Here's the next part of Two's Company... This is going to be an extended flashback sort of thing, I guess. Forgive me if there's any OOC... It's *definitely* AU... and still post-war.

Disclaimers and warning junk: Not mine, don't sue. A little limey... couldn't quite work myself up to a lemon... <grins> Any complaints? Lodge them with my baka muse...

Bob: I resent that.

 

Two's Company... by Lys ap Adin
Part One

"I just don't know what to do," Relena confided to her sister-in-law. "There are some days when I think that I've made progress and I'm getting through to him, and then other days--it's like the it was during the war when his standard greeting was a death threat."

Noin, thoughtful, sipped her tea. "I don't know what to tell you, Relena," she said slowly. "I don't know Heero very well... definitely not well enough to give advice on how to win his heart. To be quite honest, I don't know if I even believe that he has a heart to win. It could be that his conditioning as a soldier won't *let* him love. Have you ever considered that?"

Relena stared into the amber depths of her untouched tea. "More often than I care to think about," she admitted softly.

"Relena... why don't you give up? There are plenty of fine young men out there who would be more than happy to love you, if you'd let them," Noin said gently.

The other young woman laughed bitterly. "Don't you think I've tried to let go of Heero, Noin? I've tried to get over him *every* way possible, but--I can't. Somehow... he got to be a part of me, and I don't even know how he did it." She exhaled slowly. "I just wish he'd respond to me..."

"Relena, I just don't think he's interested in you," Noin told her.

Relena shook her head decisively. "No, he's interested in me. Duo told me as much."

Noin set her cup down carefully. "Duo--told you that? I didn't know that you and he were on such good terms."

Relena smiled faintly. "I know, everyone thinks he and I don't get along. But we do... We keep in touch, and he tells me what he hears from Heero. Does that surprise you?"

"Well... yes. I would have thought that you'd be... jealous... of him," Noin murmured.

"Oh, I am... he's close to Heero in a way that I can't be, right now. I envy him for that. But his goal in life right now is the same as mine--prying Heero out of himself and helping him learn to live for things other than the mission," Relena shrugged. "And I'm willing to use any method possible to accomplish that."

Noin shook her head slightly. "If you insist, Relena."

~*~

"Relena, it's good to see you." Duo held the door wide for her, ushering her into his small apartment with a flourish and a smile. "How are you these days?"

"I'm doing well, thanks. Yourself?" Relena allowed Duo to take her coat.

"I manage. They keep me pretty busy at work, but that's just as well. I've been told that I'm particularly dangerous when I'm bored," Duo chuckled. He saw Relena ensconced on his battered couch, then asked, "What can I get you to drink?"

Relena shrugged carelessly. "Whatever you're having."

"Ah, I see you're deciding to live dangerously." Duo left, returning momentarily with two bottles of beer. "You sure your reputation will survive this?"

Relena smiled tiredly. "You worry too much. If the earth can't handle the thought of my drinking a beer once in a while, then I think I'll take Heero up on his offer to kill me."

Duo laughed and dropped himself onto the couch beside her with boneless grace, handing her one of the bottles. "You've got a point there." He popped the cap off, and toasted her silently. After a long swallow, he asked, "So, how's the peace business going these days?"

Relena sipped her beer. "Could be worse. Having the Preventers around helps a lot. They've already stamped out more than a few potentially nasty little brushfires. I still do a lot of work keeping peoples' tempers from flaring up, though."

"Sounds tough. I don't think I'd have enough patience to handle that sort of thing," Duo sighed. "I may talk a lot, but ... it doesn't have quite the same effect as your speaking."

"That may be so, but I don't know how you find the time or the energy to spend so much time on that salvage operation of yours," Relena told him. "What you and Hirde do in dismantling those mobile suits is every bit as valuable as what I do."

"Eh, I dunno about that..." Duo took another drink, then switched topics. "Ne, you want to order a pizza? I'm feeling hungry."

"Sounds good to me." They debated the toppings briefly, then Duo called in the order and they made small talk about their jobs and old friends while they waited for the pizza to be delivered. Both avoided speaking of their source of common heartache, Heero. It was funny, Relena mused, that she and Duo should have become such good friends. All the odds would have said that they'd be, if not mortal enemies, then at least bitter rivals over Heero. Somehow, though... it just hadn't worked out that way.

It must have been the understanding expression in Duo's eyes that she had seen after one particularly harsh rebuff from Heero during the war... In that instant, she had recognized the familiar pain in his eyes.

When the pizza arrived, Relena, exercising a casualness that she rarely got to use, got two more bottles of beer from the refrigerator. Duo grinned at her as she returned. "I had no idea you were such a heavy drinker, ojousan."

Relena rolled her eyes. "Whatever." Sitting, she reached for a slice of hot pizza, trailing long strings of mozzarella from the box. "I wish state dinners would serve pizza."

Duo laughed. "I can just see all those politicians trying to figure out which fork is used to eat pizza." He snagged his own slice, assaulting it eagerly.

"I think I'll have to insist on it, next formal dinner that I host," Relena nodded. "Cold beer and pizza, that's going to be the menu."

"I thought you were supposed to keep the peace, not try to start new wars," Duo laughed.

"It would be worth it." Relena took a huge bite of her pizza, only to have tomato sauce dribble down her chin. "Oops... need a napkin."

"Let me." Duo leaned over and wiped the sauce away with one slender finger. "Well, damn. Now *I* need a napkin." He mock-glared at the offending smear of pizza sauce.

Relena giggled and impulsively grabbed Duo's hand, licking the sauce off his finger. "There. All better."

He gave her a funny look. "Yeah, I guess so." He retracted his hand slowly, turning his gaze back to the pizza.

*Why on earth did I do that?* Relena wondered, blushing faintly. She took a drink of her beer to cover her embarrassment, and headed off on a new topic. "I had lunch with Noin the other day."

"I trust she and Zechs are doing well?" Duo pounced on the conversation change eagerly.

"Of course... He treats her like a princess," Relena smiled. "They're very happy together." She paused. "She wanted to know how things were going with Heero."

Duo sighed. "How are things *ever* going with the perfect soldier? God only knows. She still bugging you to give up on him and go after someone else?"

"Of course. How about you, is Hirde still trying to set you up on blind dates?"

"Yeah... God save us from well-meaning friends, ne?" Duo smirked.

"I'll drink to that." Relena clinked her bottle against Duo's and took a healthy gulp. "D'you think he'll ever get a clue?"

Duo snorted. "We should be so lucky... This is Heero we're talking about, remember? The guy wouldn't know what romance was if it bit him on the ass."

"You're probably right. Ano... what would we do if one of us actually got him?" Relena asked rhetorically, grabbing another slice of pizza.

Duo considered it. "I dunno... after all we've been through, I think I'd be willing to share."

"Hentai," Relena chided him. Then she grinned. "But the idea has definite possibilities, ne?"

Duo cocked his head at her. "Funny, I never would have figured you to be into trios."

Relena tossed her head. "People seem to have this crazy idea that just because I'm a princess and a politician that I'm not human... I hate to break it to you, but I can be every bit as hentai as the next girl." She poked him for emphasis. "Besides, you have a cute butt. I'd hate to miss out."

Duo stared at her. "I can't believe you just said that."

"Well, it's true," Relena pouted. "For the god of death, you're one sexy fellow."

"Are you drunk?" Duo asked.

"No... a little buzzed, maybe, but I should certainly hope that it takes more than one and a half beers to get me drunk," she scoffed. "Why, were you planning on taking advantage of my inebriated state?"

Duo looked dumbfounded. "No. You *are* drunk, aren't you?"

Relena turned serious. "No, I'm not. Fed up, maybe, but not drunk. I'm just wondering why we two are wasting our lives waiting for Heero, when we have every opportunity to be happy with someone else. Yeah, I know, we both love him, right? I'm just beginning to wonder if love is enough to keep a person going..."

Duo leaned over and hugged her clumsily with one arm. "Oi, ojousan, don't let it get you down. Heero may be stubborn, but we're twice as stubborn as he is. He can't hold out forever."

Relena sighed, leaning her head against Duo's shoulder. "I just get so lonely sometimes. I swear, if I didn't have you to talk to, I'd probably go insane."

"It's good to know I'm useful for something. Don't worry, we'll manage somehow," Duo assured her. On impulse, he kissed the top of her head. "So, you think I'm sexy, huh?"

Relena twisted her body and sprawled herself across Duo's lap, smiling up at him cheekily. "Very sexy. It's all in the braid."

Duo snorted and grabbed his braid, using the end to tickle her nose. "So my cute butt has nothing to do with it?"

Relena frowned thoughtfully. "Well, maybe it's not all in the braid." She grabbed the braid and tugged it. "So, what is this thing good for?"

"Being sexy, apparently," Duo, amused, replied.

"There's got to be more than that..." Relena considered the thick rope of hair in her hand, and then smiled. "Bet it makes a good leash..."

"Nani?" *What the hell?* Duo thought, as Relena pulled on his braid firmly, forcing his face closer to hers. "Ne, Relena, be nice to the hair."

"It's not all in the cute butt, either," she murmured, something like determination glinting in her eyes. "You look like you're a pretty good kisser, too." She pressed soft, hungry lips to his.

Duo stiffened at first, scarcely able to believe that Relena was kissing him. Then he relaxed into her insistent mouth, his tongue darting between her slightly parted lips to taste her mouth. Relena slid her tongue against his sensuously, teasing him. Duo very willingly deepened the kiss, twining his tongue against hers in a slow, erotic fashion. Relena hummed happily into his mouth, releasing her grip on the braid to slide a hand around to the back of his head. When they broke apart for breath, Duo leaned his forehead against Relena's. "What was that?"

"You *are* a good kisser," she told him softly. "And for one night... it'd be nice to forget what being lonely is like."

"Aa." Violet eyes drilled into blue, assessing... then softening. "Just for tonight, then?"

Relena smiled. "Yes."

They kissed again, losing themselves in the moment, the feel of lips against lips and feather light caresses. Articles of clothing fell away before exploring fingers and trailing kisses, passion building slowly as they came together langourously.

"Thank you, Duo," Relena breathed after, brushing swet-soaked hair out of his eyes.

"You're welcome," he replied, sighing.

Then the door opened an Heero walked in. He stopped short upon beholding the two lying on the couch, looking stunned. "Nani?!" he choked.

Duo, horrified, said the only thing that sprang to mind. "Uh, hi, Heero... care to join us?"