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Volume IV

Only three fics here because the fic that comes after these is on the longer side and merits its own post due to its structure. If you've liked things so far, here's more of the same. Also, Steel Butterfly is special because it was written almost a full year before I decided to write my damned thesis on the same historical figure who inspired me to write that fic. That's not an endorsement of quality though. As I've mentioned before, keep you expectations low and nobody gets hurt. ;)

[19]


"I refuse to apologize to that woman," declared Relena. "There's only so much I'm willing to do in the interest of peace."

"You insulted the spiritual successor to the Steel Butterfly," Heero pointed out. "An apology is the least you can do."

"So says the man who considers not issuing a death threat an excellent gesture of good will," she fumed.

"Relena..."

"She's insufferable!"

"Do you want to have an unfortunate accident some time soon?"

"That's what I have you for, isn't it?"

"I thought you wanted to avoid violence at all costs."

"Sometimes, violence is warranted."

"All you have to do is walk up to her and say sorry."

"Over my dead body."

"She can arrange that."

Relena growled. "Steel Butterfly. Stepping on anything and everything that gets in her way..."

"Do I have to call Pagan to plead with you?"

"No."

"Then walk over there and say you're sorry."

"I don't want to!"

"Quit acting like a child. The last politician who offended her was found dead on a beach in Java. Hands and feet gone, all his teeth pulled out."

"And you're afraid I'll end up like that?"

"I'm going to be the one who'll end up like that for you."

"We're going to stoop to guilt tripping now, Heero?"

"I learned from the master."

With a sigh, Relena downed the last of her wine and shoved the glass at Heero.

"Assemble a search party if I don't come back," she muttered as she approached the detestable woman.

"Acknowledged," said Heero under his breath.

Relena tapped the Steel Butterfly on the shoulder and was immediately met with a glare.

"I'm sorry for overreacting about you wearing the same dress. I was out of line and incredibly rude."

The Steel Butterfly smirked. "Is that all? Won't you admit that I opted for this gown even before it caught your eye?"

Relena gritted her teeth. "We went shopping together. You know very well I was going to wear that, Dorothy."

Dorothy shrugged. "Still looks better on me. Apology accepted, Miss Relena. Now hop off. I'm waiting for the next social faux pas. Oh, and I had nothing to do with Pennyworth and Java. That was just convenient."

Relena sighed. "Right..."

[20]

"Heero Yuy, you will return that to me right this minute if you know what's good for you," she snarled, rising from her chair and placing both hands on her desk.

He ignored her, sitting pretty, flipping through the pages as if he'd heard nothing. She lunged at him from behind her desk but, before she knew it, the chair he'd previously occupied had fallen to the ground and he was halfway across the room. So it was a chase he wanted? So be it.

She went after him but he seamlessly dodged every dive she made, gliding across the room with unparalleled grace as she stumbled after him.

"Not until I find out what Lord St. Claire has that I don't," he smirked, momentarily dangling the romance novel before her eyes then swiftly pulling it back and continuing their frenzied game of cat and mouse across the room.

"He's blonde. What else do you need to know?" she growled, making a grab for his leg and finding nothing but air in her arms. "Why do you even care?"

"All you do before going to bed is read this. I'm just curious about the other man's techniques," he retorted. "Judging from this, he's more than blonde. He's rather well-equipped, too. "

He turned the page. "Very well-equipped," he added, dodging the shoe she threw at his head. "Tsk, Relena, you really shouldn't waste ammo. Have I taught you nothing?"

The second shoe hit him square in the forehead. "All right, it seems I have taught you a thing or two," he fumed, picking up speed as she rushed at him. "Still, that's not going to slow me down, princess. Or should I start calling you 'my lady' and make a habit of ripping your clothes off whenever I'm feeling frisky?"

"Give it back!" she yelped, going in for the kill with an attempted tackle. She quickly found her body slamming against the mercifully carpeted floor. If they'd been doing this on the marble floor of her ESUN office, she'd have been done for. This was her home office, home turf... Surely, she had the advantage here. What else could she use as a weapon now that her footwear was gone?

"Melinda gasped in surprise as he truly revealed himself to her for the very first time," read Heero, his tone ineffectual as he darted away from her crumpled body. "Never before had she seen such a perfect specimen of-"

"Shut up! I read for the plot."

"Right," he said, his tone oozing with sarcasm. "Because 'harder, my lord, harder,' is a great basis for an excellent story. I'm confiscating this."

She watched in horror as he ran for the door. There was no way she could pick herself up in time to stop him. On the verge of defeat, she went for the last trick she had up her sleeve.

"Office lock down sequence Peacecraft Darlian beta one nine five!" she screamed just as the door swung open.

The door immediately slammed shut. Steel walls practically engulfed her office, descending over the door and all the windows, effectively blocking out the light of day and any way out.

"Command accepted," boomed Heero's recorded voice. "Please specify duration of lock down, Vice Foreign Minister Darlian."

"One hour."

"Confirmed."

"Vice Foreign Minister Darlian? Computer Heero sure is formal, isn't he?" she grinned, getting up off the floor to bask in her triumph. "How does it feel to be beaten at your own game?"

Heero only returned her grin, immediately killing her short-lived mirth. "Access system override. Yuy alpha zero one."

"Bastard!" she blurted. She ran at him just as the steel lifted to reveal the door.

"Re-initiate lock down," he said just loud enough for her to hear as the door closed behind him to slam in her face. "See you in an hour, Relena. Lord St. Claire and I need to go bond over a campfire."

[21]

Lord St. Claire was dark and dangerous, his demeanor contrasting his gentle blue eyes, golden tresses and fair complexion. He was a fallen angel, a notorious rake schooled in the art of love by a lust-driven madame eager to share and practice the erotic secrets of the East. Just the sort of man silently begging for redemption under the tutelage of a maiden of innocence...

Heero Yuy was also dark and dangerous, his demeanor fitting his wild azure glare, often tousled brown hair and bronze tan. He, too, was a fallen angel, a child turned soldier schooled in the art of war by a scientist who taught him to value paving the way for peace over life itself. Just the sort of man to raise hell when the personification of the peace he fought for, the woman he loved, surrendered to Lord St. Claire's charms...

Heero had recently confronted Relena about her affair, grabbing Lord St. Claire and roughing him up before her eyes. It stung to recall how she plead for her lover as Heero mercilessly dragged the damned aristocrat out of her reach. What did this oversexed noble have to offer Relena that Heero couldn't? The perfect soldier took his romantic rival out to the yard with the intention of setting him on fire. However, things didn't go exactly as planned. It was Heero's curiosity that spared Lord. St. Claire from hell's inferno. The knowledge he culled from his competition would probably prove indispensable in the future. Heero was going to win Relena back, and he was going to do it without a damned English accent.

At dinner, he pulled out her chair for her. She eyed him with suspicion, still in a rage, believing he had slain Lord St. Claire. Who was he to dictate to her which men she could and could not admire? All right, maybe she had pushed it a bit too far when she had taken both Heero and Lord St. Claire to bed at the same time, but still...

"So...he's gone?" she asked, refusing to look at him as she picked at her salad.

"Burned to ashes," he told her, knowing very well that Lord St. Claire was safely tucked away in his closet. "Though I did learn a thing or two before I sent him to his death."

"Is that so?" she asked, toying with her vegetables as she shifted them around her plate with her fork.

"Relena, I simply can't share you. I won't have you looking to another man to fulfill your fantasies."

"Selfishness isn't a good personality trait," she snapped, viciously impaling a lettuce leaf.

He was glad he'd opted not to order an appetizer. Her violence was hardly conducive to a healthy appetite. Besides, the topic at hand wasn't exactly great dinner conversation. Taking a deep breath, he decided to try out one of Lord St. Claire's signature moves.

"But, my love-"

"What did you just call me?" she gasped, her mouth falling agape as she eyed him in disbelief.

"My love?"

She looked thoughtful for a second before dissolving into a fit of giggles. "What I'd do for some recording equipment right now! Do you have any idea how strange it is hearing you say that?"

He shrugged. "It's a change of pace. Picking up a gentleman's manners, using endearments on a lady-"

"You read it, didn't you?"

"Dispatching him without discovering what kept you coming back to him would have been a foolish move."

"Unbelievable!" she laughed, absentmindedly pointing at him with a forkful of greens. "Heero, please, I beg of you, don't make any improvements based on my romance novels. Lord St. Claire is a fun little fantasy but I'm not a woman of that era. You didn't bother to study Melinda, did you? His love interest?"

"I glossed over those details."

"Well, she's spunky but quite defenseless. Always needs her hunk of a husband to save her. I don't aspire for that."

She most certainly did not. In all his years as head of security for Relena, he found that the person he most often needed to defend against was Relena herself. It came to be that he was, more often than not, protecting himself from her rather than protecting her. Granted, her attacks on him were often fitting punishments for his overzealous precautionary measures going awry or his insensitive remarks or his- Well, the list went on. He was just glad to know that he'd selected the right woman for the mammoth task of putting him in his place, and helping him adapt to society in a time of peace.

"I like reading those fantasies for distraction, Heero," she smiled, finally taking her first bite of salad. "They're not to be taken seriously. I don't want an English lord whispering nonsense Gaelic love phrases in my ear. That doesn't even make sense. Silly little plot hole in there that drove me mad. There's no one else in the book who speaks Gaelic, and Lord St. Claire never really wandered out of England. How the hell did he learn? Author lazily forgot to address that..."

"So calling you 'my love' on a regular basis is out of the question?"

"Do you want me to die laughing?"

"I did promise to kill you."

"I want to be dispatched with dignity, thank you very much."

"You honestly believe you have a choice?"

"A gentleman always respects a lady's wishes."

"I thought we established that I wasn't going to proceed with that crap."

She beamed. "Ah well, we'll keep that one rule. Other than that, I'm sticking with my dark and dangerous Gundam pilot. You know how he is, right? Fiercely loyal and devoted to his princess, prone to ridiculous fits of jealousy, sexy as all hell... I taught him everything he knows about pleasing a woman. Heard of him?"

"Sounds like a keeper," he smirked. "I assume you won't be taking any more romance novels to bed with you for late night reading? I think this Gundam pilot of yours finds it disturbing lying next to you as you follow another man's sexcapades."

"Sexcapades," she chortled. "That's a prime candidate for the dictionary, if I ever heard one. No, I don't think I'll be taking any more fictional lovers to bed. Of course, my Gundam pilot will have to compensate for what I'm missing out on."

"Consider the mission accepted," he told her, raising his glass to toast the deal. Her glass clinked against his in agreement. With Heero having gained the full confidence that his lady would no longer stray, Lord St. Claire would be spared the fires of hell no longer.