by Dev-Aki Basaa
Heero halted and cringed. Too often, Idande reminded him of the early days of knowing Relena - she hovered, she stalked, she stuck her nose in where it didn't belong. Some moments were like stepping back in time.
Idande was pretty and popular with Reth's group. She had wavy strawberry blonde hair that hung to her shoulders, streaked with red dye to match Nodin. Her figure curved full and buxom, complete with tattoos - a hummingbird sipping from a lily on her left forearm and a ring of ivy around her right upper arm - and a gold ball through her right nostril. She was an ideal of this society and many men were jealous of Nodin's good fortune. But that was all them. Heero could only see her as a nuisance and a potential threat and liability. He didn't turn around at her call.
She caught up with him and stood behind him, waiting for some kind of acknowledgement, most likely. He had no intention. He had been heading southeast, there was no reason to alter course yet. He didn't have to make eye contact to tell her he didn't know where Nodin was.
He could just tell her the truth. It wouldn't have a negative bearing on the mission, in fact, it would improve circumstances, pushing her out of the picture. There was no standing order from Zechs regarding how to handle her and Keb was supposed to be harsh - maybe even as honest as Duo, giving his character that much more depth. And there was no concern with Idande breaking up the intimate moment - that's where the resemblance to Relena ended. Relena would probably storm into the private room and demand answers - she practically had with him and Duo - but Idande just didn't have that in her. Her elimination would be simple.
"Please, Keb," she said, "where is Nodin?"
Heero turned, prepared to snap, 'He's gone to screw Reth,' but his glare fell on her hopeful expression, wide-eyed and pained and he knew he couldn't do it. K'so! He could almost hear Duo laughing at his inability to be cruel to this girl.
'There's a gentleman in there, yet, Hee-chan,' he'd say, probably poking him in the chest. 'First you spoil Mari to excess, now you can't threaten to kill young girls, next you'll be walking little old lady Une across the street.'
Heero shook his head, hiding the smile the thought of Duo brought to his lips.
"I don't know where he is," he answered instead, shrugging and returning to his original trajectory. He slowed when he felt her slim fingers grab at the cuff of his t-shirt and stopped in anticipation when she gave it a yank. He didn't have enough shirts to let her rip this one.
"Keb," she said again, a touch of whine in her tone. "I... I..." then her voice choked off and Heero closed his eyes with a wince. She was crying. He didn't have a clue of what to do with crying females. Even Duo, who seemed able to handle *any* social situation, was lost when they began to cry. Once, they'd rescued a girl involved in a hostage situation. While Wufei and Zechs apprehended the gunman, he and Duo got the girl out of harm's way. She'd been level headed the whole time, following instructions easily, but once she was outside and safe, she'd curled into Duo's arms and started crying, hands fisted into his jacket. Duo'd had that 'deer caught in the headlights' sort of look about him, hands hovering over her shoulders as if contemplating either pulling her to him or shoving her away. He had kept shooting Heero looks of panic with little non-verbal pleas for help. Heero had just thrown up his hands and walked away, equally as lost for what to do. In his retreat, he'd found Sally and suggested she go save Duo. She had laughed, but hurried off to do just that.
Now it was his turn. Idande sobbed again, gripping his t-shirt harder. Heero sighed, reaching back to loosen her fingers from his shirt and then turned, trying to decide what he should do. He never had the opportunity. Without invitation, Idande crashed into him, her hands fisting into his shirt, just as that girl they'd rescued had. He could feel her tears soak through the material, dampening his chest. He looked around, but there was no Sally or Duo to save him. No one stopped to take notice, going on with their business, leaving Heero alone to contend with her.
"He's with Reth, isn't he," she whispered, rolling her forehead back and forth across his collarbone. So much for lying to her, she was less clueless than he'd given her credit for. She sobbed again, falling limp in his arms and Heero had no choice but to wrap his arms around her to keep her from crumbling to the dirt floor.
He didn't confirm her correct suspicion; he didn't have to. He just held her because there was nothing left to do. Her voice calmed, her sobs turning to sighs. She placed her head higher on his shoulder, resting there. Heero hoped this would end soon. He had things to do. Besides his regularly allotted assignments that was a part of being in the group (Watch duty. Again), he made a daily sweep of his and Zechs' quarters for possible bugging and a thorough check that neither he nor Zechs left anything around to indicate their deception. He'd begun to wonder if there was a typically appropriate length of time for this 'comfort' thing when he felt her lips press against his neck. Her breath was hot to his skin, then she exhaled, causing him to shudder.
"Keb," she answered, as she lifted her head and traced his jaw line with her lips.
"What are you doing?"
Idande slipped her arms around to Heero's back, stroking lightly, her legs shifting to press her body closer to him. She stood so one of his legs was between hers and then she pressed her crotch to his thigh. Heero's mind scrambled to catch up. How could she switch from a tearful mess to this so quickly!?
"Make love to me, Keb. Make me feel wanted; make me feel like a woman."
Nani!? Idande rubbed her body against him, just slight movements, but enough to remind him how long it'd been since he'd had Duo in his arms, let alone writhing beneath him. He groaned as her hand slipped down, brushing against his growing arousal. This was very bad. He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her away from him, holding her at an arms' length.
"This will not work."
"So you reject me too?" she said, that teary-eyed look returning to her face, moisture collecting on her eyelashes. Not again. Heero shook his head, silently cursing Zechs for even making her a factor in all of this.
"Listen to me. Get away from Nodin. He's not to be trusted. *I'm* not to be trusted. I'm sorry you feel rejected, but it's better this way. Be glad you're rid of him now because it would have happened eventually regardless."
She drew a sharp breath. "He's in love with Reth, isn't he."
Heero growled to himself, why must she complicate this? "I don't know," he said through clenched teeth. "It doesn't matter. Just do as I say. Forget Nodin." He paused, waiting for some kind of acknowledgement from her. She just stared back at him, blinking owlishly.
"Nod or something! Do you understand?"
She nodded, but her whole body spoke of uncertainty. He released her, waiting for her to walk away or go find a seat or do anything. When she didn't move, he did, turning around and making a straight shot for his quarters, rushing to not only complete his daily sweep, but also to relieve his sexual frustration. He couldn't take much more of these complications. The sooner this mission was over the better - even if disaster awaited its climax.
Zechs released a slow breath as the screen before him flashed and changed.
'Message sent,' it read.
It was done. He'd leaked Heero's message; the wheels were in motion. Their hope now lay with Preventers. He wasn't worried, at least, not about that.
Zechs glanced behind him, reaching up to push a lock of red hair off his bare shoulder. Reth still lay in bed, sound asleep, the soft white sheets tangled around his waist and legs. The dimmed lights gave the room a warm orange glow and made Reth's skin appear honeyed, golden, as if he absorbed the colors right from the fixtures.
He looked beautiful. But not innocent - not the way Treize used to look, deep in sated sleep.
It seemed as though through their lovemaking, Treize would fall into a slumber where all the things he'd ever seen, all the things he'd ever done or intended to do were washed away with their passion. If only for that time. It was then that he looked like the sensitive, affectionate young man he'd known as a youth, and Zechs - no, Milliardo - would let him sleep, watching over him, appreciating an innocence he himself had never known. Revenge had jaded him far sooner than Romefeller had jaded Treize.
Zechs shook his head. They had been so doomed from the start.
But Reth... Zechs turned a bit more in his seat, pulling the small blanket he'd taken from the bed tighter around his waist and watching the shallow rise and fall of Reth's chest. He then tilted his head to one side and sighed. Yes Reth looked beautiful and peaceful lying there, but he lacked that sweet innocuousness that he'd found so endearing in Treize. Instead, he was tense, not in a true deep sleep. Only his trust for Nodin kept him from snapping awake at the slightest sound. There was a gun nestled under the mattress, well within practiced reach. Zechs would be lying if he said that didn't concern him when, normally, such things wouldn't ever alarm him. However with Reth, it was different. He was that type of killer - intentional, bloodthirsty, power-hungry - nothing the way he or Heero or any of the Gundam pilots had been. He was Alex and Mueller. He was Tsuberov - a distressing association if ever there was one.
But he didn't love him, at least, he wouldn't allow such a thing. He couldn't bring himself to it, but the emotions - the possibility of them - were there, at the surface, waiting to be rekindled having lain dormant since he'd turned away from OZ and left behind his relationship with Treize. But this wasn't anymore of an answer than Noin had been.
Zechs shook his head. Christ, he was running the gamut of his emotions tonight.
Noin. He thought he could have loved her, she certainly claimed to love him. It appeared she could fill that longing and need to be loved that loomed over him. But, in the end - and after much strife on Mars - he realized she didn't love him, not really. She loved her idea of him, which didn't include all the ugly, dark things he'd done and seen. She made excuses for him, explaining away any guilt or responsibility he owed. He tried to get her to see, tried to bring her to understand how he needed her to love him - all of him - including the things that weren't beautiful, noble and, necessarily, forgivable.
What would she say now if she knew he had emotions for this man - he looked back towards Reth - this terrorist who has every intention of killing his own sister? Would she get angry at him, would she attribute to him the blame he so deserved? Would Idande? Once she realized how he'd used her and betrayed the group she so believed in, would she too get angry and blame him? Tell him to get out? Shout that she never wanted to see him again? He let his head drop, staring at his hands resting in his lap and the scars that shone slightly lighter than rest of his skin. No, that was just it. They wouldn't get mad, they'd forgive him, they'd justify on his behalf, even as he rallied against such clemency. They'd continue to fit him into this perfect vision - the handsome noble soldier, the hero, the knight in shining armor. Why couldn't he have a crack in his shield? Why couldn't he have a fear of the dragon's fire? And why can't it still be ok to love him with such imperfections?
Heero and Duo had that love he longed for. He had known it enough from watching them together, but confirmed it with the few personal conversations he had been able to drag out of Heero these past two years. They accepted who each other were and what they did during the war. There were no excuses, no denials of responsibility. They acknowledged each other's role in the wars, every ugly seemingly unforgivable moment, without apology or loss of love between them. One did not expect the other to fill a slotted role. Why couldn't he have that with someone?
Zechs dropped his fist hard against the small desk he sat at. Why couldn't someone love him like that?
Reth stirred in his sleep, then, giving a little moan and whispering Nodin's name. His voice had a siren's effect on Zechs, causing his breath to catch in his throat.
He had to get out of here now.
Heero had called it right, he only need to sleep with Reth to further the mission. He'd done that. It was time to go - before Reth woke and gave him a reason to stay.