NOTE: see part 1 for notes, warnings
AUTHOR: shira

Papillion + Part 14

"Then that settles it," Sally said before the room full of Preventers. "We're going to have to do something about the problem before they have a chance to create havoc somewhere."

The photos that had come in from Heero and Duo's shuttle had been startling to Sally and Une. They realized that something was going on behind the backs of the Preventer group, but never had they imagined that things could be this progressed. Sally couldn't understand how this organization had managed to stay so well hidden for so long, long enough to manufacture enough mobile suits to do some serious damage, and she penciled in a time the following week for the two of them to meet once more with the head agents to figure out where the organization was lacking. The sole purpose of the Preventers was to monitor what was happening -- this scenario created a potentially very dangerous and very embarrassing situation for Sally Po and Lady Une.

Lady Une jotted notes on a pad as she studied the images being displayed on the big screen on the meeting room wall. "The shuttle, the one that was tracked as it left Brussels a few days ago, eventually landed on one of the more remote colonies on L3 before lifting off again, a few hours later, for the Lunar base. It arrived there shortly after you had already begun your return trip," she said to agents Yuy and Maxwell.

"So they're diverting to decrease suspicion," said Duo, his eyebrows knitting together as he thought. "Any way we can find out from LDS that shuttle? Maybe they know something that will help us, because I have my suspicions about it."

Sally nodded to Alexa, her administrative assistant. "Look into that today please. See if you can get any information at all on the customer that shipped those crates." She turned to Heero. "And we've had the sample you brought back analyzed. Iron ore. Those are gundanium suits alright."

A nervous rumble spread throughout the room as agents mumbled to each other. "Do we know yet who or what the organized group is?" A voice called from across the room.

Her face writ with concern, Sally could only shake her head. "No clue. We've been hoping to hear something on one of the planted wires, but nothing yet that has identified them."

"I think we know enough now to know that we have no choice," Une said, taking off her glasses so that she could rub her eyes with her fingers. "We have to intervene. As you all well know, mobile suit manufacturing is illegal, and we have evidence that it's taking place, so I think it's time. We're going to have to send teams to the moon to disarm the base and bring in whoever is organizing the efforts up there."

Sally contemplated in silence for a few minutes, gazing around the room, then back at the screen on the wall, where she stared, disheartened, at the lineup of gundanium mobile suits in the hanger at the Lunar base. With great disappointment in her voice, she said "I have to get in contact with the Foreign Minister. She was unable to meet with us this morning due to a previous engagement, but I will impress upon her that it's time for the Preventers to take action. Une, are you available for the rest of the day?"

"I can move some things, yes."

"Everyone, please be prepared for the handing out of assignments within the next few days." With that, Sally stood, gathered her notes and turned to leave the room, followed shortly by Lady Une. After the two women had gone, the others began to rise, some of them leaving immediately, others mingling long enough to discuss the morning's turn of events. Heero made a bee-line for the door, where he caught up with Duo and Wufei outside in the hallway.

"So this is kinda going to hell in a hand basket, wouldn't you guys say?" Duo asked sarcastically.

"Well, I've got to go get a few things done before the shit hits the fan," Wufei said, hesitating momentarily before turning to leave for his office where he still had some reports to finish up before getting elbow deep into something else. "With Quatre and Trowa in the field, that will undoubtedly leave the three of us in command of the teams that get sent."

Heero didn't say anything since his need to control the feeling of apprehension that was coursing through him preoccupied him.

"I don't know about you two, but I'm going to drown my jet lag and my sorrow in a nice strong cup'a joe. Anybody wanna come?" Duo smirked, acknowledging that he was needing to clear his mind of the inevitable for a few moments time, since the Lunar base was all he'd been able to think about for the past three days.

After a hesitation, Heero spoke up. "I'll come."

Duo grinned. "I already knew you would. Coffee-a-holic!" he said to his partner, then turning his attentions to Wufei. "Wu? Interest you in a hot beverage?"

"No thanks guys, I'll have to pass on this one. Too much to get done, and I'm going to at least try to get Sally out of here for an hour for lunch in a little while."

"Good luck with that one, man. You're gonna need it. She's the Webster's definition of a workaholic."

The three comrades walked to the elevator and waited together, stepping in when a car appeared and the doors opened. Wufei pressed 10, for his floor, then automatically pressed 'L' for his two friends headed for a breather across the street.

"OK, catch you guys later," Wufei then said as the elevator let him off on his floor.

"Later, Chang," Duo answered.

"See you, Wufei," Heero added as the doors closed once more and the car began its descent to the lobby.

+

When Relena arrived at home that evening after a long morning of meetings and a long afternoon of Sally, she was not in a very good mood. Trudging her way to her office to deposit her briefcase she began yanking off her low-heeled shoes, flipping them across the room as soon as she opened the door. Dropping the case beside her desk, she noted the blinking light on her phone indicating that there were messages and chose to ignore them for the time being. She reemerged into the hallway to head to her bedroom in the other part of the mansion. Hips swaying, ponytail bobbing, she padded in her nylon stocking feet through the carpeted corridors. Then exploding into the plush, comfortable room, she was stripping herself out of her business skirt and blouse without even seeing that the door was closed, flinging garments off and about the room until she was wearing nothing but her bra and panties. Digging in the bottom of her chest of drawers, she pulled out the nastiest, rattiest T-shirt she owned, threw it on the bed, then slammed the dresser drawer shut. Then digging through a small pile of clothing on the floor near the bed she uncovered her most comfortable pair of well-worn, faded, ripped denims and tossed them on the bed too.

"Everything OK?"

Relena startled, nearly leaping out of her skin. "Oh! Heero. You scared me."

He stood at her open door, still dressed for work, curious as to what the commotion was that he could hear from the other end of the hall.

"I heard a bunch of noise," he said, concerned, since Relena normally wasn't a very loud person.

"I...It's been a really bad day." She stood nearly naked before him, just looking at the man in her doorway. "I'm glad to see you back, Heero. I hope everything went well on your trip."

"I apologize for not calling you before we left. I was...distracted. A lot on my mind and I didn't remember until we were a couple of hours out already."

A slight frown appeared on the Foreign Minister's face, a frown that she desperately tried to force into an understanding smile. It came off looking like a twisted little smirk instead. "That's OK, Heero." Then for a few moments, neither of them said anything until Heero cleared his throat, looking at the almost naked girl, then away from her, his face turning a little bit red.

"I should probably go," he said, his blush spreading.

"Oh no! No, Heero, don't leave. I was thinking we might get a bite to eat and have a few minutes together, that is if you wouldn't mind. Are you hungry?"

"I don't mind but...you need to finish getting dressed first."

It finally occurred to Relena that she was standing in the middle of her bedroom, still clad in nothing more than a push-up bra and a string bikini panty, and all of a sudden her face went as red as a plump, ripe strawberry.

"Oh God," she said as she grappled for her T-shirt and threw it on. Heero smiled, amused, and turned to walk down the hall a little ways as the embarrassed girl finished throwing on her jeans.

+

Dinner was simple that night, at one of the local diners in the city. Heero had developed a taste for diner food, since they usually had a vast menu selection -- and always some of the best coffee in town. He ordered a cajun grilled chicken salad. Relena ordered the same, only tuna steak instead of chicken.

"Sally briefed me on everything that you and Duo found on your trip," Relena said as she sipped on her iced tea. "I'll be making an announcement to the Nation leaders the day after tomorrow, after the Preventers presents its plan for intervention to me."

"What do you think is going to happen? What will you tell them?" Heero's eyes were clear and sympathetic, knowing that Relena was looking at a very tough job ahead of her, announcing to the leaders that the discovery of a rebel organization has been made, and they are already gearing up for some kind of standoff.

"The truth. There's nothing else I can tell them. I just have to hope and pray that you all can get this dealt with quickly and as quietly as possible, to keep morale up."

"I understand."

Relena played with the end of the straw in her glass, pushing around a lemon seed in the bottom of the vessel with it. "So...is everything back to normal between you and Duo?"

He was hoping she wouldn't go there, but here it was. Heero cleared his throat. "Yes, we've managed to patch things up OK, I think."

A pause. "That's good."

Heero smiled a weak smile, then let his eyes fall to the paper placemat on the table before him. He tried to concentrate on Joe's advertisement for 24-hour Towing Services in the greater Brussels Metropolitan area.

"You know...oh hell. Forget it. I'm being silly." Relena decided to forego her thought.

"What is it."

"Nothing."

"No, really. Tell me."

She flickered an embarrassed smile and acted like she was changing the subject. "Did Duo happen to mention how Hilde was doing? I haven't heard Duo talking about her in quite a while." It was underhanded, she knew, but maybe Heero wouldn't recognize it as a pathetic attempt at gathering information?

"Duo...doesn't see Hilde anymore."

Relena pretended to act surprised. "Oh! Really? What happened? Now, I thought they were so good together, those two. What a shocker!"

Sighing, Heero answered her, his still-developing, emotional alerts going off. He was learning quickly though, that was for sure. "He said...that it just wasn't working out for them. She wasn't 'the one' for him."

"No 'tingly' feeling?" Her reply edged toward mild sarcasm.

"I guess not."

"I see."

Silence ensued, only broken when the waitress brought their salads to the table. Relena proceeded to charge right into her food with gusto. Pouring the dressing over the salad, she forced her disappointment away, covering it all up with a polite smile. "Is your salad OK?"

Nodding, Heero said that it was, then looked up at the girl before him, acknowledging the feeling of threat that she was experiencing. The threat that not only did he not feel "that way" for her, but that she was beginning to think Duo did feel it, only for HIM ! Even Heero was beginning to think that Duo did, because the signs were beginning to show themselves, even as oblivious as he knew he could sometimes be. Heero just didn't know how he, himself felt about it all. The issue was beginning to make his head spin. Then lowering his head again, Heero concentrated on his salad so that he didn't have to say anything else for the time being.

Later on, when they had returned home, they spoke more about the impending problem at the Lunar base, and the subject of romance did not come up again, as Relena was becoming afraid of her suppositions. For now, at least, it was easier for her to try not to think about things, especially at a time when her concentration was needed elsewhere. There was no room for emotions to get in the way right now. The last thing she needed was to screw something up, making it plain to the rest of the Nation leaders that she was not mature enough to handle her business and put her personal life aside. A lot for any eighteen-year-old, she realized, but she was the Foreign Minister, after all. "You could always resign," she would continually remind herself whenever her personal feelings and sense of duty clashed. Most of the time that got her back in check.

+

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