Author: Ravengirl
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimers

[ ] = Duo's direct thought

The Last Beautiful Girl + Part 5

Heero's words loitered, dragging themselves grudgingly from his mouth.

"It was Zechs' birthday and he was actually dumb enough to be in town for it, poor bastard. So Relena threw one of her huge parties, invited half the country plus a bunch of her political cronies and by about 01:00 most of them were completely tanked. Including her."

I blinked. Relena? Drunk?

Heero saw the disbelief on my face and shrugged.

"It was those ice-tea things Noin kept giving her. I think she had four."

[Lu, Lu... you nasty, vindictive, clever bitch. Always did like you.]

"Long Islands," I said. "If you're not used to alcohol, just one of those babies'll knock you for a loop."

"Well, they certainly did her," Heero snorted. "I almost had to carry her out of there and she called me Hee-chan in front of all those overdressed snobs."

The affronted look on his face was nearly too much for me, but I held in my snickers. I didn't think he'd appreciate them.

"So you carried li'l queenie off to her boudoir?"

I tried to keep my voice free of the innuendo threatening to slither in. Didn't think he'd appreciate that either. Obviously I failed, though, since he gave me a 'don't fuck around, Maxwell' look before continuing.

"Yes. And once we got there, she wouldn't let go of me. Wanted me to stay until she fell asleep. She was pretty trashed, and it didn't seem like a big deal to sit with her for a while. The problem was..."

A faint line of red tinged his cheekbones and I watched it in fascination. Heero Yuy... blushing?!?

"Problem was... I fell asleep sitting next to her on the bed. When I woke up, she was all over me. And she wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing. You know how it goes, Duo... your reflexes kick in before your brain. And I... I guess I threw her across the room. She hit the wall pretty hard. A few paintings fell and some porcelain and glass stuff broke. Then she shrieked like a damned banshee and brought half the palace running."

My mind was busily dissecting this fascinating information, adding here, subtracting there and coming to a confusing conclusion. Wait a minute... they didn't sleep together?

"You mean you guys weren't fucking?"

And there you have it. Once again, Duo Maxwell's amazing mouth speaks without his brain's intervention. We've got us a real winner here, folks!

Heero stared blankly at me as I clapped a hand over my unruly lips.

"Fucking? Why would you think that? I was her bodyguard, Maxwell, not her lover."

"Welllll..." I grabbed onto my braid with both hands. "Pretty much everyone and their mother thinks the two of you were involved. Why else would you stay in Sanq?"

The blank look morphed into a frown.

"I stayed because she needed me. Peace needed me. It's what I was built for, Duo. You know that better than most."

I did. J and his lab Igors had that poor boy so hot-wired that when I first met him he couldn't comprehend there being more to life than the next mission. Obviously that belief didn't completely go away with the end of the war.

[And why would it, Duo? You know damn well that kind of thing doesn't just up and disappear because someone says, 'We are at peace. You don't have to fight anymore.']

"Besides," he went on, "I didn't know what I wanted to do. She wanted me with her... everyone seemed to think that's where I should be. Maybe I should have just married her when she asked."

His expression was something I'd seen only a couple of times before, the most vivid in my mind being that moment right before he self- destructed the first time. It had filled 'Scythe's vid-screen: a mix of resignation and martyrdom that made me physically ill just to look at.

Time for a few Maxwell home truths.

"Bullshit."

My voice was loud and obnoxious enough to startle a whole army of gloomy heros out of the pit of pathos, and it made mine straighten up and focus on me instead of his problems.

Good. Nothing I hate worse than a couple of bishounen angsting all over each other. I wasn't about to indulge Heero in his fit of self- pity.

"Hee-man, lemmee ask you a question... when Relena so kindly requested your hand in marriage, why did you turn her down? Think carefully, here."

His gaze turned inward, and I could almost hear the circuits sparking to life.

"It would have complicated things," he said finally. "Emotional and physical attachment cloud a person's judgment. It would have compromised my ability to protect her. And..."

I waited.

"And I didn't want to," he said quickly, as if the words tasted bad in his mouth. "As it was, she wanted me around all the time. She wouldn't leave me alone! Sometimes... sometimes I wanted to be by myself so badly, I almost wished I'd shot her that night you stopped me."

He looked at me uncertainly, guilt pouring off him in waves. I sighed.

"Heero, that's a fairly normal reaction to someone else's obsessive behavior. Everyone needs their own space."

He was shaking his head.

"Not Relena. She has... I think you'd call them abandonment issues. Everyone she's loved has died or disappeared."

"Well tell her to join the fucking club," I snapped. "I could say the same thing, but you don't see me chasing after some guy who threatens to kill me every time we hook up. She's whacked, man. It ain't your problem."

There was nothing else I could say to make him believe me, so I just smirked at him and told him to finish the story.

"She was shaking so I put a blanket over her. There were a number of people standing out in the hall, and I think I told them to go find Zechs or Noin. Luckily, Quatre and Trowa were there for the party, and Trowa got rid of the crowd while I called the house physician and Quatre calmed Relena down."

Quatre had been there? And he didn't com me with the juicy details?? That little shit!

Heero was staring at his clasped hands as if they held all the wisdom of the universe.

"I really scared her, Duo. She was pretty out of it and she kept looking at me like... Remember the way people used to look at us when they found out we piloted the Gundams? Like we ate babies for breakfast, or something. Even during the war, Relena never looked at me like that. But she did that night."

I had no idea what to say to that. Relena could be a spoiled, selfish brat sometimes, but she was important to Heero. Maybe not the way I'd originally thought, but she still represented something to him. Perhaps the innocence neither of us had ever possessed. Well, hell.

"Zechs finally showed up and I left. The next morning I met her outside her bedroom door, as usual. She didn't talk to me, but she seemed okay... not physically damaged, at any rate. Then we got to her office and she explained that she didn't think things were working out between us and it would be better if I left Sanq and found something else to do with my life. She thought it would be best if I didn't come back, either, not for a long time."

Things got pretty quiet while I mulled a whole bunch of new ideas over in my head. When I finally noticed how still Heero was sitting, I decided that silence really sucked and it was time for Wise-ass Duo to reappear.

"Well, what I want to know is why this wasn't all over the news- vids. You know... 'Queen of the World fires former-Gundam-pilot bodyguard cum boyfriend. Details at eleven!'" I said, jerking Heero out of his brown-study.

"Oh. That was Noin. She stood there with Zechs right behind her, looking really mad, and terrified everyone into submission. You know," he said thoughtfully, "that is one woman you do not want to cross."

I laughed.

"Got that right. Sometime you'll have to tell me just exactly what Relena did to piss Lu off so bad that she deliberately got Sanq's most prominent blonde drunk as a skunk in public."

"You think that Noin...? No. She would not do that. Even as an enemy, she was honorable and forthright."

I gave him a pitying look.

"You poor, poor innocent. You have no idea what the feminine sex is capable of... especially in retaliation against another female."

Rising from my crouch, I stretched, nearly purring as my cramped muscles realigned themselves.

"Well, Hee-man, it's a nasty little mess you've got yourself into. I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot gundanium pole... under normal circumstances, that is," I hastily added when his eyes got this wounded look in them. "You're my best bud, so of course I'll help you out. I'll mail her back, tell her I haven't seen you, and lie like a rug when she gets here... sound good?"

"You? Lie?"

He had an odd little half-smile on his lips that was doing strange things to my insides. It made him look sexy as all get-out... as if he needed any help with that.

"Yes -- me -- lie. This white-boy learned how to 'speak-with-forked- tongue' outta self-defense. Those Hollywood-types are full of it. Politicos, too. They no comprende anyone who won't play the game."

I stood there looking down at him and it suddenly occurred to me that Heero Yuy was sitting in front of me with nothing but a pair of skin-tight spandex shorts between my twitchy fingers and his skin... and he was smiling at me. Oh shit. This was, like, trouble with a capital T, just begging to happen.

"What happened to 'I run, I hide, but I never lie'?"

"I, um, grew up?"

I started edging towards the door, but he rose smoothly from his chair and followed, stopping no more than a foot from me. If I didn't know better I'd've said he was stalking me.

"You think I was right to turn her down. Was I right to leave Sanq without a protest? Was I right to come here and push my way into your life without asking?"

"I-,"

My voice came out an embarrassing squeak and I cleared my throat before trying again. Was it my imagination or had Heero gotten another couple of inches closer?

"I can't tell you what you should have done, babe. Things are different for different people. But I gotta say..." I took a deep breath. "I really think you should go after something you want, instead of what everyone else expects. Don't you think you've followed orders long enough, soldier?"

His expression turned contemplative. For some reason, on Heero's face that particular look was utterly terrifying.

"Something for me..." His voice trailed off and he turned those blue, blue eyes on me, his gaze suddenly, fiercely in focus. "Okay."

Next thing I knew, he'd grabbed me by the front of my shirt, hauled me against him, and was kissing the living daylights outta me.


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