Author: Calic0cat
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Fragments + Chapter 39

When Heero cut in on my dance with Sally, I expected him to invite *her* to dance, not me. I was delighted to find out that I was wrong. Dancing the evening away in his arms - dancing smoothly and seamlessly - brought sharply home to me the fact that we really *had* managed to achieve the relationship that we'd pretended to have during that disastrously fucked-up mission. Or at least, we'd achieved *most* of it. And of what little of our goal remained to be reached, the actual marriage would be accomplished with our own wedding, now just a few short months away.

Wufei and Sally were leaving for a two-week honeymoon and once they returned, preparations for our part in the Mattis trial would kick into high gear. The Preventers' legal team had things well in hand but there would be a number of last-minute details to take care of. There always were when cases finally headed into court. The case itself was expected to last several weeks; we'd allowed a couple of extra, both in case of unexpected delays and to give us time to hand over any open investigations to other agents. There weren't a lot of those currently on our desks anyway; the Mattis trial was expected to take over most of our time in the coming weeks and very few new cases had been assigned to us.

As the music changed and Heero merely pulled me closer and kept dancing, I deliberately pushed all thought of the next few months away from me. There would be time enough to deal with the trial and other Preventer business in the days ahead. Tonight, I was simply going to enjoy the moment.

***

Heero took my hand in his as we followed the restaurant's hostess. She was leading us to the private room where the "victory party" for the whole team of Preventers involved in the Mattis case was being held. I squeezed Heero's hand and gave him a contented smile. He'd come a long, long way over the months since the investigation into Mattis started. And in all honesty, I had as well. He had learned to be more open with me; I had learned to trust his feelings for me and to be realistic in my expectations. To accept the differences between us. Our relationship had strengthened and deepened to the point where it was even better than I'd dared to hope it could become. And now that Mattis was safely behind bars along with a large number of his cronies and we could afford to take time off, we were going to take the next step.

Marriage.

In just over two weeks, we would be getting married. The ceremony would be very simple and informal. Nothing more than an exchange of vows and rings, witnessed by our closest friends. Wufei, Sally, Quatre, and Trowa. The only other person present would be the justice of the peace responsible for the legal end of things. There would be no real "wedding party", though Sally and Wufei would hold the rings for us until the moment that they were needed. Fei would stand beside me, Sally with Heero. He had chosen to ask Sally since, other than Fei and me, she was the only person who was really very close to him. With Quatre and Trowa both living in the colonies and the rest of us here on Earth, Heero hadn't really gotten much closer to them as of yet. He *did* consider them friends - but not nearly as close as those of us who were working together on a regular basis.

Working *and* socializing; Fei and Sally had double-dated with Heero and myself a number of times and we often had lunch as a group. Sally had even had Heero give her away at their wedding since she didn't have any close family to perform the task. So it made sense that she was the one person that he'd been comfortable asking to stand up with him at our own wedding.

Although Quatre had been disappointed by our refusal to let him arrange a big, fancy wedding for us, our agreement to let him arrange our honeymoon as our wedding present had made up for it. We'd specified the duration - the full month that Commander Une had given us - and a few general requirements for location. For one thing, absolutely *no* resort hotels were to be considered; we wanted complete privacy. And we wanted it to be on Earth.

Neither requirement was a problem for Quatre; the Winner family owned property all over the damn Earth Sphere that sat empty virtually all year. He'd promised us that we'd *love* the "quaint little mountain cabin" that he'd picked out for us. If it had been anyone other than Quatre talking, I'd have been decidedly nervous about that description; "quaint" was generally one step up from "dilapidated to the point of collapse" in real estate terms. But somehow I didn't think that would be the case when it was a Winner property being described.

Heero kept hold of my hand as we moved through the small crowd of assorted Preventers' staff, ranging from other field agents to lawyers to secretaries. He released our handclasp briefly when people wanted to shake hands but resumed it again each time. He made no secret of our relationship, not even when the attention that it drew bothered him as it sometimes did. I'd told him repeatedly that it really was okay if he wanted to be a bit less obvious; I was secure enough in his love and commitment by now that I wouldn't get upset. But he was determined to overcome his discomfort so he persisted.

Wait staff circulated through the room handing out glasses of champagne as Une made a little speech about how hard everyone had worked for the victory over Mattis's organization and how we should all be proud that we'd played a role in removing another potential threat to peace. I took a glass reluctantly, as did Heero. I hated the damn stuff, it tasted like carbonated vinegar at best. But we were all stuck with drinking at least a few sips. It was a given that Une would propose a toast at the end of her speech; a speech that bore a definite similarity to countless others she'd given over the years since the war's end.

Sometimes, the fact that her speeches - or rather, the problems that prompted them - continued to occur was very discouraging. Human nature as a whole didn't change, unfortunately.

I was just grateful that *some* people *did* change. And for the better.

As Une called for the toast and we raised our glasses, I caught Heero's eye for a moment. Impulsively, I smiled at him and his mouth twitched into a slight smile in return, his gaze turning soft and warm as it met mine.

Oh yes, he'd changed. And very, *very* definitely for the better...

***

"Only a Winner would call this place a 'quaint little cabin'," I muttered under my breath. I snickered as I carried the suitcases upstairs to find the "loft bedroom" that had been mentioned.

It wasn't hard to find. The entire second floor *was* the bedroom and its accompanying bathroom. My grin got a little broader at the sight of the king-size bed and I fought not to break out into laughter. Obviously Q had given rather specific instructions to the caretaker. I seriously doubted that white silk sheets strewn with roses - *dethorned* roses, thank god - and rose petals were the normal way this place was decked out. I shook my head in disbelief, unsure whether I necessarily *appreciated* this particular gesture. It was a little - over the top?

Not quite our style at any rate.

'Not that I'm about to *complain* about a few dozen roses...' "Especially considering the *other* little touches..." I murmured, crossing to the bedside table. I lifted the bottle out of its chilling bucket and grinned. At least Q had taken our tastes into consideration a little better with *this*. A nice relaxing glass of wine was *far* nicer than the bubbly bilgewater more commonly known as champagne.

Curiously, I lifted the lid of the basket sitting beside the bucket. And promptly felt my face becoming very warm. "Shit Q, we *did* come prepared ourselves. Just 'cause we chose to wait till the honeymoon, that doesn't mean we have no clue what we're doing," I muttered, hastily closing the basket. I decided that I'd done enough investigating for the moment. I wasn't too sure what other little surprises might be waiting but I figured that I'd discovered my share. I'd let Heero find whatever else was lurking around here to embarrass us with Q's idea of the necessities for a honeymoon.

I sank down on the edge of the bed to wait, my thoughts drifting back over the past months. Over their high spots and their low ones. We'd had our share of setbacks getting to this point. And they definitely hadn't all been Heero's fault either, though he'd certainly blamed himself for them. I'd been so hyper-sensitive to the slightest bit of perceived coolness from him that I'd turned him into a nervous wreck for a while. Even after I'd stopped overreacting, he'd been absolutely paranoid about upsetting me. It had taken time for things to really settle down between us. We'd had our ups and downs like any other couple but we'd built a solid, stable relationship, one capable of handling a few rough spots along the way.

I heard the outside door open and close. "Duo?"

"I'm upstairs in the bedroom, Heero!" I called. "Join me?" Quick, light steps sounded on the staircase in response to my words, bringing a grin to my face. A slightly *nervous* grin despite the fact that we'd both been looking forward to this. I was admittedly a bit anxious that things wouldn't quite live up to expectations after we'd been anticipating this for so long. Waiting had been a mutual agreement and it had seemed like a really good way to start our marriage at the time we'd decided it - but now I was wondering whether we'd built this up so damn far out of proportion that it couldn't help but be a disappointment.

I stood and crossed the room to meet Heero, half-tempted to try and talk him into going back downstairs and doing something else after all. "Got the car put safely away?" I asked.

"Mm-hmm..." he murmured, pulling me into his arms. The moment our lips met, all thoughts of delaying things any further deserted me. I responded to the kiss eagerly, not even noticing that we were walking as we kissed. It was only when the back of my legs hit the bed that I realized we'd crossed the room.

Heero broke off the kiss as his fingers set to work on my shirt's buttons. He smiled at me - that beautiful, genuine smile that I'd first seen on the face of "Odin" months ago - and quite deliberately echoed what I'd told him that day we'd finally talked things out. "I love you. Suki da. Ai shiteru. Take your pick; they all apply."

I smiled back, rejoicing in the fact that, at least when it was just the two of us alone together, Heero *could* show his emotions so clearly now. As my own hands moved to dispose of *his* clothing, I grinned mischievously and murmured simply, "Ditto." Heero laughed and kissed me again. After that, our mouths were far too busy for talking.

And I really shouldn't have worried about our first time together being a disappointment.

It wasn't.

All the pieces, all the fragments, of our crazy, fucked-up lives came together. And we were both finally whole...

end

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