Replaced

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Gundam Wing! I just play with them for a while…

Warnings: Blatant misdirection, humor, and a tad of lighthearted Relena-bashing? Don't trust anything! Any more warnings and I'll give away the surprises! Anyway… this is a one-shot that got out of control so… anything is possible right now! And The Grass Skirt is credited to darkrevenge… who has been influencing me far too much lately…-laughs-

Chapter 1:

It is a really nice day out. The sun is shining. A slight breeze filters through the trees. Birds are singing. Romance is in the air-

"Aaachoo!"

"Gesundheit."

Or maybe it's just pollen. Regardless, it's spring. The time of new beginnings. Fresh starts. The war ended three and a half years ago. And I am going to finally make Heero Yuy mine.

Those who knew about my infatuation with him were astounded that I took so long. But I'd spent that entire time coming up with a valid explanation as to why Heero should be mine. He is logical and reasonable. He would not be swayed by fluttering lashes, shining hair, and a trim waist (though I made sure I kept up with my figure, hair, and general appearance just in case). No. Instead, I exercised the full extent of the reasoning and political doublespeak of which I am capable. By the end, I knew he'd see my way once he heard me out.

The problem now is finding him. When Heero wants to disappear, he does. Fully and completely. Only my highly honed detective skills could ever sniff him out. In the past, that usually took weeks (maybe months!) of hard work. Now it takes even longer.

He travels a lot now, Heero. And every time I think I found him, he'd moved on by the time I caught up. He was in the Preventers for a small amount of time, six months maybe. He did some schooling, though I never did find out what for. I do know he blazed through his program within a year and a half and graduated valedictorian of the prestigious university he'd chosen. I swell with pride at that fact. The man who will be at my side for life is as intelligent and hardworking as he is attractive.

Relena Darlian, you certainly know how to pick them!

Anyway… he disappeared shortly after graduating and it took me an entire year to track him down once more. But I've found him. Living in a sleepy, small-to-medium-sized town. Co-owning some business that I still can't figure out.

I walk through the town visibly unescorted but I know my bodyguard is somewhere not too far behind me. It's really quite pretty here. Mountains provide a misty purple background. Grass is starting to turn green, flowers and trees are budding, but small piles of snow still exist in shadowed corners, a reminder that all was dead just weeks before and could, at any moment, freeze over once again. It almost suggests tension under the town's pretty exterior, though everyone seems happy and content outside in this mild weather.

I shiver involuntarily. Danger amidst peace. I can see why Heero likes it here.

My phone rings. Pulling it out of my small handbag, I glance down at it. Stevenson, my bodyguard. Suppressing a sigh, I flip the phone open. "Yes?"

"Everything all right?" he asks in a brusque way. I'm reminded of Heero when he talks…

"Yes, it's fine thank you."

"I'll call back up-"

"No! No, don't." If I can avoid alerting Heero to my presence, that would be best. I don't want him running off again now that I've tracked him down. Again. "I'm fine. There is no danger here. No one even recognizes me."

"If you say so." He sounds skeptical. "They will remain on standby for now."

I roll my eyes in a discreet manner behind my sunglasses. "All right. I'm going now."

He grunts and the line goes dead.

Yes, sometimes I'm forcefully reminded of Heero when I talk to my bodyguard.

I replace my phone and pull out a sheet of neatly folded paper. On it is the direction's to Heero's place of employment- some place called The Grass Skirt. From what I've read it's a bar-and-grill sort of place. Maybe I heard wrong. He wouldn't own a restaurant of any sort. I've seen the rations soldiers call food. I don't even think he can cook! Sometimes I wonder if he even eats…

Ah! Maybe this is a second job. Quick thinking there, Relena. Perhaps Heero's a bouncer. He's perfect for the job- he doesn't look intimidating but he's the fiercest man I know…

I barely manage to refrain from swooning. I feel like I'm fifteen again.

That's when I see it down the street. The Grass Skirt. It's a cute little building, with a thatched roof and a full 'Hawaiian' impression. It's certainly not a place that screams 'we need a bouncer to keep an eye out for brawls'. A dozen or so bamboo tables are set up outside in a small, fenced in patio shaded by huge, leafy palm umbrellas where a few patrons are having their lunches with friends. There is even white beach sand beneath their feet. I must say, I'm impressed as I walk up to the entrance. It has a quaint, relaxed atmosphere, this The Grass Skirt.

I push my way into the restaurant. No bouncer in sight. But the atmosphere inside is just as calm as outside. The small (and I mean tiny) building is naturally lit with a skylight and expansive windows. Palm trees cluster in the corners of the room and another surrounded by sand and a small pond settles in the middle of the room, where a couple children (as it is the weekend) stare at and drop in treats for the brightly colored fish swimming inside. There are maybe a max of thirty tables, some similar to the ones outside, others more like a booth. Music, whether Hawaiian or not, filters quietly over the speakers and inspires the mood of an ocean paradise. Every once in a while, the breeze from an unseen open window catches a wind chime and the restaurant is filled with a peaceful tinkling.

There are only a few patrons now, seeking a late lunch, but too soon to start dinner I suppose, so there is a creamy colored sign with casual dark lettering that says 'Please Seat Yourself'. I have to say I'm impressed at how this little restaurant can play with the Hawaiian theme without becoming overly gauche.

I inhale deeply and manage to smile. It's relaxed here… but so intimate as well. I could really stay here all day.

Glancing to my left, I see the host counter. Behind it is a young man reading a surfing magazine… with his feet propped on the counter… wearing a grass skirt…

"Excuse me…"

No response.

I frown deeply. Honestly… is this customer service? "Excuse me!" I repeat, louder this time.

The host- if that's what you could call him- yelps and nearly falls out of his chair. "Ah… yes… Welcome to The Grass Skirt. You may seat yourself." He gestures to the sign I spotted moments earlier. He tries to go back to his magazine but I give him my best put-off look and he stops, brow quirked. As if I were the one behaving rudely.

"I don't wish to dine here right now. I'm actually looking for Heero Yuy. Is he in?"

"Ah… you the reporter?" he asks. Reporter? He doesn't wait for my answer though. "He's off today. Come back tomorrow," he says with an unexpected abruptness.

"Off? Off?" I give the host a hard look. "The Heero Yuy I know wouldn't take a day off even on his deathbed!"

He arches a brow at me. Clearly, he is appalled that I'm losing my composure in such a manner. I'll have to admit that even I am… I smooth the front of my blue cotton skirt- trendy yet mature, simple yet sophisticated- and continue in a calmer manner. "Could you please tell him where I might find him-" I spare a glance at his nametag. It too fits with the theme. "Francis?"

He shrugs. "It's against policy to reveal personal information about him or anyone else here," he says, sounding as though he's memorized it. "Besides, I have no idea where you could find him. I'm not his keeper. Now, Ms. Reporter-Chick, unless you're hungry please be on your way. We don't need disturbances here."

I bristle. "Of all the nerve!"

"It's not nerve, lady. It's policy. We run a relaxed joint here. Anyone who isn't-" he shrugs, "-gets kicked out. Menu?" He holds out a quaint little folder that also gives off a beach-like impression

Heero is far from relaxed! He's always on guard; he sleeps with one eye open; he never goes anywhere unarmed… that sort of thing. He's an ex-Gundam pilot for goodness' sake! I suppose that's why he makes a good bouncer…

I glare at Francis. What a smug smile he's giving me! "No, I'll find him myself." No thanks to him! And I whirl on my heel, stalking past Stevenson (who had entered at some point I don't recall). I think I hear the host mutter something like "Good luck with that."

That brainless host doesn't know to whom he's talking. I'm the girl who found Heero when he was fighting with my brother in Antarctica. Me! When no one else knew where he was! When no one else even realized he was still alive, let alone dashing around trying to kill my eccentric relative! If anyone can find him, it's me.

I scour the town in search of him, in all the places that he could have possibly ever gone. The grocery store. The nearby gas stations. The library. The local shopping centers, though I can hardly imagine him in a shopping situation such as this. To my frustration, no one seems to know who he is- or if they do, they certainly don't want to help me find him. I scowl, arms folded huffily over my chest as I stalk down towards the aptly named Computer Depot. If Heero has been anywhere in this town, it will be here.

When I enter, I head straight for customer service desk, where a skinny boy with a funny puff of unruly red hair about my age squawks, "How can I help you?"

"I certainly hope you can," I reply, unable to mask my irritation any longer. How difficult is it to give me the location of one man? The war is over! Secrecy is no longer necessary! Besides, it's not like I'm out to hurt him! I stop on that train of thought suddenly. Maybe that's why I can't find him? There are people after him! He was a Gundam pilot, after all. Undoubtedly, there are people seeking revenge against him. I frown worriedly. The poor thing!

"Ma'am?"

Agh! Don't call me ma'am unless I'm on a diplomatic mission! I'm only eighteen and this is simply a mission of the heart. "Ah… yes… I was wondering if you could tell me anything about a man named Heero Yuy?"

"Who?"

"Yuy. Yuy. Heero Yuy. How many of them could possibly live here!?"

"Um… I'm new to the area ma'am," the boy, David, squawks out.

I grimace. There I go losing my composure once again. Stop it, Relena. You'll get yourself into trouble! "I'm sorry," I say with a faint smile. "I've had a trying day. I shouldn't take it out on you."

"Can I ask why you're asking us for customer information, ma'am?" asks a more burly man stepping up behind David.

I take a step back. "So, he has shopped here then?"

"I'm not confirming or denying anything. I'm asking why you're demanding customer information. If you're conducting a police investigation, I need to see your I.D."

"Police? I- Well- Of course not!" I sputter gracelessly. Mentally, I scold myself. Keep it together! Heero wouldn't fall for a girl who lost her head over something this trivial. "I'm simply trying to find a long-lost friend… and future husband."

The older man shrugged. "Sorry, ma'am. I can't help you there. It's against company policy to give out such information."

Again with the policies! "But if I was a credit card company representative, you'd do just that, would you?!"

"Ma'am… perhaps you should leave."

"No!" I trill. "Tell me where he is! I'm tired of being shunted around!"

The man gives me an odd look. "Have you tried the phonebook?"

I'm close to tears- the frustration is getting to me that badly. "Yes! He has an unlisted number!"

"Maybe there is a reason…"

Wrenching my purse around, I stalk off.

I hear a familiar ring tone and, scowling, I pull my phone from the purse. Stevenson again. "What?" I bark. Then I wince. Clearing my throat, I continue. "What is it, Stevenson?"

"Information on what you're planning next, Ms. Darlian?" he asks.

I glance around furtively but, as usual, he's nowhere in sight. "I… just… I don't know. I don't know…" I approach a park as I march aimlessly across the street. Just looking at it calms me down a fraction. Time to sit and recuperate. "I think I'll just sit in the park awhile. Think. Clear my head. I'm snapping at everyone and about to lose my sanity… He's never been this difficult to find before…"

"Hmm…"

I know he thinks this is a silly, teenaged thing to do. Well, unfortunately for him that's exactly what I am. Just a teenaged girl… who happens to hold a diplomatic office. But I'm grateful he doesn't berate me about it. "I'll call you should I figure something out."

"All right." And the line is dead again. I sigh. Stevenson is truly an adept bodyguard, but I would really enjoy someone a pinch more sociable at the moment…

I wander through the park, watching as children race by and play on equipment, adults and teenagers lounge around talking, and a few of the health conscious sort jog with their pets. There is an empty bench by what appears to be a duck pond, so I make my way over. Heero chose a nice place to settle down in. Maybe I wouldn't mind having a family here myself…

Squelch.

I groan, knowing that my day just got a little more horrible before I even look down. It's the smell that tells me. But I glance down anyway.

And these sandals were brand new!

Making a face, I extract my foot from the pile of fresh, soggy dog droppings and give it a shake in a desperate (and futile) attempt to jiggle it off. Why me? Why me!? I scrape off the droppings as best I can on a patch of clean grass and hobble over to the bench to sit down, think, and sulk.

Scowling in a most unladylike fashion, I pry my sandals off my feet and toss them aside. Relena Darlian does not do defeat, and yet here I am. Heero-less, with shoes covered in dog droppings, completely tired and without another plan.

I sigh and let my gaze take in my surroundings without much interest. A couple of very young children are playing hopscotch in front of the pond while their father takes pictures. A group of teenaged girls are in a group, obviously scouting the boys playing flag football further across the park. A young man with a mop of dark, messy hair reads beneath a giant oak tree.

My heart leaps into my throat and I sit up straighter. "Heero!" I gasp.

He looks up as if he heard me speak. Then he stands, tossing the book aside. He's heading my way! Surely this is fate! … Wait… no… Where is he going? I follow his direction with my eyes.

What in the world!?

There is the figure of a girl heading towards him. A pretty, thin girl with endless legs encased in dark-washed jeans, bright green court shoes, wearing what looks like Heero's old Preventers jacket, with gorgeous, silky hair tied back at the base of her slender neck in a pale blue ribbon. Maybe she's an old lesbian co-worker? Or maybe she's a long-lost sister? I can't see her face so it's possible she's of Asian decent… Yes, that's it exactly. She's his long lost sister.

He grabs her hands and pulls her close and whispers something in her ear. I don't know what he says and I can't tell by her face- I can't see it- but it must have been something terribly wonderful because she pops up on her toes and… they're kissing! And it's not a familial kiss… Not at all…

I feel my heart stop as I watch. Heero pulls her flush against his body. He kisses her how I sometimes fantasized he might kiss me. His fingers curl in that pretty hair to deepen that romantic kiss and that evil, vile, hateful girl encourages him, arms around his neck and everything! When it should be my body and my hair and my lips!

"That COW!" I scream in rage.