Disclaimer: I don't own nor profit from my GW stories

Warnings: Yaoi, some language, mild angst, possible NCS

Second Chances
Part 4
by Dyna Dee

One week following the gala celebrating the end of the war, Milliardo Peacecraft stood at the front window of the Sanq Palace and felt he was the happiest man on Earth. The day had been perfect, just as he and Lucretia had hoped. The sun shone brightly in the early spring sky, more than hinting at a warm and fruitful springtime as the trees and flowers were budding with an eagerness to bloom under such favorable weather.

Thinking back on the events of that day, he clearly remembered the sparkling white cathedral, finished being rebuilt only three weeks previous, with colorful beams of light filtering into the massive room through the stain glass windows depicting various scenes of the life of Christ, lending an air of sacredness that both of them felt mirrored their vows, given to each other with all soberness before the priest and the large congregation.

The guests had arrived at the appropriate hour, dressed in their finest clothing and wearing suitable expressions of happiness for the couple they'd come to celebrate. The invited crowd of five hundred had all stood to gaze with expectation at the back of the cathedral as the first notes of the wedding processional was struck up by the chamber musicians. The tall, beautiful bride dressed in a long, elegant and sleek white wedding gown, a demi-veil covering only her face only to her chin, was escorted down the red carpet by her father to the altar where her future husband stood, his eyes fixed adoringly on his future.

Milliardo had watched the love of his life approach the front alter. He stood tall and handsome looking in his light grey, formal morning suit, his long blond hair was held back by a single black velvet tie in a ponytail. Love and pride swelled in his chest at his soon-to-be bride's elegance and beauty as she came to stand next to him, giving him a watery smile as well as her hand.

Next to him stood Heero Yuy and at his shoulder was Chang Wufei, his best men and escorts to the bride's maids, Relena and Lady Une.

He sighed in his reflection; the ceremony had gone off without a hitch. The music was beautiful, the Priest's message was short and to the point, and as they exchanged their vows, they held each others' hands and pledged their love and life to each other.

The reception that followed was also a success. Relena had insisted it be at the palace and the afternoon affair was beautifully pulled off as a day to remember by her wonderfully adept staff. Chamber musicians played romantic ballads while he held his new wife in his arms as they waltzed across the ballroom floor. Her blue eyes sparkled with happiness and he believed that she, of all people, deserved it. This large wedding had originally been Relena's suggestion. Reluctant at first, Noin had been easily won over and he could not refuse her a day that would mark the beginning of their lives together. They had both been through so much during the wars and this was their reward, the beginning of their happily ever after.

"Zechs." He turned from his happy musings to see Heero had silently approached him from just behind his right shoulder.

"Enjoying yourself, Heero?" he asked politely as the Japanese teen stopped next to him. The former Wing Zero pilot was a hard person to read. He supposed it was either Heero's training that made him that way or a natural shyness that kept others from knowing how he truly felt.

"Yes," the Japanese boy replied, his eyes scanning the room filled with guest waiting for the bride to ascend the staircase, looking for something or someone amongst the crowd of people. "Where's Mariemaia?" he asked

"Home." Zechs couldn't help but smile as he thought of his soon to be daughter. "It's too soon for her to be in public," he added. Indeed, after being used as a puppet by Deikum Barton, the little girl, known in the tabloids as the nefarious spawn of Treize Kushrenada, had been in seclusion since recovering from the bullet wound received from that crazed megalomaniac, a bullet that had been intended for Relena. Both he and Noin felt that the young girl's absence from the public eye for several years would allow the people to forget the precocious little red headed girl and, when they returned from the Mars Colony, she would have a second chance with a new name and a new start at life on Earth.

"Did you invite Duo?"

Zechs blinked, well that question came out of nowhere, he thought. "Of course I did." He made sure his reply was casual, giving no hint at all that he knew something Heero didn't. "But he didn't RSVP."

"Duo doesn't usually miss things like this," Heero said quietly, his eyes still searching the crowd, and now the tall blond man knew why.

"Are you worried?" Studying the dark haired teen's face, Zechs looked for a clue to the stoic boy's thoughts. "I heard he disappeared after the ball. Has no one heard from him?"

Heero shook his head, and the blond man could see by the slight crease between his eyebrows that the Japanese boy was indeed worried.

"We left Duo that night in a sitting room to sleep off the champagne. I went to wake him before breakfast and found him gone. I just thought he'd probably gotten up and we'd missed each other in passing, so I went to breakfast with the others and didn't think anything about it until I went back to my room just before noon." Heero looked Zechs in the eye at this point. "He was gone and so were his things. All he left behind was the tuxedo he wore the night before, minus the cummerbund." A faint smile flit across the normally placid face. "I can't imaging how the baka could misplace a cummerbund. I looked for it everywhere and it's just gone."

"No note or anything?" Zechs asked politely. "He left without a word to any of you, even Quatre?"

Heero frowned at the insinuation that Duo would have taken his leave of Quatre while not doing so with him. He consoled himself knowing no one but the other pilots knew of his former relationship with the long haired teen. "He did leave us a note tucked in the pocket of the suit jacket he left on my bed."

"May I ask what it said?"

Heero unbuttoned his dark grey jacket and put his hand into the inner pocket. Zechs watched as he carefully pulled out his wallet and opened it. From inside one of the folds he pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper. Carefully unfolding it, handling it as if it was something of great worth, he handed it to the tall blond.

Zechs' eyes moved over the haphazardly printed script as he made a show of reading the message Duo had given him to deliver the morning after they'd taken him home with them.

Hey guys,

Guess this time the last laugh is on me. Thought you should know that I wasn't passed out drunk when you were talking about me last night, though now I wish I had been.

Sorry to be such an embarrassment and disappointment to all of you. Didn't mean to be, but I guess someone with a background like mine just wasn't meant to have friends like you. Guess I can kind of understand why there's no place in your lives for me. Hell, I'm just a guy you fought in the war with, who wants me hanging around now that you've got your lives together?

So I'll take care of the problem, being me. I'm going away so you won't have to worry about me making a scene anymore or messing up your lives. Don't worry, I'm not really mad, just hurt as hell. Try to take care of each other.


He'd basically known what the note said as Duo had handed it to him the early next morning, eyes dry but red, obviously from a long, sleepless night. He'd then taken the note and the formal tux back to the palace and, while the others were at breakfast, he'd gone into Heero's room and collected the braided boy's things as he had described them and left the tux and note on the large, neatly made bed.

With a sigh and shake of his head he handed the piece of paper back to Heero who carefully re-folded it and neatly placed it back inside his wallet.

"Must be a relief to you and the others then." Zechs just couldn't help rubbing it in, knowing the heartache Duo was going through.

Heero's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"

A blond eyebrow rose in question. "Well, it's obvious that you spoke badly about him while he lay there listening. And I observed how you four treated him at the Palace that day, Quatre was the only one truly showing Duo any outward signs of friendship or affection." He studied the unhappy looking young man standing in front of him before continuing, gauging the former gundam pilot's reactions. "Personally, I think Duo's very wise to remove himself from your company. It seems he chooses to not obligate you further to suffer his presence."

"Suffer his presence!" Heero's voice rose with barely muted indignation.

Zechs inwardly smiled at it. "Isn't that what you were doing at the celebration? How much time did you spend talking to him to find out how he was doing, what his plans were?"

"I was on duty." The dark haired boy stiffly justified himself. "Relena had the security cameras taken down and the security lessened so her guests wouldn't feel like they were being watched," he explained. "I had to be alert the entire time to insure her safety with all the guests she had invited, some who had formerly been her antagonists. I asked Wufei to watch after Duo because he tends to find creative ways to entertain himself and it usually gets him into trouble."

"Ah yes, I remember. Wufei did his job quite well that day, didn't he? Funny, I hadn't realized Preventers performed babysitting duties." At the sound of a slight commotion behind them, the blond looked away and saw his wife coming down the stairs, looking stunning in an egg-shell white pant suit for traveling. "How many of the other guests were assigned their own private shadow, Heero?" he asked as a parting shot to Heero, giving him something to think about as he went to meet his bride.

The many guests remaining were gathering outside the front door to throw rice and well wishes to the couple as they began their honeymoon, reported to take place on a tropical island located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. The newlyweds kissed briefly as they met and turned with happiness lit on their faces to a gauntlet of well wishers with their own smiles and cheers for the new couple as they left for their honeymoon. Little did anyone know that their honeymoon would also consist of two very special guests joining them for a tropical adventure.

The newly wedded couple didn't see Heero or Relena again until two days before their departure for Mars. Relena insisted on giving them a party, but seeing as they'd just celebrated a ball and a wedding, they talked her into a small, private dinner.

That evening, Heero seemed more withdrawn than usual as the dinner progressed. Relena frowned frequently in disapproval at his mental withdrawal from the occasion and the other guests.

Toasts were given to the couple's happiness and then to their success as they journeyed to Mars, a trip that would keep them from Earth for at least three years.

As coffee and dessert was being served, Milliardo Peacecraft stood with his long stem glass in hand and saluted his sister and friends, thanking them for coming to wish them well, then wished them the same in return. He paused with a smile growing on his obviously happy face. "I have another happy announcement to make," he told them, and the room had the faint sound of excited whispering as the women in the room looked to Noin with anticipation. "Everyone here is aware that we adopted Mariemaia the day after our wedding," he began, "and I'm happy to announce that we have added a son to our growing family.

The room silenced, that wasn't exactly what the other guests were expecting.

"We came upon an orphaned boy one night, all alone in the world and desperately needing a home and family to love him." He looked with obvious love in his eyes to his wife. "Lu and I have enough love to share and decided make him our son. The adoption papers have been rushed through and we'll be signing them tomorrow. He and May will both go to Mars with us."

A barrage of questions assailed him, but he stopped them all by putting his hands up. "His name he will take on tomorrow will be Maximilian Peacecraft, after my great grandfather. I'm afraid you won't be able to meet him before we leave so he'll have to wait for his proper introduction to society when we return." He reached down to take up his wife's hand. "We thank you for your well wishes and wish you health and safety until we meet again."

The celebrated husband and wife left shortly after that, excited about their life together and the changes occurring within it.

Heero and Relena stood side by side as they watched the two leave the palace. She sighed longingly. "Do you think we'll ever be that happy?" she asked in a dreamy fashion.

"I don't think I deserve such happiness," Heero replied in a flat tone.

Relena turned on him. "Of course you do, Heero. We all deserve to be happy. What's the matter with you anyway? You've been sulking around ever since the wedding, what is your problem?" she demanded, being fed up with his moodiness.

He paused a moment before he spoke up, his voice soft and pained. "It's Duo," he confessed while staring at the fading red taillights of the car pulling away from the palace grounds and suddenly, he realized he felt a bit better for having stated his worry out loud.

"Duo?" She spat out his name with distaste, her face screwed up as if she'd eaten a sour lemon. "Why in the world would that low-life boy have you upset? Did he die or something?"

She gasped out loud at Heero's sudden movement. Never had she been more shocked as when Heero grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her.

"Don't ever talk about him like that. You don't know him or anything about him," he growled out with more emotion than Relena had ever seen from him before. "He has endured more and suffered more than anyone I've ever met. No one could have come through what he did in his childhood and survived to be the decent human being he is." The boy she had been infatuated with for several years suddenly let go of her and turned back to look out the window into the night.

"I'm sorry, Heero." She immediately began to re-evaluate the situation, realizing Heero was truly upset and that she had spoken very poorly of someone who obviously meant a lot to the Japanese young man. "I think I misinterpreted your feelings for him. You always appeared edgy and, well...unhappy when he was around. It just seemed as if you tolerated him because he was a fellow pilot. Was I wrong?"

"Yes and No," he replied, turning away from her, upset at having reacted so strongly and at Relena's hastily spoken words, knowing she was right about his behavior. He frowned as he wondered if Duo had interpreted his actions the same way.

Braving a few steps forward, the blonde haired girl placed her hand gently on his shoulder. "Go on Heero, you can talk to me," she said gently, urging him to open up and express whatever it was that bothering him.

Heero blew out an exasperated puff of air, then nodded. "I've made a lot of mistakes and treated him badly," he confessed, looking at the floor. "I tried to distance myself from him because of the emotions and confusion I feel when I'm around him."

Relena's eyes widened at the admission. Heero rarely admitted to having emotions. She was well aware that Heero and Duo had almost opposite personalities, so she could understand the stoic boy not understanding the outgoing and active teen Duo seemed to be. Curiosity pushed her to ask, "Such as..."

"Jealousy, for one." Heero supplied.

"Jealousy?" Relena asked confused. "Why would you be jealous of Duo Maxwell?"

The Japanese boy shook his head. "Not of Duo, Relena. I was jealous of anyone or anything that took him and his attention from me." He bowed his head and spoke barely above a whisper. "You see, he was my..." Heero paused, considering for a moment just what it was that Duo had been to him. Was he a friend or a boyfriend? Definitely both. A lover? Absolutely. But he'd been so much more to him during the war: a confidant, a glimmer of hope, comic and stress relief, a nurse, a brother and a sympathizer as well as an tease and flirt. Yes, Duo had been all those things and more, but he wondered to himself what was the best word to describe him to Relena? He looked up into her eyes seeing the look of expectation in them. Returning his focus to the darkness through the window he continued. "He was my lover during the first war," he admitted out loud for the first time to someone other than the other pilots. He didn't look at the girl he was sure would be shocked by his admission, but continued on, feeling the need to finish what he'd started.

"I was drawn to him and he to me from the first moment we met, when I was trying to kill you by the docks. It was a couple of weeks after that, at that school you tracked us down to, that I took him as mine." His tone of voice was wistful as his mind went back to those wild weeks of him pinning Duo down onto his bed, keeping him beneath him with their mouths and bodies straining against each other to express their pent up desires for the other.

Still not looking at the girl standing mutely next to him, he continued. "But after I self destructed, Duo thought I was dead and shortly after that, he and Quatre became lovers."

He now chanced a look at the usually self-possessed girl and saw her eyes wide with shock and surprise at his revelations. "Evidently he and Quatre came to care for each other, though each confessed to loving someone else. Quatre wanted Trowa, and Duo longed for me. I felt unexpected jealousy when I learned of it, and anger towards Quatre, even though I know they both thought at the time that I was dead."

Relena's eyes were wide with shock and confusion. "So...you're telling me you're gay?" she asked in a tight voice.

"More likely bi," he answered with a shrug. "Duo's the only guy I've ever been attracted to."

The Vice Foreign Minister looked like she'd been hit blind sided and gently rubbed her temples with the tip of her fingers. "This is all a bit much to take in," she told him.

Heero nodded his understanding, then continued, finding himself liking the experience of being able to talk to someone about Duo and their mixed-up relationship.

"The war always took precedence in our lives," he continued, "and we rarely got to spend any time together, just stolen moments in between battles. When we did meet up again, one of us was usually too injured for us to enjoy our time together. The end result was that we slowly drifted apart."

This time when he looked up to Relena, he saw that some of the shock had worn off. She, in turn, could see the pain in Heero's eyes and the great sense of loss that he felt. "I love him, Relena," Heero said quietly. "I always have, but didn't tell him, not in words. I didn't think that during the war it was appropriate so I tried to keep my emotions in check. You see, Duo had lost everyone one he'd ever loved before the war, and there was a good chance he could lose me too. I just didn't want him to go through the pain if that happened. Though I tried every way I could think of not to hurt him, I think in the long run that I managed to do just that." He looked up at the girl he'd been hired to protect and was coming to know as a friend to see her studying him, trying desperately to understand.

"But now I know it was a mistake in trying to keep my distance emotionally from him in order to protect him and keep my focus on the war and missions. I secretly held to the thought that, when the war was over and if we both survived, then we could finally be together, I could tell him how I felt." He lowered his head, shaking it slowly with self recriminations. "Then after the war we drifted apart, trying to find some peace within ourselves. We kept in touch and took turns visiting, but long distance relationships are hard to maintain." He paused a moment, sighed, then continued. "When you were kidnaped by Barton, Duo and I had just gotten together for the holidays. I was going to ask him on New Years Eve to stay with me, or let me stay with him. I didn't want to be separated any longer. I was afraid someone else would catch his eye and I would lose him."

"So am I inadvertently responsible for you two not...um..being together?" Relena asked with a frown.

Heero shook his head, still not looking at her. "No, ultimately, it was my fault. He went with me as my partner when we infiltrated the colony they were going to drop on Earth. I left there without him. Initially, I had thought he would be safe if I left him in Trowa's care, and so I used him as a decoy, knocking him unconscious in order to escape the soldiers that were breaking into the control room so I could to meet up with Wing Zero."

Heero's face took on a pained expression as he continued. "After I regained consciousness in the hospital a week after the last battle, I found out from Quatre that Duo was gone back to L-2 and hadn't even been to see me. I knew then that he was angry with me, feeling hurt and most likely felt that I'd betrayed him. But instead of going to him, I kept my distance once again, thinking that, in biding my time, we'd both grow up, he'd get over being mad at me, and eventually we'd end up together.

When he accepted the invitation to the ball, I arranged for him to share my room and was going to finish my duties that day and then tell him the next morning how I felt, and apologize for leaving him behind in the war. I didn't realize at the time that, when he came to the celebration, he came looking for a home, and because my duties took precedence that day, I wasn't particularly open with or available to him. Wufei said Duo had come to Earth having no place to go and I suddenly realized I had nothing to offer him. I lived here, in your home, as part of my job and you didn't want him here. I couldn't offer him a place to stay." Tortured eyes lifted to meet hers. "And now, before I had the chance to make things right with him, he's gone."

Relena felt somewhat shocked and surprised at how talkative Heero was while speaking of Duo Maxwell. She'd never heard so many words come out of his mouth at one time. It very telling of his true feelings for the other boy. Compassion filled the young woman at the obvious pain her friend was experiencing. "I'm sure he'll show up soon," she said in a consoling manner, her hand coming to rest on his forearm in a gesture of comfort. "Then you can tell him how you feel and see if you can...ah...be happy together."

"Duo never lies," Heero replied sadly as his hand gazed down at the girls slender hand on his suit jacket. "When he says he's leaving, he means it. He has the wherewithal to disappear completely, making it nearly impossible for anyone to find him."

"But he didn't count on all the resources we have, Heero," she said with a slight smile. "Quatre is sure to join the search, and Wufei has the Preventers at his disposal. And don't forget you and I, Heero. Somehow, we'll find him."

The former Wing Pilot tried to hold onto that promise as days of searching for a clue to his former lover's whereabouts lengthened into weeks, then months and slowly into one year, then two.

The only evidence they found of Duo was his hastily planned trip to the Peace Celebration. From there, all leads died. Howard hadn't heard from Duo since before that time, neither had Hilde or any of the American's former associates.

Wufei was able to uncover several bank accounts of Duo's, each of which held a considerable amount of money, most likely pilfered from Oz and the Alliance during the war, something they all did, with the exception of Quatre who didn't need to. The accounts, however, remained untouched. Through the means available to him, namely the Preventers, Wufei put a red flag on the accounts. If there was a withdrawal or deposit, he would be notified immediately and the location of the transaction would reveal Duo's whereabouts. He checked monthly to make sure the unresponsive system was in proper working order, but was disappointed time and again when not one bank transaction was made.

Individually and collectively, those looking for the missing teen began to worry if he was alive. It was nearing the one year mark when one by one, the pilots began to turn their attention away from the search for Duo to focus more on their own lives. Relena turned her attention back to her job, Wufei was deep into Preventer investigations, and Trowa and Quatre announced their plans to become legal and binding partners in life.

Heero took a leave from his job in order to travel to L-2, certain that Duo would sooner or later return to the ruins of Maxwell Church. Three months later he returned, more quiet and withdrawn than he'd been since the war. Relena could see he was giving up hope, and though knowing better and with some guilt, she hoped he would turn to her for comfort and maybe something more. And even though he only turned to her in friendship, she couldn't bear to see him unhappy and tried to buoy him up with reassurances that Duo would be found. The ceremony binding Quatre and Trowa as a couple did nothing to brighten Heero's disposition.

Eighteen months after her brother and sister-in-law had left for Mars, Relena sat in her office with a fresh cup of tea before her and was sharing her latest quarterly letter from her brother and Noin with her best friend when a call came through to her office. It was Lady Une and she asked to speak to Heero. With a slight look of puzzlement, he accepted the phone from her and put it to his ear.

"Yes," he said.

Relena put her own letter down and watched his face as it became animated with a look of surprise on it and she wondered what would bring such a reaction to the stoic bodyguard.

"I'll be right there," he replied into the mouthpiece. "And...thank you," he added, then hung up the phone. His blue eyes raised to meet the ones looking up at him with curiosity.

"I'...I need to go out for a while," he told her looking unsettled.

"Heero." Relena instinctively reached out to her friend. "What is it?"

"Une said she had some word on Duo," he answered. "She wants me to come to her office."

Relena gasped in surprise, they'd all just about given up hope the former Deathscythe pilot was alive. "He's alive Heero, I just know he is!" She gave him a watery smile.

Heero nodded hesitantly, as if he was afraid to hope that Duo had been found alive and well.

She folded her chatty letter, slipped it back into the envelope it had come in, and set it down on her desk, then rose from her chair and went to her friend and took up his hand. "Let's go." She was rewarded with a slight smile of gratitude. The hero of the world needed her at the moment to stand by him, to give him hope and a hand to hold. If nothing else, she knew he would let her be that for him.

Half an hour later she was still holding his hand as they stood anxiously in Une's office at Preventer Headquarters. Wufei stood straight backed and dressed in his work uniform next to her desk with a frown on his face. He, too, had obviously been called to hear the news about Duo, and he never did like waiting.

The head of the Preventers stood from her chair and handed Heero the plain white envelope with the words LADY UNE printed clearly in Duo's distinctive scrawl.

With a determined effort to keep his breathing even and mentally willing his right hand, reaching out for the envelope, to not shake, Heero gave the appearance of casually accepting it, flipping it over, and lifting the flap. His thumb and index finger took hold of the folded paper inside and pulled it out.

With a quick glance up, catching Wufei's eyes, he carefully unfolded the paper and his eyes devoured the few words printed there.

I'm alive and I'm fine, and I'll come back when I'm damn well ready. So quit worrying!


"Well?" Wufei asked impatiently, waiting for Heero to share what was written on the piece of paper.

Reluctantly, Heero passed it to his friend. "Don't damage it," he warned in handing it over.

The Chinese Preventer gave his former comrade an odd look, then turned his attention to the letter.

"He's alive, Heero." Relena whispered, her voice filled with hope.

The dark haired young man nodded.

"Che, the idiot!" Wufei snorted. "What game is he playing now?" he asked as he handed the letter back to the Japanese teen.

"Talk like that is what sent him away from us Wufei." Heero snapped angrily as he carefully refolded the note and put it back into the envelope. "I'd suggest you adjust your attitude for when he does come back."

Again, Wufei gave Heero a look of puzzlement. "Don't you mean if he comes back?" he questioned, putting emphasis on the "if".

Heero's glare at Wufei clearly indicated he meant "when". He turned and softened his face slightly as he looked to Lady Une. "May I keep this?" he indicated the envelope.

"Of course. This isn't a criminal matter, and if you can identify his handwriting, he'll be off the missing person's list."

"It's his," Heero declared looking down at the envelope in hand. "He's always had a distinctive style of writing, just like everything else about him."

The two women in the room gave each other a knowing smile. Relena had shared Heero's confession in regards to his feelings for Duo with the head of the Preventers, explaining why it was urgent to find the elusive young man. Une had proved to be a good friend and confidant to the sometimes confused young woman in matters of friendship and of the heart.

Wufei, on the other hand, looked at them all as if he didn't know who they were. He knew the former Wing Zero pilot and Duo had a relationship during the first war, but they seemed to come to their senses and ended it and moved on, or at least he thought they had. Yet now, he was confused by Heero's unusual sentiment towards the short note from their friend, and perplexed as to why Relena and Une looked...pleased. Not understanding what was going on made him uncomfortable, so he excused himself and was the first to leave the room.

Later that evening, in the privacy of his room, Heero studied each letter and word written on the notepaper, drawing a small measure of comfort and a shred of hope from it that Duo was not only well, but that he would come back to him one day and give him a second chance to make things right.

Another year passed without any further word. Each of the other four pilots went on with their lives believing Duo was well and would come back like he said, when he was ready.

Excitement rippled through the Sanq Palace as preparations for the party celebrating the return of Milliardo and Lucretia Peacecraft back to Earth drew near. Relena bubbled with excitement. The quarterly letters that had arrived from Mars and those that were sent back left big gaps in the lives of the two Peacecraft siblings who were still practically strangers but were bound by the same name and knowledge of their history.

A phone call informed them that the Peacecraft family of four would land at the spaceport in the United States, just outside of Las Vegas, in two weeks time. Milliardo had requested that no one meet them as they wanted to immediately disembark from that terminal on a plane bound for the Caribbean. He and Lucretia wanted a few days to acclimate their family back to living planetside before arriving in Sanq to be greeted by well wishers. He confessed to his sister that they were all a ghastly colony-white from living in a domed environment for nearly three years and needed a little color so they wouldn't look like the living dead. He assured her that they would definitely arrive in Sanq in time to attend the party she'd planned and they were anxious to introduce their son and daughter to their many acquaintances.

Three years, Relena sighed at the thought two weeks later as she sat at her desk in her bedroom. She recalled all the anxiety and heartache she'd witnessed over those three years. They had truly been the longest three years of her life, and she was looking forward to having her brother and good friend, who was his wife, back home again. Funny, she narrowed her eyes in thought, she knew so little about her adopted niece and nephew. Lucretia had written that they were both breathtakingly beautiful, full of life and highly intelligent. She also recalled how her friend had gushed in her letters over her new children, but she never really revealed much about them. Of course she knew Mariemaia, now going by the name May. She could only imagine how much the little redhead had grown and matured from a cute, precocious child who had been used as a puppet to take over the world because she happened to have the last name of Kushrenada. It was obvious her brother and his wife were fiercely protective of the girl and would slowly ease her back into polite society. Their son, Maximilian, but going by the name of Max, was reportedly raised in unfavorable circumstances, but Noin gushed with pride over his intellect and wit. She spoke with awe in regards to his kind heart and protectiveness over his sister. Such words from Lucretia came as rare praise indeed, and Relena became even more excited for her family to return so she could become acquainted with the two children.

The phone on her desk rang, bringing the young woman out of her reverie. With a quick glance at the clock, a knowing smile graced her pretty face. She picked up the receiver and her smile broadened. On the other end of the line she heard the long missed but recognizable voice of her brother. Her family had arrived safely back on Earth and would be in Sanq within the week.

on to part 5

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