Author: CeeDee
see # 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

And the credits got to... Ellimaru and Sakusha for most appreciated help and suggestions while betaing...

Future of the Past - #9
Chosniel

{(Cover) An angel invoked for the conferring of a good memory and an open heart.}

+

"There's a lot of confusion in that room," Quatre stated and furrowed his brows. "Two of them are sure you are lying. Their emotions are very clear. Relena trusts you. So does Une. But Une has no vote. Blonski, the one who spoke, is not entirely sure, but I feel his trust for Relena. I think he'll vote in our favor." He paused. "The other three are still undecided. They fear us."

"You've gotten pretty good with that empathy thing," I looked at him.

Quatre nodded, "I can control it better now. It's more definable. And I can block now, too." He smiled at me, "It's a relief."

"It's weird," I answered, "the last time we simulated a fight with the Xetoins, I got a feeling..."

My com was pinged. ‘Come back in,' Trowa said.

Straightening, I pushed away from the wall and looked questioningly at Quatre. He shrugged and we went back into the conference room. I surveyed the room. Wufei looked grim. Trowa was expressionless and Heero looked... vulnerable. I glanced at Une, and she pursed her lips. Relena had a determined expression on her face.

"We're at a draw," she declared. "We don't have the necessary majority."

"We will have a vid conference with the President. He'll confer with his consultants and the rest of the parliament and make the final decision," Blonski sighed. "We can't make a decision on whether to acknowledge your claim of sovereignty." He shook his head, "It could take months."

"We don't have months," Une threw in.

"We've would have had months," he said sharply, "if Mr. Maxwell, here, would have given us all the information in time."

I winced, but then shook my head. "No. If I had given you all the details, it would have turned out the same, maybe worse. The media would have had a field day. It would have hit the news all over the world and the colonies. There would have been mass hysteria. Fanatics would have started revolts. People aren't stupid. Some of them would have used this to create chaos, maybe even overthrow the government."

I walked slowly in front of the conference table. "You are aware that Earth does not have the large military presence it once had. You cannot fight revolts in multiple places at the same time. The Preventers alone cannot control this kind of situation." I shook my head again. "The only option is to handle this as quietly as possible. If the President consults the parliament, there will be reporters. I won't let that happen."

I took a deep breath. "The laws of the United Earth Sphere are not suited for this kind of situation. There's no handbook ‘how to deal with alien invaders'."

Relena snorted, amused.

"This is an unknown situation. This is what we were trained for; once. To deal with unknown, dangerous situations. You remember what happened to OZ and the Alliance. Their chain of command prevented quick reactions to our attacks. This will happen again, if you have your way, only worse. You can debate this as long as you want when this is over, but you have to make your decision, now." I took my earlier abandoned seat again.

There was a heavy silence. Finally, Blonski asked, "You want us to ignore all our laws and regulations?"

"No," I narrowed my eyes at him. "But this is a state of emergency. And if you cannot see that, I will act accordingly."

"This is blackmail!" One of the representatives called out.

I snorted. "It would be blackmail if I withdrew myself contingent on your answer. I will fight this battle, regardless of the outcome of this here. The only question is if I fight with your full support or not." I crossed my arms over my chest. "If you force me to withdraw our treaty, and go out on my own, the shuttles are waiting. You can go home."

Blonski pinched the bridge of his nose. "Is there anything you have not told us, anything to help convince us that there is in fact a threat? Anything to justify your claim?

"Something other than Agent Po taking a gene sample of me and comparing it positive to the original crew?" I took a deep breath and thought hard. "No. Although, there is a file... a vid recording," I shook my head. "No. It won't change anything."

"What file?" Relena asked.

"Look," I said, raking my hand through my bangs, "it's not really significant in this time line, since here Treize is already dead."

"Explain," she demanded.

"Treize gave a recording to my father, just in case. He couldn't know that this timeline is completely different from the one he knows. He didn't consider that the Gundams might actually defeat him in another timeline. He expected to be still in charge."

She pursed her lips. "Have you seen this file?"

I shook my head. "No. Not really. Just the beginning. Treize was trying to convince his younger self that the recording was not a fake." I shrugged. "But since he's dead anyway..." I trailed off.

Une bit her lip and nodded, "Let's see. It can't do any harm. But maybe..."

"No one can confirm its authenticity," a representative said.

"My point," I grinned at him sweetly.

"I want to see it," Relena said, looking at her watch. "We've sat here for seven hours. A few minutes more are not of concern."

"Okay," I sighed and slumped back in my chair. "Bethor, access to private files, Ambriel, code HN04201. Security backup. Mission orders. Evidence. Open file."

The screen lit up and we saw a much older, very regal looking Treize, sitting at a very large desk. His hands were folded over some papers, his tired eyes looking into the camera. "I am Emperor Treize Kushrenada. The year now is A.C. 257 Believe what you are being told, my friend. If you do not, your world ­ as you know it -will come to an end quite soon, that I assure you. This recording has not been modified in any way. I am you. I know myself well enough that I can imagine your face now. And your distrust. I assume that Captain Ambriel has sought your help because something in his mission went wrong. I hereby assure you that everything he told you is true."

He leaned forward slightly. "The Xetoins will be invading this solar system in the year A.C. 202. Our military forces were not able to stop them. We have been fighting the same war for fifty years now, and we are on the verge of losing. Our only hope is to stop it before it begins. Before our forces are crushed, and so many die. Our scientists have come up with a way to breach the time-space continuum. We are sending one of our finest, and maybe our last hope, back to you. So that hopefully, with the technology that we did not have so many years ago, you can prevail. Stop the holocaust that is my legacy, your legacy.

"The only evidence that I can offer that this is me, Treize Kushranada," he leaned back in his chair, "is a memory. I still remember it vividly. You should, too, as for you it is not so long ago as it is for me." He chuckled softly. "A summer day in A.C. 195 during the Gundam war. July 28. A dinner with a lovely lady in a rose garden. Your only love, believe me, I know. You plucked a rose for the lady and pricked yourself on one of its thorns. You proposed that evening and the lady accepted. The next morning, the lady died in a Gundam attack. A mecha with a scythe. We blew it to pieces. There still is a scar where the thorn cut you. You never told anyone. I never told anyone. Trust Ambriel. He is our only chance."

The screen went black.

Whoa. I looked around. My gaze stopped on Une, who sat stock still in her chair, pale, still staring at the blank screen. Une. Lady Une. Lady Une.

She took a deep breath. "I never told anyone, either," she said in a clear voice. "Nobody else was there. The servants had been sent away. We had turtle for dinner. He wouldn't let me help with the thorn. I stayed the night. But there was no Gundam attack the next day."

"No," I said, "There wasn't. And Deathscythe wasn't blown to pieces. Not then."

Une shook her head. "Nobody could have known. We never told anyone about the engagement. This is authentic. Without doubt." She stood and said, "Gentlemen, Miss Darlian-Peacecraft, if you are still in doubt, I'll hand over my resignation."

+

"This rocks. Who would have thought? Une and Treize," I shook my head, still astonished. I rested my legs on the empty chair beside me, lounging back in my own. We had decided to spent a little relaxing time on the holo deck, in the ‘bar'. We had a little billiards competition. It was Heero's and Trowa's battle just now.

Wufei crossed his arms over his chest. "I find it more convenient that she was here to see it. Nobody else would have seen something in that file."

"That's right." Quatre took a sip from his beer. "And who would have thought her declaration swayed two of the representatives?"

I shook my head. "And attacking Treize's stronghold, with only one Gundam. What idiot pilot would have done that? Treize and Une. Eek."

"They trusted her word," Wufei replied, ignoring me, "why not ours?"

"We're merely soldiers, in their eyes. Ex-Terrorists," Quatre shrugged.

Wufei snorted. "You are the head of WEI. Maxwell has Invent Techs. I'm a top Preventer Agent."

"They're not seeing that," Quatre said. "They see politics and weapons."

I shuddered. "I would've never done that. Was the idiot suicidal? You can't go blowing up a stronghold like that all by yourself. Hey, why didn't you provide backup?"

Quatre looked at me with a confused face.

Wufei looked irritated. "Maxwell, if you would stop ranting about Une's love life and the destruction of your Gundam, which wasn't even your Gundam in that time line and didn't even happen in this time line, by the way, you'd..."

I burst out laughing. "Hey, man. We're supposed to be celebrating. And what are you doing?" I leaned on the table, and looked at him earnestly. "We've got what we wanted, didn't we? Stop going on about the how and why."

"According to Bethor's data," Trowa put a data pad on the table, "the Gundams never battled in unison. They battled separately."

I turned my head. He stood beside me, cue stick in hand, smirking. "You united us. Whoever it was piloting Deathscythe never did."

I looked up at him, "Did I?"

There was a silent pause at the table. Trowa looked around, before his gaze settled on me. "Yes," he said simply.

"Your turn," Heero broke up the silence. He stepped up to the table, and handed his cue stick over to me.

I raised an eyebrow, grabbing the stick. "You lost?"

"Hn." But his lips quirked up in a small grin.

"Oh, my," I stood and struck a dramatic pose, "Heero Yuy, defeated at billiards."

"Idiot," he said affectionately. "Even your calculations at trajectory derivations were usually more accurate than mine."

We laughed and I stepped up to the billiard table where Trowa already had a new game set up.

+

After a couple more rounds, we called it a night and went to our quarters. As soon as the door closed behind us, Heero whirled around and grabbed me, pressing my back against said door, and kissed the living hell out of me. Fuck, but it felt so good. I groaned into his mouth and clutched at his shoulders, holding on for all I was worth.

By the time he was done, we both were breathing heavily. I let my head fall back and studied his face behind half-closed eyes. He radiated passion and contentment. He had always been passionate, in all that he did, but the contentment was new. It saddened me to realize that there were sides of Heero I'd never seen before. I wanted to know them all.

He reached up and tenderly pushed the bangs out of my face. "Want to watch a movie?" He asked.

I tried to scowl at him but it was betrayed by the grin, stealing itself on my face. "You've gone through my stuff."

He shrugged, unconcerned. "I've uncluttered our quarters."

Peering over his shoulder, I looked around. I hadn't noticed it before, but he actually had. The room was noticeably tidier. I raised an eyebrow "When'd ya do this?"

"This morning," he smirked. "You slept like the dead."

I hadn't noticed it in my haste to get ready this morning either. A little embarrassed, I lowered my head, shook it slowly, frowning. He had rummaged around and I hadn't woken. What did that mean? Had I lost my touch? I have never, ever, been able to sleep through someone moving about any room I was sleeping in. It's a street thing. I can go from dead sleep to instant alert in a heartbeat.

Heero put his fingers under my chin, and raised my head, gently. "I'm happy that I have your trust," He looked earnest, almost reverent. He guessed without words exactly what I was thinking.

Quirking a grin, I watched his face. "Yeah, well..." I licked my lips. Instantly his eyes flickered down, and his own lips parted slowly. He had his fingers on my chin still, and leaned forward, kissing me softly. At least, that's how it started.

I pressed my mouth against Heero's, lips slightly parted, and Heero melted into me. His tongue darting out, pushing in my mouth. The low hum of a moan rumbled deep in his chest. My hands snaked up and threaded through Heero's hair. I clutched at his skull, eager, and fervently. Our bodies melted together and he slipped his thigh between mine and began rubbing against me, his body warm, hard and demanding.

Pressed up against his body, I held Heero's head in place, still ravishing his mouth. It felt so good. I slipped my hand under his t-shirt, fingertips ghosting over his strong back muscles, and then slid up over his shoulder blades. I moved my other hand and gripped his hip, flipped him around until his back hit the wall with a thud. He grunted, startled.

Fumbling with the buttons of my jeans, Heero broke off the kiss to swear as he struggled, then wrenched open the buttons and plunged his hand inside.

"Wait... bed," I mumbled, eyelids fluttering shut as Heero's hand wrapped around my aching cock. "Let's... oh, fuck..."

"Here... now..." Heero murmured, hand already stroking with a strong, knowing rhythm.

I groaned. There was no way I could refuse him. I eagerly rubbed the bulge in Heero's pants. I bit my lower lip, panting, as I impatiently tugged at Heero's zipper. It only took a second before his cock jumped free of his jeans to leap into my waiting palm. I pressed closer and kissed him again, stroking my own cock with the head of his, damp and twitching. I wanted Heero, God, I really wanted him.

Heero clutched my shoulder, gripping hard, surely bruising. His tongue was in my mouth again. I sucked at it, licked it, and grazed my teeth over it as we thrust frantically into each other's fists, grunting. Nothing tender here, just need. Fast blissful sex, deep and primal. No hint of seduction or reverent touches.

Heero tensed, wrenched his mouth from mine. "Close," he panted in my ear. "Wait... uhh... stop..."

It wasn't possible. I whimpered, just short of combusting I was sure. If we stopped now, I probably die. I looked down between us, at our bodies so close together. His hand around my cock as mine gripped his. Again, I stroked Heero's cock against my own, pressing the heads together this time, and Heero came with a grunt, squirting hot cum all over my cock, hand, and belly.

I stopped stroking, but his fist contracted with each spasm and that was enough to send me over the edge too. I let my head drop onto Heero's shoulder as I shuddered. My knees buckled and I rolled back against the wall, eyes glued to his face.

I was still gasping for air as Heero raised his hand to his mouth and licked at his fingers. My cock twitched at the sight.

"Here." Heero jerked his shirt over his head and was offering it to me to clean myself off with. He was smiling. Looking pretty pleased with himself, in fact. Maybe even a bit smug.

"Thanks." We moved, and I did my best to deal with the mess, taking off my shirt as well. I got the worst of it, by the looks of things. Or the best. The air smelled of sex, and I shivered, suddenly cold at the loss of contact. I reached out to take Heero in my arms. I wanted to nuzzle into the soft skin of his neck and press our bodies together again, warm and safe.

He chuckled softly as he embraced me. "About the movie?" He asked.

I lazily grinned up at him. "Yeah, man. Movie."

He tugged me across the room and gave me a gentle shove so that I slumped down on the couch. I watched him as he crouched down on his haunches, and fumbled with the disks. He popped one in the slot and grabbed the remote, switching the screen on before he stood, and then came over, sat on the couch.

I snuggled against his still bare chest, and he threw an arm around me. We lounged on the couch, watching an old movie like... a real couple.

"Y'know, I like this." Craning my neck, I looked up at Heero as the credits started to roll.
"Heero?" I pushed into a sitting position and twisted a leg under me so that I was facing him. "What's wrong?"

"Earlier, Une said she wants us," he elaborated, looking at me. "For a new Unit. Special Force Phoenix, she said."

"Well," I shrugged, and said bitterly, "I'm not in for long-term plans at the moment." A hurt expression flashed over his face, and I bit my lip, instantly sorry for the careless comment. "Shit..." I reached out and gripped his arm. He was tense. "Sorry Heero. I didn't mean..." I hurled myself at him, sitting practically in his lap, arms around him. "Please. Forget it." A fine tremor ran through him. I cursed myself.

He flung his arms around me and crushed me against his chest. He buried his face in my neck. "Don't," his voice sounded muffled, "don't do this."

I smiled sadly. "'kay, Ro. That was stupid. We don't know what will happen. Maybe... maybe nothing will at all." Shit.

He nodded into my neck.

I squeezed my eyes shut against my fear. I'd just have to set it aside for now. Get over it and deal with it when the time comes. Like always. Why was it so hard this time? I took a deep breath, gripped his shoulders, and pushed away from him. Reluctantly, he loosened his grip. My breath hitched as I looked in his eyes; they had gone from Prussian to deep Indigo, shone with pain. In that moment, any remaining doubts I might have had about Heero's feeling for me were gone. We were now bound to each other. God, what had I done to him? Done to myself?

"Make love to me," I whispered without meaning to say it aloud, while staring deep in his eyes. The words came out of the deepest parts of my soul, the very core of myself.

Heero gasped, and then his eyes fluttered closed. He moaned, his back arched and he clawed at my back. Then he shuddered, before slumping against me, breathing hard.

I stared at him, startled. "Heero?"

He twitched but otherwise didn't move.

"Heero?" I touched his neck but he still didn't move. I could feel his heart racing against my chest. The pace was unreal. Urgently, I stroked his hair. He still didn't respond so I shook him. "Heero, please. What's wrong?"

"Oh... God," he moaned. "Oh my... God.

I became frightened. I cradled his head in my palms and carefully lifted his face to mine, afraid of seeing something horrible, like pain or despair...

He smiled. His eyes were heavily lidded, almost completely closed, and he had the most peaceful expression on his face. Sated. Satisfied. And that incredible smile. I froze, perplexed. What the hell had happened?

"Heero?" I asked again, softly, "please..."

Lazily, he opened his eyes and I saw the pupils were wide and dilated. He looked like he was on a drug induced high. High from sitting here watching a movie? It was rather impossible.

"How..." his voice sounded husky and he licked his lips, "How'd you do that?"

"Do what?" I was at a loss.

He laughed, softly, in a joyous manner, causing goosebumps on my skin. He brought his hands up and covered mine, tilted his head to place a kiss in my palm. Then he let himself fall against the backrest of the couch, head flung back.

"Heero..." I growled. "You'd better..."

"You just brought me... in two and a half seconds... without even touching me," He chuckled softly. "I just creamed my pants."

"You... " I gaped as I processed his words. "What?"

"Not me, you. It was all you," he said. "From zero to a hundred in two and a half seconds. God." He sighed. "That was... one hell of a ride," He shook his head. "How'd you do that?""

"I..." I peered down in his lap. There was in fact a wet spot in his jeans. I blinked. I felt like I was in the wrong movie. "I didn't do anything."

"Oh, yes. You did." He furrowed his brows in concentration. "You said ‘Make love to me' and your voice... I felt it. It was like velvet, caressing me everywhere... outside and deep from the inside, like... if you stroked me from the inside, my soul... like a... silk scarf gliding across my body..." he trailed off.

His hand came up, and caught me behind my neck. He tugged me down to him, and kissed me in that lazy, sated after-sex manner, gratefully, reverently, but oh, so deeply. His mouth worked against mine and our tongues swirled, sipping, sucking. He let go and his hands wandered over my body, fingertips kneading and sliding. Breaking the kiss, I leaned back. "Uhh..."

"What is it?"

I huffed. "You're fresh out of ammo."

He blinked, and then grinned, popping the buttons of my jeans. "But you aren't." He licked his lips. "And I know just the way to change that."

In a blink of an eye I was airborne, and he flipped me back onto the couch cushions. I felt my jeans sliding down my legs in a rush of fabric. A hot draft puffed over my groin, and fuck, his wet, hot, tongue lapped at my balls. I felt the heavy sensation of my stirring cock, and looked down along my body at Heero. We locked gazes, and his eyes shone with such intensity that it left me breathless. Never breaking eye contact, he licked along my hard cock. I let my head fall back, and closed my eyes, just felt, as he engulfed me in his mouth.

"Oh, yeah babe... uhh,... do that..." Oh, fuck, but it was so good.

+

Something woke me up. I was on instant alert. I lay still while I registered my surroundings. I was in bed. A warm body entwined with me. Heero. It was quiet, but for his soft breaths. He was still asleep. I opened my eyes. The lights were off and everything was still. A ping came through the com. I activated it.

‘Captain to the bridge.' It was Bethor.

‘What is it?' I requested in silent communication with the AI.

‘Deep range scans discovered five moving objects within the solar system,' Bethor answered.

A rush of adrenaline hit my system and I closed my eyes, taking a few deep breaths. Was that it? The battle was to begin, but would it be my end?

‘One of many possibilities.' Bethor answered my unasked question.

"Duo?" Heero had turned his head, eyes open and alert. "Did you have a nightmare? You got tense all of a sudden." He cautiously pried my clenched fingers from his waist. Oh... I must have clung to him harder than I had intended to.

I licked my lips and chuckled darkly, pressing a kiss to his collarbone. "You could say that. A living one." I shook my head, told myself to get a grip. I gave the mental order for lights. "The dance is about to begin."

He blinked at me, for the sudden brightness or my comment, I couldn't tell. But I could see understanding creeping in his eyes. "Now?"

Throwing the covers aside, I swung my legs out of the bed and sat up. "Yep, zero one. Now." I stood, walked over to the dresser and pulled out a pair of clean jeans. I stepped into them and was on my way out of our quarters before I even had them buttoned. "Meet me on the bridge," I called over my shoulder before the door behind me swished shut.

"Bethor, notify Barton, Chang, and Winner to meet me on the bridge," I said out loud.

‘Acknowledged.' The reply came silently.

I switched my com off and marched through the silent hallways. And so it begins, I thought to myself.

+

Bethor displayed the solar system on the main screen on the bridge. The door opened, but I refused to tear my eyes from the five tiny dots blinking on the screen, to acknowledge Wufei and Heero coming to stand beside me. I could feel Heero's fingers searching and taking my hand in his. He gave a reassuring squeeze.

As the door opened a second time, and Trowa and Quatre entered I took a deep breath, and let go of Heero's hand. I took a step forward, and turned to face them.

"Bethor discovered five moving objects entering the solar system," I informed them.

"We'll have to move," Wufei said.

I nodded.

"First, we need to evacuate all non combat personnel," Quatre looked closely at the screen.

Heero just watched, his eyes burning into me. I wondered what he was feeling before I ripped my eyes away from his, swallowing hard.

"Bethor, specs," I said.

"Angle of entry in our solar system points at Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy(*) as departure, distance approximately sixty thousand Light-years. Momentary position of intruders at a distance of 31.75 AU's to us, intercepting shortly Neptune's circulation course to the sun." Bethor reported.

"When are they going to reach Earth?" I asked, despite that I had already done the math in my head.

"At current speed, approximately thirty five days."

I nodded. "Is there any indication that they've spotted us?"

"Unknown."

I looked down. "Bethor, hyper yammers online, cloaking now. Initiate a ship wide wake-up call. Everyone is to meet in the mess in thirty minutes."

"Acknowledged."

"Gonna go get dressed," I mumbled and looked up again, taking my friends in. They looked as rumpled as I'm sure I did. "You too," I said, "We've got a mission."

+

Riffling through his closet, I decided on his captains' dress uniform.

I'd grabbed my boots, and went to my parent's quarters. I stood there, lost in thought. Only Heero's questioning call over the com startled me out of my thoughts. I slipped into my father's trousers. The legs were narrow cut, and a little too long. The waist was a little too loose, but I solved it with a belt. The legs I stuffed into my boots. The jacket fit better, a little snug in the shoulders, but not too much. It was tailored in the waistline and went down to my knees, like a half coat.

I stood in front of the mirror and stared. The grey uniform jacket had a high, dark grey, almost black, stiff collar. The same color as the high cuffs on the sleeves, which covered half of my forearm. The lapels were also in the same dark grey, and had piping of three lines of fine silver grey ornaments in them, down to the waistline, in the cuffs, and the collar. The trousers were of the same dark gray. On the sleeve of the right upper arm were five fine silver grey stripes embodied. The captain's insignia. I looked... powerful.

As I stepped out of the cabin, I was startled to see my four friends waiting for me in the hallway. More startling was their appearance. They also were clad in officers' uniforms, same as mine, only had on their jackets just two lines of silver grey piping, and their sleeves had four lines instead of my five on the right upper arm. I had to smile. They looked nothing like the boy-terrorists we were once, or the sleep-ruffled young men we were half an hour before. They were truly officers of a battleship.

I looked around and nodded. Taking a half step backwards, I turned, and we marched down the hallway to the mess together.

The doors opened in front of us as I palmed the pad, and the noise stopped abruptly. All faces were turned towards us as we made our entry. I stopped and looked around, taking a deep breath.

"This ship is about to enter a combat situation. We will leave Earth's orbit shortly," I said. "If you do not want to engage in battle, there will be a shuttle to take you back to Earth, leaving within the hour. This includes preventer agents, sweepers and Maganacs. Everyone who decides to stay has to be aware that there will be no backing out. You have been informed of the risks at your original briefings. If this ship returns, it will only be after we have defeated the Xetoins. It may not return at all. Everyone who decides to leave can do so without shame. The only demand I have is to keep this ship a secret, until the government of the UES decides otherwise."

There were murmurs among the men and woman.

Quatre stepped in. "The shuttles will leave in one hour. Everyone who wants to leave has to go now. I suggest that anyone who stays, get your affairs in order. Any messages you want to send home can be sent with the shuttle. We will have no communication with Earth except for emergencies. No more chatting over the vid lines."

A few of the sweepers chose to leave, but I knew that they were only here to make repairs anyway. I was surprised that most of them stayed. A few Preventer agents also wanted to leave, as did the government representatives, and Une, of course. I waved them aside, and waited for the crowd to clear out.

I turned to find Une watching the crowd. "Bethor discovered five unidentified objects, moving in the direction of Earth." I took a deep breath. "I want Commander Wright gone. I don't trust him to follow our plans. I can't deal with his shit."

Une looked thoughtful. "Someone has to have..."

I shook my head. "We've established that they were only here as an ally of the UES to me and my ship. They are in my territory. We have a short chain of command here. It allows flexibility and one more figurehead complicates it all. Chang can do it. We'll have to improvise, I'm sure of that. Une, you know how we work."

She grimaced.

"Duo," Relena said, grabbed my upper arm, and looked at Blonski and the others. "We'll take him with us. We know what you, what you all, sacrifice. Every one who decides to stay. I remember the wars. I know if anything can save Earth, it will be this ship, its weapons and its crew."

"We have no other option," one of the other representatives said. "The planet has no other defense."

"Exactly," Relena said and had yet to let go of my arm. "We know that. And we are thankful." She leaned in, pressed a kiss to my cheek, and whispered, "Thank you, Duo. And take care of Heero."

I blinked and stared at her. Whoa. What was that? How did she know? "Will do," was all I could stammer out.

She laughed and waved as they left the mess.

++

(*) http://www.dassonnensystem.de/bilder/galaxy.gif
(if someone is interested in the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy…)

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