Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Heero gets some fresh air.  

Acquiescent Concubine

Part Seven

Heero bit his lip anxiously as he gazed at his caretakers.  They were about to give in.  He could see it in their eyes.  “Please?  I
think the fresh air would do me good and I haven’t seen the sun . . . REALLY seen it in so long.”

Dorothy’s face took on the expression of an indulgent older sister.  “Oh, all right, Heero.  We’ll let you lounge in the gardens.  
You do need a little color and the fresh air WOULD be good for you.”  She smiled, brushing her fingers through his hair lightly.

Relena sighed and shook her head in amusement.  “You must eat everything we bring you, though.  I’ll get my brother to carry
you out.”  She turned to the door that led to the concubine common area.  “Milliardo?”

Heero sighed in relief as Relena went in search of the other concubine he had only heard about during a conversation yesterday.  
He hoped that he would be able to put up with being carried by another.  However, the chance of going outside outweighed his
fears.  He so longed to lie out in the sun and feel the air caressing his skin.  He was being pampered for the first time in his life
and he really loved it.  It was true that there were times when he felt nervous, downright terrified, but he knew that he had the
right to defend himself.

Heero looked up as voices came into hearing, one of which had to be the voice of Relena’s elder brother.  “ . . . times do I have
to tell you NOT to call me that?”

“But it’s your name, Milliardo!”  Relena whined.

There was a sigh before the other voice replied.  “A name too many people know.  It’s too uncommon, so now I go by Zechs.  
It is what lord Rasid has deemed to call me by.”  Zechs sighed again and Heero watched the door, awaiting the moment he
would get to see this man with his own eyes.  “You are safe here, Relena.  Although you are a capable young lady, people still
see you as merely a powerless woman.  With me, I’d be less than a slave if someone were to hear about me being here.  It was
part of the agreement made by our father on his deathbed with our lord, Rasid.  I would dwell here peacefully and go by a
different name and Rasid would see to it that our people could reside in his kingdom in safety.  I may no longer be a prince, but I
prefer it here.  It’s a relief to know that I will not take the throne.  I never did see myself as king.  You know that.”

Relena’s voice was quiet.  “Yes, I know that, brother.”  She whispered.

“My only regret, Relena, is that Father did not live to see the fine young woman you have grown into.”

“Always the flatterer, aren’t you, Zechs?”  Relena giggled.  There was a pause.  “Now, come along.  Heero is waiting to be
taken to the gardens.”

The door opened then, and Relena entered.  Following close behind her was a tall man with long blonde hair.  Heero had to blink,
taking in the blonde’s stature.  He certainly gave off an impressive presence, his sharp blue eyes piercing as they looked at Heero
in return.  Zechs was dressed in veils of a bright crimson.  The shade looked startling against his complexion.  His lean stomach,
not to mention other parts of the muscular form, were bared to Heero’s eyes.  His face veil was hanging loose at the side of his
face, probably because there was no one other than concubines around, so Heero could clearly see the young man’s features.  
The scantily clad man was simply beautiful, that was all that Heero could think.

Heero barely even noticed when Zechs began speaking to him, he was so lost in thought.  “W-What did you say?”  Heero asked,
feeling like a fool for ogling the tall man.

Zechs smirked.  “I said that I had been wondering when I would get the pleasure to meet you, Heero.  I have heard only good
things from my sister and Dorothy.”  He stepped forward, reaching his hand out to Heero.

However, Heero reacted by instinct, misunderstanding Zechs’ motive for wanting to touch him.  Heero pulled away, flinching
away from the contact and stumbling back, only to cry out sharply as his weight landed on his hands, sending pain shooting up
either of his arms.  He rolled onto his side, pulling his hands close to his chest, his body shuddering from the pain.

“F-Forgive me.  I . . . I am not yet accustomed to physical contact.”  Heero said, averting his gaze away from Zechs.

“Do not fret . . .”  Zechs said, gently laying a hand on Heero’s shoulder.  “It takes time to grow used to this place.”

“Yes, and we all know that Zechs here is a big intimidating oaf.”  Dorothy huffed.  “Don’t worry, he’s as gentle as a puppy.”  
She snickered.

Zechs sighed.  “Yes, very funny.  I am not an oaf, nor am I a puppy.”  He muttered.  Heero turned, only to see the tall man
smiling down at him.  “Come, I believe you wanted to see the gardens.”

Heero nodded.  “Yes, please.”

Zechs easily lifted his body from the bed.  Heero shivered, biting his lip as he tried to push aside his fears.  He would not be hurt
here.  He knew that.  But it still felt odd to him, the idea that he was actually free was somewhat overwhelming.

Relena and Dorothy ran ahead of them, one of them opening the door as Zechs carried Heero.  As they walked through the
common area, Dorothy pointed out the various sections, the bathing room, the dining hall, the lounge, the library.  And then
finally, the gardens which were closed off from the rest of the area by ornate doors.  Heero had to hold his breath as he took in
the sight, having never seen anything so beautiful in all of his life.  Even though few flowers were blooming - the weather being
somewhat chill now - Heero had never seen anything like it.

Flowerbeds and topiaries went as far as Heero could see, ending in a high stone wall that circled the expansive outdoor area.  
Trees grew in abundance, although none were high enough to reach the edges of the walls.  And in the center of it all was a
large circular pool of water, a fountain that could easily be swum in as well as viewed.  It looked quite deep as well as wide.  It
had to be refreshing to swim in during the summer months.  At the very center of the fountain stood a statue of two elegant and
beautiful merfolk, locked in the embrace of each others arms.

“It . . . it is lovely.”  Heero said, rapt with awe.  He had never seen anything more exquisite.

Zechs set Heero down on a long bench.  Relena moved closer to wrap a soft blanket around Heero’s shoulders.  It was not
cold.  Yet, it wasn’t exactly sweltering either.  Heero thanked them quietly, not really paying attention to what they were doing
all that much as he gazed around at the garden.

“I’m going to get you something to eat.”  Dorothy said, grazing her hand down along Heero’s arm.

Heero nodded, but didn’t speak.  How could he when he was faced with something so lovely?  It took him several more minutes
before he was able to drag his attention away from the garden and look around.  For the first time he noticed that there were a
number of people walking about.  All of them were concubines, all wearing differently colored veils.  Since they weren’t
straying too close to him, he chose to ignore their presence for the time being.  He would have to get used to being around

When Dorothy returned, Heero obediently ate, Dorothy kindly spoonfeeding him.  It was nothing more than a simple broth, but
his stomach truly couldn’t handle much more than that.  His master had not fed him much, if he fed him at all.  To have broth
was a lot to Heero now.

Zechs and Relena left Heero at some point, although Heero wasn’t exactly sure as to when that had been.  It wasn’t long after
that Dorothy excused herself, saying that she would only be gone for a few minutes at most.  Perhaps she had gone in search of
Relena.  Heero didn’t know her reasons for leaving.  Of course he hadn’t asked either.

Heero tiredly rubbed his arm over his face.  It was the best that he could do since his hands were swathed in bandages.  He was
beginning to feel sleepy.  It was getting quite difficult to keep his eyes open.

“Tired?”  A strange voice asked.

Heero blinked his eyes open, looking toward the voice.  He had to force himself to remain still, to not start panicking when he
saw the attractive young woman leaning over him.  She was dressed in striking silver veils that were edged with a lovely shade
of blue.  Her hair hung just below her shoulders, a medium brown.

Heero nodded warily, not knowing what to make of this woman.  She seemed oddly familiar to him, but he didn’t know where
he knew her from.  It was a memory he couldn’t grasp, like a dream he could not focus clearly on.

“D-Do I know you?”  Heero asked, looking at her quizzically.

The young lady smiled.  “I do not know.  My name is Une.”  She replied, taking a seat beside him.  

Her eyes roamed over him carefully, as if trying to identify him as he was doing with her.  She looked so familiar.  But why?  
Une raised her hand slowly, gently gliding her fingers along his face, brushing aside his hair.  Her smile was so tender that Heero
had no feelings of fear.

“I do know you.”  Heero stated.  “But I cannot remember from where.”

It happened quite suddenly.  Une’s eyes filled with emotion, her hand beginning to tremble against Heero’s cheek.  Heero
watched in concern as a few stray tears fell from her eyes, wondering if he had done something to displease her.  He hadn’t
meant to make her cry.

“Did I do something wrong?”  Heero asked.

“No, nothing.”  Une whispered, her voice sounding choked.  “You have the same eyes as my youngest brother.  It is an old
memory, one I had thought forgotten.”  She sighed, smiling at him once more, weaving her fingers through the hair at the side
of his head.  “You look so much like him.  He was only four when Father sold him.  I was sold as well, to spare the others.  We
were a very poor family.”  She smiled half-heartedly, her eyes going distant.  “His name, it was . . . hm, so long ago I barely
remember any of my brothers.  But him . . . his name was Heero.”

This time it was Heero’s turn to be taken aback as the memories returned.  His sweet sister, he remembered her, and her name
had been Une.  He rose to his feet, backing away until his ankle pained him too badly.  Then he fell to his knees, staring at Une in
disbelief.  He bowed his head, covering it with his arms.  

“You cannot be.  She is dead.”  He repeated, rocking back and forth as he denied this.  His sister was dead.  His master had told
him so, had beaten it into him over and over again.  Heero’s family was dead.

“My goodness, whatever is the matter?”  Une’s kind voice called, her hands grasping his shoulders to stop his rocking.  “Please,
I did not mean to upset you.  Tell me what troubles you so.”

Heero shivered as he raised his gaze, his tears falling freely.  “My master told me you were dead.”  He whispered, watching as
shock crossed her features.  “M-My n-name is Heero.  But my elder sister is dead.  He told me you were dead.”

Une’s face filled with disbelief and joy.  “What was your favorite food?”

Heero was confused at the question for a moment.  Then understanding dawned within him.  “The porridge you helped mother
to make.  Y-You used to sneak honey into it because I wouldn’t eat it otherwise.  No one else ever knew.  I-It was our secret.”

At that, Une let out a happy sob and tenderly pulled Heero into her arms.

Love.  Family.  Kindness.  Things that had been all but forgotten flooded Heero’s senses.  His beloved sister was alive and she
was holding him just as she had when he had been little.  He couldn’t help his reactions.  He hugged her back as well as he could
manage and started sobbing with the joy that he felt.

“I feared I would never see you again, little brother.”  Une cried, her warm tears falling onto Heero.

Heero merely held her tighter, afraid that this all was a dream.  Even as his hands ached, he did not want to ever let her go.  
“Don’t leave me.”  He whispered.  “Please, please don’t go away again.”

“Sshh now, I won’t leave you.”  Une hushed, her hand stroking the back of his head soothingly, her body rocking back and
forth gently.  “Nothing will ever separate us again, I swear it.”

Heero nodded, believing his sister’s words.  Now that he was safe, that he had the family he had dreamed of for so long, Heero
suddenly felt so unbearably tired.  He closed his eyes, his hug loosening from Une’s body.

Une gently pulled him away from her, her fingers brushing across his cheek.  The gentle treatment was enough to coax his eyes
open and she smiled at him.  “You are tired, aren’t you?”

“I am sorry.  I . . .”  Heero began, but Une didn’t allow him to finish.

“No need for apologies.  I can see you have had a harsh life.  And when you are ready, perhaps you will tell me of it.  But for
now, I think you should rest.”  She smiled again, laying a soft hand against his face.  “Here, lie down for a while.  I will stay
with you.”  

She helped him to lie down along the ground, his head pillowed by her lap.  Tenderly, she covered him with the blanket that
Relena had given to him earlier, making sure that he was comfortable.  The last thing that Heero was aware of, was the sweet
sound of his sister’s voice as she lulled him to sleep with a lullaby he hadn’t heard since he had been a child.

To Be Continued . . .