Peace Children 6/8: Friday
Author: Zillie
warnings: sex stuff, language, arrests and flirting, lying and Relena- sympathy. parings: 1+2, 3+4
feedback: needed. really needed--I love it when people say things were good, but I'd also sorta like if if somebody could tell me what's bad, so. . . please?
thanks go to: Mellanballer :) <sigh> almost there!

Peace Children + Friday

"I thought maybe I wouldn't go back."

Astonished, Quatre stared at his lover. "Not go back?"

Trowa went stoic. "It was just an idea."

"A damned good one, I think." He pulled on his boots with a smile. "A really damned good one."

"They'd kick me out of the prince club."

"The Winner Clan would open its home to you."

Trowa leaned over for a kiss. "As long as it opens its legs for me, I'll be fine."

"Catherine would be glad to have you, too."

"Yeah, but we're too closely related. Besides, not everyone who wants me can have me."

Quatre elbowed him in the stomach. "You know what I mean."

Trowa looked away. "I have to ask you something."

"I'll do my best to answer."

"Is she really my cousin?"

Astonished, Quatre framed his lover's face with his hands. "Don't you remember?"

"Sometimes. Sort of. They didn't want me to remember. So I forgot." Trowa's eyes grew bitter. "I gave up everything -- not just my family but my memory of them as well -- for a country that refused to accept me."

"You would have been a good king."

"And I would have hated every minute," he said. "I don't begrudge my sister and her husband the throne. She's the oldest, she's the legitimate one -- I'm all for it. What I resent is the fact that they had to make me a villain for it to work. I couldn't walk down the streets at home without someone spitting at me. I've spent the past few years hiding inside the palace because everyone outside it hates me."

"From what I heard, not everyone hated you."

"Just because they slept with me doesn't mean they didn't despise me. I had power, even if I was only half human. To their way of thinking. Even my father. . . even before he died they hated me."

"I bet he loved you."

"You bet wrong," Trowa said, staring into his lover's eyes.

Quatre placed a kiss on that half-covered forehead, then on Trowa's nose, then on his cheeks, his throat, his eyes. "I bet I'm right," he said between kisses. "I don't think that anyone could know you and not love you."

"My father never knew me," Trowa said, gently pushing the smaller boy back to the bed.

"Then I pity him," Quatre said, and kissed Trowa's lips. "You know," he said, "I just got my boots on."

"They can stay," Trowa said with a grin, and ripped open Quatre's pants.

Quatre's eyes widened, and then he began to laugh. "Oh, we'll see about that, Trowa Barton! Just give me one second and then we'll see who spreads his legs for who!"

"For whom," Trowa said jauntily. "And call me Try."

+

Relena found it ridiculously easy to keep her face impassive as her father's spymaster told her what information he had found on the activities of Faiza Reberba and her clan. After the past few days, she didn't think that much could shock her.

"We compared what we found in the shops my lord Quatre pointed out to us with the list of missing goods," the older man told her. "There were some matches, but most of the goods have either been sold long ago or never came to the capital in the first place."

"Do we have any idea of where they might be?"

The spymaster looked regretful. "They may be stockpiled in the Reberba estates -- I consider that unlikely, however. It seems that the reason for these acts was in part financial -- a few years ago Lady Faiza was given part of the family business to run as a test. She seems to have failed miserably."

"And her mother?"

"We are not yet sure, your highness. It is possible that the Lady Faiza undertook this independently, to make up for her losses. However, if my suspicions as to where the rest of the goods are is correct, than this seems unlikely."

"You don't think they're just in various shops around the country," Relena said wearily.

"The items were simply too specialized for that to be a viable option," the spymaster told her. "They couldn't risk selling them in any place where a Winner might run across them. Added to that, there were several unique items among the missing goods. A pair of intricately embroidered gloves matches the description in a recent fashion report from the capitol of Eltoo -- a rare dye has become the rage in Arsis in an odd proportion to the official imports -- and her grace Dorothy," here the spymaster looked slightly disconcerted. "When her grace's belongings were unpacked here she had among them a set of gray pearls that resemble those possessed by Lord Quatre's missing sister."

Relena followed the trade routes in her head and came to an unpleasing conclusion. "She was stealing her kinsman's goods and trading them with Oz, who in turn sent them on to Eltoo and Arsis."

"I fear that is the most likely situation."

"Which means that we need to determine whether or not there were delegates from Oz at Reberba recently," Relena said. "You'll see to that?"

"I will, your highness."

Relena sighed. "I'm sure that this can hardly be a good time for you. I saw your granddaughter the other day -- I apologize for taking you away from your family during one of their rare visits."

"Sylvia?" the spymaster looked surprised, then smiled. "Yes -- she paid me a brief visit. I did not realize your highness had spoken to her."

"No -- just passed her in the hall the other day, or something," Relena said, rubbing her temples. "Do convey my appreciation of her writings to her, please. She has such a lovely turn of phrase."

"Your highness honors my granddaughter and the Noventa family," the spymaster said, sketching a bow. "And now, my lady, to the matter of the Shinigami."

Relena sat up straight. "How do you know of that? I have told no one, and ordered silence from my companions. I haven't even told my father yet."

The spymaster quirked an eyebrow. "It's my job to know, your highness. And your father knows as well -- I told him my suspicions when the assassin entered the palace."

"And I was not informed of this?"

"We did not believe you to be in any danger, your highness, and your father wanted your attention focused on other things. Denouncing the guest of one of your guests could have caused a diplomatic incident."

"So instead you gave an assassin free rein in my palace?" Relena asked, her tone frigidly polite. "And now that one of my guests is dead?"

"I and my people are doing the utmost to resolve this matter, your highness," Noventa said stiffly.

"My lord, I can hardly be an effective monarch with limited information," Relena retorted, still annoyed. "Have you any further information for me? Please, wrack your brain. I would hate to find out something you thought irrelevant now will be related to the death of my next guest."

"I hope to have more news for you later this evening, but for now, I fear I have nothing." He bowed again. "If your highness will excuse me."

"We thank you for your information," she said, barely meaning it, and then sighed as the door closed behind him. When Sally came in a few moments later she found the princess in tears.

Setting down the tray of tea quickly, she rushed to the girl who was for all intents and purposes her sister. And her queen. "Relena!"

"I can't do this, Sally," Relena wept, allowing Sally to embrace her. "I can't be a queen. My first big duty -- my first taste of it -- and already I've killed one of the most important people in the kingdom and all but had an insurrection in my sitting room. I'm playing hostess to the foremost assassin in my country and I have no," she checked herself "no idea what to do." And the symbol of her country's power had become no more than that -- just a symbol. The Weapon was powerless, and she was useless.

"Relena," Sally said softly, stroking the younger girl's hair. "It will be all right. Lady Faiza's killer will be found. . . because it wasn't you. It's not your fault. And we'll figure out a way to deal with all of this. I know it. No matter what happens, Relena."

"How do you know?" Relena said, clinging to Sally like a baby to her mother -- she pressed her face against the smooth linen covering Sally's shoulder and allowed herself a second to pretend that it was her mother's hand that moved, warm and loving, on her head.

"I know that everything will be all right," Sally soothed, "and I know that because as long as we have the Weapon, the gods have not forsaken us." Taking Relena's gasp for a sob, Sally made a soothing noise. "We'll be all right, Relena. I promise you that. Just trust in the gods and the Weapon and your father who is after all still the king. You've years before you need to be queen -- but I truly believe that even if you had to take the throne tomorrow -- even if you didn't have the Weapon -- you'd be all right." Relena felt like the gods had forsaken her. She put on a weak smile and sat back. "You are of course right Sally."

The older woman studied her with concern. "My lord Heero and. . . Duo wish to meet with you. Should I tell them to come back later?"

Relena rubbed at her eyes. "No, no. Just -- one minute." She dipped a handkerchief into a glass of water from the tray that Sally had brought and dabbed at her eyes. "Do I look all right?"

Sally nodded and swept a deep curtsey. "Like a queen, your highness. Like a queen."

+

Heero looked over at his unusually silent companion and wondered what to say.

He hadn't known the night before, either, after Solo had left as quietly and easily as he'd entered. In the dark, finally, he had worked up the courage for a few questions.

"You slept with him?"

"Once or twice," Duo had said. "He's the closest I've ever come to love, after all. Didn't you say that sex and love should go together?"

Heero had thought back to what he and Duo had been doing scant hours before. "I suppose I did."

"Haven't you ever been lonely, Heero?" Duo had asked, turning towards him in the bed they shared.

Heero hadn't known what to say. He thought of the sword beside his bed, of the raven currently in the castle mews. He'd been taught that all a man needed was his sword. And then he thought of the way he felt every time he saw Duo. Like he almost -- almost -- almost had something in his reach. . . and knew in every fiber of his being that he had no chance of holding on to it. "I guess so."

"Sometimes when you're lonely it doesn't matter so much who you touch or how you touch them, so long as you can feel them breathing next to you," Duo said.

Heero had had to remind himself to breathe. A few minutes later he had managed to get another question out. "Do you like it? Killing?"

Duo shifted beside him, drawing his attention back to the present. "What's taking so long?"

"Her highness is busy," Heero answered automatically. "We can't expect her to see us every time we knock on her door."

Duo stood and paced. "I don't like this waiting."

Heero watched the boy he barely knew -- his lover -- and wondered what the hell he was doing. What this intimate stranger was doing to him.

That morning Duo had surprised him in the bath. He had found himself facing the wall, resting his face on Duo's arms, which were braced against the wall ahead of them. His own hands had been busy behind him, guiding the other boy into the sanctuary of his body. He had rubbed his face, his nose, his lips against Duo's arms, flicking his tongue into the soft inside of an elbow, dragging his lower lips along the lightly furred skin. He had been unable to manage the presence of mind to shape his mouth into a kiss -- even that simple use of muscle had been beyond him. A sweet sensation lower in his body had caused him to butt at Duo's arm with his nose, harder -- he had jerked his face back, stung. "Your bones. . . sharp," he had hissed.

Duo had laughed, and Heero had felt the vibrations of that all through his body. "I grew up on the streets. I'm bony." And the smile in his voice was so different than the detachment in it the night before, when, after a long pause, Duo had whispered an answer to Heero's question.

"Yes."

He jerked his head up as the door before them opened and Sally Po came out. "Her highness will see you now."

+

She'd been crying.

He could tell.

She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and grinned, embarrassed. "Sorry."

He shrugged and stooped to pick up the lion cub batting at his shoes. "Forgive my intrusion."

"It's no bother," she said, and gestured for him to sit beside her. He did so, noticing that her bright hair was a trifle mussed, and that her green eyes had dark shadows beneath them. "Where's Quatre?" she asked.

Trowa looked around, as if surprised to see that the other boy wasn't with him. "Oh -- he was called off to a meeting. He had some of his soldiers with him, and I was rather pointedly left out of the invitation. He said to meet him in the small library." Trowa remembered the last time he and Quatre had met here and for the first time in as long as he could remember felt embarrassed. Ordinarily he'd be making innuendos -- making sure that simply everyone knew that he'd had the rich and powerful Winner heir on his knees. Begging for mercy. But when it came to Quatre. . . he didn't want to do that. And then he wondered when he'd stopped thinking of the Winner, a potential ally, potential enemy, but never potential friend, and of Kitten, his sex toy, and started thinking simply of Quatre. And he wondered why he had given Kitten -- his sex toy -- the name that only he was allowed to call himself.

"Tell me about Triton," he said suddenly.

Catherine started. "Try. . . about Triton?" She thought for a minute, then smiled tremulously. "All right. My mother and. . . his mother were sisters, only a year or so apart. They looked quite alike, too -- their parents had been distant cousins to each other, so the same coloring ran in the family. Green eyes, brown hair, freckles, this funny sort of nose I have here." She touched the pointy object in question shyly. "When I was four my aunt showed up suddenly -- she'd gone on a visit to. . . another country some years back and never returned. My mother had read me bits of her letters, but I had never met her. So when she showed up I, for a second, thought she was my mother. She had a baby with her -- Triton was two then -- and I thought he was the ugliest thing I'd ever seen. But Mellie the weaver's daughter had been bragging because she had a new baby sister. I had asked my mother for one, too, but she quite honestly told me that she couldn't have any more babies. She said I was sooo special that it would be pride to ask for any more babies. So I decided to adopt Triton as my brother. My aunt," here she stumbled for a second, but kept going, "was sickly. Unhappy."

"Did she miss her lover?" Trowa asked quietly.

"Yes," said Catherine, surprised. "Yes. She did. My mother constantly raged about the man, but my aunt. . . genuinely loved him."

"Did the people hate her?"

Catherine was even more astonished. "And why would they do that?"

"She'd been sleeping with a foreigner. And she had a half- human baby." He winced and corrected himself. "A baby that was only half-Sanc."

"There wasn't anything special about that baby," Catherine mused, noting with satisfaction the brief flash of indignation on his face. "He slept and he shat and he cried, same as all others. Doesn't seem to me that there was anything particularly Oz or particularly Sanc about that. He was just a baby. And she was a fairly good woman, and a truly good mother, so there wasn't anything to be said against her. She wasn't the first woman to have love trouble in my mother's lands, nor the last."

"What's it like, there?"

"Not half so grand as all this," she said wistfully. "More like. . . like if you have a favorite shirt or something. It may not look as smart as some other, newer ones, but it fits you in a way -- it takes your shape instead of you taking its."

Trowa glanced at his own clothes, which were sent off to charity at the first sign of any wear. He didn't think he had a favorite shirt. Then he took a closer look at the one he wore -- he had snatched it not off of a hanger but off of Quatre. If he breathed in deeply, he could smell his lover. "This is my favorite shirt," he told Catherine.

"It suits you," she said. "It's a lovely color. The blue tint to the green is unusual, and expensive, I suspect." She touched it, tentatively, quickly. "The Winners have a way with dyes."

He stared at her, and then stared at the shirt. "Yes. I believe they do."

+

[cont]