The Beginning's End + Part 1 (cont)

"Heero! Not now!" Relena shoves against my chest, trying to dislodge my arms from where they have settled around her as I nibble on her ear.

"Why not?" I mutter, determinedly moving my lips down her neck. "Donít I get a birthday present?" I am determined that this night will see the beginning of a real relationship develop between me and Relena. The resolution I made, the mission I accepted while in the gardens with Duo and Trowa will see its beginning here, in this bedroom, now.

She huffs in irritation. "Iím upset with you," she declares firmly.

I lift my head, frowning at her in confusion. "What for?" I ask bluntly.

She rolls her eyes. "You werenít very polite to your guests," she informs me sternly.

This is not what I expected. "What?"

"You know, Heero, some of them think you donít like them."

I shrug. "Well, I guess theyíre right. I donít like most of them. Do we have to talk about them now?" I finish, pulling her closer to me and lowering my lips to her neck again.

"Heero!" she twists in my arms, pulling away from me. She crosses her arms over her chest and glares at me. "Theyíre very important people. We need to keep them as our allies. Do you understand what could happen if there were a rift among them?"

I scowl. "I donít really want to talk about them," I say, moving toward her.

"Canít you control yourself long enough to have a five minute conversation?" she snaps.

Humiliation spears through me, as it so often does in Relenaís presence. Her callous little insult stops me cold in my tracks. I stare impassively at a spot two inches above her left ear as she lectures me. I donít hear any of it, but I donít need to. I already know most of her complaints.

I donít know what I thought I was doing. I thought I could build a relationship like the one that Trowa and Duo have between me and Relena? We donít have what they have; we never did. We have the same thing weíve always had, the same thing we always will have.

Nothing.

"Heero?"

I lower my glance slightly so I am staring into her eyes.

"All right?" she asks, her brows slightly arched.

Ah, my cue. Though I havenít heard a word sheís said in five minutes, itís easy to pick up on my expected response from her tone and expression.

I nod briefly. "Very well," I say quietly.

Iím rewarded with a sunny smile. "I knew youíd agree, darling," she whispers, gliding toward me. I mechanically, reflexively, open my arms and she slides into them.

"And now," she whispers huskily, "What were you thinking about a few minutes ago?"

I want to scream at her, push her away, hit her. I do none of those things. I lower my head like an obedient consort, and kiss her.

How does she do this? Why do I follow her lead like this? What is it about her that compels me to comply with her every wish?

I donít know. It isnít love. Iíve realized that tonight. I donít love her. I never did. I never will. Whatís more, she doesnít love me either.

So why do I do this? The question resounds in my mind even as I lower her to her back on the bed, as I caress her body, as I move inside her.

It isnít love.

Respect? I donít know. I respect her ideals, but not her methods.

I donít know. I donít know why I do this.

She doesnít make me feel good.

She moans beneath me, shifting her hips upward. I increase my pace, trying to bring her over the edge.

God. Even in this, Iím responding to her unspoken orders.

She makes me feel gauche in company.

She makes me feel useless in business.

She makes me feel like a whore in my own bed.

She screams, arching upward. I feel her muscles spasm around me, feel my lower body jerk as I empty myself into her. My mind registers no pleasure, though. I feel totally detached from the act I have just performed, from the woman beneath me, from the release my body has just experienced.

I feel nothing.

I collapse to the side of her, and roll onto my back. I hear her breathing slowly return to normal, and she curls up against my side. Absently, I put an arm around her. She shifts so that her cheek is pillowed against my chest and yawns widely.

"Youíll remember our earlier conversation?" she asks sleepily.

Sometimes, I am still shocked by the cold determination of this woman. Sex with me was just a lull in her lecture. She is one of the most single-minded people I have ever known.

"Yes," I say coldly, not caring if she hears the anger in my voice.

"Good," she murmurs, dropping a light kiss on my chest. Seconds later, sheís asleep.

And no wonder. Sheís got what she wanted. Sheís done.

Sheís done.

Weíre done.

Iím done.

__________________________________________

"Excuse me, sir."

I look up and scowl at the poor, innocuous servant who has somehow drawn the unenviable job of relaying messages back and forth between me and Relena. In the weeks since my birthday, since the failure of my mission, the situation between me and my wife has become increasingly tense. Iíve been a bad boy.

From the panicked look on the servantís face, I gather that Relena has decided to discipline me, and this man is the one who has to tell me about it.

Typical.

I snarl a wordless reply, and the man blanches, turning even paler than he already is.

I donít know why the servants all react to me like this. Theyíre scared of me. In over three years in thisÖplace, Iíve never even shouted at one of them, yet they all scurry around nervously, tripping over themselves to get out of my way, generally acting as though Iím going to blow at any second. Relena pitches fits on a regular basis, but theyíre all fatuously devoted to her. People make no sense.

"SirÖ? Lady Relena would like you to come see her, sir."

I grunt noncommittally and lower my eyes back to the document on my desk, disregarding the man in front of me. I sense him shifting nervously, feel his discomfort, but easily ignore it. Iím busy. The one important thing that I do with my life is assist with administering the Preventers. Iíll be damned if I get dragged away from that to cater to Relenaís stupid whims.

"S..sir?"

I return my gaze to the quivering servant. I allow my head to snap up quickly, an unspoken gesture of annoyance, and see the gesture register in the cringing bearing of Relenaís flunky. Useless.

"Lady Relena really wants to see you now, sir."

Iíll just bet she does.

"Tell her Iím busy," I say curtly, lowering my head again.

Three weeks ago, Iíd have sighed, heaved myself to my feet, and meekly trotted down the winding corridors to Relenaís office. What a difference a few weeks makes. The habit of defiance grows easier the more it is practiced. Too bad I didnít remember that lesson of my colony days a little earlier.

"L..lady Relena said to tell you it was urgent."

I look up and glare at the persistent man. "If itís that urgent, she can come see me," I tell him flatly.

This time, I think heís blanching at the thought of Relenaís reaction at being given such a message, rather than at my own intimidating presence.

"S..she said itís about Lady Uneís replacement," he falters.

This time my head snaps up in shock, rather than in a calculated attempt to frighten the servant. "Lady Uneís replacement?" I repeat, hearing the hard edge in my own voice.

"Lady Relena says there are changes that need to be made in the Preventers, sir, and thought you would like to be informed of th-Ö"

The man breaks off, gasping in shock as the word that I spit out to describe my wife. I donít stick around to observe his further reactions to my bit of sacrilege against the saintly Peacecraft; I have a few more words for her that Iíd like to share with her face to face.

I burst angrily into her office, slamming the heavy door shut behind me. She looks up calmly from the papers she is perusing, crosses her hands on her desk, and looks up at me with her best inquiring face on.

"So nice of you to agree to stop in," she murmurs.

"Why are you replacing Une?" I ask harshly, coming to a stop directly in front of her desk, standing as close as I can, forcing her to crane her neck to look up at me.

This little psychological ploy is foiled by her deluxe desk chair - she leans back in the elaborate leather thing and suddenly sheís reclining, and Iím stupidly looming. Damn!

"I havenít replaced UneÖyet," she says slowly.

"That simpering idiot you sent down to my office said you had replaced her."

A frown mars her impassive features. "Gerald - my personal assistant - was supposed to tell you that I wanted to discuss replacing Une," she corrects smoothly. I can detect the note of annoyance in her voice, though. She doesnít like it when I point out how useless all the people she surrounds herself with are. I think she picks useless people on purpose, so she herself can seem brighter and more efficient by comparison. It makes me worry about my own intrinsic character sometimes.

Not too much, though. Iím the anomaly, the one chosen on emotion rather than calculation. The one who, therefore, is the weak link in the chain. The one who must be broken, be controlled.

Sheís controlling me now.

"Why are you even considering replacing Une?" I ask, matching her even tone. Iím not fooling anyone. She feels the anger radiating from me. She just doesnít care. Sheís one of the only people in the world who isnít afraid of me. I would respect her for that - I used to respect her for that - until I realized why she felt way. It isnít that sheís brave, itís that she believes that I am not strong enough to be a threat.

She pauses for a moment, putting on the pose of delicately considering her words. I know itís an act - she scripted this encounter days ago.

"I donít know that sheís working out," she says finally. She has a masterful grasp of the vague.

"Is this about the mobile suit issue?" I ask flatly.

Score one for me! She actually scowls - I have succeeded, if only for an instant, in breaking the diplomatic facade with an honest reaction. Call the press.

"Of course not," she insists coldly. It is, though.

Less than a week ago, there was a huge debacle when Relena insisted that we needed to destroy the mobile suits that remained from the last war. The Gundams, of course, are gone. I feel a familiar pang as I think of my last glimpse of Wing, crumpled and smoking in a pile of rubble. However, many less evolved suits, mostly leftover from OZ, remain as a safeguard against any insurrection or rebel attack.

Relena insisted that they all had to be destroyed, to prove the sincerity of our new government toward the cause of peace. Une maintained - and I agreed with her - that such an act would be monumentally foolhardy, at best. Publicly destroying our only major means of defense would be tantamount to issuing an invitation to any terrorist group to attack us.

Uneís disagreement with the plan, combined with mine, was enough to sway the vote. It was one of the first issues in three years that didnít go Relenaís way. She was quietly furious. She didnít speak to me for an entire day, furthering fueling my already growing impulses to defy her whenever possible.

Now, however, it seems that she isnít going to let this go.

"Relena, she is the only one who can lead the Preventers. We need her to bring all of the pieces of the organization together," I explain, trying to remain calm.

Relena waves her hand vaguely. She knows all of that as well as I do. She must have some reason, some reason beyond even the mobile suit issue, for pressing this ridiculous idea.

"Who do you plan to replace her with?" I ask.

She shrugs negligently. "I was considering Montaigne," she says idly.

I gape at her. "Montaigne?" I sputter after a moment. "Montaigne couldnít find his own ass with both hands; you think heís going to find a way to successfully run the worldís first pacifist police force?"

"The Preventers arenít a police force," she says automatically, even as she frowns at my vulgarity.

"Montaigne canít run the Preventers," I insist forcefully.

"At least Montaigne can be trusted to work with me," she shoots back acerbically.

"What are you talking about?" I ask in exasperation.

"Well, you and Une seem to feel of late that I donít need to be considered when it comes to Preventer matters," she says, her voice laden with hidden meaning.

I go still. Suddenly, I know. I know why sheís threatening to replace Une, why she even suggested that ridiculous idea about the mobile suits in the first place. Why didnít it strike me as strange that we now, suddenly, have to prove the governmentís sincere desire for peace by destroying our weapons? It was a trap. And I walked right into it.

"Is that really what this is all about?" I ask quietly.

"I beg your pardon?" she asks icily.

"I havenít been dancing to your tune, jumping when you say jump, so youíre going to punish me by replacing Une?" People used to think - sometimes still do think - that Relena is innocent and naÔve. Sheís no such thing, but Iím starting to wonder about me.

"Donít be ridiculous," she snaps.

"How exactly have you justified that in your mind?" I ask conversationally. "Your husband is annoying you, so you jeopardize the safety of billions of people in order to show him who really wears the pants in the family."

ĎSometimes the monstrousness of your ego amazes me, Heero Yuy," she hisses. Her famous deportment has left her; her face is pale except for two red spots high on her cheeks, and in her eyes, I see the emotion that I knew she truly feels for me. Hate.

Itís no wonder. She married me with absolutely no idea of who I was, who I am. She didnít have to know - it didnít matter. Her intent from the beginning was to mold and change me into the man she wanted. When I proved reluctant to be changed, I became the only thing in her little world that didnít bend over backwards to appease her. What a thorn I must be in her side.

Still, itís a little disconcerting to realize that your own wife despises you, even if youíve begun to discover that you feel similarly toward her.

I laugh bitterly. "My ego," I marvel. "Youíre one to talk."

She sneers at me. "Just because youíre jealous of my position-"

"Jealous of your position?" I repeat. I shake my head slowly. "Relena, you truly have no idea." I turn my back on her, intent on getting out of her office as soon as possible.

"Where are you going?" she demands. I hear the whisper of the expensive leather and the hiss of the aerodynamically engineered springs of her chair as her weight is removed from it. "We arenít finished."

By this time Iíve reached the office door, but I stop and turn to face her. Sheís standing, with her hands braced on the surface of her wide desk.

"Yes we are," I say slowly.

"What are you talking about?" she demands, her eyes narrowing.

I spread my hands expansively. "Why, weíve nothing more to discuss," I say, in a bitter parody of innocent understanding. "I understand that I have over-stepped my bounds as Imperial Consort, and that if I step out of line again the world will suffer for my insolence. Now you have no need to fire Une and plunge the world into chaos - the disobedient Heero Yuy has gotten the message, and waits eagerly for the opportunity to obey your every wish."

Sometimes I underestimate Relena. Iím sure that she managed to grasp the sarcasm inherent in my last speech. I guess I didnít have to underscore the point by kicking her door open, rather than using the latch.

I wonder what sheíll tell the guy who repairs it.

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