3-15-2003

TITLE: Her Fallen Prince
By Dev-Aki Basaa
PAIRING: 1x2, R+1 (kinda), OMCxR
RATING: PG-13
CATEGORY: yaoi, angst, sap
FEEDBACK: oh yes, please!
ARCHIVE: DHML, GW Addiction, Shinigami & Wing, MoR
WARNING: none
DISCLAIMER: Bandai and Sunrise own all. I’m just borrowing the boys and their world. The story, however, is mine.
SUMMARY: Relena feels she's wronged Heero and seeks him out to confess.
NOTES: Takes place after EW. Though in third person, it is a Relena POV.

AUTHOR NOTES: I didn't jerk Relena around this time, go me! Thanks to Sakti and Sharon for the beta ^_^

Notes 2: I should be replying to mail - and I will - but I've been wanting to post this fic for a while, stalling for a 'good time' and I finally just decided it was going to happen today, good time or not. Hope you enjoy it.

*_* indicates italics

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She felt guilty. She hadn't invited him into her home - her life - right after the second war. He'd been there, distant but close, in that span of time between the two wars. Yet, she felt horrible that she hadn't wanted more than that at the time. Anything more would have been too much, too soon. She was young, and there was so much work to do. Not that she had explained that to him. She hadn't been sure how she would have worded it so that it didn't come across as terribly selfish.

*Yes, Heero, I need you, but not yet.*

Her life was her work and that meant more to her than her personal needs. A private, romantic life would have to wait. She had hoped he'd understood that, perhaps by instinct. He always seemed to have that kind of intrinsic awareness. She knew that he'd grown close to his former fellow Gundam pilots and she delighted in that. It was what she wanted for him. Friends that understood him - as she wasn't sure she could. Perhaps when she was older, she'd thought.

She'd just never expected to fall in love.

And she felt so guilty for it, but couldn't deny the deep strong feelings she had for the new young man that had ventured into her life. She wondered if Heero knew. Though he was never in sight, she had that sense of him keeping an eye on her - distant but close - even still. She'd taken him for granted and it disappointed her terribly that she'd done so. She'd made him no promises, and yet, it seemed understood by so many people around them both that they would come together - the Princess and the Knight. He had protected her, so would she save him with her love. It was the stuff of fairy tales. All she had thought she needed was time to find her role in this new peace. Time to figure out who she really was to herself. And in that time she felt she'd silently promised to him, she fell in love with another. When her new love proposed, she'd accepted with tear-filled eyes and joy bursting through her, then asked that they keep the secret to themselves. For now, at least. To herself, she knew she meant to keep the secret until she could confess to Heero what had happened while he'd waited for her.

She had to find him and be the one to break the news to him first.

He hadn't been hard to find and she had expected as much. She hardly thought he'd be hiding - from her, or anyone for that matter. It had been said to her in passing, many times, that he had adjusted well to civilian life. She picked a bright weekend afternoon to seek him out at his home and was at first only mildly surprised to find Heero's door answered by one of the other former Gundam pilots, Duo Maxwell. He looked a little out of breath, like he'd run to the door. He quickly explained that he was in the middle of cooking and invited her in as he ran back into the kitchen, which was followed quickly by a string of curses and the clatter of pans. She settled herself in the living room, wondering why Duo would be cooking at Heero's home. Was Heero ill? Was Duo checking in and taking care of him? She didn't give it much more thought than that, though. Duo returned and proceeded to be the consummate host, offering her a 'stiff drink', as he put it (which she declined; she wanted her head clear to speak with Heero. She took the offer of water instead), and explained that Heero had just briefly stepped out.

Duo had obviously known, as so many others did, that she'd come for him.

Shortly after she had excused Duo to return to the kitchen and check on his cooking, the front door opened. She held her surprise in check when a Heero as she never remembered him to be walked through the front door. He was dressed in casual slacks and a simple olive green Henley shirt. His hair was still just as mussed as she remembered it being, but there was a softness to his face, a lighter quality to his eyes. He had a bag of groceries tucked under his arm and called out to Duo once he breached the threshold. He didn't even notice her at first. He sought out Duo instead, meeting him at the kitchen entrance, handing him the groceries and leaning in to give him the most delicate of kisses on his lips, which Duo accepted with a smile before he nodded towards the living room.

"We have a guest."

Heero seemed rather shocked to see her, but no more so than Relena for what she'd just witnessed. She hardly noticed what they spoke about when Heero came to sit in the living room and visit with her. She was too busy coming to some very startling realizations: conjoining the pictures of Duo and Heero together on the wall with the subtle mix of their lives together, evidenced simply through their collection of books on the far shelf and the vids that were lined up in the entertainment center. Some seemed very Heero to her, others she guessed belonged to Duo - all stacked together, one after the other. It became even more clear when Duo joined them, sitting at Heero's side on the arm of the recliner, leaning in so that their bodies touched, their hands seeking the other's out.

She almost wanted to laugh at herself.

Such silly guilt she'd felt, for thinking that Heero had sat idly by and waited for her. What a child's fairy tale she believed that because of their roles in the wars that they were ever meant to be together. It was obvious to her now that this evolved man that sat before her now never would have come into being under her care. She would have loved the idea he represented and only her unwitting self-preservation of wanting to wait before she allowed Heero into her life had kept her from ruining four lives: her own, Heero's, her now fiancé's, and Duo Maxwell's. It was clear the love that lived between these two. The adoration they displayed in small gestures and simple words was as palpable as the spicy scents that drifted in from the kitchen.

She was so wonderfully glad she'd made the trip that day.

She told Heero of her engagement. She gave him only a small white lie. She claimed that her reason for coming to tell him in person was because she wanted to ask if he'd give her away. Her barely-existing relationship with her brother had only suffered more for his disappearance to Mars. She had little family to speak of with Pargan's death the year previous, and aside from her dear adoptive mother, there was no one else and, especially, no men. She was too much of a traditionalist to have anyone but a personally important male figure walk her down the aisle. Who better than the man who protected and supported her, even, at times, against his own judgment?

Heero didn't say anything at first, a very blank look coming across his face. Duo had leaned forward to see his expression and smiled broadly in response.

"That means he's flattered," he told her, resting a hand on Heero's shoulder and giving a squeeze. At that, Heero's face seemed to come back to life, his eyes widening and a small slight smile curling his lips.

"Yes," he answered with a nod. "Duo reads me... quite well. I'm very touched that you would think of me, Relena." He nodded again, his mussed hair flopping even more into his eyes. "I would be honored to be a part of such an important day for you. I just..."

He cut off and seemed to wince, glancing to Duo as if looking for help. Duo was already frowning, but there was a touch of humor still to his face. His hand brushed up to cup the side of Heero's neck. Though she couldn't see his thumb, she could tell by the flexing of his hand that he was gently caressing Heero's nape.

"I'm sorry, Relena," Duo said then, not looking up from the gaze he shared with Heero. "I think Heero's feeling bad that we didn't think to extend a similar offer when we wed last year." He looked up, his grin now crooked and oddly apologetic. "I wasn't sure it would have been appropriate and we agreed to not invite you. I can see now that we made a mistake." He lowered his gaze and leaned into Heero even more. "I am sorry for that."

Yes, everyone had known of her childish fantasy. Heero had kept his distance because of that, it would seem, not as her perfect knight in waiting. And Duo must have worried over her once rather obsessive behavior as a smitten 15 year old girl. Though she had aged, was she still just as blind at times? Again it was silly of her to have just now noticed the matching silver bands on their fingers.

Heero glanced towards her again and it was obvious in his eyes that Duo had managed to say exactly what he had wanted to express. Their silent communication amazed her. She shook her head, biting back the confession of her childishness - she did not wish to insult them - and reached out to take one of Heero's hands in hers.

"I think," she began, hoping that the strength of her sincerity would be clear by the tone of her voice, "that we have had more than one misunderstanding between us all. That stops today. I would still love dearly that you could give me away, Heero." She meant that even more now than the few moments ago when she first said it. It had been off the cuff before, a cover, really. This time she knew, she wanted him in her life - as the friend she knew he could be to her. In a sense she would gain her protector back, with the extra and equal support of the one person that meant the most to him.

"And," she added with a smile and a squeeze of his fingers, "I would love to see the pictures from your own ceremony."

Duo's smile widened again and that soft lightness returned to Heero's eyes.

"I think that could be arranged," Duo answered.

She didn't stay, though. They decided to save the pictures for another time, perhaps when she introduced them to her fiancé. She found herself delighted by the comfortable and familiar banter between them as they saw her out the door. She laughed at the blush Duo could bring to Heero's ears with his subtle, yet well said innuendoes. She looked forward to building that kind of easy rapport with her own love.

Later, on her shuttle ride back to Sanq, she peered out the window and remembered with stark clarity the dazzling meteor she'd seen those years ago and how it came to change her life so completely.

She recalled the idyllic title she'd once given to its passenger. Her fallen prince. Shaking her head, she smiled. She'd been so blind when it came to him, projecting such grand expectations onto him. Here she'd felt so guilty for not falling in love with him and there had been no need. That descent to Earth had altered both their lives, bringing them, in time, profound love and dear friendship. And what greater gift she could have gained from that falling star, she didn't know.

The End