Actions

Work Header

Play Me Like a Violin

Chapter Text

I hope he's not running late...

Relena had no reason to be nervous. She wrinkled and unwrinkled the hem of her lilac coloured sundress probably a thousand times in the span of ten minutes, which to her felt like ten hours.

I know Wednesdays are dicey for him, that all of his reports are due... What if he cancels on me?

She fiddled with the straw of her iced tea and toyed with the ice cubes floating towards the top. She'd barely spoken a word or glanced at anyone except the waiter, and it was only to say, "I want my usual, please," after he'd seated her at her usual window seat where she always had lunch every Wednesday.

He doesn't even have a car, what if the train is late? Did he even take the train over? What if the bus broke down?

Her lunch companion sighed and Relena glanced over, stirring her iced tea with such vigour that the cubes were clinking rather loudly in her glass.

"Relena darling, if you don't calm yourself before he gets here, you're going to have no ice left to stir."

Relena let the straw drift to the bottom. "Sorry, Dorothy. I don't know why I'm so on edge today. It's not like this is my first date or something."

But it is the first time I'm introducing him as my date, and I know that things weren't exactly the best between you and him...

Dorothy smirked as she closed her menu. "Is it because you're letting me meet with the boy you've had only two dates with?"

"It was only one date, really," Relena said, as she looked at the door. "The first date was technically that dinner to celebrate Ambassador Barton's inauguration, and that was strictly business. For the most part."

I'd spent most of the night in a sea of old men trying to congratulate Mariemaia on her accomplishments since he wasn't allowed to be that close to me for most of the night.

"Oh?" Dorothy cocked an eyebrow. "I don't recall you bringing a date for that dinner, just an entourage of security."

Relena felt a pang of anxiety then. Does Dorothy know? I mean, I suppose it's a little obvious...

Dorothy smirked. "You're so sneaky, Relena." She placed the menu on top of her place setting before resting her elbow on the table, cheek against her knuckles.

"So, whilst we wait...Tell me about him."

The bit of anxiety quieted down, at least for now. She doesn't know who it is then? Relena tried not to show how shocked she was at that revelation.

"What's there to tell? He's a boy, he has a stable career..." He's smart, funny in his own way, has the most amazing blue eyes I've ever gazed into....

Dorothy pouted. "Relena darling, you wouldn't date a boy who was so boring and plain that you couldn't talk about him. Is he handsome?"

Relena nodded. "I certainly think so."

Dorothy hid another smirk with the palm of her hand. "And that's not all that he's got going for him, I'm sure. Good looks and a career do help, but you're not like that Carlton girl."

"I've been told I'm not like a lot of girls," Relena remarked as she went back to idly stirring her drink. "I think he likes that about me."

"And his education?"

"He goes to college at night, so the only time I really have with him is on the weekends, although we do text back and forth and I do see him for different business occasions..."

"It must be a good job if you constantly see him on your business outings." Dorothy straightened when she saw the waiter coming back. "He's not a political intern or something, is he? Or, heavens, a politician's son ?"

Relena laughed. Her? On the arm of some politician's son? Most of the heirs of these political dynasties were old enough to be her father. The youngest one was only a few years older than Zechs, who was 23 years old.

"He's with Preventers," Relena said.

"Preventers?" Dorothy handed her menu over to the waiter before rattling off a very precise order. "And please make sure that you don't cook the meat too rare, I'm not as bloodthirsty as the papers would have you believe."

I thought Une was the one the papers always called 'bloodthirsty', Relena mused.

"Yes, ma'am!" the waiter said, before walking off. She watched him as she took a sip of her sparkling water.

"Did Zechs introduce you two?"

If anything it was the other way around.

"Goodness, no." Relena started toying with the ice in her drink again. "I think if it were up to my brother, I wouldn't date until he was deceased. But he knows that since I'm eighteen, he can't tell me what to do. He doesn't ask questions."

Dorothy chuckled. "No one can tell you what to do anyway, Relena darling." She glanced at her phone and Relena did the same, because what if he was late?

He still has ten minutes. I'm worrying over nothing again.

"What does he go to school for? Political science? Engineering? Hopefully not something boring , like mathematics. A girl like you needs someone with excitement ."

The waiter returned with Relena's lunch, which consisted of four chicken quesadillas and four chicken fajitas, with a side of fries and a salad. Her stomach growled in response to the smell as she thanked him.

"Depending on what someone's done in their life, perhaps 'boring' is just what they want," Relena said, before taking a bite of a quesadilla. After all, he's had enough adventure to last at least three lifetimes. "He's majoring in Literature, with a focus on creative writing, or so he told me."

Dorothy hummed a little as she stole one of Relena's fries. Relena didn't mind, she was too busy enjoying her quesadilla anyway.

"I never pictured you going for a writer type, but it suits you. There's a certain romanticism in it."

He's certainly romantic in his own way.

The door to the diner jingled, interrupting Relena's thoughts. Looking up, she saw the uniform of a typical Preventers agent used to working on the field--a plain t-shirt with slacks, heavy boots, and the standard issue zip-up jacket many of them wore even outside of work. And Relena wasn't the only diner patron staring. Preventers agents weren't usually spotted here, there was a pub a lot closer to their building where the majority of them took their lunch.

But maybe that wasn't the only reason some of them were staring.


Shit.

Heero looked at his watch over the rims of his sunglasses and swore again, this time out loud. He had ten minutes to find this diner Relena had been raving about all week, and he needed to find it fast.

Typical of Zechs to hold me up on my way out the door. It wasn't like Zechs knew he had a date to get to--Heero kept his personal life strictly personal, completely separate from his professional life. Zechs was a very busy man these days, and he had questions about Heero's report that would've been answered if he'd just read the damn thing. This was the third time in as many days that Zechs had done this, however, and Heero's patience with his supervisor was wearing thin. What was the point of a report if he wasn't going to read the damn thing?

People were starting to stare at him as he went past the same shopfront he'd seen the last two times he'd gone round the block. It was supposed to be here, this was Boulevard de Waterloo. There were ten different shops that boasted about their edible goods, and none of them were called Vera's.

I get why Duo takes his jacket and tie off when he leaves the building. He stopped in front of an ice cream parlour to collect his thoughts and see if he could get a hold of Relena when a young woman bumped into him.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said in Dutch, though in his opinion she didn't sound very sorry. She gave him a once over and settled her gaze on the belt of his pants. "Is that gun real?"

Heero didn't stop thumbing through the map on his phone, though he did give her a sidelong glance as he answered, "Yeah." What the hell would a fake gun do for me?

"Maybe...Maybe you can use that on me sometime," she said, her voice lower, softer, before she giggled. Her friend with her giggled too before telling her to leave the poor tourist alone and pulling her along.

She wasn't his type anyway.

"Google, tell me where Vera's is located."

His phone showed the loading icon before Vera's popped up on it and a robotic voice responded, " Vera's is located at One-Six-Seven Boulevard Anspach--"

Shit. He had five minutes left, and Anspachlaan, which was what his phone's map referred to Boulevard Anspach as, was 20 minutes in the direction he'd originally come from, and he only had five to spare. Normally in a situation like this Heero would keep his cool, stoic demeanor and think something like, A few blocks back the way I came? Ha. No problem.

Today, the only thoughts occupying his mind were a whole bunch of swear words, many of which weren't even in English. Heero was never late. Not even fashionably so. He wasn't going to start being late now, especially not for something having to do with meeting one of Relena's 'dearest friends'. The friends who really hadn't accepted him in the first place and probably accepted him less now that they were 'official'. Heero ran through the throngs of people like his life had depended on it, like a mobile suit was coming for him and he needed shelter and fast--

Can we not think about something like that right now, brain? You're not in the war anymore.

Vera's greeted him as soon as he rounded the corner of a street absolutely loaded with barrels of flowers. The building itself looked like a typical diner, although a bit smaller than average and was, funny enough, half a block away from McGinty's Pub and Restaurant. The same pub that Preventers loved to frequent.

How the hell did I not notice this before? he thought as he slipped through the door, the old fashioned bells above the entrance signalling his arrival to staff. The woman near the door was a sort of plumpish looking hostess whose entire upper half was obscured by the menus she clutched to her chest. She was chatting to a busboy when her eyes caught sight of him.

"Where can I seat you, handsome?" the diner hostess asked, presumably much louder than she had intended. Her response caught the attention of the rather busy dining area.

"I'm meeting someone here," he said, completely unsure if there were any reservations or if Relena had even told anyone he was coming. Out of habit, as he spoke, he looked for all the available exits and noted there was just the entrance.

Hopefully she's seated not far from the door in case we need to leave.

"And who might you be expecting? Is she a regular?"

Heero had no idea what Relena was wearing to even describe her. For all he knew, she was incognito to avoid being recognised as the former Queen of the World.

"Heero!"

Heero and the hostess looked in the direction the voice came from. There, seated on the aisle side of a booth, was Relena. Across from her was someone with rather long blonde hair and a canary yellow top.

"Why didn't you say you were meeting with Lena?"

I didn't know you knew her name.

She attempted to hand him a menu but he declined it. He wasn't here to eat--he didn't normally even take a lunch, he would just eat it at his desk so he could get ahead on his work for the day so he could leave early.

Heero approached the booth and sat down next to Relena, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead. Heero could tell that Relena's lunch companion wasn't expecting to see him at all.

"I believe you two have met," Relena said, a hint of amusement in her voice.

Dorothy took another sip of her water as her chance to decide what to say before settling on, "Yes, I believe we have." With a slight chuckle, she added, "From the way she had described her new beau, I couldn't have guessed it'd be you, Heero Yuy."

"Dorothy." Heero removed his shades and hung them on the collar of his shirt.

"You came directly from work, I see." Dorothy sounded amused. "Your lunch break, I'm assuming?"

"Yeah."

"As monosyllabic in your responses as ever, I see," Dorothy teased.

"We're going on our second date tonight," Relena said, as she pushed her tray of food so it was between her and Heero. He noticed she had eaten half of a quesadilla and a handful of fries. That wasn't a lot of food to go through in the amount of time she would've been waiting for, unless the food just arrived. Was she that nervous that she couldn't eat?

"Isn't it our third date?" Heero carefully appraised one of the fajitas. He didn't normally go for Mexican food.

"That inauguration dinner didn't count in my mind; you were there as my security detail. It was hardly what I would consider 'romantic'."

Heero shrugged as he started to eat some of the fries, the one component to Relena's lunch he was familiar with. These ones were crispier than he was used to.

"Some people find such things 'romantic', why else do you think the lady falling for her bodyguard is such a common trope in novels and movies?" Dorothy took another sip of her water, chuckling a little as she did. "Clearly there has to be some kind of allure."

Heero cocked an eyebrow.

"Oh, I see Heero isn't the type for romance novels and movies."

"This lunch meeting," Heero said, changing the subject. "Dorothy and I already know each other, which is what I understood this 'meeting' to be about."

Dorothy delicately drummed her fingers on the table as her food arrived.

"We know of each other," she corrected. "But the man known as Heero Yuy is still quite a mystery to me, even after all these years..." She sighed a little at the end.

"I'm not the type to lay all my cards on the table when I meet people," Heero retorted.

"My... It wouldn't hurt to show at least one or two cards to people."

Heero scoffed. "No thanks."

"Heero, Dorothy..." Relena interrupted. "I called you both here because I want Dorothy's blessing, to put it simply."

Dorothy looked under the bun of her cheeseburger to examine the meat. From the look on her face, she didn't seem terribly upset. From Heero's vantage point, it looked like the meat could still moo.

"What do you need my blessing for?" she asked as she assembled the rest of her burger. "I have as much say in who you date as Zechs does."

At the mention of Zechs, Heero tensed a little.

"I just don't want any awkwardness, that's all," Relena said softly. "You and I used to date. I don't want any resentment--I've heard that's a common thing when you keep your exes as friends."

Dorothy laughed. "Oh, Relena darling... What you and I had together during those few months was something that I will always cherish deep in my heart. But I knew that it wasn't meant to be from the start." She took a rather dainty bite from her burger, chewing it slowly before swallowing and dabbing at her mouth with her napkin. Relena wasn't sure why Dorothy treated every meal like it was some fine dining experience.

"As for holding any resentment towards the two of you..." She looked Heero up and down as he portioned out Relena's fries onto a napkin. "How could I? You're my dearest friend, Relena, it would absolutely kill me to let a silly past romance get in the way of having any kind of future together." She reached across the table for Relena's hand. "Right, Heero?"

Heero nodded.

"See?" Dorothy smiled as she patted Relena's hand. "But if my blessing is something you want, something you need , then you have it. I promised that I would always support you, and that won't change, not now, not ever." She gave a sidelong glance at Heero.

Does she expect me to object to that?

"And so you know, Heero... If you make my Relena darling cry, I will be very, very displeased and cross with you."

Heero scoffed. "You wouldn't be the only one."

"If you think Zechs is the only one you have to worry about when it comes to you holding the key to Relena's heart, you'd better think again."

The rest of the lunch was silent, outside of Dorothy asking for tea and a slice of chocolate cake. Heero's phone went off, but he ignored it since it was only a text message. probably from Duo. Shortly after her 'dessert', Dorothy decided her time with the two of them was over and gathered her things to leave before thanking Relena for the 'little lunch date'.

"Will you be here next Wednesday?" Relena asked.

"Of course! I wouldn't miss our lunches for anything in the Earth Sphere," Dorothy replied with a bit too much gushing enthusiasm. She slid out of the booth and made for the door, but stopped about two tables away before turning around.

"Oh, Heero?"

"Yeah?"

"Take care of my dear Relena for me." She smiled at Relena before heading out.

Heero let out a loud exhale, probably a bit too loud, for Relena gave him a concerned look.

"I hope that wasn't too nerve-wracking for you," Relena said once Dorothy was out of sight, as Heero took two large gulps of Relena's iced tea, ignoring the straw that was placed in the glass.

"Or awkward," she added. He shook his head.

"Does Zechs know?"

"Not that I'm aware of." He leaned back in his seat. "He was suspicious about why I had to leave immediately for lunch since I don't normally leave for it, and tried to stall me by asking about the report I gave him yesterday that he apparently didn't read..."

"He'll find out eventually, I'm sure."

Heero scoffed. "I'm sure it'll go over great. His old enemy turned subordinate dating his sister." He placed his hand on top of hers. "I guess you could do worse."

Relena squeezed his hand. "Well there was this one boy at my school who fancied me, but I think he would've ended up giving me a very quiet, ordinary life." She rested her head on his shoulder.

"If it was before you met me, you would've been fine with that."

She shrugged against him. "I don't know. I never had to think about it--I ended up having anything but a quiet, ordinary life."

More silence. Heero looked at his watch.

"Am I boring you?" Relena sounded genuinely concerned. He shook his head.

"Duty calls."

"When does it not?" Despite her attempt at levity, Heero could tell that Relena was disappointed at him having to leave.

"On my days off." Sometimes , he added mentally, as he slid out of the booth and offered her his hand, which she took. Only Relena could make coming out of a hole-in-the-wall diner booth look graceful. She gathered up her bag and her leftovers before leaving her payment in the little book on the table along with a decent sized tip before they walked out together, hand in hand.

"I'll see you tonight?" she asked, as she turned towards him.

"At 1800 hours, yeah."

"And you know where the cinema is?"

"Programmed into my phone along with who manages the place, the phone number, and the floor plans so I know where all of the emergency exits and bathrooms are." Unlike today's diner finding fiasco, Heero was prepared for his movie date.

"Heero."

He gave her a small smile. "It was completely necessary," he replied to her unasked question.

"And then after, it's dinner at my place. Do you--"

"Yeah, I have my key, and I will remember to use it this time instead of going through the window, so Anya doesn't scream "cyka blyat" at me again." The first time he'd gone to Relena's new and very shiny apartment, he didn't have a key, so he had jimmied a window open and Relena's maid Anya just happened to be cleaning in that particular room. She was not amused in the least about this strange boy perched on the windowsill.

She smiled at him. "I'll see you then." She stood so she was half up on her tiptoes before kissing him on the cheek, and then walked to where she parked her car, which wasn't far from the diner. Heero watched as she got into her car, knowing that next on her schedule was an appointment at one of the local bridal boutiques--one of her friends was newly engaged and already picking out what dress to wear. As soon as she left his line of sight, Heero headed back to Preventers. On the way, he pulled out his phone and found a text message from Duo:

dorothy texted evry1 sayin tht u n lena are dating n she 4got 2 leave zechs off the group chat. don't say anything about zechs' coffee stained shirt, he is NOT in a good mood . don't even ask him questions

Heero rolled his eyes. Go figure. That solved his problem of how to tell the former Lightning Baron that his ex-Gundam pilot subordinate was dating the one time Queen of the World.

Thanks for the heads up, Heero texted back. What could Zechs even do to him? Yell at him? Make his work life miserable? Why was Zechs even surprised?


The bridal boutique, which was named Laurel's Bridal Bits and Bobs, wasn't all that big. In fact, there wasn't a lot of room to sit and view dresses, due to how poofy the skirts were on the ones hanging from the racks and the amount of room they took up in the less-than-one-thousand-square-foot building. A song about needing to crawl out of love played softly from an overhead speaker, which Relena felt was an odd choice for a wedding shop; the air was heavily perfumed as it wafted in from the air vents. Her friends were crammed together on a rather olive green and orange upholstered couch. Dorothy was sat on the arm of it, looking rather displeased.

I'm not sure if she's upset by how small the place is, how floral the air freshener is, or how hideous that couch is.

"Hello?"

Dorothy was the first to turn her head, and Relena could see the look of relief on her face.

"Malliessa went to go hunt for some dresses," Callia Neumann said from her perch on the armrest opposite Dorothy, her finger wrapped around a lock of curly blonde hair. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "We suspect it might take her a few days to make it back."

"I fear the Sea of Tulle has swallowed up your friend, Relena dear," Dorothy said. "She might be lost to us forever."

"Out of all the places to shop with a party of six, she came here ," said Thalia Vogt, as she crossed one leg over the other. "Everyone knows this place is too small and way overpriced."

"Plus I hear that Laurel's kind of a bitch," Callia said, in a very obvious stage whisper.

"Was that Relena's voice I heard?" came a voice from behind several racks. Relena could barely hear her from her place in the Sea of Tulle, as Dorothy had called it.

Two dress racks parted and a girl in a rather ill-fitting bridal gown came charging out. It couldn't even fit over her ample hips--Malliessa Hirakawa was a girl one would refer to as 'thick bodied'. Relena didn't have time to see anything else before Malliessa threw her arms around her.

"I'm so glad you're here, Relena!" With her accent, it sounded more like 'Rayleenuh'. "You have no idea how much this means to me!"

Relena smiled when they parted. "I wouldn't miss it for the world." I even made sure to schedule everything around it, including my date.

Malliessa's smile could set the sun itself alight at that comment. "Sit! Sit! I have some dresses picked out already, I can't wait to show them off!"

"Hopefully not the one that she's wearing," Thalia muttered, as Relena squeezed between her and Dorothy.

"So, Relena, how'd the lunch go?" Callia asked.

"Fine," she answered. A bit awkward, but fine , she corrected in her mind.

"I wish I could date a Preventers guy," Ronalda Carlton said, her voice and subsequent sigh both wistful. She sat on the edge of the small coffee table that was in the way otherwise.

"You can't even get a guy your parents pick out for you to date you," Malliessa said, as she emerged once more and posed in the mirror with her hair pulled back into some kind of bun shape.

"It's true!" Ronalda said, crying. "Mother says that I still have plenty of time, and there's no pressure to have an heir to the Carlton Estate since Carl is engaged to be married, but Father is concerned that if I don't find someone soon, then he'll have no choice but to throw a debutante ball."

"Maybe you should stop hanging out on Tumblr all day," Linnea Mortensen quipped from her place behind the couch, as she stared Ronalda down over her bright pink, oversized glasses. "Intelligent boys don't like girls who reblog fake news and articles toted as truthful that Snopes debunked ages ago, you know."

"Ladies." Dorothy pinched the bridge of her nose. "Most men don't care what you reblog or retweet. Besides, there's nothing glamourous in dating a Preventers agent, they're just like everyone else."

Malliessa laughed before twirling around. The dress she currently had on resembled an extremely overbaked cream puff, one that was ready to pop.

"Well of course there'd be nothing glamourous in it if it were me," Ronalda said, "but because it's our dearest friend Relena, it's the most glamourous thing this side of the Earth Sphere! Possibly all of the Earth Sphere!"

"I heard that when you go into Preventers, you're basically married to your job," said Thalia, before she took a sip from her styrofoam cup filled with checkmarks and the name 'Talaih'.

This is going to be a long two hours.


Heero was back at headquarters finishing up reports on the latest system vulnerabilities that had been patched, when there was a knock on the wall of his cubicle. There was, at one point, a door one could knock on, because Heero was the Senior Security Analyst (or that's what it said on his name badge) and thus had certain privileges. Like having a door. Unfortunately, his partner at the time had decided that doors were too cumbersome when it came to coffee runs to and from the break room, so his partner had kicked it off the hinges. The door jamb still had bits of splintered wood composite sticking out, waiting to poke you if you stuck your hand or arm on the wrong place.

Heero had no idea how Duo was still employed.

"Enter."

"Heero." That smooth baritone could only belong to one person on the floor he worked on. Heero turned in his chair to see his supervisor staring at him. He didn't look too pleased.

"Zechs." Heero made it a point to ignore the rather large coffee stain marring the otherwise white dress shirt and instead stared at the clipboard in Zechs' hands.

"Do you have the patch live yet?" Zechs clicked on his retractable pen.

"Yeah. I'm working on the report for it right now."

"Good." The blond scribbled something on a sheet of paper with a lot of very crudely drawn, obviously-done-in-three-minutes-last-minute tables and charts. "I'll just need you to sign off--"

Heero folded his arms, his office chair creaking slightly as he leaned further back in it. "I doubt you came in here just for that."

Zechs raised an eyebrow. "Now, what would make you think--"

"If you won't acknowledge the elephant in the room, I will."

"Heero--"

"Relena and I are dating as of a few weeks ago."

Zechs' pen nearly flew out of his hand as he finished his signature.

"We had lunch together. Dorothy was there."

Zechs said nothing, just kept staring at his clipboard.

"You can't stop me from being with her."

Still nothing from Zechs.

Say something, Merquise.

Zechs continued to say nothing for a long moment, opting instead to stare at the paper in front of him like his life depended on lighting it on fire before running a hand through his now short locks of hair. His eyes slid shut before he rested his forehead against the arm that now rested on the door jamb. He sighed.

"Zechs." Heero's tone made that name sound like a threat. Don't make this awkward. Say something. Heero's brow furrowed.

"Heero." Zechs folded his arms and squared up his shoulders, despite sounding like he was tired of dealing with someone's bullshit.

"Should I ring an ambulance for the heart attack you're in the middle of?"

I could take you, you know. Heero pushed that thought away.

"I'm not--"

Heero gave him a look that said I don't believe you.

"Let me warn you--"

"If I hurt her or make her cry, you know where I live and will summarily try and punch me in the face," Heero interrupted. "Noted. Let me sign off on the patch and get this report done."

Zechs let out a little "hmph" sound. "I'd try more than that, Yuy. You'd be lucky if it was just a kiss with a fist."

"If you could even land a hit on me," Heero retorted from his seat. "Don't forget what happened on Libra." Heero didn't need to stand to be on Zechs' level.

"I remember exactly what happened that day."

"Then you'll remember I promised I'd protect her," Heero said. "I'd give my life for her, Zechs." He held out his hand for the clipboard. "Let me sign the paper."

Zechs' face seemed to soften at Heero mentioning his promise, even if it was only for a moment before he came back down to Earth. Handing the clipboard over, he watched Heero create a rather angular looking signature just underneath his before giving it back.

"I expect those reports in my inbox before you clock out for the day." Zechs turned to leave, and Heero couldn't resist a tiny jab.

"By the way, I know the name of a good dry cleaner who might be able to help with that shirt of yours."

Heero turned back to his work with a slight smile on his face, shaking his head a little as Zechs cursed all the way back to his office.

A mop of dirty blond hair peered over the cubicle wall to Heero's right.

"Jesus, what did you do ?"

"I started dating his sister."

He winced.

"He'll bust my balls for a while, don't add to it, Trav."

Trav held up his hands defensively. "Hey, hey, no siree, I won't be."

Heero could hear the sound of an office chair rolling down the hall and knew who else would be chiming in.

"What'll Zechs say when you and Relena start fuckin'?"

Trav, from the sounds of it, nearly fell off the chair he was presumably standing on. Heero hit the keys on his keyboard a little harder than necessary as Works '98, Preventers' processor of choice after WordPerfect '97 stopped working on their machines for some reason, decided to not respond at that moment.

"I'm not in the mood for your shit today, Duo."

"Zechs said the same while you were on lunch, but I ain't tryin' to start shit," Duo said, his arms resting behind his head as he leaned too far back in his chair for anyone's comfort or sense of safety. "Just throwin' it out there. Who knew he'd be so protective?"

"Older brothers tend to be," Heero said matter-of-factly as he fought with Works.

"Is that what I'm gonna be like when Jolene gets married?" Trav wondered aloud.

"She gotta find someone first," Duo said, as he rolled away to escape being swatted at with a folded up manual. "Travvy, babe! It was a joke!"

"Joke on this , Maxwell!"

All Heero could do was shake his head.

Two more hours.