WARNING: Very High Angst Lemon, Proceed With Caution, Kleenex Warning
[Sequel to Tragic Secrets; Book 6 of the "Secrets" Arc, Final Installment of arc]
Author: Enigma
Written: October & November, 2000
Cumulative Rating: NC-17
Pairings: (1x2/2x1) (3x4/4x3) (5+S)
Category: Angst, yaoi, AU
Cumulative Warnings: Angst, lemon, yaoi, sap, AU, OOC
Be Prepared: Kleenex Warnings!! also: avoid Colas
DISCLAIMERS: I don't own Gundam Wing or any other anime or TV characters I use here, just the ideas in this story and some characters that are new are truly mine. Any reference to copyrighted material or trademarked goods should be considered an "homage" (yeah, right!) Don't sue me, even the lawyers wouldn't enjoy it, except of course for the Ashe and Jojo characters!
NOTE: Timeframe---after the war has ended and the Gundams were destroyed. //yada, yada, yada// = inner thoughts

Silencing The Secrets
Part 23

Eventually, Heero decided that Duo was indeed well enough to be allowed back up and around so they rejoined the rehearsal. Laurel, eyes still puffy, ran over to Duo and hugged him fiercely then yelled at him, "Uncle Duo! That was not very nice! You scared me all to pieces!" Then she quieted a bit and snuggled him adding quietly, "I hope you're okay now. I'm sorry for yelling, but it was scary."

He smiled gently at the girl before handing her over to Trowa who had come to retrieve her. "It's understandable, Princess. It was scary for me, too." He nuzzled her cheek as Trowa lifted her away.

"That will be enough now, baby. We've got to practice for tomorrow." Trowa took her over to Celcia and handed her over making it clear she was to stay put now.

After this, the rehearsal went smoothly except for a slight confusion over how the four men would take turns being "Best Man" for each other, but once that was worked out it was fairly easy to deal with. It was almost amusing to watch four skilled warriors basically stumbling over one another trying to choreograph such a thing, but it was accomplished nonetheless. At one point Rasid quietly commented to Sadeema they would have had an easier time figuring it out if it was a battle maneuver using their Gundams. The cook laughed merrily then returned to monitoring the party preparations.

After the rehearsal came the standard rehearsal dinner except it was a picnic in the gardens instead. It was lovely weather and lawn torches supplemented the light of the moon. There was dancing in the grass and all four young men enjoyed spending their last night as bachelors dancing with their fiancÚs and their friends. Vash took Laurel out to dance before she had to go to bed and her happy laughter rang across the lawn.

Quatre had announced during the dinner that the next day their adoption would be finalized. A happy response greeted this news and everyone congratulated the fathers-to-be, with more than one joke being made about getting married and having a child on the same day. Trowa, ever the doting father, also announced that since they didn't know Laurel's real birthday that their wedding day would henceforth be her birthday as well and as of tomorrow the child would be eight. The crowd, virtually all family members by birth or by choice, joined together to sing the child "Happy Birthday" and she was thrilled.

The only person not totally thrilled with the situation was, surprisingly, Vash.

"Well, Uncle Trowa," the teen had mentioned after getting him apart from the others. "I'm really glad she'll have a family and all, but won't this mean you don't need me and mom to stay any longer? I really kind of liked going to school here and she does need someone to look after her." The last was added very seriously; he wasn't about to walk away when there was a job to do.

Trowa hadn't even thought that aspect through. He'd assumed that himself or the girl's other father would always be available, but that wouldn't be the case.

As a businessman with connections around the globe and throughout the colonies, Quatre would be called upon to attend various gatherings and meetings on a regular basis. Many of the social functions would be better suited to them attending together as spouses, thereby further cementing Trowa's growing role in Quatre's business life. While neither man wanted to have Trowa forced into the role of an actual business partner, he was designated as Quatre's replacement for minor occasions when he couldn't be at events. Further, should there be a time that the cancer came out of remission, it was only logical for Quatre's husband to be the one to handle the business during treatment. They agreed not to even discuss the possibility of Quatre being unable to manage the business entirely, just short-term issues were discussed. Regardless, it was clear this was a serious matter.

Trowa thanked Vash for the insight, and commented that he and his mother were going to stay until the school term finished anyway. Then the former Heavyarms pilot sought advice from his fiancÚ who was happily chatting with Heero. Heero, of course, was keeping a close watch on his own fiancÚ, fearing he might have further problems, but Duo was enjoying himself immensely, chatting with friends and Quatre's extended family.

"Koi," Trowa mentioned softly after wrapping a protective arm around Quatre's waist. "I was just speaking with Vash and he brought something to my attention we need to discuss."

"Oh? What was it?" Quatre smiled happily, knowing that if Vash had mentioned it there was undoubtedly a connection to Laurel's well-being and this was worth attention.

"He mentioned that we should have someone looking out for Laurel after he leaves," Trowa was a bit sad at the idea of breaking the loving pair of cousins apart, but even Celcia had mentioned she needed to return to her practice. "This made me realize there would be periods of time when we would be away on Winner Corporation business and as the daughter of the wealthiest man living she would be a target for hostage situations."

Suddenly hearing this, Heero's polite attention to the conversation shifted to that of active participant, concerned for the safety and mental well-being of his friends. "That is actually an excellent point, Trowa. You should take this very seriously, Quatre. Keep in mind, if she was abducted, how deeply would this effect you?"

A dangerous glint had appeared in the single remaining aquamarine eye as Quatre had listened to these points. "I'd kill the bastards." He said coldly, without a second's thought. "Then I'd bring her home."

"True, and we'd all help given the chance," Heero said, "But what if they kill her first? What if money is not the goal but revenge or general anarchy is instead?" He shook his head adamantly. "All those times I was assigned to guard Relena proved to me there are people out there who will do almost anything to anyone of notoriety. You can't risk that."

Trowa, his face darkly serious, didn't add much to the conversation as his mind raced to think of solutions. Finally he commented, "Well, we couldn't expect Vash to cover that much responsibility. We were all denied our childhoods when we were his age, I won't do the same to him. However, how do you find a bodyguard you can trust with a matter like this?"

To their surprise, Heero smiled knowingly. "I've got one for you and he's truly outstanding! While we were on DH-1221, Jack mentioned he was going to quit the police force. He said that after what happened to me, he claims to have lost faith with the system. Last thing I knew, he was trying to figure out what to do with his life." He smirked. "Besides, if he can keep *me* out of trouble, I'm sure he can watch over Laurel. Plus he seems quite fond of children."

Quatre smiled broadly. "That would be excellent! Laurel already likes him and he's here for the wedding, isn't he?"

"He certainly is," Heero grinned. "Let me go locate him for you. Knowing that bottomless pit he calls a stomach, he's probably over at the buffet. Back in a bit!" He turned and walked off, stopping long enough to kiss Duo, surprising him since he wasn't used to the PDAs, Public Displays of Affection, just yet. After Heero walked away from him, the corners of Duo's mouth quirked up in a happy smirk and his eyes followed Heero's retreating form hungrily.

Not surprisingly, Jack Ryuzouji was thrilled with the idea of a long-term assignment with the Winner Corporation and he accepted the job offer on the spot. When Quatre asked what salary level the man wanted, Jack just laughed, commenting that if he moved into the estate he'd probably eat so much that room and board would cover it. Quatre laughed that those were fringe benefits and that they'd agree on a salary later.

Trowa took Jack to meet Vash and tell the boy what had been done to arrange for Laurel's safety.

Vash took it very seriously and proceeded to "debrief" Jack on how best to handle the little girl. Jack was thrilled to see Quatre's prediction from the day the "A-Team" had returned apparently coming true, he was indeed becoming part of the family already. Vash even went out of his way to warn Jack to never get in between Sadeema and Rasid when the two were arguing. The young teen had made that mistake himself and wound up regretting it when confronted with a plate of fish sticks for dinner that night. He had no idea why, but he hated those with a passion, and the cook knew it thereby exacting her revenge for an otherwise pleasant "discussion" having been cut off.

Meanwhile, Duo Maxwell continued to watch his fiancÚ move fluidly among the crowd and his desire grew.

The evening wore on when another important couple finally arrived at the estate.

Sally Po and Chang Wufei arrived looking much happier and more relaxed than they had the last time the group had seen them. Duo, staying seated for the most part at Heero's insistence, greeted them both cheerfully, then blushed furiously when someone told them about his "fainting spell". He winced at the term.

"Really?" Sally was concerned about this. She knew his health wasn't fully stabilized and surreptitiously took one wrist into her hand to check his pulse. Glancing over at the situation, Wufei smiled, proud of her concern for his friend. "Was it a blood pressure problem, Duo?"

"Afraid so," He wasn't pleased. "Akheem was there and at this rate, Heero's not going to stop treating me like a porcelain doll any time soon. I wont break, but he doesn't believe me."

Sally smiled knowingly. "It can be difficult at times when the person who loves you doesn't trust you to take care of yourself, wouldn't you agree, Duo?"

Realizing he was actually talking about Sally and Wufei and not himself and Heero, he smiled gently, "Well, Sally, you know how some men are, all protective and everything." Wufei looked quite pleased with this answer, but not the comment that followed. "Then again, we are indeed more than capable of taking care of ourselves, don't you think, Sally? After all, we survived this long without them guarding our every move, right?"

Wufei snarled, "Enough, Maxwell! I believe it is time to deal with a few things." He picked up a wine goblet near him and tapped the side with a fork to get everyone's attention.

Quatre glanced up to see what the commotion was. He was surprised to see that the usually reticent Chinese youth was deliberately seeking attention for a change, something decidedly strange.

"May I have your attention, please?" Wufei looked serious as he prepared to make an announcement. "First, I wish to congratulate my four friends who have finally seen reason and have wisely chosen to get married tomorrow. May they all experience happiness, long lives, and great joy." There was loud applause to support this as many raised their glasses in salute to the couples. Quatre and Duo both blushed a little, but Duo seemed to have been flushed already for reasons only he knew.

"Second, I wish to further congratulate Trowa and Quatre on the upcoming adoption of their daughter, Laurel. She has been a true miracle in all of our lives and since I was the first to be aided by her visions I add my own best wishes to her as well." He paused, looking at Sally who smiled and nodded. "But most importantly, I wish to publicly thank Sally Po for having made me an extremely happy man six months ago when she accepted my proposal and we were married."

A gasp went up as the crowd realized the pair had eloped and were actually husband and wife the entire time Sally had been missing on DH-1221. The revelation of this made a huge difference in understanding why Wufei had been so very driven during the rescue mission, but it was even clearer as he then added the ultimate shock. "However, that was *not* the day she made me happier than I ever expected to be. The day that occurred was roughly three months ago when she told me we are expecting a child."

on to part 24

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