Disclaimer: Don't own anything Gundam Wing, only wish I did (sigh!)

Rating: PG - NC-17
Pairing: 1x2, 3x4, 5x?
Warnings (general): angst, OOC, AU, yaoi, violence, language

The Scepter
Part 1
by Heartfelt

(18 years later)

Four young men were in a clearing in the woods surrounding the kingdom of Hane, enjoying the beautiful spring day. Two of the young men, one tall with brown hair and green eyes and the other with eyes and hair as black as night, faced each other in a fencing match. They tested each other's strength, speed, and skill, neither able to get the upper hand.

Nearby, the other two young men sat watching the clash of swords. One was blond with aquamarine eyes and wore the robes of a magic user. The other had dark brown hair, dark blue eyes, and wore an unconscious air of authority as easily as he wore his tailored jacket.

The blond looked towards his companion. In addition to his abilities as a mage, he was a natural empath. He could feel the waves of confusion rolling off of the blue-eyed young man. The mage suspected that he knew the reason for his friend's discontent. Taking note of the troubled expression, he ventured a thought.

"So, your marriage to Princess Relena is imminent, I understand. Congratulations."

Heero Yui Lowe, the crown prince and future king of Hane, looked towards his friend and advisor, Quatre Reberba Winner, with an intense glare. Without making a response, he turned back to watch the match between his bodyguard, Chang Wufei, and Quatre's bodyguard, Trowa Barton. Quatre took a deep breath and tried again to draw Heero out.

"You and Relena have known each other since you were children. Surely it won't be so bad being married to her."

Heero didn't respond for a full minute. Then he let out a deep sigh and turned back to Quatre with an expression that was friendlier but no less troubled.

"Relena and I are just friends. There's never been any romantic feeling between us. I fear we just wouldn't suit as husband and wife."

Quatre replied cautiously, "But, Heero, your father is expecting the marriage to take place."

Heero made a sound of disgust. "My father can just ..." He paused and let out another sigh. "I know my father just wants what he thinks is best for me. But, Quatre, I ..." Heero turned towards Quatre with an almost wistful expression. "I just have this feeling that I'm waiting for something or someone special to come into my life. I feel as though my destiny is out there somewhere, I just have to find it. But if I miss it, my life will be meaningless... " Heero trailed off and turned back towards the ongoing fencing match.

Quatre knew that Heero wasn't finished but also knew that he'd only continue in his own time. So he likewise turned back to watch the bodyguards spar. Several minutes later, Quatre's patience was rewarded. Heero turned back to him with a rather nervous countenance.

"Quatre," Heero began. "How did you know that you and Trowa were, well, meant to be together?"

Quatre congratulated himself on his insight. The question proved that he had correctly guess what was truly troubling Heero. However, he knew that it would take a bit more work to get Heero to face the truth. Quatre looked towards Trowa, the love of his life, and thought about their history.

Trowa had been his lover for many months now, but Trowa had been his bodyguard for nearly a year before they had worked up the nerve to confess their feelings for one another. Their doubts had sprung from two sources. First, they were concerned how such an unconventional relationship would be viewed. Quatre held an important position as a mage and as Prince Heero's top advisor. Anything he did that was considered untoward could reflect negatively on Heero and Quatre would rather die than do anything to harm his friend.

Also, there was the problem of class. Quatre was a nobleman while Trowa, although he came from a very respectable family, was a commoner. Though perhaps outdated, the notions of class differences and preservation of rank was very much alive in Hane. Again, Quatre was reluctant to bring any disgrace upon Heero through his own actions.

Finally, however, after months of trying to deny them, Quatre surrendered to his feelings. He loved Trowa and told him as much, though completely unsure of what the tall guard's reaction would be. Much to his surprise and eternal gratitude, Trowa fully returned his feelings. Trowa had been reluctant to confess his love for Quatre for many of the same reasons that had lead to Quatre's reticence. Trowa didn't want to bring any scandal onto Quatre, and through him, onto Heero. When they'd finally let it be known that they were a couple, the court and the king had been surprisingly accepting. Quatre and Trowa had spent many happy months together as a result of facing their fears.

Quatre turned back to Heero. "I knew that Trowa and I were meant to be together from the first time we met." Quatre smiled as he looked back towards his love. "Trowa is everything I admire in a person. He is kind, brave, strong, and loyal. Not to mention," Quatre continued with a quirky grin, "he is the most handsome man in Hane."

Quatre's smile grew as Heero chuckled. Everyone knew that Heero held the title of Hane's most handsome without debate, although Heero didn't quite believe it. Even so, he'd heard it often enough. However, Trowa would always win in Quatre's eyes. He continued, "I fell in love with him at first sight. There was just no question."

Heero thought over Quatre's reply. He understood what Quatre was saying, but wasn't completely satisfied with the answer. There was something else he really wanted to know. "Yes, but, how did you know that ..." Heero paused before continuing in a rush, "that you were meant to be with *him*?"

Quatre did not miss the emphasis placed on the word "him." 'Ah, now we get to the heart of the matter,' Quatre thought. Quatre had suspected that Heero's indifference to Relena was due in no small part to the fact that she was a woman. Seeing how happy he and Trowa were, Quatre realized that Heero must have been feeling dissatisfied with his own situation.

"Heero," Quatre said, "the heart can't be controlled. Love is not always convenient or even appropriate. All I know is that when you find true love, you just know." Quatre smiled at his friend and turned back to watch his love fight.

Heero pondered his words wondering if he would indeed recognize when love found him.

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