but it's not just our lives I have to consider now.

Why did I let it go this far? A stupid childish fantasy of ‘one day my prince will come?’ I didn't see the prince falling for the damsel's knightly brother in any of the fairy stories but maybe in one he should have, showing fools like me that it might not all work out in the end. I've known for so long and now it's too late, I've destroyed both of our lives and condemned us to a marriage that neither of us wanted in the first place.

I know what he's going to do as soon as he hears this and I know that I won’t argue, I know that Milliardo will hug me in congratulations and I know that he'll shake Heero's hand and warn him to look after me, his baby sister. Because Mill would never dream of hurting me intentionally.

He will hurt me though, because behind his warm smile I will also see the burning jealousy because I have given Heero something that he never could, no matter how much he wanted to. I'll have to live knowing that at least three lives have been destroyed because I waited too long to let him go and tell them that I knew. It’s clear that I don’t love either of them enough… because I'm still going to tell him. Even though I know that this will mean he'll never really get free, I'll tell him because I'm still holding onto something that's saying… that he does love me, that whatever he's feeling for my brother is lust or misplaced emotions or confusion or… anything but that one thing that I always wished he felt for me, love.

"Heero." He looks up, the white screen of the document he's working on reflecting on his face giving him an ethereal look. But there's a faint look of wonder on his face making me speculate over what he's working on or simply thinking about.

"What is it Relena?" Cool, crisp and clinical, everything that I expected from his response, not outwardly dismissing but not allowing me to get close, I doubt if he even notices he does it.

"I'm pregnant Heero." And his world comes tumbling down.

End Part 1


Denial Part 2

Too Late

Heero's POV

I can feel her eyes on me, she's playing with the hem of her dress, a nervous, teenage habit that she's never broken but then again she's still a teenager. We've all been through so much that it doesn't seem possible that thousands maybe millions of others our age are worrying about exams, girls, boys, the latest fashions and where to party at the weekend. That seems a lifetime away and it is.

They have no concerns, no worries, just the bliss that comes with knowing that for a bit longer you are allowed to remain the center of the universe. While Relena and I are sitting in the library of our manor home, I'm typing up a mission report that will somewhere need me to state that I killed four men this weekend and she's been leafing through the documents regarding the Preventer funding that her lawyers have sent her. They're concerned of the damage that could be done to her image if it were revealed just how much a pacifist princess was giving to an organisation that is the main point of employment for ex-soldiers.

She looks so small, so vulnerable and I know that, despite my feelings, I can never hurt her. I do love her as she very well knows, it was just my getting mixed up between what loving someone and what being in love with someone meant that's gotten us into this mess.

I couldn't break her, I've worked too hard to save her and maybe I'm being arrogant but I believe that this would shatter her. She’s dealt with a lot in her life and she was never trained to deal with it, being betrayed by the two people she trusts most may be just the last straw. Her husband and her brother, together, with each other. I couldn't do that to her, could I?

The adage says that if you love someone you let them go, it's obvious that that person had never had to do so. They can't have done since the mere though of giving up Zechs is causing me to feel as though my heart was just torn out of my chest. I can't give him up but I can't hurt her.

I can't give him up, I love him too much.

I've never said that before and accepted it, it was always muttered as though it was a dirty confession that was never meant to be said, I've seen the look in Milliardo's eyes each time I failed to make the connection and spot the difference between the way he says it, reverently, as though each syllable is made of gold, and the way I say it, never truly understanding it. I've seen the hope that appears each time before I say the words as he wonders if this time maybe I'll mean them, I've seen his eyes but I've never understood why he looks that way, not really.

I have to call him and tell him, tell him I've finally realised, finally worked out that I can't stay with Relena. I've been underestimating her, she's strong, she'll be fine eventually, she'll scream and cry and curse but she *will* be fine. She has to be.

I love Milliardo Peacecraft. I love him. I'm in love with Zechs Marquise. It's worth repeating.

The awe that comes with this realisation is interrupted as she speaks slowly, hesitantly, drawing my attention to her and I get the sudden feeling that life is about to change. "What is it Relena?"

Just how much becomes evident as she answers. "I'm pregnant Heero." My world turns to dust and I feel like I'm drowning as I realise just how far I've fallen and how much of a mistake I've made.

I love you Milliardo Peacecraft, Zechs Marquise, I honestly do.

I love you so much and I realised too late… I'm so sorry.

End Part 2


Denial Chapter 3

Just This Once

Zechs' POV

I remember the day I realised. Realised that I, Zechs Marquise, was in love with Heero Yuy, it was further back than you might imagine. Just after the conclusion of the first war I had time to look over my actions properly but as I studied and wondered whether mankind had finally learned it’s lesson my thoughts kept drifting back to the same thing. Heero Yuy.

It took me a long time to realise why. At first I pinned it down to old battle instincts and the knowledge that no one had ever *truly* won our duel, and then I saw him, just after the Mariemaia incident. He looked so small, lying in a Preventer-standard bed, tubes, wires and machines all over the place and I found myself realising that if he died I would have no qualms about following him.

Then my sister came in and I saw the engagement ring that adorned her finger.

We had no business falling for each other, not then, not after the war and especially not now, especially not when I'm holding my only Goddaughter with the care you would hold a priceless artifact made of the most delicate crystal. He's sitting beside me, smiling at his baby and for a moment I forget that my sleeping sister is in the room, for a moment I can believe that this is our baby, mine and Heero's.

Our baby, in a world where we can be together without life kicking us down yet again. Did we not give enough for this world? Is this our punishment for the things we’ve done, for the mistakes we’ve made? To watch for the rest of our lives as the existence we could, should have had slips away.

He watching his family knowing that he will never truly be happy but willing to sacrifice it one last time and me, on the outside looking in, watching them playing happy families, seeing the looks cast my way as Heero apologizes silently, yet again.

I love him, so why isn't that enough? Why, when we say it, aren't we transported into a world where we can live and be happy and where everything will work out, why when I open my eyes as I pull away from him am I still in the same darkened room, sneaking just a few more seconds before we have to leave and pretend to be 'just partners' again.

I remember the day he first, really, told me he loved me, he'd said it before, of course he had, but it was always mechanical, I don't think he knew what it really meant. Maybe that was why he stayed with my sister. Truly believing that the sweet caring that he always felt for her, even if he didn't know why, would be enough. Maybe that was why he looked so thunderstruck the first time I kissed him, just before he cut through my stammered apologies to silence me in the best way. I had been certain he was going to shoot me, I wouldn't have blamed him, maybe I deserved it, he would have been happy without me, never having to face the little voice in the back of his mind that told him that something was missing. If I'm arrogant enough to believe that I am that important of course, but I can only say what I felt for him.

Why couldn't we have been caught? I feel terrible for saying it, terrible for wishing that my sister's life be turned upside down and destroyed by two of the people who, despite themselves, care the most about her. Why couldn't she have found out? Why couldn't someone have told her? Then at least it will have all been out in the open, we could have stopped pretending. Why doesn't it always work out? Then again I suppose Relena would be saying the same.

Unable to stop myself I lean over and brush my lips against his, just once, and so slightly he may doubt that they were ever there at all. He looks up at me slowly and I see the same forlorn wishes in his own cobalt eyes, God I love him so much. Don't we deserve to be happy? Just this once?

End Part 3


Denial Part 4

Shattered Dreams

Relena’s POV

Despite my determination to not let them know that I was listening and watching I am unable to prevent the lone tear that falls down my cheek. Heero is staring in awe at the baby nestled in my brother’s arms but hidden behind his expression of wonder on his features is another, darker, more hidden emotion. Desperation, he loves his daughter, of that I have no doubt but he wants things to be as simple as they were before, before she was born, before he had to take into account the potential consequences on the tiny being that he helped create. When they could be together with no other obstacle than an unknowing wife and sister.

My husband and my brother. Almost nine months after I started to suspect and I still can’t really believe it. That’s why I stayed, that’s why I put up with nine months of wishing and hoping that one day he would turn and look at me with the same emotions evident on his face as he does when he looks at Milliardo. I can see now though it was a hopeless dream, you don’t find something like that every day.

In truth I’m still not certain how I missed it for so long, I spent so much time with the two of them, I was living with Heero by the time Milliardo returned and my brother quickly became a more than regular feature at out home. Our large home with many rooms, one perfect for unscheduled liaisons, you could look for someone for an hour in that house and never find them, I know, I’ve tried.

I realised for certain a month ago, exactly one month ago today I realised that I would have to let him go, to let them both go, I’ve put it off for a month, using my pregnancy as an excuse, I can’t delay it anymore.

Heero was injured on a mission last month and when I arrived at the hospital the first thing I saw was Milliardo, sitting in my place beside him, head resting on the bed while the heart monitor sent a steady reassuring beat around the room, their hands were lightly clasped even in sleep and for the first time I realised that love didn’t need heavy words to be real, didn’t need any of the labels I had placed on it in order to exist, love just... was.

I exited the room silently and walked down the corridor again before coming back again, making quite a bit more noise this time, by the time I entered the room they had separated, Milliardo sitting far back in the chair and Heero still, presumably, asleep. I smiled sadly at him, at both of them, knowing that I truly had lost this time. Milliardo jumped to his feet and hastily guided me to the chair, scolding me for being on my feet while eight months pregnant.

He fussed and reassured while I fought tears. He assumed I was worried about Heero and I let him, in truth I knew Heero would be fine; he had someone to come back for. How could I have been so blind? How could I have ever imagined that Heero would look at me with the same look of veneration that he always reserved for Milliardo? How could I have been naïve enough to imagine that they would have curbed their meetings when I was pregnant, they needed each other, two sides of a coin, one’s not whole or real without the other.

The first word from my husband’s lips when he awoke was his name, not mine or even ‘mission’ but a soft, hoarsely whispered ‘Mill...?’

I knew then, my brother had replaced the mission in my husband’s eyes, that’s something that even I could never compete with.

Dragged back to the present I see the brushed kiss that Milliardo places on Heero’s soft lips, it’s so slight I’m not entirely sure that he did kiss him but even if I could mistake that, there’s no mistaking the expression on Heero’s face as he looks up, love... Love so intense that I finally understand what it means to see something so pure it’s painful.

In the mirror by my bed I see Heero cast a wary glance in my direction before mouthing, ‘ai shiteru,’ silently. They look like a family and the emotions and connections between them are nearly tangible. They both cast a wary glance at me and then at the door, both watching and listening for intruders that only they would notice and then they kiss.

Kiss... such an inconsequential word for what it is that I’m witnessing. For what they’re doing goes far beyond that and the very last hope, a hope that I didn’t even realise that I’d been hanging on to, goes out of the window. There is no way that this could ever be classified as lust, caring or even a practiced fondness. This shows the kind of devotion and need for someone that I would never have imagined Heero as capable of, certainly he never demonstrated something like this with me but then he wouldn’t, would he? He’s never really trusted me enough. He never would have allowed himself to become that vulnerable with me, he couldn’t, I just wouldn’t understand.

I stare again at them as they break apart, I don’t concentrate on their, slightly laboured, breathing or the gentle flush on their cheeks, I watch the adoring smiles that break across both of their faces and I finally realise that its not that I’ve lost, it’s that they’ve won.

Feeling the weight I didn’t know I was carrying lift off my shoulders I turn around slowly to face them.

End Part 4


Denial Part 5

Finally Waking

Heero's POV

'Did she see us?' the thought flashes through my mind again and again, it seems to be stuck on repeat, I can see the same notion and it's consequences playing out in Zechs' mind too and I'm partly relieved to realise that I'm not the only one on the verge of panicking.

What if she had? I'm vaguely ashamed to realise that I would feel relief over any other emotion, relief that it was over, relief that I didn't have to lie any more, relief that I could finally be with Zechs. Then I look at my baby, the little human being lying in my lover's arms, something so unbelievably perfect… even though she's half mine and I realise, selfishly, that I can never give her up.

She can't have seen, can she? She's smiling, watching me with love in her eyes. Slowly she tilts her face and I realise, in abject horror, that she wants a kiss. A split-second later I replay that thought. Horror? I had never reviewed kissing my wife as being such a distasteful pastime, I would rather have been kissing someone else yes, or even not kissing at all but horror had never come into it.

Slowly I begin to realise that kissing her would completely butcher and taint the one that Zechs and I just shared. Two actions, so similar and yet with a world separating them.

She's still waiting, watching me expectantly and I lean in, hesitantly. Beside me I feel Zechs turn away, to give us a semblance of privacy? Or because he simply cannot watch? At the last second I turn away and she pulls back, an unreadable expression on her face.

I shouldn't be doing this here, I shouldn't be doing this now but out of nowhere a thousand different emotions are flying through my head, regret, disbelief, sorrow, relief, joy, panic… I don't know where they've all come from and I can't even begin to make sense of them all, only one sentence is clear out of the chaos, 'I can't do this anymore.'

"Do what?"

Abruptly I realise that I've said that out loud, Relena is watching me with a faint expression of hurt on her face and Zechs has turned back round. He's staring at me, an odd mixture of terror, hope, anticipation and disbelief in his eyes.

"I…" I search my mind for the appropriate response and I can't find the words, I was never good at this at the best of times, Relena's still watching me, the hurt remains on her face but there's another emotion in her eyes, something I can't identify at the minute.

Desperately I turn to my lover who sends all his love and trust in one glance, 'do what you think, I'll understand either way, I'll love you either way.' That more than anything else decides me.

"I can't do this anymore Relena. I can't live a lie any longer, I'm so sorry I never meant for this to happen and, despite that, I can't even say I regret it because what I have was worth every second, It wasn't supposed to work out this way but it has and I'm sorry but I can't do this to either of you anymore.

I'm so sorry. I love my daughter, I've loved her ever since you told me about her and I can't bring her back to a house that's filled with so many lies. I'm not in love with you anymore Relena, I'm not sure I ever was, I do love you but I can never be who you need me to be."

It's like I'm watching myself, in my mind I've told her one hundred times but I never thought I'd actually do it and I'm not thinking either, I'm just talking. The carefully worded speeches that I've planned have been forgotten about and I'm just talking, apologising from the thing that got me into this mess in the first place, my heart.

She's staring at me but she doesn't speak, she doesn't even look surprised, just waits in a kind of horrified stupefaction for my next words, Zechs is staring too. I've never told him how close I came to telling her, just before I found out that she was pregnant, I never told him about all the times after when I thought about it, for him this has come completely out of the blue and he looks thunderstruck.

"I'm in love with someone else Relena. At first I thought this was lust or desire or… something but then I came to realise that almost every thing I did was aimed at seeing him, hearing him laugh, making him smile. That he was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I though about when I went to sleep. I can't pretend anymore Relena, I don't want to hurt you and I am so sorry but I don't deserve you…"

"Who?" She croaks the word out and I jump, not having expecting this. I can't say the words, they'd have sounded wrong in the white hospital room. In answer I place my hand over her brother's while he alternates between watching me and watching her.

Pain flashes across her features and then it gradually begins to be replaced by a vague approval. Absently she shakes her head and then turns to her brother, "do you love him?"

The question catches us both by surprise as Zechs gapes at her for a few seconds, struggling to find the words before settling for the simplest answer but somehow managing to convey a million responses in it, "Yes."

"I just…" She doesn't appear to be completely certain what she's trying to say and I watch her anxiously, worriedly. I didn't expect this reaction, I expected disbelief, anger, hurt… "I just needed to see, I needed to know, if you really did… If you loved him more that you did me. I needed to see if you'd deny him again just to protect a sham marriage. I needed to see if you loved him enough…"

Her head's bowed and Zechs and I exchange worried glances just before she looks up again, her eyes are shining with unshed tears but there's something else there as well, acceptance. "I love you both," she continues and she catches us by surprise again and it hits me that she knew, I don't know how long for but she knew. Maybe not everything, maybe not of every meeting and every stolen kiss but…

Persisting, despite the hitch in her voice, Relena carries on speaking, "and if you love and need each other that much then I can't stand in your way, I won't deny you this chance, I can't deny you this. I just want you to be happy."

She finishes with a whisper before holding her hands out expectantly, she wants her baby. I feel another stab of panic run through me as Zechs pulls his hand out from under mine and careful hands her to her mother. Relena can't take my baby from me, she wouldn't do that, would she?

Almost if she can read my mind and after this long I wouldn't be surprised if she could my wife reassures me quietly. "I have no intention of taking her away Heero, I don't know how this is going to work but she's still your daughter. I knew you didn't love me and that's not your fault," smiling humourlessly suddenly she allows a small piece of her anger and hurt to show through, "as much as I might want to blame you. I know I can't force you to love me if you don't but I had to check first, I had to check that it wasn't just a lack of options or the absence of common sense. I had to know what you were willing to risk for him."

She looks down at the babe that is somehow managing to sleep through this life-changing scene, shouldn't she be awake, this affects her too, it somehow seems wrong that so many people should be so unaware of these life-altering events that are occurring in the private suite at the end of the Preventer hospital wing corridor. I'm so filled with the relief that I'm not going to lose her that I don't even really consider this. It still feels though, like people will know, they'll know something is going on, this will make the front page of every newspaper on planet and off and will probably sell more papers than when they were reporting on our wedding. Lives are changing, paths set in stone are being remade and no one knows.

Relena lies back on the pillows, her eyes closed and I'm struck by how young she really is, barely nineteen years old. Meeting me threw away any semblance of a childhood she may still have had and loving someone who was incapable of loving her back meant that the last hope that everything would work out in the end, the last childish fantasy she might have hung onto has been cruelly shattered. God I'm sorry Relena.

"How long have you…?" Zechs hesitates, wondering how to finish the sentence but wanting to know too. He's come to the same conclusion I did, she knew.

"How long have I suspected, how long have I known or how long have I understood properly?" Not waiting for a reply she sweeps on quickly, as though worried that if she doesn't say it then she never will, "I've suspected for about a year now, before I found out that I was pregnant, all I had to base it on were suspicions and the looks you two kept giving each other. I've known for a month now but I only really accepted it just there now, the last shred of hope that I may have been imagining it or that I may have mistaken it was swept away when you told me how you felt."

"I'm…"

"Don't apologise, you're in love, I hear that people in love do notoriously stupid things." She laughs bitterly, before sighing. "I'm sorry I never noticed. I should have seen it, I should have said something. I obviously couldn't leave it up to you could I? I should have told you but then again I doubt you'd have believed me. I meant what I said before, I love you both so much and I'm glad that you told me rather than letting me ask, I'm glad you're happy, you deserve it."

She means it, I can see it in her eyes she means every word she's saying. I'm struck by the horrible thought that this may be a dream, nothing like this happens in real life does it? Not to us anyway.

This is too real to be a dream though, I can hear sounds in the background, sounds that I never noticed before but am now latching onto just so I can believe that this is real, that this isn't going to go away when I open my eyes, that I wont wake up beside my heavily pregnant wife while my lover risks his life on, yet another, dangerous mission.

This is real.

Somehow while I've been lost in my thoughts Zechs' hand has found mine and he's stroking it gently. I cast a worried look at Relena and I see her smiling, looking tired but peaceful. She's clearly nearly asleep. I carefully remove the baby from her arms and as such I'm just close enough to hear her last murmur before she falls into slumber.

"I love you."

End Part 5


Denial Part 6

Differences

Zechs' POV

"You chose me."

It's almost a month later but I still don't really believe it, most mornings I awake thinking that the warmth of his body is yet another cruel illusion conjured by my overactive mind to torture me through my waking hours and give some semblance of comfort during those when I am sleeping.

A month since Heero's confession that was going to shock the world. I don't think any of us had truly anticipated how big the news was going to be. There were allegations, rumours of infidelity, rumours of an arranged marriage to produce an heir that neither of them had wanted, rumours that it was all a cover up for some nefarious scheme, everyone had a theory of why the golden couple had broken up. I don't think anyone expected the truth though.

Then we got careless, over two years of secrets and carefully planned meetings ruined by one innocent kiss caught on camera. The fall-out was instant and catastrophic. That one grainy picture that had been taken was shown on every news channel and in every newspaper that had managed to get hold of a copy.

The husband and the brother, together. The world went mad with sympathy for their queen. Rumours started and escalated of a relationship before the first war ended, that he was the real reason I left, that he was the reason I came back. A full interview with Relena was what finally got the whispers to stop. When she stated, quite firmly, that she did not have a problem with our relationship, that she was ecstatic for us and that anyone who had a problem would have to deal with her and her staff suing them for slander and harassment the voices silenced quickly.

I'll never forget the day after the news broke though, everyone had known about the divorce but very few knew the reasons for it, the pilots, Dorothy, Sally, Noin and Lady Une were the only ones on the planet who were graced with an explanation when they questioned the motive.

They found out two weeks before the rest of the world did and they heard it from us and Relena when they showed up to visit baby Alyssa. Meaning 'truth' ironically enough, Relena named her, she said it was a new start for all of us, being honest this time. My sister's 'hi come in and by the way we're getting a divorce,' rolling her eyes at mine and Heero's startled faces as she continued, not missing a beat, 'oh for crying out loud you two, if you can tell me you can certainly tell them,' seemed to shake them a bit but at least they could see that the split was amicable. Good job too, I don't think that even Heero and I would have stood a chance if we had been attacked by four gundam pilots, several irate friends, a doctor in charge of our general health and an ex-OZ commander all at the same time, all intent on revenge for a friend.

Their reactions were amusing when I think about them now, it seems so long ago. Wufei exploded, cursing us both loudly and describing, in very clear terms, what 'dishonourable assholes' he thought we both were for doing this to her. He continued in that vain for sometime until Relena hit him and got him to shut up long enough for her to explain the situation. Trowa's reaction should have been what gave us an indication to just how big this news was going to be, if we could shock the green-eyed pilot then we should have known it would blow everyone else away. Quatre looked shocked, then understanding and then guilty for not realising sooner and, once he checked that everyone really was alright, he wished us well. I should have expected his guilt I suppose, Heero said that Duo had told him once that, if they would let him, Quatre would blame himself for the lack of oxygen in space. I must say I agree with him. Duo's reaction was reassuringly typical, once he'd checked that Relena was alright he threatened me if I ever hurt Heero, threatened Heero if he ever hurt me, threatened Wufei if he spoke another word and then hugged us both, mock-wiping tears from his eyes as he did so.

The other reactions rated somewhere in between, Sally's was the only one that varied, remarking that she was sick of the good lucking ones turning out gay, with a pointed look to the other pilots who had the grace to look embarrassed.

The day that *everyone* knew though I've never been stared at so much in my life, both of us were used to it, Heero as the husband of a former queen and me as the former OZ leader, now Preventer agent, brother to Relena and Heero Yuy Peacecraft Darlian but neither of us were used to this. When we walked through the doors the conversation stopped, even the other pilots were looking at us strangely, I don't think they could believe that we'd been quite so stupid. It died down though, no one had the guts to stare at us for too long, too terrified about what we might do to them if they upset us. Most agents were still extremely, and rightfully, wary of us, none of them had forgotten our actions during the war.

"I can't believe you picked me."

The whisper is near silent but if he'd been awake he still would have heard me. He's not awake though, he's unconscious, yet again, this time he pushed a civilian out the path of a speeding bullet and placed himself neatly in front of it. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew if he really wanted to he could do a much better job at killing himself I'd swear he was trying to get away from me. As it is though the bullet only just caught him and the only reason he's still in here is because Sally insisted on a blood transfusion.

If it wasn't for a few tiny details I'd swear it was a month before the baby was born, the last time we were here like this, I sat with him, watching him sleep, listening as the beep that was rapidly becoming more familiar echoed round the room. I was stroking his hand, much like I am now, then though I was anxiously listening for every sound for the inevitable moment when I would have to let go and pretend that my concern was just for a partner. Feeling that I didn't have as much right to worry as the others did. The other of course is the absence of a wedding ring on his left hand.

The continuing beep that fills the room reminds me of something he told me a long time ago, that the noise reminds him of J's tests when he was younger and the days that he spent, half-conscious when they tried to knock him out, in OZ labs. I was horrified when I heard. He wont let me tell Sally though, she knows how capable he is at faking his well-being and he's promised her that he wont interfere with her monitors, this makes her feel better about his health, she's still terrified that something that happened to him during the wars is going to show up, even after all this time. Heero isn't worried though and that means that I'm not too panicked, though accepting the word of someone who sets his own broken leg probably isn't the wisest thing to do. It's not that he means to lie, it's just that he doesn't have a normal person's perspective of what counts as being ‘alright’.

I'm amazed sometimes, just how far from his training he's broken. Not that long ago he wouldn't have dreamed of caring about someone as he does me or promising an ex-alliance doctor of all things that he wouldn't interfere with the machines, let alone let her keep monitoring him.

Slowly I run my hand over his forehead brushing away the unruly tendrils that always refuse to behave before reaching into my pocket and pulling out a box, I open it and smile at the sight inside then I ask the question that I've never gotten up the courage to ask when he was awake, I couldn't, the memories of what happened last time he did this are too clear, he won’t want to risk this now and I wouldn't put him in the position where he has to say 'no', it'll be time eventually though and I'll wait till then… but maybe if I ask him enough when he can't hear me, when it's time to really ask I'll be able to.

"I love you and I know it's not the time to ask but would you marry me Heero Yuy?" Leaning over I gently kiss my sleeping lover, almost jumping as he starts to respond slowly, startled I move to pull away but he stops me. He's smiling but still I watch him warily, almost scared of the answer.

"I love you too and yes, of course I'll marry you."

Owari



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