SWIB: Chapter 6

by: miyaka

AN: I want to thank all of you for your encouragement, support, and interest in this story. I know I have not updated in a really long time, and I apologize for that. College has taken up nearly all of my time and unfortunately taken time away from writing. However, I decided to continue with this version (for now), as well as the revised one, because I've realized that it would take me forever to get the revised version caught up with this version. Therefore, I updated this chapter in hopes of somehow fixing what I don't like and for the dedicated fans who have stuck with it. That said, if I do continue with this original version, I will have to apologize for the plot holes and discrepancies. Please let me know if you would prefer that I stop working on this version and focus strictly on the revised version. In case you guys are wondering, there WILL be plot differences in the revised version.

Once again, thank you all so much for your continued support. Please know that it is truly appreciated and does inspire me to write. And I want all of you to know that I have not given up on the story … it just might take a while between updates.

Enjoy!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Trowa had stopped playing the flute long ago when Rei had finally fallen asleep. For the past hour, he had sat there, mesmerized by her angelic features and exotic beauty. She looked so peaceful sleeping, without a single care in the world. If Trowa could have his way, he would lift all the weight and burden she carried on her shoulders, he would make it so that she did not have a single worry in the world, just as she deserved. If only …

He gently picked her up, as discreetly as he could so that he would not wake her, and carried her towards her room. He had thought about letting her spend the night, but the couch was certainly not as comfortable as her bed. He had also thought about letting her sleep in his bed and he would sleep on the couch for the night, but then he realized that it might seem inappropriate, especially if the others caught wind of it, and that she would be embarrassed. So as much as Trowa wanted her to spend the night, he knew that it would be for the best if he brought her back to her own room.

She seemed as light as a feather, and Trowa relished in the physical contact. Her head gently rested against his chest as she continued to remain in deep sleep. Trowa rounded the last corner to her room and nearly stopped dead in his tracks when he saw a familiar figure leaning against the wall by her room.

Heero.

Trowa felt a surge of protectiveness rush through him, felt his blood boil, and felt emotions he had not experienced in ages. And was one of them … jealousy? He forced himself to keep walking, as if nothing was wrong, although he doubted that the Perfect Soldier would have missed his initial surprise and hesitation. It seemed like an eternity when Trowa finally reached Rei's room ... and Heero. Trowa half expected Heero to question him, but instead, the Perfect Soldier merely opened the door to Rei's room so that Trowa wouldn't have to.

He pulled the covers back, as smoothly as he could while trying to balance Rei so that she wouldn't feel any abrupt shift in movement, and he gently placed her down on the bed. Trowa tucked her in and squashed the urge to kiss her on the forehead. His eyes drank in her features as they followed the long curve of her sooty eyelashes and down her creamy smooth skin to her luscious rosy lips. Poor girl, she was exhausted from the torrent of emotions she had experienced. First her friends, her queen, and then now Heero. Heero.

Trowa snapped out of his thoughts and quickly exited the room to give a piece of his mind to the Perfect Soldier, but all that greeted Trowa was an empty, dimly lit corridor. Heero was no where to be found.

xxxxxxxxxx

Rei awoke the next morning slightly baffled as to where she was. It took her a moment or two as she washed away sleep to realize that she was back in her own room. The memories from last night quickly flooded her mind as she began to recall everything that happened. She groaned out loud as she thought about her encounter with Heero. How would she be able to face him again?! What did he think of her?! Rei mentally chastised herself for her cowardice and buried her face in her pillow. She was the Senshi of War, and based on her actions last night, who would have ever known that she was one of the fiercest warriors alive.

And then she had run to Trowa, babbling and crying like some helpless little girl. He must have been the one to bring me back, Rei mused briefly before she was overcome with embarrassment again. Boys! They're merely boys! Oh, if only Minako were here to offer some advice about the male sex. A rueful smile crossed Rei's lips as she thought about how her friend would have reacted to yesterday's fiasco. Mina would never have let her hear the end of it, but like a true friend, the Venusian would have offered her expert opinion to help Rei fix things. Unfortunately, Mina was not here … nor would she ever be. Nor would any of her other closest friends.

Rei was now the last remaining senshi, and it was solely on her shoulders to make sure Usagi stayed safe, that the senshi's legacy and duties carried on. Even if her Queen did not remember her. Rei tossed her pillow aside and sucked in a deep breath, as if tapping into her inner strength and mustering as much courage as she possibly could. She had a duty to fulfill, and it would be a shame on all her friends' memories if she let her emotions hinder her responsibility, her oath to protect her liege.

And she would be damned if she would let Heero Yuy get in her way. She would make Usagi remember, even if it cost every strength and fiber in her body.

Today was a new day, and Hino Rei was on a mission.

xxxxxxxxxx

"Are you sure you're up for this Rei?" Quatre asked, concern clearly etched on his face. "I don't want you to feel pressured. If you need more time, it's okay—"

Rei smiled; Quatre was such a sweetheart. "Thank you, Quatre, but I know I can do this. I have to do this."

"May I ask why the sudden change of heart?"

"Let's just say I've gained some perspective," Rei replied mysteriously as she glanced out the windows behind Quatre and marveled at the beauty of the desert, which reminded her much of her own home planet, Mars.

"Well then, if you're sure, I will have Rashid drive you two to the mall and pick you up as well. How does that sound?"

"Perfect," the fire senshi answered, as confidently as she could. She was still having a hard time dealing with the idea that she and Usagi were going to spend quality time together, even though she knew it was what she had to do.

Quatre, who seemed to have sensed her uncertainty, gave her a reassuring smile. "You're a strong person Rei. I know you'll be okay."

"Thank you, Quatre," Rei answered, with a small smile of her own.

xxxxxxxxxx

"Has Rei been down yet?" Trowa asked Wufei, the only other person in the dining room. Apparently everyone else had either already eaten breakfast or was choosing to skip the meal.

"Duo took her and the other onna shopping," the Asian pilot muttered in between bites of food. Trowa couldn't believe his ears, especially since just last night she had been a wreck when it came to Usagi.

"What?!"

Wufei glared at his friend and rolled his eyes, unable to understand what the big deal about shopping was. "I said they all went shopping!" He continued to munch on his food, completely oblivious to the concern in Trowa's eyes.

Trowa sighed as he nibbled his toast, lost in his own thoughts about a certain bewitching female.

xxxxxxxxxx

Heero watched the two girls from his spot by one of the numerous miniature fountains. Once he had learned that Rei and Usagi were going shopping, he had immediately headed over to the mall to keep an eye on them for several reasons. First, or he liked to think was first, he needed to make sure the girls were not spies and using this "shopping" opportunity as a time to conspire and pass along information. He was trying to convince himself that wanting to see Rei had nothing or little to do with it.

From his observations, nothing was out of the ordinary. And as usual, Rei looked amazing, even though she was simply wearing a short denim skirt and black spaghetti strap top. He had caught himself staring at her long, gorgeous legs more times than he could count and mentally chastised himself for thinking about them again.

But one thing was certain—they could shop and were racking up Quatre's credit card bill. Heero swore it had to be a talent … or something … that allowed those two girls to carry all those bags they currently had. He would rather fight in another war than dream about carrying all those bags; he shuddered at the thought. He already had seen several pitiful guys carrying bags galore and trailing their mall crazy girlfriends, and he was sure glad he was not one of them. For some reason, Duo came to his mind whenever he saw one of those guys, and that connection always amused him.

He quickly glanced back at the girls, only to find that they were no longer in front of the store. Heero quickly chastised himself for being distracted and scanned the area for the two girls. And that's when he saw them. They were heading for the parking lot when a group of scraggly, rugged looking guys had intercepted them. Before he knew what he was doing, Heero began to move towards the group, and when he saw one of them grope Usagi and Rei's reaction, he knew there was going to be trouble. Then when one of the guys attacked the raven haired beauty, he felt a surge of protectiveness and fury shoot over him, feelings that he was unable to contain.

xxxxxxxxxx

Rei stiffened immediately as she noticed the small group of guys approaching her and Usagi. Even the silly blonde seemed to sense Rei's sudden change in demeanor and had forgotten what she was about to tell her friend. The fire senshi unconsciously loosened her grip on her bags, ready to move and free her hands at a moment's notice.

"Hey babe, how come two gorgeous girls like yourself don't have anyone carrying those for you?" One of the guys swaggered up to them and clearly checked them out.

"We don't need any help, but thanks anyway," Rei answered coolly. "Come on, Usa, let's go." She and the blonde began to walk off but the guys cut them off.

The redhead, the one who had talked to them, reached out and grabbed Usagi's butt and said, "Where are you going babe?"

"Hey!" Usagi squeaked as she jerked away, both outraged and embarrassed. Rei felt a familiar sense of protectiveness ignite in her and before she knew it, she had dropped her bags and decked the guy in the face.

"Don't. Touch. Her." Rei hissed vehemently as she pulled Usagi behind her, so that she was in between her friend and the group of guys.

"I suppose I'll settle for your ass!" He moved to grope Rei, but she easily sidestepped him. This time, she didn't mess around and had the guy down on the ground in a matter of seconds. He was no match for her; none of them were, despite their numbers.

Rei eyed the other guys, who seemed to have backed off when they had seen her in action. "Anyone else?" When no one answered, she said, "Let's go, Usa." She turned around and was about to walk away when the guy grabbed her arm.

"This isn't over, bitch!" Apparently this one was especially stupid and didn't know when he was beat. Rei was about to respond when someone else beat her to the punch.

"Let her go." Of all the people to show up, Heero had magically appeared by her side. Rei could feel her temper flare; she didn't need him coming to her rescue! But for Usagi's sake, she tried to keep her anger in check … for now.

"Fine!" The guy seemed to think that Heero was a much more formidable threat than she was and backed off, which only served to fuel Rei's anger. She never liked being underestimated, especially after she had already proven herself more than capable. And then to have Heero sweep in and scare them away. Ugh!

When he was sure they were on their way and not going to try anything else, Heero turned to the two girls. When their eyes met, Rei was shocked to see genuine concern in them and felt some of her anger wash away. "Are you alright?"

Usagi merely nodded her head, still trying to recover from the events while Rei asked, "What are you doing here?"

"Shopping," Heero answered before he could think about another excuse.

Rei arched an eyebrow. "You shop?!"

"Oh, be nice Rei! He did just save our butts!" Usagi told her friend lightly before smiling at Heero.

But Rei was not one to give up so easily. "For your information, I believe I saved our butts. And if you're shopping, then where are your bags?"

"I just got here," Heero shrugged. "Are you two headed back to the mansion?"

"Oh, I suppose we're done for the day," Usagi said as if she could keep going. And for some reason, he knew that she could.

Heero motioned to Rei's bags that she had dropped to the ground when the lewd man had grabbed her. "Here, let me help you with those." Before Rei could protest, he reached down and grabbed them all. How? He had no idea, but somehow he managed.

"Rashid is parked over this way," Usagi said in a slightly sing song voice as she led the way. Both Rei and Heero were too preoccupied with each other to notice the huge grin on her face.

"Thanks," Rei muttered as she hurried up after her friend, who had started walking super fast all of a sudden.

xxxxxxxxxx

Heero watched as Rashid's car pulled away and shook his head, still not quite sure what he had just done. Had he just become one of those pitiful guys he had associated with Duo minutes ago? If Duo or Wufei caught wind of this … all hell would break loose. What was happening to him? He was the Perfect Soldier, not some bag carrying whipped sissy boy who had nothing better to do!

Yet he already knew the answer to that question. Rei happened. That girl drew him like a moth to the flame. For some reason, Heero just couldn't resist. And he had no idea what to do about it.

xxxxxxxxxx

"Sooooo," Usagi began just seconds after they had gotten in the car. Rei immediately smelled trouble; she was all too familiar what that tone. "Heero was awfully nice."

"So what?" Rei asked, deciding to play dumb and prolong the inevitable.

"Sooooo, he didn't offer to carry any of my bags," her friend pointed out smugly.

"Well, that's just because you were already holding them," Rei countered quickly, not at all liking where this conversation was headed.

"Uh-huh," Usagi hummed in a way that told Rei she did not buy her friend's reason.

Rei sighed. "Look, Usagi, I'm not here to fool around with guys. I'm here to protect you!"

"But while you're here, you might as well have some fun right?"

Rei could only shake her head. That was a classic Usagi comment.

xxxxxxxxxx

"What did you guys buy, the entire mall?!" Wufei shouted in disbelief when he saw all the bags that the girls were carrying.

Rei shrugged, and motioned to Usagi. "Don't look at me! They're practically all hers."

"Thanks Rei," the blonde stuck her tongue out at her friend before huffing to Wufei, "I needed clothes." Wufei merely rolled his eyes at the comment and continued to walk by.

Trowa, however, immediately offered to help. "You girls look like you're about to topple over. Let me take some for you." He motioned for them to hand over the bags and Usagi beamed at him.

"Why thank you, Trowa, for offering to help both of us with our bags!"

Rei smacked the blonde with one of her bags and walked off, leaving behind a puzzled Trowa and a smiling but somewhat indignant Usagi.

xxxxxxxxxx

Although Usagi had bought the majority of the items, Rei did pick up a few things here and there. She had been tempted to buy a lot more, but she felt guilty for spending all of Quatre's money, especially since she had already gotten a decent wardrobe from her first shopping trip. Usagi had not yet had the chance to go shop, hence the reason why the bags were nearly all hers.

Rei smiled as she pulled out a pair of black stiletto heels and tried them on. They were perfect with a gorgeous dress Rei had wanted to buy, but one look at the price tag had immediately changed her mind. Instead, she settled for just the heels, which she liked just as much. She was just about to go through her other bags when someone knocked on her door.

"Come in," Rei called, not bothering to go to the door. "Trowa!"

xxxxxxxxxx

Trowa had to mentally will himself to take his eyes off her legs before she noticed that he was completely gawking at her. Those heels accentuated what he thought had already been perfect and made them even more appealing and sexy. Why did she always have to look so darn good?!

"How was shopping?" He finally managed to ask as he sat down on the side of her bed.

"It was good, for the most part," Rei answered vaguely, not wanting to talk about Heero or the stupid guy who couldn't take a hint. "I bought these heels." She modeled them before him, and once again Trowa felt like his eyes were glued to her body.

"Th-They look nice," Trowa had to clear his throat of the large lump that had settled there. Did he dare ask what else she had gotten? Fortunately for him, she didn't show him anything else he got. Trowa had a hunch he would have a hard time containing his feelings if she kept going.

"Trowa?" Rei called quietly, as she sat down next to him. Trowa could sense the gravity in her tone and immediately snapped out of his thoughts. "I just wanted to thank you … for yesterday. I'm sorry if I … bothered you." She had bowed her head and lowered her eyes to the floor, as if embarrassed of her actions from last night.

"Hey," he said softly, as he gently cupped her chin and lifted her face to his. "You don't have to apologize for anything, okay?" She was so gorgeous … and so close. Before he could do something he couldn't take back, like kiss her, she shifted and tilted her head so that it was gently leaning against the crook of his neck.

"Thank you, Trowa, for everything," she murmured, as her breath gently caressed his skin. It took everything in his power to keep his breathing and pulse steady.

Trowa gently disentangled himself from her, knowing that he wouldn't be able to keep up pretenses for much longer at such close proximity. She glanced up at him questioningly with those large exotic amethyst eyes, and he nearly caved. Nearly.

"How are things with Usagi?"

"They're better," Rei said with a sigh as she got up to organize her clothes. "I know I have to do everything I can to help her remember. I realized that just because she has amnesia doesn't make her someone else. She's still my queen and best friend." After a pause, she added, "I have a duty to fulfill."

"You sound like Heero," Trowa blurted out before he could stop himself. He saw her stiffen, and he immediately cursed himself for his stupidity. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—"

"It's okay," Rei murmured and flashed Trowa a forced smile. "You know what? I think I'm going to take a quick nap. Shopping really tired me out."

"Of course. I'll show myself out," Trowa quickly got up and headed for the door, all the while still reprimanding himself for his stupidity. Now she couldn't stand him either. Therefore what happened next came as a complete shock.

"Trowa?" She strode over to him and gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you later."

He nodded mutely, afraid that his voice would crack. With a small smile, he closed the door behind him.

xxxxxxxxxx

Rei shot out of bed covered with sweat, her chest heaving with effort from the nightmares she had. How long had she been asleep?! The afternoon sun was high in the sky. She glanced at her clock; apparently her quick nap hadn't turned out to be so quick after all. She had been napping for three hours. Rei was not surprised that the death of her friends had continued to haunt her. She had not been able to properly grieve for her best friends, who were more like sisters to her, and those myriad of repressed emotions were starting to get the best of her, especially when she was sleeping and had no control of her thoughts.

She groaned as she got out of bed and headed to the bathroom to freshen up as she turned her thoughts to Heero. Why were men always the source of her trouble?! Those kisses with Heero had ignited something within her … something she had not felt in a long time, and that scared her. She couldn't afford distractions right now, not when Usagi was in her most vulnerable state. Not when she was the only senshi left. For all she knew, the enemy was still out there. And it would only be a matter of time before he found her. That was one thing Rei knew she could count on.

And she needed to be ready.

xxxxxxxxxx

Thankfully, the fitness room was empty. Rei certainly did not want another encounter with Heero like their last couple of exchanges. She did, however, need to keep in shape, especially since she had not been in a fight for nearly a month now. And her hand to hand combat was starting to get rusty, too. Rei was more worried about that than anything … she needed a sparring partner. Heero was the obvious choice, since he was the best one out of the group, but that was out of the question, considering what happened the last time they were in the room together. Everything else she needed to do to keep in shape she could do on her own.

Wufei was another option, but she doubted that she would be able to get him to spar with her, not that she wouldn't enjoy kicking his butt and taking him down a notch or two from his high horse. And Quatre was simply too busy with all his work. She supposed she could ask Duo or Trowa next time. But she had already asked Trowa for so much … she didn't want to keep weighing him down with her needs. Duo it was then. For now, she would just have to make do on her own.

xxxxxxxxxx

"Have you seen Rei?" Usagi asked the stoic pilot as she plopped down on the couch next to him. Heero merely grunted in the negative and continued to watch tv. Usagi pursed her lips, realizing that her task was going to be much harder than she thought. "You know, there was this one particular dress that Rei really liked at the mall that she didn't end up getting."

"Hn," Heero grunted again as he continued to watch the tv, seemingly completely indifferent to Usagi.

Despite the lack of response she was getting, she kept going. "Girls always like sweet surprises, you know."

Heero faced Usagi and with a pointed stare, asked, "Is there a point to all this?"

"Weeelll, I just thought it might be something you want to know," Usagi said coyly. "I'll leave you be now." She left with another huge grin on her face before she half skipped away from him.

XXXXXXXXXX

It was just after sunrise, and Duo had began to question what in the world was wrong with him for agreeing to go jogging with Rei at this unholy hour. The Shinigami seldom was awake at such an hour, and it had taken him every bit of will power he had to roll out of bed. That was ten minutes ago, and after brushing and throwing on some workout clothes, he headed out to meet Rei in the living room. And that's when he saw her stretching in one of those thin racerback sports bra and short tight spandex shorts.

"Shit, Rei! What the hell do you need to work out for? You look hot!" Duo half shouted as his eyes appreciatively trailed over her body.

Rei had the decency to blush before she answered, "Thanks Duo, but I've gotta keep in shape."

"Are you ready to go?"

"You're not going to stretch?" Rei asked, arching an eyebrow.

Duo dismissed the notion with a wave of his hand. "Stretch? Psssshhh … the Shinigami doesn't need to stretch."

"Are you sure you don't want to reconsider?" When Duo remained convinced, she shrugged and said, "Okay then, let's go."

"Uhhh, how far are we running anyway?"

xxxxxxxxxx

"We're almost there," Rei called back to the panting Duo, who was struggling to keep up. She was actually pretty impressed that he had managed to run this far and for the majority of the way, keep up with her. The mansion was coming in sight, and for Duo, it was like an oasis saving him from the desert hell. "Come on Duo, you can do it!"

About ten minutes later, she barged through the door followed momentarily by a huffing and puffing Duo, who promptly collapsed on the floor as soon as he entered.

"What's going on?" Apparently Quatre and Wufei had been in the middle of breakfast and when they heard the commotion, rushed over to see what was going on.

"I would get up if I were you," Rei advised, slightly out of breath herself. That was a really good run. When the others looked at her for an explanation, since Duo seemed incapable of giving one, she said, "We went for a little jog."

"Little … gasp… jog?!" Duo sputtered from the floor, continuing to suck in air as if it would be his last breath here on earth. "Nine … gasp … freakin' … gasp … miles!"

The others watched on amused, while Wufei had a smug grin on his face. "Can't even keep up with an onna, huh?! And you think Deathscythe is better than me!"

"I'd … huff … like to … puff … see … huff … you try … puff … and keep up!" Duo gasped from his spot on the ground. Rei moved over and pulled him up to his feet and pulled his arms up above his hand.

"There. That'll help you get in more air. See?" She said as Duo stopped panting as hard as before. But that didn't mean he stopped panting.

"You know," Rei said nonchalantly, "I usually like to keep a faster pace. Are we still on for tomorrow?" Everyone laughed at the look of absolute horror on Duo's face, who had nearly collapsed again at Rei's words.

"You know, Rei," Duo muttered, "I cough feel like I'm cough coming down with sniff sniff something."

"Well then, perhaps when you're feeling better," Rei said with a smile.

"Would you guys like to join us for breakfast?" Quatre asked.

Duo seemed to turn a greenish-yellow at the thought of food, especially as a wave of nausea began to wash over him. "I think I'm going to be sick." He quickly headed to the nearest bathroom.

"Well, how about you, Rei?"

She shook her head. "Thanks, but I think I'll pass. I want to finish my workout. I'll see you all later!"

xxxxxxxxxx

It was too bad Duo wasn't feeling well, for Rei had hoped that she would be able to spar with her after the jog. But unfortunately, she would just have to do another one of those workouts by herself. She desperately wished she could practice with her powers, for she could feel her skills slipping. She used to train everyday with the other senshi, for several hours, where they honed their skills to perfection. Rei was itching to use her powers again, but she knew that she couldn't … for risk of exposure. She shouldn't even have transformed those two times to demonstrate to the pilots and Dr. V.

Rei stepped into the training room, ready to kick some major punching bag butt, when she found that someone else was already there. Heero. 'Great,' Rei thought, as she immediately halted to a stop and prayed that he wouldn't notice her as she tried to slip away. No such luck.

"You need the bag?" Heero asked, not even bothering to turn around.

"How did you know it was me?" Rei asked, curiosity getting the best of her. She had barely made a sound. How had he even known that someone was there, and nonetheless her?

"I just do." To be totally honest, Heero wasn't sure how he was so attuned to her presence. It was kind of scary, actually.

"Well—" Rei paused for a moment, as if debating whether she was willing to deal with her emotions for a good sparring session. Hell, if she could concentrate when sparring with Heero and kick his butt, then she should be in pretty good shape. And if anything, it would help improve her focus and concentration. "Do you want to spar with me?" When he paused in mid strike to look at her, she added nervously,

"Well, I was going to ask Duo but after our run he's not feeling up to the challenge so I was just going to do a solo workout and ask him some other time but you happen to be here and since you're supposed to be pretty good yourself I figured—"

She was going a mile and minute, and since Heero doubted she was going to stop anytime soon, he interrupted, "I don't want to hurt you."

Rei paused in mid sentence, with her mouth still hanging open. Had she just heard him correctly? Her pride swelled within her, and her eyes flashed as she haughtily told him, "I doubt you could even if you tried. I'm a senshi."

"And I'm the Perfect Soldier," Heero answered calmly.

xxxxxxxxxx

She was such a sight! Her amethyst eyes flashed with an inner fire that had been fueled by her pride. He had not meant to insult her but had sincerely not wanted hurt her, especially since he was known to injure his training partners whenever he entered his 'zone.' Duo and Wufei had walked away with busted lips and bruises several times already, and he certainly did not want to see any blemishes on her face or body, especially of his infliction.

Speaking of her body … she was scantily clad in a sports bra and short biker shorts, which hardly left anything to the imagination. Her skin glistened with a thin layer of sweatfrom her run, and her abs were nice and toned. And then there were her legs … the shorts clung tightly to them, revealing long toned legs. Heero knew sparring was definitely not what he wanted to do to her right now.

"Well?" She asked, somewhat uncertainly, as if she had noticed the hunger in his gaze.

"I don't want to hurt you," Heero repeated again as he turned to face her. Her confidence seemed to return with that comment, as she replied,

"I would worry more about your skin. I'm not making any promises."

Heero nearly cracked a smile. No one had ever suggested he watched out for himself, nor had anyone ever presumed to think that they would actually be able to harm him. Interesting.

"Very well then." He removed his boxing gloves and tossed them aside. "Rules?"

"Anything goes," she answered.

"As you wish," Heero confirmed as he began to move towards her.

xxxxxxxxxx

Rei nearly gulped, as he looked like a lion stalking his prey, her. For a brief second, she wondered if this was such a good idea after all. 'Well, you wanted a good fight,' her conscience told herself. There was no going back now. She lowered herself into a fighting stance as they began to circle each other, each one waiting for the other to make the first move. Rei was determined not to be the first to act; she wanted to assess Heero's offensive capabilities before she would allow him to judge her.

She did not have to wait long. She quickly learned that Heero was not one to mess around or play games. He went straight for the jugular, and as Rei found herself on her toes just barely a step ahead of him, she began to understand why he had warned her. She managed to side step each of his attacks, but they were still too close for comfort. And yet, she felt like he was holding back. That was what worried her, especially since she was not as powerful or fast as she was in her senshi state.

"You're holding back," Rei grunted as a kick to her side managed to slip past her defenses.

"So are you," Heero pointed out as he continued to attack, and Rei took another hit. Her pride ignited within her; enough was enough.

Rei began to attack, sending punches and kicks out in a flurry of actions only to have them all deflected or side stepped. And she immediately found herself on the defensive as he turned up the heat. Rei had already taken three hits, and she had yet to even land one of her own. What pissed her off was that this was him taking it easy. How did she know that he was? Because while his hits did knock the air out of her, they did not incapacitate her, which she knew he was more than capable of doing.

She hissed as he swept her legs out from under her and she fell to the mat with Heero standing over her with a smirk on his face. 'THAT'S IT!' Her pride had taken too much of a beating and was more than ready to kick back. She somersaulted backwards and back into a fighting stance. She was determined to land a hit, not matter how she had to do it.

xxxxxxxxxx

Heero knew she was frustrated, especially since she was trying to hit harder and faster. He was actually quite impressed; she was a lot better than the other pilots at hand to hand combat. And he was sure she was even better if she were in her transformed state. But now, she was getting more and more frustrated, and her swings were getting wilder by the minute.

"Concentrate," he advised her as he easily sidestepped her punch. That comment only seemed to annoy her even more. "You're getting sloppier and sloppier."

Rei lunged at him, and once again, he evaded her. But this time, he grabbed her arm, twisted it, and pressed her into the wall face first. She struggled to get free, but from the way her arm was twisted, it only hurt her more to do so. This was not a position she wanted to be in.

Heero had pressed himself against her, with his thigh pressed in between her legs, using his weight to keep her up against the wall. And he immediately regretted doing so. He could feel every contour of her body against his. His eyes trailed down the long curve of her neck, to the rise and fall of her chest with each breath she took, down her smooth creamy back to the shapely curve of her butt that he longed to grab.

"Alright, I get the point," she mumbled into the wall, trying to ignore the compromising position they were in. When he didn't respond, she craned her neck to look at the guy and gulped at the searing look of desire he had in his stormy blue eyes. Her mouth had suddenly gone dry, and she licked her lips to wet them and watched as his eyes hungrily traced the motion of her tongue.

"I told you," he whispered huskily into her ear, causing her to shudder in pleasure. She could feel the desire emanating off him in waves, and it was hard to keep calm when she could feel such passion, such intensity between them. She gasped as she felt his lips on her neck, gently planting kisses down the curve of her neck and back up again.

"Heero," she moaned as he gently nibbled on her ear. His hand slid down the side of her body and squeezed her butt, causing her to moan again. Rei could feel the heat spreading through her like a warm caress, and for once, she didn't want to resist it. Heero thrust his thigh higher into her, while his hands snuck to the front to cup her breasts, causing her to arch her back into him. He bit down on the nape of her neck and sucked, all the while thrusting his thigh into her and squeezing her breasts through the sports bra. She moaned again as waves of pleasure coursed through her. "Heero … please."

He gave a feral growl as he roughly turned her around, pressed her up against the wall and consumed her lips with his. Thankfully, Heero was supporting her weight, as she was still riding his thigh, for she seemed to have melted and her legs had turned into pudding. His tongue pushed its way into the inner caverns of her mouth and began to explore every inch of it. Heero deepened the kiss as their tongues danced intimately. When he finally pulled away for air, the sight of Rei with her eyes half closed in pleasure and heaving chest nearly caused him to kiss her again.

Rei could feel his desire for her, pressed hard against her thigh and wanted more. She grabbed his tank top, and as he lifted his arms up from her body, pulled it off and tossed it aside. She stared appreciatively at his well toned body, glistening with sweat and heaving from exertion. She ran her hands across his chest and down to his well pronounced abs, which she traced with her nails.

"Rei," he growled hungrily, as his hand snuck under her sports bra and cupped her breast. She arched her back into him and moaned as he continued to play with her. His kisses started at the top of her neck and began to trail downwards, causing her to gasp each time his lips moved to a new spot, all the way down to the tops of her chest which the tiny sports bra left exposed. He gently licked her breasts through the thin cloth and traced her hard nipple in a circle.

"Oh god," she gasped in pleasure. She didn't know how much longer she could last. His lips started to head back up, where he hungrily seized her lips again.

"Hey guys—OH MY GOD!" Usagi screamed, covering her eyes with her hand as Heero and Rei immediately broke apart. "I'm so sorry! The other guys wanted me to let you know that there's trouble! There's this black hole type thing that suddenly appeared a few miles away from the mansion. They're all headed to the hanger to get into their robot thingies to go check it out. I'll-I'll see you guys later! I'm soooo sorry again!"

Although she was still flushed and hot from Heero, Rei could feel the air rushing back into her and her brain slowly began to work again. She glanced at Heero, who was still staring intensely at her.

"We-we should get going," Rei mumbled lamely as she unconsciously straightened her bra. "I'll-I'll go first. D-Don't forget your shirt." She took off, completely embarrassed at her words. 'Don't forget your shirt?!' She mentally chastised as she ran towards the hanger.

Just as she was about to enter, she was intercepted by Usagi, who quickly motioned to her neck, where it was all red and where hickeys were starting to form. "You might want to cover that up."

"Oh, right," Rei blushed again as she pulled the band off her ponytail and let her long hair fall before she stepped into the hanger, where all the pilots, minus Heero, were all assembled. "What's going on?" She asked, still panting and trying to get her head back in the game.

"Some sort of portal opened up about ten minutes ago." Rei stiffened at the word portal. Oh no, that was not good. "So we're going to go check it out."

"Well I'm going with you guys," Rei told Quatre, just as Heero entered the hanger, looking as if nothing had happened. Well, at least one of them was calm, cool, and collected.

"About time!" Wufei growled as he began to hop up his Gundam.

"I'm going with you guys," Rei repeated firmly. She had a horrible gut feeling that she was responsible for this mess.

"No, you're not," Heero told her as he headed for Wing Zero. "It's too dangerous out there. Besides, how are you going to get there?"

Rei glared at him and made a mental note never to kiss him again if she could help it. How dare he?! "I'll just ride on one of the Gundams."

"Well, you're not riding on mine." He glared at all the pilots, as if warning them not to take her with them.

"You can ride on mine," Duo settled with a sigh, as if knowing he was in for a beating later. "You can stand on the head and hold onto the helmet."

Rei sent Heero a triumphant look before turning to Duo. "Thank you."

"Are you all going to stand there all day?!" Wufei shouted as he closed his cockpit and began to maneuver Altron out the hanger. The other sprang into action, with Usagi standing off to the side and watching the commotion worriedly.

"Don't worry, we'll be alright," Quatre placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder before running over to Sandrock. They all paused momentarily, as they saw a flash of red, and when they realized it was just Rei transforming, they continued on.

When she was done, she headed over to Deathscythe. "Wait there, I'll give you a lift." He closed his cockpit and as Deathscythe livened up, he reached down with his hand. Rei jumped on, and he lifted her up to his helmet, where Rei carefully found her footing and grabbed onto the helmet. She braced herself as the robot began to move, and Rei knew this was going to take some getting used to.

xxxxxxxxxx

Heero was absolutely livid and could feel his pulse pounding at the side of his temple. Stupid Duo! She would be completely unprotected out there, and she had never even seen a Gundam in action! How was she going to face all the gunfire and balance herself on top of a Gundam?! Ohhh, he was going to kill Duo once they got back.

"Duo, you need to be extra careful today," Trowa's quiet voice came over the intercom. "Don't forget that Rei's up there." Apparently Heero wasn't the only one thinking the same thing.

"I know, I know. Quit worrying you guys. Everything will be fine!" Duo reassured as he flew after the other pilots, a lot slower than he normally would be so that Rei could adjust to flying.

"There's nothing here," Wufei said, as he was already on site. "Just a big gaping hole in the sky. Wait. There's something … what the hell are those things?!"

"What? What do you see?" Quatre asked as he urged his Gundam faster.

"SHIT! You guys better get over here fast. We've got trouble!"

xxxxxxxxxx

Rei nearly fell off the Gundam as Duo suddenly kicked into a higher speed, but thankfully she had been gripping onto the helmet as if her life depended on it, which was probably the only thing that saved her from flying off. She sucked in a deep breath as she regained her footing and tried to slow down her racing pulse. She was getting off this damned thing as soon as it stopped, she vowed to herself. Rei scanned the horizon for danger; she knew Duo wouldn't have sped up so abruptly if everything was fine.

The fire senshi gasped as she saw flashes of light emerge from the portal, and her sixth sense immediately told her youma. "Damnit!" She swore as the monsters confirmed her suspicions. This was her fault.

xxxxxxxxxx

"What the hell are these things?!" Wufei shouted, as he had already engaged the enemy. Unlike the usual mobile suit opponents he was used to that shot bullets and other missiles at him, these fought with … magic? He sure as hell knew those weren't bullets.

"I have no idea, but they look dangerous!" Duo added as he and the others joined the fray.

"No shit!" Wufei rolled his eyes. Leave it to Duo to say something like that.

"It doesn't matter what they are. We're taking them down," Heero answered coolly. "Every last one of them."

xxxxxxxxxx

"DUO! DUO!" Rei shouted as she looked for a way down. "SHIT!" She cursed, as she realized the pilot could not hear her. This was not good. There were youma everywhere, and she had yet to be of any help. Rei knew she would not be effective up on top of this machine; she had to get off. She sucked in a huge breath as she began to work her way down to his shield, which she planned to slide or run off on. She was halfway there when an explosion hit the Gundam. The force of the explosion caused her to lose her grip and footing, and before Rei knew it, she was in free fall.

Rei tried to grab at anything that would break her fall but came up empty. She closed her eyes and braced herself for impact, when she heard a loud crash as a hand gently encircled her. She found herself staring into the cockpit and right at Heero, who had lunged forward with his Gundam to catch her, and was now sprawled on the ground with his saber tossed to the side. For a moment, Rei froze as she saw the mix of emotions briefly wash over his face before his impassive façade took over. He opened his hand and Rei scrambled to her feet and jumped off. As Heero began to get up, three youma pounced on him, sending him crashing to the ground again.

"Oh no you don't!" Rei shouted as the youma began to tear at the mobile suit. "Burning Mandala!" Her fire rings clipped two of them in the side, tossing them off Heero and he grabbed the other one and threw it into the other two that had fallen off. Rei didn't wait for him to get up but rushed headfirst into the fray.

xxxxxxxxxx

"It's easier if we fight these things from the air!" Wufei shouted to the others as soon as he realized that most of these beasts that they were fighting could not fly. Duo and Quatre immediately followed suit.

Trowa, however, shouted back, "Rei's on the ground! We can't leave her defenseless!"

"The onna seems to be doing just fine," Wufei replied, albeit grudgingly as if it was painful for him to admit that.

"You three handle it from the air, and Trowa and I will stay down here," Heero ordered calmly as he continued to attack.

xxxxxxxxxx

"Flame Sniper!" The arrow pierced through the youma and incinerated it just as it was about to pounce on her. She took a quick second to survey her surroundings and noticed that Duo and Quatre had taken to the air and that she, Heero, and Trowa were the only ones on the ground. If only they could hear her … she would tell them all to stay in the air and not worry about her.

If anything, she should be the one worried about them, as they had never faced these monsters before, whereas she had been dealing with them for what seemed like an eternity. And it seemed like the beasts had figured it out as well, as the majority of them seemed to be focusing on the Gundams instead of her. They were focusing on Heero and Trowa, whom she was sure for the sake of her, were still fighting on the ground. Heero seemed to be faring better than Trowa, as Trowa's Gundam seemed better suited for long range attacks. And so he was having a much harder time with those that managed to penetrate his attacks.

"Fireballs Ignite!" As she ran towards Trowa, she continued to hurl balls of flame at the youmas, incinerating some and drawing attention away from her friend. She continued to head towards them, even though some of the creatures were headed her way now. The fire senshi was so preoccupied with distracting them that she failed to see the one that sideswiped her from the side. Its tentacles grabbed her by the legs and swung her up into the air, leaping after her with its fangs bared and ready to tear her apart.

xxxxxxxxxx

"REI!" Heero shouted, drawing all the other pilots' attention to her, as he watched the beast overtake her from her blind spot. It had thrown her into the air, where she had twisted straight into gunfire, and landed with a thud on the ground, utterly motionless. For the first time in his life, Heero felt desperate. Desperate to get to her and save her. Desperate to see if she was okay …

xxxxxxxxxx

Rei gasped as she twisted to the side, trying to somehow maneuver out of the way, until she felt a sharp, blinding pain like she had never felt before. A few seconds later, she landed hard on the ground and blackness swept over her.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Let me know your thoughts! Hopefully it was worth the wait, and if it wasn't, I do apologize. As always, your feedback is much appreciated! Until next time!

-m.