"Basically, she yelled until her lungs were empty…and their bladders were."
"No," gasped Noin, half-amused and half-shocked to hear her sister-in-law, smooth-spoken, diplomatic Relena Darlien-Yuy, spoken of in such a way.
"I tell you, yes," countered her husband, Milliardo Peacecraft, Relena's blond brother. He had been there. "The tone she used was scarier than facing down the Epyon with a half-empty revolver…and I wasn't even the ones she was yelling at."
"Oh man…" Noin said, beginning to chortle.
"Heero was even worse."
"Why, what did he say?"
"He didn't say anything-and if you ask me, that's what spooked those old farts so much. He just set that glare of his on them, and you know…"
Noin knew, as all who met Heero Yuy did, very well the effect of Heero's infamous Glare of Certain, Impending Doom-more commonly called the Death Glare™.
"And when they noticed that his hand was wandering very close to his gun…"
That was it. Noin collapsed in helpless laughter. "To face off against Pilot Zero-One or with your sister when she's being firm is bad enough, but the both of them?" she chortled. "Those poor slobs on the World Council will be having nightmares for a week!"
"They deserve it," Milliardo said, suddenly very serious. "What a thing to ask of them…their twins are barely a year old, and they want Heero and Relena to leave them alone for a week…at Christmas, no less! Oh, I know that the situation on L1 is going critical," he continued, in the same helplessly angry voice, "-and that those Colonists will accept no one but Relena, their Queen-cum-Vice Foreign Minister and Heero Yuy, their own personal, hometown-boy savior, to negotiate them back to a state of not-ready-to-declare-war-on-everyone-not-in-their-cluster, but…!"
His voice had a bitter angry note to it, equal parts helpless because he couldn't help his little sister and the young man who he'd been beginning to regard as a younger brother; angry at the government who would pull them away from their children during Christmas and at the people of the Colony who made that necessary; and sadness at the entire situation.
"Shh…" Noin soothed, coming up behind her husband and hugging him. "I know you feel bad, darling, but like you said, it can't be helped. And we can try to give the twins a good Christmas, even if…" she sniffed, "…they can't have their parents here…" As a young girl growing up in Italy, Noin's father, a Federation general, was often gone from their home, and Noin knew all too well the pain of a missing parent.
The two stood there, quiet in each other's embrace, for a long moment. Finally, Noin pulled away and smiled at her husband. "Come on, we need to check that everything's ready for the Christmas dinner."
Milliardo walked down the carpeted hallway, his four-year-old son Ziv trotting at his heels. Noin was supervising the kitchen staff in setting the table for the Christmas dinner. It was to be a huge affair; all the Gundam pilots and their families were coming, and a lot of them were notorious for large appetites-most notably the Maxwell contingent.
It was an hour before the first guests were expected to arrive, and Milliardo decided to check on his niece and nephew, who were supposed to be napping in the nursery. The door slid open, and Pargan, the old faithful butler who'd been nursemaid to both Milliardo and Relena and was now serving as same for the twins, looked up at the tall young man. "They're still asleep, sir," he told Millardo quietly. He gave a dry chuckle. "I think they were tired out from their fits earlier."
Milliardo smiled wryly. When Heero and Relena had dropped off their babies earlier that day, (a scene in which Relena had quite audibly sobbed while kissing her children good-bye and Heero had threatened Milliardo in no uncertain terms what he would do if any harm came to his twins) they had been quiet and affable enough, delighted to see their Aunt Noin and giggling at the funny faces of their cousin and his father. But when they realized their parents were leaving them behind, they had both embarked on a screaming, crying fit that echoed throughout the entire mansion and lasted for what seemed like eternity. Haley had been the louder, but Randal had made up for it by throwing things all over the room. Milliardo rubbed his cheek where a Lego piece had struck him. Randal showed signs of inheriting his father's enhanced strength-much to Milliardo's dismay.
Now, though, the two were quiet as they slumbered in their single crib. Their family had found out early on that neither twin would suffer to be away from each other, so the two slept in one crib. Milliardo smiled somewhat sadly down at them, warning Ziv to be quiet as he hoisted the little boy up to look at his cousins.
The two of them looked very much alike as they lay there side-by-side; same angelic faces, round with baby-fat; hair that, for all it was the exact shade of their mother's, was just as unruly and unbiddable as their father's; same serious, solemn expressions as they dreamed. For days after they were born, Heero and Relena had argued as to what color their eyes were; Heero insisted they had inherited Relena's sea-blue eyes, while Relena maintained that their eyes were Heero's cobalt-blue. It was discovered that the correct answer was both; the twins' eyes shifted from sea-blue to cobalt back to sea-blue again, depending on their mood-you could take a fairly accurate estimate of what they were feeling by checking to see what color their eyes were.
One pair of those blue-changing eyes opened to regard Milliardo as Haley awoke. She stared up at her uncle. "Hey there," Milliardo said softly, lowering Ziv to the ground and picking up his little niece. She blinked solemnly at him. On the crib, Randal began to stir restlessly, never far behind his sister.
Noin, who had entered the nursery while Milliardo and Ziv were watching the babies, walked over to the crib and picked up the baby boy, who yawned like a kitten before blinking at his aunt. Milliardo noticed that both babies' eyes were cobalt, giving him the unsettling feeling that Heero was looking at him through two sets of eyes.
"The guests are here," she told them.
"Is Solo here?" Ziv asked her, his violet-blue eyes owlish behind his large glasses.
"Yes, Solo's here along with Duo, Hilde, Quatre, Wufei and Sally…"
"Yaay!" the little boy cheered. "Now I can show him my new Wing Zero model!" Milliardo made a face as his son raced out of the room, Pargan following at the excited Ziv's heels.
"Still jealous that Ziv's favorite model is Wing Zero, not Tallgeese?" Noin teased. Milliardo made a face at her too.
"Come on, let's get these kids down to the dining room…"
He was interrupted by a soft sound.
Both Noin and Milliardo halted and stared at Haley. "Mama? Papa?" she said.
"Oh…my…God…" Noin said, slowly. Randal, who had been sucking on his fist, took it out and said, "Mama? Papa?" too. Milliardo and Noin stared at him, then at his sister.
"I can see that, Milli…"
"Milliardo…" Noin was interrupted again by Randal. "Mama? Papa?" he repeated, in a more insistent voice. He swiveled his head, looking all about the room. On Milliardo's shoulder, Haley was doing the same thing.
"They're looking for Heero and Relena," Noin finally said. She looked at the babies, and sighed. "How can we explain to one-year-old babies that their mama and their papa can't be with them?"
"Come on," Milliardo said at last, over his shock at hearing his niece and nephew speak. "Let's bring them downstairs."
The dinner had been a success. The food had been delicious, and there was enough to satisfy everyone. There had been earnest, approving ooh's and ahh's over the tall, glowing Christmas tree in the middle, and the fact that the boys had broken a Christmas ornament while playing tag did not seem to matter very much.
Everyone was delighted when Milliardo and Noin brought the news that the babies had begun talking. Sally and Hilde were especially eager to hear them, and nearly applauded when Haley had burst out suddenly: "Mama?" and her brother had followed with a "Papa?" The babies had been well-behaved throughout the dinner, even giggling when Ziv, Duo and Solo had taken it upon themselves to entertain the twins.
But there hovered about the entire party a sense of something missing, most keenly about the twins. Everyone missed Heero and Relena.
It was nearly midnight before everything was quiet again. Everyone had left, or in the Maxwells' case, stayed over the night. Ziv and Solo were plotting together in Ziv's room, about what Milliardo dreaded to know, and Duo and Hilde slept in the guestroom down the hall. Milliardo and Noin were seated in the living room, each cradling a surprisingly awake baby in their arms.
They had received a large amount of gifts, seeing as how nearly every adult in the room was their godparent, but though they seemed quite happy with everything, most especially the large ballpool/playpen Quatre had brought, they clung most tenaciously to one present.
Heero and Relena had left two teddy bears for their children; Randal's was black, Haley's was chocolate-brown and each was being hugged tightly by a wide-eyed baby.
Milliardo finished keying in the commcode and sat back down. The screen on the unit set into the coffee table rezzed quickly into the image of Relena and Heero. Relena was still in her executive outfit, and Heero in his formal Preventers uniform, and they both looked rumpled and tired…but happy to see the people on the other end of the line.
"Noin! Milliardo!" Relena said happily. "Hello, Noin," Heero said, "Zechs," and smirked when Milliardo scowled at him. He did not like to be reminded about his days as the Lightning Baron. "Merry Christmas!" Relena interrupted, and the greeting was echoed between the four.
"And how are my babies?" Relena cooed, looking at the twins on the vidscreen. Beside her, Heero grinned as he saw how tightly they hung onto their new teddy bears. 'Just like their mom…'
"Oh, they're fine," Milliardo said, his tone deliberately casual. "In fact, they've been asking for you."
"Huh?" was Relena's confused answer to this statement.
"I said, they've been asking for you," Milliardo repeated. As if the two babies recognized this cue, they burst out simultaneously: "Mama! Papa!" -their voices no longer questioning, like they had been earlier that night, but sure and determined.
Milliardo and Noin started to laugh. The looks on Heero and Relena's faces were similar to that of a person who has just been informed that the sky was green.
"Th….they talked!" Heero finally said, as if announcing the discovery of Atlantis.
"What were you expecting them to do? Neigh, maybe?" Noin fired back. She glanced wearily at her husband. "What is it with you men? You were exactly like that earlier."
Milliardo grinned sheepishly.
"They talked!" Heero repeated, dazedly.
"Say…say it again, my darlings," Relena pleaded, smiling tearfully-smiling because her children had said their first words, called for them for the first time, and tearful because she wasn't there for it.
"Mama!" said Haley, stretching her chubby little arms towards the vidscreen. Randal began squirming in his aunt's arms, trying to get free so he could crawl towards the vidscreen, as if it were a portal that could carry him to his parents.
At the sight, tears began rolling down Relena's face. Noin, her own eyes wet, tightened her hold on Randal. "Shh…shh…" she whispered, and it couldn't be said if she meant the words for Randal or his mother.
Heero put his arm around his wife and gazed long into the vidscreen, taking in the faces of his two children. He chewed on his lower lip, and seemed to come to a decision. "Relena," he said abruptly. "Can you call the spaceport and tell them to start the checkout procedure for our shuttle? I'm piloting us down to Earth."
"But Heero…!" Relena said, regarding her husband with surprise. "We still have negotiations and…"
"Stuff negotiations," Heero growled in a tone he hadn't used since he was the Perfect Soldier. "I'm going over to the house of the leader of this stupid movement to…talk…to him."
"But nothing. After you call them, start packing. I shouldn't be long. Zechs," he said, and Milliardo didn't protest the name, "…expect us at around six in the morning."
"Gotcha, bro," Milliardo said, smirking as he watched Heero belt on his gun holster. Milliardo doubted Heero would use it-despite his sometimes-deserved trigger happy reputation, his brother-in-law knew when to control it-but the fact that this lethal young Gundam pilot had his firearm ostentatiously displayed on his hip should not hurt the discussion one bit.
Heero raised an eyebrow at Milliardo's phrase. "You've been hanging around Duo too long."
Relena was off-screen; despite her earlier protests, she was now hurrying around the hotel room throwing everything they owned into suitcases. Heero glanced at her, grinned conspiratorially at Milliardo and Noin, and threw them a salute.
"We'll be coming at six," he repeated, and terminated the link.
Noin looked over at her husband. "You knew, didn't you? You knew he'd react like that when he learned Rand and Haley were talking," she accused him.
Milliardo lifted one shoulder in an elaborately casual gesture…then ducked his head as his wife playfully swatted at him.
"So maybe I guessed," he admitted. A wide smile suddenly appeared on his face. He threw Haley into the air, ignoring Noin's gasp, and caught her again. He laid his forehead against the giggling baby's. "That's the best Christmas present we could get them…all of them."
AN: Maligayang Pasko, minna-san! =D Merry Christmas, Felis Natal, Feliz Navidad, Merii Kurismasu, and otherwise happy holidays to everyone.
I just reread Labor Pains (and the reviews) and I just realized that I forgot to give poor Quatre much of a part.
Quatre: (sniffling) I wasn't in it at all!
Cy: ^^;; Er, sorry, Winner-san. But the focus of the story was on Heero and Relena, with Duo there for comedy relief, so…
Quatre: You gave everyone else parts!
Cy: So I did…um, gomen?
Anywayz, I'll see if I can rewrite it and give our lil Arabian-blondie more lines.
This piece dedicated to all the latch-key kids (and there are a lot of us, I know) and to all parents who miss their kids. (sniffle) Especially during Christmas. But I did give it a happy ending, in honor of the holidays!
Alternatives chapter six out tomorrow. Just need to type in the last few paragraphs. G'night everyone! (waves)