Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, the series, nothing.
Notes: First time in a long time that I'm writing 1xR. I hope I didn't mess up. I'm sorry if I did, though. It's been too long since I last wrote about this pairing. Also, I apologize for how fucked up the formatting is. AGAIN. I really have no idea what to do with these stupid line breaks.
When Heero Yuy walked into the office of Foreign Minister Relena Darlian, he knew without even raising his head from the files he was perusing that his charge was grumpy. His ears alone could attest to that. He heard it just in the way she rifled through documents, her fingers smacking at pages that held information that frustrated her. He heard it in the way she breathed through her nostrils as she silently fumed over passages that she would have to edit because they were not up to her standards. He could already imagine her reach for the red pen she had tucked behind her ear, and if she could click it any louder, the pen would break or magically fire a laser at the offending document and incinerate it.
This time, when he looked up, he didn't miss the way her lips thinned to a determined line even as her face was the very picture of exhaustion. Each of his five senses were like finely-tuned instruments and missed nothing, even more so now that he had risen in the ranks of the Preventers to become the top draft pick for ensuring the safety of the Foreign Minister wherever she went. He was an entire squad rolled into one and Duo had even joked once that Heero could be a mutant and obsessive-compulsiveness could be his mutant power.
The Perfect Soldier — so aptly named — was a living, breathing weapon to his comrades and to the rest of the Preventers.
But with Relena Darlian, he was 'Super Nanny'.
"Ugh. Kill me now." The aforementioned young woman let out a tired groan, slouching back in her chair. Heero calmly picked up a few folders from the "outgoing" stack and shook his head.
"Can't," he promptly answered. "I'm being paid handsomely to protect you."
"All about the money, huh?"
"A guy's gotta live after all."
The half-shrug that he usually did to annoy her didn't go unnoticed by Relena and she pouted childishly. Picking up a pad of post-its, she proceeded to draw a frowney face on top of one sheet, peeled it off, and slapped it emphatically on her forehead. "I never get to enjoy Fridays," she declared, sounding like a petulant child being denied her chocolate stash.
Heero shifted the folders higher to hide the fact that he was smiling at the way the most influential diplomat both on Earth and in space was behaving. "You're the one who insisted on setting an example, Relena. Especially when it comes to working overtime. And you blatantly ignored our disapproval."
"I miss those days when you barely had a sense of humor." Her blue-green eyes narrowed in accusation and the growl was unmistakable in her voice. "You're laughing at me!"
"You don't have proof," Heero was quick to point out, lowering his makeshift shield and schooling his face into the perfect stoic mask. He leaned over her desk to peel the frowney-face post-it off Relena's forehead.
Had she the energy to keep up their verbal sparring, she would have easily taken the bait (probably even do something immature like stick her tongue out at him in retaliation). However, she had paperwork and she had deadlines. With a sarcastic roll of her eyes, Relena reached for another folder marked "proposals" with one hand while opening one desk drawer to fish out her glasses with the other hand.
"You are so unbelievably juvenile someti—HEY!" Her low mutterings morphed into a loud cry of protest when her hand was suddenly holding air instead of the folder she was about to plow through.
Heero dodged the swipe she tried to take at his head — something he could easily do now that they no longer stood shoulder to shoulder. "When you take out your glasses, it means you're going to slave away until two in the morning, which is ungodly," he stated, keeping the folder above her head as he danced away from her. "You're no good to the people if you're dead on your feet, Relena."
"Argh! Give it back!" Relena hopped up again with about as much grace as a duck landing clumsily on a frozen pond as she took another unsuccessful swipe. Her arms strained to reach the folder that her bodyguard was keeping away from her. "Do you any idea how ridiculous you're being? I was going to read that!"
One ill-timed hop had her suddenly being hoisted unceremoniously over Heero's shoulder as he tossed the folder onto her desk. She closed her eyes in defeat, directing a few choice — and very unladylike — curse words at her bodyguard that earned her a swat at her behind. She yelped in outrage. "Heero! What the hell?!"
"I'm taking you home, Miss Darlian, and there is nothing you can do about it." The tone he was using left no room for negotiations. She could try and guilt-trip him, bribe him, cajole him, rail at him, or threaten him within an inch of his life, but Heero Yuy was not going to leave her in the office to work.
Relena sullenly crossed her arms but wisely said nothing more.
As much as she wanted to remain pissed at Heero, Relena found that he had the right idea to yank her away from work when he did. Not thirty minutes after they left the building, she found herself happily gazing up at the stars as Heero drove with the top down along the highway.
"I love nights like this." Her smile brightened as she tilted her head back to get a better view of the stars. "I don't think I'll ever stop appreciating how beautiful the stars are..."
Beside her, Heero nodded as he lowered the volume of the radio. "They're much brighter in space, but there's a certain novelty to looking up at the stars from Earth, I suppose..."
"I never took you for the sentimental type," she quipped. "I'm surprised you're indulging in sentimentality right now."
"Well, you're the only one around to hear it."
She only laughed and shook her head.
On most nights, he would have to drive her back in silence with the radio on to keep them both company while Relena dozed off in her seat. But on the rare occasions that he would drag her away before she worked herself to death, they would talk on the long drive home and more often than not, it was Relena who did the talking and Heero would listen.
Outwardly, nothing had changed much in Heero Yuy. True, he had grown much taller and was broader at the shoulders — not to mention that he now had the well-defined body of a supermodel and was forever the object of her staff's fantasies, Relena had noted. He still had the same wild, unkempt hair that would leave professional hair stylists throwing up their combs in surrender and his eyes were still the same deep blue that could freeze Hell when he was angry. He remained wary of general human interaction, but over the years, Heero had slowly come out of his shell and was apparently in possession of a dry sense of humor that matched Relena's wit. Who knew Wing Zero's pilot had a long list of comebacks in his arsenal?
In between reminiscing about the past, and her plans for her future in politics, they had fallen into an easy and comfortable friendship. Oh, Relena still acknowledged that Heero was attractive — in the tall, dark, mysterious sort of way — but the schoolgirl crush had dissipated. Soon after Heero disappeared again, it was all too easy to forget about how he made her heart flutter when she was busy dealing with vultures left and right who wanted to convince her to see things their way. Eventually, she'd gotten so buried in work that any romantic inclinations were out of the question. Her responsibility to Earth and the space colonies was too great, and despite her age, she accepted the role willingly.
Days became weeks, then months, and people slowly rebuilt their lives. Three years after the Mariemaia coup, Heero Yuy suddenly resurfaced for an early morning interview that had resulted in one Duo Maxwell almost expiring from shock. In the three years he'd been gone, Heero had completed his Bachelor's and Master's degrees and had then sought employment with the Preventers. His first assignment had been to guard Vice Foreign Minister Relena Darlian just when she was about to be appointed Foreign Minister.
A second term and several assassination attempts that he'd thwarted later, he hadn't been re-assigned. As he had been doing such a stellar job of keeping Relena safe, Une didn't see any reason to change the line-up. Save for the more dangerous missions, Heero remained Foreign Minister Darlian's shadow.
It had been somewhat awkward the first few months of the assignment — probably more for him than for Relena. There were times back then when he still felt so out of place with no wars to fight, but as global peace was still shaky, the mission of ensuring Relena's safety made the transition bearable.
The one other thing that had helped was probably the friendship he'd come to enjoy with Relena. As she went about her job, it never ceased to amaze him that she had been but a girl when they first met and his first target. When she faced down the more stubborn leaders of the world's nations and the colonies, she was easily the most formidable opponent in whatever conference room she happened to be in. She urged for total pacifism to be embraced, and called for reform with more finesse than any of her peers, her ideas always straightforward and clear. Her will was of iron and she was bound and determined to see her work through until the end, no matter how many times her political know-how was questioned.
But in the confines of her office or her home — when it was just the two of them — Heero could still see that girl who had bandaged his wounds and stood up to him. He knew her ultimate guilty pleasure was watching old television soap operas from the 21st century that had been archived (she had recently been watching that one show involving a hospital and doctors who were hooking up then breaking up all the time, no thanks to Sally). He knew how she took her coffee, and the brand of shampoo she favored. He even knew that she was actually a good singer and that Karaoke Night with Duo and Hilde Maxwell was one of her favorite ways to unwind.
As the years passed, he watched her blossom from the girl he first met to the beautiful woman she now was, even as his emotions warred within him. She bore his reticence with the patience of a saint, and that had eased his torment. She had the grace not to pry until he felt ready and when she asked him about how he was doing, she always kept the questions light and took his answers at face value. Guilt ate at Heero when he realized that he was being unfair, but Relena always reassured him that she understood.
"We've both seen war and death, Heero. We're both still struggling." She took the mug of coffee he had offered her as he tried to explain himself one night, and she had told him that apologies were unnecessary. "Time will heal everything."
Even then, there were days when she took her frustration out on him, and she would storm into her house, her face mottled and tear-stained. But knowing how much pressure she was under, Heero understood what she had meant about her own struggle and he would let her beat her fists against his chest until she was all cried out. Then he would carry her up to her room and reassure her that he would be looking out for her the next day as he had always been.
Duo had commented once about how close they seemed to be and told Heero outright that there was absolutely NO WAY in Hell that the Perfect Soldier and the Dove of Peace weren't already sleeping together. He couldn't possibly be blind to the "stone fox" that Relena Darlian had become, could he?
But of course Heero had noticed. One couldn't help singling her out in a crowd — not just because of the purposeful way she walked nor the elegant bearing she had. There was always that fire of determination in her eyes, a passion that made her glow. Even when she was smiling serenely for photo ops, she commanded attention. 'My name is Relena Darlian. You do not fuck with me,' her body language seemed to say and Heero would feel his heart race even as he calmly escorted her through a barrage of reporters.
And yet, he could never bring himself to ask her out when he finally realized the depth of his feelings for her. It wasn't even about cowardice — although he supposed that she was intimidating in her own right. Heero felt she deserved more, and if he were quite honest, he wanted more than just a date or two. Being socially inept during his teen years, he couldn't exactly glean any wisdom from experience. There had been some girls who pursued him but he never knew quite how to react around them the way he did around Relena. Some people had front row seats to the war, but he and Relena had been on that stage and therefore, set apart. He was the only man who could actually keep up with her just as she was the only woman capable of understanding him fully.
Their relationship was far from normal, and she had yet to realize that it was the only thing that had kept him from going over the edge.
They were approaching a familiar sight and Heero slowly pulled over, nodding over at Relena when she tilted her head in curiosity.
"Do you know where we are?" he asked.
Relena blinked, straightening up to look around. Realization slowly dawned on her and she swiveled back to face him. "Are we...?"
He nodded an affirmative.
The beach where they first met.
"Walk with me." Heero killed the engine and got out of the car to open the door for her.
She was more than willing to do so, judging from her smile. Even without the benefit of better lighting, Heero knew she was blushing. He felt the slight tremor in her fingertips as she accepted his proffered hand, but it was nothing compared to the rapid fluttering of his heart that only she could elicit. Space combat was much easier to deal with than being in the presence of the woman who filled his dreams and waking hours.
They walked along the shore in silence, hands still entwined. There was a certain thrill in their proximity that was not lost on Heero, and he was almost certain he would go deaf from the sound of his own heartbeat. He recalled the first time he'd ever touched her — that one gentle motion of wiping away her tears after tearing up her party invitation. There was a strange heaviness in his chest then a shock of...something...ran through his nerve endings when his fingertips brushed her cheek. Heero had later on cataloged those feelings for further analysis, but even that was quickly overridden by this even stronger feeling of wanting to see her again. The boyish curiosity quickly became an obsession but always, he held back. His hands were stained with blood and it would not do for him to sully the purity of her spirit.
The one time he gave in to his curiosity, it had been a quick kiss and they were both too young to comprehend love. She had no time to react and he couldn't quite understand why he did what he did. He didn't know what love was and was far too caught up in the war to ponder on it. But after all of that, he remembered her delicate wrist and the way her bones shifted when he pulled her close to him. He remembered smooth skin and warm breath and soft lips. He remembered wanting to drown in her eyes and never come up for air. It had been glorious and it had confirmed that he was, after all, human.
Heero Yuy had never been so terrified in his life.
It was the sound of her quiet laughter that jolted him from his headspace. Glancing over at Relena, he noticed that she had taken off her shoes and held them in her free hand while her other hand was still comfortably tucked in his. "You know," she began in a playful tone, gently resting her head on his shoulder for a moment before pulling away. "There are only so many times you can threaten to kill someone before they stop believing you, Heero Yuy."
"That time was different," Heero replied, referring to when they had first met and all those other occasions he had threatened to take her life when they were teenagers. He led her to one of several benches that dotted the bluff and they sat down.
One delicately shaped eyebrow lifted in disbelief and Relena grinned. "Oh really now? So how was our situation any different?" she challenged. "What would you call all those threats to kill me?"
The silence following his deadpan remark was broken by the sound of her laughter. The former Queen of the World leaned back against the bench, arms strapped to her sides as she dissolved into hysterics. His own lips twitched in the beginnings of a smile as he watched her try to regain her breath and wipe at her eyes. Even in the meager light of the moon, he could see the faint tinge of pink on her cheeks and how her blue-green eyes sparkled with mirth. Possessiveness flared in Heero, causing his thoughts to turn dark for a moment when he imagined any other man in his place. These unguarded moments he shared with Relena were more precious than the brightest stars in the sky, when she looked more like a young girl than the most influential diplomat in human history. He would be damned if some asshole tried to take that away from him.
"Oh...oh my..." Relena gasped as she sat back up, chuckling. "Someone's been hanging around Duo too much lately."
Heero rolled his eyes, even as those dark thoughts were chased away by the radiance of her smile. "I wouldn't say that," he remarked. "Duo tends to find me even when he's well aware that his company's unwelcome."
"I think he grew on you," she couldn't help but tease.
"Like a rash," was Heero's retort, which sent Relena into another round of giggles.
He sat there, watching her, drinking in the sound of her laughter and feeling blessedly content. It had been more than a decade since the war and even now that they were both twenty-eight, the world was still coping with memories of the destruction that left both sides suffering heavy losses. The cost had been too high, the body count too numerous, but when it was all over, what remained of the Earth and the colonies still managed to look towards the gentle strength and compassionate heart of one Relena Darlian. Heero knew that it was only through Relena's tireless efforts to unify the Earth and the colonies that humanity was moving at a much faster pace than he was. For Heero and his fellow Gundam pilots, the war had only ended yesterday, and they could not rest until the world had accepted the ideals that Relena so passionately and bravely fought for.
Or maybe...he had just been afraid to take that last step...
"Goodness, Heero," Relena shook her head in amusement, derailing his train of thought with her smile. "I do find comfort in the fact that you've thawed out and developed a taste for jokes, but I think you need to come with a medical warning."
"I'll ask Sally to write one up."
"Please do so. I've never heard so many puns from you as I have tonight."
"So do you want me to lose the sense of humor?"
She bit her lip, pretending to think it over for a moment and then she shook her head. "A girl can never go wrong with a man who can make her laugh."
"In that case, Hilde made a grievous error in that department. Duo is bound to kill her with his less than tasteful jokes."
"Enough!" Relena gasped out as she wiped the corners of her eyes. "You're terrible!"
"So you say. And yet you've never once requested that I be replaced."
Her lips twisted in a wry smile. "Sadly, you grew on me. Like a rash."
Heero couldn't help but chuckle at how quickly she had lobbed that barb right back at him. She was often so serious in interviews, deflecting the more prying questions with practiced ease in order to guard her privacy.
If only they knew the kind of jokes she tossed around with Duo.
"Hmm...Heero, can I ask you something?"
Her eyes were uncharacteristically serious when their gazes met. Relena was fiddling with her necklace, and she slowly turned away to look out at the ocean. "Do you think humanity is going to forever be caught in the same dance? War, peace, revolution?"
How long can I last in this battle?
Comprehension dawned on him as he looked at her, catching the unspoken question in her eyes. She still could not see the end in sight, no matter how hard she worked. History had always repeated itself and through centuries, humans had fought and struggled. Whether for complex ideologies, or basic human greed, war would always be a breath away. She'd seen it happen and her work was almost destroyed. It would shatter her if it happened again.
So he decided that as long as he lived, he would fight for what she believed in until the final call to lay down arms had been given, and her ideals were truly embraced. And he would spend the rest of his life proving his love to her.
"You told me once before that I was strong, Relena. You told me that I gave you purpose. You said that it was because of me that you've always done your best to fight for peace. You said once that your strength can never match mine, but that's not true."
Heero took her by the hand, feeling a rush of warmth in his chest at the sight of how perfectly her hand fit in his. Years ago, he would have been terrified of the feelings he had for her. He would have run away and disappeared. But somehow, she had pulled him back into the world and into her life. His thumb tenderly stroked her knuckles, eliciting one of those smiles from her that he would never tire of seeing.
"Before I met you, Relena, I had nothing and I knew nothing except completing whatever mission was given me. But that night when I first met you, I realized that even the mission can change. I could change."
"It frightened me. I was just some kid trained in the art of war. I knew nothing else. All I was taught was to complete the mission, or die trying. Everything always ended in death."
But then she had saved his life. She had bravely stepped in to shield him from a bullet.
She had stripped him of his armor and exposed him.
She had always seen the person he truly was, and he had clung to that acceptance. Now, it was his turn to remind her of what she truly was — not just to him, but to the future she had saved.
"You say that you are strong because of me, but I'm telling you that you have always been strong on your own. Soldiers lay down their arms out of fear of the Gundams. But it is your words and the example you set as a world leader that influence people to decide to live truthfully and renounce violence. I am nothing compared to you."
When her lips parted again, Heero knew that Relena was going to contest what he just said and refuse to accept it as the truth, so he squeezed her hand lightly, indicating that he was not finished and that she needed to hear him out.
"You are the most unselfish, most courageous person I know. You gave up so much for the world, asking for so very little in return. It is because of this and because of all the things you are to me that I want to give you my heart."
She gave a startled gasp, staring incredulously into his eyes. And Heero never felt more sure of what he wanted than right now, in that very moment. "It's yours forever, Relena. It will never stray. It will never falter."
Her eyes reflected the love he realized he had felt for her all these years — a love that had blossomed and matured with time, growing more and more beautiful until it enveloped her very being. Heero Yuy was certain of only one thing as he gazed into her eyes: he was always meant to meet her.
"For all that you have sacrificed for this peace that the Earth and the colonies now enjoy, I can only give you what I have. My love. My life. My soul."
Truthfully, he had planned this out better, with a speech and dinner at the most expensive restaurant in the city. He wanted romantic candlelight and an audience to witness everything, so she would know his feelings were true. There would have been an orchestra too, or at least a string quartet to serenade her and they could dance together after he had proposed. It would be a culmination of a lot of things, it would have been a long time coming and he wanted it to be perfect for her.
But for some reason, this moment seemed more right, Heero decided. This moment where they were away from prying eyes and from those who could never understand them. Where the stars shone their brightest and where he had found his true purpose in life.
In so many ways, this beach was where it had all began for them. And perhaps, for Heero Yuy and Relena Darlian, it was the perfect place and the perfect time to begin another chapter in the life they would inevitably share.
Heero took a deep breath and pulled out a well-worn velvet box from his back pocket, opening it to reveal a solitaire diamond on a simple platinum band. Surrounding the diamond was a ring of tiny sapphires that were as blue as her eyes — which were brimming with tears as he moved off the bench and knelt down on one knee in front of her.
"Relena...will you marry me?" he asked, holding up the ring.
Barely a second after the last syllable had been uttered, she almost knocked the breath out of him as she tackled him in a fierce hug, sobbing, "Yes! With all my heart!"
And this time, Heero really did kiss her properly.
Like a man who loves a woman should.
- END -