As Heaven Is Wide
As the day faded away, the last vestiges of daylight shone into the Morning Star's bath chamber. The warm rays poured in around the great columns and through the heavy tapestries, gently illuminating the luxurious quarters, and created the long shadow that followed the tall figure as soon as he entered the room. Gracefully padding across the marble tile to his bathing pool, Zechs allowed his silken robe to slip from his shoulders and onto the floor, absently noting to himself that one of his many doting servants would no doubt scurry to pick it up before it managed to hit the ground. He came to a stop behind one of his bath maids who was kneeling at the water's edge, her fingertips skimming the surface of the pool. She remained oblivious to his watchful presence until his deep voice broke the silence, questioning, "Is the water warm?"
The girl jerked in surprise, nearly falling headlong into the water before steadying herself. She stood and turned to address her ruler, but upon noticing his nakedness, she immediately looked away, her face flushed a deep red with embarrassment.
"Y-yes, Master," she stammered nervously, "the water is just as you like it."
Unable to contain his amusement at the girl's discomfiture, Zechs chuckled. "Very well, then. I shall take your word on it. However," he added offhandedly, his foot hovering just above the water's surface, "I'm afraid that if it is not to my liking, you will have to be thrown into the Inferno."
Mortified and panic-stricken, the servant girl watched with bated breath as Zechs stepped into the silvery pool, her heart pounding harder the deeper he waded in. The suspense was killing her and she felt close to fainting until Zechs stopped and turned back to her, giving her an appraising look.
"It seems that I have underestimated you. You have done well."
The girl exhaled her anxiety in a relieved sigh, a small smile rising to her lips at the rare words of praise. "I will always do all that I can to please you, my Lord. Are you in need of anything else? Would you like one of us to bathe you?"
Feeling the tension leave his muscles as he lowered himself into the warm water, Zechs let his body relax completely. Stifling a yawn, he gave the girl a sleepy reply. "No. I am in no need of any further assistance. You are dismissed."
The timid servant gazed at her master adoringly as he settled into his bath. "Yes, yes, of course. And if you are in need of anything-"
"I will call for you if I need you." The mighty fallen angel closed his eyes, sinking further into the steamy pool. "Now please leave before I lose my temper."
With a frightened gasp, the girl hurried out of the room at a near-frantic pace. She shut the doors quietly, leaving Zechs to enjoy his bath in peace.
//If only they would obey immediately, then I wouldn't have to resort to threats. It's become so tiresome...//
Stretching his long limbs under the water, Zechs released a contented sigh and leaned back against the smooth ivory that walled the pool. He tilted his head backward and looked up, gazing at the magnificently painted domed ceiling high above, smiling internally at the fine craftsmanship and exquisite attention to detail.
//It's beautiful. Absolutely stunning.//
"Too bad you have no one to share it with."
Zechs groaned and turned his head in the direction of the mocking voice. "_You_ again."
Dark blue eyes sparkled mischievously at the disdain in the other's tone. "What's this? Not happy to see me?"
Narrowing his eyes at the familiar figure, the irritated blonde bit out contemptuously, "I should have killed you when I had the chance."
Tossing his dark head back, the figure laughed, further riling Zechs. Once he had calmed himself, he remarked sarcastically, "It's good to see that you haven't lost your sense of humor after all these years. But really Zechs," he continued, walking around the edge of the pool, "if you *had* actually killed me, do you honestly think that these little ...visitations would never happen? Really, if you think about it, this has nothing to do with me; this isn't *my* fault at all. It's yours. _You_ are the crazy one, and _I_ am merely a visual manifestation of all of your doubts and insecurities. My being either alive or dead has no bearing on the situation. So don't try to blame me for your problems."
"Damn it," cursed Zechs under his breath. "Why couldn't my personal imp-"
"I'm not an imp, Zechs. I'm the visual manifestation of-"
"Shut up!" yelled the flustered fallen angel, baring his teeth in rage. "Why does my _imaginary tormentor_ have to look like you, whom I have the utmost hatred for?"
Furrowing his dark brows, the figure took on a thoughtful posture. "Perhaps," he began slowly, "perhaps your hatred is the exact reason that you chose me to represent all your troubles. Or maybe, somewhere in the back of your mind you feel guilty for fucking me over and ruining my life, and this is just your long-since-buried conscience getting back at you."
"Ha!" snorted Zechs, "I don't feel guilty at all. You got what you deserved. After all, you did kill all of those defenseless angels in cold blood." Smirking arrogantly, he added, "And don't forget that our dear Creator was the one to punish you, Zero-one, not I."
Angrily pointing his finger at the bathing man, the apparition growled, "You set me up! It's as much your fault that those angels are dead as it is mine, if not more so. If you hadn't wanted me out of the picture so badly-"
Zechs straightened up in the water and interrupted his nemesis, snarling, "You were too dangerous; you were a hazard to everyone-"
"NO!" bellowed Zero-one, silencing the blonde. "I was not a fucking hazard! I was in your way, and you got rid of me. That's all there is to it. But I've got news for you," he warned, a smirk pulling at the corner of his mouth, "I am still an obstacle for you, now more than ever before."
"What are you talking about?" hissed Zechs, a feeling of dread slowly building and gripping at his heart.
Taking a seat directly across from his adversary, Zero-one elaborated, his smirk still firmly in place. "Haven't you realized it yet? I am all that stands between you and your pathetic dream of taking over Heaven."
Zechs stared at the other dispassionately. "What? Is that supposed to scare me?"
"Don't take me so lightly, Zechs," scowled the imagined figure. "You know that I am a formidable opponent, and I'd wager to say that you are quite hesitant to face me one-on-one, though you won't admit it, not even to yourself."
"I am not afraid of anyone, least of all you."
Leaning forward, Zero-one whispered, "You should be. Because I have a very valuable asset that will be fighting by my side, and that asset will be all that I need to defeat you."
Rolling his pale blue eyes, the ruler of Hell responded, "If you speak of those pathetic foot soldiers that make up Heaven's army, I can assure you that mine are far superior."
"Not the army. The asset I speak of is its former commander."
Suddenly snapping to attention, Zechs gasped, "You can't be serious! Why would he fight with you?"
Zero-one threw up his hands at Zechs's arrogance. "Why wouldn't he? You are the reason he lost his rank, it's your fault he was imprisoned for a millennia, and because of you, he fell out of favor with his Creator and was cursed. I think it's safe to say that you are the bane of his existence. I'm sure he holds a grudge."
"I did not intend for any of that to happen!" cried the fallen angel, his anguish apparent. "I love him, and he loves me, and he will not fight against me."
Shaking his head in disgust, Zero-one retorted, "You are a fool. Duo does not love you. He never has."
Zechs rose up in outrage, clenching his hands into fists by his sides. "Liar! He does love me! He even gave himself to me to prove it!"
"You fed him wine until he was too drunk to say no and you took advantage of him! That is *not* love, not on your part, and certainly not on his." Sneering, he added, "You should be grateful if he even bothers to look in your direction, especially after your last encounter."
The unexpected blow stopped the blonde demon in his tracks and rattled him to the core. Suddenly deflated, all of his defiance and self-confidence instantly wiped away, Zechs dropped his head. "Stop. Please. Don't make me go through this again." Putting a hand to his head, he shakily sat back down, but his tormentor continued prodding.
"You remember, don't you? The last conversation you had with Duo, the last words he said to you?"
Squeezing his eyes shut, Zechs tried to fight the memory, but there was no use. //How could I forget?//
Everything had gone wrong. His plan had backfired. God was about to unleash His wrath upon Zechs and all of his followers. Worst of all, Duo had been caught in the middle.
//I have to find him. I have to talk to him. He has to hear me out. He's the only one I have left...//
Zechs searched for Duo in all of his usual hiding places, but he couldn't bring himself to go to Duo's house until every other possibility had been exhausted. However, once every other stone had been overturned, he found himself standing in front of Duo's house.
Pushing his fears aside, he strode up the wide granite steps and passed between the trunk-like columns, crossing the threshold into Duo's home. He went from room to room, peering through the curtained doorways and finding each empty, until he reached Duo's private bedroom at the back of the house.
Cautiously, Zechs looked inside, his eyes scanning the dark interior. At first glance, it appeared that the room was empty, but a slight movement to his right drew his attention.
A small figure sat with his back to Zechs on the terrace overlooking the garden, motionless except for the rise and fall of his shoulders as he breathed.
Stepping into the room, Zechs was careful not to make a sound, but Duo, obviously aware of the other's presence, broke the silence first, whispering the question: "Is it true?"
The lifelessness of the boy's tone struck Zechs to the heart. Not knowing the right words to say, he did not answer and took a step further, but Duo's pained voice stopped him again.
"Did you... Did you really do what they are accusing you of?"
The majestic angel paused, uncertain. "I... I don't really know what to say."
Duo did not turn around, but instead pulled his knees to his chest and bowed his head. "How about the truth? It seems that I've never heard it from you."
Zechs shook his head emphatically, his long blonde tresses sweeping the floor with the movement. "I have not lied to you-"
"If what I have heard is true," Duo broke in, his voice rising, "you have been living a lie for as long as I've known you!"
"Duo..." He sighed dejectedly, his usual eloquence failing him. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen."
Chuckling mirthlessly, Duo asked acerbically, "So tempting the humans was just an accident? And what of the rebellion that you and your followers have been plotting? Is that what you didn't mean to happen?"
A long, tense silence followed as Duo waited for Zechs's reply. When it finally came, the braided angel had to strain to hear the words, so quiet and remorseful was the voice that spoke them.
"Don't you think there was a reason I never told you? I kept you in the dark to protect you, Duo. I didn't want you to get involved because I didn't want you to get hurt." He inhaled a shaky breath and clenched his fists at his sides to stop the trembling in his hands. "I care for you more than I care about anything in all creation, and the last thing I wanted was for you to suffer on account of my actions. That's why I didn't tell you. And I guess," he paused, looking up at the ceiling as if the magic words that could resolve his troubles were written upon it, "I guess I thought that if you knew, you wouldn't want to be around me, and I don't think that I could survive without you. It sounds selfish, I know, but... I honestly thought that it would be better for both of us if you didn't know."
For a moment, Zechs thought that Duo would not respond, but slowly the boy rose from his huddled position on the floor and stood upright, but he still kept his back to Zechs.
"If you really cared for me as you claim you do, you would have told me about what you were up to so I could have decided for myself whether or not I should associate with you. Instead, you lied to me. You lied, you betrayed my trust, and you kept me as you would a toy or a pet, oblivious to your true motives but loyal and devoted and always at your disposal. And you know what's funny?" he asked with a hollow laugh, his shoulders shaking as the laugh became more and more hysterical, "As hard as you tried to keep me out of the loop, it didn't do any good. I'm going down with you, and there's nothing either one of us can do about it."
In a sudden panic, Zechs rushed forward and grabbed Duo by the shoulders, spinning him around to face him. "What are you talking about, Duo? What do you mean?"
Still laughing despite the tears that freely flowed down his cheeks, Duo explained, "Don't you see? They think I'm involved. They think I've been helping you plan this rebellion. I'm going on trial, just like you and the others. I've already been relieved of my command of the armies; I don't know what else they've got planned."
Horrified beyond words, the tall blonde could only stare as Duo continued to babble on, no doubt in shock. "It's not just the High Council, either. Wufei, my own second-in command, he thought I was in on the conspiracy, too. I convinced him that I wasn't, but there's no one else on my side. I mean, they won't believe you because you are guilty, they won't believe me because they _think_ I'm guilty, and they won't believe Wufei because he works for me. Oh, and both Wufei and I have been removed from the High Council as well. Hilde and Meiran have taken our places." Shaking his head, he let loose a sob. "Why did this have to happen? What have I done to deserve this fate? Have I been disobedient? Have I displeased Him? What did I do?" He looked up at Zechs with red-rimmed eyes, hoping that the once-revered angel could give him an answer.
"You haven't done anything wrong. This is all my fault. I'm sorry, Duo, I'm so sorry." Zechs tried to pull the smaller angel closer, but Duo jerked back and pushed him away, his tear stained face suddenly colored with rage.
"Don't. Touch. Me. I never want your hands on me again, understand?" Wiping the tears from his eyes, Duo continued to yell, "How could you do this to me? I trusted you! I looked up to you, I adored you, and you betrayed me! So don't to 'comfort' me by offering a hug and a kiss, because it won't work. Nothing can make up for what you did. Nothing."
Undeterred, Zechs reached out again, needing to hold the boy as much as Duo needed to be held, but once again his hands were pushed away, this time with even more force.
"NO!" he screamed angrily, his violet eyes glowing dangerously, "Get away from me! I don't want you here! Get out! Get out! Leave me alone!"
His heart breaking, Zechs made one last attempt to touch Duo. "Please," he begged, voice cracking, "don't do this." He stretched his hand forward, brushing his fingers over Duo's hot cheek, and for a moment, it seemed that the boy had calmed enough to be receptive.
However, the moment was soon broken as Duo's hand cut through the air and landed with a stinging slap against Zechs's face, turning the taller man's head with the force of the blow.
"Get out of my house," Duo demanded icily. His tone and the cold fury that burned in his eyes brooked no argument. "I want you to leave and I don't ever want to see you again."
Pressing his hand to his rapidly bruising cheek, Zechs nodded his understanding and turned away, walking dejectedly toward the door. As he stood in the doorway, he looked back over his shoulder to get one last look, superimposing the familiar, smiling face that he had grown so accustomed to over Duo's now cold, unforgiving visage.
Zechs reluctantly crossed the threshold and walked away from the one person he loved. He had only taken a few steps out of the room when he heard Duo collapse behind him, his uncontrollable sobs echoing loudly down the halls and reverberating throughout the house. Breaking into a run, Zechs fled the building as quickly as he could, running until he reached his own estate where the rest of the High Council was waiting to take him into custody.
"'I don't ever want to see you again' doesn't quite sound like 'I love you' to me, but perhaps I'm just hearing it wrong."
Still too deep in the memory to be concerned with Zero-one's mocking words, Zechs went on as if in a daze. "He wouldn't even look at me at the trial, not even when I was pleading for them to release him. He just sat there, staring at his hands, and he let the High Council fling their lies and accusations without saying a word in his own defense. It was just sickening..."
"And to think that *you* are the one to blame for all of his problems," commented the apparition cheerily.
Wearily shaking his head, the tall blonde merely groaned. "Must you continue to irritate me so? Is there nothing I can do to be rid of you?"
The dark-haired figure shrugged. "I doubt it. Maybe through intensive therapy, but you'd never agree to that. You'd probably have to get rid of yourself."
Zechs raised an eyebrow. "Really? Let's test it."
"What?!" Zero-one looked on in disbelief as Zechs held out his hand and within seconds a blade materialized in his palm.
Picking up the sharp instrument in one hand, he raised his other arm out of the water, turning it over to expose his wrist. "This hasn't worked before, but maybe if I do it one more time, I'll get some results."
Without another word, Zechs pressed the sharp edge into his skin until he drew blood, and then slowly dragged the blade down to the crook of his arm, not even wincing at the pain the action undoubtedly produced. Lifting the knife away, he watched in near amusement as the blood that seeped from the wound miraculously reversed its flow. Before his eyes, the foot-long incision stopped bleeding and healed itself, leaving his arm exactly as it had been before.
"Damn," he cursed, his tone strangely light. Looking back to Zero-one, who had watched the events unfold through wide dark blue eyes, he smiled sadly. "I can't even kill myself. How pathetic."
His imaginary nemesis stared at the powerful angel, sincerely confused by the sudden change that had taken place. In the space of a few minutes, Zechs had gone from arrogant and cocksure to suicidal. Leaning closer, Zero-one asked, clearly baffled, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Still toying with the cutting blade, Zechs replied with a noncommittal "Hm?"
"You're crazier than I thought. I mean, you're planning on invading Heaven in less than a week's time, something that's been your top priority for thousands upon thousands of years, but here you are trying to kill yourself in your bathtub. That's quite a change of pace. I don't see the logic in it."
"There isn't any logic behind it," sighed Zechs, making the blade disappear with a slight wave of his hand. "Sometimes I just lose track of my priorities. It happens every now and then. And sometimes... Sometimes I just want to die."
Zero-one furrowed his brows. "Why?"
Closing his eyes, Zechs replied, "Because I'm surrounded by thousands of people that love me."
"What's so bad about that?"
Not giving the figure an answer, he let himself slip down until he was completely submerged.
//I'm surrounded by people that love me, but the only one that I love is just out of reach, and it's killing me.//
He stayed under water for a long time, listening to the blood pounding in his ears until he thought his lungs would burst. When he finally came up for air, his "visual manifestation" had thankfully disappeared, but he was not allowed to appreciate his solitude for long, as there came a light knock at the door.
//Damn it, Mariemaia.// "Come in."
The heavy doors opened across the room, allowing the small redhead entrance. Zechs closed his eyes once again and settled back against the wall of the pool, preparing himself for yet another briefing by his faithful underling.
"You have something to report, I presume?"
The demon-child nodded. "Yes, Master. I have word from Lady Une. She said to tell you that the troops are ready to move at your command."
"That is good news, but I assumed as much. Did she want anything else?"
"Yes. She said that the soldiers want to know if all forces will be attacking Heaven or if this will be a two-pronged attack with troops sent to fight in Heaven and on Earth." Wringing her hands behind her back, she added, "I can usually answer all of her questions, but I was unsure how to respond to this one. What should I tell her?"
"Hn," he snorted derisively, "so 'the soldiers' want to know, do they? I have never known them to be inquisitive before. You can tell Lady Une not to use her troops to mask her own uncertainty."
Mariemaia's widened, but she brushed her surprise aside. "Yes, sir."
"You may also tell her to let her troops know that we will attack Heaven full-force. That's where all the major players will be, so that is where we must be as well. The attack on Earth comes after victory in Heaven."
"There is something else, my Lord."
"Go ahead, then."
Clearing her throat nervously, Mariemaia announced, "Quatre Winner was spotted on Earth last night."
Zechs raised an eyebrow. "Do we know why he was there?"
"He went to see Duo. I would assume that they discussed Heaven's plan of attack. I'm sure they spoke of Zero-one's reawakening."
//Zero-one.// The name stirred anger in Zechs and he scowled darkly. "You know the whereabouts of Zero-one's human incarnation, correct?"
"Yes. His name is Yuy. Heero Yuy. It will be no trouble to locate him. He is remarkably easy to find."
"Good. See if you can do something about him." He thought for a moment, turning over ideas in his mind. "It would be much easier to deal with his human form now than to wait until he has fully awakened as an angel. Don't you agree?"
Mariemaia smiled. "Yes. That is an excellent plan. Do you want him to be killed?"
Hesitating a moment, Zechs weighed his options. //Killing him would be easier. They'd have to scramble to find a way to bring his soul back to Heaven. But if we didn't kill him, if we brought him here... Someone would surely come to retrieve him. Duo would come...//
"No, don't kill him. Bring him here. I'll decide what I want to do with him later."
"Yes, my Lord. I know just who to call." Hesitating, she said, "I've brought him with me, actually."
At this revelation, Zechs opened his eyes. "Oh, really? Mariemaia," he questioned darkly, "is it often that you bring guests into my chambers without my consent?"
"No, no, Master!" she exclaimed apologetically, "I would never... It's just that he-"
"He was very insistent. He said it was about Duo."
Zechs narrowed his eyes, quickly scanning the room. His gaze stopped on a lanky figure standing back in the shadows, barely visible in the dusky light.
"What do you want?"
The figure grinned menacingly. "No need to be hostile. I just happen to know about your fondness for our dear Duo, and I thought that I might be able to ...lend my services."
The regal angel barely kept himself from sneering at the boy's contemptuousness. "And what, pray tell, are these 'services' that you wish to offer?"
"Well, I'm willing to keep tabs on Duo for you and relay any useful information that I may come across, free of charge. I can also help you get Yuy out of the way, but that'll cost you."
Zechs chuckled. "Excuse me, but what makes you think that you will receive any sort of compensation for these services? I surely hope that no one has led you to believe such nonsense," he said, casting a pointed glance in Mariemaia's direction which she answered with a frantic shake of her head and a mouthed "No!"
The lanky figure grinned wider. "Hey, don't blame her. I came up with these ideas all by myself." Stepping out of the shadows, he lazily walked closer, still grinning. "Now, I think you'll find a way to compensate me, because the way I see it, I'm the one that's getting rid of your main competition."
"Competition for what?"
"For Duo, of course. You'd be amazed how easily Yuy is winning your beloved's heart."
Incensed, Zechs suddenly stood up and glared at the insolent stranger, but when he spoke, he addressed his advisor. "Mariemaia. Is there any truth to what he says?"
Keeping her eyes trained on the floor rather than at Zechs, who seemed unmindful of his state of undress, the red-haired girl replied quietly, "I believe so, yes."
With a curt nod, Zechs turned his attention back to the strange visitor. "Your instructions are simple: Bring the boy here as soon as possible. You will be compensated for your troubles."
The boy's grin grew wider and his hazel eyes gleamed menacingly in this waning daylight.
"Your wish is my command."
Sitting at the kitchen table, Heero tugged his shoes on, tying the laces with practiced ease as he watched Duo moving busily around the kitchen.
"Why don't you come to school today? It won't kill you."
Duo stirred his eggs in the frying pan. "I told you, I've got some errands to run. School will be fine without me." Tossing the Japanese boy a smile, he reminded him, "I'll be here when you get home. We've got lots to talk about; can't miss that."
Heero raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Talk? Just _talk_? You owe me a little bit more than talking."
Sighing melodramatically, the American shook his head. "We'll talk about that."
"Ugh!" exclaimed the dark-haired boy, throwing up his hands. "You talk too much!" Checking his watch, Heero stood up and grabbed his books, giving Duo a wave. "I'll see you this afternoon." Just as he was about to walk out the door, a sudden thought stopped him. Setting his books down, he darted back into the kitchen where Duo was still tending to his scrambled eggs.
Duo's surprised exclamation was instantly muffled as Heero wrapped his arms around the older boy's neck and pressed their mouths together. Shocked violet eyes became heavy lidded and eventually slid closed as the kiss intensified, and Duo moaned into the other boy's mouth as Heero writhed against him. Breaking away before he lost control of his hormones, Duo looked up at the clock.
"You don't have time to be fooling around with me. Mrs. Stankovich will give you another detention if you're late again."
Heero grumbled his protests, but finally conceded, detaching himself from Duo.
"I'll see you later," grinned Duo as he pushed Heero out the door.
Allowing himself a slight smile, Heero headed off. "Later."
Duo watched as Heero walked down the hall toward the elevators, waiting until the boy was out of sight before closing the door. Leaning against the wooden panel, he breathed in deeply, inhaling the little bit of Heero's scent that lingered in the air around him. //Damn it, Heero. What am I going to do without you?//
He pushed himself away from the door and headed back into the kitchen just in time to notice that his eggs had turned black while he'd been gone.
"Well, shit. There goes breakfast."
Tossing the ruined eggs into the garbage, Duo ambled into the guest bedroom, sifting through the dresser drawers until he found a suitable t-shirt to wear. After pulling the shirt over his head, he checked his appearance in the mirror.
"I guess I should get going. Hope they don't mind if I dress down."
Smoothing his hair down one last time, he closed his eyes and pressed his palms together as if praying. With great effort he focused his energy, and before him a light appeared, growing brighter and larger the more he concentrated. Soon, the light had expanded until it was large enough for him to step into.
Opening his eyes, Duo regarded his handiwork. "Not too bad. Guess I haven't completely lost my touch, even though I haven't had to use one of these in about five thousand years."
Duo took a deep breath and stepped forward into the light, allowing himself to be consumed. For a fleeting moment, he felt as if he was floating in a vacuum, but once the sensation passed, he found himself in very familiar surroundings.
//Huh. My old room. It looks just like I left it. I wonder who's been keeping the house while I've been gone.//
He walked over to the large four-poster bed, gently caressing the soft velvet comforter. //I have missed this.//
Forcing himself out of his reverie, Duo look one last look around his room before leaving. He inspected the rest of the rooms in his abandoned house, finding all of them impeccably maintained.
Duo cautiously walked down the front steps of his home, checked the street for any unfriendly faces. Fortunately, the street appeared to be deserted, and grinning, he set off to deliver a surprise to his old acquaintances.
"We suspect that Zechs has been training his army of followers for some time now, though for how long, we cannot be sure. However, we need to make certain that our troops are prepared for any attack they may face. Meiran, Hilde. Give us your reports."
Meiran pushed her chair back and stood, nodding her appreciation to the Chairman. "Thank you, Treize." Turning to address the rest of the meeting participants, she was just about to begin her report when a commotion outside drew everyone's attention.
"I'm sorry, sir, but the High Council is in session. They cannot be disturbed."
"Oh, they're in this room?"
"Please, sir! You'll have to come back some other time."
"Just go on in?"
"Sir! The High Council is- Please, don't go in there! Don't make me call security!"
"Thanks for your help miss, I can manage from here."
Over the insistent objections of the secretary, the large doors into the High Council's chambers swung open. Alarmed, the Council members stood, ready to defend themselves from a possible attack from the intruder, but when the trespasser was revealed, most were too stunned to move.
"Duo!" cried one dark-haired girl elatedly, her turquoise eyes shimmering with unshed tears at the sight of her long-long friend.
The intruder flashed the girl a brilliant grin. "Good to see you, Hilde." Glancing around the room and taking in all the stern faces, he smirked. "Too bad everybody else isn't quite so happy to see me. Good thing I wasn't expecting a party."
The tall man at the head of the table spoke up next. "Duo. Would you care to explain to the rest of us what you are doing here and why you felt so compelled to interrupt our session.?"
"Well, Treize, I'm glad you asked. You see," Duo began, pulling up a chair next to Hilde, "I got word that there was going to be trouble, so I thought I'd come check it out." Treize did not seem to be amused. "Okay. How about we discuss this after our session? I'm sure that all of your questions could be answered at that time."
Duo shook his head. "I'm afraid that won't do, but I do have another suggestion. How about I stick around and you people tell me exactly what you're planning to do with Zero-one?"