Warning: Mild spoilers for Frozen Teardrop so READ NO FURTHER if you wish to remain oblivious!
Relena may have been born into high society, and later ascended to the status of actual royalty, but even with her privileged upbringing she knows that the world she inherited was one where the poor and disenfranchised are tread upon, and adults sent children to settle their differences.
She has felt the fires that consumed the Sanq in dreams long after she forgot what memories those experiences were attached to. She witnessed the assassination of the only father she had ever known. She attempted an assassination of her own, as well.
The boy she loves has held a gun to her head and promised to kill her- three times. She watched that same boy try to kill himself- twice. But they still danced together- once.
In addition to being an influential politician, Relena has also been: an orphan, a daughter, an only child, a sister, a civilian, a monarch, a symbol, a target. She's been a rebel threat, and a tool to the regime. She has been the powerless, and then the powerful, and felt neither particularly suited her.
Her existence has been anointed by war, her life dedicated to peace, and her means achieved through revolution. Those that would call her idealist were not entirely correct because hers was an idealism born through experience, not naiveté. She is certain she has learned everything there is to know about war, as much as one could in the span of one lifetime. She is so sure...
She is wrong.
Relena stares at the cryogenic chamber. Noise is buzzing around her like electricity, but she can distinguish no words. Her blood pumps warmly through her, even though the room is freezing. Her heartbeat contradicts the dead feeling inside her chest.
"Yes." Since when had she lost her ability to breathe?
"You must understand." Dorothy's voice, usually so sly and mocking, instead rings with a sad sincerity. "With the risk you now pose. We have to protect our people."
The edges of her vision are acquiring the same static quality as the acoustics of the room. Relena turns on heel, strides gracefully out of the room and straight to the toilet where she daintily vomits up the remains of her breakfast.
Everything on Mars is red, right down to the miserable dust that permeates every nook of the new buildings the colonists took great pains to erect for visitors such as herself. Relena feels a momentary flash of guilt for her unfairness, but dismisses it in favor of focusing on the cool press of the window pane against her forehead. The glass of ice water offered to her hours before has gone room temperature and undoubtedly left a water stain on her makeshift desk.
One existence, two states.
The landscape outside of her office has little to offer beyond primary colors. Everything is red...
But her party dress. That had been blue. She'd picked it out two months before her birthday- never imagining she'd rend the designer silk to fashion bandages for her would-be murderer. Her mother had noted the ragged hem with distress, but had failed to mention the blood spray on her left side- she had been standing too close when the other Gundam pilot (Duo, that was Duo) shot Heero in the arm. But her mother hadn't missed it entirely- Relena saw her staring straight at it, those little red stains, but in the next moment she jerked her head away so fast it seemed as if she'd been slapped.
That had been the nicest dress she had ever owned, up until she had become the Queen of the World. She almost laughs when she recalls the title that came with the snow-white gown. Maybe one day she will, when she can finally forget how bitter and tormented bearing it had made her feel.
One day... she has foolishly assumed up until now that a future was practically guaranteed. She watches her reflection become stronger in the window as the muted pinks and blues of the Martian sunset fade along with the descent of the pea-sized sun.
Light is so weak on this planet.
It is only inevitable that Heero has come looking for her. He has given her more time than he would, normally. Though he has only been her bodyguard for six months or so, he already understands her needs for privacy and space better than members of Relena's own family. He is not without practicality or agenda, however, and so these rare moments of quiet internal reflection (brooding) can only be indulged for so long before he efficiently collects her to move onto the next event. Usually by this hour he would have insisted she rest to the point of haranguing, his firm suggestions underlined by his expectant and unrelenting presence in the room.
Tonight, however, he is only now making his first entrance. His approach is tentative- guarded. Relena can only react with amazement. That Heero could ever seem uncertain of himself would give anyone a moments' pause, but seeing the Gundam pilot display that uncertainty towards Relena was nigh unthinkable.
"Are you okay?" The question reaches her in Heero's soft baritone, carried on a tone she has never heard him use before.
Relena stands from her desk chair and comes around to face him directly. She crosses her arms unconsciously. "Do you think I should be?" She counters with her own query, imbued with about as much emotion as she devotes to paint samples or milk percentages.
She completely expects Heero to advocate for the common good, self sacrifice and her sworn duty to protect. It's what she would have said were their positions reversed, and certainly what she should be saying especially considering the position she is actually in. She has to admit that Heero is one of the few people who can catch her off guard, though.
"No. I think you should be... less okay, actually." He takes a step closer to her, closer than he has been since she announced her intention to campaign for the Presidency. The last time he had been this close... but, they don't talk about the kiss they stole in the roar of space shuttle engines. She used to think "why push the issue?" She has her answer, now.
"I'm not. Who could be? I have plans. Things I wanted to do with this presidency. Things I... wanted to do for myself." She looks at him meaningfully. Swallows. Breaks eye contact. "I always thought I'd have more time with you."
Relena isn't looking at Heero, so she misses his brief expression of pain. He whispers her name without intending to. It gives her the courage to bring her eyes back to his.
"Don't... that's not what you should be focusing on, right now." Heero's tone is gentle, but his expression has an air of rawness that- when coupled with his slight admonition- is enough to send Relena's barely suppressed tears spilling over.
"Well, I am!" She throws her hands out in vulnerable frustration. "I think about it all the time, Heero! I know it's not appropriate- maybe not even welcome." The crack in her calm veneer somehow gives her the momentum to finish her slapdash confession. "How can I help it though? I'm in love with you. I thought I'd have my whole life to say that to you, but I don't, so I have to say it now." Her jaw clenches shut in the force of her emotion, but she forces it open again. "I love you! I love you...and I've felt that way for a long, long time." Relena's eyes shut tight and her voice breaks and then levels across the duration of her final sentence. She swipes a hand across her face to dry any stray tears, turning slightly away from her bodyguard to compose herself.
Heero reaches a hand out to her, but lets it drop away helplessly after a few moments. "They'll find a cure, Relena, and then you can be revived..."
Relena laughs despite her misery. "I thought I was the idealist. It's passing between generations, Heero. They haven't even been able to figure out how it's being transmitted. Before long... all of Mars will be infected." She shakes her head. "There's no telling when, much less if, I'll be awakened from cold sleep. If anything happens to me while this nanovirus is still active- currently, I would take four fifths of the population down with me."
She is surprised by the slow descent of his fingers down her cheek, over her jawline. His touch lingers somewhere around her collarbone, and for the first time since they started this conversation, she realizes he's just as devastated as she is. The feather-light touch lingers for several quiet moments, the strain in Relena's throat echoing in the space between their downcast eyes.
"I have to show you something." He whispers.
He takes her hand and leads her down stairwells, deserted hallways and locked doors that can only be opened with retina scans until she finds herself in a room very similar to the one this all started in. She stares at a cold sleep capsule almost identical to her own. Almost.
"I don't understand..." Relena shoots Heero a quizzical look before studying the capsule again.
"Its' code name is Little Prince."
Relena looks back at him sharply. Heero still hasn't let go of her hand. His fingers tighten around hers.
"I had them build it for me." He confesses. "As soon as I heard the news." He turns to face her, bringing her hand up to rest flat against his sternum. His calloused fingers cover hers and she can feel his pulse beneath his white t-shirt. Beat, beat, beat. His eyes are so intense she can't look away. "Wherever you go, Relena- I will follow you."
She swallows thickly, and her words take two attempts to come out. "You can't. You were the one I wanted to benefit from this peace the most. There must be another way..."
The shake of his head is so definite. "There is no other way."
Relena wrenches her hand back and Heero is left standing alone, his own hand over his heart like a pledge.
"I- I can die, if it's peaceful, and no one will perish. You're not infected. You could do it. If it was you, I know I'd be peaceful." She raises her head and her posture transitions from fragility to steel. "You could kill me, and be free of this...obligation. Everyone would be safe. You could live your life. I want you to live your life."
"I could kill you." Heero agreed. "But I'd follow you there, too."
Relena's eyes widen in shock before settling into their usual determined set. "You mustn't, Heero." She commands. "I won't accept that."
The corner of Heero's mouth quirks up in a half smile. He doesn't have to say it because she already knows- she really doesn't have much of a say about that.
A tense moment passes before Relena breaks eye contact and unceremoniously steps forward, wordlessly breaching Heero's personal space. His arms circle her and draw her nearer still.
"Well then..." She sighs as his hands slide around her back and tangle in her hair. "It seems we've already been dealt our hand." There is a pregnant pause, and Relena knows what question is being asked in the steady warmth of their body heat and the way Heero's touch is raising more goosebumps on her skin than the low temperature.
She lifts her head and meets his gaze head on. "Stay with me tonight."
She barely gets it out before he slams his mouth over hers. He kisses her like he fights, their bodies crashing into each other, the friction and heat and emotion stopping any more thoughts about ice.
When they finally sleep, all Relena feels is warmth, and all she sees is their interlocked limbs bathed in the light of Mars' twin moons.
Heero wakes up in her bed alone. It's barely morning. He tests her pillow with his hand and finds it cold. He curses the whole time he shoves himself into his clothing, and stalks down all the stairwells and halls and retina scanners until he reaches the cold sleep chamber he had shown her last night. There are Preventers stationed outside the doorway.
"Let me in." He growls.
"The President has given specific orders about who is allowed to enter." The older man seems intimidated despite his answer.
The doors "whoosh" open, and Heero is left blinking as the fluorescent lights reveal Dorothy's tall figure.
She addresses the guards. "He can come in. It's too late now, anyway."
The heart that had beat so strongly against Relena's last night- stops. Heero ignores it and pushes past the guards into the room.
In the center of the room, the cold sleep capsule is closed and activated, the profile of the occupants' face visible through a small window. He'd have known it was Relena even without it.
Dorothy has approached him from behind. "She took a great risk to do this. That cold sleep chamber was specifically designed with your biological needs in consideration. She could've died during the freezing process."
The muscles in Heero's jaw leap into motion and his eyes look moist. "How long until you can modify her chamber." It's meant as a question, but it comes out as an order instead.
Dorothy's expression is sharp. "Heero- she clearly doesn't want you to enter cold sleep. Why else would she risk not only her life, but the lives of hundreds of thousands of Martians? I have to strongly disagree with your decision."
Heero doesn't look at her, just stares at Relena's face, vacant and still. "Then disagree. But I know you'll do it." He finally finds Dorothy's eyes. "You can't be cruel enough to deny me."
She lingers on his set expression before she nods and turns to exit the room.
"Six months." She calls over her shoulder.
Heero tentatively reaches over and rests a careful hand on the lid. It's very, very cold. He thinks about how alive he felt in Relena's embrace, the voltage of her fingertips as she chased electric currents across their bodies. He thinks of the concept of 'pause'. And though it is a little sad, and a little muted, he smiles.
"Good try. See you soon, Relena."
AN: Written for Kristenell as part of the Gundam Wing Fic Exchange on livejournal. :) Slightly edited since I've obsessively read over it a few times.