Author: CalicOcat
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.
See Part 1 for warnings

'Thinking'
"Speaking"

************ Time passing or scene change
*~*~*~*~*~* Major POV shift

Mission: Marriage + Chapter 18

Waking abruptly, Heero wondered at first what had woken him. After the hectic wedding day, a night that consisted of a long shuttle ride, then the morning filled with emotional revelations followed by an afternoon of making love, he would have expected to sleep straight through the night. 'Oh shit,' he remembered suddenly, 'that's why I woke up. Wonder if it's too late...' A quick glance at the clock showed that it was not yet midnight. 'Good. There's still time.'

Leaving Duo asleep, he dressed before quickly gathering blankets and pillows. Adding a picnic basket equipped with bottled water, fruit, and other snacks, he nodded in satisfaction. Everything was ready. Returning upstairs, he leaned over and kissed Duo softly on the cheek, pressing a series of small kisses across his face until reaching his mouth. Duo's arms came up around Heero's neck as he woke and responded to the kiss.

"Mmm, what a lovely way to wake up," Duo murmured, slowly opening his eyes. Puzzled, he asked, "What time is it? It feels like I've only been asleep a few hours."

"You have," admitted Heero. "It's almost midnight. I hated to wake you, but I didn't think you'd want to miss this."

"Miss what?" Muttering grumpily under his breath, Duo dragged on the clothes that Heero handed him.

"You'll see. Come on."

Leading his grumbling spouse downstairs, Heero handed him the blankets and pillows. Taking the picnic basket himself along with a red-lensed flashlight, he guided Duo out the backdoor, down a narrow but well-maintained pathway, and onto a smooth strip of beach. The red glow from the flashlight was the only visible light other than the stars twinkling brightly above. Not even the moon brightened the night. The island they were on was sufficiently isolated that there was no urban light pollution to dim the stars and the small town on its far side did not have enough lights to be a problem. Motioning towards the sky, Heero said simply, "They're supposed to peak around 0200, though there should be quite a show still for the next couple of nights."

Following Heero's motion, Duo saw a faint streak shoot across the sky. Suddenly, it all became clear. "The Perseid meteor shower!" he exclaimed in delight. "I haven't been on Earth at the right time since during the war... So that's why you picked this particular place of Quat's. Perfect viewing conditions..."

Heero hastily set down the picnic basket as he suddenly had an armful of happy spouse to hold onto instead.

"Thank you, Heero! This is absolutely perfect!"

************

Making his way back through the crowded spaceport, Duo was careful not to spill the fresh fruit drinks he carried. Ahead of him, he could see Heero already seated at a small table, the sandwiches he had gone to get sitting on the table in front of him. As he neared the table, Duo saw Heero reach up and touch the spot where the cross rested below his shirt, a small smile tugging at his lips as he touched it. 'I think he touches that thing more times in a day than I ever did, and that's really sayin' something. God, I'm glad I didn't take it back when he tried to return it. Tellin' him it was on permanent loan got me one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen from anybody, let alone Heero.' "Hey there, husband-mine, I got our drinks, anything else you want?"

"No, that's it. The shuttle should be here for us in another hour so if we want anything else, we can have it onboard." Raising an eyebrow at the sight of the two fruit drinks, Heero asked, "What, couldn't find any sodas?"

Sticking his tongue out at Heero, Duo answered, "Yes, I could, but I already *had* two today and you have a conniption if I have more than that. So - a nice, healthy fruit drink instead. Happy now?"

Heero smirked slightly as he responded, "Ecstatic."

'I know. And that's why I got it,' Duo thought as he picked up his sandwich. 'Just like I'm sittin' here eatin' a nice, healthy sandwich instead of the greasy fried food I woulda rather had. I can't completely make up for three years of bein' an idiot, Heero-love, but I sure as hell am gonna try. If me eatin' healthy and wearin' riding helmets makes you happy, then I'm gonna be eatin' healthy and wearin' riding helmets. And doin' whatever else it takes to make sure that Apache blessing, "May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth" comes true for both of us.'

************

Lying back in his reclined seat with Duo curled up beside and half on top of him, Heero thought about how very different things were now than when they were in this same position during the shuttle trip at the beginning of the week. 'Then, I only hoped he had come to care for me as more than a friend. Now, I know he loves me. If I'd had any lingering doubts, they'd be gone after that meal at the shuttleport!' he thought, directing an amused glance down at his softly snoring spouse. 'Fruit drinks and sandwiches? I saw the longing look you gave that fast food place, Duo-love. I'll have to make sure to take you out for pizza or something soon - I certainly don't expect you to give up all your favourites entirely! I just want to make sure that you're around to grow old and gray alongside me...'

************

As Duo and Heero exited the shuttle, Quatre twisted his hands together anxiously. Other than a quick call to confirm that the restraining orders had been served, no one had heard from either of them all week.

"Stop worrying," Trowa scolded, catching Quatre's hands in his own and stilling their fidgeting. "If anything had gone wrong, they'd have called." As Duo bounded towards their group, he noticed something. Shifting his gaze sharply over to Heero, he gave a small smile before telling Quatre, "Take a good look at Duo, then Heero. Notice something out of place?"

"Out of place?" Looking quickly from one to the other, Quatre said, "No, I don't. What is it? What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong, you worrywart. Something's right. Something is very right." Seeing that Quatre still didn't get it, Trowa sighed, then asked him, "Where's Duo's cross?" Even when Duo wore the cross underneath his shirt, you could always see the small lump it made in the fabric.

"He's not wearing it?! But..." Suddenly, Quatre realized what Trowa was getting at, and quickly glanced over at Heero. "Oh my..." he breathed softly. "Heero is wearing it... You're right, something is very right..."

*~*~*~*~*~*

"Looks like we've got a regular welcoming committee waitin' for us," Duo observed as he and Heero exited the shuttle at the L4 spaceport. "Hey, Zechs and Lu are with them!" 'And I owe Lu a big "Thank You" for that book disk!'

Bounding over to the waiting group, Duo flung his arms around a very startled Lucrezia in an enthusiastic hug. "Thank you!" he exclaimed, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Uh, you're welcome? I think?" she answered as Duo backed away. "What exactly are you thanking me for?"

Pulling a data disk out of his pocket, Duo waved it at her. "The Complete Collection of the Best of Three Centuries of Harlequin Romance Best Friends Make the Best Spouses Novels," he proclaimed dramatically, "remember?"

"Then Heero..."

"Yep, told me everything." Duo nodded emphatically before turning to Heero and encircling his waist in a hug. "Everybody's always callin' me a baka," he shrugged ruefully, "and I've gotta admit that this time I really deserve it."

************

Waking slowly, Heero checked the clock. Seeing that it was still quite early, he lay watching Duo sleep. Today was their first day back to work. Both of them would be reporting to Une for the morning to plan out the new sabotage and demolitions training course that they would team-teach. In the afternoon, Duo would show him around the WEI "idea" labs and then Trowa would show him the existing computer security measures. The plan was for him to use his initial time in the "idea" labs to upgrade WEI's computer security, then see where things went from there. 'So much has changed in only a month. I had high hopes going into this, but the reality is even better than I could have imagined.'

For one thing, he hadn't expected Dorothy Catalonia to join WEI, splitting her time between public relations and charity fund raising. All of her political knowledge was going to come in handy for both departments. And if Une occasionally called Dorothy in to help handle the Preventers' budget proposals, Quatre certainly wouldn't object to the drain on her time since he would probably be helping with the same thing.

Wufei was back on the move again, acting as a travelling troubleshooter for the Preventers, but now he was permanently based out of L4. He had enjoyed his time together with the others enough that he wanted to be able to see them more frequently. Zechs and Lu would be leaving for Mars again in a few days, unfortunately, but their organizational skills and command experience were being put to good use at the Mars Project.

As Duo stirred to wakefulness, opening those beautiful violet eyes and giving him a sleepy smile, Heero decided that, all in all, things were looking very good indeed.

"Mornin', husband-mine."

"Good morning, love."

Oh, there would probably be struggles over the Preventers' budget - for an avowed pacifist, Relena sure carried a mean grudge - and other problems still unforeseen, but together, he and Duo, and the rest of the former Gundam pilots, along with their assorted former allies and enemies, could handle whatever came their way.

OWARI

+

A few additional Author's Notes in closing:

Harlequin Romances (Mills & Boone to those outside of North America) and the "Best Friends Get Married" plot lines:

For those of you who aren't familiar with typical Harlequin plots, the whole "best friends get married to: (a) save business, (b) get custody of children of deceased friends/siblings, (c) protect inheritance, (d) avoid fortune hunters, (e) avoid matchmakers, (f) make dying parent/grandparent happy, (g) avoid pushy/nutty wanna-be boy/girlfriend" is pretty common. Oh yeah, there's one other reason, but I'm not a big preggie-Gboy fan, so I don't think "(h) have heir or just have kid because of biological clock ticking" is too useful. The whole seductive clothing/behaviour/innuendoes bit frequently makes an appearance, as does the nutty alternative fiancÚ(e) (yes, there *are* some very, *very* nearly as bad as Relena is in my fic - scary, isn't it?). Sometimes one friend is in love ahead of time, sometimes both are and just think it's one-sided, sometimes they fall in love somewhere along the way. And I *have* actually seen *several* Harlequins with Mission: Marriage or some permutation thereof as the title. Somehow this all came together in my admittedly wild imagination and well - "Mission: Marriage", all 18 parts of it, was the result.

The Rings:

For information on gemstones (organized by colour, by birthday, by meaning, etc., as well as an image library for pictures of the various stones - including star sapphires), visit the website of the International Colored Gemstone Association at http://www.gemstone.org/index_gemsite.html - a really great site!

For pics of lots of star sapphires, take a look at http://www.multicolour.com/gemstones/star_sapphire.html which lets you search their stock for star sapphires in specific colours.

For some general info on eternity rings, take a look at http://www.24carat.co.uk/eternityringstory.html and http://www.24carat.co.uk/eternityrings.html (the second page shows a stack of eternity rings made with alternating coloured gems and diamonds). I couldn't find a good pic online of a plaited eternity ring nor one of a star sapphire eternity ring, though various jeweller's sites mention both.

The Wedding Ceremony:

I used several resources to put this together. Most of the ceremony (the overall structure and the general wording used) came from the "sample" ceremony at http://www.celebrityweddingsonline.com/ - very helpful! The actual vows are modified from standard Civil Ceremony vows and the blessing is an Apache Wedding Blessing (both were pulled from http://wedding6.weddingchannel.com/pg/pl_cer.asp which also provided sample structures for the parts and order of the ceremony. (Yes, I can be positively anal about details.)

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