Well...this one has no warm fuzzies.  It does have a nicely evil Relena, though, if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms. Enjoy!  

by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 8

I walk down the long, beautifully-decorated, cold hallways of the Sanc Palace toward Relena's office. The route is familiar - I lived here for three years, after all - but it seems strangely foreign, like a place remembered from a dream.

Or a nightmare.

I grimace as the overly-melodramatic thought passes through my mind. I've been spending too much time with Duo.

I smile faintly, thinking of Duo and Trowa. There's no such thing as too much time with them.

I pause, finally, before the ornately carved door to Relena's office. My eyes drop to the doorjamb, searching for the place I had kicked it out of the wall the last time I was in this office. It's been expertly repaired, though; not a sign remains. Every trace has been wiped away.

Relena already knows I'm on the way. When the front door opened to my knock, I pushed past the astounded butler and made my way toward the office wing. Noone tried to stop me - the servants here have always been scared of me. But I know they notified her that I was coming.

Now she's waiting, lurking behind the door.

I take a deep breath, and knock firmly on the door.

There's a long pause. Just when I'm about to knock again, her voice comes from inside the office.

"Come in."

Well, here goes nothing.

I open the heavy door and let myself in, closing it silently behind me. I turn and move into the room, getting my first glimpse of the woman sitting behind the desk.

Physically, she looks much the same as she did when I left. The major difference is her hair. She's cut it, and the ends of the honey-brown locks just brush her shoulders. The top is swept over to one side, and the ends curl in toward her face. It looks good - her eyes look bigger, her face looks longer, the childlike roundness is gone. She looks older.

But the biggest change isn't her hair, it's her expression. The Relena of old, the girl who invited me to her birthday party, was a warm person. Obstinate, spoiled, opinionated and suicidally wrong-headed, but warm, and that warmth reflected itself in her eyes and her face. Over the years of our marriage, there started to appear in her eyes a coldness, born of arrogance and a drive to control. But she masked it carefully, and it only appeared when she was being directly hindered.

That look sits openly on her face now, and I know somehow that she hasn't brought it out just for me. A hardness in her eyes, a tension in the skin around eyes and mouth shows that this is Relena's habitual expression these days, rather than an aberration.

That makes me feel guilty, as nothing that she could say to me would. Relena has become this cold, angry shadow of her former self in the years I've been in her life. How much of this transformation is my fault?

I'm suddenly aware I'm standing there staring at her, and make an effort to speak. "Relena," I manage.

She laughs, and the sound is short and unpleasant. "The famous Heero Yuy greeting," she notes unpleasantly. "Your time away certainly hasn't improved your rhetoric."

Yup. This is going to be fun.

"Relena…I apologize for being gone for so long without contacting you directly. I…didn't realize how long I would be away."

"Without contacting me directly," she repeats scornfully. "I like that. Is that what those messages from Quatre were - ‘indirect contact?'"

"I wanted to get word to you," I say evenly. "I'm sorry if it made you angry."

"Made me angry?" she repeats again. "Why should I be angry? I loved hearing that my marriage was over from a third party."

As I'm sure she intended, that remark starts to make me angry. "You didn't hear that your marriage was over from a third party," I grind out between clenched teeth. "I told you myself, and then I left, the day the Gundam attacked. Besides," I add against my better judgement, "you seemed to have a pretty good idea that it was over when you filed the separation papers." She'd filed the papers while I was still in space, doubtless, as Quatre explained to me, to date our separation, so I wouldn't be entitled to any part of her precious estate accrued after that date. I'd been given them to sign the day before we left for the final battle. It had really been the icing on the cake that day.

Her pale cheeks flush red, and anger begins to replace the cold scorn in her eyes. "So I was supposed to just sit around and wait for you to show up and announce what you wanted done?"

I take a deep breath. This is getting nowhere fast. "No, Relena," I say evenly. "It's fine."

"I'm glad to have your approval," she sneers.

I look at her. I have no idea what to say right now. How am I supposed to deal reasonably with this much hostility?

"Why are you here, Heero?" she asks abruptly. Her eyes run over me insultingly. "Bored with your playmates already?"

I will not let her make me angry. I will not let her make me angry.

"I came to apologize for being gone so long without contacting you," I tell her calmly. "And I thought we would discuss what you want to do from here on in."

"What I want to do?" she repeats with a hideous parody of surprise. "I'm amazed to see you so solicitous of my feelings." She pauses, and peers suspiciously at me. "You know, you didn't answer my question," she muses. "Are you bored with them already? Or…are they bored with you?"

I frown at her, confused. She can't possibly think…

"If you think I'm just going to let you waltz back in here after being gone all this time," she begins hotly, "you're crazy. You're going to have to atone, Yuy, and I mean it. You'll have to start over…"

"Relena," I interrupt more forcefully than I intended, "what are you talking about?"

She stops, and glares at me. "It's over already, isn't it?" she demands, spiteful pleasure in her tone. "I knew it wouldn't last. Duo," she spits the name angrily, "thinks he's so irresistible, that noone can deny him. He's tricky, though. Of course you wouldn't be able to see through him. And Trowa does whatever he says," she concludes scornfully, rolling her eyes. "But I knew it wouldn't last. So did you leave him, or did he get bored and throw you out, Heero?"

I blink several times, frowning at the eager expression on her face. "Relena, I'm not sure what you're talking about," I say slowly.

"Duo and Trowa!" she half-shouts. "How long has it been over?"

Wufei was right. This is not the Relena I know. An interview with her would have been unpleasant. This is…horrible.

"It isn't over, Relena," I tell her as gently as I can.

She stares at me, uncomprehending.

"It isn't over," I repeat. "Duo and Trowa are at home - our home. They're waiting for me to come back."

"Waiting for you to come back," she repeats, her tone dull. She laughs again, the same harsh, discordant sound as before. "Well, I can tell them, sometimes it's an awful long wait."

I sigh. I never meant to hurt her the way I obviously have. "Relena…I'm sorry," I say again. "I truly am. I didn't mean to…I didn't mean for it to come to this."

"To this?" she repeats. Her color mounts again, and the dazed look vanishes from her face, replaced by one of mounting rage. "You didn't mean, when you married me, to leave me three years later without god-damned word to go fuck two other men?!"

Well, I didn't. I doubt that saying that would do me much good now, though.

"This is unacceptable," she rages. "I've been making excuses for you for months. I've told people you would be back, that you were…"

"Relena." She has to stop. "I know you haven't. Our separation papers were in the news. Everyone knows that our marriage is over."

She snarls at me. Her hands clench into fists. "Does everyone know about your little love triangle?" she spits angrily. "Do they know you're living with two men? Fucking two men?"

"I love them, Relena," I tell her gently. "Don't talk about us like that. It's more than that."

"Oh, how romantic," she sneers. "Forgive me if I don't melt. I heard the same line from you years ago and…"

"Actually, as I recall, you told me that I loved you. I just agreed because…"

"Oh yes, do tell," she interrupts furiously. "Let's do be open and share."

I sigh. "I don't love you, Relena," I admit honestly. "I don't think I ever did."

Some of the anger drops from her face at those words, and I glance away, not wanting to see the look in her eyes.

"I wanted to," I assure her. "I tried to. But we just…didn't work, Relena. You know that as well as I do. You don't - didn't - love me, either."

"That's not true," she insists furiously, her hands clenched tightly together. "I loved you from the minute I saw you and…"

‘You didn't love me," I insist. "You loved the guy you thought I was, the one the papers said I was. Not me. I'm not that guy. I never was. I tried to be," I concede, "but I can't."

"Well, you had better try a little harder," she says, in a hard, tightly-controlled voice.

My eyes narrow, and I stare down at her. "What are you saying?" I ask slowly.

"As I said before, this is unacceptable," she says coldly. "I am in the middle of a very important re-organization, and I can't have the news media full of stories of how my husband is off screwing various men. You will come back to the palace, and resume your duties as Consort."

I hope that Duo and Quatre pick out a lot of alcohol for tonight.

"Relena, I told you. I love Duo and Trowa. I'm not coming back," I remind her as patiently as I'm able.

"You will call Quatre and Wufei off. Their activities are interfering with my reorganization," she continues as though she didn't hear me.

"Relena." I wait until she looks at me. "First off, I am not coming back here. Secondly, Quatre and Wufei believe Dufasion's method is correct. We're meeting with him Wednesday to suggest giving him our endorsement."

She surges to her feet, bracing her hands on her desk. I'm suddenly thankful for that barrier between us. "Don't you dare, Heero Yuy," she breathes, "don't you dare even think of interfering in this matter."

"The Preventers aren't your personal playground, Relena," I tell her firmly, "and neither am I." I'm getting tired of this.

"You'd better do what I said," she spits, "or I'll…"

"You'll what?" I interrupt tiredly.

"You'll be reading all about yourself in the papers," she threatens. "And so will that whore Duo and his flunky…"

"Don't," I interrupt her in a shout. We stop, both glaring at each other through narrowed eyes over the desk. "Relena. I'm not coming back. You don't even want me back," I accuse. "You just don't want to look like you lost me. Like I'm some damn seat on the World Council." I shake my head in disgust. "I thought we could discuss this reasonably, like adults who want what's best for each other."

‘Oh, so now you have only my best interests at heart," she concludes sarcastically.

"Our best interests," I emphasize. "We were miserable together, Relena," I remind her. "Nothing was good. We weren't happy; we didn't enjoy life. We didn't enjoy anything with each other. I don't want to live that way, and I don't want you to live that way either."

"So, to bring me happiness, you disappear for months, then re-surface living with two men," she summarizes. "Thank you for that contribution to my well-being, Heero."

I shake my head. "Which bothers you more - that they're men, or that there's two of them?" I ask curiously. "Never mind," I tell her as she reddens and opens her mouth to speak, "I don't really want to know."

I turn, and walk toward the door.

"Where are you going?" she shouts.

I turn to face her again. "I'm just making you angry, Relena," I observe. "Obviously, we can't work anything out in a reasonable discussion between the two of us. I guess we'll have to do this the nasty way, through the lawyers."

"I'll destroy you," she threatens. "I'll destroy you all. Quatre's business, Wufei's trust accounts….Trowa's circus will lose its lease…"

"Relena, listen to yourself!" I demand. "You're threatening a circus!"

"I won't stand for this!" she vows.

I shake my head, and move again to the door. "Think about it," I advise from the doorway. "If you decide you want to do this reasonably, let me know."

I move out of the door, ignoring her enraged shriek, but stop before I close it behind me. Reluctantly, I turn and look at her again. "Relena…for what it's worth, I really am sorry," I tell her softly. "I never wanted to hurt you."

I close the door behind me and walk swiftly down the hall, trying to get as far away as I can from the screaming fury I hear erupt behind me.

Well, that was pointless.

I exit the palace as quickly as I can, and in moments I'm back in the car Quatre lent me, heading for the apartment building. I'm shaken by the scene I just escaped.

Relena has always been spoiled, and a bit selfish. But this…she really cares more about how things look than how either of us feels about the matter. She jumped from one topic and threat to another with no cohesion or logical order.

Wufei's right. She's not…sane, at the moment.

I have a sinking feeling that this is going to be very, very nasty.

[part 7] [part 9] [back to Shoori's fic]