Peace Children 8/8: epilogue
Author: Zillie
warnings: none, really. oh--reeeally euphemistic sex stuff.
category: AU fantasy (but you just might like it anyway. . . :)
pairings: 1+2, 3+4, 5+M, S+S (see, now you hafta read to find out precisely what _that_ means. . . told you I was tricky)

Peace Children + Epilogue

Upon receiving a message from the king, the Winner clan's soldiers searched the Raberba holding. Among the things found were personal items that had belong to Quatre's missing sister, evidence of dealings with groups in other countries, and the body of Lady Faiza's mother, who had taken poison rather than be caught. The holdings of Raberba were seized by the king and bestowed upon the family of Noventa, in honor of the heroic death of their leader.

He was buried with full honors. The king, who knew the truth, was solemn and spoke little. His son, who did not, seemed to find his new status as Clan Leader of little comfort. His daughters cried copious amounts. His granddaughter, standing beside her father, did not.

+

No connection between the receivers of stolen goods in Oz and Treize Kushrenada could be found. The Oz king expressed his great regret that such a thing had happened, but swore that he had no personal involvement in it.

Nobody believed him.

+

"We are of course sorry that you will be leaving us so soon," Relena said politely, her smile just a bit too happy. She couldn't help it -- she would be glad to see the last of Dorothy Catalonia.

"I thank your highness for your hospitality, but it is indeed time we were leaving," Dorothy said, with a glance at Trowa.

The Oz prince was still.

"Oh, has our honored father not told you? We delight so in Prince Trowa's company that we are requesting that he stay. As an ambassador, as it were," Relena said, enjoying the momentary discomfort that crossed Dorothy's face.

"I don't know," Dorothy began, but Relena cut her off.

"We are sure that our cousin would not deny us the pleasure of his company," Relena said. "Especially not in such a trying time. We have our cousin's assurances that he wishes to support us in every way, after all."

Dorothy's lips compressed. "Of course, your highness. In that case, perhaps I should. . . ."

"Oh, no," Relena said. "We wouldn't dream of keeping you any longer -- we would never deny our cousin the. . . experience of your company."

Dorothy curtseyed. "You are too kind."

Yes, Relena thought, I am.

Sally stayed silent until Dorothy had been gone several minutes. "That was interesting," she said tentatively.

"After all," Relena said with a satisfied smile, "One must find one's enjoyment somewhere."

Sally wasn't sure that insulting Dorothy Catalonia, however politely, was a good way to do that, but the air of satisfaction about Relena kept her silent.

She might not have let that stop her had she seen the smile on Dorothy's face as the duchess prepared to leave.

+

Catherine and Quatre were waiting for him. "Well?" Catherine said.

"I'm to be an ambassador," Trowa said, not able to keep himself from smiling. "I'll be representing a people who hate me to a people. . . ," and he shrugged, unable to think of a way to gracefully finish the sentence.

"To a people who don't," Quatre said, taking his lover's hand.

Trowa felt as though his whole life was falling into place as neatly as his fingers mixed with Quatre's.

Catherine was ecstatic, as well. "I truly believe that the Wanderer clan would benefit from an Oz emissary," she said in mock thoughtfulness.

"Yes," Quatre agreed. "Just think of all the things you could teach the lions about fashion. And hairstyles."

"You're one to talk," Trowa growled playfully, batting at the boy's slightly shaggy head.

"Quatre's right," Catherine said. "We could use you. And I think it would go both ways."

Trowa shot her a smile.

"For example," she continued thoughtfully, "the monkeys could teach you an awful lot about flirting." She neatly dodged his playful swat. "And the pigs about grooming!"

"And the -- " Quatre began, but was cut off by an approaching Magunac.

"Master Quatre," the man said, bowing respectfully. "I have news and gifts from your father." He paused for a second, then went on, "as well as from fourteen of your sisters and two of your wives. They're all quite concerned for you, sir."

Quatre sighed, but looked pleased. "Women. They worry so much. Have you brought me the latest reports from the third caravan?"

"Of course, sir," the man said, leading him off. Catherine followed, intent on seeing if any of the gifts were of interest. Only Trowa stayed behind.

"Wives?" he said.

+

She watched her lover dress to leave her.

"They're looking for you," she said.

"I know."

"Will you let them find you?"

He pulled his pants up and buttoned them over his skinny body. "Not yet. It's not time yet."

"Do you know more then you've said? About the Weapon?" She propped herself up on her elbows and watched him pull on one boot.

He paused for a second. "Nothing I can tell you now."

"And Duo?"

"What about him?"

"He's a little. . . confused."

Solo shrugged. "He'll manage."

"He's awfully mad at you. Not least for lying to him about Lady Hilde."

"You said to distract him for a day or so. I did that. Besides," and he pulled his other boot on with a tug, "it was a good test."

"What would you have done if he'd said yes?" she asked softly.

He looked at her, and the brightness of his eyes as he did so made her whole body contract with joy. Or pain. Or something. "I would have been surprised."

"Nothing surprises you," she said.

He leaned forward and touched her face. "You do. Always." He kissed her softly, the pulled away. "You promised to love and honor me. Remember?"

She laughed wryly. "I'm not likely to forget."

Solo kissed her again. "If you can manage that -- and honoring me, I'm sure, is no small feat -- then please try and trust me. At least for a few days."

"I don't think I have a choice."

"You're a Clan Heir now. You have a lot of choices. Hell, they'll probably start trying to marry you off before too long."

"They're too late," she said simply, and pulled him back to her.

+

In the week since Noventa's death Duo had been watching him carefully. Heero wasn't sure if the other boy knew that he'd noticed, but he had. It had started the next day -- Duo had slept through to Sunday, and when he'd woken up, there had been a look in his eyes as he took in Heero, who was watching him. "Did I hurt you?" he'd finally said.

Heero shrugged. "I've had worse."

Duo had reached out a tentative hand and touched Heero's throat. "You're hoarse. I did hurt you."

Heero had leaned in and stared his lover directly in the eyes. "I've had worse," he repeated. "And I hope I'll have worse in the future."

That morning, for the first time, he was the one who entered, and Duo was the one who opened.

And ever since Duo had been watching Heero. With a look -- but Heero couldn't describe it. It put him in mind of horses who had come from bad masters, of prisoners who had just realized that they were completely at their captor's power. It made him realize that for all Duo's much touted sexual experience, the boy knew next to nothing about relationships. Even less, if such a thing was possible, than did Heero himself.

And that scared him. Because he was sure that before too long, one of them was going to mess up. He was fairly sure that it would be Duo. And he was afraid -- though he only admitted it to himself late at night -- that he wasn't going to know how to deal with it.

And, he thought to himself one night as he watched Duo sleep, if he lost this, he'd lost it all.

+

"In the two weeks that you have been here we have had several unusual occurrences," Relena said, looking around the room. She took a deep breath and said it. "The Weapon is missing. You all know that." Their faces were solemn -- and supportive. She looked around at them, and for a second the fear which had been plaguing her lifted. Wufei. Meiran. Hilde. Catherine. Lucrezia. Quatre. Sylvia, new to their ranks. Heero, whose eyes still made her feel like everything would work out. And Zechs. Her brother. Even Duo, who was the closest thing to a Weapon she had. And Sally, her sister, who stood beside her as always. They would manage this."

"I go to Raberba," she said, "with Lady Sylvia and her parents, to establish them as head of the house there."

Sylvia looked stricken. "I -- your highness, I do not want a holding purchased with treachery."

"It's not yours because of your grandfather, whatever everyone may think," Relena said simply. "It's yours because of you. Because you have served this crown since you were far too young to be doing so, because you served this crown even when your own flesh and blood bade you otherwise, and because I believe that you will, one day, be an excellent Clan Leader."

"With all due respect, your highness," Sylvia said uncomfortably, "I'm a decent thief, and a decent poet. I'm no kind of leader."

"You will be," Duo said quietly.

Relena looked at him in surprise. He nodded to her, and she found herself nodding back. "You will be," she echoed.

"What of the rest of us?" Hilde asked.

"You'll come with me," Relena said. "That is to say, the ladies Hilde, Catherine, and Meiran will accompany Sylvia and I." She held up a hand to stop their protests. "It is customary for the Clan daughters to spend time with the princess. It is -- I will also feel more comfortable with those who I can trust as warriors and as friends," she admitted.

"Am I to go with you as well?" Lucrezia asked.

"No," Relena said. "It is also customary for Clan Heirs to work closely with the monarch. You will work with my father's cabinet -- I hope that you can help us determine whether or not Noventa worked alone. Lord Zechs will stay here as well."

Zechs looked up.

"I hope that seeing you working so closely with my father will allay any suspicions that people may harbor after last week's. . . fiasco," she added, and then turned to the rest of them.

"And you're going to find the Weapon," she said.

Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei managed to exchange a five way glance. "What?" they chorused.

Relena could not prevent a smile. "You work well together. I think you have proven that. You can also travel with less fanfare than could I or the ladies. I have every faith that you will do your utmost for Sanc and for peace."

Duo, sprawled over a very expensive chair, gave her a look. "And why would I want to do this?"

"I don't know," she said. "Why would you want to do this?"

He thought. "Schools."

She had expected a demand for some jewel. "Schools?"

"Aye, and you heard me. Schools. I want the schools improved. I want the orphanages better funded. And I want my brothers and sisters, all seven of them, granted full pardons for any crimes, and taken care of." He glanced casually at Sylvia, and then added, "Hell. I want them made bloody lords and ladies."

Relena raised an eyebrow. "That's a bit of a high order."

Duo shrugged. "What I'm going to bring you is worth it."

"You bring me what I want, and I'll give you what you want. I'm not entirely sure about the ennobling -- that's not a simple matter."

Duo shrugged. "I think Solo's the only one who might care. As for the rest -- bring 'em here and take care of them while I'm gone, and we'll call it even."

Next to Relena, Sally Po watched with a morbid curiosity. To have seven -- well, six since Solo was missing -- street rats living here? While she was in charge?

It could be interesting.

Relena nodded. "Done." She turned to Sally -- Duo stopped her.

"Oh, and I want that diamond of yours." She looked at him in astonishment -- if he meant what she thought he meant, he was after one of the kingdom's prizes. "You know the one I'm talking about," he said, and reached into his pocket. "This one."

He dangled the jewel known as the Sun of Sanc before a horrified assembly.

Relena snickered.

Duo grinned in return and tossed it to her. She fumbled but managed to catch it. "Just kidding," he said.

o*wa*ri

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