by Dyna Dee
Heero returned to the ballroom sometime later, spending the remainder of the evening at a distance from his former lover and watching Duo's interactions with the other guests, including Marcus Standish, displaying to himself, if not to others, that he still had a great deal of self control as the other man frequently touched or caressed what was not his. As the night grew late, the Milliardo Peacecraft family took their leave, claiming jet lag as a valid excuse.
Once the guests of honor had gone, the rest of the guests, seeming reluctant to leave, followed their example. As the last loquacious guest parted, Heero escorted Relena to her private suite of rooms. She couldn't help her eyes constantly shifting to her silent companion to determine his mood and reaction to Duo's return.
"Quite a surprise about Duo, wasn't it?" She asked in an easy conversational tone as her hand gently gripped Heero's tense arm.
"Yes." His reply was curt.
Relena's eyes narrowed at his lack of emotion, knowing how hard Heero had searched for Duo for the last three years and what the long haired young man meant to him. An evil thought came to her. "Marcus Standish certainly seems smitten with him."
"What did you and Duo talk about...in the garden?" She gave him a knowing smile that yes, she had seen the two of them disappear for approximately twenty minutes into the dark garden.
"Things," he said calmly, not allowing the young woman next to him to bait him into revealing all of his emotions to her.
There was silence between them until they reached her room, their footsteps silent on the thick pile carpet. When they reached her room, Relena withdrew her key from her little purse and unlocked and opened the door. Before Heero could leave, she grabbed a hold of the sleeve of his jacket and pulled him inside, shutting the door firmly behind him. The light switch clicked on and her sitting room was awash with light.
"Okay, spill," she demanded once she turned to face her friend, her small fists resting on her hips expectantly, her eyes searching his for answers. "Did you tell him how you've searched for him?"
Heero gave a short nod, his face a mask of no emotion.
"That you love him?"
"And?" She leaned forward slightly, her eyes narrowing letting him know she was out to get answers.
"He told me what he wants," Heero replied rather reluctantly. "He doesn't think I can give it to him, so he wants me to think about it"
"What things?" Relena's brows drew together in thought.
"He wants love, commitment, a home, and..." He paused, looking confused.
Looking down into the eyes of the girl who had become a good friend over the course of the three years he'd searched for Duo, he saw a soft gaze of compassion in her blue eyes as she looked back at him, and slowly his resolve to keep everything to himself dissolved. "And that I not be ashamed of our relationship in public. He told me that, if I could give him those things, then all that was left for me to do was to win him," he answered quietly, them moving over to the couch in front of the marble fireplace, he sat down dejectedly.
"Win him?" Relena repeated with surprise.
"That's what he said." Heero sighed deeply. "Though I haven't a clue as to what that means."
"Oh, Heero." Relena chuckled and ignored the frown directed at her. "He wants you to court him," she answered his confusion.
"Guys don't "court" other guys."
"Of course they do. Do you mean to say you never took Duo out on a date?"
Heero shook his head.
Relena's eyes widened in shock. "Buy him presents?"
"And he was your lover?" she asked, her voice rose slightly in disbelief.
Heero frowned, not liking the incredulous tone in Relena's voice.
"Oh, Heero," she said sadly. "Now I begin to understand why he ran."
"What do you mean?" he demanded while looking hurt.
"Whose idea was it to keep your relationship a secret?" she asked, knowing from their previous conversations that only the other three pilots knew the two had been together as a couple.
"Mine." Heero answered a bit sharply. "It was no ones business but ours." He recognized the tone of defensiveness in his voice and hated it. He didn't need to justify himself to anyone but Duo.
"Stop that!" he snapped at her in irritation. Her tone with each consecutive "Oh, Heero" clearly voiced her growing disappointment in him.
"It's not my fault," she snapped back. "You most likely made Duo feel insecure and used, then probably fueled those insecurities when you didn't have a place for him after the war. Can't you see why he ran? He felt the door shut firmly behind him on his way out."
Heero crossed his arms over his chest and lowered his head. He never could stand to be told he was wrong, even if he was dead wrong. "I didn't understand then," he grouched.
Relena began to pace back and forth in front of him, her fingers rubbing up and down her delicate jaw line as she thought. "Not all is lost though, is it?" she asked brightening a bit. "I can help you, but we have to be very careful about Marcus. He definitely has his sights on Duo and from what I hear from the gossip mongers he rarely ever falls short of getting something or someone he really wants."
"Well he will this time," Heero replied, his tone firm and sounding much more confident than he really felt.
"That's the spirit." Relena smiled at him, her eyes sparkling. "Lets do some planning, shall we?"
Then suddenly, the pretty young woman's smile dimmed and she took on a more thoughtful look as she moved forward and sat down on the couch next to her friend. "Heero," she began, her voice was more subdued. "Is this truly what you want? Can you honestly give Duo what he's asking for, what I suspect he needs? If not, it would be cruel to go after him only to hurt him in the long run if you fail to follow through."
Heero's eyes rose to meet her, looking strangely sad. "I will do whatever it takes, Relena," he said in a humble tone she'd heard only a few times before, and always when Heero spoke of his lost lover. Heero closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, she saw the raw need and vulnerable side of her strong, stoic and competent bodyguard and friend. "I've been half a man these past three years, on the cusp of living but not able to without the one person I needed above all else. I need him, Relena, to make me whole."
"Those words are exactly the ones you need to say to him, Heero." Relena brushed aside the tear that was about to escape her eye, touched at the honest emotions coming from her best friend. "Your feelings for Duo are beautiful and will melt his heart," she said truthfully, as they had caused her own heart to feel mushy. She felt a stab of emotion she hadn't felt in a long while...envy. That Heero loved Duo so completely made her feel sad at the lack of that passion in her own rather lonely life. Her attention was brought back to Heero when he sighed.
"What if I end up losing him? What if he no longer wants me or rejects my efforts?" he asked dejectedly.
Relena blinked, surprised to hear Heero sound so insecure. She thought for a moment before answering. When she did, it came in the form of a question.
"Did you kiss him tonight?"
Heero nodded, not looking up at her.
"Did he kiss back?"
This time he did raise his eyes up as he nodded yes, a faint smile appearing at the warm memory.
"Then he still wants you, Heero. He's just as afraid of being hurt or rejected as you are. He needs to learn to trust you again," she told him. Now it became clear to the young woman, it made sense. Duo was being cautious, testing Heero's desire for him. If he didn't want the long-haired young man, Heero would never try to fulfill Duo's needs.
"What do I do to win him, win his trust?" Heero asked his confidant.
Relena smiled knowingly at him. "One step at a time." A plan was already forming in her head.
"They're still in transit," she mumbled to herself as she stood from the couch and moved to the table against the back wall. She picked up the phone and thought for a moment as if trying to remember a number. Then with a quick smile she punched in the numbers. Without an explanation, she gave a reassuring smile to the worried looking young man whose eyes had followed her every move with curiosity.
The phone on the other end of the line was answered. "Good evening, Spencer. This is Relena. I apologize to be calling so late" She paused a moment, listening. "Yes, we had a delightful evening and quite a surprising one too. Yes." She nodded her head in agreement. "Miss May has grown up to be a beautiful young woman." She nodded again as the person on the other side continued to speak. "Yes, we all found Maximilian equally wonderful. Which is the reason why I'm calling so late. I wanted to invite him to join us for an excursion tomorrow but he didn't tell me if he has a personal number or not. He does?"
Relena turned to open a drawer and pulled out a small note pad and pen from it and jotted down the information, turning briefly to wink at Heero as she straightened.
"Thank you so much Spencer. I appreciate your help." There was a brief pause. "Yes, they're on their way home. Very well. Yes, and thank you again. Good night." She ended the phone call and hung the elegant, pearlite phone back in place.
Returning to Heero's side, she held out the piece of paper. "Here's Duo's personal number. First thing in the morning I want you to call him up and ask him out on a date."
Heero nodded. "Where will I take him?" he asked, clearly entering uncharted territory.
"Well," Relena began, her eyes shifted to the ceiling as she thought. "A good first date is usually something public and fun." Then suddenly she brightened as an idea came to her. "How about the swim park that opened up last year? The weather has been unusually warm and he hasn't been there yet."
Heero's reaction to the suggestion was to frown. "Don't you think we're a little too old for an amusement like that?"
Relena gave him an affronted look. "No way. I've been dying for someone to take me there," she replied.
"Really?" Heero was surprised. Together they'd been to an untold number of museums, traveled over most of the Earth and colonies and seen the many wonders of the world while performing her diplomatic duties. They'd attended countless balls, banquets and social functions with guests both political and from the entertainment industry. It came as a total surprise to him that Relena had a desire to do something so...young. "Then you should go with us. That is if Duo agrees to go."
Relena waved a dismissive hand at the idea. "No, everyone knows three's a crowd."
"Then let's find you a date," he suggested with a slight smile forming.
Relena looked at him in shock, aghast at the very idea. "If you haven't noticed Heero, there aren't exactly hoards of men beating down my door to date me." She reminded him. "Besides, ladies don't set themselves up on dates. I tried that once and it failed...miserably."
"When?" Heero asked, going over in his mind the many events that had occurred since he became her bodyguard, trying to pick out exactly the moment she was talking about.
"Great!" she threw up her hands in exasperation. "Nice to know that poor attempt was entirely forgotten."
Heero looked confused.
"You, you idiot." She shoved at his arm. "I chased you and made it look like we were an item, only to find out you're not only in love with someone else, but that it was a guy. How much more of a disastrous first attempt can you get?"
He could see by the pout on her face that she was no longer hurt by the rejection she had felt at the time she was speaking of, but that she was teasing him. "Oh yeah, sorry," he replied with a half smile.
"Don't be." She laughed lightly. "It was a good lesson for me to learn, and look at us now, the best of friends." She leaned her head against his strong shoulder as she looped her arm with his. "I wouldn't trade that for all the world." She sighed contentedly.
Heero leaned his head against hers. They were the best of friends, he thought. He then frowned as a new thought came to him. "Which is why you don't have a hoard of guys lined up to date you."
"Why?" she pulled back in order to look up questioningly at him.
"Because we look like a couple. I'm always by your side in public and at home," he replied.
She looked at her friend, studying him. "You are pretty daunting," she surmised with a smile creeping upward.
"Part of my charm," he replied with a slight smirk. A moment later they both broke out into laughter.
Relena collapsed back onto the couch, her light laughter following her. "Oh Heero." She looked at him with eyes soft and warm. "I do love you, you know. You've been my friend and family these past three years and I can never express how much that has meant to me."
Heero's smile slowly grew at her words. "I feel love for you also," he confessed with a blush, his words came out slow and careful as he spoke them. He then added as a precaution, "As a friend."
"I know." She reassured him with those words that she wasn't going to revert into the stalker she'd been during the war and laughed as a look of relief shown on his face.
"So I guess we not only have to mend your love life, but also the lack of mine," she said with a conspiring gleam in her eyes.
Heero moved to sit at the edge of his seat and gave her is full attention. "How?"
"You openly display your intentions towards Duo thereby letting everyone know we're not together. Killing two birds with one stone," she said looking very pleased with herself.
"This isn't going to be easy for me," Heero cautioned. He'd always been a private person. Being open with his feelings was not only difficult, but against his nature and former training as a soldier.
Relena placed her delicate hand on his knee. "I know," she said with sympathy. "But Duo needs you to not be ashamed of your feelings for him. Can you do this for Duo as well as for yourself?" she questioned.
"I'll have to," he replied solemnly. "I need him too badly to let him go."
Relena smiled and vowed to herself to help Heero in anyway she could to win Duo back and be truly happy. "Would this date be easier for you as a double date?" she asked.
Heero nodded, feeling nervous about the whole idea of dating and being affectionate in public. He knew that in private, one on one with Duo, he had no such inhibitions, but the idea of revealing to others, friends and strangers, his deep feelings for the beautiful young man from L-2 un-nerved him.
"Then set me up with someone and I'll go along."
Heero smiled at her generous offer.
"Just don't make it Howard or Old Whitecastle, or..." she named off several other unstable, unacceptable and unsavory older men.
"Don't worry." Heero teasingly put his hand over her mouth and smiled at her humor. "I'll think of someone suitable."