Notes: I present to the masses this edited version of Chapter 6. Finally... I really don't have anything essential to say.  Visit the blog site... uh, the first one.  I usually talk about what's going on with the fics on there.  If I remember to.  I joined the millions of blog whores in existence.  This has been the worst year and it's not even close to being over.

Confused?  I hope so.  :)  Thank you for still reading.  No yelling @ the author.  Yelling's just... rude.

The mystery assistant w/ Sylvia will remain a mystery.  Try not to read too much into that character.

Dedication: Ma grandmére. Je t'aime.  Ma copine, Kristina...  Tu me manques.  Heaven finally gets an angel back.

W/o further ado and back to planning that 10 page science paper...

9:16 pm

            Dorothy seemed to gain a little more color on her by the time we got to the grand ballroom.  I saw more faces that I thought I was only going to see in movie screens.  I guess that was a good thing, because I was pretty sure I held the title of "Mystery Celebrity" from that little incident between me and Sylvia.  They can distract those reporter species ("Hounds," Dorothy corrected.) from me.

            I followed Dorothy blindly, glimpsing Heero from the corner of my eye when we got to our table.  I did not dare look at him, though he got up and pulled my chair out.  I heard him greet Dorothy, who in turn, gave him two pecks on the cheek.

            Nope, nothing inappropriate there.  The action looked friendly; besides, the French do kiss their dearest friends on both cheeks.  Dang it, it better be just friendly.

            This newfound jealousy thing is getting out of hand...

           Fingers stroked my bare arms lightly and gently, as if they were trying to ease my mind.  I chanced a full glance at Heero, whose expression looked lax yet his eyes remained sharp.  "Where did you go?" he asked.

            "Balcony."  My reply was short.  His fingers stopped stroking me then and he pulled away.  My skin felt the loss of warmth and I watched as goosebumps formed on my arms.  I didn't feel like putting my coat back on because...  well, because it was too much of a hassle!  All that faux fur travelling up my nostrils.  I'm not allergic, but it sure is annoying.  As a distraction, I looked around the table, checking if I knew anyone else.

            Err...  Nevermind.  These are the rich and famous.  And the good thing was, there were only four people in our table; the other one was missing.  I was going to ask about the occupant of the empty seat when the lights dimmed and a single beam of light was shone on the middle of the dance floor.

            Strong footsteps clacked across the wooden floor and out of the dark, the celebrant was revealed.  Quatre Winner tapped the microphone gently and at that single act, people got on their feet to applaud.  He looked up, surprised, before smiling politely and resuming to fix the instrument.

            "Thank you, thank you," he said, gesturing for us to sit down.  Now I understand why everyone seems so drawn to him, even if they only knew him by his photos on magazines and articles on practically everything about him.  I guess too much charisma can be bad, unless you know how to handle it.

            He spoke again after he made sure that everyone was seated.  "The celebration will begin in a few moments.  But I wanted to make a very important announcement before we commence."  The man seemed to wait for more silence, though it was unnecessary.  It was so quiet in there that you can hear a pin drop.

            The Oil Father was nervous!  I watched in fascination as his hand reached inside his pocket and wiped his forehead.  "I didn't think three simple words would be hard to say," he said sheepishly, eliciting soft laughter from his guests.  "When you put them together, though, well... I mean..."  He flushed, grimaced, and sighed.  "Okay, I'm sorry for stalling.  I wanted to tell everyone that...  I'm getting married."

            You know those collective gasps from shocked people in the movies?  No, we didn't get those.  But we did have a simultaneous jaws dropping wave thing around the room.  As for me, I didn't really get a chance to open my mouth.  The shock glued my teeth together.  I turned to ask Dorothy to verify what I heard, only to find her visage pale and her breathing shallow.  I sighed, assuming that she was probably a member of an incognito Winner Estrogen Brigade.  "Hey, it's okay," I said.  I was trying to be comforting, but I seem to be making a fool out of myself rather than a shoulder to lean on.

            Geez.  Right when I need to stick my foot in my mouth is when I wear nice shoes.

            "Ladies and gentlemen."  His voice boomed from the speakers and effectively shut the murmurs up.  "My future wife, Mrs. Quatre Raberba Winner."

            Now we got the 'collective gasps from people in the movies' effect!  I was stunned as I watched Dorothy get up and make her way to Quatre.  Her walk towards him was poised and graceful, even though her chin was quivering.  I don't know if anyone else noticed that, and I was hoping that no one did; it would be another thing that the press will wear out.  They don't need that.  This couple would be taking a lot of heat from the press already.

            An environmentalist and a CEO of an oil corporation.  That's what I call an odd couple.

            I may be getting soft, because when Quatre took the necklace off Dorothy's neck and put the ring on her finger gently, I started crying and applauding.  I actually didn't care if anyone else would be applauding them at all.  I mean, everyone has the right to their own happiness.

            To my surprise, Heero started clapping behind me and I guess since he was doing it, everyone else followed suit.  His claps seemed to be more... polite.  As if he was taking everything in stride.  "You knew, didn't you?" I asked him, to which he nodded.

            Quatre was beaming and Dorothy was just... smiling, relief evident on the couple's expressions.  It was obvious that she was still in shock, still trying to absorb the enormity of the situation and the people's reactions.  She gave me a look of gratitude before Quatre turned her head towards him to kiss her.  "I guess now you can wear the ring, Dorothy," he murmured, unaware that the microphone picked up the words.  Someone gave a wolf whistle, which caused Quatre to duck his head in embarrassment.

10:12 pm

            It wasn't that the party was boring.  I just didn't want to mingle too much.  Dorothy told me that our table was the night's hot spot because I was Heero's new woman or new "conquest", and for every person I talk to, the hounds will document the conversation.  "They'll completely distort what the situation is.  If you're talking to another man and you tell them that he's your boy friend, they'll twist it into boyfriend," she said, nodding.  "I remember when I was the new woman seen with him, I was never the girl friend.  I was the girlfriend." 

            So instead of getting to know the party's "circuits" and VIPs, I opted to stay seated.  I mean, I'm not concerned about what comments they make about me at all.  They might run off an article or two about how Heero's new woman was the prudish, anti-social type, but I don't care.  I figured that he would be taking most of the heat, if anything, and I don't care about him being used to it either.  No one really gets used to that.

            He wouldn't have to worry about that anymore.  Not with me around.

            As I sat there, I was able to fully see the difference in him around friends and at the mansion.  He was at ease; there was an aura that surrounded him, no matter how hard he tried to suppress the positive feelings in him, as I suspected he was doing.  When comments from Quatre and Dorothy demanded laughter, Heero gave laughter, though it was more like a low chuckle.  I was there, absorbing things to minute detail, for I feared that I will never see the Heero I was looking at ever again.

            He turned to look at me, an expression on his face I can't define, I can't read.  Contentment, maybe?  Happiness, definitely.  Something else, though, still lurked behind his blue, blue eyes.  "What's on your mind?"

            "What are you talking about?"

            "You keep looking at me."

            Oh, the mortification...  I cleared my throat with the intent to retort when I saw that his eyes showed mirth.  "What, I can't glance at you every now and then?" I chided him.  I guess my reply was to his satisfaction when he nodded, still with that knowing smile, and turned his attention back to Quatre, who started talking about business and other manly stuff.

            Damn, he's cute.

            Augh!  That was random!  I just found out that I was actually jealous of Sylvia, Dorothy (well, an hour ago, anyway) and now that?!  It wasn't like I was paying attention to the way I was starting to be more obedient and more patient and realizing how attractive he is and... hot damn.  All that in one day and my mind reeled.  I stood up and placed the napkin on the table gently, hoping that Heero would be too engrossed in his conversation to notice the abruptness of my departure.

            I headed for the bathroom and there, I learned two things: one, only thongs can make heeding Nature's call difficult and two, sensorized toilets still need a lot of work.  Come on, now!  You're in the middle of doing your business and then like the formation of a new geyser, you hear water rushing and the ground shaking.

            Er...  Nevermind the ground shake.  I was just trying to make it sound dramatic.

            I was going to leave my stall when I heard two women come in.  One of them sounded extremely mad, her heels clacking against the marble floor furiously.  "Sylvia, you need to calm down..."

            "I don't need to calm down!" the woman thundered, followed by explicit curses in French.  My heart raced and I pressed my ear on the door of my stall.  I found some humor in this, because it's not every day that you hear a supermodel blow her gasket, you know what I mean?  But it's not cool to find out, as the model rants and raves and yells some more, that you're the cause of her distress.  Well, not really...

            Poor thing.  More wrinkles...  Better get that Oil of Olay out.  Or not, which might be better.

            "But you do," the other voice pleaded.  I assumed that it was one of her more personal assistants, and I felt sympathy for this anonymous woman.  "What if someone else is in here?  They're going to tell reporters about Sylvia Noventa blowing up."

            There was a moment of silence before I heard the clacking against the floor once more.  I moved around my stall frantically on my toes, careful about keeping the heels from making contact with the floor and trying to fit my body in the tiniest corner of the stall.

            Breathe, breathe, Relena, keep breathing.

            Her footsteps got closer and closer.  I squeezed myself in my corner even more.

            "What?" her companion asked.  "You're not going to check the last stall?"

            "Not necessary," I heard Sylvia reply.  Almost unconsciously, I raised my hands and placed them over my chest.  My ears followed her steps moving away.  "I don't think anyone would be stupid enough to go to the farthest stall when the restroom's all to themselves."

            Ouch, that hurt.  Then again, I majored in political science.  That stuff's not easy, so I'll let that comment slide...

            Evil woman.

            I heard a sigh.  "Heero's date," I heard her mutter.  One of them placed something on the counter and sounds of things clacking against each other echoed throughout the bathroom.  "How dare she insult me!  I didn't even get her name.  She does not have the right to be with him..."

            Sylvia's companion sighed.  "They're married, Sylvia.  Heero confirmed it earlier."

            I winced when one of them banged something on the sink.  "Shut up!  They're not.  They can't be.  I know he loves me.  He will come back to me!"

            "Did he really?  He denounced the relationship by ordering all of the tabloids to erase what material they have left about it."

            I clutched my chest tighter, sliding down the tiled wall I leaned against.  "Every night that I spent in his arms," I heard her say breathily.  Her voice took on a wistful tone.  "The way Heero would look at me while we-"

            I didn't hear her last words; it was as if my natural defenses were once again protecting me from mind-numbing pain.  I couldn't blink, not even to moisturize my eyes.  I didn't need to.  Tears were coming out faster than I realized and they fell on my arms, splattered on my dress, and onto the tiled floor.  I was there on the floor, curled up like the little girl I was years ago.  "It meant nothing to him, Sylvia.  You said even if it was meaningless for him, you didn't care and you let him use you without expecting anything back."

            "It wasn't about the physical thing..."

            "It was exactly about that!  He was never personal with you. The relationship you had was based on who was there to warm his bed and that's all."  Her companion's voice dropped softly.  "You told me he never held you after you were done."

            I closed my eyes and covered my ears.  I should have remembered from childhood experience that no matter how much pressure I apply on those hands, it's impossible to block out sound completely.

            "That girl's blonde," Sylvia argued, completely ignoring the last sentence.  "Heero's playing a game, but I don't know why.  She's not his type, can't you tell?  He's probably using her...  Maybe he's experimenting with blondes."

            "What?"

            "I just know he needs something from that woman!  If only Heero would confide in me, then maybe I can help him.  Divorce, maybe, or annulment, it doesn't matter..."  She sounded so confident as her voice sifted through my ears and it made me ill.

            "Sylvia!" I took my hands off from my ears when I heard a slapping sound, followed by a gasp.  "People in your business cheapened marriage, but it is still sacred.  Heero wouldn't have done it unless he was truly committed, because that's just his nature.  You told me so, remember?  When the control for his family business was transferred to him, he threw himself into making it better, even if there's nothing to improve."  The voice reverted back to a sympathetic tone.  "She changed him, Sylvia.  He's not the same.  It's time for you to accept change."

            Heels started clacking against marble once more.  "No.  He'll come back to me.  Just watch, he will because I know him too well.  Commitments?  Yeah, that particular commitment has a quota.  Just to please his daddy's spirits he'll meet it, and then he'll separate from that bitch."

            "You weren't what he needed, Sylvia.  You gave it your all, but he didn't need you.  Not now, not ever."  Another sound of a hand meeting skin echoed around the room, followed by a small sound of surprise.

            "No one slaps me.  No one tells me that I'm not needed."  Sylvia's voice was hard and uncompassionate.  "The timing wasn't right for us.  What this model wants, she gets.  And I'm not about to give up my man to a dumb blonde."  The sound of their heels bounced off the walls until I heard no more, save for the creaking sound that came from the door.  It was only until I was sure they were gone when I breathed loudly.

            I felt heavy when I came out of the bathroom stall.  How long I stayed curled up inside, I didn't know and I certainly cared less.  When I washed my hands, I dared to look at the mirror and saw my dishelved appearance and more.

            I didn't know what to think, save for the cliched rhetorical questions that I formulated in my head.

            What about the trust I resolved to have in him earlier?  Was it really that fragile?  But I can't.  I can't bear feeling that there will be another departure in my life.  Living a solitary life was something I became incapable of visualizing when I was touched with Lucia's kindness and laughter, Pagan's calming presence, and Heero...

            Husband...

            It's starting to sink in.  And it might be too late.

           There were trails of make-up on my face and it continued to flow, because my eyes just would not stop tearing.  I gave up, grabbing facial tissues from the powder area and made them damp, using them to clean my face.  I still looked myself over, just to make sure that I looked presentable.  I raked my fingers through my hair in an attempt to put the small flyaway hair to stay still.

            I've always been a logical person.  Daddy was the only one who saw my soft spots.  My bluntness has always been something people held against me. "Bitch" was a familiar title, but it has never affected me.

            See, the thing that gets me is... I'm trying to live without pretenses, and I've been successful so far.  The lies I've told were to make people stop being so concerned about me, to leave me alone.  Even though I haven't been nice to Heero, at least I was honest.  But to live a truthful life and be given people whose intentions you have to second guess...

            It's not fair.

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"Humm dum dee dum hummm dum deee dum... yummy yummy in the tummy... time for something sweet..." - Winnie the Pooh

What?  Winnie the Pooh?  Why?  Winnie eats honey... honey is sticky... the story is getting stickier.  Rice is sticky.  Rice can be turned into wine.

I just partially revealed what the next chapter's going to be about.  Now to figure out which one it is... tell the teachers to lay off the projects, damn it.