By: Icicle Raindream
Disclaimer: I own nothing connected to Gundam Wing or its characters and so therefore I am making no money off this piece of writing.
Notes: I worked on this particular fic for so long you wouldn't believe it. I started this before I ever wrote Stay and Good for You. It's just that it became a little longer than I had anticipated, so along the way I popped out those short little fics that are just…well, short and little, and easy to read, but I hadn't lost any desire to finish this. The other day I was bored out of my mind at school and so I finally completed this fic. I hope you like it, 'cause I worked on it for a while!! "^-^" Drop me a line if you enjoyed this at all, okay? Read on!
"Are you sure you're all set, Miss Relena?"
I looked over my shoulder at Pagan walking next to me and nodded. This was about the fiftieth time he'd asked me that question this morning, but I just smiled at him. He seemed to be nervous for me and I couldn't understand why completely, but I was glad that Pagan was with me, showing his general concern like he always did.
I shifted the folder in my hands, stuffed full with papers and documents and sheets I had to read from. "This is going to be my best speech yet, just you watch, Pagan," I proclaimed as we reached the marble steps in front of the lecture hall. He climbed them with me. "Now that peace has been agreed on, everyone will be fully attentive to my ideas. No one will push me down."
Pagan nodded as the heavy double doors made of solid oak were pulled open for us. I glanced at the large mirror lining the hallway and made sure my collar was straight. I didn't want to look sloppy while trying to persuade important business people and politicians and such to agree to my ideas for peace.
"Right this way, Miss Relena," a tall man in a blue suit said, gesturing to a door on my left. I guessed he was one of the building's ushers.
I smiled and nodded to him, then looked at Pagan. He gave me a small smile and then followed his own usher, who presumably took him to the entrance where the audience sat. I turned and the door to my left was pushed open for me. Before I stepped into the room I smiled at my guide and then cleared my throat.
The room was jam-packed.
This is good, this is good, I reminded myself. You wanted lots of people to hear your ideas and projects, Relena…large crowds are a good thing…
I cleared my throat again and then climbed the wooden stairs to the stage. The lectern was only a few more feet away, situated directly in the front middle of the room where everyone in the audience could see me. I felt really small and impossibly young.
I placed my folder on the podium before me and opened it, pulling out my sheets and documents and arranging them quickly. Then I lifted my eyes to the audience and addressed them politely, blinking in the bright lights that burned down from the ceiling. I could hear my voice ring throughout the room and suddenly felt tall and strong. I could do this. I knew I could.
I pulled out my recently revised copy of my newest peace speech and began to propose my ideas for total pacifism, the microphone loud enough to send my voice reverberating back into my own ears. Soon, I forgot about any doubts I'd had earlier as more and more people in the audience caught my suggestions and wrote them down, some nodding enthusiastically or whispering conspiratorially to their neighbor, some looking like they were tempted to clap right then and there.
I had just glanced down at my document when suddenly I heard my name being called. As I blinked into the bright lights again, trying to focus on the dim audience, I didn't register the fact that the words, "I want you to die," were attached to my name. I just stood, my hands clutching the podium, my white sheets in front of me, most likely with this expression on my face that was a mixture of shock and confusion, pinned to the spot where I was. I might have even blinked again before someone jumped on me. What was it I'd said before about being pushed down…?
I could hear the audience gasping and chairs scraping against the wood floor as I landed on the stage with a loud oof, the weight on top of me slamming my back flat against the hollow wood beneath. I opened my eyes and blinked wildly several times, trying to locate my consciousness.
Heero Yuy was lying completely on top of me.
Before I could react to him, something shot into the lectern next to us, causing the wood to splinter and erupt, shards flinging everywhere. I watched straight ahead of me, at the ceiling, as my crystal white papers flew everywhere and slowly fluttered to the floor, all out of chronological order, some shredded into pieces. The lectern continued to break apart in several areas, covering my white suit jacket with broken wood slivers. I heard my name again, over the frantic shouts that were now enveloping the lecture room, being called by many different people in various tones of voice.
"Stay down, Relena," Heero ordered. He jumped to his feet, legs straddling my body, and whipped out his gun, pointing it out to the audience.
"No, Heero!" I cried, reaching a hand up, but a sharp pellet of some kind grazed the air by my head and made me flinch. I dropped my hand down in an instant, realizing that the pellet had been a very thick looking bullet, and watched as Heero fired his gun into the air. Aiming for the balcony? No…the audience?
The shrieks continued to burst out inside the room, yells from the men sometimes overpowering them and my name was shouted once again. I couldn't just stay here on the floor and do nothing! Someone out there wanted to know if I was okay!
Before the logic kicked in, the logic that was supposed to remind me that someone out there also wanted me dead, I had wiggled out from under Heero's stance and was standing up beside him. His eyes flashed to mine, with a look that said, "What the hell are you doing?!" and he swore and shook his gun in disgust.
"Damn it!" He turned to me as I peered out into the audience, flinging his weapon away. "You need to get out of here, now!"
"Where's Pagan?" I yelled over the commotion to Heero. "I need to find Pagan!"
"Let's go!" Heero snatched my upper arm in his hand, holding so tightly it almost hurt. I pulled against his grip, trying to twist away as another bullet or two hit the podium in front of us, which acted as a shield. A barrier that kept me from seeing anything but the blinding white lights.
"I have to find Pagan first!" I shouted at him, still desperately trying to yank away. "You're not taking me anywhere, Heero, until I know he's all right!"
Heero's grasp on my arm loosened considerably, and he stepped slightly back from me. With a grave expression on his face, he said lowly, "Then I guess I have no other choice."
I opened my mouth to respond but my voice was destroyed inside my throat as Heero's rock-solid fist aimed for my chest and impacted with amazing speed.
* * *
It was raining outside.
All I could hear was the gentle patter of rain outside my window, the small droplets landing softly on the windowpane and splattering their tiny shapes into clear puddles against the wood.
I heard that before I even opened my eyes. I heard that before I even took a breath or moved an inch from where I was lying on my back. My eyes opened to the sound of rain falling outside, and I blinked into the dusk that had settled in the room.
My room, I realized. I was in my room, lying on my bed over the smooth sheets, my hair pooled around my bunched pillows. My arms were down at my sides, and my legs were straight, and my shoes had somehow made their way off my feet. But I was still fully dressed other than that.
I opened my mouth and took a large breath, then choked on it and hastily covered my mouth, coughing roughly. It felt like someone had tied my sternum in a knot and slapped a lifesize rubber band around my chest as I rolled over onto my side, trying to relieve some of the unwanted pain.
That's when I spied something…another body in my bed, lying right next to me, in the same position I had been in. Only this person wasn't coughing his lungs out. He just quietly rested, and I wondered if I had woken him up as he slightly stirred. I sat up in bed, still trying to stifle my hacking, my chest aching with each breath. He sat up soon after me.
"You," I gasped out, "punched me, Heero."
He simply looked over at me. "Yes, I did."
He was agreeing with me! I managed to calm my coughing down enough to demand, "Whatever for?!" I clutched the collar of my jacket, where it hung loosely over the attack site, and looked sharply at him.
"You wouldn't have cooperated any other way," he said firmly. "I had to get you out of there or you would have been killed."
I didn't say anything for a moment.
"You should learn to trust me by now," Heero scolded.
"What is going on?" I spontaneously blurted. "Why are people trying to kill me? I thought the war was over! And Pagan? Were you too busy trying to rescue me that you totally forgot about Pagan? Did you ever think to save him, too?"
Heero just looked at me, absorbing my small outburst into his hard expression, not flinching as my eyes stared intently into his. Then he looked away and sighed.
"What?" I demanded, facing him as I crawled to my knees. "What about him? Is he okay?"
"He's in the hospital," Heero confessed impassively, his face turned towards the window, where rain still cleansed the earth outside. "He was caught in the crossfire and took a few renegade bullets."
"No, that's not true," I argued stupidly, willing Heero to look at me with my mind.
"He's going to be fine, the doctors said. And he's being heavily guarded. He's safe."
I looked down to my bed; traced the pattern of my blanket with my finger. "No…" I could feel the tears welling in my eyes.
Heero looked back at me for a second, then got up from the bed and began to walk towards my door, which I assume he'd closed earlier. I watched a few teardrops splash onto the blanket and then leaped up and twisted around, walking frantically on my knees to get off the bed as fast as I could. Heero was almost at the door.
"No, wait!" I called, reaching out a slightly trembling arm to him. I felt the skin of his forearm under my fingers and closed them tightly around it. "Don't leave me, Heero, please. I'll be all alone."
Heero stopped mid-stride and turned back to me, his eyes burning blue through the dimness in my bedroom. He looked at my hand on his arm, then looked back to my face as the tears rolled down my cheeks, and said, "I'm not going anywhere, Relena."
I held onto his arm for a minute longer, feeling his warmth and muscle that held so attentively still underneath my hand, and then asked tearfully, "Then where were you headed to?"
"Routine check of the grounds," he answered, and something in his voice made me feel assured. Especially when he said, "I'll be back. Wait here."
I sniffled and then dropped his arm, allowing myself a tiny smile. When his hand reached up to my face I instinctively closed my eyes, and I felt his fingers brushing away the tears that still clung to my eyelashes. I kept my eyes shut even after I heard my bedroom door open and close, and Heero's footsteps receded down the hallway stairs.
Routine check of the grounds…for what?
What had happened to the agreement between Earth and the Colonies of total peace?
"I hope you didn't just agree to reschedule your peace conference."
I turned away from my screen and faced Heero as he walked into my study and leaned against the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked at me with those impenetrable Prussian blue eyes, and I stared right back as I stood up and blinked at him.
"Tomorrow afternoon, same time as today," I told him sternly. Maybe it even sounded snobby, but you know what? I didn't care.
Heero shook his head. "You know there are people out there who are trying kill you."
"Yes." I nodded. "And I also know there is someone out there who promised to protect me." I folded my arms, too, mimicking him as I stood defiantly facing his slouched form in my doorway. He got my point.
"There's no stopping you, is there," he stated.
I shook my head haughtily. "Not this time. Full peace is going to be achieved. On my word as Vice Foreign Minister Darlian, the fighting will not continue, especially since the war is over."
"And what happens when tomorrow comes, and there no longer is a Vice Foreign Minister Darlian?" Heero asked, his eyes narrowed.
I dropped my arms to my sides and walked towards him. As I passed him in the doorway, I said over my shoulder, "You're all wet, Heero. Why don't you go dry off." Then I left him, still leaning against the frame of my study, and went into my bedroom and closed the door.
* * *
I couldn't believe it. Was this my lucky day or what?
The rescheduled peace conference was a piece of cake compared to the earlier one, in which my body had been almost shot full of holes. I got up on the stage, faced that lectern with such an indignant expression I probably looked ridiculously angry, and read loudly and clearly and best of all, confidently from the papers that Heero had managed to salvage from the other conference. The people were more than receptive, their brows crinkled in thought and mouths whispering frantically to each other and their hands clapping vigorously. I received a standing ovation. And I didn't even have a twinge of butterflies in my stomach.
What happened to my would-be assassins?
I didn't know, and I hadn't seen Heero anywhere during my speech, and so I tried not to think about them as I stepped off the stage to join in on the refreshments and discussions. I had just turned around from the table with my cup of juice when three grown men that I hadn't recognized or even recollected seeing at any time in my public speaking life assaulted me. They walked up to me with huge grins plastered on their faces and bowed slightly. I smiled back courteously and tried to move away, but then one of them cried, "May we have a word with you, Vice Foreign Minister?"
"Of course," I replied, not being one to turn away a person interested in pursuing peace.
"How about we go out into the hall?" the second of the three men suggested. "It's quite…noisy in here, don't you agree?"
The room was full of politicians and people of the sort, all chatting away happily and shooting me polite stares and smiles. The clinking of glasses could be heard and every now and then laughter sailed through the air as the people casually made their way around the room, visiting friends and partners and important business connections. I nodded to the three men and placed my full cup of juice on the table behind me. I followed them out into the hallway and the doors closed behind us, muffling the sound of the lecture room inside.
"We would like to propose a toast," the first man proclaimed. He reached next to me and took something from one of his comrades, who handed him a small glass filled with clear liquid. In turn, the glass was given to me, and three more of the same were passed to all three men. They raised their glasses cheerily, still grinning, waiting for me to do the same.
"It was riveting," I was told. "Your speech and all your magnificent plans for peace kept me in stitches. I couldn't get enough of what you had in mind."
"You have a brilliant mind, Vice Foreign Minister. Such wonderful ideas you have in store for us."
"The Earth and Colonies will no doubt be the happiest places to live in years and years to come, all because of you, and--"
I raised my hand in protest. "Gentlemen, please. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, but flattery is not necessary. Although I am glad that you approve of my plans for peace. We need to create a working environment in which everyone can be happy and live self-fulfilled lives."
"Cheers!" they cried, and began to sip their drinks. I noticed they were eagerly awaiting me to do so too, and without a thought of where the glasses had come from, I raised my cup to my lips and prepared to take a sip.
Then suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, a flash of dark clothes streaked across my vision and my glass was stolen viciously out of my hands, throwing my balance off a bit. I took a step back and focused on what was happening as the three men in front of me all gasped angrily, their attention diverted and fixed on something next to me. I looked over my shoulder and recognized Heero, standing there with my glass in his hands. Confused to no end, I watched as he raised the glass and greedily gulped the contents down, some of the clear liquid running down the sides of his mouth. He flung the glass away and I flinched as it smashed against the ground and shattered into a million pieces.
"Heero!" I yelled. "What are you doing--"
"Relena!" he shouted back. "Get out of here!"
Too late. Before I knew it, my arms were being snagged by three harsh grips and I was dragged over to the three men. I glanced up at their faces, twisted and distorted with disgust and anger, all directed at Heero as he pulled his gun from his clothes. One pair of hands released my arm and steadfastly attached themselves around my neck. I tried not to cry out as Heero let loose with a round of bullets and alerted everyone inside the lecture hall to our situation outside. The doors opened and people streamed into the hallway, filling it with gasps of horror and shock as they assessed the three dead men on the floor and me without a scratch and blood on my suit and Heero with his gun in his hand…
I watched as it abruptly fell from his tight grasp and clattered loudly onto the hollow wooden floor, shaking some of the ladies up a bit, making them shriek. Heero looked at me as his arm dropped to his side, and then his eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed facedown onto the wood. I shouted his name and ran to him, crouching down by his fallen form as the surprised chatter around me increased more in volume.
"Heero!" I yelled again. "Heero, get up!" I looked into the audience that had formed around us. "Get help!" I screeched to no one in particular. "Somebody call an ambulance, please, quickly!" I looked back down to Heero as the crowd shifted, unable to tear their eyes away from the sight of us. What was the matter with him?
He writhed, his right fist clenching and unclenching madly where it lay on the floor next to his head. I could hear soft moans of agony as his forehead pushed into the floor, and Heero had his legs curled up next to him, lying half on his side. When I caught a glance at his face, it was flushed with heat and his eyes were shut tightly, as if trying to block out the pain.
I put my hand on his side, sinking down onto the floor until I was right next to him, on my side. "Heero," I said loudly. "Heero, look at me!"
He continued to squirm, but his eyes opened as requested. His right hand slid across the floor and reached for me, for anything he could grab on me. "P-poison," he sputtered, his fist closing around my jacket lapel. "D-drink…was poisoned…"
"Heero, those were the men who tried to kill me before?" I asked, hearing more gasps come from the people around us. Obviously they could hear our conversation perfectly.
He yelled in what seemed to me as horrible wrenching pain and his hand yanked me closer, his eyes closing as a tremor wracked his body. Weakly, he nodded, and it was then that I heard the familiar sounds of the ambulance as it pulled up outside the lecture hall and the heavy oak doors were thrown open. I covered Heero's shaking hand on my jacket flap with both of my own and held onto it tightly.
If he had known the drink was poisoned, why did he drink it in the first place?
"Are you sure there's nothing more to be done?" I asked, wringing my hands as I stood up from my position on the edge of my bed.
The doctor looked at me remorsefully. "I'm sorry, Vice Foreign Minister," he apologized, shaking his head. "The drug needs to run its course."
"Run its course," I repeated, thinking out loud. "You mean he has to sit here and suffer through it?"
The doctor nodded, a small movement of his head as he turned to leave. "I'm sorry," he said again. "Just try to keep him as comfortable as you can."
"O-okay," I replied. I watched as the doctor walked through my bedroom door and shut it softly behind him. His car pulled out of my drive a few minutes later, and the house was silent.
I found it to be creepy rather than soothingly serene. When Pagan was with me it was always serene around here.
I felt like such a horrible person. What with all that had been happening and my conference being rescheduled, I hadn't gotten a chance to go visit him in the hospital and see how he was recovering. Now I couldn't even though I had the time. I had someone else I had to keep an eye on.
Heero lay in my bed, the blankets pulled up to his chin, a cold compress on his head. He had a raging fever, but was tormented by shivers, and something internal kept the anguished sounds flowing from him as he continued to thrash about, sometimes only small jerky movements, sometimes big flourishes that made my heart pound with fright as I watched him. I couldn't just sit here and do nothing, but every time I went to do something, I didn't know what to do, and so I found myself pacing in front of my bed instead, my hand-wringing the only thing keeping me distracted from bawling my eyes out. If the poison that had been injected into my drink was this rough on Heero, imagine how hard it would have been on me.
I sighed. Heero had managed to save me, yet again. And look what I was doing to him.
"Damn it!" I exploded, using the only swear I allowed myself to utter out loud. I went to my dresser and picked up a hair tie, then absently threw my hair back into a messy ponytail, just something to keep it out of my face. In the reflection of the mirror that was attached to the wall above my dresser, I saw a small hand reaching out from the bed. Heero's hand. I pivoted quickly and rapidly walked over to his form bundled into my blankets.
He blinked sleepily at me, his hand falling back to the sheets as I sat down next to him. He looked completely disoriented and confused, a mixed expression that I had never seen on his face before as his wide eyes blinked again and his mouth opened.
"Relena…" I watched as his right hand came across his chest under the covers and clenched onto his white shirt, tugging on it in pain. He closed his eyes then, and I could see the water droplets seeping from the corners of them.
"Shh, Heero," I whispered, yanking my sleeve over my hand. I used the soft fabric of my shirt to gently wipe his tears away. "Don't talk now, just try to rest."
He shuddered, his left arm nestling back under the sheets. He rolled to his side, facing me, his hands clenching my pillow as he buried his face into the cool linen, not caring about the compress that was now smashed into his face. His dark locks fell against the blue hue of the covers that matched his eyes, and I reached out, tentatively running my fingers through the back of his hair. His fingers dug into the pillow harder.
"Oh, Heero," I said sadly, speaking more to myself than to him. "Why did you ever drink that poisoned cup if you knew it was dangerous in the first place?"
A muffled sound came from the pillow, sounding like Heero was trying to say something. I pulled the covers up higher around his shaking body and carefully told him not to speak. It was too hard to right now, and he needed to sleep this off, whatever it was.
"Relena…" I heard him draw in a large breath of air through the pillowcase. "It…it was me…"
"Hush," I said, smoothing his hair again. "It's okay, Heero."
Just then the computer screen that sat on my desk beeped, drawing my attention from the bed. The sound meant I had an important call, and so I got up, reluctantly removing my hand from Heero's silky hair, and went to my desk. I clicked on the communicator and said officially, "Yes. Relena Darlian here."
I recognized the man on the screen as a local surgeon. He proceeded to inform me that Pagan had fallen into a deep coma, due to the fact that an undetected bullet had been in his body for far too long and had caused some extra damage to his internal body structure. He said that the hospital staff working with Pagan hadn't as of yet been able to determine whether or not he'd pull through the coma and wake up. I bit my lip to keep the tears in and thanked the doctor with my most respectful voice, then turned away from the computer screen and gazed at Heero on the bed as he turned onto his back, still moving restlessly in my bed, still aching with hurt.
This can't be happening, I told myself as I walked closer to Heero. Everybody was leaving me! Why? I sat down on the edge of my mattress, eyes locked on Heero's form.
I asked him to stay with me, and now look what happened! Both he and Pagan were gone, and I was all alone! Why was he leaving me like this? My teeth squeezed my lip harder and I felt the blood smear down the side of my mouth. Why did he drink that stuff? I wasn't that important and I didn't want him to die because of me! What was it, Heero? What did you mean when you said…"It was me?"…
I shook myself out of my mind's trance, bringing a hand up to my face. How could I think such horrible things toward him when he was lying here helplessly in my bed… all because of me? I swiped my hand by my mouth and rid it of the blood, then scrubbed my eyes clear of all liquid. I had to stay focused on the task at hand. Heero needed to get better.
Okay, genius…you can come up with great ideas for speeches, now how about home remedies?
I looked back at Heero again, his eyes held tightly closed as mumbles randomly escaped his mouth, sounds and words mixed together to make no comprehensible sense as his shuddering lessened to a slight twitch every now and then. What was I to do?
The only thing I could think of was a big dose of some good old tender loving care. I pulled the covers back, slid into them, pressed my body to his side, slung my left arm across his chest and latched it onto his right shoulder, rested my head on his other one, and began humming lullabies through my nose as I shut my eyes against his heat. His hands were down by his sides and I could feel his fingers as they brushed the cloth of my pants, his hand catching onto my suit, resting against my thigh. I hummed a bit louder, taken slightly aback at his small reaction, but didn't budge. His hand was harmless, and I doubted that he really knew what he was doing. He seemed to be relaxing though, the mumbling quieted and the trembling ceased for the time being, and bravely I reached my left hand up and swept it over his forehead and through the right side of his hair, feeling the chocolate-colored strands slide between my fingers with ease. Heero's hair was softer than I had ever imagined, and before I knew it, I had lulled us both into a deep sleep, no doubt the heat from our bodies lending a hand to my sometimes off-key humming.
I wasn't going to let go so easily. Pagan and Heero, they weren't going to leave me, not if I had anything to do with it.
I sat up in my bed choking. Sometime during the night my mouth had been muffled by what was once Heero's compress, and the heat under the covers was immeasurably hot. It was like sleeping in a bed of lava while trying to breathe through a wet sweat sock. Quickly, I swiped the washcloth off my face and slid as smoothly as possible out of the bed, turning only to cover Heero's form back up again. I had to get out of these impossibly restricting clothes before I suffocated myself. It was like wearing an extra set of non-porous skin.
As I walked over to my dresser, I hurriedly unbuttoned my jacket and flipped it off my shoulders, then peeled my pants off once the jacket and compress were flung aside. I let out a soft sigh of relief as the stockings were unbound from my legs and the blouse was parted, torn off, and tossed onto my chair. I ripped the hair tie from my hair and shook my head, letting the damp strands fall down around my shoulders. I opened my dresser drawer and pulled out a sleep set, a pair of light pink silk shorts and tank top with ruffled lace lining the edges. These pajamas had been my favorite for as long as I could remember, a long ago Christmas present from my mother, and I slipped the shorts on with a small smile pasted to my face. If only my mother could see me now…
I jerked my head over to my bed as I heard Heero's voice permeate the room, a cry of discontentment, as if he were a small baby calling for his mother in the middle of the night. Without thinking that I was clad in nothing but my silky shorts and still moist camisole, I walked back to the bed and climbed onto it, sitting next to Heero as his head shook violently, as if he were tormented by some haunting dream.
I wasn't afraid anymore. I reached toward him and ran my fingers through those messy bangs that covered half his face, and briefly I felt what it was like to have a hundred and fifty-six thousand degree temperature. It threw me into a slight panic.
"Heero!" I tried to arouse him quietly, taking one shoulder and shaking it a bit. "Heero, wake up right now!"
My sentence ended in a cry, and the volume was doubled as Heero shot up from the bed, doubled over, clutching his chest. His head was bent towards his lap and he shook it roughly, trying to keep from yelling as I clutched my own front in surprise, gasping. Heero was still for a moment, then slowly, his head turned and he looked at me. He blinked twice and took a visible swallow.
"Heero?" I asked hopefully.
He blinked again, trying to clear his eyesight as his hands dropped to his sides. He focused on my face for a moment, trying to read my desperate expression, then his eyes closed and he slumped over, hunched into his lap. It looked like all his energy and strength had been stolen from him; sucked out of his body in one sweep.
This would be a really good time for me to wake up, right?
I sprung into action. I leapt off the bed, retrieved a huge pot and a kettle full of water from my kitchen, and struggled with them as I hauled the heavy items up the stairs, back into my bedroom, where I'd left Heero in a rush. I snatched the cloth from my dresser, dragged everything over to my night table, set the pot down, filled it with the cold water, and dunked the compress. As it soaked up the fresh water, I leaned over the bed, felt under the covers, and yanked at Heero's waistband, my hands frantically fumbling to get inside his belt. He made a small noise of protest as I pulled harder, trying to untuck his damp shirt, but didn't move to stop me as I drew the top over his head and threw it away from the bed. Immediately, his arms came around his shoulders, and his face was tucked into his now bare chest. I didn't think of the fact that he still had a fever and now I just up and exposed him to the cold air in the bedroom. It must have come as a shock to him, but the thoughts were driven from my head as I climbed onto the bed with the cold compress in hand, newly rung out and ready for use.
I scooted over as close as I possibly could without him actually being in my lap, then said soothingly, "Here, Heero…this will make you feel better." In all honesty, I'm not really sure anything I did would make him feel better, but I brought the cloth up and began wiping at his face anyway, my one hand supporting his chin. He was so warm I thought he would melt right in my hands as he blinked at me again, apparently unable to focus on anything as the drug coursed through his body.
"Relena…" It was forced out, something that seemed like he had wanted to say for a long time now.
"Shh," I responded gently, sliding my hand down his neck as the other wiped at the base of his hair. "I need to get your fever down."
His head slumped into my hand. "You shouldn't," he told me. I could feel his eyelashes sweep against my palm as he blinked. His face was still on fire as my cloth descended to wipe his collarbone.
"Heero, don't be silly," I said, twisting around and dipping the cloth anew. I awkwardly rung it out with one hand and then turned back to him. I held the compress out again, but my supporting hand suddenly failed me and Heero fell against my chest, his heat rocketing through my thin clothes and blasting me so hard I shivered. I felt as his arms snaked around my waist, hugging my body to him as he began to tremble again, his face in my neck. I gulped and continued to wash him down, smoothing the wet cloth over his back. His so very muscled and sculpted back…
Snap out of it, girl, I yelled at myself. Heero wasn't acting very sanely right now, so I shouldn't get my hopes up. Just try to get him better as soon as possible.
"Don't…don't help me," Heero begged firmly, his voice vibrating against my throat.
I dropped the cloth to the bed and took his face in both my hands, pulling his head up even to mine. I wanted to see his eyes--I wanted to see what they were trying to say to me as he continued to stutter.
"You…shouldn't be helping me," he whispered, his face sagging completely into my grasp.
"Why not?" I demanded softly. "You've helped me plenty of times before."
"You…never hurt me, Relena."
I tried to argue. "But you've never really hurt me, Heero--"
"Don't lie to me," he commanded softly, interrupting. "I hurt you all the time, I can see it in your face."
I just stared at him. It was my turn to blink sleepily, slightly befuddled at his small confession.
"This time isn't any different," he admitted. I felt his fingers gouge into the back of my camisole. "I've hurt you once again."
"Stop it," I spat. "I'm going to take care of you whether you like it or not. I'm going to get you better because if it hadn't been for me, you wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. I should have listened to you earlier when you told me not to try the conference again, but I let my stupid stubborn pride get in the way. I couldn't stand to do nothing just because of a little attempt on my life--"
He shook his head, cutting me off, and somewhere in the back of my mind I noted how incredibly cute he looked with pudgy chipmunk cheeks, but I let go of that immediately as he said those words once again.
"It was me."
I resisted the urge to shake him and yell. I just waited as his eyes fell from mine.
"I knew the cup was poisoned."
"Why did you drink it then?"
"Because I deserved it, Relena…it was me."
"What was you?" My patience was running thin and this time, I gave him a gentle rattle.
He shuddered, his hot skin tingling my hands. "I'm the one who shot Pagan."
There was a void in my mind that snapped like a camera shutter, a blink-click in the back of my head and then I couldn't manage to put a sentence together.
"I wanted to drink the poison. I thought it would make up for how much I knew I was going to hurt you, but it looks as if I've just complicated everything even more. I don't want your help," he explained sternly. "I want you to leave me alone."
I located my voice then and it tore from my throat. "Did you purposely shoot Pagan?" I shouted, moving his head in order to look in his eyes again.
He stared at me, his pupils dilated so much that they blocked out most of the ocean blue, and he spoke again. "No. One of the assassins dove into the audience and I miscalculated my shot."
"Well, then, you must be out of your mind, Heero Yuy," I snubbed, turning my nose up at him. "To think that I would just leave you here to rot when you saved my life."
"I'm not listening to a word you say, so you should give it up," I interrupted haughtily. I pushed him away gently and shoved him back into the covers, already missing the feel of his arms around me. "You've got a fever--" he shuddered, leaning back against my pillows--"and you're still shivering--" his arms groped for the sheets as I drew them over him--"and you need more rest. Hopefully you can sleep the drug off." I obliterated any thoughts pertaining to Pagan at the moment and fixed my attention solely on Heero, folding my arms across my chest. He sighed, knowing he'd been defeated, and closed his eyes as I grabbed the compress up and returned it to the pot still full of water. Through our argument, if you could call it that, it seemed as if Heero had gotten better control of his body. I watched him for a few more seconds, his form still under the covers, and then got up to finish changing.
I walked to my dresser, stripped myself of my camisole, and threw the tank top on, not even caring if Heero was watching me. Then I went back to the bed.
"Sing," he murmured sleepily, turning the side of his face into my pillow.
Being me, I wasn't one to turn away an interested person, and so I climbed back into bed with him, dutifully ignored how hot it was, latched onto him again, and began the humming marathon like earlier. This time his hand clenched onto my arm, and held tightly as we settled against each other, both intent on soothing the other.
I know he'd said he'd hurt me, but right now, through all the trials and tribulations we had been through together, I knew it was worth it. And Pagan…he will pull through, I know he will. I just had to wait for the morning to come.
* * *
Well, the sun rose again the next morning, as it always did, and I blinked sleepily out into the light that was wafting in from my half-covered window. I took a deep breath to wake myself and then glanced down at the bed.
Did you ever wish you had some kind of recording device that would just pop out of thin air? At that moment, I wished for nothing more than being able to take a snapshot of our positions in the bed. It was indeed the strangest thing for me. One, because I had never really shared my bed with anyone, and two, because the more I stared down at him, the more I liked where he was.
I was lying on my back with one hand resting on my chest, and next to my hand happened to be Heero's head, snuggled into my neck. Sometime during the night he must've flipped over onto his other side and we reversed roles, he being the one who was clinging to me. His right hand was covering mine, on my chest, and his left hand…had weaseled its way behind my neck. I could feel his chest as it pushed against mine gently, level with his deep breathing, still comfortably slumbering. And he wasn't so warm anymore. It was just perfect, but I don't think he realized anything. Especially when I wormed my hand out from under his and began running it through the back of his hair. I almost felt like he belonged to me, like he was going to be here forever and I could be the one to always take care of him. But that was a fairy tale dream--they only came true in the mind. Although I was milking the situation for all it was worth. He was still dead asleep--what did I care?
My hand fell from his head and hugged him closer, smoothing down his bare back, feeling the ripples of muscle beneath his skin as my right hand came up around him. His temperature felt just about normal, and believe me, I should know. He was sleeping on me, after all, and he didn't seem to be in any sort of distress at the moment. I turned my nose into his hair and inhaled--a deep, sighing breath--and then promptly fell back asleep, my savior nestled against me.
It's weird, isn't it? When he's awake, Heero is this commanding little figure, a cold, stern, rock-hearted person who doesn't take no for an answer and always finds a way, a soldier trained to find what's right and make it so. But asleep, he was just a young boy. A small figure who slept soundly through all his pain and destructive memories, a small figure who unknowingly held another being in his arms and shared his warmth, a small boy who had been willing to give up his life because he tried to do what was right, made a slight mistake, and realized it had caused pain to another. I couldn't rightly say that Heero was unemotional. No way. He comes off as being apathetic, but the feelings have to be inside him, whether he wants them there or not. I guess it was a good thing that when you're asleep you aren't aware of your actions like when you're awake. It allows the true persona to shine through, discarding all hurdles of the day, and another person could see you in a different light, if they had the chance to look.
The shine of the new light beamed down on Heero and me as we slept in, both relieved to find the other better settled with past events as the sun rose into the sky.
I guessed it had to have been a few hours later when Heero stirred, because as soon as he did, I woke up and shook myself quickly awake. For a second I forgot that I was pinned down by Heero and tried to sit up, but then I glanced down at him and flattened back against the sheets, not wanting to uproot him too soon. He wasn't waking up as easily as I was, although his health seemed to have improved from the previous night's hardships.
Heero shook his head and lifted it slightly from my shoulder, his eyes small slits in the light coming from the bedroom window. He blinked carefully and tried to focus on my face.
"Heero?" I asked softly, wanting to wake him gently.
He shook his head again, messy chocolate bangs falling into his eyes, and responded in a throaty voice, thick with recent slumber. "Relena."
I realized that my arms were still tightly wrapped around him and my face heated up. "Feeling better?" I asked, trying to make my touch light on his back.
He took a large breath in and blinked a few more times. "The fever is gone," he replied, speaking smoother this time. His voice was a tiny notch above a whisper.
I nodded. "I think the drug wore off sometime during the night."
I felt his fingers wiggle through the back of my hair inquisitively and tried not to shudder at his touch. He was just now realizing the position we had gotten ourselves into during our time asleep, and he looked directly into my eyes.
"Never again, Relena," he told me. His words pelted me hard in the face, assisted by his solid tone.
I blinked and swallowed, keeping my face neutral. "What do you mean?"
His right hand uncurled on my chest and he pushed himself up with the other. I felt his left hand as it trailed through my hair and smoothed across the back of my neck as he retracted it, sitting up on his knees. He ran a hand through his unkempt locks and shook his head. My right hand fell from his back onto his left thigh, and I innocently left it resting there.
"Heero, what are you talking about?"
He looked away from me and crawled over to the side of the bed, where he sat and flung his legs over towards the floor, leaving me to stare at the muscled back of his that had been taunting me all along. My hand lost its home and fell onto the bed, disappointed.
"I don't want to hurt you anymore."
I looked up to the ceiling and swallowed again. "You mean Pagan."
"You can't blame yourself, Heero," I told him. "I-I'm sorry I yelled at you before about Pagan, but it's really not your fault."
"I shot him."
"When you were trying to protect me," I insisted.
A nod of slight agreement. "Why are you going so easy on me?"
"Why would I go any other way?" I asked him.
I sat up and scooted over to him, over to where he sat somberly on the edge of the bed, his eyes bathing his lap in clouded thought. I slid my arms around him and rested my face on his shoulder, the heat and smell of him rising around me as it had during the night. I was getting too used to it.
"You just have to promise me one thing," I told him, my lips brushing over his hot skin.
He was still, accepting my embrace without any motion to recoil or shove me away. "What's that?"
"You'll come with me to visit Pagan today."
Heero sighed, shooting me a sidelong glance. I ran one hand down his arm and clamped his fingers in mine, and he nodded to the floor. Promise sealed.
* * *
"He's actually been showing signs of major improvement," the doctor told me, holding Pagan's charts in his hand. "I didn't think he would come out of it so soon, but he has. It must be a miracle."
I smiled at the doctor from where I sat next to Pagan's bed. "It's amazing what happens when people strive to live," I reasoned. I looked at Heero, and he stared back with a straight face, leaning against the doorway with his arms folded. "And what they do for others so they can live, too."
The doctor grinned at me and tucked the charts under his arm. "I'll leave you two now to talk with him. He's able to listen, so let him hear your voice, okay?"
I nodded as the doctor left and then took Pagan's hand. "You have to get better," I told him sternly. "My next speech is going to be the best one yet, just you watch, Pagan. And I need you here to ask me if I'm all set." I let out a small, hopeful laugh. "Even if you ask fifty times a day…I need you to."
Heero stood up off the doorway and walked slowly towards us, gradually making his way to stand next to Pagan on the bed. He just looked down at him, as if he were memorizing the roadways on a map. I gave Pagan's hand a gentle squeeze and leaned over.
"Don't be too hard on him," I whispered. "We're all human, and besides, he saved my life. Just hear him out, okay, Pagan?" I smiled at his face, where he slept soundly but not overcome with the effects of a coma anymore. Then I rose and stepped out of the room, pulling the door closed behind me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Heero's stare turn to me as I left. I sat in the hallway and waited for a few minutes, knowing that Heero had something he needed to take care of, something just between himself and Pagan.
Then the door opened and Heero stepped out of the room, shutting it behind him. I couldn't tell from his face if he had really said anything or not, but the way he let me take hold of his hand and walk with him outside the hospital told me that all demons had been buried, at least for now. And now was all that counted.
Heero and I walked down the street together, my hand still clutching his, his hand still holding attentively back. But I wanted to know; had to ask.
I cleared my throat and took a breath. "Heero, how did you know about the men who wanted to kill me? I mean, the first time, when I was up at the podium."
He took his time answering back. "Anonymous tip. They were ex-soldiers who weren't happy with the outcome of the war. The results made them angry and they wanted to take it out on you."
"Because I was the one advocating full peace for everyone."
"Are there going to be more ex-soldiers who will follow the same path?"
Heero shook his head. "No. I was guaranteed that there would be no more people trying to destroy the peace."
"And what such person gave you that promise?" I asked sensibly. "People lie, Heero."
He shook his head again. "As long as I've known this person, he has never lied to me. Despite our rocky background, I trust his judgment. Besides, he's an ex-soldier himself. I know how he works since I've fought against him before."
Was he talking about Milliardo? I didn't know, and didn't want to pry, so I kept my mouth shut and merely nodded. We were silent for a few minutes, just walking hand-in-hand down the street as the leaves fell from the trees and landed softly on the sidewalk. I didn't press the issue because I didn't want to ruin this tiny bond I had established between us over the past few days. If he said it was anonymous and peace was guaranteed, then I guess it was. Heero was tuned into these kinds of things, anyway. Wasn't that what being a soldier was all about?
"Where are you going to go now?" I asked him, breaking the silence. The breeze picked up then and rustled through the trees, sending more leaves on the road.
He glanced sullenly at me. "Pagan's not out of the hospital yet," he informed.
I nodded conversationally.
"You don't want to be alone, do you?"
I shook my head quickly.
Heero paused. "I told you I wasn't going anywhere."
I nodded again, liking the way this was going.
"So right now I'd say we're heading back to your place."
I held his hand tighter and beamed as he looked at me again. "I'd say so, too," I replied, feeling the wind through my hair. Heero nodded in agreement.
Well, wasn't I right? I said Pagan would pull through, and he did, didn't he? And I wasn't letting go of Heero that easily this time…no way. As we continued down the street to my house, my hand never left his the whole way. And he never left me until Pagan got well again and came home.
Perhaps there was some part of Heero that belonged to me…and time would tell me someday just what, exactly, it really was.