Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3
Warnings; yaoi, citrus of all kinds, some angst, a little more mundane than the last part , but important plot stuff.
Rating: NC17 at parts

Summary: Picks up where Endless Waltz left off. Peace has finally come to the Earth and the colonies, and the Gundams have been destroyed along with all mobile suits and weapons of war. After a year apart, Heero and Duo try to settle down, and figure out civilian life and each other. Quatre is finally able to make peace with his past mistakes and steps up to claim his place as Winner heir. The end of the war leaves Trowa nameless and reeling, and with Quatre so absorbed in business, Trowa's wanderlust sets in.

AC 197
Part 4
by Granate

Duo's chest rose and fell in steady rhythm. Heero watched transfixed, he was all packed and fully dressed, while Duo slumbered on in their bed in not a stitch of clothing. They had both given up even the pretense wearing any clothes to bed, it was pointless. Naked was so much more fun anyway, he loved nothing more than the feel of Duo's skin against his, even when they were just lying together quietly. Well, he loved almost nothing more than that. Duo's mouth was open slightly and his hair was wild and messy from their escapades what seemed like hours before. It probably WAS only hours ago - Heero had to leave at this ridiculous hour in the morning to get to Relena's on time. Now he was standing at the side of the bed, wondering whether to wake Duo or not. Duo looked so peaceful, but he decided his lover would be mad later if he didn't say goodbye, and he himself would regret it when he was away.

Heero leaned down to kiss Duo's cheek.

"Duo, I'm leaving now," he whispered.

Duo stirred "Going now?" he asked, barely awake. Heero thought it was interesting that Duo could wake in 0.45 seconds when there was a mission or emergency, but was all cute and sleepy when there wasn't. Somehow, innately, Duo new.

"Yeah," Heero answered, kissing him full on the mouth. Duo responded through his bleary haze. His arms snaked around Heero's neck, and he tried to pull his lover back in bed.

"Time for one more?" he murmured, his lips curving into a smile against Heero's.

"No, Duo," Heero insisted. He really did like morning sex with horny, groggy Duo, but he really didn't have time.

"Heero," Duo sighed sadly, loosening his grasp, "I'm going to miss you."

"I feel the same," Heero admitted. He knew Duo was still a little hung up on the idea of him spending so much time close to Relena, even if Duo wouldn't admit it. "Next time, I'll leave us some time to properly say good-bye, ok?"

"Ok," Duo relented, "But we better get time to properly say hello when you get back."

"Promise," Heero nodded, looking into Duo's half-lidded eyes, "Now, go back to sleep." He pulled the covers up and brushed Duo's bangs out of his face. "I love you," he whispered.

Duo closed his eyes and smiled. Heero still did not say that very often. He had never said it during the war. Duo had not cared, he understood that Heero was very confused about love. He was too, but at least he knew what it was, he had been loved before, even if for a short time. Heero had not. So, Duo never pushed. The last time they had sex before Heero disappeared, he might have said something like "I love you" in Japanese, but Duo had never found out for sure.

Then Heero came to find him right before Mariemaia's rebellion. Duo had immediately agreed to help, but wasn't so sure about what would happen between him and Heero. But these things tend to work themselves out. They weren't more than 20 minutes into the shuttle trip before they had the autopilot on and were making out in back, and admitting how much they'd missed one another. Heero had tried to explain why he left. He was confused, he needed to be alone for a while to think, he was scared, and then it became harder and harder to come back because he became more afraid Duo would reject him. These were all things Duo had guessed, except for one: Heero said he wanted to give Duo a chance to be happy and find a life without him.

"Baka!" Duo had bit out angrily, using Heero's nickname for him. He pushed Heero off of him a little.

"Duo, I was not good for you, I know that. My state of mind just was not good. I was jealous, and suspicious, easily frustrated, angry, even cold to you-"

"Baka!" Duo spat again, "Don't say that I'm an idiot for loving you! I loved you so much, and I still do! Don't try and tell me it was wrong!"

"Duo," Heero stopped him, "I'm just saying there were a lot of things wrong before and I'm trying to fix them. If you wanted to try again…"

He'd just kissed Heero then. Things felt hot and new all over again, and they were soon having sex on the floor of the shuttle. When they had both collapsed, too tired to move or even clean up, Heero had hugged him tight and whispered, "I love you, Duo."

Heero looked at his lover one more time. He looked asleep again. He shouldered his computer case and left for the shuttle port. He would be the only passenger on this flight, it was private as he'd requested. He regretted having to leave Duo, and he knew he would miss him. But on the other hand, it may be a good thing they did not spend all their time together. Duo had work to do too, hiring staff and getting the warehouse ready. Too much time together caused any two people to argue, and this way, they'd appreciate the time they did have even more. Heero reclined the seat and set his internal alarm to wake him in two hours.

Heero stepped off the shuttle quite annoyed. He hadn't been sent the assignment specs ahead of time as he'd requested - no guest list, media list, building annd grounds layouts, schedule, nothing. And he knew who to blame for that. He had considered getting in touch with the Preventers to ask about it, he was sure they'd be there, but instead he'd hacked most of the information. He'd made a note to himself to talk Agent Une and Bartlett about information security.

He'd had plenty of time on the shuttle ride to go over the information he'd gotten and plan accordingly. He memorized the city plan, the meeting hall and the hotel blueprints. He recognized several names in the guest list. He'd have to take some time to talk with Quatre, since he would be there. Bartlett had even gathered a list of Preventers security who would be there and how they planned to manage the event. Pretty good, but Heero was still angry he had been kept in the dark.

When they landed, Relena and three bodyguards were waiting for him. Bartlett was, of course, among them. And already looking disapproving. Heero ignored it. Relena was wearing a more civilian outfit, just a sweater and a skirt.

"Relena," he said, surprised to see her, "What are you doing at the shuttle bay?" He didn't like it that she was going out in public unnecessarily. He assumed he'd be meeting her somewhere.

"I'm here to pick you up, Heero," she informed him like it was the most natural thing in the world.

"It is not necessary that you be here. From now on, you will stay in safety, and send some one for me, or I'll meet you," he told her, already giving orders. He turned to Bartlett, "And from now on, you will send me all details ahead of time." He was just getting started on his 'Things to Fix' list.

"Can't do that, don't know if your computer is secure," Bartlett answered.

Heero's ice-blue eyes narrowed. "Computer security?" he said through his teeth, "I was able to attain the information by hacking into your computer through your connection to the Preventers network. Perhaps you should rethink your own computer security. Next time, send it to me. I need details so I can prepare. I trust you understand that."

Bartlett looked furious, but didn't argue with that tone. Relena stepped in at that point.

"Paul, please send Heero any and all information as soon as you acquire it," she said gently, her mediating skills ever in place. She then turned to Heero. "And Heero, you'll get the information you need for this trip right after your fitting. We'd better be going now, or we'll be late."

She turned to go, and her guards followed, but Heero stood stock-still for a second.

"My what?" he asked.

"Your fitting," she repeated, "Heero, this conference isn't formal, but you still can't attend like that."

He looked down at his jeans and ratty tank top. Hn, guess not he thought to himself, but he still thought this was stupid. Relena turned again, and this time he followed the group.

All of Relena's talking about Monsieur Jean-Yves on the way to the famous tailor's shop in Old Paris failed to convince Heero that this wasn't a big waste of time. He made another dissatisfied face out of the limo window.

The limo pulled up next to a boutique in the expensive part of the shopping district of Old Paris and let them out. A bell rang as they entered the shop. Heero was pleased to note that one bodyguard stayed outside, and the other two immediately spread out and looked alert. The shop was elegantly decorated and mannequins displayed the latest fashions by Jean-Yves. The walls were adorned with tasteful wallpaper and framed pictures of celebrities wearing his creations. Heero noticed Relena had worn at least four gowns by him.

"Mademoiselle Darlian, bonjour mon chere!" the exuberant French greeting came before the speaker was visible. A middle-aged man strode from a back room and he and Relena exchanged kisses on both cheeks and more French pleasantries.

"Jean-Yves, I'd like to introduce Heero Yuy," Relena said, switching back to Universal Language and beckoning to Heero, "He'll be working with me now, and I'd like you to have a few suits made for him."

"A pleasure," the man said in UL and shaking Heero's hand. He turned to Relena and spoke in French, which Heero understood, "My dear, you've got yourself quite a strapping young man here! I'll make sure he looks very handsome!"

Heero answered in perfect French before Relena had a chance to be embarrassed, "Monsieur, I am here to protect Relena, and it is important that the suit also be functional." He tried to control his tone, knowing that the realization that he had understood would be embarrassing enough for the man.

"Ah! You speak very well, Monsieur Yuy!" the tailor exclaimed jovially, still in French. He could not quite pronounce Heero's last name correctly. "Of course, the suit will be tailored exactly to you, have no fear! Follow me please!"

Relena motioned to her other guards to stay back as she accompanied Heero to one of Jean-Yves' more elaborate fitting rooms. Relena spoke as Heero was measured, looking at models and paging through stylebooks, deciding what she thought would be appropriate for different occasions.

When she was done, Heero turned to the tailor and told him what he required. "Jean-Yves, please listen. My main purpose is to protect Relena," he reminded the man respectfully in French, "I must not draw attention. Everything you make for me should be black and simple. Just a plain collar and tie. I also need full range of movement for emergencies and perhaps hand-to-hand combat. I will need ample space to conceal several different kinds of weapons, most importantly the shoulder harness for my handgun. Do you understand?"

The man looked at Heero and rubbed his chin in thought. "Oui, I think I know just what you need," he said, "Do you have the shoulder harness with you?"

"Of course," Heero answered.

"Bon, put it on, please. I will take a few extra measurements," the tailor agreed.

Heero had brought with him just one brief-case like shoulder bag in which he carried his computer, a few over night things, other electronic equipment, and any weapons he planned on carrying. He hadn't even thought about clothes. He pulled the shoulder rig out and fastened it in place. Jean-Yves took a few more measurements and then disappeared from the room.

"Heero, I'm sure he'll do a wonderful job," Relena promised.

Heero nodded. "He does seem to care about your well-being," he observed, "You've known him a while."

"Yes," Relena affirmed, "Since Romefellar, since they made me Queen. I was very sad, seeing my country destroyed and having no choice but to abandon it. I did not feel fit to be anyone's queen. Jean-Yves was brought in to fit me for a gown. He was so funny and sweet to me, trying his best to cheer me up. In a way it reminded me that I had to be strong and push my own ideals. I realized that I had the chance to really make a difference, and I had to do it, for people like him, everyday people trying to make a living and provide for their families. Government types too easily forget that. My father never did."

Heero looked at her a moment and just nodded. Sounded like Relena was growing up. He'd of course been keeping an eye out for her since the 195 War, and watched her political changes, but he saw honesty in these more candid moments.

"Heero," Relena said hesitantly, "I have given up my family's pacifist ways, and I'm not going to ask you not to fight. That was very childish of me. Quite the opposite, I asked you to join my team because I know I need your protection, but… When you tried to shoot Mariemaia, what you said… You said you would never kill again. Did you mean that?"

Heero was silent a moment. He did remember saying that. He also remembered being very disoriented and on the brink of collapse. "Relena," he said after thinking about it, "I think I meant that in more of a figurative way. I will kill, but only if I have to. To protect you or the peace we've finally attained I would kill, but not like during the wars. Not on command and not as a soldier. Does that make sense?"

"Yes, Heero," she said with a small smile, "I understand now that we must protect what is important to us. I believe that all of the citizens of the Earth Sphere have come to understand that. I think yours is a fine philosophy."

Heero nodded.

"You know, you didn't kill Mariemaia," Relena told him, "You didn't even really shoot her."

"I know. I must have emptied the gun on the way in. I'm glad she didn't die. She was just confused. Dekim used her as a puppet," he said bitterly. He was relieved Dekim Barton was dead. Recognizing that voice from his past as the person ultimately in charge of his training was something still unsettling for him.

"You are right about that," Relena agreed, "Lady Une has adopted Mariemaia, and they will both be at the conference. Would you like a proper introduction?"

"Yes, I think I would like to apologize."

Relena laughed gracefully. "She called you a 'horrible person' when you hailed the control room to warn us that you'd be blasting in! I think you really had her scared. She'd never been threatened like that before, especially by someone so strong. But she needed to feel that fear, she needed to realize there were people out there who weren't going to let a new dictator step all over them.

"Lady Une contacted me and told me Mariemaia has been asking about you and wants to meet you," she continued, "One of the purposes of this meeting is so that Mariemaia can apologize and make an official statement to her soldiers. I think this will be like a fresh start for her."

"Yes," Heero agreed, "She's still very young. It is easy for adults to manipulate children, she must have realized that now. Being raised by Une will be good for her. A good chance to really learn about her father. Along the right path, she could be a very powerful leader."

Relena laughed again. "I think she should be a little girl first! It's not right to force children into the adult world too soon!"

An ironic smile quirked Heero's lips. "No," he agreed.

Jean-Yves bustled back into the room looking very pleased with himself. "Monsieur Yuy!" he exclaimed, "I think I have found a way to make both you and the lovely lady here quite satisfied. Elastic! I am a genius, non? I will use it to accommodate your 'full range of motion.' I want nothing to happen to my favorite young lady!"

"Hn," Heero grunted with an approving nod.

"Yes! I will make one for you ready by tomorrow, and then you will tell me anything you want different with the next ones. I am sure we will find something that works," he said with a smile. He turned to Relena, "And I will make sure he looks very stylish, Miss Vice Foreign Minister."

She smiled, "You've never let me down, Jean-Yves." She kissed both his cheeks.

He led them out into the waiting room, promising to send someone with the package tomorrow before they left for the conference. Relena and guards got back in the limo and drove to her home. Heero had been relieved to hear they would not be leaving until the following day, that would allow him plenty of time to finish preparations for the conference and start in on some training for the team. He also made note to himself to check into her home's security.

"Heero, would you please meet my mother?" Relena asked, taking his arm as they entered the house.

"Let me guess, she's 'heard so much about me'?" he asked in a light tone.

Relena looked at him like she didn't recognize him and then laughed loudly. "Heero!" she laughed in disbelief, "I've never heard you make a joke before! But yes, I think she'd really like to meet you."

Relena hugged her mother and then stepped back to introduce Heero.

"A pleasure, ma'am," he said politely with a slight bow.

She tipped her head with a smile, "I am pleased to finally meet you, Heero. I trust you more than anyone to keep my daughter safe."

Heero thought of all the times he'd tried to kill Relena. He might have killed her on her fifteenth birthday if Duo's hadn't shown up. "You honor me by saying so," he said quietly and bowed again.

Heero was then lead to a room where he could stay for the night.

"Is this close to your room?" he asked, still unsure about the home security.

"Well, mine is down the hall," she explained.

"Is there a room closer to it?"

"Yes, Paul sleeps there," she told him.

"In the room next to yours?"

"Yes," she answered.

"Acceptable for now," he relented, "When we get to your suite at the conference, one of us will be sleeping in your room, even if it's on the floor."

"I have no problem with that, Heero," she said, "I, too, trust you to keep me safe."

He placed his bag on the desk and took out his computer. He was alone, he was tempted to call Duo just to say that he'd arrived safely. Then he decided to wait until he had more time. There were several things he wanted to do first.

Bartlett pulled a bag out of his closet and began packing. He briskly shoved a few undershirts in and went in search of some shampoo. He was 39 years old and at the top of his profession. He'd given up his youth and personal life to training, and been rewarded with a very coveted job, not to mention one he believed in strongly. But on Christmas, he had failed. The Barton Foundation had gotten the better of him and his team and his charge had been put in danger. What if they'd kidnapped her and hurt or killed her? What if that tea hadn't just had tranqs in it? What if it had killed her? He should have been able to predict it, at least to prevent it.

Relena had never placed blame, but obviously, his services were no longer adequate. She had come back from the whole ordeal with the idea of hiring someone to be his equal on the team, and even had someone in mind. He took his gun apart to clean it. The kid wasn't even old enough to grow facial hair and he was all set to order their little team around. Bartlett wondered how the other guys would take it.

But the again, he had to give the kid some credit, he had been able to hack into his computer. Plus he had seen the weapon the kid carried. It was quite impressive, and it also meant he must have a license for it, which was doubly impressive. The Preventers were a stingy with those for good reason, and Relena of course wouldn't hire someone unlicensed to carry weapons. So, perhaps he might be capable at the job, but Bartlett still wondered how exactly Relena had met him.

That was something that bothered him since he laid eyes on the kid. He looked to be Relena's age and was good-looking as young men went. The Vice Foreign Minister was a very serious, very responsible leader, but she still had a heart. He hoped it had not swayed her in the making of the decision to hire Yuy. It would be not only unprofessional, but dangerous for romantic feelings to form between them, or worse to already be present.

A knock at his doorframe got his attention. Well, speak of the devil.

"I need that information now."

"Right," he responded gruffly and went to the desk.

Heero brought his own computer over and set up a direct interface between the two. Bartlett surveyed his computer. It was as impressive as the gun he had seen the kid carrying.

"That's a nice machine," Bartlett commented, eyeing Heero's laptop, "Is that the one you used to hack into mine?"

Heero nodded.

"Where'd you get it? Looks brand new," Bartlett continued.

"I just built it," Heero told him, organizing the data he'd just received.

"You built that?" Bartlett asked.

"Yes," Heero answered, trying not to sound annoyed.

Bartlett was silent again.

"Would like you like me to improve your computer's security?" Heero offered, "I can program it to be impenetrable from the Preventers network. I use very advanced hacking techniques; I highly doubt anyone else has been able to get in."

Bartlett looked at him suspiciously. "Fine," he said tight-lipped. Heero zipped through a few programs and operation windows. He pushed the computer away after ten minutes, signifying he was finished.

"You stay in this room all the time?" Heero asked.

"Yes, I'm always closest to Relena," Bartlett told him. Heero thought he picked up a slight challenging tone in the man's voice.

"Good, how long have you been her guard?" Heero continued.

"Since she became Vice Foreign Minister," he said, "But I've admired her, and her father, for a long time before that. I was trained as a soldier in the Alliance, but quit soon after to go into body-guarding full time."

Heero nodded stiffly. "Do you sleep in her room when she travels on business?"

"No, not usually. We try to give her a little privacy," he said.

"And you don't accompany her into private meetings?" Heero asked. He was referring directly to what had happened on X-18999, and Bartlett knew it. "I do not mean to place blame or disrespect, I am only confirming what I think I know," Heero said when he saw the older man's jaw clench.

"No," he answered curtly, "We do not impede on Relena's official business."

"Are you in charge of security around this estate as well?" Heero asked.

"Partially," Bartlett told him, "Pargan is also in charge because I'm not here all the time."

"We will have some time after before lunch for you to show me the perimeter and the surveillance systems. How about now?"

"Fine," Bartlett agreed with a grunt. Now his ability to keep the home safe was being called into question. This had to be some kind of punishment for screwing up.

He took Heero to the video surveillance room first and pointed out all the places with cameras, then took Heero out to walk the grounds. They also toured the house for motion sensors and other security measures. They ended up with Pargan in the surveillance room again.

"I figured out a way in," Heero told them, "Turn on the motion sensors and stay here."

With that he left the room. They watched through different cameras as Heero left the estate, then they waited. They became restless after fifteen minutes, but then Bartlett saw him.

"Son of a bitch!" he exclaimed to Pargan and pointed to the camera in Relena's room. Heero was in there, he had his hand over Relena's mouth and was holding her in front of the camera. Bartlett muttered more obscenities under his breath when Heero disappeared. They did not see him in any cameras until he opened the door.

"How the hell did you do that?" Bartlett demanded. Heero leaned against the desk and crossed his arms.

"I memorized the location and timing of the cameras and the placements of the sensors," he answered, "There are gaps."

"No one is going to be able to do that!" Bartlett argued.

"You'd be surprised," Heero countered, "I did it in twenty minutes and a quick sweep of the grounds. Could be done by a gardener, or even the person delivering the dry-cleaning."

Bartlett sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "So, what was our weak point?"

"The third floor. Not enough cameras."

"That's because it's the attic!" Bartlett argued.

"Yes, an obvious choice. I was able to enter it from one side of the house, use it to get to the wing with Relena's bedroom, climb down the side of the house into her window and take her hostage," he recounted. She had been quite surprised, but he told her to play along with the testing exercise. "Or I could have shot her, or planted bombs, or bugs, or stolen her work, or kidnapped - "

"All right!" Bartlett interjected irritably, "We get the picture."

"What do you propose we do?" Pargan asked.

Heero went through his plan to increase the number of motion sensors in the attic as well as sensitize the window frames to any movement or jimmying. He vastly improved the camera range and went over a few other compromising areas, including the garage, a prime space for setting explosives or hiding. Pargan took notes and promised to have it done by the time they got back from the conference.

"Acceptable," Heero nodded. He turned to Bartlett. "Is everyone who is accompanying Relena to the conference here now?"

"No, they'll be here by tomorrow morning," Bartlett told him.

"Please call them in," Heero said, "There are some things I want to go over with everyone present. See if you can have them here by 2:00."

Bartlett just stared as Heero turned and left without another word. He shook his head in frustration. Pargan had taken his orders like they came from Ms. Darlian herself. Just who was this kid?

Heero sat on his bed and quickly scanned the information he'd pulled from Bartlett's computer. They would leave the following morning and take quick jet to Berlin, where the conference was being held. They would check into their suite and then the conference would begin with a dinner. The following day would be briefings and meetings, the schedule clearly planned out all that the mediators wanted to accomplish. The final day would be speeches and media coverage.

Right after an unsuccessful attack, most rebels would not strike again knowing that security would be tightened. However, others might try to take advantage of the chaos and disorganization a revolt like Mariemaia's could cause. He had to be ready for the worst. He doubted Relena would be targeted again so soon, and especially after she showed such bravery, but she was most likely be targeted again the future. She was still the people's sweetheart.

The disorganization caused by the rebellion was one reason that Lady Une, the President, Relena, and other Earth Sphere leaders had insisted this meeting take place so soon after the holidays. The leaders from the colonies were especially insistent that people's fears be put to rest. Heero thought the Preventers and the Earth Sphere United Nation had come away from the incident looking very strong, but the people needed to be calmed and the Mariemaia soldiers needed to be set straight. Many of them had been detained after the fighting, and would be released after Mariemaia's speech.

It was unlikely such a large rebellion could ever take place again. The Preventers were increasing their presence and intelligence in the colonies, and working with the citizens to keep peace. Colonists were very weary of war, and readily helped the Preventers any way they could, especially after the recent uprising. Heero was more worried about smaller terrorist groups and assassins. He also worried that Relena's infamy and influence might reach the level of the late Heero Yuy, making her a target.

Heero was entering the new information into his computer when Relena appeared in his open doorway. She had a few sheets of paper in her hand.

"How did the training exercise go?" she asked.

"I was able to improve the security of your home," he told her.

"Thank you," she said. "Heero, do you have a little time to discuss a few things about your contract?"

"Of course," he said moving the computer away. She came in and sat next to him on the bed.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be there for the signing. I'm very glad you joined the team," she apologized.

"Don't worry about it, there were more important things at that time," Heero said.

"You thought the signing bonus and salary were enough?" she asked.

"More than enough," he answered.

"Ok…" she nodded, looking through the papers, "there was one more thing I wanted to clear up… Here," she found the paper, "You asked private shuttle service to and from L2 for every mission? I know you do not work for me full time, but don't you think it would be easier and more economical if you lived here on earth?"

"It probably would be, but I've already set up on L2, that is where I'm living," he told her simply.

"May I ask why?" she pushed.

"Because that is where Duo wants to live," Heero tried to explain without having to spell things out for her.

Relena recalled the American. She knew he and Heero were partners often during the 195 War and had worked together during the recent revolt. The image of them fleeing the hospital hand in hand flashed in her mind. "Oh, I see, so you are living with him?" she asked unsteadily.

"Yes, he is working on a new construction project with the Preventers," Heero explained, "I did ask if he would live on Earth, but he needs access to the resources of space."

He had actually asked. Duo had said no, he needed the coworkers he knew and he had hinted that he did not feel earth was his home. 'It's too beautiful for me, I don't belong there' he had said, 'I feel like I don't deserve it.' It sort of made Heero said because he knew how much Duo had come to love the earth.

"Oh, Quatre Winner's new project," Relena said.

"No, it is Duo's project," Heero said, trying not to sound defensive, "He thought of it, and he is heading it. Quatre is only funding it."

"Oh," was all Relena said.

"Relena, if you are worried about cost, it might be a good idea to give me a shuttle and let me pilot it myself to and from earth. You would not have to hire a pilot, and I am fairly sure you could convince the Space Port Authority of my colony to give you a hangar for the shuttle at a reduced price. I could even convince Duo's company to build me a small shuttle and sell it to you at cost, or you could get a shuttle special issue from the Preventers. Does that sound acceptable?"

"Yes, that sounds like a good plan, Heero. Look into that and get back to me, ok?" she said, rising to leave. She smiled at him, "Come with me to lunch now?"

He rose and followed her out.

Heero was very quiet during lunch, he had pretty much resigned himself from small talk, figuring he'd never be successful at it. But he listened and answered any direct questions.

At 2:00 the final team member arrived and Heero met the rest of the people who would be going the conference. Bartlett was the head, and there were three others. Relena introduced Heero, and the first thing he did was insist they all go to target practice together - including Relena. He told them he wanted to get a good idea of their capabilities.

"Relena Darlian can not be seen at a shooting range!" Bartlett hissed, grabbing Heero on the way to the garage, "Perhaps you misunderstand her importance as Vice Foreign Minister!"

"I understand perfectly," Heero argued, "And for that reason she must be able to protect herself."

"WE are here to protect her! That is our job!" Bartlett fumed, "Relena should not be anywhere near guns."

"Relena has experience with guns, ask her yourself," he smirked and got into the limo.

Bartlett took Relena aside before she got into the car. "Are you sure you want to do this, Miss?" he asked.

"I think it is a good idea," she said, "I need a refresher." She blushed slightly.

"You have used fire arms in the past?" he asked in disbelief.

"Yes," she admitted. Then she added with a light giggle, "I shot at Lady Une!" Relena moved to get in the car. "Good thing I missed," she added.

Bartlett scratched his head as he realized evidently, there were a few things he didn't know about.

At the range, Heero inspected everyone's weapons. He could tell the other guards did not accept him yet, but they humored him at least. He watched them shoot one by one and tried to give pointers on way to improve. He even had Relena shoot a few rounds.

"All right, Yuy, let's see you shoot," James, a young ex-OZ soldier in his late 20's, suggested to Heero when they had all fired several rounds.

Heero picked up his gun and aimed at the first target, the farthest one. He had a feeling they would ask him to do this, it was natural they'd want to test him. "What should I hit?" he asked.

"Left shoulder," James decided.

Heero shot the target figure squarely in the left shoulder. He then turned to the successively closer targets and shot them each in exactly the same location. Without warning, Bartlett hit the button for flashing targets. Heero shot the first instinctually, reloaded in seconds, and shot the rest as the lights flashed on the board 25 feet in front of him. When he was finished, he picked the discarded clip up off the floor. No one said anything.

Heero inspected his work and frowned. One shot had gone a fraction of an inch wide, although it still hit the mark. He turned to Bartlett. "Thanks," he said, "I needed the practice."

When they had all returned to the mansion, they gathered around the kitchen table. Heero passed out the comlinks and assigned jobs.

"This will be our form of open communication," he told them, "These hook around your ear, and the mouth piece chips have been placed in a these wrist watches." He passed around the watches. "They are all synchronized, just press the button on the right to talk into them. I plan on having us split up, so we will depend on these to contact each other.

"Bartlett and Harris, you both have the most experience, I want you within three feet of Relena at all times. You will actually guard her person and watch for attackers, anyone pulling out weapons or behaving suspiciously. You will also accompany her into meetings and sleep in the same room.

"Hawkins and O'Connell, you will sweep. If Relena is in a big hall, you should be spread out watching from afar for anything suspicious. If she is in a small room, you should be monitoring hallways and surrounding areas. I want you constantly moving. You will report to me and keep in constant contact.

"I will be roaming but giving continuous updates. Is everyone clear on their jobs?"

Everyone nodded.

"Heero," Relena spoke up, "Can I ask something?"

"Go ahead," he told her.

"Could you also accompany me into meetings?"

"Relena, with my skills, I am best suited to roaming security. I'm sure Bartlett and Harris will perform that job capably."

"I am sure they will," she agreed. "But the reason I ask you to be there so I can get your opinion," Relena told him

Heero considered it a minute. He may be able to help her in some way when it came to military or policy talks. "We'll see," he told her.

Shortly after dinner, Heero turned in for the night. He wanted to call Duo and then get some rest. His room was dark and silent. He flipped on the light and saw the bed. His longing for Duo surprised him a little. They'd been living together for little more than a week and he was already so used to Duo's presence. He remembered feeling that during the first war too, after Duo and he had been roommates for a while and then been split up. The idea of dependency set him on edge, but he reminded himself that he was not dependant on Duo, he wanted him around and those were two different things.

He powered up his computer and called Duo.

"Heero!" Duo exclaimed, answering the call after a few beeps.

"Hello, I'm looking for Duo Maxwell," Heero continued straight-faced, "My name is Heero Yuy, I am the head of the Vice Foreign Minister's security team, and I am looking to have a shuttle built for my commuting needs."

Duo's cobalt eyes sparked with excitement, then his demeanor changed to aloof. "Well, Mr. Yuy, I'm sorry, but my company isn't really available for outside contracts."

"I understand that, Mr. Maxwell, but I have heard that you are the very best and I desire your services."

"Is that so?"

"Yes, and I am more than willing to pay top dollar for your expertise," Heero promised.

Duo wrinkled his nose. "Don't you think I get enough money from The Winner Corporation?" he challenged.

Heero looked thoughtful. "Then I will have to offer you another way to sweeten the deal."

"Now you're catching on," Duo smirked, moving closer to the screen.

"I am willing to offer you certain… dispensations, Mr. Maxwell," Heero hinted.

"You've got my attention, Yuy, continue."

"May I be frank with you, Mr. Maxwell?"

"Please do."

Heero paused before continuing. "I had heard three things about you: one was that you were the top of your field, and another was that you were gorgeous. I have to say I am convinced of the second, so I am willing to bet the first must be true."

"And what, may I ask, was the third?"

"It is also said you are very good in bed, another thing I am willing to bet is true. So willing in fact, that I am offering myself to you. My company will pay you for labor and parts, and I will personally cover payment for your time away from other projects. My job can be very lonely, and I plan on making this worth your while."

"For how long, Mr. Yuy?"

"Pardon?" Heero faltered, "Uh, well, I'd say about twenty-one centi-"

"Very nice, but I meant how long do I get you?" Duo broke in, barely suppressing laughter. He returned serious again, "I want one week. Seven nights of anything I want with you."

Heero knew Duo would think he had no self-respect if he did not bargain. He shook his head. "Mr. Maxwell, an important diplomat's life depends on me. I cannot be away from my job so long. Two nights."


"Three and the option of more if we discover that payment was inadequate," Heero offered.

"Deal," Duo agreed.


"So, when do I get to collect?" Duo asked hopefully.

"Well, I accompany Ms. Darlian to a conference tomorrow. I could be on your home colony in about four days."

Duo pouted slightly. "Four days is a long time," he said, "I can't start on the shuttle design until I'm sure you're going to go through with your end of the bargain."

"That is fair, however, I do expect you to be doing some preparation before I get there," Heero hinted.

"Oh, I will be," Duo promised with a grin, "Can I contact you before then?"

"No, it would be best to let me contact you if there is anything I need to tell you."

"Understood," Duo nodded, "It's a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Yuy."

"It will be."

on to part 5

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