At precisely eight o'clock sharp that evening, the two lovers were greeted by the owner of The Venetian. Trowa blinked at the man in surprise as he recognized the dark haired and skinned man.
"Omar?" he questioned as the man turned his happy countenance from Quatre to him.
"Master Trowa!" the shorter man loudly exclaimed and stuck out his pudgy hand to give him a hearty handshake.
"Surprise." Quatre grinned seeing his love recognized the L-4 Winner household chef.
"And a wonderful surprise it is too." Trowa beamed at the man before him. He'd sampled Omar Kaddifel's exquisite cuisine for the year he'd lived with Quatre; and both he and Duo had complimented the man profusely, saying he should open his own restaurant so others could share in the art that was his cooking and baking. Seems the good man took their words to heart.
"Yes," Omar smiled proudly. "I took yours and Master Duo's advice, and with Master Quatre's help, I opened my own place."
Trowa's eyes turned to focus on the establishment. The light was dim, but not dark, the tables and chairs were tasteful and elegant in rich but subdued colors. The tables set around the room were placed to give each party enough space for a small amount of privacy and intimate conversation. The place smacked of money, quality, and good taste.
"You did this all yourself?" the tallest of the three asked, sounding very impressed.
"Most of it, with a little helpful financial backing." Omar smiled broadly and tilted his head in a telling manner towards the blond.
"Little is exactly right." Quatre grinned back. "I own only a small interest in the business."
The restaurant was full without looking crowded and the waiters were efficient without looking hurried. The patrons looked to be wealthy.
"Well, it looks to be a great success." Trowa smiled genuinely in response to what he'd observed.
"I hope so." Omar replied and motioned to the head waiter with a quick flick of his hand that his guests were ready to be seated. The formally dressed and distinguished middle-aged man led them to their table for two, situated in a prominent position in the center of the restaurant, a place to see and be seen.
They took their seats and Quatre ordered the wine from Omar as they were both still underage, and the two listened attentively as their waiter listed the specials of the day.
Quatre ordered the salmon with a light lemon/dill sauce, and Trowa the seafood fettuccini. A salad was placed before them as well as French bread with herb-laced olive oil. The two young men chatted with familiarity and comfort, not taking in much else in the room other than each other and the excellent food set before them.
As they neared the end of their meal, Quatre began to study the people at the other tables, to see if he recognized anyone.
Trowa swirled his broken piece of bread into the olive oil, then looked up, hearing a slight gasp from his companion. Quatre's eyes met his, looking startled and unsure.
"What?" Trowa asked, his senses becoming fully alert.
"Relena and Heero are here." the blond whispered, then shifted his eyes to his right and motioned his head to the direction over his lover's left shoulder.
Trowa followed his signals and found himself meeting Heero's penetrating gaze from across the room. The former Wing pilot's eyes, when they bore into a person for a purpose, caused many a man, soldier, politician or criminal to cringe and look away. But Trowa met his stare and matched it. Even from across the room Trowa could see Heero's left eyebrow raise in question before he nodded, whether in greeting or just acknowledging he'd met his match in glaring, Trowa didn't know. But knowing of the callous deed Heero had done to his former lover, cause the auburn haired Preventer not to relent to Heero's intimidation tactics. Instead of nodding back, he merely turned his head.
The two finished their meal trying hard to ignore the pointed glare focused on them from across the room.
"What's his problem?" Quatre asked, looking a bit nervous from Heero's penetrating scrutiny.
"Maybe his guilty conscious is catching up with him." Trowa replied with a slight shrug, trying to show an indifference he didn't feel as he masked his anger.
"Come to my room for a little while?" Quatre asked with hope twinkling in his bright blue eyes as well as a wicked smiled that let his lover know what his intentions were when they finally got into a room alone. Trowa had made it clear from the time he'd come to Earth and after they'd patched their relationship back together, that Mrs. Lunderson's house was not an appropriate place for their more intimate activities. In the past two years, Quatre's hotel room was the obvious place for a tryst, but they had taken the time to be spontaneous and clever at times and had found other inventive places to express their love for each other.
Trowa frowned, looking at his watch. The entire meal had taken an hour and a half. He felt torn between enjoying some private time with Quatre and going home to make sure Duo was alright.
"He'll be fine." Quatre gently admonished him. "Have a little faith in Wufei and Mrs. L."
He was right, and Trowa knew it. He owed Quatre some quality time, and to be honest with himself, he needed the comforting reassurance the blond Arabian always gave him. "Alright." he smiled at the beaming face across from him. "Let's take some dessert up with us and some home to the others."
Quatre's lit up face suddenly sobered. "Here comes Heero." he warned.
"Not a word about Duo." his lover warned in a whisper.
Heero came to stand at the edge of their table, looking down at the two he had once called close friends. "Quatre, Trowa." he nodded to them separately.
"Hello Heero." Quatre replied out of courtesy. Trowa nodded his head and looked up into the Japanese man's face.
The moment passed on awkwardly by for all of them, until at last Heero spoke. "Where's Wufei?" he asked bluntly. "I've been trying to reach him all week. He's not at his home nor at his office."
"I'm not his keeper." Trowa said in a clipped tone, picking up his wine glass and taking a slow, lingering sip. "If you need to speak with him, try his e-mail."
"He hasn't answered any messages that I've sent." Heero replied, and the look on his face hinted at his frustration at the situation.
"Well maybe he doesn't have anything to say to you." Trowa replied coolly, causing the former Wing Pilot to frown.
"What's the matter with you Trowa?" Heero scowled at his former friend. Then his demeanor changed, looking rather sad. He lowered his voice when he spoke again. "Is this about me using your office? Is this why you're acting so indifferent to me?"
"I'm not acting, Heero, I am indifferent to you."
"Why?" Heero asked affronted. "What have I done to you that you should act this way?" he looked offended, even betrayed.
Quatre had been closely observing their former teammate throughout then entire awkward conversation, and he could sense waves of confusion and hurt rolling off of the normally stoic young man.
"Let's just say some information has come to light of what a bastard you really are."
It only took a moment before Heero reacted. He reached out with lightning speed, grabbed hold of Trowa's shirt and jacket in his fists and pulled him up and out of his chair, bringing him close enough that their faces were only inches apart.
"What the hell are you talking about?" he hissed through gritted teeth. Both young men glared at the other, eyes narrowed and obviously ready to fight. All eyes in the restaurant turned to them and all movement and sound ceased.
Quatre alone moved as he jumped from his seat and tried to pry the two apart. "This is not the time or place you guys. Don't ruin things for Omar."
The two stood unmoving, Quatre could almost see sparks of anger igniting between them.
Noticing a movement from the side, Quatre turned to see a familiar person approaching. "Here comes Relena." he warned them in a hushed voice. For some reason he didn't readily fathom, Heero instantly reacted, letting go of Trowa's clothing and took a step back. "Later" he promised in an almost inaudible hiss.
"What's wrong, Heero?" Relena's soft, sing/song voice asked in concern as she approached him, eyes touching briefly on the other two men. She placed her hand on his arm and Quatre thought he saw a slight flinch on Heero's part.
"Nothing." he replied, now appearing completely calm, his voice back to being his usual monotone. "I just didn't like Trowa's attitude."
"Come now," the well-known Vice Foreign Minister smiled her practiced political face of a truce maker on them. "You three are friends. What could be so wrong that it can't be forgiven?" she asked, then turned her eyes to the blond young man. "How are you Quatre?" she nodded to him and then his companion. "Trowa?"
"We're fine, Relena. Thank you for asking." the Winner heir replied with all-due courtesy. Trowa stoically and quite rudely looked off in a different direction.
"Oh my." she said in a feigned tone of disappointment. "Something's amiss here. Why don't you two come over for dinner some night this week and we can work out this little misunderstanding. We can put whatever problem there is out on the table and put it behind us." she suggested and smiled as if pleased with her obvious solution.
"What?" Trowa spoke up, his voice edged with sarcasm and anger, "And find myself locked in prison the next day under some trumped up charges? You'd have to believe me to be a complete idiot to agree to come anywhere near you two."
Quatre gasped at Trowa's boldness, then watched the other two as Relena looked insulted and Heero....well, he just looked miserable.
"What are you insinuating, Trowa?" Relena asked, now clearly angered.
"You seem to be omnipotent these days, you figure it out." was the derisive reply.
Omar displayed his sense of perfect timing by showing up at that very moment. "Is there a problem?" he asked nervously, looking at all four well-known individuals involved in the verbal altercation in the center of his restaurant and on opening night.
"No, Omar. Trowa and I are just leaving." Quatre answered only glancing for a brief moment at the business man to give him a reassuring smile, then he returned to cautiously watch the other two squared off from Trowa. "The meal was wonderful, never had better." Quatre said loud enough so the other patrons would hear and spread the word that Quatre Winner had approved of the establishment. "Could you send one of your wonderful pies along with the bill to my hotel room?" he asked the man aside.
"I'd be happy to." the older man said with a look of great relief on his face.
"Let's go Trowa." Quatre took his lover's arm and led him away from Heero and Relena, who stood staring after their retreating backs.
Though the former Heavyarms pilot was tense and in anything but a romantic mood after that altercation, a shoulder massage and teasing kisses on the neck and ears soon had the thoughts and feelings of the auburn-haired young man drifting to a more pleasurable realm. All thoughts of Heero and Relena's betrayal lost out to thoughts of the blond now intent on driving him crazy.
It was around midnight when the taxi drove to the front of the house. The two in the back held hands, relishing the contact and their time together. Yet seeing a vaguely familiar car out front of the house had Trowa sitting up at attention. The taxi pulled up behind the sleek, white sports car with the license plate printed in bold letters HERMAN. They both looked up to the house. The front curtains were drawn, but the lights were definitely on.
Quatre quickly paid the driver as Trowa flung open the cab door and strode anxiously up the sidewalk. From the outside he could see through the glass in the front door that there were two dark haired persons just inside for foyer and clearly audible were two voices raised in an angry argument.
Quatre quickly paid the taxi driver and ran from the car to catch up with his lover just as he put his hand on the door knob. Swinging it open, they were met with the scene of Heero and Wufei wrestling with each other, both angry and shouting.
"What's going on here?" Trowa asked angrily. "And what the hell are you doing here Yuy?"
Wufei pushed Heero back away from his body and stood defiantly in Heero's way, blocking him from advancing past the entry. "Heero decided to pay us an impromptu visit." Wufei answered, perturbed at the situation. "He just walked in, unannounced and un-welcomed."
"I saw Duo, dammit." Heero growled out. "How long have you been hiding him from me and why?" he demanded.
"Get out Heero." Trowa ordered sternly. "You're not welcome here."
"Not until I talk to Duo." Heero shouted.
"Haven't you hurt him enough Yuy?" Wufei cut in, his eyes bright with anger. "Leave him be. We'll take care of him from now on." he added firmly.
Quatre looked up from the angry three to see Mrs. Lunderson coming down the stairs dressed in her floral house coat and slippers. Her eyes were wide with alarm.
"I'm not going anywhere until I see him." Heero declared stubbornly.
"No!" Trowa shouted back. "We're taking care of him now. Get out or I'll call the police." He took hold of Heero's arm to force him out when the former Wing Pilot went into soldier mode, easily flinging the hand off and came out swinging and a melee began in the front foyer of Mrs. L.'s home.
Quatre and the frightened woman cried out for the three to stop as fists met with various parts of their bodies.
Quatre's mind worked furiously to try and think of a way to stop the fistfight before someone got really hurt or Mrs. L.'s home was trashed beyond repair.
"Duo!" The elderly woman called out his name in alarm, Quatre followed the direction of her gaze, and his own eyes widened in alarm.
"Stop it now!" he shouted to the three. "You've scared Duo."
His words had the same effect as a ice cold bucket of water thrown on the fighters; the three froze, and Trowa and Wufei whipped their bodies around to scan the living room. Wufei instantly noted Duo was no longer on the couch where he had been when Heero had burst in.
"Where?" Heero asked, then stood shocked into stillness as Trowa rushed to the corner of the room. There, in a hunched ball, trembling under the afghan quilt that was thrown completely over his head, was Duo.
Trowa approached him cautiously, kneeling next to the hunched, visibly trembling lump in the corner. From the outline of the blanket, it appeared the American was crouched down with his hands over his head. It was then the words of the prison guards came back to him that Duo was frightened by loud voices and men fighting, and for good reason.
"Duo, it's alright." he said softly in a gentle voice. "No one here is going to hurt you. You're safe here." he added, and cautiously reached his hand out to touch his frightened friend. "We're not going to yell or fight any more, alright?" He let his hand drift to the middle of Duo's back and gently rubbed it until some of the trembling calmed. Then slowly, he began to pull the knit blanket from off his head. As the messy haired brunet raised his head, Trowa read his friend's emotions in the wide, fear-filled eyes.
"It's alright, Duo. No one is going to hurt you." Trowa reiterated as he stood, pulling Duo up with him, but then stopped as the blanket clad young man dug in his heels and refused to move further, his face fraught with nervousness.
"What's the matter?" Trowa asked, searching his friend's eyes. Duo glanced down, leading the green eyes to follow to the hardwood floor where he Trowa discovered a puddle of water under Duo's feet.
Understanding, the taller of the two raised his hand to touch his friend's cheek, blushing pink with embarrassment. "It's alright. I understand." he said reassuringly. "Let me take you upstairs for a bath, alright?"
Duo nodded and wrapping the blanket around him, waited until Trowa's arm was draped protectively around his shoulders, then allowed himself to be led out of the corner.
He kept his head down, eyes focused on the floor, as they walked toward the four standing mute and still at the front entry near the stairs.
Trowa stopped for a brief moment to whisper something to Mrs. L. She nodded in reply to whatever he had said and moved off towards the kitchen.
"Duo." Heero's tortured voice called out in longing. The downcast head lifted slowly until the embarrassed violet eyes met those of his former lover. It was evident to the four carefully watching for a reaction that a look of longing entered into those beautiful orbs a moment before Trowa pushed him forward and led him up the stairs.
Heero's eyes, in contrast to his former lover, were wide with shock. Though Wufei's hands held him from going to Duo, he didn't fight the hold. Feeling numb, he watched the assent of the two as they moved slowly up the stairs until they disappeared from out of his view. He then turned to meet the eyes of the Chinese Preventer.
"Wha.....what's happened to him, Wufei?" he asked, his inward pain clearly visible on his normally placid features.
"Prison's what happened to him, Heero." the other replied darkly.
Heero's head lifted up in the direction of the stairs, his eyebrows were drawn together in a look of confused thought. "He was sent to a minimum colony detention facility." he said to no one in particular, but trying to reason out loud the changes in his ex-lover.
Wufei's frown darkened and he shoved the former Wing pilot away from him. "Your letter changed all that and sent him to a high security level, all alone, with no weapons or means to defend himself, and prey to the worst excuse for humans the colonies could dredge up." he spat out vehemently.
Heero closed his eyes and his body seemed to sway, so much so that Quatre reached out to take his elbow to steady him. Taking deep breaths through his nose and exhaling slowly, it took a minute for Heero to center himself before he spoke. "What letter?" He asked, then opened his eyes to search the faces of the other two.
"The letter you sent to the judge and warden along with Duo's sealed records from the war, which were taken illegally from the Preventer's files. Your's and Relena's signatures help to seal Duo's fate on that dammed penal colony."
Heero's hand shot out to clamp fiercely onto Wufei's arm. "I didn't write a letter or sign one, Wufei. I swear it to you on my honor. I'd never do anything to hurt Duo."
Wufei grabbed hold of Heero's hand on his arm and forcefully pried it away. "You left him for Relena two weeks after he lost his business and lied to me about it. He was devastated Heero, feeling he'd lost everything he'd ever held dear. And you don't think that was hurting him?" he snarled angrily.
Heero visibly winced at the reminder of that painful time. "I only did what I thought was right at the time." he answered meekly.
"Well your one saving grace was that you called Quatre and Trowa to help." he looked disdainfully at the Japanese man. "Without them getting there just when they did..."
"Wufei!" Quatre snapped angrily, reminding the Chinese man of his near lapse. Duo's attempted suicide had remained a secret amongst the three former pilots. Wufei had just recently learned of it, and promised his silence,
Heero's eyes shifted back and forth between the two, knowing secrets were kept between all of his former comrades. His eyes settled on Quatre. "What happened, Quatre?"
Surprisingly, having been reminded of that terrible time and feelings it brought with it, he found his anger return that he and Trowa had felt at Heero's defection to Relena and the blond's eyes narrowed as he looked Heero in the eye.
"Exactly what I suspect you knew would happen." he answered in a chilled tone. "That's why you had me drop everything to go to him, isn't it? He was half dead when we found him, Heero. Huddled in your empty closet with an empty bottle of sleeping pills and alcohol."
The words seem to hit the former Wing pilot like a load of gundanium. He stumbled past Wufei to sit on the couch, his head buried in his hands.
The other two men shared questioning expressions on their faces, then looked towards the kitchen doorway where Mrs. L. came quietly into the room with a bucket of sudsy water and several cloths. Without a word or glance at the three, she went to the corner and began to clean up something of the floor where Duo had been. She kept her face towards her task, ignoring the tenseness that permeated the room.
"Why didn't anyone tell me?" Heero asked in a voice sounding like quiet agony.
"You weren't exactly accessible, Heero." Quatre answered in a sharp tone, trying to reign in his anger. "Besides, you never tried to contact us to see how he was, so we figured you just didn't care."
"Not care?" he raised his head with an incredulous look on his face, a touch of anger in his own voice at the insinuation. "It tore me apart to leave him knowing I would never find such happiness again. He was everything to me. How could I not care?"
Wufei frowned deeply. "Then why did you leave him?" he asked sternly.
Heero looked like he'd had the breath knocked out of him, the look of a person trapped in a corner and looking for away out. He swallowed hard. "I had to. I can't tell you why, but it was for his own good."
Quatre was visible taken aback by the statement. "What good would it have been to him if he'd died before I got there? Would you still have felt justified by your leaving?"
Heero's head shook back and forth vigorously. "I didn't have a choice. I had to leave. This is all my fault, isn't it?" he asked, but continued on without waiting for a confirming answer. "I couldn't figure out a way to stop the threat against him and when I didn't believe it, when I disobeyed, he was set up and arrested."
Now the other two were entirely confused but suspicious as to Heero's motives for his actions.
"What the hell are you babbling about Yuy." Wufei scowled. "Tell us plainly what happened."
"I can't." Heero replied miserably, regret visible in his face.
"I think we need to show you something Heero, then you can decide whether to trust us or not." Wufei turned away from them and climbed the stairs, leaving Quatre and Heero alone on the couch. Mrs L. finished her cleaning and silently returned to the kitchen.
"I'm sorry." Heero whispered looking miserable, his eyes shifting warily to the Arabian.
"I have my own guilt to deal with concerning Duo, Heero." Quatre replied, suddenly feeling very tired. "Save your apologies for him."
"Your guilt?" Heero turned in surprise to face his former friend.
"I failed to believe in his innocence enough to get him the best lawyer I could." he replied with guilt and embarrassment clearly visible on his face. "I was coerced by my sisters to believe it would be a conflict of interest, and I was easily swayed because of a lingering jealousy over Duo being with Trowa during the war."
Heero nodded his understanding. He had kept it a secret that he'd been deeply hurt at the confession from his lover at spending one night with the Heavyarms' pilot after he'd been found and was suffering from amnesia. Duo had told him it was a one night thing, an act of consoling and grounding the frightened and confused teen. He remembered extracting a promise from Duo not to repeat any such altruistic gesture again. He never intended to share the violet eyed boy with anyone, ever. But circumstances changed that decision. He'd let Duo go in order to spare him anymore heartache. Now his heart sank as to what his decision had wrought to the one person he loved.
Several long moments of silence hung heavy in the room until Wufei's footsteps on the stairs alerted them to his return. He carried with him a folder in his hands, easily an inch thick with documents. He stopped in front of Heero and held the file out to him, a serious frown marring his face. "Read this." he ordered.
Taking the folder, Heero spared a quick glance at the other two, instinctively understanding they both knew what the contents of the folder were and sensed he wouldn't be pleased by reading it.
He lowered his head, opened the folder and began to read the first document.
Mrs. L. came back through the living room, and meeting Wufei's and Quatre's eyes, they motioned to her that all was fine and she should return to her bed.
The room remained in relative silence as the pages were turned, and every once in a while, Heero took in a sharp intake of air and wiped at the corner of his eyes. At one point, he looked up at Quatre, obviously reading the letter on Winner Company stationary. But when he moved to the next page, his body stiffened. He quickly went through the attached pages and looked up into Wufei's watchful gaze. "You think I did this?" he asked disbelievingly. Then understanding lit his face. "That's why you were so upset about me using Trowa's office and computer."
"After seeing the evidence, can you blame me?" Wufei challenged him.
Heero held up the cover letter to Duo's sealed records. "This is not my signature." He stated firmly. "It's close, but not mine. I did not take Duo's records, and neither did I have knowledge of this letter. I would have chopped my hands off rather than have signed such a letter condemning Duo."
"Then who did this?" Wufei demanded. "Who hated Duo so much that they would go to so much trouble to hurt him this way?"
Heero suddenly looked cornered again. "I...I can't say." he stammered.
"Can't or won't?" Quatre asked, aggravated by Heero's answer.
"Does it matter?" Heero growled. "If I say anything, Duo could be hurt even more."
"I know of only one person who openly despised Duo and gained from you alienating yourself from him." Quatre answered.
"One who would have enjoyed seeing him hurt and had the clout to carry it off." Wufei added and leaned forward, his gaze focusing intently on the uncomfortable Japanese man next to him on the couch. "It was Relena, wasn't it?"
Heero sat as still as a statue while the other two waited for an answer. He was obviously considering his options, to tell or not. When he looked up, the look on his face was one they'd never seen before, one of pleading. "Please.....I don't want him hurt anymore. You have no idea how deep this person's reach is, how they can destroy a person."
"Tell us Heero, who did this to Duo? " Wufei asked in a commanding voice. "If we are to protect Duo, we need to know exactly who his enemy is and what they are capable of."
It was so unusual that it was unsettling to see Heero so unnerved as his hands worried the fabric of the couch and shifted nervously in his seat.
"Was it Relena?" Quatre asked in a more soothing tone than his companion, hoping to coax the former perfect soldier into confessing.
Heero's internal battle continued as he fidgeted in his seat. Then, finally, he nodded and his face lifted up to face them, allowing the other two to see his eyes filled with unshed tears. "She has a group of operatives from the Preventers working for her, under the guise of security." he began hesitantly. "After I moved to L-2 with Duo to escape her incessant stalking and obvious public contempt of him, we began his parts/salvage business." A slight smile grew as a memory was triggered. "We were happy. Free at last from war, battles and Relena's domineering presence."
He took a deep breath and continued. "Duo was an excellent entrepreneur, his knowledge and personality made his business flourish quickly. He acquired more accounts and contacts than we could handle. He was virtually an overnight success, and he loved it. That business helped him get over the war more than anything else."
Here he paused and closed his eyes for a moment. "Then all of a sudden the business dried up. His contacts didn't answer his calls, our regular customers said they'd found a better supplier. Within three months the business went completely flat, the phones were dead. He had no choice but to close shop."
Heero's pained eyes met theirs. "You have no idea how confused and devastated he was. He'd plastered on his mask of being carefree and accepting, but I knew better. We'd penetrated each other's masks during the war." he explained, then sat quietly for a moment before Wufei nudged him along by simply saying, "And?"
He nodded then continued. "I got a call from Une about some unfinished Preventer business. She asked me to come to Earth to straighten it out. I was met at the spaceport by two agents who said they had a car waiting for me. After checking their badges, I followed them to the limousine waiting at the loading curb outside the terminal. Relena was in the backseat. I almost refused the ride, but she said she had some information for me about Duo's business, so I climbed willing into Pandora's Box."
Heero leaned forward and rubbed his fingertips against his aching temples. "She told me she had ruined Duo's business, just to show me she held the strings to our lives and that Duo's welfare depended on my next decision."
He picked up the decorative pillow next to him and brought it up to his chest, squeezing it tightly. In a strained voice he continued. "She said if I wanted Duo to live, I would have to leave him and marry her. His safety would be assured only if I complied. She said she knew of his background on L-2 and, with little effort on her part, she would see his reputation ruined and make sure by truth and lies that no one would ever hire him or do business with him again."
He looked to Quatre, a desperate plea for understanding on his face. "Do you know what that would do to him?" he asked. "Duo needed to work. He craved it and found joy in it."
The blond nodded. "I tried to get him to live with us after you left, but he said he needed to get to work to keep his body and mind focused on something other than his loss and problems."
Heero nodded in agreement, then continued. "She gave me one week to end things with him and return to Earth. I couldn't see any options at that time. I didn't know then how she managed to ruin his business, but I had no doubt she did, as I also had no doubt she would carry through on her threat. She added the condition that no one was to know of her hold over me, or why I was leaving Duo. I believe she wanted to estrange me from the rest of you, isolate me as much as possible. Again, she succeeded."
Heero leaned back on the couch, allowing his head to fall back onto the top of the couch. He looked weary. "For Duo's sake I did as she directed. I needed to protect him until I could figure a way out of the situation without killing her. That's how I came to leave him." fatigue and regret filled his voice.
"I can still see the hurt in his eyes as well as disbelief as I tried to prepare him during that week by starting arguments, nit-picking everything about our home and our relationship." He shook his head as if trying to push the negative memories from his mind. "I've hated myself for it, but I hated Relena more for making me do it. I left Duo on the very last day given to me, my last glimpse of him was as he crumpled to the floor. My heart froze at that moment, and has been frozen ever since."
"And so you came to Earth and married her." Wufei added and Heero nodded.
"She moved quickly, having already planned everything before she'd spoken to me in the limousine. She knew she had me when she threatened Duo. I thought I'd have time to figure out her network and unravel the threat."
Opening his eyes, Heero looked aside to Wufei without lifting his head from its resting place. "But I hadn't realized the level of surveillance I'd be under. I was always watched and tracked. I am never alone in a room, much less with a computer." A shudder seemed to visibly coarse through Heero's body. "I married her in the cathedral she picked out for the best television coverage, in the designer clothes she had picked out for me, and I placed the ring she'd bought for herself on her hand like a good, controlled puppet. I even danced with her at the reception so all the reporters could get a good shot of us together." Bitterness grew in his voice as he spoke.
The room stilled and stayed silent for a moment. "But that was all I was willing to concede," he told them. "I slept on the floor of our wedding suite that night, and Relena said she was willing to wait for me to get over my "nervousness". "
This time his eyes shifted to Quatre with a faint smile on his lips. "She tried every trick she could think of to seduce me: see-through peignoirs, soft music and candles, even porn movies and magazines were used to try to entice me into "the mood"." He smirked. "Of course I ignored her attempts, not realizing at the time how her anger was mounting. That was the mistake I made that caused Duo's arrest."
Quatre gasped and sat up in his chair. "What?"
Heero nodded as he brought a hand up to comb through the front of his dark hair. "One night," he began, "about six months into the hell I'd put myself into, Relena exploded. She wanted me to make love to her. She screamed, yelled, ranted and clearly voiced her frustration at me." He sighed with a hint of regret. "I took it all, silently waiting, and when she was done, nearly exhausting herself, I calmly replied that she willingly chose to force into marriage a gay man, and if she didn't know what that implied, she was an idiot."
Heero leaned forward and covered his face with his hands again, rubbing his eyes with the heels of them. "You should have seen her." he whispered. "She went as still as death, just staring at me. Then she told me that remark had just cost me. I watched her walk calmly but with purpose out of the room, and I could only hope she'd take her anger out on me and leave Duo alone. Five days later," he looked at Wufei, "Your call was put through to me and you told me Duo had been arrested for stealing from Quatre."
Heero began to rock back and forth, bowing his head and pulling with both hands at his hair. "I knew Duo didn't steal unless he was forced to in order to fulfill a mission or from necessity, and he would never steal from Quatre." he added emphatically. He paused to take a dep breath and then continued. "After your call, I marched into her office and slammed the door. She looked up at me with an evil, knowing smirk and asked if I had a problem. I knew she arranged it, and she knew that I knew, but she never voiced it out loud. We glared at each other for five full minutes. All I could manage to get out was "I hate you!" before I spun around and left.
I was packing when she entered my room and said if I left, she would show me just how long her tendrils of power reached. She had Duo in one hand, and her clasp of power in the other."
Heero looked up at them with a tortured expression. "I had no idea about the letter or the sealed records being in her custody. Please....." Heero's manner and especially his eyes pleaded with them. "believe me." he implored.
The other two former pilots sat in deep thought, contemplating his words in silence as the moment stretched out.
"Why didn't you confide in me?" Wufei asked. "I saw you periodically, we could have talked."
Heero looked at the Preventer and raised a skeptical eyebrow. "When did you ever see me alone, Wufei? You made no overt effort to speak with me in a confidential manner and I was constrained from approaching you or anyone for that matter."
"You were in as much of a hell as Duo was." Quatre surmised sadly, finally managing to break out of the vision Heero's story brought.
"You have no idea." the once perfect soldier admitted with a groan.
Then with a look to both of them he asked. "Will you tell me how Duo
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