Perhaps you see roses blooming on dark, deep wooden skin.

From the same stalk that strikes lingering agony;

Now, life bursts forth a blaze of serene red;

And rushes higher, scattering brilliant light.

The crucifix no longer signifies the grave.

The fragrance that rushes to greet you is

The perfume of rebirth.

Friedrich Lienhard (Gundam Wing, Ground Zero)

Prologue: In Bloom

April 7, A.C. 212

Brussels, Belgium

The black limousine was still parked outside of the restaurant, just as Dorothy said it would be. Heero Yuy steeled himself for the encounter, not quite sure what to expect. Would she be glad to see him, or annoyed that he was late to yet another one of her birthday celebrations?

After a moment's hesitation, he opened the door to the backseat. Unlocked. Heero cursed under his breath. He thought she would know better than that, by now. But, then…

It was clear, looking at the disheveled Relena Darlian slumped in the backseat, that she was intoxicated.

Heero frowned as he slid in beside her. She wrenched her head up and peered at him from under her mussed-up bangs.

"Heero?" She started to sit up, then fell back against the seat. "What are you doing here?"

"Wishing you a happy birthday." He couldn't help but smirk at her, but only after locking the car doors. "Why aren't you at your party?"

"It was stupid," she muttered, patting down her pink tulle skirt. Heero eyed the microscopic dress she was wearing, which appeared to be nothing more than a corset tucked into a short - but pouffy - skirt. She looked more like a fairy than a princess, and the dress was nothing like her usual attire. Especially since today, she had turned 32. Heero arched a brow in amusement.

"Where's Carter?" He all but spat the name of Relena's current beau.

"He's stupid," she declared, looking out the car window at what appeared to be nothing in particular. They were in a parking lot, after all.

"What happened?" Heero asked, even though he didn't want to know.

"I dumped him." Relena shrugged her shoulders. "He is no longer in the picture."

"Good." Heero reached for the half-full bottle of champagne Relena was clutching, and took a swig. "Never liked the guy."

Relena exhaled loudly, sending her bangs flying in different directions. "Reeeally? Nooo…" Her tone dripped with sarcasm. She snatched the bottle back from Heero and took a long drink before handing it back to him. "You never like anyone."

I don't like anyone who takes you away from me, Heero wanted to say, but didn't. Instead he just studied Relena for a moment, trying to surmise just how inebriated she was. He had also had a few drinks at the bar before coming to find her, trying to dull his nerves in case he would have to spend the night watching Relena draped all over some other guy.

"You're better off," he said finally. "Now let's get you home."

"But I don't want to go home," Relena protested, turning sapphire eyes up to him. She reached over and tugged the lapel of his jacket, jutting her lower lip out, ever so slightly. "It's my birthday party."

Heero chuckled. "Party for one," he murmured as he lifted a hand to smooth her messy bangs.

"Party for two, now." Relena's eyes danced up at him. "Bet you didn't get me a present, though."

Heero rolled his eyes at her. "I just got back from your apartment on L1, where I installed an all-new biometric security system. You'll need to use genetic identifiers to enter the apartment, from now on. It's much more secure."

Relena gaped up at him. "That's it?"

"It's state of the art." Heero frowned. He had a feeling she wouldn't be all that impressed, but it had taken him a lot of work to install, and would cost anyone else a fortune.

"You know," Relena sighed before taking another long sip of wine. "Most girls would rather have something sparkly…"

"You told me a long time ago not to buy you jewelry. Besides," Heero added, "up until tonight, you had a boyfriend. Buying you something like that… it wouldn't be my place."

"Ah, like that's ever stopped you before," Relena purred, fingering Heero's jacket.

Actually, it had; every time Relena decided to date someone, Heero did his best to back off. Even if she didn't always make it easy. But he wasn't about to argue with her. Instead he brought a hand up to her face and caressed her cheek. She smiled at him before closing her eyes and leaning into his palm.

"I find you… hard to resist," he admitted.

"Good." Her eyes fluttered back open, and her smile faded. She looked deadly serious, now. "Then make love to me."

"What?" Heero's eyes widened at her blunt delivery.

"Make love to me," she repeated, her tone more demanding this time.

Heero's eyes narrowed. "Why?"

"Why?" Relena tossed back at him. "Why not?"

"Because you just broke up with someone." Heero backed up, attempting to put some space between them. "Because you've had a lot to drink, and you're not thinking clearly."

Relena laughed darkly. "I'm thinking very clearly. And anyway, Carter doesn't matter. He never mattered." Her eyes gleamed. "I only want you."

Heero's heart pounded. He wasn't sure if he should believe what he was hearing, but damn if she wasn't convincing... "You're sure?"

"Yes." Relena placed both of her hands on his chest. "I'm absolutely sure."

Heero's eyes focused on her pink lips as they parted, waiting for a kiss. He leaned in and complied with her unspoken request. As they kissed, he pulled her in closer to him. Her hands grasped his jacket; his hands wove themselves in her long hair. Their kisses deepened and increased in fervency as he lowered her against the car seat, before abruptly breaking away.

"Relena," he said firmly, looking her square in the eyes. "I need you to do something for me."

"Anything," she gasped, her eyes blinking up at him. Heero lifted his hand to her face and gently ran his thumb along her jawline, keeping his eyes locked on hers. He knew, as he had always known, that he could spend forever staring into those eyes, drowning in the infinite blue.

He leaned his face closer, close enough to brush their lips together once more.

"Stop running away from me," he said hotly. Relena's eyes widened before he captured her lips in another kiss.


A/N:

Dear readers, one year ago today I posted Red Moon Glow, so it was high time - and only appropriate - to start posting the sequel. I will warn you, though, that I have no idea where this one is going... no set plan at all. Which is fun, and kind of scary! Since this chapter opened with a flashback, the true sequel has yet to really start. This particular scene was referred to, but never shown, in Red Moon Glow, so I wanted to flesh it out, if you will ;) And unlike RMG, this story is going to showcase Heero's point of view... like RMG, this story will rely heavily on flashbacks, which I think will be fun - and different! - from Heero's perspective. Anyway... you've been asking, so here it is!

Yes, I have a few other stories going. And yes, I do plan to finish them- promise. I may not update them all at once - especially with wedding planning taking up sooo much of my attention right now - but rest assured that I always set out to finish what I start. I hope you will enjoy this one... more to come!

Cheers!

- RFP