A/N: Finally we're back to a Heero chapter! The next chapter will be the last one in the story I'm afraid, so enjoy while you can!
The first thing I was aware of was the cold. Being who I was and the training I'd received, physical changes in temperature didn't tend to affect me much, not unless they were extreme. So it took me a long moment to understand that it wasn't the air around me that was cold, it was me. There were two points of warmth surrounding my body, one pressed up against my back and the other curled against my chest, and gradually I could feel their combined heat slowly sliding across my skin. I didn't know how long I drifted for, relishing in the slow heat, before I fully came to.
I still felt tired but at the same time my mind was starting to come online and I knew that something was wrong. I didn't try to open my eyes yet, though. I'd been in this sort of situation before. J had often delighted in leaving me completely disoriented and then testing how long it took before I could work out what was going on. I tried to think about what I remembered and it took a second before some of it came back to me: being at the school with Duo. The base that we were supposed to blow up, though I didn't think we'd ever gotten around to it, and Relena.
Yes, Relena. Just thinking her name made my hand clench into a fist and I had to fight back the urge to jump up and track her down so that I could demand to know what she'd been thinking. She'd interrupted Duo and I and coaxed me into going to get something to eat with her, I could recall that much, but there my memories grew distinctly fuzzy. I knew that she had been involved, though. The situation was too neatly set up. She was one of the few people who would be able to get my guard down to the point where I wouldn't notice if something had gone wrong before it was too late. I vowed that I would make it a point to never trust her again.
Now that I knew, more or less, what had happened, I opened my eyes. I was met by darkness broken by what little light could seep in around the cracks of the door. It wasn't much but I could see just enough to know that I was in what appeared to be a closet of some kind. I was lying on the floor. I moved my head just a little and saw that there was a head of golden blond hair cuddled against me. Quatre, I realized. When I glanced over my shoulder, I spotted a dark ponytail and knew that it was Wufei. It occurred to me that they were trying to share body warmth with me in an effort to warm me up.
Wufei stirred when he felt me moving. He lifted his head and our eyes met. "Heero?" he whispered, sounding hopeful and surprised all at once.
"Wufei," I said hesitantly, a little startled at the familiarity with which he spoke my name. "What's going on?"
"You were kidnapped," he replied, confirming my suspicions. "We've been searching for you for a while now. The war has ended and we thought we'd gotten a lead on finding you..." He hesitated. "But it turned out Relena was just leading us into a trap. Une is behind this, Heero. She's the one who took you and she captured Quatre and me when we went to save you. Duo and Trowa got away and I suspect she's probably trying to find them. She wants to get rid of the five of us. Quatre and I weren't sure what to do for you when we found you here... you were so still and cold..." He sounded troubled and I moved my hand without thinking, placing it over the one that he had resting on my hip. His skin was warm and by contrast my fingers felt frozen.
"It's alright," I said, aware that the reassurance was likely paltry at best considering what they'd been through. He'd given me a lot of information in the span of a few seconds and I took a moment to sort through it. Somehow hearing that Une was behind everything wasn't shocking. She'd always seemed a little unsteady. I wondered what she'd done to me. Put me into some sort of hibernation? Could they do that to humans now or had I merely survived because I was a god? My head ached from all of the questions. At least there was one that could be answered. "Wufei, where are we?"
"I'm not sure. I heard voices and a few minutes ago there was an alarm ringing but since then it's been quiet. I think… I think we might be in the Preventers building."
"Well, that would make sense," I muttered. If he was right then there was a good chance that the alarm meant Trowa and Duo were coming for us. We had to get out of here. I shifted and felt Wufei catch on. He scooted away from me, giving me the space to sit up. I felt the loss of warmth immediately and shivered. The movement woke Quatre, who looked around blearily before realizing that I was awake.
"Heero!" he cried, sitting up. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," I told him. It was mostly the truth. My joints felt stiff and ached when I moved and I wasn't sure my muscles would support me if I tried to stand but other than that I didn't feel too bad. Cold, yes, but that was less important in light of what was going on.
Quatre frowned dubiously. "You don't feel fine."
"And what about Trowa and Duo? Do they feel fine?" I asked pointedly and he smiled, seemingly relieved by my snappish question rather than irritated. He scrambled to his feet and then he and Wufei each took one of my hands and pulled me up as well. My legs nearly gave out and Wufei tightened his grip to keep me standing. I leaned against him until I felt confident that I wouldn't collapse entirely.
"This door is thick," said Quatre, running his fingers along the edge. "I'm not sure how we're going to get out."
"Anyone got a set of lock picks?" I asked, wishing that Duo was in here with us. He was never without a set, usually braided into his hair. God I missed running my fingers through that hair. I didn't know how long I'd been asleep for but if the war had ended it had to have been a while. The first thing I was going to do once this was over was lock myself in the bedroom with him.
"I did but they were taken," said Wufei. He moved over to the door and tried the doorknob. I wasn't sure who was more surprised when it suddenly moved under his hand and was pulled open. All three of us tensed at the sight of a shadowed figure standing in the doorway; the light behind it was blinding after being in the dark for so long and I couldn't make out any features. It was Quatre who recovered the fastest.
"Zechs?" he said, sounding shocked. "What are you doing here?"
"I should have thought that would be obvious." Zechs Marquise took a step into the room so that we could see him a little better. He was wearing a uniform of some kind and I couldn't help noticing that he had a gun holster strapped across his chest. He said, "Une has been acting oddly recently but it wasn't until today that I pieced things together. Relena had a very interesting story to tell me this morning and I came to the office immediately but it seems that I've missed most of the fun."
"Relena came to see you? Is she alright?" Quatre asked.
"She's fine," he replied. "Or rather, she will be after having the freedom to make her own decisions again." His face had gone dark and I knew that he was terribly unimpressed with Une or Relena or maybe both of them. I didn't know what he was talking about, though, and I shot a questioning look at Wufei.
"Une is a goddess," Wufei said, catching the look. "The goddess of peace, apparently." He raised an eyebrow as he said that and smiled at my expression of disbelief. "I know. Treize died during the war and she went a little crazy. She says she wants to rid the world of the five of us so that we don't cause so much chaos. She thought she could just do it by getting rid of you but…" He frowned suddenly. "Come to think of it I don't know why she just didn't kill you when she had the chance."
"Fear of revenge?" Quatre suggested. "Not even Une would be that stupid."
"Want to bet?" Zechs said. "I don't mean to interrupt, but your friends are in Une's office right now and if you're going to help them out I suggest you get moving. I've already heard some gunshots."
I didn't need to hear anything else. I pushed past Zechs and hurried out into the room beyond the closet. It appeared to be a bedroom of some kind. Une's, possibly. Beyond one of the doors I heard another shot and my heart jumped as I ran over and opened it. I was half expecting to see Duo lying there in a pool of blood but instead I saw something much more appealing: Une, in front of her desk, with blood pouring down her side. Duo was standing over her, his hands fisted in the collar of her shirt, and the anger in his face made my heart skip a beat. Inappropriate though it may have been, it crossed my mind at that moment that he had never looked more beautiful.
"Foolish," Une was saying, her voice hoarse and raspy. "You'll destroy this planet."
"Then so be it," I said and it was wonderful to see the startled way his head snapped around to look me. His eyes went wide and he opened his hands, letting Une slump to the ground as he took a step towards me.
"Heero?" he said uncertainly.
"It's me, Baka," I said, fighting back the urge to grab him. It had been so long since we'd last touched. I knew that the last thing that had happened between us was being interrupted on the bed by Relena. I wished now that I'd ignored her knock on the door. It had been stupid on my part to let her into the room in the first place. She'd been looking for the perfect excuse to drive us apart and I'd handed it to her.
"Zechs, you traitor!" Une spat, levering herself up on one hand. She was glaring past me and I glanced over my shoulder to see that Zechs had stepped forward. He looked angry, I noticed immediately, not that I blamed him.
"You're the one who is a traitor," Zechs said heatedly. "Relena told me what you've done, Une. How dare you stand there and act like you're the one who has been wronged? The war is over and these boys haven't done anything to you, and neither has my sister." He was glaring at her and his hand was resting on his gun. "This stops here. You can choose to let things go or you can try to fight your way through them... but I can guarantee this is a fight you're not going to win. And I won't stop them, not this time."
Une just stared at him, her eyes narrowed, and I knew she wasn't going to give in. I took the remaining handful of steps over to Duo and gently took the gun from his hands. He let me. I brushed the back of my free hand against his cheek, relishing in the feel of his smooth skin. His eyes fluttered shut and he exhaled, tilting into my touch like a cat seeking affection. It pained me to drop my hand but I knew that Une had to be dealt with. Trowa, Quatre and Wufei gathered behind us as I turned to face her and pointed the gun at her forehead.
"No more," I said quietly, staring directly into her eyes. I knew she was the goddess of peace, I remembered that now, falling back on the bed while she and Relena stood over me. It seemed fitting that the god of war would be the one to end her existence on Earth. Without hesitation I squeezed the trigger and watched as her head snapped back from the recoil. The rest of her body followed and she hit the ground on her back.
There was a tense moment of silence during which no one moved or spoke and then Duo gasped and squeezed my hand so tightly that it hurt. He could see what was happening before anyone else. Une's body was moving - no, something was shifting and coming out of it. I took an instinctive step backwards, holding the gun up again when she stood up to face us, but I immediately knew that the gun wouldn't do us any good, not this time. Her body was see-through and formless, so bright that it made my eyes ache to look at her, though I ignored the pain because I didn't dare turn my back.
"Fools," the goddess of peace said. "You think you can kill me?"
"They can't, but I can."
I didn't recognize the voice but I heard Wufei make a small, pained sound. I glanced at him curiously and then looked up, instantly spotting the girl standing in the corner. She looked young, probably about our age, and she had dark eyes and hair tied into two low pigtails. She was wearing a traditional outfit in a soft shade of green and she was smiling - at Wufei, I realized. Her feet were clad in soft slippers and when she crossed the floor she was completely silent. Une reared back when she got close but there was no where for her to go.
"That's enough," the girl said sternly. "You weren't even supposed to be here."
"It was my duty!"
"You know nothing of duty!" she yelled back. "The concept completely passes you by! I've been waiting for the opportunity to have my chance at you and I'm not going to let it go. Your chance for mercy has long since passed." She turned around and looked at Wufei. "Hello, Wufei."
"Meiran," Wufei said, sounding almost dazed. He swallowed hard and then added, "Nataku."
She smiled again. "Yes. I've been watching over you. All of you." She glanced at the rest of us. "When they found out that Une was going down to Earth they were quite alarmed. I'm glad that you agreed to handle it, Heero. Thank you for following through on your mission."
"Wait, is she the whole reason we're here?" Quatre asked, pointing to Une.
"I'm afraid so. Nothing attracts peace like war." Meiran regarded Une with distaste. "This war was going to be a bad one that would change the human world as we knew it. That was already cause for concern but then when they found out that the goddess of peace had plans to interfere, well, it became even worse… and that much more important that she be stopped immediately before she changed too much. Originally they had only asked that the god of war come to Earth to stop her. You're natural enemies after all. But…"
"But the five of us didn't like to be separated," Duo muttered and I glanced at him surprise. He looked sheepish. "I… had a dream once. I think it was about… well, they were saying that if one of us went then all of us would have to."
Meiran nodded. "Correct. They were okay with that. You are strongest when you're together." She sighed. "I wasn't supposed to die so young but unfortunately you can't always account for the weakness of a mortal body. Still, you've managed to do what needed to be done and now I'll take her back with me so that judgment can be dealt upon on her. She won't bother you anymore."
"And… Relena?" Zechs asked, stepping forward hesitantly.
"Your sister will be fine. She's still an emissary of peace. She'll always want to stop war and that will never change. But Une's influence should fade away with time," Meiran explained. "After a few weeks you won't know that anything ever happened to her."
Zechs looked relieved. "Thank you."
She inclined her head to him and then glanced at Wufei. "You've done so well," she said softly and I moved back, pulling Duo with me, knowing that this was not a scene that we should be intruding on. "You always had the right to pilot Nataku, Wufei. What you did for me, for the colonies, I can never express how honored I am. I know how difficult it was for you."
He swallowed and stayed still as she reached for him, her fingers ghosting over his cheek. "I'm sorry," he said roughly. "For what happened. I should have… I think, often, of how it could have gone differently."
"This is not the end of our story," Meiran replied. "I'll be waiting for you when the end comes. Enjoy your time on Earth and know that when it's done we will be together, and you won't have to leave your brothers behind, either." She gave us a shy smile. "Know, Wufei, that I don't regret anything."
"Nataku…" That seemed to be the only thing Wufei was capable of saying. Meiran understood. She bowed deeply to him and stayed like that until he bowed in return, and only then did she straighten up and kiss him on the cheek. Wufei sputtered, his eyes going wide with shock, and she giggled and skipped over to Une. She slung an arm around Une's waist and just like that, in the space of a blink, they were gone.