Love's Labours Lost
18 months later
Relena readjusted the ornate frame for what had to be the millionth time. Heero arched an eyebrow at the way she was fidgeting, but continued typing his speech.
In the last year, Gundanium has reached a new level…
"Do you think this goes here?" Her voice interrupted his train of thought.
"What about this one?"
He didn't bother looking up. "Hn."
"Do you think I should install Allianceware on my new laptop?" Her voice held a teasing lilt to it.
"Only if you want a divorce."
"Before we get married? So you are listening to me."
He glanced at where she was standing across the room, hands on hips and her bottom lip just slightly protruding. She probably didn't even realize she was pouting. "Hn." He turned his attention back to his laptop.
A new height in the business world. I have seen it through from its earliest, infant stages, to its greatest achievements….
"Heero, they're going to be here any minute."
He growled. "It's Van. He's not going to care how the pictures are arranged on the wall."
"But I care. This is our house, and I want it to be perfect."
He scowled and went back to his work. "It's fine, Relena."
But I have taken it as far as I care to go. It needs a new vision for the future, and I am not the one who holds that vision.
"It's not what's really bothering me." Her voice pitched lower. She almost sounded sad. "The pictures."
"Yes." He closed the laptop. The speech would have to wait. "You're worried about the announcement."
"The last year and a half…It's been hard, handling the company, finding time to see you, but hiding our relationship." Her light blue eyes seemed to plead with him. He knew where this conversation was going, and he knew this was, had been, very hard on her.
"What are people going to say?"
He stood up and crossed the room. His left hand went around her waist and drew her against his body. "It doesn't matter."
She pulled away. "I suppose…."
"It doesn't matter because it's not going to change anything. We're still getting married and I'm still stepping down from my position at Gundanium."
"Heero, are you sure that's really-"
He cut her off with his mouth; Relena's hands came up to cradle his head as she returned his kiss. Heero took a step forward, pressing her back against the wall of the living room, his lips leaving hers to assault the flushed skin of her neck. He heard a soft moan and she whispered his name. He was not in the mood to go over this territory again – they'd discussed his decision, their decision, many many times over the course of the last year and a half…
"I didn't forget what we were talking about." She breathed as his hands smoothed down the skin of her back beneath her shirt.
"Then I'm not trying hard enough." His lips trailed down into the valley between her breasts.
"Is this the only way you can win an argument?" She squirmed; her hands fisted in the fabric of his shirt. He stopped and stood up - his eyes absorbing the tempting sight of his fiancée looking dazed and breathless from his attentions.
"It's the best and most efficient way." He leaned in and kissed her again.
Relena groaned. Heero pulled away. He cleared his throat and ran a hand through his hair. "I never did like Van."
"He's your best friend and you haven't seen him in months. I'm sure you can wait a couple of hours."
"Hn." He watched the slight sway of her hips as she walked towards the door and inwardly sighed. Yeah, he could wait a couple of hours.
But only because I have to.
The minivan came to a halt, and Van leapt from the car to get around to the other side before his stubborn wife could open the door. She smiled up at him and handed over the tiny bundle in her arms. He held his son and felt the little boy kick and cry as soon as he landed in his father's grip. Van couldn't help but feel clumsy and unsure of the whole father thing – but his unease quickly melted into a smile when the precious little life sighed and snuggled closer.
He glanced up at Hitomi, who grinned back at him. The 'pleasures' of pregnancy still made her face rounder than it had been when they met. Her eyes sparkled even in the somewhat cloudy afternoon. She sparkled.
"Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?"
"Not in the last five minutes." She leaned in and pecked his cheek. "But thank you, Van."
"Well, I'd guess we'd better go see how Heero's faring. He's called us all back to be present for the big announcement."
"You're not sorry you passed on the position?"
"No way." Gundanium's former marketing VP shook his head. "I like my new job, and I like being able to spend time with you and Van, jr." He grinned and cooed at the bundle he still held.
"His name is Keiran." Hitomi gently pulled the infant back into her arms. They started up the walk to the front of the house.
Van scowled at her back, then stomped forward to catch up. "It should have been Van, jr."
"You're so arrogant!"
"What's wrong with him being named after his father?"
"Maybe he wants to have his own identity and not feel like he's just his father's clone." She snapped her hand out to ring the doorbell.
"He's not my clone, he's my son!"
The door swung open to reveal Relena's smiling face. Hitomi's frown disappeared as she moved forward to awkwardly hug her friend around their son. Van glared at the two women.
"It's good to see you, too, Van. Are you coming in?" Relena asked.
"Hn," he grumbled and entered the house.
Only because I have to.
(a week later)
Vash grinned but couldn't help blinking when the camera flashed. Again. And again.
"Meryl, that's enough pictures. How many do you need?" The spots of light swam before his eyes.
"Well excuse me for being proud of you and wanting to record this achievement." A blob of white with Meryl's voice retorted.
"That's very nice of you, but it's just an associate's degree."
"In literature. And I think it's amazing considering you don't even know how to read."
"Hey!" Vash dropped his pose. "You're not supposed to be bitchy on my graduation day."
"Watch it or my story's headline will read 'Byron Vash gets honorary degree from university'."
He still couldn't see her clearly, but she was becoming less hazy. And in his mind he could picture her smirking while she needled him about her recent find. "Do not call me Byron. And honorary! I worked my ass off for this little piece of paper. It's not even sheepskin anymore…"
Meryl rolled her eyes. "All right, but we'd better get going if we're going to make Heero's speech to the shareholders."
"Yeah yeah. I don't know why we're all supposed to be there. We know what he's going to say – 'I'm leaving Gundanium to go sit on some dumb board of directors and marry my girlfriend.'" They stepped off the sidewalk and started down the row of parked cars.
"You should be more supportive. You know what a huge step it is for him."
"Yeah yeah, I know. I'm happy for him. I really am. It's just…" Vash kicked at a rock in his path. "Sometimes I miss them. We've all seemed to go our separate ways. Van's a dad, Heero's giving up his company, and Quatre's taking over as CEO of the new Gundanium, Inc. It's good, and yet sometimes, I can't help but feel a little sad." He slowed his pace; Meryl walked on ahead.
"It's just a different stage." She stopped and turned to face him. "We're all actors on the stage of life, and this is just a different act of the same play. You'll always be good friends, that's not changing. So stop being such a ninny, Byron and let's go!"
Vash scowled. "I told you not to call me that."
He took a step towards the car.
"Byron." She turned around and took off towards the car. Vash started after her.
"But Meryl! Byron is so…uncool! It's the antithesis of cool! Take all the coolness in the world and get rid of it, and that's how cool it is." Ah man, who hated me so much they gave me the gobberist first name in the book?
"We don't want to be late, Byron. Let's get going, Byron."
I have the most beautiful, most annoying wife in the whole world. And I wouldn't trade her for anything. He finally caught up to her, cradling the diploma in one arm, draping the other around Meryl. She looked up and smiled.
Gundanium, Inc. Corporate Jet
(somewhere over the Pacific)
Quatre sat and stared at the flat panel monitor at the front of the plane, sipping coffee from a Styrofoam cup. He hadn't been able to stay in Seattle long enough to hear Heero's farewell speech. There was...a much more important matter he had to attend to - that was sleeping in the seat next to him; her long blond hair tucked around her shoulder as she snuggled against his arm. So, he was watching the meeting, instead.
"In the last year, Gundanium has reached a new level, a new height in the business world. I have seen it through from its earliest, infant stages to its greatest achievements. But I have taken it as far as I care to go. It needs a new vision for the future. And I'm not the one who holds that vision. Effective immediately, I am stepping down as President and CEO of Gundanium, Inc. and handing the company over to Quatre Winner. I have accepted a position on the Board of Directors at Peacecraft Computer Corporation, and my wife and I will be jointly sharing the responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer-"
Quatre gulped the swallow of coffee. "I thought they weren't getting married until next year."
"-until our child is born."
The new CEO choked and coughed. "She's pregnant!"
Dorothy stirred in the seat next to him. "Of course she is. Relena told me last week. Heero was completely stunned, but he's coming around to the idea."
"Life continues all around us, dear - always moving, never ending. It's wonderful and scary at the same time. I think it'll be hard for awhile, but they'll be happy. They're good for each other." She smiled at him.
"I guess that's why Heero wanted everyone to be there for his announcement."
"Yes, but he'll understand. So let's stop thinking about them." She hit the switch to lean the seat back. Quatre's eyes widened as the very recently titled Mrs. Winner ran manicured nails up his left leg.
"I don't think I can wait until we land." The seat stopped, but her hand kept moving. She leaned over him and devoured his protest with hungry lips. He kissed her back with equal fervor, his mind hazing as he felt pressure start to build in the pit of his stomach. He pulled away when he heard his zipper; his heart was already pounding his chest.
"Dorothy, not in the jet!"
Author's note: Byron is not actually Vash's name. It's a tribute to the Shakespearean play our fic is loosely based on. The Lord Byron was the protestor in the group, the one who thought the pact wouldn't hold up. And in truth, he was right. So, in honor of Lord Byron, Vash became Byron Vash.
Vash: Gee, thanks a lot.
This is the end of the story. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read it, and another thank you for leaving a review.
We really can't say enough how much your continued support (and patience) means to us. Thank you so, so much. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Much love, Rose and Stella