The Blood of Peace
Second Movement, the Eighth Part: Staccato
Heero, Duo, Quatre and WuFei sat in a circle in Heero's room. The tableau was so similar to the scenes from their lives before the mission. Yet they were one short. Duo opened the conversation.
"Hey, Quatre, sorry about tackling you like that before. I was just really happy to see you, that's all."
Quatre blushed furiously. He had not minded that Duo had nearly knocked him senseless by diving into him, but he had been terribly embarrassed that it had been a half naked Duo who had been very, er, excited. Even though both Heero and Duo were fully dressed now, the embarrassment was still present.
"Um, that's fine, Duo. I'm ah, glad to see you too. Sorry to have walked in on you guys like that. We knocked but there was no noise and WuFei had said that you guys were in there, so. Um, sorry, again."
Quatre blushed furiously yet again, his statements having brought back the very heated scene that he had walked into moments before. All he had made out was a tangled set of limbs and bared torsos. WuFei still looked amused, however.
"I guess you two had long enough keeping your hands to each other, right?" WuFei chuckled amiably as he put his two cents into the conversation. "The look on your faces, it was priceless!" WuFei continued his cackling as the three other boys in the room stared at him. And of course, it would be Duo who put WuFei into his place.
"So, WuFei, where's your guest? Is she roaming the castle without you today?"
At the mention of Meiran, WuFei immediately ceased his laughing and looked annoyed. That girl, she would probably be the death of him. A painful, slow death.
"She's having woman troubles today or something. She told me to get lost or she would do something horrendous to me. So I left her alone."
WuFei was the one blushing now while the others laughed. He could deal with men threatening him with bodily harm because he could beat the living daylights out of them. But when a cranky female with girly problems threatened him, then well, he did the only thing every other male would have done. He ran. Duo, however, must have thought differently.
"WuFei, you actually ran away. From a threat! I never thought I'd see the day. Gods, I wish I had been there to hear that one. What did she say, exactly?"
Turning up his nose, WuFei replied rather airily. Certain things, after all, should not be said in any company, even if the company was his brothers.
"I'm not going to say. It is too crude. You may have appreciated it, Duo, since shocking and crude are right up your ally."
So the boys laughed a little more at WuFei's expense. WuFei looked offended, that was a given, but deep inside, he was glad that he was back with his brothers, laughing at misfortunes. Then Heero broke the light mood.
"Quatre, where is Trowa? You have not told us what happened to him."
The mood became somber and a little nervous. Duo was afraid of what he might hear. Trowa could not have gotten himself captured or killed – those possibilities were not even worth considering. When Quatre fidgeted and did not answer right away, Duo had to jump in or die from not knowing.
"Quatre, did you leave Trowa in the wilderness or something? Did you two have some spat and you decided to come before him, right? He's right behind you, probably at the castle gates right now, demanding to be let in so he could settle that matter between you two, right?"
Quatre looked up at Duo. Poor Duo, he was trying so hard not to look apprehensive that his sentences were pouring out of him without much coherency. But he had promised Trowa that he would tell their brothers of what was going on, even if none of them could understand it. So, clamping down on his stomach which had butterflies the size of mountain cats beating on kettle drums, Quatre tried to clarify Trowa's position without making it look too harsh.
"Trowa, he decided to stay in Oz. He's not returning. He has his reasons, I'm sure. We can trust his judgment."
Quatre could feel the others' surprise and dismay. Their emotions were rolling off them like waves and Quatre felt nearly nauseous by the sheer amount of negative emotions. Shock, dismay, disappointment. Then strangely and fortunately, the feelings dissipated and only acceptance was left. Relieved, Quatre tried to relay Trowa's messages.
"He said that he's doing this as Master of Whispers. He has a plan, something that would help us out. I just know it."
"You're right, Quatre. I trust Trowa to make the right decisions. I just hope that he's safe. I heard that Lady Une was a hard ass."
Duo's quiet comment laced with humor was just what was needed. Instantaneously, the mood lightened and smiles lit up everyone's faces. All of them knew that they could trust Trowa, no matter what. They just needed to worry about him a bit more, that was all. Quatre sat and smiled while the others started to talk about the things they had seen during their missions. He was relieved that the acceptance had come, glad that his brothers had an unbreakable bond. He should have known from the beginning, of course, but uncertainties and doubts were part of human nature. Quatre perked up and paid attention to Duo ribbing WuFei about Meiran, the girl. He still had no idea who she was.
"WuFei, who is this girl, Meiran? Why is she here?"
"That's right! You weren't here when WuFei tried to explain the situation! Man, you'd found it so funny, WuFei stammering about crazy girls with insane agendas and Meiran shrieking about WuFei's oversized ego and undersized manho-"
"Shut up DUO! Why must you make everything so base?"
Duo and WuFei immediately launched into another verbal spar session, oblivious to Quatre who looked on. Quatre and Heero's eyes met over the arguing pair and both laughed out loud. The tension was releasing itself all at once, and finally, something akin to relaxation seemed possible. Then Quatre remembered that Trowa had asked him to deliver a message to Heero. So he would, as soon as his brothers stopped throwing creative insults at each other.
Heero sensed that Quatre had something to say so he silenced Duo and WuFei. Since Heero had learned long ago that mere words would not stop these two, he achieved his objective by throwing two small figurines on his desk at their heads. Both of them caught the objects out of the air and turned to look at Heero. Finally, they had stopped the talking.
"About time you guys stopped all that nonsense, since Quatre has something important to say."
Heero's voice carried a bit of reprimand. WuFei looked properly chastised but Duo grinned and just stuck his tongue out at him.
"Well, Quatre, now that you got our attention, what did you have to say?", Duo asked cheekily.
"Trowa asked me to deliver a message. To Heero, to all of you. I don't understand it yet, but I know I will when we discuss it. Anyway, Trowa said that sometimes, betrayals were the purest forms of trust. It seems paradoxical to me, but I know Trowa meant it to make sense. What do you think, Heero?"
"Trowa can be trusted. No matter what. That's all we need to know."
Heero's short statement put Quatre at ease. Trowa did say that Heero would understand, but Quatre was a worrier. He worried about everything, so why not this? WuFei merely nodded his head and accepted without hesitation. It was Duo, however, who surprised them again with his insight.
"I agree that Trowa can be trusted. Trowa's right, you know. Sometimes, duty demands that you abandon your comrades or betray them to achieve its true objective. To trust someone with betrayal may be the hardest thing of all. To take on that responsibility, that may be the bravest thing I can think of doing."
The three of them looked at Duo. He was playing with the end of his braid, contemplating it seriously, as words flowed out in a soothing tone. He continued while the others looked on, mesmerized by his voice.
"You see, betrayal is the one thing that people cannot forgive. It is the vilest crime of all, worse than murder, worse than anything else you can think of, because it is a violation of trust, of the mind, the soul. And Trowa will betray us and debase himself beyond comprehension for his duty, for us. So I trust him. And I pity him. Our poor brother Trowa, doing what's best, all for duty. I am in awe of his determination."
When Duo's words died away, there was nothing but silence. In this absence of sound, the four boys prayed for Trowa's sanity and return and hoped that they would not have to come to a point where Heero would have to send Duo out to kill him. After all, everyone had their separate duties.
Milliardo sat and stared at Treize. Ever since his enforced guest right in the palace, Treize had insisted that they meet everyday to talk about this war. It was always the same topic, but with different angles. And every time they talked, Milliardo left feeling more confusion because Treize was so convincing. Peace and war. They were one package. He could not honestly call himself a pacifist without knowing war, he had to admit. But that did not mean he had to go and kill massive numbers of people to learn about war. It didn't, it couldn't. But Treize, he was so devoted to his ideals, so determined in his course of action that Milliardo almost felt persuaded. So close, but he hung onto whatever ideas he had about peace by remembering his gentle sister. What would she say, what would she do if she ever found out that he was contemplating Treize's version of war and peace? She would forgive him, she could forgive anything, but she would be so hurt and sad. And he had promised his parents that his only concern would be Relena, her life before his, her happiness before everything. Lost in thought, Milliardo barely caught Treize's questioning gaze directed at him. He must have been silent for a while this time around.
"So, what do you want to say to me today, Treize? More war? You still want to tell me that it's a necessary venture for peace?"
Smiling slightly, Treize assessed Milliardo. He was very close to becoming like him, he was sure. Everyday the confusion mounted in his once sure blue eyes and every time he saw Milliardo, the hostility level lessened and the talks became more conversational than lecturing. Treize was finally close to what he wanted – for Milliardo Peacecraft to become his ally in this war. But he needed one final push to guarantee Milliardo's participation in this war as he wanted. The one stumbling block that proved to be harder than any other – not his dedication to peace, not his loyalties to Sanque, but his love for his sister. If Milliardo could be convinced that this war would benefit his sister, then he would join the war effort on the side of Oz.
"Milliardo, if you don't mind, I'd rather not talk about the war today. Rather, I would ask, how is your sister doing through this ordeal? I can't believe that she is well."
Treize's concern was genuine, even if it was swaddled in ulterior motives. Because Milliardo was worried about his sister and wished to talk about it, he decided to answer in the same civil tone.
"She is heart broken, I hear. Noin received the only letter allowed us and it said that Relena was feeling confused and hurt by this whole situation. She is convinced that you are keeping me hostage to exchange me for surrender of Sanque. Of course, she won't surrender to you. Sanque means more to her than me, as it should. So, if you are so worried about my sister's well being, you should really let me go back to her."
"No, Ambassador Milliardo, I think not. We need to come to an understanding before you can leave. But I am sorry she is not taking your status as a guest here as well as I had hoped. One of the risks of sending ambassadors into potentially hostile nation is that the person would be held hostage in case of actual aggression. She must have known that when she made her decision."
Treize was making too much sense again and Milliardo found himself lacking proper answers. Every time he tried to discomfit Treize, the emperor somehow found a way to turn it around on him.
"Maybe she knew, but that doesn't mean she has to like the reality of it. You are not attacking Sanque with your army, are you? What is the harm in me going back to her?"
"There may be no harm, but definitely no benefits. You see, I heard that she left for Earthian, probably to be with her fiance, Heero of Earthian. So even if I let you go, you would be returning to Earthian, not Sanque. Technicalities aside, I would ask you to consider my request to stay in Oz as one of my generals. It's not a mocking request, but a serious one. I admire your abilities as a soldier. It should not go to waste to defend a rancid peace that has been cultivated so far. Your skills should be used to forge a new destiny for mankind."
Treize covered so many things in his one small speech that Milliardo nearly lost the thread of the conversation. So, Relena went to be with Heero, which made him feel better. At least in Earthian, she would be well protected by expert warriors. And that other thing, the fact that Treize was literally begging him to become a general in the Oz army, that was a puzzling aspect of the whole hostage situation. Why would someone want to entrust a large portion of his army to an enemy who could turn right around and use it against him?
"You're thinking too hard again, Ambassador Milliardo. Consider this. If you become the general of my army and serve Oz and humanity well, we could conquer Space in a matter of weeks. Then there would be peace, your sister would not need to worry anymore about wars. My plan is to make your sister my bride after the continent is one. Isn't that sufficient for you to align your mind with mine? She would be the Queen of the World, a leader of prominent background and a potent future. I would be war, she would be peace, and Mariemeia the revolution to follow. We would be a perfect circle."
That last bit was such a shock that Milliardo nearly fell out of his chair. Treize's bride? His sister? Treize waited for the shock to wear off and then continued.
"What I propose is not that strange. I need a queen to help me lead, to help educate Mariemeia. Your sister, Relena, is an extremely capable woman for both things. If she was willing to merge Sanque to Earthian, why is it so preposterous for her to merge with Oz? I have heard from certain sources that prince Heero does not love her or regard her well. I would love your sister as a man would, respect and admire her. I would give her the world to preach peace and make her dreams come true. Is that not what would make her happy? Am I not handing you your sister's future happiness?"
Milliardo's head spun and he saw the room spinning crazily. Treize wanted to marry Relena. That was how he planned to conquer Sanque. But what he said, it made sense. She was going to merge Sanque with Earthian through this marriage anyhow. But how often had she said that Heero made her happy, that she loved him with all her heart? The confused questions chased each other in his head. If Relena was here, would she agree with Treize? Deep in thought, Milliardo did not see Treize get up from his seat and leave the room, leaving him alone in the vast study. Yes, Milliardo thought, Heero did not really care for his sister as he should. He had gathered that much from Heero's lack of attention to his sister during their visit and the infrequency of his letters when his sister wrote him constantly. If Relena married Heero, she would too soon realize that he did not love her as she loved him. And besides, Relena's chief goal was to achieve peace in the whole continent. What Treize proposed sounded more plausible, more sensible than what Relena was doing with Earthian. His sister would hate him for his betrayal, but she would understand. And she would forgive. Milliardo Peacecraft made up his mind. To the empty study, he made his pronouncement.
"I, Milliardo Peacecraft, denounce my position in Sanque as Prince Consort. I will no longer carry the name Peacecraft. From now on, I will be Zechs Marquise, a general of Oz. I do this for my sister, Relena Peacecraft, my one mission and care in life."
Then Zechs Marquise stood from his chair and walked out of the room. No one would notice the lone tear that trickled from his once bright and caring eyes.