disclaimer: i own gw in my spare time. wait, i have no spare time. pairings: 1x2, 3x4, etc etc etc genre: AU, duo POV warnings: strangeness, nonbeta work so i expect little oddities in grammar notes: sorry this part took long in its appearance.. again.

Part 27
by 0083

- The Twenty-Sixth Encounter -

Spring is perhaps my favorite season, warm without being humid, pleasant throughout with flowers blooming on every corner. I love the pink of the cherry blossoms, the joyousness of the yellow forsythia, the rising blooms of daffodils.. okay, stop me before I turn into a home and garden magazine.

Anyway, I love spring. Even with the sudden cold snaps that send all of my senses into whirling pitfalls, I love the season. I can practically smell the air warming, feel the buds rising out of the grounds, et cetera. Too bad I live in the middle of an urban center and I hardly get to see anything resembling plant life, right?

So, spring hit my city with a gentle breeze, carrying the scent of flowers in the air. I felt relaxed all the time, the spring fever without the maddening need to procreate hitting my nerves every time I stepped outside. I wanted to float around doing nothing, just sitting on a park bench absorbing all that was spring instead of working my bones to grinding death.

If wishes could be horses.. then we would all be eating horses, right?

Oh, maybe not. I have heard that horses taste rather nasty. Do not ask how I heard, how I know. Some things should be kept secret.

So, March was the beginning of spring for me, in more ways than in just the weather pattern. Heero and I entered into a peaceful time as well, our relationship blooming healthily despite all the inconveniences caused by some significant members of our lives. We also got closer to having the sex each day which was a relief to me Ė I was beginning to doubt if I would ever be ready for it.

I suppose my reluctance had a lot to do with the fact that I am a virgin in respects to having sexual encounters with other males. Imagine it for just a second. Here I am, having had sex many times over many years, getting used to it being a certain way with only women, trying to figure out the interlocking procedures involved in an all male relationship.. but I digress.

Quatre and Trowa tried to advise me on the whole sex thing, Quatre being a bit more frank than was polite in company. On occasion, Trowa would suggest that he draw me some diagrams and perhaps build me a working model of the situation. I do believe my friends are teasing the hell out of me, but if you canít make fun of your friend and his sex life, then what is the use of having friends at all? It is rather karmic anyway, since I used to tease Wufei endlessly about sex, seeing how I was always off getting laid in college while he tried to wait for the perfect woman to come along.

As I was saying, spring. Work was still hell, but the brimstone quality of it was tempered by the nostalgic atmosphere bred by the season. I found myself daydreaming about what Heero and I did, would do, should do. I resembled a teenager in the blooms of his first love, staring out into space at inopportune times, losing entire trains of thought. If I was not so happy with Heero, I would have seen how entirely pathetic I was. In a good way.

But such feelings does not last forever, because springs are notorious for their sudden showers, shifts in weather and my life followed that pattern closely. How shall I phrase what kind of a craphole into which my life decided to plunge except to say that one fine day, as sudden as a spring snow storm, I got the most disturbing visit at my apartment.

There I was, innocently smoking one of my last cigarettes in the pack, working through a terribly unorganized box of discovery sent over to me by the prosecutorís office, when there was a knock on my apartment door. I was being quite industrious on Sunday, having brought a lot of work home. Hell, I had even asked Heero not to come over this day so that I could finish work without distractions. But there it was, the distraction, in the form of a knock on the door. Grumbling inaudibly, I forced my legs to unfold from their painful position and wobbled to the door, ready to whip out a whole load of frustrated curses on the unfortunate soul who had decided to convert me to Jesus or sell me cookies.

Alas, there was no religiously dedicated Mormon nor a overly cheerful girl scout on the welcome mat of my door. No. There was a lady, dressed in a very tasteful and expensive Prada suit, and wearing a pair of shoes that Iím sure cost the amount of a small countryís tax deficit. She had her blond hair curled into a sedate chignon at the base of her neck and was decorated with understated but pricey jewelry. All in all, she was the picture of a proper, debutante ball kind of a lady.. that is, until I looked into her quite enraged and steely blue eyes.

"Can I help you?" I asked, slightly confused by her presence and more than annoyed about the interruption.

"Yes," she answered in a cultured voice, modulated just so to make it sound like a command rather than a reply, "you may help me by dropping dead."

Well, thatís not very cheerful. Or nice.

"I see. Do you happen to be related to one of my clients?"

Yes, that is a very valid question in my line of work. I have no idea how many hit lists my name must be adorning at this very moment because of past clients, but I can hazard a guess and say it is in the higher fifties.

"No," she said, her nose in the air, "but then again, you canít guess who I am, is that it? You are not as intelligent as I had heard."

Several things click at once. The hostility, the genteel faÁade, the expensive clothes, the blond hair..

"Relena. Nice to meet you."

Hah! I said that with a straight face, you know that? No hint of sarcasm either. Okay, I donít hold anything against the girl, because she had been duped by her entire family, friends and Heero for so long, but still.. Iím not perfect, I had jealousy issues, remember?

She walked into my apartment without an invitation, but I wasnít about to physically remove her either, so I had no choice but to close the door and face her. Really, I had not actually thought that I would ever meet Relena, especially after she had kicked Heero out of her life, but here she was, pretty as a porcelain doll, standing in my living room with a very scary look on her face.

Good thing Iím used to dealing with hostility and murderous vibes.

"Would you like something to drink?" I asked, ever the polite host. I had to admit it to myself, Iím rather good at pretending as if nothing was amiss.

"You wouldnít put cyanide in it, would you?"

She sounded so utterly serious and suspicious that I had to laugh. Did she spend her time reading cheesy ass novels where the evil woman (or in my case, man, definitely man) infused the coffee with a deadly poison so that the former lover could be offed in a tasteful manner? I really ought to buy her some Capote.. she might get better, if not more gruesome, ideas.

"Sorry, fresh out. Used the last batch last week on a particularly nasty client."

At this point, I think she realized how stupid she had sounded because she blushed the shade of pink that clashed with her lavender suit. Then she sat down on my couch, still uninvited but who is caring, and faced me with a slightly miffed look.

"I apologize," she said, her voice carrying a bit of a rueful pout, "Iím not usually so.. catty. Itís just that, well, I came here on an impulse.. and I have no idea why Iím here at all."

I gave her high points for honesty and bravery. Here she was, facing me, most probably the last person she ever wanted to meet, and she had yet to throw things at my face. She is doing much better than most people.

"Hey, I understand. If it makes it easier, I have no idea why youíre here either."

I know I shouldnít be attempting humor in this case, but I canít help it. One of my best defenses in a tense situation is humor, even if it is out of place. Defense mechanism is an automatic reflex, you know?

"Itís just that I really hated you," she intoned in a very calm voice, "and I had to see if you were an awful person."

I see. I suppose it would make it easier if I was some ugly bastard who somehow brainwashed Heero into the relationship.

"The thing is, I really loved Heero. For a very long time. I never imagined a future without him and then.. he tells me that heís gay and he has been for the longest time. He tells me that he stayed with me out of pity, not out of love. He tells me that heís in love with you and that everyone knew! It was humiliating, mortifying. And yet.. still.."

Oh shit, this is when she begins tearing up. Her blue eyes no longer held anger, filling up with frustrated sadness and betrayal. How the hell do these things happen to me?

"I hate you," she continued, her voice warbling with unshed tears, "more than I hate Heero, because if it wasnít for you.. heíd still be with me and I wouldnít know all these things. But thatís not fair of me and I know that it isnít, but I canít help but hate you. Iím an awful person! And so are you! Heero is the worst! No wait, my brother is! Oh damn it, everyone is awful!"

Yep, thatís when she burst into full fledged crying, her face buried in her tea serving hands still sporting a diamond ring on her left hand ring finger. I felt even more sorry for her than I did before. I wanted to help her out, so I sat next to her on the sofa, patting her shoulder awkwardly.

"Oh. Hey," I tried, I really did, "itís okay.."

Crying females is not my thing. I have no idea what to do with them. I donít know whether to offer them tissues or joke with them to stop their crying. Especially in this case! This was Relena, Heeroís ex-fiancee, the girl who stirred up trouble just by being mentioned! And she was crying on my sofa, sounding incredibly broken and dripping tears the size of cantaloupes. What am I supposed to do?

It got even more complicated when she buried her face in my chest and gripped my shirt for dear life. I was about a millisecond from panicking, but I held back. I didnít want both of us to be freaking out at the same time, because it would have caused more issues.

"See," she hiccoughed and stumbled, "I.. I still love.. and he sucks.. you do, too.. canít believe this happened to me! I.."

From there, it degenerated into incoherent mumblings, between the sobbing and the hitching breaths. This was a situation I never had imagined. Relena, crying on my chest, lamenting about her broken relationship with Heero.. the only thing that could have made it any weirder was if Solo was currently crying on Heeroís shoulders.

As Relena continued to soak my shirt, I realized something. Relena, of course, still loved Heero, you canít turn that off like a drippy faucet. She probably didnít want to, not after what she had been through, but she still did. She loved him so much, but in the end, it had not been returned. It had never been returned and she had found that out in a very painful, humiliating way. She had vented her rage at Heero, cried her sorrows to Milliardo, but she had needed someone to hate desperately, to blame someone for this unbelievable fact of her life.

I was the obvious choice.

The poor girl. I canít fathom the pain she must have been in for the past three months, trying to come to grips with a simple fact that her life for the last ten years had been built on lies. I love Heero to death, I would never let him go, but at this moment, I was getting angry with him all over again. He could have ended it for her way before this, been truthful about who he was to her and let her move on with her life. But he had used that feeble excuse about her not being well.

Wait, sheís not well. Oh crap, what if she passes out or something!

"Uh, Relena," I said, trying to keep the mounting worry out of my voice, "Heero said that you werenít well.. this canít be good for you, right?"

That got her going on the ranting mode again.

"Heero, that idiot! And Milliardo, too! And my goddamn parents! I was not THAT sick, for the love of god! They should have told me ages ago, but no, they had to protect their weak, innocent little girl! They are all idiots!"

Well, I canít argue with her there, can I? Havenít I told Heero that he should have let her know? As soon as she finished that short rant, though, she went back to making my shirt into a damp rag.

To think that I was jealous of her.. sure, I had every right to have been angry at Heero, but I should never have held Relena responsible. I mean, she was a victim, too, wasnít she? All the important people in her life had lied to her for half of her life. What did that say? Sure, they did it because they thought it was for her best, so that she would not relapse into the throes of her disease, but I honestly donít think that should justify this at all.

This being the crying girl in my arms.

"I donít understand," she said, her voice muffled in my very wet shirt, "why none of them thought I was strong enough. Have I been that weak? And why am I here, of all places, with you, of all people, crying? Why am I crying on you? What do you care?"

Even so, she does not remove herself from me. Instead, she lifts her head to stare at me in the eyes.

"You.. you are a good looking guy."

I smirk slightly at her, raising one of my eyebrows.

"Heero loves you."

I nod, my chin nearly bumping into her forehead, but she does not notice.

"I hate you, you know."

"Yeah," I sigh, "I know. You have the right."

"You hate me, donít you?" She asks rather accusingly.

"Nah, I donít. None of this was really your fault, right?"

She merely looks at me a bit longer before she replies. Tough and thoughtful girl, she is.

"Partially, it is my fault," she finally says resignedly, "because I really would have done anything to keep Heero with me. Even if I had known, maybe I would have continued feigning to be very ill to keep him. As long as I could."

Honest, too. Sheís not so bad, Relena Peacecraft.

"But I still hate you. And I think I will need something to drink."

Yeah, she did. Crying all those tears must have dehydrated her. Hell, it drained me.

After she drank some water, she stood up, gathered her purse and got ready to leave. At the door, she paused for a moment and turned to me, her face an interesting study of various emotions. I suppose she is very embarrassed at having cried on me like that, not to mention the things she said, but she faces me with dignity.

"Iíll have to hire someone to kill you if you tell anyone I was here."

I expect no less. I suppose Iím on yet another hit list, but for some reason, I do not mind it so much.

to be continued

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