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

Papillion + Part 8

Upon returning to the mansion that evening after his first day as a Preventer, Heero had a heavy load on his mind. While his conversation had gone well, happily, it had also left him equally troubled as he contemplated Duo's words about Relena. Then, besides his personal life to consider, he also had his new responsibilities, as he and his partner had been immediately thrown headfirst into the Lunar Base investigation. Une had been more than satisfied that the former partners had managed to mend their bridges over coffee that morning, and seeing that they were getting on well once more, assigned them to begin their surveillance immediately.

It was during dinner, when they usually discussed whatever was going on in the world or in their lives, that Relena suggested going out again, to blow off some steam and relax after what had been a trying day for both of them. She briefly mentioned the fact that she was aware of Heero's first assignment, but it was the last thing that she wanted to concern herself with at that moment, wanting instead to spend a few hours being young and having fun, at least as much fun as she could, without appearing immature, that is. With the world as her audience, there was only so much that Relena was permitted to do in the public eye. Luckily, dancing at a few of the elite, more private, clubs was one of them. After all, the girl was only eighteen, and that was a fact that her mentors and aides did acknowledge. As long as she carried herself in a professional manner at all times, there was never a problem.

Relena was, herself, was dealing with the problem of the Lunar Base investigation as well, after a long discussion with Sally, only from the political aspect of it all. Her job, which may have been even more difficult than the actual investigation itself, was to decide who, when, and how to tell about the questionable issue, and all the while maintain absolute secrecy and calm throughout the Earth nations. After commiserating over things with Sally all afternoon, she took the woman's advice to remain quiet for the present time, agreeing that it would be much safer for the investigation if she did.

After dinner, Heero met her in the main lobby of the large home, where she was waiting and ready to go. His mind was still flooded with parts of his conversation with Duo, wondering what the other young man meant by "you'll know it if you like her," but he trusted his friend's instinct. After all, Duo, by right, had been a "real person" much longer than Heero had. So he decided to venture into the land of the unknown called romance and allow his natural human senses to guide him, as it was suggested would happen regardless, if he let his emotions rule his heart and body. Heero deducted that this was as good a time as any to start experimenting with whatever it was that Duo was talking about.

While he'd never given much thought before to having a girlfriend, the idea did interest him somewhat; the thought of having a close companion was starting to appeal to him more and more, the longer he wasn't J's robot. Loneliness had always been one of the toughest battles to fight over the years, and being close to someone, as foreign as it seemed at first, was beginning to feel like it could be right, too. The question remained, though. Who? Was Relena really that person? And if she was, how would he know?

Now, if he only knew how to go about this game of chase without falling on his face, Heero would have felt much more confident. Always the fearless one though, he decided to jump in with both feet anyway, to see what would happen. Simply knowing that Relena wanted to "get in his pants," as Duo had called it, made him more than a little nervous, but he moved forward with the guts of a brave Gundam pilot under mind control -- willing to go where no Heero has gone before -- and see what became of it all. He was sure of one thing, however. Based on the events of his last quiet moments with the girl, tonight was sure to be interesting.

+

Relena took him to Jupiter, an upscale teen dance club where one could get lost in the music, but not be too completely obvious to the masses as it was a members-only club. She knew most of the people that frequented the place too, many of them the teenage and young adult children of the political set. Nodding and smiling as they made their way into the loud, thumping club, Relena was cordial and collected as always, looking beautiful in her shimmering, svelte mini dress that showed just enough leg to be called stylish but not enough to cause a newspaper scandal the next day. Heero, feeling extremely out of place in his dress slacks and shirt that Relena helped him pick out, simply followed obediently behind his "date" for the evening as she lead him inside.

The pair were immediately escorted to a private table in a more secluded corner of one of the rooms, and the club's manager saw to their drinks -- Cokes -- having them brought right over. Relena smiled at the waitress and then at Heero, and settled into the booth seat, taking a sip on her straw.

"You like?" The girl called out loudly to Heero over the loud music.

Heero looked around in amazement, then smiled a faint smile. "Loud!"

Relena laughed. "It's supposed to be loud! It's more fun that way!"

"WHAT?" Heero yelled.

"I said...it's more fun when it's loud!"

"OH!"

She giggled, taking another sip on her soda as the song changed. Strobe lights began flashing all around the room as the dance floor filled. "Come on!"

Relena slid herself out of the booth and grabbed Heero by the hand, dragging him with her to the dance floor where she obviously expected him to dance with her. As she began twisting and gyrating around him to the pumping music, he looked on, his face red, feeling too embarrassed to even try moving his body, since he had never danced before.

"Like this!" Relena took his two arms before her, then started pushing and pulling them to the music until Heero finally got the idea that she wanted him to move with her. He looked around to see what the other guys were doing, and copied them, concentrating on the girl before him and the rhythm of the pulsating music until he finally figured it out and was randomly swaying and rocking and twisting right along with Relena. A shy, unsure smile appeared on his face and she smiled back at him. "See? Isn't this great?" Relena yelled out, but Heero couldn't hear her. He cupped his ear with his hand to signal that he had no idea what she had said, and she laughed and shrugged it off, concentrating instead on having a good time.

By the time they returned to their corner booth to rest a while, they were both covered in sweat and breathing heavily from the energy they had exerted on the dance floor. Heero was smiling brightly, obviously having a good time, and Relena seemed to be on cloud nine, watching him. They ordered two more cold sodas, remaining for a while to catch their breath.

When they did get up to dance again, Heero found himself in strange waters when the music slowed and the strobes gave way to soft spots, and the couples strewn across the floor began to get close for a slow dance. Smiling shyly, he waited for Relena to approach him, as he knew she would, since he once again didn't know what to do. He was looking for something internal to guide him, the natural instinct that Duo had mentioned, but the only thing that Heero noticed to be there were the flighty nerves in his stomach, since his brain was already telling him that this slower dance was meant to be something a little more intimate than the other dancing that they had been doing.

Moving close into his personal space, Relena gently took Heero's arms and draped them around her in the correct position, then drew herself against the front of his body. Heero sucked in a deep breath, not having been this close to anyone before except for the one embrace that he'd allowed her that one afternoon in Relena's office, in his moment of weakness and confusion.

"Like this," she said, her voice deep and sultry as she slid her arms around him, then began guiding him in slow steps in an even slower circle. "Don't be nervous, Heero. It's only me." Her fingers fiddled with the hair at the nape of his neck, sending a tingling sensation through his body, and Heero tightened against her.

Looking around again at the others on the floor, he realized that the couples were all dancing that way, most of them even closer together than he and Relena were, as the boys all draped their heads on the shoulders of their dates, the girls all resting their heads on the chests of the boys. Some of the pairs were even kissing as they made slow revolutions on the dance floor, and when he turned back, Heero could see the dreamy look in Relena's eyes. It occurred to him at that moment that Duo had obviously been right, that Relena did have feelings for him, and he smiled weakly, still not knowing how to feel about it all. Then with a deep, satisfied sigh, she rested her head on his chest, squeezing him closer to her.

Feeling completely awkward as he did, Heero gradually allowed his head to drop so that his chin rested on top of her head, and he could smell the sweet fragrance in her hair. His heart thumping from the nervousness rushing through his body, Heero forced himself to stay calm as the two slowly circled on the dance floor in time to the romantic music, his arms holding the Foreign Minister tightly, the way he knew she wanted to be held, but all the while thinking that he really wanted to let go. Whatever this feeling was that he was experiencing, it certainly wasn't making a hormone-crazed animal out of him, that was for sure, and Heero was almost certain that his lack of response to her would be a disappointment for Relena.

+

By evening's end, Relena was as in love with the former Gundam pilot as she had ever been, and he was equally confused. The closeness of the slow dancing had obviously stirred something awake inside the girl, something that Heero was not sure whether he was ready to face, yet he himself had failed to find any need to continue their closeness. It wasn't that he didn't want to be with her at all, or spend the evening with her...he just didn't have the same reaction that she was obviously having, and he chalked it up to beginner's nerves. She would understand, he reasoned, since thus far Relena seemed to be able to understand everything that he had been going through. She'd been a kind, patient teacher, and she would know that he just wasn't ready for an intimate relationship with her. She would understand.

They were riding in silence in the limousine back to the mansion, Relena still swimming in good vibes from the club, when she turned to Heero, her eyes filled with passion and admiration.

"Did you enjoy yourself this evening, Heero?" Her smile was almost drunken with giddiness in spite of the fact that the only beverages to be had all night were of the non-alcoholic variety.

"Yes, Relena, I did. Thank you."

She shifted around so she could face him better, and study his eyes. They were wary, almost frightened, which she attributed to all the excitement of the evening. Eyelashes fluttering seductively, Relena was so completely attracted by Heero's scent, by his natural smell, that she thought her body would combust right there in the back seat of the limo if she didn't kiss him.

"Heero?" she asked, "Would you like to kiss me?"

He didn't answer immediately. Did he want to kiss her? It was a very loaded question. Did he? He didn't know. He felt his sense of duty trying to kick in, trying to tell him that he should kiss her, because she obviously wanted him to kiss her, but somewhere beneath it all was the bugging feeling that it all didn't feel right to him. That she wasn't the one, even though she was beautiful and kind and smelled good. Heero fumbled his words for a moment. "I...I suppose." Duty, once more, won out. With a bright, hopeful smile on her face, Relena slid herself close beside him and waited expectantly, her heart thumping with excitement as their eyes met in the darkness of the car. Heero did nothing, only looked at her.

"Is...there something wrong?"

He blinked. "No. I'm sorry. I was just...thinking. Nothing's wrong." Heero sighed. Then he leaned forward, as she had done the night they were sitting on his bed, and touched his lips softly to hers. He breathed in sharply as he did, smelling her sweet breath and guiding his arms to thread loosely around her like he had seen the other boys in the club doing, and as he did, his own heart pounded with what could only be described as fear.

His eye remained open as hers closed, she leaning deep into him, reaping everything out of that one little kiss that she could, until something stopped her. She pulled back and opened her eyes, looking uncomfortably at Heero. For a little while, they said nothing as the car continued on, the back screen up so that no one could see what was going on in the passenger section of the limo. She lowered her eyes in recognition.

"You don't feel the same way about me, I gather." It was a statement and not a question that Relena uttered in a hushed, disappointed voice.

"I-I don't know what I feel right now, Relena. It's too soon, I think. I..." He stopped and looked away, knowing that he had hurt her feelings somehow, even though he did nothing except what he thought she wanted him to do. "I'm sorry, Relena."

The girl smirked, then sat back against the leather upholstery. "It's OK, Heero. I should be the sorry one. Rushing you into something like that. It's just that..."

"Duo told me that you've felt this way about me for a long time."

Although he couldn't see it, Relena's cheeks turned so red that heat radiated off them. She tried to hide her surprise with a chuckle. "He did, did he? Well, I guess nothing gets past Duo, then, that wise guy." In the pit if her stomach, a knot was forming as she suddenly felt like a complete fool, having pined over Heero for as long as she'd known him, over three years.

Heero sighed. "He told me something else that I didn't understand, until tonight, that is."

"What did he tell you?" She was almost afraid to hear Heero's next statement.

"He said that when I find the right person, I'll know it. That it's human nature to know it automatically."

Relena pondered Duo's advice momentarily. "Well, I suppose he's partially right. It happens. Not always, but it happens."

"How do you know that I'm the right person for you, Relena?"

She laughed again, her blush returning. "Don't make me explain this Heero, please?"

He smiled a little smile at her, flashing his eyes, the very eyes that had always mesmerized her, and she couldn't deny him what he asked.

"Oh...alright. This is really embarrassing, you know, but I think that's a part of it."

"Being embarrassed?"

"Well, sort of. It's like this feeling that no matter what you say or do, you feel a little embarrassed in front of 'that person,' because all you want is for everything to be perfect. Everything you say, everything you do. And this feeling inside that...I don't quite know how to explain. But I know, I know because when I am around you, Heero, my heart leaps and jumps and gets all fluttery, and there's this feeling right here," she put her fingers on her stomach just below her ribcage, "that gets all queasy. And here," her fingers moved to over the center of her chest, "gets all funny-feeling too." Relena laughed. "You can't really describe it -- it's something that has to be felt to be understood."

"Like Duo said."

"Yeah, I guess. Like Duo said."

They were quiet again while Heero's mind raced and Relena tried to guess what he was thinking.

"You feel all that when we're together?" Heero asked.

She nodded, barely noticeably, then turned away. "I guess you...don't, do you?" Her tone was flat and disappointed.

He did not answer her.

"It's OK, Heero. You don't have to feel bad about it. I mean, there's a whole world of people out there for both of us. I'm sure everything will work out for us the way it's supposed to."

He looked up. "You aren't angry at me?"

"How can I be angry? I'm sad, if that's what you mean, but how can I try to make you feel for me when you don't? That would be ludicrous."

Heero breathed a relaxed sigh, letting it out slowly so as not to make the girl feel too self-conscious at his relief. "I appreciate that, Relena."

She smiled. "Just promise you'll stay my friend at least?"

Heero smiled back.

+

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