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The Beginning

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Chapter 1:  A vacation might be nice.

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The day was slowly fading into dusk in the window behind her, the incoming light low and golden.  Birds chirped occasionally, producing the only outside noise.

Relena sat at her desk, answering correspondence.  The week had been slow, so she might have time to answer some of the fan letters herself.  She would have liked to answer them all (they were by far more entertaining than this official correspondence between colony leaders), but she received thousands of letters a week.  Still, she liked to answer some, especially from young children.

Most official correspondence were complaints of one sort or another, but this particular letter was a thank you for addressing a small colony's needs before the ESUN parliament.  She decided it would be the last letter of the day-- it would be nice to leave on a high note, for once.  There would still be a couple of hours of daylight left; dinner in the garden would be nice.  Maybe followed by a swim.

She hid a smile at the thought, but the prospects were promising.  Heero was acting less like a bodyguard today.  He was sitting in front of her desk, feet propped up in the other chair, reading a book.  He looked almost relaxed.  The only sounds in the office were mutual page-rustling and breathing.

Relena finished the short note and signed her name in long, loping letters.  There, done.  Her secretary would find an envelope and mail it, so Relena let the thin paper float into the rosewood outbox on her desk.

She noticed Heero tracking her out of the corner of his eye as she capped her pen and put it away, and she smiled at him.

This was nice.

"Miss Relena?" her secretary's voice intruded in an almost painful way.

Suppressing a groan, she hit the intercom.  "Yes?"

"There's a man here to see you, but he doesn't have an appointment..."

The door flew open, and a dark-skinned man stood in the doorway, taking up most of the available space.  Heero had long ago snapped his book shut and planted both feet on the floor, and his gun was pointed before the door was finished opening.

The man ignored Heero and his weapon, however.  "Ms. Darlian!" he gasped, and bowed a little.  "My name is Abdul al-Bazhar, I am a Maganac. Quatre-sama has sent me to escort you to his home on Earth at once, for your own protection.  I have a shuttle waiting."

Relena felt her lazy day slip away at once, and resisted rolling her eyes.  She was too used to this sort of thing to even become pale any more.  Resigned, she scooped the rest of the stack of letters into her slim briefcase, snapped it shut, and stood up, ready to go.  Heero was still glaring and pointing his gun.

"Come along, Heero" she said as she swept past him.  Scowling, he lowered the weapon, but kept it in his hand.

In the hallway, Heero took it upon himself to run ahead, slinking around corners and waving his gun, then skulking while he waited for them to catch up.

Relena walked quickly, but unrushed, after Abdul, swinging her briefcase.  A vacation might be nice.

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Quatre and Trowa were waiting on the landing strip, squinting up into the sun as the transport settled among clouds of dust.  It was a camouflaged Preventer ship, and Sally Po jumped out as soon as it landed, stalking out to Quatre and Trowa.  She paused long enough to greet them politely, then continued stalking into the house.

Trowa and Quatre, confused but not surprised, turned back to watch Wufei exit the ship.  "What's the matter with Dr. Po?" Quatre asked when he reached them.

Wufei sniffed.  "I'm sure I don't know what that woman's problem is now."

"Did you say something to her?" Quatre pressed.

"Just the truth.  Those pants *do* make her look fat."

"Wufei..." Quatre groaned, and Trowa shook his head in pity.

"She asked!"

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Inside, Heero was sitting next to Relena, on the couch.  Duo was sitting in a nearby chair.  When Quatre and Trowa had last seen them, Relena was sandwiched between the two men, but Duo had somehow been induced to move.  Quatre suspected it had something to do with Heero, and the way Duo had greeted Relena when they arrived.  Heero hadn't seemed to appreciate Duo shouting "Ojousan!," grabbing her around the waist, and swinging her in a circle.

Sally was pacing in front of them, glaring and ranting.  "He's self-absorbed, pigheaded, ahh!  And he'll never change!  I've *tried*, really I have, but I don't know what to do--" she broke off when she noticed the three men had entered the room.

"I cannot" she growled, pointing at Wufei, "work with that anymore!"

Wufei growled back.  "Woman!  What do you think you are doing!  You're making a fool of yourself!  Over nothing!"

"Nothing!" she shouted.  Too frustrated to continue speaking, Sally rushed out of the room.  Wufei stood for a moment, before leaving as well, grumbling about weak, foolish women.

"Oh yeah," said Duo, once Wufei had slammed the door behind himself, "they want each other."

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