The Blood of Peace
First Movement, the Seventh Part: Arpeggio in Presto
Dances and cocktails. Definitely not his thing. Well, maybe the cocktails if the night dragged out too long. Duo braided his hair more neatly than necessary and shrugged into his black jacket. The only bright color on his body this night was in his eyes. He hated parties when all the guests were nobles and royalty. They really didn't have the slightest clue how to have actual fun. He could see the party tonight in his mind and it made him cringe. Bunch of well dressed people in uncomfortable shoes talking about mundane things and kissing up to the king and Heero. At least he knew some people. Duo supposed that he could talk to Quatre since he liked him and Quatre didn't seem to mind his talking too much. And if that became boring, he could always saunter over to WuFei and tease the hell out of him and see what kind of scene they could make. Well, maybe the party had possibilities…
Quatre paced his room, ruining his precisely tied sash around his waist. He was still thinking about the strange auras he sensed when Duo and Heero looked at each other. One day, just one day of palace life, and everything was already complicated. And he could not share his cares with anyone until after the party! Before, he could always talk to one of his sisters and they would help him sort out the problem. Now, he had to figure this out by himself. And as brilliant as he was at diplomacy and human emotions, he could not fathom how to divert this problem from occurring. Yes, he echoed his earlier sentiment, being an empath sucked sometimes.
While Quatre was suffering and Duo was plotting, Relena dreamily walked into her room and sank into her chair in front of her dresser mirror. She smiled into the mirror and exulted. Finally, her political aspirations and personal hopes were merging as one. Her country would flourish from this alliance and her prince, her husband (she blushed and giggled a little at that bit), was just beautiful. Of all things she had heard about him, why hadn't anyone mentioned how handsome he was? Why hadn't they even spoken of the dedication and determination that plainly lit his eyes? Sometimes, rumors ignored the most important things. While she idly played with her hair thinking about Heero, her brother walked in and tapped her on the shoulder. It was a gentle touch, but Relena jumped at the unexpected contact.
"Little touchy, little sister? Did the meeting with Heero not go as well as you planned?"
The light tone belied the worry. Milliardo was truly a wonderful brother, worrying about her even when he didn't have to. To say he was surprised when she turned to him with a brilliant smile would be an understatement.
"Oh, Milli, the prince, Heero, he is absolutely amazing! After all these weeks of agonizing, I should have realized that I had nothing to worry about! He is going to make me happy. I know it, Milli. I just know it."
Her ecstatic statement made him happy. Finally, his baby sister did not have to worry.
"I'm glad, Relena. Now, are you going to tell me about him or do I have to drag it out of you?"
With laughter bubbling behind her eyes, Relena proceeded to tell Milli how wonderful and amazing Heero and her future with him would be.
Heero walked into the ballroom dressed in his finest clothes. He felt uncomfortable and stuffy. The material was scratchy around his neck and binding on his wrists. He felt like he had been manacled and dragged into this room. Dutifully, he sat on the chair next to his father's throne and waited for the guests to fill the room. Colorfully dressed men and women strolled into the gigantic room, showing off their wealth with their fabulous jewels and expensive raiments. Heero was not looking forward to his birthday celebration at all. It would be long, tedious and completely boring. He just wanted to get out of here and breathe some fresh air. While Heero sat and sulked, Trowa snuck up on Heero behind his chair and tapped him on his arm. Heero, an extremely well trained soldier as well as a prince, automatically grabbed the arm and twisted it into immobility. Then he realized it was Trowa that he was assaulting and relaxed his hold. Sometimes, reflexes were quicker than thought.
"Sorry, Trowa. Total reflex. Are you hurt?"
Trowa's thin lips twisted into a smile as he rubbed his injured tendon. He had wanted to test his prince to see if he was vulnerable only to find his arm sorely abused. At least he did not have to worry about Heero being alone and unprotected.
"I'm fine, Heero. Sorry to sneak up on you like that. Part of the job description."
"Understood. Next time, I will try not to hurt you so badly."
Heero was obviously proud that he could best his Master of Whispers. But then again, pride could get you into all sorts of trouble.
Before Trowa could reprimand his prince on the etiquette of gloating, the rest of the Masters showed up rather miraculously and suddenly. Leading the pack was Duo and his mouth.
"Well, well, well! And I thought I'd be the first one to arrive. You surprise me Trowa. Didn't think you were the party type."
"This function is required. And I do like being punctual."
"Yeah, I get it. You're all about the duty. Bet you got here early to sneak up on Heero to test him out, right?"
The look of utter surprise on Trowa's face made Duo break out into laughter. While Duo was cackling, Trowa recovered his facial expression and decided to reassess Duo. He may speak too much, but he was not an idiot. Heero was equally surprised at Duo's astuteness since he hadn't guessed Trowa's true intentions for showing up suddenly until a few seconds ago. Maybe the idiot had some potential.
"What, you all thought I was just a loudmouthed idiot? Come on, there IS a good reason why I'm the Master of Assassins! It's not like I picked the lucky ticket on the lottery."
That much was true. So why was that the four boys had so much trouble thinking of Duo as anything but a chattering fool?
While each boy was contemplating Duo's finer points, Relena glided into the ballroom on the arm of her brother. She was wearing her most beautiful dress to date, a pink and white dress that flowed like the water. The laces were tastefully underdone and her accessories of diamonds and pink quartz suited her young age. Her hair, done up for the occasion, made her look older than her fifteen. She was looking as beautiful as she could, but she was a nervous wreck. She was hoping that this time, she would impress Heero with more than small talk. She now genuinely wished to know him. Next to her, dressed in a white jacket and pants, Milliardo looked around to locate the prince. Heero was rather easy to find since he was sitting next to his father on the raised dais. As Relena had said, he was a good looking boy, if a trifle too serious. And next to him was a group of boys who had to be his Masters. Well, thought Milliardo, no time like the present for some introductions.
Heero saw Relena and her escort make their way to the dais and felt an immediate need to get out of this room. She was looking at him strangely again, and her escort was staring at him like he wanted to look through him. Fortunately for him, the twosome was stalled by a couple of the Earthian nobles who wanted to talk to them. A bit of reprieve and some relief, but not enough. They would eventually get here.
"Heero, my son, I hope you will be considerate tonight to our guests. They will be sitting on the dais with us."
Although Odin had delivered the sentence in a cultured voice, it sounded like the death knell to Heero. An entire night sitting next to the Peacecraft queen. And they said birthdays were fun. Whoever 'they' were obviously had no idea what fun was. Heero's bitter musings were taking him further and further down into misery when Duo broke into it.
"Heero, man, you look like somebody told you that your puppy got run over. It's your birthday. Shouldn't you be looking a bit more cheerful?"
"I would be a bit more cheerful if I wasn't being forced to be here."
"Heero, stop your whining. You make it sound like an execution. It's a party! Let loose, get drunk, bag some chick, have a good time. Damn, you royalty people are just incredibly boring sometimes."
Duo's absurd suggestions were helping Heero out of the dark misery that he'd been sinking into. It was a good thing since at that moment, Relena and Milliardo stepped onto the dais to seat themselves. As Relena sat next to Heero, she looked at him sweetly and greeted him. Had she known what was running through Heero's mind right then, her smile may not have been as sweet. Because at that moment, Heero's poor, overtaxed mind was running a constant litany, 'I will kill you'.