Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and the characters are not mine. I'm only
borrowing them and I promise to return them in one piece! ^_~
//Here in the night
I see the sun
Here in the dark
Our two hearts are one
It's out of our hands
We can't stop what we have begun
And love just took me by surprise
Looking through your eyes//
[Looking Through Your Eyes by LeAnn Rimes]
Relena smoothed her hair and checked that her suit was sitting neatly on her frame and was without creases. Satisfied, she smiled at her reflection and turned away, picking up her speech once more. Today, she and Quatre, along with many other prominent people, would start putting in place the new Trade Sanctions for the Colonies. Relena was extremely conscious that her opening speech not only had to inspire the supporters of the proposal, but also encourage the people who were nervous about it. A slight frown puckered Relena’s brow; there was also a small but vocal group who were completely opposed to. Quatre and the others had proposed that Relena open the talks because they hoped the respect and admiration Relena evoked would at least make the opposition listen.
“I do hope that I can live up to the expectations they all have of me.” Relena sighed and wondered if she should run over her speech again. Before she could do so, there was a sharp knock at the door.
Duo walked inside. He looked unusually agitated and, after glancing at Relena once, he flicked his eyes around the room, looking at everything but her.
Relena’s brow puckered again. “Duo? Is there a problem?”
“Well…” Duo rubbed the back of his neck. Nerves loosened his tongue, but not in a way to fully explain himself. “Sort of… but it’s nothing to do with your presentation… and I know that this is rotten timing… but it couldn’t wait. I have to…” He licked dry lips. “I have to leave, Relena.”
She stared at him, suddenly feeling hollow. “But… why?”
Duo felt helpless and completely incapable of justifying his decision. How could he tell her that he was worried, no… afraid that he was falling in love with her? That he couldn’t bear the thought of the rejection that he would undoubtedly receive upon declaring himself? And yet at the same time he was frightened of his new feelings, Duo ached at the thought of leaving her. He sought for something he could tell her, something that wouldn’t be a lie.
“You… well, you have good people working for you now.” Duo said lamely, not meeting her confused gaze. “You don’t really _need_ me.” He winced inwardly, painfully aware of how lame his excuse was.
Relena’s frown deepened and her eyes narrowed. She was an astute woman and nearly ten years of politics had sharpened her perception to enable her to sense when someone was trying to conceal something. Duo was clearly unwilling to tell her his real reason for wanting to leave and also, she was positive that he didn’t really want to go. Her eyes widened slightly as she regarded the uncomfortable man before her. Duo had made a clear effort to avoid her over the past few days and there was a definite change in his attitude towards her, a change that caused a wild hope to well up within her. Could it be?
“Duo.” Relena’s voice was soft, but she spoke with all the poise and command she could muster despite the wild hammering of her heart. “Duo, please look at me.”
He hesitated. He didn’t want to look at her, to see what he would not see again, but he didn’t feel that he could really deny Relena this one last request. So Duo lifted his head and met her eyes, his feelings evident in his eyes despite his pains to suppress them.
Relena clenched her hands, digging her nails into her palms to prevent a wild whoop of joy that threatened to escape her. Duo did care for her, much more than just a friend! Her blue eyes shining, Relena smiled at him. “Duo, you are correct… this is bad timing.” She held up one hand to prevent him from speaking, but it was the urgent plea in her face that silenced him. “_But_, I think we must talk after the presentation. In private. About us, our relationship and where we are going together.”
Duo’s eyes widened and his breath quickened. “Relena…” Was it really possible that she returned his feelings? The desperation in his face faded and he grinned. “Alright Princess, we’ll talk later. And if any of that lot waiting for you try to corner you…” he winked. “I’ll knock them away.”
Relena giggled. “I won’t try to stop you, Duo.” She told him, her eyes dancing with amusement and something warmer.
Eyes locking with Relena’s, Duo approached her and took her hands in one of his. The other hand reached up to gently stroke down the side of her face and cup her chin. Relena’s heart nearly stopped as he moved closer and gently brushed her lips with his own. She clenched at his hand and wished the Trade talks to hell. She didn’t want to go and give a speech; she wanted to stay here with Duo forever.
“Relena?” Dorothy rapped on the door. “It’s time for the presentation!”
Duo pulled back with a muttered curse and glared at the door. “One of these days…” he growled and Relena laid a hand on his arm.
“I’m coming, Dorothy!” She called. Looking back at Duo, Relena smiled. “It’s alright, Duo. It won’t take long and then we can continue this later.”
Duo’s eyes sparkled wickedly. “Continue what we were just doing or continue talking?”
Relena blushed faintly, still nervous about her feelings. “Don’t you have a job to do?” She asked tartly, taking refuge in a change of subject.
Duo mock saluted her. “Why I suppose I do, Ma’am.” He pulled her back close to him and murmured in her ear. “Tonight we’re going to talk for a very, very long time and with no interruptions!”
Relena shivered as his warm breath caressed her ear. “That’s a promise.” She assured him.
Duo glanced over to the far right of the podium and nodded to David, one of the security officers policing the presentation. David smiled and nodded, indicating to Duo that everything and everyone had been thoroughly checked. Duo nodded back and activated his com link, telling the other officers that it was safe to bring out the VIPs.
Relena walked out first to a thunderous applause. She smiled and bowed, but Duo noticed how her lips tightened and knew that Relena was anxious despite her confident appearance. She had once confided in him that she was always afraid that one day she would mess up and shatter everyone’s expectations. Duo sighed; he was going to have to work on Relena with that one. She was only human after all, it was natural for her to make mistakes, and if people couldn’t accept that then that was their own stupid fault, not hers. A slight smile curved Duo’s lips; it was almost intoxicating to think that he and Relena would now be able to talk about everything and anything, and to share their thoughts and concerns without reservation. He still found it a little hard to believe that Relena returned his feelings, perhaps his luck was finally changing for the better.
“My fellow ministers, Colony leaders, ladies and gentlemen.” Relena began her speech. Her voice rang out across the silent hall, clear and confident. “Today marks a very important beginning for…”
Duo began to turn away from looking at Relena and to scan the crowd, but then he felt an odd tingle on the back of his neck. He tensed slightly, his well-trained senses were screaming at him that something was very wrong. Making his movements as unobtrusive as possible, Duo glanced over at David and noticed that the other man was no longer at his post. Instantly Duo dropped all caution and scanned the room, searching for the danger he knew was out there. Nothing suspicious caught his eye at first, but then he instinctively glanced up to the balcony and saw it, the telltale gleam of a gun barrel pointing straight at the unsuspecting Relena.
Duo ran towards her, only half-aware that Quatre was also moving. “Get DOWN!” Quatre cried.
Relena’s head jerked around as Quatre cried out and Duo reached for her. There was the sound of several shots being fired as Duo bore Relena to the ground, the top of the wooden podium shattered behind them and some pieces hit Duo hard in the back making him grunt in surprise. One splinter even shot past Duo’s face at a high speed, slicing open his cheek.
“Fuck it!” Duo shoved Relena behind him and drew out his gun. Shouts and screams filled the hall as the people panicked and the security officers tried to keep order and find the assassin at the same time.
“There!” Quatre pointed and Duo saw a figure dashing away on the balcony, darting behind pillars. Snarling, Duo targeted the figure and fired. There was a cry of pain and the figure stumbled, but continued to move.
“Shit! Only winged him…” Duo moved forward but was stopped by a grip on his right leg, he looked down into Relena’s white face.
“Duo! Stop!” Relena cried. Her eyes were wide with fear and tears were starting to spill down her cheeks. Duo opened his mouth to tell her that she would be all right when he realised that the fear in her eyes wasn’t for herself. She was gazing at his chest in horror, her hands reaching up and trembling. With a puzzled frown, Duo looked down.
The bloody, sharp point of a large splinter of wood was sticking out of his chest, just below his heart. Duo touched the point in numb astonishment and realised, in an almost detached way, that this was the shrapnel he had felt hitting his back. “That was some gun…” he mumbled. “And now my suit is ruined.”
“Duo…” Relena was sobbing now. Her hands pressing on his chest were wet with his blood. “Oh God… no… Duo…”
Pain lanced through Duo and he stumbled backwards, his violet eyes wide with shock. He touched Relena’s face, his fingers clumsily stroking her skin. “D… Don’ cry…” He slurred. “‘M gonna be okay…” His legs buckled and he fell to his knees. His vision was blurring and he could hear Quatre calling for an ambulance and people yelling around him, but his main focus was Relena’s ashen face. Over the pain, Duo was aware of a sense of bitter failure and he bowed his head. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry Relena…” He whispered. “I’m sorry that I’m not as indestructible as Heero…”
The last thing Duo heard before he passed out was Relena screaming his name.
Go ON to PART EIGHT
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