Author: Marasmine
Pairing: 1xR, 1+2
Rating: PG
A/N: I captured one of Dacia's wild plot bunnies. The tattoo said number seven. After inflicting mild torture and tie-dying it purple to match Duo's eyes, I released it back to the wild. The dye was vegetable based and will wear off soon!

I don't own them, they belong to their creators and the current owners of Gundam Wing.

Relena pov throughout.

Poisoned Heart

Have you ever wondered what happens when the fairy story ends? It always starts 'Once upon a time...' and it finishes with 'And they lived happily ever after.' Cinderella married Prince Charming, Snow White married Prince Whatever-his-name-was and they all lived happily ever after. The villains were dead or banished and all was sweetness and light forever after. I loved those stories when I was a child. I hate them now. You think I am being arrogant comparing my life to a fairy tale? I don't. I have to live it. Everyday I have to get up and put on the smile and pretend that I am living happily ever after. The entire Earth Sphere media circus expects it of me, demands it of me. I could do it in my sleep. I think maybe I am. But this isn't a peaceful sleep, this is a nightmare that I can never wake up from. I chose this fairy tale theme so let's continue with it.

Once upon a time, not so many years ago, a gently reared (and exceedingly spoiled) young girl found a boy washed up on the shore. He was handsome and she thought it was the most romantic meeting ever. She reached out to touch his face to try and wake him. It never occurred to her that he might be dead, drowned in the ocean that still lapped at his feet. He woke up and he ran away. The young girl thought he was even more handsome when he was awake. She dreamed of his deep blue eyes. She longed to smooth his tousled brown hair, imagining it feeling like silk under her fingers. She was devastated that she didn't know his name and hadn't told him hers.

She completely ignored the fact that he wanted to kill her when he woke; that he seriously injured two paramedics getting away from her; that he stole the ambulance that she had called to rescue him. She was a little upset that she couldn't travel in the back of the ambulance with him; holding his hand all the way to the hospital; that she didn't have the chance to visit him there or sit at his bedside during his long recovery from his mysterious ailment. But she was only a little upset about missing out on all those romantic things. She was certain she would see him again. How could it be otherwise when he had been washed up at her feet?

And she did see him again. He was a new pupil at her school. His name was Heero Yuy, just like the assassinated colony leader. She decided that he had to share her belief in total pacifism with a name like that. They were meant to be together. She was heartbroken when she handed him the precious invitation to her birthday party and he just glared at her and tore it up without even opening it. But she forgave him. She found him down near the sea again. He wasn't on the beach, he was on a jetty. She tried to talk with him again but he pulled a gun and was going to shoot her. Another boy appeared and shot her Heero. She threw herself in front of him, willing to take the next bullet for him, to give her life for the one she was fated to be with.

Sound like a fairy tale yet? Or just teenage melodrama? I was fifteen (all but a few days), aren't I allowed a little teenage melodrama? I cringe when I think about that first meeting, those few days when he and I were in the same place at the same time. It was only after he was going to shoot me that I realised he was a Gundam pilot and so was my rescuer. That was my first meeting with Duo too. And I hated him for hurting my Heero. A lot has changed in the years since then but I still hate Duo. I don't even know him, but I hate him.

Instead of screaming for help when I realised I was alone with two teenage terrorists, I helped them. What could be more romantic and fitting than my Heero being a freedom fighter struggling against overwhelming odds? Stupid. So, so stupid. And later he pointed that out in no uncertain terms. Anyway, then I was on their side. I didn't really understand what that meant but I knew my father was concerned about the unfair treatment the colonies got and was trying to change things through slow, legal government channels. So I had to support others who were trying to do the same thing more quickly, didn't I?

They left and I spent my time mooning about wondering where Heero was and what he was doing. I didn't know which Gundam was his. So I could pretend that the reports weren't about him; that he wasn't the one killing people. My father was assassinated and then I found out he wasn't my father and my mother wasn't my mother. I was the only survivor of the Peacecraft family, the hereditary rulers of the Sanq Kingdom. I really was a Princess. Sounding more like a fairy tale again? And of course I wasn't the only survivor, my brother Milliardo had also survived. He was using an assumed name, Zechs Merquise, and he was in the military. I became Queen of the World and Milliardo became the leader of the White Fang, pledged to destroy the Earth. And Heero was determined to stop him. We spent a few short hours together during the war and I wasn't rational during any of them, not completely. I was in love and I was sure my love was returned. And then the war was over and Heero had saved the world ­ almost literally. I was picturing 'happy ever after' and Heero disappeared. They all did. All the Gundam pilots ducked swiftly out of the lime light. Quatre Winner didn't stay out of it for long but even he went missing for a while.

I didn't have the choice of going missing. I was the poster girl of pacifism. I was paraded around. I gave interviews and impassioned speeches. And I didn't realise what was going on behind me. And then we had another war. The Gundams returned. Heero came back to save me and humanity as well. And this time he didn't vanish as soon as the fighting was over. He joined Preventers. He was even more handsome in a uniform. The press pushed us together and we got to know one another. I found out that I didn't love Heero at all. I didn't know Heero at all. I had been in love with my idea of Heero for over a year. I wasn't happy to find out that my Heero and the real Heero weren't the same person. But we couldn't just stop seeing each other, the press would have had a field day. So he continued to escort me to official functions, to be my unofficial bodyguard. And slowly I realised that the real Heero was a much better person than my fantasy Heero had ever been. And I slowly fell in love for real and Heero fell in love with me. We were married on my twenty-first birthday. Heero joked in his speech that it meant that he only had one special date to remember. And so there it was, the perfect end to the fairy tale. We should have lived happily ever after, shouldn't we?

But we didn't, we aren't. We are living but I don't think anyone is happy about it. I know I'm not. I know Heero isn't. I can see it in his eyes. I love him, I love him so much I can't let him go. And he loves me. He loves me just as much as he did the day we married. And that is the recipe for happy ever after for the Princess and her Prince, isn't it? I suppose it might be if one of them didn't love someone else more. I would be happy if Heero didn't love someone else more than he loves me. If he didn't love another man more than he loves me. That is one of those questions I torment myself with ­ would it be easier to live with if he was in love with another woman? I can't answer that. I hope I can never answer that.

Oh, he hasn't told me he is in love with someone else. But I can see it. All those little things that I thought meant love when I was a teenager and convinced myself were just fantasy later... I can see all those little things in him now. I never saw them in him before. I even know when it happened. Almost to the day. Although it took me some time after to actually notice what I was seeing. And even longer to accept what I noticed. Well as much as I can accept it. There are days when I wish he, the one who has stolen Heero's heart, would die. There are days when I want to take one of Heero's guns and go and shoot him. Some pacifist I am! But I know it isn't really his fault either. I don't think he chose to fall in love with Heero anymore than Heero chose to fall in love with him. In fact he did his best to avoid it. But that is getting ahead of the story.

Heero and I got married. We had the biggest wedding ever staged. With the most controversial cast ever. The Queen of the World was given away by the leader of the terrorists who nearly destroyed life on the planet. Milliardo came back from Mars for the occasion. The Saviour of the World was attended by the other four Gundam pilots and his best friend was best man. Duo was older but he still acted the same and I still didn't like him. Maybe it was just that he was Heero's best friend and I was jealous, or maybe not. The groom invited a few select people that he trusted, including his boss who had led the forces he fought against in the first war. The bride invited the entire government and hordes of people that she didn't even like, and every media representative who could fit into the city. Her maid of honour had nearly killed Quatre Winner only a few years before the wedding. Security was a nightmare. We had the fairy tale wedding in Sanq and an equally fairy tale honeymoon on a private tropical island. It was only a short honeymoon, we both agreed that we couldn't be away from our respective jobs for too long. So we went home and back to work. We argued from time to time, but nothing too serious. Sometimes my job took me away for days or even weeks; and sometimes his job took him away. But we both enjoyed the reunions. We talked most days while we were apart. I could call him every day when I was away. It wasn't always as simple for him when he was away on a case. But I understood that. I knew he would call if it was at all possible. Every call ended with 'I love you' they still do. Then that used to make me feel good, now it makes me want to cry or scream.

We had a couple of good years like that. We settled into married life and marriage happily enough. And the future was rosy, that happily ever after was right there. There was a slight wobble when we found out that we couldn't have children. Heero is sterile, whether from natural causes or something that was done to him during his Gundam training, we don't know. And I am not particularly fertile either. So my daydreams of a child with Heero's eyes could never come true. The doctors spoke of artificial ways of having a baby or even adoption. There are still a lot of children in the Earth Sphere that need a home. Heero spoke of divorce, of letting me find someone who could give me the children I wanted. It was a difficult time. I think the doctors and his own research finally convinced him that I had little hope of ever having children of my own, even with an exceedingly fertile partner. He was willing to give me up for my own good. But we got past that. We agreed to wait another couple of years and talk about adoption again. Things smoothed out again.

And then he went on a long mission. He was supposed to be back in five or six weeks. It was closer to three months before he came home. He was different when he came back. I put it down to the horror of the mission he had gone on. He never told me much about it. I did ask but he wouldn't talk about it. He has never really understood talking about his emotions. Sometimes I am not sure he really understands emotions, his or other peoples. The case had involved child prostitution and had him chasing around the system to try and capture the ringleaders. And he did. None of them made it to trial and I don't blame anyone involved for that.

All the other Gundam pilots had been involved in the case at one point or another. Duo was running his own freight business and Heero hired him and his ship for the chase. They lived and worked together for those weeks, just like they had during the war. It took a long time for Heero to settle back into married life with me. He was distracted and depressed but I just put it down to memories of the case and the war that being with Duo and the others must have brought back to him. I made a hundred or even a thousand different excuses for his behaviour. Maybe he hadn't outgrown the Perfect Soldier after all. Maybe he was finding his job at Preventers boring; or too stressful; or just unsatisfying. Or it was the children part; the fact they were being abused; or that he couldn't have any of his own. On and on and on. I offered him excuses and he denied them all. I didn't think to offer him the excuse of missing the one he loved. He loved me, he told me so every night we were together, every day we were apart. I knew he wasn't missing me. I didn't realise that he was missing Duo.

I'm not sure that he realised that he was missing Duo. And Duo had gone missing. I didn't notice for months. The five of them kept in touch. We saw Quatre quite regularly, which meant we saw Trowa quite often as well. Heero saw Wu Fei most days when they were in the office. Duo wasn't around physically so often, but he kept in touch with emails and vid calls. I didn't notice that he hadn't called but then I wouldn't; he always called Heero's private number and spoke to Heero or called back another time. It wasn't until Quatre came for dinner one night and asked Heero if he had heard from Duo recently that I had any indication that the braided menace was missing. Heero was very tense after that and Quatre got a headache and asked to be excused before dessert. He looked terrible when he got in his car and was driven away. Heero went even quieter than normal after that. I was still manufacturing excuses. He was worried about Duo. He missed his best friend.

I just kept ignoring it. I knew Heero was unhappy but I didn't push to find out why. Not that pushing Heero would have worked. That was my excuse for not trying to. I just left him alone and hoped he would sort it out by himself. I tried to just be there for him if he needed me. And I tried not to notice that he didn't seem to need me at all. We still had time together and time apart. Maybe our reunions weren't quite as passionate as they once were but we had been together for several years now. It was only to be expected that the passion would die down a little, wasn't it? He still got me little presents and the traditional teddy bear arrived on my birthday and joined the ranks of his predecessors on the shelf in my dressing room; Heero had joked that he couldn't perform with all those beady little eyes watching him when I kept them beside our bed. And I am a grown woman now, having a shelf full of teddy bears in the bedroom is a little girlish, don't you think?

And then one day Heero suddenly seemed to snap out of the strange mood or depression or whatever it was. He was happy again. He actually suggested that we go out for a meal, just the two of us. It was a wonderful evening that only got better when we got home. He admitted the next day that Duo had sent him an email saying he was alright and that was a weight off his mind. I even teased him a bit because he had denied being worried about Duo's disappearance when I'd asked him before. He laughed and blushed a little and admitted that he had been worried, even though he knew he shouldn't have been. I didn't even think to try and read the message or the reply. Heero's mood was a bit erratic over the next few weeks or even months. And I slowly tied that to whether or not he had heard from Duo. We didn't see Duo, or at least I didn't, over that period but it wasn't that unusual. Duo only made it down to Earth once or maybe twice a year. I didn't miss him at all. I just wished he would keep in better contact with Heero so that Heero wouldn't worry about him so much. About a year and a half after that mission he suddenly turned up to celebrate Christmas, New Year and the end of both wars with us. Well not so much us as Heero. Duo didn't stay with us but he did stay with Wu Fei and he hung around the Preventers headquarters during the day. Even I couldn't miss how happy Heero was to see him. He took time off work to 'hang out' with Duo. I didn't see much of either of them. I cringe when I remember telling Duo that he should keep in touch better and not make Heero fret so much. He looked at me strangely and then laughed and promised to do just that. I was glad that Heero was happy. I tried not to miss him too much and consoled myself with the fact that Duo would soon be gone again. And he was. I breathed a sigh of relief and had Heero all to myself again, as much as I ever did.

It was over the next year that I began putting two and two together but trying very hard not to make them add up to four. I began to notice those little things that I mentioned before. I started to hang around when Duo called Heero. I wasn't trying to listen in, not then, but I did want to watch Heero while he talked to Duo. The first time wasn't deliberate. Heero normally took personal calls in another room or I would leave the room to give him some privacy. I was very big on personal privacy then. But Duo called when we were actually away together at a hotel. I was touring an area that had been sadly neglected and Heero insisted on coming with me because Preventers had had a lot of trouble there. My security was tripled and I was annoyed because I couldn't talk to the ordinary people the way I wanted to. We were in a small town and my entourage had filled both hotels so Heero and I didn't have the suite we would have normally occupied. The admin staff had the only suite in the town and they had to double up in the bedrooms. So Heero and I had set up office in our room. I was working through the itinerary for the next day and going over my speech. Heero was checking the security details for my tour and meetings. When the phone rang, yet again, he answered it.

“Yuy.” He snapped. He was abrupt enough to make me wince. But then he laughed. That made me look up and pay attention. It was Duo. Heero turned the screen round so that I could wave and say hello, which I did. I pretended to go back to memorising my speech but I was watching Heero and listening to their conversation. The conversation was idle chatter, gossip about mutual acquaintances and in-jokes that I didn't get. But I wasn't too worried about what they were saying. What worried me was the way Heero looked and acted. He was happy and relaxed in a way I'd never seen before. He was smiling almost continually and even laughed again. Duo had been out of touch for a couple of weeks. I had known that without knowing it by Heero's mood. I was glad that he was back again because that meant that Heero would be happier. But this strange Heero I was watching confused me. I know it is obvious in hind-sight but it wasn't obvious to me then.

After that I tried to watch and listen whenever I could. Although usually if Duo called Heero would transfer him to another extension so as 'not to disturb me'. That was what he had always done. If he couldn't talk to him in private, he always made Duo say hello to me and me say hello to Duo. They never said anything they shouldn't have. But the way Heero looked made me tense and unhappy. His eyes sparkled and he grinned. He laughed. And the call would end. And he would turn to me and the grin would fade into a smile and the sparkle would dim to the warmth he always looked at me with. I think that was what hurt the most. His behaviour to me didn't change, he was still my loving husband. But I didn't make his eyes sparkle; or make him grin; or laugh; or wave his hands about when he was talking. Only Duo could do that.

I made sure to watch him with the other pilots, the ones we saw regularly, the ones I had seen him talk with hundreds of times. Now I really watched and listened. And yes he was more relaxed when he was talking to them; they were old friends after all. He even grinned occasionally but that was usually when someone said something about Duo. But his eyes didn't sparkle and he didn't talk with his hands. Those things were reserved for Duo. I tried to make him laugh but I think I only worried him. He would smile at my jokes, worry about my little domestic disasters that I had been trying to make funny, but he didn't laugh.

When Duo turned up again after Christmas, just in time for the peace party, I watched them as much as I could. At the party I could watch all five of them together. And I wasn't happy with what I could see. Because not only was Heero reacting differently to Duo than the others, Duo reacted differently to Heero. Duo laughed and grinned and waved his arms about normally and his eyes sparkled too. But when he was talking to Heero all that was softened, I can't describe it any better than that. Just as some part of Heero relaxed at the sight of Duo and enjoyed talking to him, being near him, so some part of Duo did that too. They stood slightly closer to each other than to the others. Duo's hand would brush Heero's sleeve as they talked or Heero's hand would brush against Duo. I don't think it was deliberate, they were just drawn together. As Heero had never been drawn to me.

I tried to ignore it as I had been doing, but I couldn't. It hurts so much to know that Heero is in love with someone else. It hurts to see him happy because then I know that Duo has called. It hurts to see him sad because then I know that Duo hasn't called. It hurts when he goes away because I imagine that they are meeting. It hurts when I imagine them alone together; when I imagine Heero touching Duo the way he touches me; it hurts even more when I imagine that his touches are more special when it is Duo he touches. It hurts to know that Heero loves Duo. It hurts to know that Duo loves Heero.

I lie in bed with Heero sleeping beside me and the pain fills me. When he touches me I melt, as I always have, I can't think of anything but Heero and how much I love him. But the bliss of our love-making fades and I am filled with pain. I torture myself wondering if he tries to imagine that I am Duo; if he compares our bodies and finds me lacking; if this will be the last time; if he will find my soft, female body too repulsive; if he will find the courage to tell me about Duo; if he will ask for a divorce; if he will leave me.

We sit at dinner and I imagine he is pretending it is Duo sitting opposite. Or thinking how different the meal would be shared with Duo. I know he found it difficult to adapt to having servants and he couldn't understand why there was so much cutlery or so many courses. I wonder if he would be happier sharing a take-out pizza with Duo than a four course gourmet meal with me, but I know the answer to that. He loves Duo, sharing ration bars with Duo would be preferable to having the best meal in the world with anyone else. But he still smiles at me and listens to me and offers his support and sometimes advice. How could I live without him? I need him. I need his strength, his silence, his understanding and his love. And I have all of those but he is in love with Duo, not me. How long will he stay with me when Duo is waiting for him? How much longer will I have him? I wanted him for a lifetime. I need him for my lifetime, for my life.

But it hurts so much. Sometimes I think I should set him free, let him go to Duo and be truly happy. But would 'happy ever after' work any better for them than it does for us? Or would I just be losing my rock for no good reason? When I think of him not being here the pain is so great that I can't breathe and I have to wipe my eyes before the tears fall. If it hurts that much to think about it, how much more would it hurt if it happens? I just can't face losing him. I need him more than Duo and I think he knows that. I think that is why he hasn't said anything about his feelings for Duo to me.

Sometimes I hope it isn't true love between them; that it is just some sort of infatuation that will pass with time. I keep hoping that but it still hurts. Being a freight shuttle pilot isn't the safest of jobs; maybe something will happen to make Duo disappear permanently. I would be here to help Heero through his grief and then he would be mine again completely. I don't even feel guilty for those thoughts anymore. It would be the simplest solution.

I hoped I would get used to the pain. I hoped it would be easier to live with. Heero is with me more than he is away. He is still my loving husband. He is mine, not Duo's. He is mine, all of him except the one part I want more than any other. He is mine but his heart is Duo's. And every day that I live with that knowledge the pain is greater. I think one day the pain of living this parody of 'happy ever after' will be greater than the pain of losing Heero and that thought terrifies me.

It will soon be Christmas again and I will see them together. I don't know if I can face it...

The original fairy tales were grim with bitter endings. Over time they have been made sweeter and gained happy endings. I think the originals are closer to the truth. My fairy tale is certainly bitter and I can't see any way for the ending to be anything but.


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