Author: Enchantress101
see part 1 for warnings, disclaimer

Shades of Obsession + Chapter 23
First Comes Love

Later that same night, I met up with Q, Tro, Heero and Wufei at a casual restaurant downtown. I made sure to bring alone the shiny new card that Zechs had given me--I was feeling a little depressed, and therefore a little gluttonous. That card was going to get a serious workout. And why was I depressed?

Because my boyfriend was out with his ex!

. . . okay, and his sister and Sally.

But I could not understand why he would be willing to sit down at dinner with the woman who exposed his secret to his unsuspecting sister.

Zechs didn't want any tension, he'd claimed, since Noin and Relena were still really close. Humph. Whatever.

Well, at least I would be hanging out with the old gang once again. It had been a while since we last got together, really got together, just the five of us going out and having fun. Still miffed at that dry ass sandwich from the other day, I was ready to kick back and enjoy a nice and greasy dinner--whoops. That did not look good.

The other guys were already sitting at a table, but from five feet away I could tell that things were a little strained. Heero and Wufei were not sitting next to each other--Trowa was in between them, sipping causally on his drink while Quatre, who was at Heero's right, began squirming uncomfortably. Yep, Heero glaring at his napkin so hard that it would probably spontaneously combust at any second would make me nervous too.

The desire to turn around right there and hightail it to Burger King or something was almost too hard to resist, but I sucked it up and sat down at the table.

"Hey guys, what's up?" I asked cheerfully.

Heero just grunted, but Quatre rushed in and said, "Heero and Wufei have been fighting!"

Wufei glared across the table. "Thanks, Winner. If we wanted the entire world to know, then we wo--"

"Watch it," Trowa hissed dangerously.

"What have you two been fighting about now?" I demanded, frustrated. "Is it those damn pictures again?"

Wufei pursed his lips and looked away. Bingo, I was right.

Quatre looked from me to Heero, then to Wufei. "What pictures?"

"Pictures of me and Heero when we were together," I muttered. Where the hell was the waitress! I flagged one down. "Hey, can we order please? I'm starved."

The distraction worked. For a little while, things were slightly better as we ordered. When my drink arrived (with a small slice of chocolate cake for my 'appetizer') I turned to Quatre and continued. "Fei had a hissy fit because, apparently, Heero's been looking at them."

Wufei straightened up in his seat. "I resent you using the term hissy fit. I had good reason to--"

"No, you didn't!" I dropped my fork onto the table and leaned forward, glaring at Heero and Wufei. "Listen here, you two! Neither of you have anything to worry about! Wufei, no one wants Heero! Well, maybe Relena, but that's beside the point--she's just weird. You two are freaking made for each other! You both can be duller than a day spent watching the grass grow, you're anal-retentive neat freaks who enjoy living on Perfect Street, and you both like to eat that funny looking Asian food, okay? Sheesh, give it a rest already. I'm tired of hearing you bitch about some non-existent threats to your relationship."

Pleased with myself, I sat back in my seat and crammed the rest of my cake into my mouth. "Besides, if anyone sitting at this table should be insecure about their relationship, that would be me, got it?"

"Noin and Sally are here," Quatre added for the others.

Trowa frowned. "Noin? Wasn't she--"

"Head over heels in love with Zechs? Yes. Were they dating a while ago? Yes. Is she here to try to win him back now? I don't know."

"I thought I saw that Po woman in the office today," Wufei mused. "However, I had hoped that I was just hallucinating."

"No, she's here," I verified. "Now will the two of you switch seats? If you're over being dumb, that is."

Wufei and Heero shared a (cute) look before moving their chairs around so that they were sitting next to each other, and so that Quatre and Towa were side by side. Quatre mouthed a silent thanks to me. I just grinned.

The rest of dinner was pleasant, expect for the nauseating fact that Wufei and Heero were whispering to each other the entire time, and by the end of the night were sharing googly lovey-dovey eyes. Or, as googly and as lovey-dovey as the two could get, anyway. But it was nice to see, because hopefully the two would go home, have a good, long talk and end up doing whatever they did with each other in bed at night and leave me alone. I had enough of my own problems.

The two lovebirds made an early exit, and Tro, Q and I stayed behind to have a little dessert and more drinks. I was really kind of relaxed, and had totally put Zechs being with them out of my mind, but then Trowa had to go and ask me where Zechs was. Thanks a lot, buddy.

"Ah . . . actually, he's out to dinner with Sally, Relena and Noin." At the sad looks that they gave me, I laughed a bit forcefully. "Hey, at least they're not alone together, and it gave me a chance to hang out with you guys again, you know?"

"Are you sure that she's not here to cause problems?" Quatre asked, the crease in his brow making it obvious that he was really worried about this.

"I don't know anything for sure. I mean, just today, she went and told Relena that Zechs and I were in a relationship with no warning whatsoever, so . . ." I sipped on my orange soda. "But we'll see. I want to have a little talk with her some time to get this all clear."

"That would be a good idea," Trowa said. "Good luck."

"Yeah, thanks." And given the way that my life was going, I was probably gonna need it.

+

I returned to the flat kind of late that night to find that Zechs was still not there. A little disappointed, I prepared myself to go to bed alone that night and couldn't help but wonder where the hell he was at one in the morning with a bunch of girls, including his baby sister.

I crawled into bed and stared at the dark ceiling for ten minutes before I rolled over and snatched the phone. I punched in Zechs' cell number and waited.

"Hello?"

It was Noin. I almost hung up. "Ah, I hope I'm not interrupting anything." There was loud music playing in the background and some pretty raucous laughter too. And here I was in bed instead of shaking my butt with my man. Damn.

Noin laughed. "Oh, no! Relena is just showing Zechs how to dance properly. It's quite funny, actually. You should be here."

I grated my teeth as I tried to figure out whether or not she's added that last part on purpose. "Oh. Well . . ."

"Is it an emergency?"

"No! Just tell him I was, ah, just checking in. Tell him I'm at home and in bed, okay?"

"Sure thing Duo. See you la--"

"We need to talk tomorrow."

The woman sighed. "I figured that this was coming. Okay, we'll sit down at lunch and chat."

Without another word, she hung up. I made a face at the phone before slamming it down on the bedside table.

Zechs was out having fun without me. Should that have bothered me? Was it wrong that it was?

Oh, come on Duo! He's out there dancing with his sister, not his ex-girlfriend! It'll be fine, just fine . . .

I was almost asleep when there was a slightly frantic knock on the door. Surprised, I rolled off of the bed and onto the floor.

"Ouch! This better be good, damn it . . ."

You can imagine my surprise to find Alex standing on the other side of the door. While my mouth fell open, he walked in and closed the door behind him.

"Hey, this is pretty nice," he said appreciatively while looking around. "Can I use your phone?"

I must've blinked fifty times in that one moment. "Excuse me? You waltz into my home at one forty in the morning, tell me that it's pretty nice and then ask to use the phone? What are you on?"

Alex smiled tightly. "I'm sorry, it's just that things haven't been going that well for me. And I really need that phone. My cell battery died, I was in the area, and I really need to call someone."

"Oh, okay." I went into the kitchen and got the cordless one and handed it to him. "I'm . . . sorry to hear that things haven't been going well."

" . . ." After a minute or so, he hung up the phone. "Damn. Walker didn't answer."

"What's going on?"

Alex sat on the couch and sighed. I joined him and watched as he swept one of his hands through his dark hair warily. "I think I know how you felt with Rankin following you around. I can't shake the feeling that someone's doing the same to me now. Just a little while ago, I was heading into the office to get some papers that I'd left and I noticed this car behind me . . . I just couldn't shake it."

A chill raced up and down my back. "What? You think someone's stalking you now?"

"I don't know. Once in a while, I get phone calls where no one answers, and sometimes I have that weird feeling, you know? But I have no proof--no scary notes, no stinky roses . . ." He gave me a sheepish smile. "Maybe I'm just imagining things?"

"Just because you haven't been getting nasty packages doesn't mean that you don't have someone following you." I tucked my feet beneath my butt. "Are you going to ask someone from the force to look into it for you?"

"I'll talk to Walker. I'm sure he'll help me out."

I snorted. "After what happened when he dragged me down for questioning about Quatre? He didn't seem too happy."

Alex smiled. "It's a cop thing. The stress of such a big case must've gotten to him. He's not usually like that. We go way back, since we were in diapers, you know, best buddies and all of that. It's a bit different now that I'm not on the force anymore, but we're still okay."

"Oh. Well, I hope he gets that stick out of his ass."

After a small laugh, he said, "I think it'll be fine. And how have you been?"

"Just fine, expect for the little fact that Zechs' ex-girlfriend showed up a little while ago."

"Ouch. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, its fine. A little tense, but its fine."

"Good. If something does happen though, you let me know . . ."

Before I could say anything, the front door opened, and Zechs walked in. He froze the second he saw Alex and I sitting together on the couch--his face grew dark and his body tensed up.

"Zechs!" I exclaimed, jumping up. In retrospect, I can see that this was probably not the best thing to do because it made me look guilty as hell, but I wasn't thinking about that at the time. "Um, hi! You're back."

Alex stood up and began dialing again, leaving us alone.

"What is he doing here?" Zechs demanded as I came up to his side. He looked really pissed, so I quickly filled him in on what Alex had told me. Zechs took me by the arms and steered me into the kitchen where he leaned in close to me. "I don't care what the hell he says about some so-called stalker, Duo. He's probably just making it all up so that he can get closer to you. I don't trust him and I don't want you alone with him."

Woah, jealous much? The way I saw it, I had more to worry about from Noin that he did from Alex. "Okay, okay!" I leaned in and gave him a peck on the lips, which seemed to calm him down a bit. "I'll watch my back. How'd that phone call go, Alex?"

"Good, thanks. I got in contact with Walker. He's going to see me home."

"That's good. Sorry this is happening to you too."

He nodded. "Well, my case has been no where near as bad as yours. Thanks for your help. I'll . . . ah, I'll go wait down in the lobby for him." Alex left quickly, probably to avoid having his head bitten off.

Zechs locked the door behind him and stalked into the bedroom. I followed on his heels. "Come on, Daddy, don't tell me you're mad. Nothing happened."

He yanked his shirt over his head, and then flung it to the ground. Um, yeah. Looked mad to me. "No, I'm not mad. I'm just worried about you. Whoever set fire to your apartment and attacked you hasn't been caught yet, and I thought that we agreed that Benito was a suspect. And then I come home to find you entertaining that suspect in the living room."

Entertaining? Why did he make that sound so slutty? I plopped down on the bed and glared up at him. "Relax, will you? I can take care of myself."

Zechs crawled into bed next to me. "I know, I know. Sorry."

"Better be, damn it." Snuggling up into his chest, I closed my eyes. "How did your dancing lesson with Relena go?"

" . . . who told you about that?"

I stiffened in his arms.

"Duo?"

Noin hadn't told him that I'd called? Should I tell Zechs that I had? Did this mean that she really was trying to mess things up--?

"Oh, never mind. Lu said that you called."

Well. Noin and I needed to really clear some things up, and having that talk was looking better and better.

+

"Did you hear the news, Duo?" a very bubbly Quatre asked as he bounced up to my cubicle the next morning.

I looked up from my game of solitaire and stared. He knew darn well that I didn't like to watch the news. "Actually, no I haven't. What's going on?"

Quatre's face exploded into a wide smile. "It was all over the news this morning! Weston has taken back his story about me, and those charges are probably going to be dropped now."

"What!" I jumped up. "This is great!"

We did a little jig and hugged and laughed, only settling down when our co-workers began shooting daggers at us with their eyes.

"I can't help but wonder what made him change his mind," Quatre asked as he perched his rear on the edge of my desk. "Seems kind of strange."

I grinned to myself--damn, I was good. Here's to hoping that my talk with Noin would be just as successful. "Oh, I'm sure his conscience told him to fess up. Are you and Trowa gonna celebrate tonight?" I wiggled my eyebrows at him.

Quatre turned a pretty pink. "I don't know. Maybe. Hopefully! It's been a while since we had some quality time together doing something romantic."

"You should go into the city and stay at a swanky hotel and have a good time, okay? Life's too short."

"That's a damn good idea. I better start making reservations . . ." Quatre wandered off and I smiled at his retreating back. This was perfect--maybe now those two would be able to get their relationship back on track with the stress of the charges finally gone.

Heero and Fei--check. Quatre and Trowa--check. Now it was time for me and Zechs.

I found Noin down in the cafeteria as promised, and joined her at the small table. She raised an eyebrow at my empty hands.

"You're not going to eat?" She had a plate piled high with some mighty fine looking spaghetti. Yum.

"Ah, no. I want to get down to business."

"Alright." Noin set down her fork and looked me straight in the eye. "Do you feel threatened by me?"

I shifted in my seat and rested my chin in my right palm. "Do I have a reason to feel threatened?"

"No. I'm not after Zechs."

". . . but you still love him. I can tell."

Noin nodded and began twirling her fork in her food. "Well, yes. I won't deny that. I will always love Zechs, but I can see that he really does care about you and that you make him happy, for whatever reason." After devouring a large bit of spaghetti, she continued. "We broke up over a stupid misunderstanding and it hurts to know that he's moved on. But I'm not the type of girl who's going to try and get in between the two of you."

I sat back in my chair, a feral grin on my face. "Good, because if you were . . ."

"I know that you're not one to fool around with, Duo."

"I'm glad we have that clear."

"However," she leaned forward, "if you break his heart, I'll break your face."

"If I break his heart, I'll let you break my face."

"Good."

"Good." I stood up. "That it?"

"Not really." Noin gave me a strange smile that almost made me shiver. "I know that you'd feel much better if I just fell off the face of the earth and never bothered you or Zechs again, but unfortunately for you, maybe, I'm going to be a part of his life for a very long time."

Oooh. That sounded like a threat. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It wouldn't be fair to tell you before I tell Zechs. I'm going to stop by Zechs' place tomorrow evening--you'll know then."

Argh. Stupid . . . I turned on my heel and walked away.

You know what? She was right.

At that moment, I really wouldn't have minded if she just dropped off the edge of the earth, never to be seen again. Woulda made my life a hell of a lot easier.

+

"I swear, Duo, that I have absolutely no idea what she wants," Zechs said as he began loading the dishwasher with the plates that we'd just used for dinner. "I'm just as lost as you are."

I glared at the front door. Noin was supposed to be coming over any minute now, and the food that I'd just eaten was doing summersaults in my stomach. "Yeah, well, for some reason, that doesn't really make me feel better."

Zechs chuckled and abandoned the dirty dishes to come over and rub the top of my head. "What could she possibly say that would let her come between us?"

There was a knock at the door.

We were about to find out.

Zechs opened it and in came Relena first, smiling brightly at her brother, and Noin . . . with a baby carriage.

And in that baby carriage was, what else--a baby. But not just any baby, it was a blond hair, blue eyed baby, the splitting image of Zechs.

My heart seemed to plunge into my stomach as Noin bent down to un-strap the child from the stroller. Now I could see it better--it was a boy, cute as a button I was willing to admit, with soft platinum curls beginning to sprout out of the crown of his head, wide icy eyes and pink plump cheeks.

"Isn't he so cute?" Relena cooed, wiggling her fingers at the baby's face.

"You're a father, Zechs!" Noin exclaimed as if she was announcing that he'd just won the lottery, and thrust the boy into Zechs' arms.

I looked up at him. He was stunned. No other word for it. Absolutely stunned.

Zechs took the child into his arms, slowly, carefully, and stared down at him. "I . . . I . . . god, Lu, what . . .?"

Noin looked a bit regretful as she stared down at the floor. "I found out that I was pregnant a little while after we split up. I was already away, and I was so mad at you for not understanding about what had happened in that hotel room . . . I just wanted to hurt you so much, the way you hurt me."

"Lu--"

"I wanted to hurt you so much. I knew how responsible you are, I knew that this would kill you, so . . . It was wrong of me, I see that now, and I'm truly sorry. It wasn't fair to you or to our son."

Zechs, mindful of the baby--gah, his son--in his arms turned to face Relena, then Sally. "Did you know? Did you know and not tell me?"

Relena was still smiling, so much so that I was really surprised that her face didn't split in half or something. "I've only known for a few days now. Besides, it wasn't my place to tell you about little Mill. That's his mommy's job, isn't it? Choochie choochie coo!" She returned her attention to the baby.

Little Mill? Zechs had a son? By Noin, his ex-girlfriend!

Breathe, Duo, breathe!

I filled my lungs with air and then exhaled--nosily, I guess, because Noin glanced over at me for a second. I looked away.

"I was hesitant to tell you," she continued, and took the baby from Zechs when he began to fuss. "I wasn't sure how that would affect your new relationship with Duo. I--well, I hope everything will be okay. I don't want to be a--"

Zechs seemed to snap back to reality. "No! No, everything will be fine. Duo and I will talk later about it, okay?" He looked at me. I just nodded silently. "And Lu, I'd like to talk to you later in private as well."

"Yes, later," Relena interjected, "because now you need to do a little bonding, okay?"

Noin and Relena wrangled Zechs into sitting on the living room floor and playing with the baby--his son, while I just looked on dumbfounded. Call me selfish if you want, but I couldn't help but wonder what this new development would do to my relationship with Zechs. Here was Noin, showing up out of the blue and presenting to Zechs one of the few things that I would never be able to give him--a baby, a son, a family.

Did he want those things? If he did, how much? Why hadn't we ever discussed it?

I felt him begin to slip through my fingers. This baby--Zechs' son was fuel for Relena to push Noin and Zechs back together, to unite their family for the sake of their child, blah, blah, blah. And as Noin had said, Zechs tries to be so responsible all the time. Wouldn't he feel the need to take care of his child? Wouldn't he want for his child to come from a home with both parents instead of being shuttled from one house to the other like an animal? Oh man . . .

"Duo," Zechs called gently. "Came over here for a minute."

"Ah, okay." Hesitantly I joined Zechs, Noin, Relena and the baby on the floor, where the child was sprawled out on the plush carpet, making goo-goo gah-gah noises and drooling and doing normal baby things. "He's really cute," I admitted, a little awkwardly. "Like the . . . Gerber baby."

Zechs smiled and picked up the baby. "Hold out your arms."

Oh no, he wanted me to hold it--the baby, I mean. I just stared for a moment at the tiny human being, scared that I would do something wrong. What if he took one look at my face and began crying? What if I dropped him on his head and he grew up to be like Heero?

I stuck out my arms and held my breath as the baby was placed in them. Zechs maneuvered my arms until they were in the proper cradling position.

"Wow . . ." I murmured. What was I supposed to say? What was I supposed to do? "He's, ah, kind of heavy, but still so small."

"He eats quite a bit," Noin replied. I glanced up at her--her face was blank as she watched me, and I wondered what she was thinking and what she was really feeling beneath that calm and collected façade that she was putting on.

I stared down at the baby, whose beautiful blue eyes stared back up at me. Aw damn, it was hard not to like something this adorable, but this would put a major cramp in my relationship with Zechs . . . This was just too much, that funny smell of baby, a combination of power, lotions, creams and diapers, was beginning to overwhelm me . . .

Or was that the smell of poo?

Relena wrinkled her nose. "Whew! I think someone needs a diaper change!"

Noin reached over and took Mill from my arms. I almost sighed out of relief to have that responsibility gone. "Can someone get the baby bag from the stroller, please?" Noin asked as she began to undo the baby's clothing.

"I'll get it!" No way was I going to pass up the chance to get away for even just a minute, to take a deep breath that didn't smell like baby powder and poop. There was the pink bag in a basket at the back of the stroller, partially unzipped with all sorts of baby junk sticking out. I bent down to pick it up, and one thing inside caught my eye.

A medicine bottle?

Why did Mill need medicine? Was he sick?

After a quick glance up to make sure that the others weren't paying any attention to me, I pulled the bottle out just enough to read the label.

Bi-what?

Bipulomine? What was that?

Later, Duo. Right now there was a half naked baby with his butt in the air needing a diaper change. I stuffed the medicine back down into the bag and brought it over to Noin.

She pulled out the diapers and stuff, smiling up at Zechs. "Would daddy like to do his first diaper change?"

It occurred to me then that now there was someone else who could call Zechs daddy, and that bothered me. A lot.

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