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Shikami Yamino

The war is finally over.

It has been for almost four years now, but never has it actually felt like peace until now. The human race is at last ready to put the bloody war between the earth and its colonies behind it, preparing for a joint future together. A brighter future for all.

As Heero would put it: Ninmu kanryou.

It wasn't Absolute Pacifism, but by now I have realized that Absolute Pacifism is an unattainable ideal. A lovely and perfect dream, but just as unrealistic as it is wonderful. I have come to accept that... And so I am content with the path the world has chosen -- a world facing a hard won peace but are willing to try and forget weapons for as long as it is safe to do so. In my place as a leader of this new Unified Nation, I will do everything in my power to make sure that the world continues to be that safe place. Even through the use of justified force if necessary.

One of the reasons why my colleagues were surprised after I appointed myself in charge of Preventers relations with the Unified Nation. Preventers who are the best hope mankind has of preserving the peace we relish today --

Self-consciously, I shake my head and smile ruefully. I have been too caught up in the political world. Oniisama says I've been working too hard -- a fact I'm reluctant to agree with, even if he is right.

Which is why he invited me to a little get together on his private property which he shares with his intended, Lucrezia Noin. In his words, some rest, relaxation and a chance to catch up with old friends. I couldn't turn it down -- not for the world.

The first thing that greeted me when I climbed out of my limo and onto Oniisama's estate had large indigo-violet eyes, an excited grin, a chestnut braid at his back and wide open arms. I couldn't help but giggle helplessly and clutch at him as Duo Maxwell swept me up in his arms, twirling me around a few times before pulling me against his chest, arms warm and tight around me.

"Ojousan! How've you been?"

I laughed breathlessly against the solid chest I was pressed up against. Duo had finally gotten that growth spurt he'd been waiting for and it was undeniable that it was a man who held me in his arms now, not the strapling of a boy he'd been when we'd met five years ago. "I've been good Duo, you?"

"Never better 'Lena. Kinda missed having you around though."

A content smile made it way over my lips as I squeezed him once in reply. If it had been four years ago, I know he would have been referring to my pursuit of Heero. But it was different now, and I knew that Duo was being sincere when he said he'd missed me. "I missed you too Duo."

"Duo, I think the rest of us would like our hugs now."

I looked up at the source of the voice and heard Duo chuckle sheepishly, his arms falling away from around me.

"Sorry Q-man. Didn't mean to deprive you."

Quatre rolled his eyes affectionately at the former Deathscythe pilot before beaming at me and wrapping his arms around me. "It's been a while Relena."

I nodded wordlessly, a smile on my face. "I trust you've been well Quatre."

"A little tired, but nothing two weeks with good food and good company and no work won't fix."

I smiled at the answer, nodding my head in agreement.

In the four years of peace we had experienced, Master Winner of Winner Enterprises had played a large role in the keeping of peace, never hesitating to support my peace efforts with his financial backup. It was support I was immensely glad for, knowing that if all my budgets had to go through ESUN's finance department, nothing would have ever been accomplished. But as well as being known for a samaritan, Quatre was also a shrewd businessman, having almost doubled all of WE's assets within the period. And on the side, the former Sandrock pilot also kept up with his work at the Preventers. It was a schedule I didn't even want to think about, and it just made for more cause to admire Quatre for his strength of mind and being.

Wufei seems the next in line as Quatre releases me. The Chinese man gazes at me warmly before shaking my hand and depositing a chaste kiss on my cheek. I giggle and return the gesture as Duo immediately tosses a teasing remark Wufei's way to earn the traditional "Maxwell!!" reply. And then the battle of wits and words was on.

I stood watching fondly with what I knew was a relaxed grin. Despite all their seeming arguments, let there be no doubt that Wufei and Duo are the best of friends. Though it might seem unlikely that the reserved oriental man and the loud boisterous American would have anything in common, whatever it is, it is undoubtedly there. Personally, I thought Sally had done a world of good with Wufei and was not surprised that Wufei was here despite Sally's absence. Wufei was no longer the solitary warrior and he seemed happy to have things as they are.

A gentle arm crept around my shoulders as I watched and laughed merrily while Duo led Wufei on a chase around the front gardens. Looking up into the deepest of emerald wells, I smiled contentedly and wound my own arm around his waist, laying my head on his shoulder for a brief second before returning my attention to Duo and Wufei's antics.

Words were hardly ever needed where Quatre's gentle lover was concerned. Though he was more open, just the simple fact that he was comfortable enough to put his arms around me spoke volumes about how accepting and welcoming he was of our relationship. Trowa had always been gentle and considerate, even more so with me who was a relatively "new" addition into their brotherhood. However, the years and Quatre had also cultivated in him a lust for life and its simple pleasures one of which especially was being around friends.

"I think someone over there is anxious to say hello." I broke my attention from where Duo and Wufei were currently rolling in the grass, tickling each other breathless, when Trowa's smooth, soothing voice whispered in my ear. Looking over where his arm was guiding me, I was as shocked by a pair of the most stunning blue eyes as I was the first time I saw them. They were even more gorgeous now, considering that they were smiling at me, welcoming me into their owner's arms.

Don't get me wrong, Heero and I worked out our relationship and differences a long time ago. But there was still no denying that Heero Yuy was the most gorgeous man I had ever laid eyes on.

"Relena." He folded his arms around me and pulled me closer.

I smiled into his chest. "Heero."

Like Trowa, Heero will never be a man of many words. But likewise, Duo had drawn the real him from the depths of of whatever training he hand buried himself under. It was a good change and I heartily approved.

"Anybody try to win your hand lately?"

Of everything except that bit.

I scowled at him and poked him in the arm. He chuckled softly, tightening his arm around my waist to guide me towards the others. Somewhere along the way, it had become a quirk of his to ask me about my lovelife. To which I generally gave him my best impersonation of, what Duo termed, "the Yuy Glare of Death" that he'd used so often on me during the times I tracked him down in the war. "No," I retorted. "I think some of them were too intimidated by my escort to the last social function." I raised my eyebrows pointedly at him.

At that, Heero laughed and the subject was dropped as we watched Duo and Wufei somehow manage to pull Trowa into their tangled pile of arms and legs while Quatre laughed at them, trying to stay out of their way.

But what I had said was partly true. The reality was that I barely had time for much outside of work. Perhaps a visit from friends occasionally or a phone call to catch up but never actually any time to intentionally forward my lovelife. That is not to say that any of the dignitaries will hesitate to introduce to me any eligible nephew or son or younger cousin that they could. It had gotten so tedious after the first few functions two years ago that I almost begged one of the men with me today to be my escort.

Duo had obliged me the first time, reassuring me with an evil grin that he would be sure to keep the circling bachelors away from my innocent self. I have to smile as I recall the media articles that had been published after that little stunt, wondering who the young man and what his relationship to me was. Since then, it had become a habit between the six of us that one of them would escort me whenever the mention of a function came up.

When I hesitated once during a lull in proceedings in a function and whisper-asked to Wufei beside me if I was pulling him out of anything important, he'd given me a sly grin and pointedly looked up towards the second floor balconies. Directing a glance up, I had been surprised to catch a glimpse of a chestnut braid as a figure disappeared from the railing. Then Wufei had told me that it was actually more of a relief for them that I had asked since whoever could would have been here anyway as Preventers to oversee everyone's safety. That I had one of them as escort would just mean that they were more able to keep me safe.

When the tradition had first started, it'd provided the media with no small amount of speculation to chew on. That I arrived at a function almost everytime with a different man as escort was a big source of that but none as big as the one I remember when I first showed up on Quatre's arm. The media circus then had been hilarious and Quatre and I had had many private phone calls laughing over the contents of a particular article in some magazine.

My wandering thoughts disappeared as I watched Trowa attempt to stand up from the tangled pile of limbs only to have his legs knocked out from under him. Laughing as he went down, the gymnast's lean form was Trowa's asset as he made a desperate grab for Quatre on the sidelines. Quatre's squawk was as undignified as I've ever heard it as he was dragged into the tussling group, trying to protest over his own laughter.

Feeling Heero's arms shift around me, I looked up only to gulp as a spark of mischief lit those incredible eyes. Heero's smirk grew wider as I began to stutter an entreaty but I was brutally rebuffed when he simply picked me up and tossed me towards the pile before joining in himself.

Already in the midst of the tickle war, I decided to make the best of it and tried to give as good as I got. I think my greatest triumph would have to be reducing the Master of Winner Enterprises into a laughing and squirming bundle of nerves. Really, if OZ had ever tried to get information from the rebels by tickling, I'd say the rebellion wouldn't have lasted half as long as it did.

When at last, we'd exhausted ourselves with laughter, we just lay sprawled on the manicured lawn in whichever way we happened to land and stared up at the bright blue sky catching our breath. This was what I loved most about spending quiet time with these men. During these times, there was never mention of war, work or peace efforts. There was just us and the determination to have fun while we were all together.

Somehow, I'd been relegated to the position of 'little sister' in this dysfunctional family, but a family we were and I was just happy to be a part of it.

"Really you lot, you're twenty, not twelve! When are you going to stop this behaviour and act your age? Or are you going to keep doing this until your kids can join you?"

Noin's valiant attempt at pulling us into line, despite the amusment laced into the words, somehow set us off again and we laughed as my brother walked up beside his fiancee and grinned at us.

"I see you're already having fun."

Giggling, I pull myself from my position beside Trowa and threw my arms around my brother's neck, depositing a kiss on his cheek.

Oniisama's arms crept around me as he pressed a kiss to my hair and then released me so I could reach over and hug Noin.

During that time, the others had pulled themselves up and were dusting themselves off.

Then as we turned to go into the house, Duo came up behind me and threw an affectionate arm around my shoulders as he chatted about the fun we were going to have during the week. Meanwhile, as I leaned against him slightly, listening to the others chid the former Shinigami for planning too much or tease each other or occassionally tell each other to shut up without really meaning it, I could feel the tension seeping away from my back and shoulders.

Contentedly, I smiled and closed my eyes, trusting Duo to guide me safely towards the door.

This was what I relished about being here with these men. Here, I was not Foreign Minister Peacecraft. Here, I was not hounded by the media, foreign dignitaries or fellow politicians. Here, the continuation of peace didn't rest on my shoulders and here, I didn't have to be anything but myself.

Here, I was just everyone's little sister.

And I liked that...

A lot.


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