labor

Heero stared at the papers on his desk. Then at the papers on the other side of his desk. Then at the bunches and BUNCHES of papers stacked on the sofa, the shelf, the chair He'd been a Preventer for six years now, and the director of the intelligence operations for the world- and Colony-spread organization for three, and he STILL wasn't used to how much paperwork it generated. He sighed, and picked up his pen. As bad as he thought it was, he supposed it was worse for Relena.

As if on cue, a young woman stuck her head through the door. "Hey sir!" she said, her tone a mixture of genuine respect and casualness-mostly respect. Heero had never liked formality much. However, the stories of what he'd done, and more, the aura he projected, inspired his subordinates to treat him with a quiet sort of deference. "Your wife's on the line"

"All right," Heero said, glad for an excuse to leave the papers alone. Fixing his death glare on the sheaf of paper, he thumbed the vidphone on. "Hey honey," he said, the endearment coming easily to his lips. "Is there a reason for this call, or you just missed seeing my face?"

"Both, handsome," laughed the blond woman on the screen. Her face sobered, a fact that Heero caught onto quickly. "Is something wrong, Relena?"

Relena took a deep breath. "HeeroI have something to tell you." She took another deep breath, causing Heero's worry to rise another notch. "I'mpregnant."

Whatever Heero was expecting, it was not that. "What?" he asked inanely. "I'm pregnant," repeated his wife. "I just came back from the doctor, he confirmed it. I started suspecting it around two weeks ago, but I wasn't sure"

Heero's brain felt unable to function. He gaped mutely at the screen, not really registering his wife's words. Coherent thought slipped in and out of his mind like a weaving fish: an idea, a word, would start to surface, but when he tried to concentrate on it, it crumbled away. By the time he snapped out of his daze, the connection had long since terminated and he was staring at a screen full of static.

Slowly, his brain still functioning sluggishly, he moved to the large window bank that took up a whole wall of his office. He leaned forward, resting his forehead against the cool glass. He stayed like that for a long time, motionless and simply staring at the view.

Outside, his aide was getting worried. When Duo passed by on the way to the mess hall, she ran outside and tapped him on his shoulder. "Uh, excuse me? Mr. Maxwell, sir?" Duo turned to see a pretty, dark-haired young woman looking at him with troubled brown eyes. "What seems to be the problem, miss?"

"It's Commander Yuy, sir" Duo had to hide a smirk. Though Heero held the rank of lieutenant general in the UN Forces, every single Preventer under him called him Commander. It was a tradition beginning to spread into the other sectors. Duo had no idea how it started, though he knew that at first, it had caused his friend no end of frustration. Maybe he fit into their stereotypical view of what a commander should bewhat was a stereotypical view of a commander?

Duo broke off his thoughts in time to catch the last part of the other Preventer's sentence: "just standing there! It's getting scary" Duo laughed softly and said reassuringly, "Yeah, Heero does have the knack of spooking people. Even marriage can't get rid of it completely. Don't worry, I'll go talk to him"

When Duo stepped inside and looked at his friend's face, he could understand why Heero's capable and usually brave aide d'camp had been rattled. Heero's face was totally blank, an absolute lack of expression in his blue eyes. It reminded Duo all too clearly of the times he'd seen people go into severe shock. He found himself almost checking Heero's pulse. He changed his mind and shook his friend by the shoulders instead.

Just as he'd hoped, Heero snapped out of it. What he did next was almost as scary.

His eyes lit up brighter than a Christmas tree. A gigantic, gleeful grin spread across his entire face. "HHeero? What the hell?" sputtered Duo.

Heero's grin grew even wider, if possible. "DuoI'm gonna be a faha feha dad! I'm gonna be a dad!" He grabbed Duo's hands and started to dance with his friend around the room. "Can you believe it?"

Duo tried to regain his balance; both mentally and physically. "Youa father?" he repeated slowly. "Then that means" A smile spread across the American's face, rivaling his buddy's. "Relena's pregnant? Heero, my man! Whoo-hoo! We need champagne!" he yelled, waving his fist in the air. Heero nodded, making sense of Duo's random sentences. "I know! I know! Isn't it great?"

Heero's aide timidly peeked inside. She watched, sweatdropping, as her boss-who just a minute ago strongly resembled a marble statue-and his best friend danced around the office, grinning widely and laughing their heads off.

****

Five Months Later

Duo Maxwell crouched beside his broken-down motorcycle, swearing quietly to himself. Of course it had to run out of gas at two in the morning, not to mention in the middle of a deserted stretch of road.

"Oh fudge."

He raised his head to see a pair of headlights shining down the road. As the black SUV rolled to a stop, he realized he knew this car. He opened the door and vaulted into the seat. "Hey Heero! You've really saved my butt, you know that?" Duo said cheerfully.

"Ran out of gas again, Duo?" inquired Heero wryly. Duo nodded ruefully. "Never mind, I'll give you a lift home. Did you equip the alarm?" Heero asked.

"Yeah. You know, Heero, I think that the alarm you developed for my bike is a bit tooforceful."

"What's wrong with it?" Heero asked as they pulled away from the roadside.

"Well, machine guns popping out from the chassis and peppering the ground with bullets"

"Baby. And you called yourself Shinigami."

"Shut up!" Duo said, playfully shoving his friend. "So" he said, settling back into his seat, "Where to?"

"The grocery."

Duo blinked. And blinked again. "The..grocery? At this time of nightmorning?"

Heero sighed. "Relena wants something to eat."

"Whatoh. Cravings."

Heero nodded, then handed Duo a small slip of paper. "Could you read it for me, I was tossed into the car too quickly to catch a glimpse." Duo had a sudden mental image of a pyjama'd Heero being shoved into the Suburban by an irate, demon-headed Relena yelling about food. He shook his head to dispel the image. Too much Slayersthat's Lina, not ' He looked at his rather tired-looking friend. Though I heard that pregnancy can do wonders with a person's attitude'

He looked down at the list. As he read the contents, a sweatdrop appeared on his head. "Yogurt.pistachio ice creama loaf of rye bread?!"

Heero, listening to his friend's increasingly incredulous words, just sighed and shook his head. "Never mind. It is not for the likes of us to question, we're just here to fetch," he said in a surprisingly sage tone.

*****

Three Months Later

Heero trudged wearily to his seat on the plane and fell into it. He'd been on his feet for the last twenty-seven hours, and he was tired. Dang tired. Really, really, don't-have-the-energy-to-breathe tired.

It had been a harrowing last week in Budapest. He'd been shot at, tackled, cursed and spit on more times in the past three days than he'd been in years. Of course, the shooting, tackling and cursing back had been fun, but still tiring.

To top it all off, when his mission was done and he had finished overhauling the local Preventers Intel corps, he found out that the only flight left was an old cargo ship hauling farm produce to the Sanc Kingdom. It had taken an hour of haggling to make the grumpy old pilot take him as a passenger.

But now he could res-the beeping of his comm interrupted his train of thought. Groaning, he fished in his pack for the device, his hand brushing against his Glock, a wad of clothing, and some souvenirs he'd picked up before closing on the comm. "What?" he said flatly, keeping his eyes closed.

"Heero! Heero, it's Relena! She's gone into labor!" Duo yelled worriedly.

That woke him up and then some. "WHAAAT?!" Heero yelped. "She isn't due for another six weeks!"

"Tell that to your kid!"

The pilot of the Wanzer (AN: A nod to Gamer's current obssession) was having a fine time, minding his own business, when that guy he'd been harried into bringing burst into the cockpit.

"We need to be at the Kingdom. Now." Heero turned a truly scary glare on the man. "Speed this airplane up."

"Now look here, kid," began the old pilot. In one smooth motion, Heero unsheathed his gun, cocked it and had it leveled at the man's head. "We will increase the speed," he said, his tone light.

"Yyessir!"

The whole gang (AN: I was tired of writing Duo, Hilde, Noin, Zechs, etc.) were gathered in a hospital hallway. Zechs was pacing the hallway, Duo right behind him. From the benches, Hilde and Noin watched them worriedly. Trowa leaned against the wall, his green eyes watching the doorway they'd wheeled Relena through.

Sally, as the only one with formal medical training, had accompanied the doctors for the C-Section, but the rest of them had to settle for staying outside the operation chamber.

With their nerves on edge like they were, everyone's head snapped up as the sound of feet pounding a rhythm much too fast reached their ears. A rumpled-looking Heero Yuy raced into the area. He grabbed the collar of the first person he saw, who happened to be Wufei. "WWhere?!" Heero gasped, a panicky look in his eyes.

Quickly, Wufei pointed in the direction of the operating room. Heero tore off, nearly falling in his hurry. A second after he shoved through the doors, those outside could hear his voice, "I'm here, Relena-chan, I'm he-YOOOOOWWW!" The yell of pain could be heard echoing through the halls. Two floors up, orderlies stopped their work to glance up curiously. Everyone just outside the room sweatdropped.

"I think he just let Relena hold his hand," smirked Zechs.

As if her husband's appearance had been the breaking point, Relena began screaming out her pain and indignation for the first time. The rest of the gang, who'd crept very close to the doors following Heero's rushed arrival, could hear the conversation quite clearly. "The FIRST thing we do when we get home is get a new bed!"

"ButRelena-chan, we already have a crib for the baby and all"

"It's not for the baby! It's for you! I am never sleeping in the same bed with you again! It's not worth it!"

"*nervous chuckle* Hehehdarling, you don't know what you're saying. It's the pain talking, just calm down"

"Bull@^*#! That wasn't the pain talking! If the pain was talking, it would be saying this! ^@#($)%(*#&*&^@^%$!#*$)$&!!!" Heero winced.

Outside, the males were doing the very same thing. Noin remarked curiously to Catherine, "Gee, I don't think it's physically possible for Heero to do that."

An Eternity (at least to Heero's POV) Later

Heero stepped outside, looking as if he'd gone twelve rounds with a sumo-wrestler-MS without any protective gearbut happy. His hand was held in a gingerly manner, as though it had recently been stepped on by a very fat elephant, but his eyes were dancing. He grinned at the gang, who'd scrambled to their feet, eager for news.

"I'm a dad! Relena just gave birth to a healthy baby girl," he reported gleefully. The girls gave sighs of relief, while the guys rushed forward to pound Heero on the back. Just as Duo was attempting to shove a cigar into his friend's mouth, a nurse timidly poked her head through the doors Heero had just exited. "E..excuse me, Mr. Yuy? Umyour wife is still in labor."

Everyone froze. The cigar Duo held dropped to the floor, along with most everyone's jaws. "Whwhat?!"

The nurse looked faintly amused. "Your wife is giving birth to more than one baby." Heero paled so quickly it was like someone splashed a bucket of whitewash on his face. The sounds of screaming, punctuated with a cry for "Heero!!" caused the nurse to say, "I think you'd better go back inside." Heero took a deep breath and squared his shoulders, a little color coming back to his face...but not much. As he set off, Zechs said gravely, "Now that is a brave fellow." He glanced at Noin. "Well, so was I" Noin hit him. "What was THAT supposed to mean?" Rubbing his head, Zechs mumbled, "Well, Ziv's birth wasn't easy, was it?"

Duo nodded. "Yeah, Hilde was exactly the same way with Solooww!" Hilde had duplicated Noin's maneuver. Trowa, watching, wisely decided to keep his mouth shut. Besides, Catherine had been pretty quiet when she had given birth to Arielle.

Wufei groaned. "You mean, it's always like this?" His Sally was a soldier, wasn't she? She'd be able to handle the pain better, wouldn't she? But then, his mind reminded him, Noin and Hilde both had military training, too Wufei groaned again.

Epilogue

Heero eventually reemerged, this time with Sally. She'd reassured him that, yes, Relena was finished, and no, they weren't leaving any babies in her belly. Yes, they were sure. Relena had calmed down and was currently nuzzling her two newborns, so Heero felt it was safe to leave her.

For the second time, everyone in the group swarmed around the new father, demanding information. "Twins!" Heero declared around the cigar Duo had finally got in his mouth. "Fraternal twins!"

"The boy came out a bit after the girl," he elaborated, trying to talk properly through the chunk of tobacco currently wedged in his teeth. "Precisely seven minutes after," added Sally.

"What are you going to name them, Heero?" Quatre asked, curious. "Hayley and Randal," was the answer, but it wasn't Heero. Relena came into sight, in a wheelchair, looking pretty good, but tired. The two blanket-wrapped babies were cradled in her arms, and every female rushed up to get a glimpse of them. "Awww" cooed Noin. "They look so sweet!" Hilde, Catherine, and Dorothy made similar sounds.

Hayley was asleep, but little Rand was awake, and looked up at his new godmothers and godfathers. He blinked curiously at them, not afraid at all. "Look, he's got his father's eyes," Relena whispered.

Heero looked puzzled. "FunnyI could have sworn Rand's eyes were light blue, like Relena's" he whispered to Duo. "Maybe you got him mixed up with Hayley" Duo whispered back. "Maybe" Heero said dubiously.

Then, shrugging the matter off, he walked forward to look at his new family, smiling as he gazed down at his wife and children.

-owari-