Midnight Chimes and Pink Roses
by the Black Rose
AN: Relena's POV is done as if she was writing in a journal, and is denoted in italics. This takes place after Santa Baby, but it's not an epilogue. I hesitate to call it a sequel. It's in the same 'universe', it assumes the events in Santa Baby happened prior. But they're separate fics. Thanks for reading! Love, Rose
I wish I could tell you that everything was perfect from that moment. That the ending was its own fairy tale, and Heero and I lived happily ever after. But that wasn't the case.
For a while, we were both still afraid. With our pasts being what they were, Heero couldn't believe wholeheartedly in someone else. And I…as much as I wanted to, could not believe wholly in him.
He had left before.
He had hurt me before.
I forgave him.
But I couldn't forget.
And so it was in the beginning, when he first returned and asked to stay with me. I gladly welcomed him even though I never believed he meant forever. I thought that I could handle having him for as long as he meant to stay. And even if he broke my heart again, if there was hope he would return…Then that was enough.
But I was wrong.
"Then let me stay with you." Heero felt his voice crack with the request. His arms locked around Relena's body and he didn't think a refusal would get them to let her go. She'd have to let him stay - at least until the jaws of life could pry him away from her.
She shifted in his embrace and her own voice rasped a response: "Of course."
Heero let himself take a breath. He had the distinct impression that the smell wafting up to his nose was coming from him. But he was too tired to care. She had said yes…
"Always," Relena said then twisted in his grasp and pulled away. He couldn't blame her, he stunk something awful.
"But you need to get some rest." She turned away from him.
"I'm fine for a while. I caught a nap—" He tugged her back around, and that's when he saw the tears on her cheeks. "Relena?" Heero reached to wipe them away.
"I'm ok. I'm just so glad…" Her eyes darted up to meet his. "…to see you." She glanced away again. But for that brief moment…
"You don't believe me." There was no accusation in her expression. But neither was that certain something that had always been there before.
"What?" She looked at him, eyes wide - afraid. But she'd never been afraid of him before.
He swallowed against the dry place in his throat. "You don't believe I'll stay."
"Heero, I…I haven't been getting much sleep lately, and you need to rest, too. I'm just surprised is all. Very happy to see you, but—"
"But not to have me back."
She bowed her head. "I… I told you how I feel."
"Then why are you acting like I'm going to sneak out as soon as you fall asleep?"
"I don't know." She shook her head. "I want you to stay." Relena raised her head, but stared away from him - in the direction of the fireplace. "Even if it's not forever. It's okay. Just…stay." She turned and buried her face into his coat again. His arms came up and just held her like that for a while. Exhaustion crashed over him, draining the new-found energy her answer had infused into his blood.
"I'm not giving up, Relena."
He felt her body shudder in his arms, and realized she was crying.
I led him to his room down the hall from mine, the same one he occupied in his stay during the war. I had been a child then. A child with a crush on a soldier that could have died in any number of battles.
That is what I told myself, and it was how I rationalized my attempt at seducing him at the tender age of fifteen.
I hate to think of it, now. I was so embarrassed, trying to pretend I had gotten lost in my own house. In nothing but a very sheer nightgown.
My cheeks burned just trying it on at the store, and I had felt the need to hide the bag from Pagan when he picked me up from the store. My conscience nagged at me the entire time. A war was going on, and I was concerned with 'entertaining' one of its soldiers. But that wasn't the way I thought of it in my heart.
I wanted him to have something to remember.
I wanted him to know how I felt.
He turned me away, of course. But he was kind, if abrupt, and so I was still inexperienced, leading him to that very same room years later.
My motives hadn't changed, even if my heart had. It wasn't a crush I had for Heero; it had been many years since my crush had turned into love.
I knew I loved him. And I wanted him to know how much. Saying the words wasn't enough. They were words he didn't understand.
And I wanted to be the one to teach him what they meant. Inexperience and all.
But every night, I'd leave him at the door, face bewildered, eyes pained. Did he know what he was asking of me?
If I stayed and gave him what I wanted to give, I wouldn't be able to let him go again. And I knew it was only a matter of time….
We were doomed. To repeat the same mistakes of the past. Both of us unwilling or unable, I'm not sure which, to need the other. And our refusal to need was a refusal to admit, to break down the walls still existing between us. I could give him all of myself, and all of my heart. And when he left…
There'd be nothing of me remaining.
This is what I feared. This is what kept me up at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering if he was in his room or already on his way out the door. The few minutes I did sleep were filled with dreams that I was awake, running down the hall, throwing wide his bedroom door - only to discover he was gone.
Over and over again, he left me in my dreams.
I needed him.
But I was so afraid…
Heero could hear her breathing. It was labored, heavy, Relena was gasping for air. And he had heard the hurried footsteps. The same ones that sounded every morning at this hour when she came running - to make sure he was still there.
He supposed he deserved her mistrust, but it wasn't like he had left last time without goodbye. His hands curled into fists beneath the sheets. He wasn't sure why he didn't open his eyes and tell her he was awake. Then the mattress dipped and he felt her cool fingers touch his forehead. This was something new to their daily 'routine'.
"You're still here. I must have been dreaming that you left. It seemed so real, though. You told me I wasn't who you thought I was, and just turned away from me. I grabbed your arm, and you just disappeared. I stood there, holding on to nothing for I don't know how long until I finally woke myself up."
The headboard creaked, and he figured she must be leaning back against it.
"What can I do to make you stay? Not just stay, but want to be here with me?" Her hand combed through the hair in soft, light strokes. "Always."
He waited for her to continue, but after a few moments, her touch lightened and he heard her breathing even out. Heero cracked his eyelids. She had fallen asleep, in his bed.
He let out the breath he had been holding, and just watched her for a moment. Her hair lay limp, cascading down over the front of her shoulders. Dark circles marred the flesh under her eyes. She hadn't been sleeping. Heero knew that much. And if the dream she told him about was any indication as to why she was going without enough rest, then he was the one at fault.
She couldn't trust him.
She didn't believe in him anymore.
That one thought alone was enough to make him regret everything over the last two years.
A small snore escaped her lips, and it almost made him smile. Her head had tipped down to rest her chin on her chest, and he knew that wasn't a comfortable position to sleep in. He gently tugged her down into a lying position on the mattress. Relena stirred, but didn't fully wake. He held her close, her head cradled on his shoulder, and his arm wrapped completely around her waist.
"Heero…" His name shushed from between her lips.
Her body tensed and she lurched back, but he grasped her tight against him until she relaxed again.
And drifted off to sleep.
Heero woke first. His eyes snapped open like someone flicked a switch. Relena shifted and rolled onto her side. He reached an arm around her and pulled her back against his chest.
"Mmmmmm…" She groaned and then settled down again. Heero checked his watch. It was much later in the morning, and quite possibly the longest she had slept all week. The heat under the comforter rose to an uncomfortable level, but he was determined not to let her go.
"Ah!" Her hand grabbed a fist full of sheet. Her skin was damp, and her face pinched into a frown.
He stroked his palm down her back and murmured softly in her ear. He saw her gradually release the handful of sheet; her features relaxed. Heero planted a kiss on her cheek, next to her ear, and continued to run his fingers over the satin texture of her nightgown.
She was so soft…. He wanted to— Heero swallowed against the lump in his throat. He had wanted to all week. It had been disappointing when she had led him to his old room that he'd occupied during his last stay. But then again, they had never gotten to that stage in their relationship. He couldn't just expect her to—
"Heero…." Her voice sounded breathless in her sleep. He groaned. Now that he was awake, the heat was roasting him inside and out, and all he could picture in his mind was that night…
He'd left the door open just a crack. It was too soundproof in his room, otherwise. He finished skimming the latest reports from Dr. J and surveying the satellite maps of troop movements. Romafeller thought they were so smart, but Heero could see what they were up to. They were headed straight for —
"Oh!" A feminine voice called out from the doorway. His head snapped up to see Relena…A lot more of Relena than he really should be seeing.
"I g-got a little turned around. Th-these halls, the doors all look the same." Her complexion was crimson, but his eyes were elsewhere. The light pink nightgown fell to the floor in sheer waves, and it was clear she was wearing nothing underneath. Of course, all that was visible were slightly darker pink outlines under the fabric. Heero felt his throat tighten and finally forced his eyes to meet hers.
It had been a terribly unfair thing to do to a soldier: imprint an image like that in his mind. He had carried it with him all these years. And here she was again, in his room…
And she was just as unattainable as before.