Vedicate (v): To covet or hold dear
Author's note: Although for some the title of this story may be considered a typo, it is one of the rare and unused words of our day. I felt this one word was fitting for this story because it captures the sentiments of two people in one idea.
For many of my readers choosing to write a Gundam Wing fanfiction may be considered a little late as the boom for this anime was over ten years ago when it first aired on Cartoon Network. Yet, Gundam Wing, although I have never written anything in this verse has always been one of my great anime passions and I look back on it rather nostalgically. At the time I was very much into Heero x Duo (1x2), but now that my teeny-bopperish days are behind me I have changed my opinions and found much to like about the 1xR relationship. This is a one shot, and the first time for me writing either of these characters. Although I feel I portrayed Relena fine, some may find Heero too soft? Either way, let me know what you think of this story as comments are always appreciated. No, scratch that. I LOVE comments/reviews.
The rain fell in long, wistful sheets against the bay window which looked out onto an equally wet city scene below. It was spring time in London, that glorious if not unpredictable month of March, the remnants of winter still hanging in the air. Heero glanced up to listen to the pitter-patter of the rain, his fingers poised above his old-fashioned type writer. A moment later he sighed.
The past year had not been good to him—neither financially or emotionally. Heero was no longer defined by his ability to pilot Wing Zero now that peace had been attained. Instead, he now spent his days struggling to regain some sense of purpose in his life. Those years of war were long gone for him—nearly a decade. Now, at last, after working for five hard years at Oxford he had received his masters in political science. His dissertation had been torture, and all he remembered were the long aimless nights with only a cup of cold coffee by his side and Beethoven or Mahler playing in the background. Thankfully, those days of forced poverty and long over-worked hours as a teaching assistant were over as well.
Heero smirked to himself; who knew that studying could be just as emotionally tiring as piloting a Gundam? If only Quatre could have clued him into the horrors of graduate school when he had been studying for his masters at Julliard.
The small alarm clock next to his bed began to beep haphazardly and jumping up out of his straight-back chair Heero silenced it in a matter of seconds. He could have deconstructed it and put it together again if he wanted to—but right now there was no time, as the clock was plainly telling him.
"Shirt…shirt…" he mumbled to himself, moving towards the closet and running his hands through his still-damp hair.
The apartment was cold, as it usually was. On the floor beside the bed there was a completely functioning space heater though it had gathered a translucent layer of dust from lack of use. The cold did not bother Heero—he relished it, it helped him say alert and focused. Even now, some nights, he could not sleep afraid of bombing over-head.
The television was silently turned on with colors and images swarming on the screen. For a moment Heero thought he saw a familiar face, set of lips, chestnut-colored hair and his blue eyes locked hungrily to the screen. It had been nothing; they were merely talking about the anti-nationalist rioting in Japan.
One shoe, then the other. A few seconds later Heero was out the door, though the television continued to silently reel images one by one. The door clicked shut and the face of Relena Peacecraft appeared on the screen—her pink lips echoing silent words.
There was a muted 'click' and the television turned off. One could only watch so much of oneself before it grew to be too tiring. After all, what could she say about the nationalists in Japan? Would it lead down the road to war as it had in the 1900s? Or, would the Japanese public at last stand up to their government and declare their sovereignty? Nothing that Relena Peacecraft of the Sanc Kingdom said would change that at all.
"Will that be all?" a voice behind her questioned.
Relena nodded, aimlessly running her fingers into her long hair while her deep green eyes glanced casually over her shoulder as she watched the maid exit quietly. She picked up a brush, the handle inlaid with mother-of-pearl and a figure of a mermaid engraved into the shimmering surface. This had been a gift from Heero, like the stuffed bear from long ago and later the silver locket which she wore around her neck faithfully. She parted her fringe to the side and studied her complexion. She did not feel twenty-five…in fact she felt so much older than she should be. Often times, when she worked late at night she would watch the innocent youth stroll by in their way to discos and night clubs.
Oh, how she longed to be one of them just once. She longed to meet a handsome man who would take her into some dark corner with only sound would be that of their mingled breaths and beating hearts. Perhaps then, she could forget Heero Yuy who seemed to haunt her footsteps like the ghost of Christmas Past.
The door opened behind her and snapping out of her reverie Relena stood up quickly and announced too hurriedly, "I'm ready to go."
The man who stood in the doorway was tall, broad shouldered with a large powerful build like that of a lion. Professor Green, as he was now known, was a friend from her days at Columbia and was now the youngest department chair ever at Oxford.
"You look great," he murmured, his hand casually sliding into the small of her back.
Relena glanced up at him and just-as-casually slid out of his quasi-embrace, "Thank you."
This subtle move did not go unnoticed, but William Green merely shrugged it off. After all, he did have a wife and child to go home to at night—he certainly wasn't desperate. Well, not that desperate at least.
Dressed in a pair of grey herringbone slacks with matching blazer, with a Kelly-green silk shirt peaking out beneath she looked the image of vibrant spring remerging from the grey depths of winter.
"March comes in like a lion, what else?" Green exclaimed as he opened his umbrella and escorted her to the taxi waiting outside.
The rain had let up to a gentle sort of drizzle that coated the car's window and made the outside world all but a blur of light and movement.
Seated next to her, Professor Green babbled on, "It really was good of you to accept the invitation as a guest panel for selecting our new staff members."
Relena murmured something appropriate, her thin fingers gently clasped about her neck, her green eyes locked on the window and scene outside.
"We're just glad that King's College was nice enough to let us use one of the classes as a testing ground for these two candidates. It's located just a bit further."
There was a pause, and he looked at her as though he was expecting a reply. When there was none, he continued.
"Incidentally, what did you think of our last candidate? Nathan? Kind of a snarky bastard, but jovial enough I found. I think he really relates to the students and keeps them entertained."
At this remark, Relena turned towards him, hitching up her black leather attaché case a little higher up her lap, and replied, "Yet teaching isn't about entertainment, after all."
Green looked rather amused and replied, "But of course, but of course that goes without saying…still though…"
Relena faced the window again, her striking profile reminiscent of a stern Greek goddess, her hair cascading down her shoulders with small escaping ringlets peaking through. Her lips were half parted, almost as though she was about to say something. Professor Green eyed her approvingly, in particular her practically perfect posture which offset her petite yet ample figure. There was something so old and yet so young about this world leader, something so beyond her years…and yet her eyes gave away her naiveté—in particular when it came to the opposite sex.
"Who is today's candidate? I read the brief this morning, but I can't seem to remember his name."
Green nodded, and promptly replied, "You mean Rook? His name is Heero Rook—he got his masters at Oxford majoring in Political Science with an emphasis on Peace Relations."
Relena paled but said nothing as she let Green's words break upon her like a wave crashes upon a rock during a storm.
"Yes, Heero is kind of an odd one—quiet, rather brooding if you ask me. He hardly speaks a word unless in lecture, and there he's good-humored enough. I've seen him downtown a few times—bookstores, bars, clubs and the like and even there he doesn't seem to let down his guard. It's like he was in the army and never recovered from a regimented life."
"Oh?" Relena whispered, now gripping rather tightly to the handles to her bag, "Is that so?"
She closed her eyes, trying to remember what the brief had looked like—she could picture it now, lying innocently on her desk cast in the grey morning light. The name? Why, it had only said H. Rook—and there was no picture beside it either. Her heart began to beat faster.
Heero took the steps two at a time, his black umbrella in one hand his briefcase clasped in the other. This was the day he had been waiting for years it seemed. All that now remained between him and his goal was a ten minute bus ride, greeting the visiting guest panelists and giving one hell of a lecture—one that seemed he had been rehearsing and re-writing for weeks.
The bus appeared right on time and jumping in he took a seat on the second story so that he could look down on the street bellow.
His nerves seemed shot and absently he reached inside his wallet withdrawing from its folded depths a worn picture of a girl with sparkling green eyes, smiling pink lips and long luxurious hair swinging down her back. His fingers reached out and caressed her face gently and for a moment it looked as though he was almost smiling.
This was for her—all of it.
The picture was from when she volunteered with the Chilean llama herders a few years ago during her summer vacation from Columbia. The political move had been an attempt to raise awareness for a more eco-friendly life style and to halt the rapid logging in the rain forest.
That was Relena for you, always off doing something—trying to make the world beautiful.
"Well," Heero mumbled to himself, "I'm not making the world beautiful."
I'm just trying to understand it.
The bus had stopped at a light and for a moment Heero closed his eyes, trying to remember the last time he had seen Relena—it had been three years ago when he had rigged her charity raffle and received box office seats to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to watch La Nozze de Figaro.
The two had hardly spoken a word—mainly because there had been security guards swarming the place. Yet he remembered the look in her eyes, and when they shook hands in farewell he had left her a silver locket. There had been nothing inside—no picture, no strand of hair, nor note; the memory would have to sustain them until their next meeting whenever that would be.
His blue eyes were trained on the second hand as it continued to whirl slowly about the face of the clock. The lecture was to have begun ten minutes ago—yet the last two panelists were missing. Heero glanced up towards the rear of the lecture hall, eying the group of Harvard and Cambridge graduates with half disdain and half appreciation. He was, after all, one of them now however much he may loathe them.
One of the professors was now making their way towards him—his black metallic phone glinting like onyx in his left hand.
"Any word?" Heero questioned, turning his back to the classroom of students that was now milling about anxiously in their seats.
Silently the professor handed the phone to Heero.
"As I was telling Campbell, just start without us. We're stuck behind a large bus that is blocking traffic. I think we should be there within ten minutes—just save the interesting bits for half way through, alright?"
Not quite sure what to respond Heero simply nodded and disconnected.
"Let us begin, then."
The entry way was void of people save a haggard looking student lighting up. The car ride over to the classroom had been pure torture—first stuck behind a slow bus, then a broken traffic light not to mention the terrible weather. Yet, now that Relena was here standing on the threshold she found it very difficult for her feet to move. What or who lay beyond the doors?
Green, who already had his large hands pressed against the entry way looked back at her, grinning unconsciously.
"Not like you to be late, is it?"
A faint shade of pink rose to her cheeks and brusquely she replied, "No" before taking the few remaining steps that separated her from the entryway.
The classroom was dark when they entered, the only sound of shuffling papers. The screen was illuminated with what seemed to her a brazenly bright image. A second later the room was flooded into light, and a voice began, "As you can see by that illustration the action of the Japanese soldiers pre-dating World War II was a cause of the rising nationalism brought about by the insecurity of the rapidly modernizing government. In a word you could say it was growing pains."
Relena took her seat, not daring to look upon the face of the lecturer.
"Can anyone give any other examples of the effects nationalism has caused throughout history? In a broad sense of course."
There was silence for a moment and Relena fumbled with her attaché case, pulling out a notebook and then a pen with deliberate slowness.
Apparently someone raised there hand towards the back of the classroom for the voice called out, "Yes?"
Relena's green eyes glanced unconsciously towards the student—but it was too late, her eyes had accidentally strayed past the raised hand and towards the figure at the head of the class, still illuminated by the faint glow of the projector.
Her breath caught. She could recognize that face, despite however many years had passed. The pen dropped from her hand and her eyes went wide, as though someone had just harshly slapped her across the cheek. Her breathing stopped as she stared at him across the sea of faces. He stood, highlighted against the projected picture—Heero was a deceiving figure of a young man untouched by combat, while in the background a woodblock print of the bloody scene of the Russo-Japanese war raged.
His eyes were dark, perhaps a little darker from lack of sleep, but he carried himself in the same upright (if not alert) fashion he had always done so. His hair was of the same length it had been during the last time she had seen him, giving him a slightly boyish look to his mature and serious face. The features she had once memorized in her mind had lengthened and narrowed somewhat, the baby-fat of his youth now replaced by a prowling, coiled type of strength that seemed to radiate through every move. Dressed in a dark grey tweed suite he was the picture of respectability and academia.
The student who had been called upon had apparently been talking during the entire time Relena had been starring unabashedly at the young professor to-be. Now, in an attempt to scramble for a look of composure she hurriedly began to scribble on her paper to make it look as though she was attempting to be an impartial judge.
Heero, for his part, had his body faced slightly away from her and thereby all the judges for the duration of the student's answer. Now, turning to face the class directly he responded in turn to the comment:
"You bring up a good point. Let's look at the national mentality of the Japanese during that time—say, compared to--,"
His sentence was cut short, left hanging in the silence of the classroom. Heero stood, his blue eyes focused on the back of the room, his mouth left slightly open in mid sentence.
Relena…he thought to himself. What was she doing here? Was she a judge?
A million thoughts raced through his mind and he had to mentally force himself to push them aside and focus. The only way he was consciously able to do that was to physically turn away from the judges, and merely address one half of the room or the other. Yet, even still he felt his eyes sliding back to the pair who was now gazing at him from across the room.
Your future career depends on this. Don't screw it up. That thought became his mantra. If he failed now, lost his edge, his composure it would mean another three to four months of job searching at the minimum. The fact that this professorship had neatly fallen into his lap was a chance he could not afford to miss. Mustering up his strength he vowed to ignore Relena.
Mission accepted, seemed to ring through his head unconsciously. No longer was this simply a test, it was a mission of seemingly life or death. The adrenaline he had not felt in years began to course through his body, and somehow he found the words coming out of his mouth more entertaining, insightful and interesting than they had ever been.
Heero was not the only one to notice this change in his demeanor and in the back of the room the remaining six judges began to scribble more notes.
The lecture lasted an hour and a half and by the time it was concluded Heero has just finished stressing the importance of the Manchurian Invasion in 1931. The students were now milling out of the classroom or putting various items into their book bags, some reaching for their umbrellas. The rain had yet to slack, so it seemed.
Neatly organizing his lecture notes, Heero outwardly was the vision of calm yet inside his heart was racing. He could see the approaching group of judges—Professor Green—the Department Chair at Oxford, David Campbell, other Political Science and History staff members, the political commentator Ludwig Washington, and then last but not least the only female on the panel—Relena Peacecraft.
"Well done, Rook!" Green greeted, slapping him on the back as though he had known Heero for a long time. Had it been the old days Heero would have had a gun to Green's temples quicker than the man could blink. Yet, in the world of Academia there were different ways to go about such things.
Therefore Heero merely bowed his head modestly and murmured, "Thank you."
Relena stood in the back, her petite frame almost lost among the tall group of men. Even though Heero had said nothing nor given any outward sign of annoyance, Relena could tell that Green's familiarity had piqued his usually calm temper. Relena fought back a smile as she thought to herself; He's still the same, even here, even now.
The remaining figures in the group had at last all gathered about Heero's svelte figure. "Interesting that you chose Japanese history," another commented.
Heero merely shrugged and turned back to his satchel, latching it securely. "It is important that the students have a background in modern Japanese history based on the current political climate in East Asia."
A few of the judges nodded amongst themselves with slightly troubled looks on their faces.
Campbell now drew Heero aside and smiled warmly, "Well, a job well done, I'll say. But, let's not stay in this classroom any longer waxing on about current Political Theory. I'm sure you've been interviewed, poked and prodded for this position enough."
Heero did not object, and seemed to affirm the statement by picking up his leather satchel.
Green for his part piped up, "I would say so. Best not to talk about Political Theory when you have one of the top theorists in the world—," he nodded toward Washington, "As well as the universal Pacifist advocate!" His eyes fell on Relena who at that moment was nervously staring down at her shoes, her cheeks still flushed as they had been for the last hour and a half.
"Oh! I say, I nearly forgot introductions!" Campbell exclaimed, motioning Heero back to the group which surrounded him.
Heero did not protest and his blue eyes systematically worked their way across the faces, at last falling on Relena's.
"Green you know of course, and then there is Robert Luke of the History Department at Oxford, Jeremy Woodby of Political Science,"
The two men nodded and Woodby put out his hand.
"Carl Wirtz, also of Political Science as well as Ludwig Washington the Political Commentator—and finally last but not least Miss Relena Peacecraft."
Relena, hearing her name looked up and almost instantaneously she put on her professional face and cordially she drew her hand, "Very nice to meet you Mr. Rook. She had unconsciously placed emphasis on his last name and hearing it aloud she almost wished she had said nothing at all. Her voice seemed to betray her nervousness. Quickly she withdrew her hand, anxious not to feel the warm, strong fingers surrounding her own.
"Pleasure." He murmured as he quickly turned back towards Campbell, almost as though seeking protection in the man's jovial personality. Heero did not want to talk to Relena, did not want to look at her, he just wanted to forget she was there. For, if he even began for a moment to let his eyes and mind wander across the room he would find his chances of professorship slipping through his fingers which still tingled with her warmth.
A few moments later the crowd of people was whisked out into the stormy March day heading out under the pretense to keep their reservation at Café Vert. They stood in a motley crowd, Campbell with one foot out in the street hailing a taxi-cab. "We'll have to go in two cars," he called over his shoulder. "Why don't you go with Ludwig and Relena, Heero? That way you three can all get to know each other better before dinner."
Relena almost protested, her foot stepping forward with her arm outstretched, her mouth opened as though she was about to say, But we do know each other!
Heero's tall, solid figure stepped swiftly in front—his body's strength as formidable as an impenetrable fort, "We'll meet you at the restaurant then."
The others nodded and climbed into the taxi. Washington immediately jumped out into the street replacing where Campbell had once stood, his black eyes scanning the street for a flash of a taxi cab. It appeared it would take several minutes for the next one to appear.
As they stepped out onto the street Heero unconsciously opened up his plain black umbrella, shielding a startled Relena Peacecraft from the rain.
For a moment she looked up at him, their eyes meeting—blue clashing against green depths.
Her lips quivered for a moment, until at last she replied, "I have my own umbrella, thank you."
Something flashed in Heero's eyes.
He shrugged as though to say "Suite yourself."
The wind blew swiftly up the street, rustling the water-logged bare branches overhead. Relena felt the coldness of the afternoon more distinctly. Standing alone by the side of the road she asked herself—how was she supposed to act or feel? Was she supposed to be happy? Professional? Flirtatious?
Their relationship, whatever it was, seemed to create new rules in the process.
For Relena the dinner was an awkward affair, her personality shifting between two extremes. On the one hand there was the overwhelming effort to act professional and responsive. Yet, on the other hand her heart ached to ask Heero of his life and how he had been doing since she had last stumbled into him at the opera those many years ago. Her eyes kept on straying to his face across the table and more than once she caught him looking at her, a strange look in his eyes—one that she had never seen before and could not understand.
It was true, Relena thought, that she had changed much from when she last saw him. Although she remained the idealist she had always been her visions had matured and grown more reasonable with a more knowledgeable understanding of the modern-day political climate. Her studies and time at University had partially influenced her, but mainly it was her extensive traveling around the world that had instilled this new found sense of independence.
Although Relena was perhaps the last to admit it or realize it, physically she had changed a great deal. In appearance, she had become more youthful. Although she had once worn the outfits of something along the lines of what the First Lady would wear, she now was attired like a young, attractive professional with the clothes hugging her matured body in all the right places. Her hair in her youth had been the color of golden wheat in the fields but with the passing of time had darkened into the color of lightly roasted chestnuts or coffee beans. To put it simply, Relena was no longer a girl and instead she was a beautiful and intelligent woman who seemed to be the last person on earth to realize her attractiveness. Yet for many men, Green in particular, it was this innocence of hers which made her all the more sensual.
In fact, although Relena's eyes may have hovered on Heero's, hers were not the only one which strayed on her figure all evening.
The food was excellent as the food at expensive restaurants always though Relena hardly touched her plate. Instead, she filled up her lack of appetite with a feast of words. At several points during the many conversations she found herself getting into mini-intellectual debates with the young professor to be. She relished the words they exchanged, not only for the content but also because of sterility of the situation, something that her emotions had never been quite able to overcome. More so than that, there had always been a great urgency in all their previous conversations—often times, back to those days of war, they had related to the Gundam's strategy, or perhaps discussing a preemptive attack on Oz. Following the war, those few rare moments that she had seen him long enough to exchange a few words it had been terse and awkward.
Talking to him like this, with the safety of other intellectuals around her, it felt like she was getting to know him for the first time in all these years.
The dinner ended without event, save for the fact that Luke drank a bit too much wine and was promptly escorted back to his London flat with the aid of Campbell and Green. Carl Wirtz soon departed, claiming that he wished to contact his parents in the States before heading off to bed himself. This left Heero and Relena standing alone on the curb.
Heero relieved an audible sigh as he thought to himself, I'm glad that's over. It had been extremely difficult sitting across the table from Relena pretending they had never met. He knew that Relena had been nervous as well—as her conversation seemed more clipped and carefully worded than usual. She had been visibly attempting to give nothing away about their former friendship, should it be called that.
He glanced up at her, her back was faced to him, and she seemed to be fumbling around in her purse for something. A moment later she stopped, withdrawing a small card and holding it up to the dim rays of the streetlamp's ray.
"My hotel's address," she explained furtively, glancing back at him making an obvious attempt not to make eye-contact.
Had Heero been one to smile, he would have done so—or perhaps roll his eyes. He stepped forward, "What's the address?"
"1100 Magnolia Ave."
"That's about two blocks away from where I live." He paused, "On Linden Road."
Relena didn't quite what to know what to make of this confession, and merely echoed "Oh…" as well. Then she asked, "Would you like to split a taxi?"
Heero shook his head, "We'll take the underground, it's cheaper."
"Cheaper? Well, I suppose so…but…"
"The Darlians or the Peacecrafts never had money to worry about, did they?" Heero smirked to himself.
"It's not that…it's just…" She hesitated, "It's dangerous."
At this Heero laughed aloud, startling her. Relena didn't think she could have remembered a moment where he had laughed like this before.
"Do you really think I'll let anyone take you? Ten years may have gone by, Relena, but some things don't change."
There was silence for a moment, each person digesting the words that still hung in the damp evening air. As the two of them walked towards the entrance to the Metro both their cheeks were flushed pink.
The ride across the city was in virtual silence, and perhaps this might have been normal for one such as Heero, but for Relena she found it obviously oppressive and slightly stressful. Heero watched her, amused by her nervousness but also intrigued by it. The time at which they had known each other in their youth Relena had been anything except nervous—a headstrong, and oftentimes very straightforward young girl she had made no question about how she felt towards him. Usually, at that age Heero reflected, girls were shy, embarrassed and would rather live out their fantasies silently rather than actively pursuing their romantic interest as she had.
Now, Heero thought, she was different, softer, and more subtle. She was a woman, but not only that, she knew how to restrict herself and keep her usually forthcoming nature under control. To put it simply; she had learned the important element of restraint. At the same time it was a depressing thought that the Relena he thought he knew so well was simply a thing of the past.
Perhaps, thought Heero, she felt uncomfortable around him given the professional nature of their meeting. Deciding to see if this was the case in an effort to break the silence, he broached, "I didn't know you were going to be a judge."
She looked up, blinking, a piece of her hair falling over her shoulders. After a moment she replied, "I didn't know it was going to be you, Mr. Rook."
Heero smirked, "I suppose not. I flatly refused to have my picture taken."
"Still somewhat a recluse then, it seems." The corners of her pink lips turned upwards.
The train continued to chug along through the darkened tunnels, the sound of the tracks beneath them a comforting rhythm.
"It's been a long time." Heero continued after a moment.
"Yes. Nearly five years--,"
"—Since that night at the opera where we hardly spoke three words straight to each other."
"I would have said more if you hadn't been swarming with body guards then."
"Those were more dangerous times."
"I suppose." Her delicate shoulders shrugged slightly, as though deciding to not argue the case further.
Silence overpowered them once again though their eyes remained focused on each other. Suddenly, Relena sputtered, "Why didn't you tell me where you were? Why didn't you let me know you were okay?"
"I know you can take after yourself, Heero—but everyone else, Duo, Trowa, even Wu Fei has kept in contact with me someway or another." She paused, looking down in her lap. Then, she glanced up at him in that intense green gaze of hers that had not changed in all the years he had known her, "Never you."
Heero didn't quite know what to say, so he simply answered truthfully, "I figured no news was good news."
Startled by his blunt comment, Relena sighed, "Heero, don't you know me at all?"
The train slowed and the car doors opened and closed. The two watched the train as it embarked down the dark tunnel from the platform, then turned and walked towards the metro exit.
The rain had stopped though the dark streets of London still gleamed under the light from the lamps hung in the street. The two spoke nothing and only the sound of Relena's heals clapping through the neighborhoods left a mark. Heero, for his part, was his usually silent and surly self. In fact, half the people in apartment complex didn't know his room was occupied as he was so stealthy.
The two turned a corner and a large, white ostensible building lit from within appeared. It was Relena's hotel. The rose garden in the front of the house was now shadowed and the entryway no longer a bustle of activity.
Relena turned to go, to wish her farewell to Heero for the evening. Yet before she could open her mouth, he asked, "Would you like a cup of coffee or tea at my place?"
He was not looking at her, his eyes were planted on the hotel's grand exterior, gazing at the sixth floor and the third window from the left—almost as though he knew the room where Relena was staying.
"What?" She asked, somewhat taken aback.
Heero was certainly not the one for this kind of formality—he had never invited her anywhere in such close proximity to his personal life. To enter his apartment he had been living in during his time at graduate school seemed almost unimaginable.
"For coffee. Or tea." He repeated. He looked at her now, his blues eyes like black onyx in the night.
She hesitated, nervous. Her heart was beating rapidly against her breast but at last she nodded and replied almost sheepishly, "Sure."
The two moved away from the bright lit hotel and back down the street which they had once been walking on. Even from a block away one could still hear the wind flapping the flags on the international hotel.
It was dark in the hallway outside his room, the shadows casting off their typical home of nooks and cracks and had now spread and taken over the floor. It was nearly completely dark. In his apartment building the lamps were turned off until 6 when they were re-lit. Heero fumbled with the key slightly though he gave no outward sign of nervousness. When the door opened the apartment too was dark, only lit by the faint glow of the streetlamps and the reflection of raindrops against the window pane.
Heero did not immediately turn on the light, but took a moment to take off his jacket and satchel he had been carrying around with him all night. Relena stood on the threshold, nervously holding her attaché case like a little school girl realizing she had gone too far to turn back now.
Click and the light went on causing Relena to blink.
"Too bright?" Heero questioned as he moved towards the stove to put on the kettle.
"No, its fine."
She stepped in now, placing her attaché case on one of the kitchen chairs and beginning to take off her coat. Although the apartment was cold, she was sure that Heero would turn the heater on in a few moments. As she waited for the tea Heero busied himself needlessly in the kitchen, almost as though he was avoiding her.
The stove was lit and the teapot began to steam lightly.
She took the time to study the place, his decorating and mode of lifestyle. As expected the place was furnished mainly in dark, heavy woods. His style seemed very craftsman and mission and peppered about his apartment were fine, sturdy pieces of furniture. His kitchen was clean, spotless for that matter, and Relena wondered to himself, Was he always this clean?
The thought of Heero dusting, or doing dishes, or even cleaning the toilet made her laugh out loud. Heero glanced over his shoulder, one hand holding a black tea-cup.
"What?" He asked.
"I just can't get over it," She smiled, "You being domestic."
Heero frowned slightly and turned back towards the stove.
"I mean," Relena continued, "Whenever I think of you I remember our time during the war—or the time at the opera, and there you are always so calm and collected. Yet you living a life here, cleaning, just being a normal person? It just makes me smile is all. It is a side to you I haven't seen."
The kettle rumbled softly as the water inside began to gently boil.
Heero did not reply to this, but instead kept his back turned towards her as he hunched over the teapot measuring out the scoops.
Heero himself did not know what to make of her comments. Was she chiding him? Teasing him? Or was she merely being natural and carefree like how he had wished her to be all night? His apartment seemed to be having the opposite effect on her than he had intended. He had known she would be nervous to go back to his place, known what it implied between the two of them. He had expected her to be quiet, sullen, and nervous and here she was laughing to herself as he made her tea.
It was too much. Setting down the spoon and cup which he had been holding he put them loudly onto the counter with every intension of turning around—to tell and show her plainly how he felt. The time had come, all that he had waited for had come to fruition and he could finally say at last that he deserved her after so many years. Whether or not he received the professorship at the very least she would realize, know, his years of hard work and toil…
…and that they had all been for her.
He wanted to smash the cup into the sink and hold her against him, to feel her body trembling and shivering beneath his, to comfort her fears in his arms. He would have done it—he would have done it all if he had not felt the same very arms he hoped to feel wrapped around him suddenly envelop him. A moment later he felt the gentle pressure of her head lean into the small of his back.
"Heero," she silently murmured into his shirt, "I missed you so much…"
He knew that she was close to tears and the emotions she had been holding within her all day were about to overflow. Yet he did not immediately turn towards her, instead he stood a moment longer enjoying the pleasant weight of her body against his—a sensation he had never felt before. She was warm, comforting, and serious—everything her knew she would be.
His long fingers felt out for hers that now gently rested against his abdomen and he held them, feeling their softness and delicacy. At last he faced Relena, looking down at the top of her head until at last her radiant face peaked up at him—nervous, afraid and yet joyful.
His fingers reached for her chin and tilting it slightly upwards he gazed into the eyes which he had been forced to see reproductions on television for years. Yet, here they were now looking up at him, pleading in their sincerity.
"Relena…" he whispered gently, curving his neck downwards, his breathing unsteady. He hovered over her visage a moment, soaking in the depth of her eyes, the flush to her cheeks, the gleam of her lips in the apartment light. When their lips met it was gentle, hesitant and nervous. They touched for a moment then quickly pulled away as they cautiously looked at each other only to reaffirm what was happening. A hint of a smile appeared on Heero's lips.
Suddenly Relena felt arms surround her and the next moment she was lifted up onto the cold counter top. She hardly had a moment to react when she felt Heero's lithe body pressed firmly against her, his lips atop her own, every sensation evident. He pulled away again, silently questioning, "Do you really want this?"
It was a question Relena had been ready to answer for nearly ten years, and with a passion kept hidden until now she pulled him towards her. They kissed again, tenderly—then as their confidence built the kiss depended. Ardently, fervently and overpoweringly. They lips, tongues met, ebbed and flowed like a tide rushing into land, consuming all. Her fingers ran through his dark hair, feeling, savoring this moment of intimacy which she had hoped, dreamed and fantasized about for so long. Yet it was better than what her dreams had been, better because she knew it was not unrequited—but now, at last she knew he loved her as well.
A low whistle began to emerge from the kettle and absentmindedly Heero reached behind him to extinguish the flame. Wet, gentle points of pressure peppered Heero's neck and down the length of his chest; Relena's lips. To Heero her touch was soft, light, and gentle—yet he felt her desire surging beneath each time their skin touched.
He closed his eyelids, covering his tumultuous blue eyes. His head was buried in her neck, breathing in her scent, and softly he let out a gentle groan of relief and bliss. His arms encircled about her petite body again, holding her close, and felt her body move beneath his; the movement of her chest and she breathed, her legs encircling his torso, the taste of rain-scented skin against his lips.
"It was for you," He whispered, still hiding his face in her shoulder.
Relena remained silent, her hand coming to rest gently atop his head. She was poised; ready for his words which she knew would come.
"For you...," he repeated, this time more ardently, "It has all been for you…"
He held her closer, tighter, so much so that he was afraid she would break in his arms.
"What was I back then but a pilot? What…," he paused, breathing, "What did I know? I was just a silly kid."
Forcefully, Relena pulled herself away from him and cupped his head in her hands, "What did I know either? I was just as silly as you."
She gave him two tender kisses on each of his wet cheeks.
"Relena," he continued, almost desperate to say these words, "I never contacted you for all those years because I wanted to show you I could be more than the pilot you knew me as."
She smiled at this comment, her green eyes brimming with luminescent tears, "It was that boy I fell in love with and the man I continue to love."
Heero opened his mouth, as though wishing to argue the point, but for some reason he could not and contented himself by burying his head into her shoulder once more.
So this was what it felt like: contentment and love. After all these years.
The next morning Heero did not rise with the dawn as usual. Nor was his apartment cold and chilly—Relena had seen to the space heater being turned on in the night.