Ok

Ok, guys, you know the drill... I do not own them, I'm just slightly obsessed with them, and I am a complete waste of any lawyer's billable time, so please no lawsuits, 'k? Moving right along...
(The italics denote flashbacks)

A Lifetime Ago

"It was all about the sex," her voice spoke emotionless, blank. She hadn't been able to lift her eyes and meet the pale, icy glare, but Gods, it pierced her.

*****

"I wish I could say it was just a fling, I wish I could say it's just sex between us." She had remained, frozen in space and time, still trying to pull away, yet unable to. His hands were still holding hers. Ever so warm. Ever so gentle. Just like the entirety of his being. His voice calm, almost matter-of-fact as he bared the last piece of his soul to her.

"I've tried to tell myself it's the classic seven-year itch, I've tried guilt, I've tried burying myself in work. I've tried... it feels like I've tried everything under the sun to convince myself that what I feel for you is merely physical and inconsequential," he continued, relentlessly, brutally honest. Frighteningly vulnerable, just as she felt in his presence. She had to leave, she knew that much, for if she stayed a minute longer, her resolve would crumble under his gaze. But somehow, her body lacked the momentum to pull away for good.

"I love you. God help us both, I never meant for it to happen, not any more than you did... not at the price of our families."

******

The service had been hard enough. His entire circle of family and friends, all there to say goodbye one last time. It had felt so wrong. So out of place for her to be there. They had both taken great care so as to not cause anyone any suffering. So that their families would never suspect. Ultimately, they had sacrificed the very bond they shared for their sake. But his little girl... Gods, the way she had looked at her. Tabasom Winner, just barely eleven years old, gripping her mother's hand as she laid flowers on her father's grave.

The harshness had cut off her breath, and she could have sworn, there and then, that Tabasom, somehow, knew about them. She had lowered her gaze to her feet, even against her better judgment, cringing under the full force of the little girl's Catalonia-inherited glare. Barely tempered, she had noted to herself, by her father's azure hue.

******

She couldn't quite pinpoint the moment when she had started loving Quatre Winner. In a way, it was almost as if she always had. First in a somewhat sisterly way. Protectiveness, which had grown into a deep friendship, especially after Libra. He had been there all along, offering his all, and expecting nothing back, but to hopefully see her stop blaming herself for something over which she now understood she had no control, nor responsibility.

He would come by her office and bring her Chai tea, for no other reason than he knew she enjoyed it. He would sneak clippings of her favourite comics into her thick report binders, just to elicit a smile when life seemed most frustrating. He had even sprained an ankle once, in an attempt to learn how to snowboard, just to have an excuse to drag her out of the house and enjoy the snow. It had taken her years before it dawned on her. That for the longest time she had been clinically depressed, if only too numb to realize it, and that it was ultimately his friendship that slowly, persistently pulled her out.

Even after Mars, even after they had both married and gone off to "living happily ever after" with their supposed soul mates, they had remained in touch, often working as a team for various Preventer odds and ends. Just so that their reunions would not impose on their respective spouses, who, since the entire Libra incident, had not been on the friendliest of terms. Or so it had started. Little did they imagine that they would fall in so deep.

******

And then she had to face Zechs about it. For all his emotional ineptitude, the man was certainly perceptive when he wished to be. And, as poorly as he knew how to exteriorize it, she knew that, deep down, he truly did love her. Only, it hurt all the more that, for years, she had not been able to reciprocate. That she had deceived him, loved another, all the while being married to him. Ironic, after all the time and energy spent waiting and wondering whether their relationship had ever been anything but one-sided on her part.

Indeed, for all their lack of communication, she still knew him much better than she would have cared to admit. She still knew him well enough to not be able to bypass the slight twitch in his lips, the elusiveness of his gaze, or his death grip on the back of the chair, just as he tried to act as though the discovery of her unfaithfulness hardly fazed him at all. Nor could she lie to herself that he was not hurting inside. The least she could do now was to keep the details of the affair as impersonal and as emotionally devoid as she could muster, for everyone's sake.

"Quatre Winner and I were in lust, yes, but never in love. I was never emotionally involved with him, nor he with me."

******

Her head hurt. She had been feeling physically and mentally drained for the past two weeks. Just about since the waves of nausea had started. But she had to pull herself together and do what she had to do.
He had just stepped behind her chair, and started gently massaging her temples. All without her saying a word about her migraine. Somehow, he always seemed to sense everything about her health.

"Quatre, don't," she had stumbled on her words, "Just... please listen."
Even after all the years, she still cringed at how poorly she had managed to word the goodbye. The whole
"In a perfect world, and were we both free to choose, I would be with you" speech, the way that she refused to look at his face, if only to remain strong, the lump in her throat that she just could not allow to crack her voice, even as she told him, for one last time, that she loved him... It all seemed so pathetically inadequate to even begin to describe the intensity of her feelings for him.

And yet, despite it all, Quatre just knew. In fact, if there was one thing that she could always count on, it was Quatre understanding her better than she could possibly understand herself. She was certain of it as he kissed her one last time, his hand brushing against her abdomen, almost like a stolen caress. He knew why it was time to end it.

"We cannot keep this up any longer than we already have. It's not just about us and what we want any more. I'm pregnant."
"Is she..." he had begun shakily, as he took in the news, and Lucrezia had not been able to ignore how he seemed to have sensed the baby's sex, just from that one fleeting touch.
"No. The baby is Zechs's. Nothing can change that."

*******

Victoria Merquise had just returned from fencing practice with her uncle Heero, when she headed for the kitchen to grab herself an apple. At thirteen years old, she was almost as tall as her mother, with dark hair that almost reached the length that had been her father's trademark throughout his youth. Her azure eyes spoke of her innate gentle, empathetic disposition. Hearing her parents' voices, and sensing the high level of stress seeping through the closed door, she stopped and stood still before assessing whether she should enter or leave them privacy. Though she knew that they had just come from a funeral for an old acquaintance, the tension in the air spoke of another type of grief.

"Let us never speak of this again, Lu. It was a lifetime ago, and we've each made our share of mistakes. It is in the past, and there it shall remain."
"Agreed," came the reply, voice steadying itself after the swallowed tears.

Quiet as a cat, Victoria opened the door just a tiny crack, and couldn't help a relieved smile at seeing her usually distant parents look flustered and teary-eyed as they stood holding on to each other for dear life, flooded in the late afternoon light. Her gut feeling had been right all along after all, she silently cheered, deciding to cancel the apple for the time being. Her parents would get through.