I Know Who I Want... + Part 24 (cont)

"Mr. Maxwell," Ferretman purrs, "You say you were in a committed relationship with Mr. Barton, correct?"

I'm being hammered over the head with deja vu, here. Didn't we just establish that five fucking minutes ago? Good job, Sherlock. I hope his mother didn't have to make too many sacrifices to send him to law school. I don't think she got her money's worth.

"I was," I concede.

"Was this a monogamous relationship?" he asks.

I nod. "It was," I tell him quietly.

"You say you had been together three years. Obviously it was long term... " He trails off invitingly. This is where I'm supposed to break down and babble confessions. So sorry to disappoint. I stare blankly at the man, waiting for his actual question.

"Were you in the habit of soliciting sexual partners other than Mr. Barton?" he asks.

I open my mouth to speak, then pause as a thought strikes me.

"Mr. Maxwell?" Ferretman presses as I hesitate. "Were you in the habit of soliciting sexual partners other than Mr. Barton?"

"No, I wasn't," I say, a little more forcefully than I should. "I was not in the habit of soliciting partners other than Mr. Barton."

Please go on, please go on, please go on.

No chance. Ferretman's beady little eyes burrow together, a feral gleam in their depths. Great.

"You say this relationship was serious, and even that it was monogamous, correct?" Ferretman asks.

"It was," I reaffirm.

"Yet you slept with Mr. Yuy," he points out.

"I did."

"How does that fit within the parameters of a monogamous relationship?" he asks. He sounds so confused, poor man. What's a naive innocent like him doing in a place like this?

"It doesn't," I admit simply. "I cheated on him."

"You cheated on him," Ferretman repeats. He pauses for a moment, stroking his chin thoughtfully as he paces across the room in front of the stand. Well, award him the fucking Oscar.

"Had you cheated on Mr. Barton before?" Ferretman asks me, stopping abruptly in his pausing and turning to glare suspiciously at me.

Fuck. I knew he was going to ask me that. Bastard.

"Once," I say, keeping my eyes on Ferretman. I do not want to look at our side of the courtroom.

There's a little rustle of titillated amazement from the courtroom at this. Ooh, it's getting good now. Perk up, people.

Bastards. All of them.

"When was that, Mr. Maxwell?" Ferretman oozes.

"About two months after we got together," I say calmly.

"And when did you, ‘get together,' Mr. Maxwell?"

"March 28, 198," I tell him.

Please don't notice that that's Heero and Relena's wedding date.

Ferretman doesn't comment on that, but I can tell from the buzz that some of the tabloid people in the back have picked up on that. Bully for them. This is going to be a great article.

I glance at Relena, and see she picked up on the date too. From the expression on her face, I guess nobody but her was supposed to have hooked up that night. She looks furious. I smile at her.

"And who did you cheat with that time, Mr. Maxwell?" Ferretman presses. Man, the way he said it, you'd think I had this line of adulterous partners stretching down the street.

"Hilde Schiebeker," I say calmly.

I can't help it. I look over at my side of the courtroom.

I see my lawyers first. They look like they're planning to choke me. Quatre and Wufei look like they'd be willing to join in. I almost wince at the look in Quatre's eyes. He is not fun to mess with, and I have the distinct feeling I'm in trouble.

I dare to look past them, and look at my lovers. Poor Heero looks astounded. Good thing his back is to most of the vultures - they'd love to get a gander at that ‘What the hell is this?' expression.

I make eye contact with Trowa. I see what I was fearing to see most - there, on the bench, next to Heero, sits Gundam Pilot 03.

Fuck!

I look at him pleadingly, and he stares back at me with the cold, expressionless gaze he mastered so long ago.

Shit!

But, as I continue to look at him, I see just a glint of anger in his green eyes.

That immediately makes me feel much better. If he's pissed, and he's letting that shine through his Ice Prince facade, that means he's not as mad/upset/betrayed by this as by the Heero thing. I mean, he's gotta see that this is totally different.

"And how did you know Mr. Schiebeker?"

"She and I had dated before I started seeing Trowa," I say pleasantly, emphasizing the pronoun.

Ferretman raises his eyebrows enough to let judge and reporters both see that he's amazed at the depravity of a man who could even consider taking lovers of both genders. We need to buy Ferretman some adult magazines, I think. I'll get him a reading list.

"So why, if you were already involved with Ms. Schiebeker, did you... "

Finally, my lawyers recover from their collective temporary paralyses and pull their heads from their asses.

"Objection!" one of them shouts. "Mr. Maxwell's personal relationship with Mr. Barton is not on trial!"

"Sustained," the judge agrees after a moment. He was a little slow on the uptake on that one. He probably wanted to hear the rest of this story. I'd have that problem if I was a judge - if I was curious, I'd have a hard time moving on.

Fortunately, Judge Haverling is a wonderful, principled man. I could hug him. Ferretman scowls, but he has to move on.

"So, you say that only two months into your relationship with Mr. Barton you were unfaithful to him," Ferretman muses.

"Objection!" cries my lawyer.

"Sustained," the judge snaps.

I smile smugly at Ferretman. You can't go that way, friend.

My smug smile slips as I glance over again and see the hard, level stares being directed at me by all my friends and legal team.

Yikes.

Well, Father Maxwell said confession was good for the soul.

My soul should be bench-pressing two hundred by the end of this.

I shoot a tentative glance at Trowa as Ferretman resumes oiling along about the events of the night of August 9, 201. I shiver at the ice in that cold, green glare.

Well, Maxwell. Guess you aren't breaking your streak tonight. Looks like you'll be going for ten.

+

I sigh in relief as the hard wooden gavel hits the judge's podium, signaling the beginning of the weekend recess. I hastily pull myself to my feet, almost wincing at the stiffness of my muscles after sitting on the hard court bench all day.

It's almost six, almost an hour past the time court was supposed to adjourn for the day. But Relena's lawyer was having such fun with Duo, he didn't seem to be able to stop himself.

Duo. Mindful of the courtroom full of reporters gathering to strike, I manage to keep myself from glaring outright at him as he approaches from the witness stand. It isn't easy, though. I can think of few times in my life I've ever been this mad at him.

What the hell was he thinking, concealing that little nugget of information from us? Being Duo, he probably just didn't want to deal with that particular confrontation, so he blithely allowed himself to forget all about it.

And being Duo, when asked a direct question in court, he couldn't bring himself to tell a lie that only one person in the world - who's not here - could call him on.

He has the world's most inconvenient moral code.

He'll run and hide, but he never lies.

That was one of the first things I knew about him - he boasted of that to me at our first meeting.

Well, he's certainly been working on the run and hide part. As soon as the noon recess was called, he grabbed his lawyer and dragged him off for a conference. Postponing the inevitable.

That Duo was willing to miss lunch rather than face an irate Trowa speaks volumes, though. I've always kind of thought that Duo must be the ‘in charge' one in that relationship, since he's so much more assertive than Trowa is. I don't know, though. Trowa never has been one to be pushed around by others much. I should know.

One of the lawyers grabs Duo before he can reach me. I feel Wufei's hand on my shoulder, and I start to turn around to face him when I'm stopped by a touch on my other sleeve.

"Quatre."

I turn, and see Trowa's emerald stare directed at me.

I almost wince again, this time at the expression on Trowa's face. His features are arranged in the carefully blank expression he instinctively dons whenever in any kind of emotional turmoil. For once, though, the expression in his eyes doesn't match. The green orbs are smoldering with a cold fire that almost makes me shiver.

Trowa is angry.

No, that's not quite right. He's pissed.

I don't think I've ever seen him display that much visible anger.

Even as it chills me, part of me is glad. It would be much worse if he were hiding behind his complete mask.

I wonder why he isn't.

"Can I stay at your place tonight?" he asks in a flat monotone.

I blink at him, surprised. I guess I'd kind of realized on some level that Trowa wasn't going to be thrilled with Duo, and wouldn't really want to be around him. But I'd figured that Trowa would go lose himself at the circus for the weekend, and probably before he left they'd have a fight of the type where someone slams out of the house or locks themselves in the bathroom.

I'm surprised that he wants to be near any of us at the moment.

And I'm thrilled he asked to come with me.

After we broke up, Trowa and I remained friends, even in the hard months right after we separated. We even gradually regained a lot of our early closeness, particularly after he got together with Duo. For a long time, though, there was a little, aching piece of me that was empty, because I just wasn't as near to Trowa as I had once been. And I'm not talking about physical closeness. There was always a little distance between us after our relationship ended, just a small wall that had never been there before.

I think the first stones fell out of that wall when Trowa came to me after he caught Duo and Heero together. I realized then that he really did care about me, and trusted me more than anyone else. That he would come to me at such a time assured me, finally, of that much, at least.

The wall's been crumbling even more in the short time they've been back in Sanc, especially after our brief little conversation about "us" during our night of extreme drunkenness.

Staring into Trowa's eyes now, I realize that that wall I've been feeling - or maybe just, in my hurt pride, been imagining - is essentially gone. Trowa wants to come with me, wants my support, more than he wants to be alone with his anger.

"Of course," I promise him quietly. Wufei, standing beside me now, silently nods his confirmation.

"Let's get the show done with," he says tightly.

I nod, turning and gesturing toward our lawyers, one of whom has snagged Heero as well. They frown, but I frown right back, and they reluctantly release Heero and Duo to us, shaking hands and sending them off with a few words that I'm too far away to hear.

Knowing they're following, Wufei and I file down the center aisle of the courtroom, Trowa right behind us. We all hurry silently through the halls of the large building. Too many people, the lucky ones who've managed to get inside, are flocking around us trying to get our attention for us to even attempt to speak to each other.

One of our lawyer's aides, hurrying ahead of us, throws open the wide doors leading to the outside. We fall into our accustomed positions, and exit onto the wide marble steps.

Fortunately, a few more aides and a couple of the bodyguards my insurance agents insist accompany me in situations like this clear a path for us through the crowd. Wufei and I go first, while Duo and Trowa flank Heero right behind us.

I'm sure that provides some great photo ops.

There're certainly enough flashes going off that there should be a good picture or two out of this. It seems like thousands of people are there with cameras and video recorders and microphones, all shouting questions at the top of their lungs and trying to shove themselves into our path as we try to make our way to the cars waiting for us at the bottom of the steps. My limousine is there, and the car I've brought to bring Heero and Duo and Trowa back to the nearby garage where their car is parked.

The shouted demands seem to bombard us from all sides.

"Mr. Winner, is it true that you are financially supporting the defendant?"

"Mr. Chang, are you aware of Mr. Winner's financial contributions to the defendant and his household?"

"Mr. Yuy, is it true you and Mr. Maxwell had sex before your marriage to Queen Relena?"

"Mr. Yuy, are you going to retain your title as Prince Consort?"

This is an almost familiar routine by now. Most of the questions shouted at us are usually directed toward me or Heero, the two most public figures in our group.

They don't seem to care much about us today, though. By far, the majority of shouted demands are aimed at Duo and Trowa.

Fickle bastards.

"Mr. Maxwell, is it true that you're bisexual?"

"Mr. Maxwell, you had an affair with a woman two months into your relationship with Mr. Barton?"

"Mr. Barton, did you know about Mr. Maxwell's affair with Ms. Schiebeker?"

"How long has that affair continued, Mr. Maxwell?"

"Mr. Barton, how do you feel about having all this information about Mr. Maxwell's affairs be brought up in court?"

"Hey, Mr. Barton? Do you have an open relationship agreement with Mr. Maxwell?

The questions are even more personal, tawdry and grasping then usual. This sort of encounter always leaves me feeling vaguely dirty, like I've been part of something extremely distasteful.

We've just reached the bottom of the steps when some particularly obnoxious reporter shouts out behind us, his voice booming over all they rest.

"Hey there, Mr. Barton! Just how many times has Mr. Maxwell run around behind your back? Do you ever return the favor?"

I see Trowa stiffen, see his muscles tense in preparation for the movement that will turn him around to yell at the offending reporter, if not launch himself at the man and try to beat him up.

I grasp Trowa's elbow firmly, and shove him into through the open door into my limousine. I climb in after him and sit beside him, and Wufei climbs in and sits across from us.

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