It Must Have Been the Mistletoe + Part 2 (cont)

+

"They spent most of the afternoon playing what? " Iria asked Rashid in disbelief.

"Mistletoe tag," he repeated patiently, grinning at the memory. "Obviously the type of kiss varies depending who you catch, but apparently they were all enjoying themselves considerably judging by the noise level. You wanted them all to act like the teenagers they never got to be for a while - well, I would say that they were following orders this afternoon."

"Mistletoe tag," she murmured thoughtfully, "I don't think there is such a game..."

"There is now," Rashid advised her. "The rules are very simple. You can't 'tag' the same person who tagged you, the person has to be underneath a stationary bit of mistletoe - no carrying mistletoe around with you, in other words - and you have to give someone a kiss in order to 'tag' them. Oh, and the staff are not part of the game, or we'd never have got anything done this afternoon." Sobering, he told Iria, "They are all doing much better already. Maria and Antoine have been keeping them well-fed and sleeping in one room has reduced the nightmares down to manageable levels for the pilots, though they are certainly not entirely gone. I don't know what the young men will do when the month is over and they are alone again, however."

"We'll deal with that when the time comes," Iria said, sincerely hoping that things would work out so that it would not be an issue for at least her baby brother and his best friend by then. If all went well, Trowa would be staying with Quatre when this was all over with. Rashid's daily reports seemed to indicate that Heero and Duo might finally be working things out too. Chang Wufei, however... Well, five colonies, five Gundams, five pilots - there was only so much she could do given the odd numbers she had to work with. With Dorothy and Relena already paired up, that left only Zechs, and he and Wufei simply did not get along.

+

Eyes widening in shock, Duo stared in disbelief for several long moments before quietly backing out of the room. Apparently Zechs had finally found a way to stop Wufei in mid-rant. And surprisingly enough, Wufei didn't seem to be objecting... Duo knew that they'd managed to 'tag' each other several times during the game of Mistletoe Tag earlier that week, but he'd never imagined... Shaking his head in disbelief, he headed off to try another room. So far, he'd run into Relena and Dorothy making out in the sunroom, Quatre and Trowa 'practising' (though it looked an awful lot like making out to him) in the music room, and now Wufei and Zechs caught up in a rather heated-looking kiss in the games room, pool cues forgotten on the table behind them. Whether it was the Mistletoe Tag or just the mistletoe itself, he didn't know, but it seemed to be spreading.

Remembering the Mistletoe Tag was enough to bring a faint trace of a smile to Duo's mouth. He'd never expected Heero to tease him like that, and when he'd impulsively 'tagged' Relena after running into her, he'd never expected to turn the afternoon into one full of laughter, mischievous ambushes, increasingly silly kisses from friends (Trowa had handed him a chocolate kiss at one point and Zechs had gallantly kissed his hand with a bow and a flourish like a character in a historical movie at another), and increasingly teasing and finally outright hot kisses from Heero. He was almost ready to believe that Heero really was finally interested in taking their relationship to the next level, moving from friends to lovers and maybe even more. 'I'd almost given up. The first year wasn't too bad, the second got pretty lonely, the third was just plain miserable, and by partway through the fourth, I finally decided I'd have to take a chance and give him a bit of a nudge. When the fifth year rolled around... I don't even wanna think about it... Maybe my notes really were too subtle a hint for him to pick up on and he didn't mean to indicate that he just wasn't interested anymore... A year of leaving increasingly frequent notes on his desk with only a handful of actual get-togethers to show for it is kinda hard to just forget about, though...'

Finally locating Heero watching a movie in the lounge, Duo said, "Hey, 'Ro. Whatcha watchin'?" Somewhat cautiously, he waited for an indication of welcome before moving any further into the room. Heero didn't waste any time giving him one, rising and striding across the room to pull him into a deep kiss. "Mmm, nice..." Duo sighed as they drew apart again. "What's with all the kisses lately?" he asked as Heero tugged him towards the couch.

"Blame it on the mistletoe," Heero suggested, snickering. "There's certainly enough of it to take the blame..."

Glancing back at where he had been standing, Duo pointed out, "But there wasn't any over there..."

"That's why we moved over here," Heero told him, pointing at the large ball of the stuff hanging directly over the couch. "I think my boring movie just got a lot more interesting," he whispered in Duo's ear, the tickle of his breath sending shivers of anticipation through Duo.

"Good," Duo whispered back, "'cause I'd hate to see you gettin' bored on your vacation." As he willingly responded to Heero's next kiss, Duo let a little bit more hope creep in. Maybe it wasn't too late. Maybe they hadn't missed their chance at happiness.

+

Firelight glinted off mingled strands of golden brown and platinum blonde. Her head tucked against Dorothy's shoulder, Relena said softly, "I don't want to pretend you're just my press secretary anymore, Doro. We've long since passed the point where either of us was likely to change our minds about this. I'm not ashamed of what we have together and I don't care what anyone else thinks."

"It could cost you your political career," Dorothy warned, reluctant to discourage something she wanted too but too loyal to Relena's best interests to let her ignore the facts.

"I don't care. The most important laws have already been pushed through and it would take years and years of challenges to get them repealed. Same with the existence of the Preventers - they can't be dissolved without a majority vote from each colony's government and each regional Earth government plus the United Earth Sphere government. I've done nothing but work for peace since before I was sixteen. I think I'm entitled to have my own life while I'm still young enough to enjoy it."

"What about your mother?" Dorothy asked softly, hesitant to bring up a sore subject but well aware that it had to be faced.

Straightening away from Dorothy, Relena stared into the fire, hands clenching into fists and face hardening grimly. "She requested that I call her Mrs Darlian, remember? She made her feelings on the subject of you and I perfectly clear when she caught us together the last time she visited." Forcing her hands flat again, Relena said more calmly, "She's made her choice. Her own petty prejudices have condemned her to a lonely life. If she ever changes her mind and apologizes to both of us, I'll welcome her back with open arms. Otherwise - well, the only other people either of us actually care about have already made their acceptance clear. My brother may not want to hear about my 'sex life', but he's made it perfectly clear to me that if you make me happy, that's all that matters to him. The pilots accept us, and I've never heard so much as an implied criticism from Une or Sally. They're all the family that we'll ever need."

Shifting so that she was the one leaning against Relena this time, Dorothy observed casually, "You know, the media would be far more tolerant of a legally-recognized relationship than an unofficial one."

"If that's supposed to be a proposal, my dear Miss Catalonia, it's the most unromantic one I think I've ever heard," Relena commented drily. "But a very small, very private Christmas Eve wedding, complete with horse-drawn sleigh, would be rather nice."

"Christmas Eve?" Dorothy quickly counted off the days on her fingers to make sure there was enough time to handle the legalities. "I'll have to see what can be arranged."

"You do that," Relena answered, lifting her companion's face to brush a kiss across her lips. "You just go right ahead and do that."

+

"Hey, Heero, you in here?" Duo called, peeking around the corner of the library door. "If you're busy already, it's okay, but I kinda had somethin' I'd like some help with if you're not..." he said hesitantly as Heero set his book aside.

"No, I'm just killing some time," Heero answered, extending one hand in silent invitation.

Duo promptly joined him on the couch, curling against Heero's side in what was becoming an increasingly familiar manner. "There's still no snow in the forecast, but it's s'posed to stay well below freezing right through Christmas, so I was wonderin' if we could try something I read about one time. Iria's got us all scheduled to go ice skating in a few days, but I'm not lookin' forward to tryin' that for the first time in public. There was a book I read that talked about buildin' a frame out of wood, linin' it with plastic, then coverin' the plastic-lined bottom with water. Once the water freezes, you add more, and keep repeatin' the process till you've got a good few inches deep of ice. Voila, a private skating rink! The lawn's pretty level at the end of the house that's protected from the prevailing winds..."

Intrigued by the idea - as well as grateful to have Duo showing enough confidence in him to ask him to take part in an activity together for once instead of the other way around - Heero asked, "Have you spoken to Rashid yet? We'll probably have to go to town to get some supplies to build it with, but he'll be able to tell us whether there's anything here that we can use or not..."

"Then you'll help?" Duo asked, amethyst eyes sparkling with delight.

Firmly quashing the desire to cheer at finally seeing something approaching Duo's old joy in life displayed on that expressive face, Heero said, "Of course! It sounds interesting to try even if it doesn't work perfectly. And I'm not too thrilled about learning to skate in public either."

Stopping in the midst of tugging Heero to his feet, Duo exclaimed, "Oh shit! I wonder if any of us know how to skate?! And I guess we'll kinda have to have skates, won't we?"

"Bet Iria never even thought of that," Heero smirked. "Guess we have a number of things to pick up in town..."

+

Duo was delighted to discover that the private skating rink trick actually worked quite well. The lack of snow meant that they didn't even have to worry about clearing the ice prior to re-flooding it, and they had ended up with a reasonably smooth, even ice surface. In the end, it had turned out that Relena, Dorothy, and Zechs could all skate quite well. Quatre was passable and Trowa - well, to someone used to walking tightropes, picking up ice skating was a breeze. Duo had roller-bladed with borrowed equipment a few times at schools back during the war and, after a few false starts, found that the skills transferred over reasonably well. With the benefit of his martial arts training to help with balance, Heero had picked up the knack extremely quickly as well. Which made Wufei's apparent difficulty and tendency to cling to Zechs for support decidedly suspicious.

"How much longer till they admit what's going on?" Quatre asked Duo, shaking his head in disbelief as Wufei 'tripped' and fell into Zechs's arms yet again.

"Don't ask me, I find the whole idea of those two together so incredibly bizarre that I don't even wanna think about it."

"How are things going for you and Heero?" Quatre asked, checking first to be sure that Heero was still concentrating on the quick lesson in stopping safely that Relena was giving him.

Duo hesitated, almost afraid to put his hopes into words for fear of jinxing them. "Okay, I guess," he admitted, "but I'm tryin' not to get my hopes up too high. We're about back to the point we were at five years ago." His very real fear that, having reached that point, Heero would back off again was left unspoken. Quatre had enough worries about his own slowly deepening relationship with Trowa without taking on Duo's as well.

"How 'bout you, Q? Tro comin' along nicely?"

Quatre gave Duo a beautiful smile, "Oh yes. Which reminds me, I think that pretty soon we're going to have to work out some sort of schedule for the shared sleeping quarters so we don't all desert Wufei at once."

"Uh - yeah, I guess so," Duo responded. He wasn't too sure that would be necessary too quickly. Heero hadn't really even hinted at taking things that far yet and he was too afraid of ruining what they had now to bring the subject up himself. This was beginning to remind him ominously of the days leading up to Heero's "request" five years ago. 'If he decides to back off again, I don't know what I'll do. If I give him an ultimatum, I might lose him for good. But if he doesn't follow through this time, I don't know if I can stand to go back to bein' alone again for another five years...'

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