VERY IMPORTAN: If you had read Ch 11 previous to today, 10/12/04, read it again because I have added some new scenes into it. If you don't read it, you won't understand this one.
A.N. I am alive! I know by now most of you must have thought I had died. Well I haven't. I am sorry for the long wait but things got hectic with graduation and starting college and all that other stuff. Not to mention that I had a writers block. But they are all excuses in the end. Sorry.
The Perfect Life
The soft light of the dawn surrounded her as she completed the final move of her kata. She staid still for a moment before straightening up and walking to where her water bottle was. She stretched as she let her mind wonder over the last few days. Ataka was on the mend, back at home and resting. They were returning to HQ in two days and the small vacation had been excellent for all the team. Except for Noin who seemed to be coming down with some kind of flu, which Sally was happily treating. Nasha had to smile. One thing above all else was true. Life was never dull when the team was together. If it wasn't Wufei chasing Duo, it was Sally arguing with Wufei, or Hilde bickering with Duo, or Nicky causing problems, or Duo causing problems. Which was why she had woken so early, this was the only time of day when there was some semblance of peace and quiet in the temple.
But she knew that soon the other would start to move about. Which meant that she had to cook breakfast. Which meant that she had to move, something she really did not want to do. She let out a suffering sigh before standing up. Duty calls, she thought dryly and shrugged it away. She was getting hungry anyway.
As she turned around the corner that would bring her inside the temple she ran into a hard surface. She stumbled a couple of steps back and looked up to see what she had run into. The what turned out to be a who, Heero. And judging by his expression something was wrong.
"Is something wrong, Heero?" Her only response was a low growl. Like a small animal faced with its predator, she backed away sensing danger. "Are... you alright?"
Volcanoes are deceptive by nature, with their long periods of inactivity, they fool everyone into thinking they are cold and harmless, but slowly pressure starts to build and sooner or later the explosion comes. It comes swiftly and without warning. It wreaks chaos and destruction. In the moment Heero started to speak, in the back of her head Nasha could see the long asleep volcano had awoken to life. Twin waves of excitement and dread ran through her. Excitement, to see Heero finally lose control. Dread, to be the target of such anger.
"Damn you, Relena! How could you just leave us? So that you could have your fun? So that you could deceive us?"
"I don't know what you mean, Heero!"
"Don't play with me! I know who you are! No one else knew those things! First, your reaction to Thisbe and then what I told you about the Mariemea coup d'état. You are not Nashada Wong you are Vice Foreign Minister Relena Peacecraft?"
"NO! I was RELENA PEACECRAFT. I was born a human not a symbol or a title!" Tears were coming to her eyes but she blinked them back. She had cried too much already. "You don't know what it was like! How trapped I felt! Or how lonely and miserable it was!"
"Really? I wouldn't know how miserable and lonely you felt since I have always been alone and have been trained as a soldier devoid of all emotions for as long as I can remember! Wake up, PRINCESS, you are not the only one that suffers! Everyone has problems in their lives. If only you had taken a look around, you would have seen that they were all there for you but you were too blind with your self-pity and selfishness to see them! You are the one that will never understand how much you hurt them when you left! They all worried if you were alright, and even after all this time they still do."
"They didn't worry so much when I was there. They didn't care enough to see that I was slowly dieing inside. Everyday I could feel myself slipping away while people barraged me with the world's problems. For once I wanted to be a regular person! To not have to decide what the best solution for humankind was. To not have to worry about some dignitaries' petty squabbles over equally petty things. To not have to look over my shoulder every second of the day for the fear of an assassin jumping from the shadows." Here she paused briefly to breath before starting again. "To not have the weight of the world and peace resting in my hands. To not have to live up to the tittles that the people gave me. To just be me, Relena. Is it so hard to understand that I just wanted to be a person not a figurehead or a title? I just wanted some one to really care and really see ME. But no one saw and after a while I was dead inside. I realized it had gone too far and I needed to go away. To leave it all behind."
"You were scared!" Heero answered accusingly "You ran away because you were scared that you would never be good enough and guess what, you weren't!"
His words stabbed a dagger through her heart and the pain that she had buried came forth ten fold. She darted away into the street as fast as her feet would carry her. She never turned back. She never saw Heero's face of pain. He hadn't meant to say that but all the pain that her leaving had caused him had made his tongue slick and sharp. Guilt swamped him and he tried to follow her but she had a head start and he couldn't find her, so he let his feet stray. A grim smile flittered in his face before being replaced by his normal stony face. She was the only one who could make him do this.
o o o o o o o
A week later...
The PET team sat around the table in grim silence. A day after Nasha's disappearance she had been reported as AWOL while the team had tried to find her. But she had disappeared without leaving a trace. And to all involved in the search what little clues Nasha had left behind were suspiciously similar to another search that had been done almost two years ago and that to this day still remained open. During these last few days Heero had wondered, and not for the first time, how Relena knew how to disappear so entirely that not even the mighty Gundam pilots could find her? It was mind-boggling. Of course the others didn't know that Relena and Nashada were the same person. He had meant to tell them since the beginning but he had wanted to have solid proof to show them. So he had hacked into a few confidential places, like the bank where Nasha's accounts were and other such places that might have had meaningful information. As it turned out Heero had been able to track Nashada's records about three years back. But interestingly all of her bank accounts had been unused until the date that Relena left. This made him wonder if Relena had really been unhappy for so long and if so why hadn't any of them noticed? Maybe to a small, very small, degree she had been right. Damn!
Now the responsibility of letting the others know was on his shoulders, which was why he had asked Une to call a meeting. If he was going to have to explain the whole mess he might as well tell everyone that needed to know at the same time, no use in repeating himself. But still this was not going to be pretty. He knew that it would come as a shock to everyone and some of them might even try to deny the truth. It had taken time and cold hard truths to make HIM accept it. After all, Relena was the one that preached about peace and laying down all weapons and Nasha was a capable warrior with training who had actually fought and killed enemy soldiers, but people none the less. Heero cringed, he still had some difficulty accepting that the two seemingly opposite people where one and the same. As Une came into the room his thoughts were interrupted and he prepared himself. Weather he believe it or not it was the truth and the others needed to know...
o o o o o o o
Two months later...
The death of Nashada Wong had brought about the resurrection of Relena Darlan. And even two months of preparation didn't help make Nasha, no, Relena, any less nervous. After her encounter with Heero she realized that while his words had hurt her they held some truth, she couldn't just run from her problems so she had set her shoulders straight and lifted her chin up and prepared to make her come back. She expected and to a point knew that it would take a while to get things back to normal but she was willing to try.
So during those two months she had let her true hair color come back and had gotten rid of the contact lenses that had turned her ocean blue eyes into honey. She had also taken a couple of classes at a small public college under the alias of Helena Watts. Most of the classes she had taken had been related to speech making and history. She had made sure that her schedule was filled so that she couldn't back out from the thing that terrified her the most, coming back.
Now here she was in the front steps of the Preventers HQ where she knew that Une and the P.E.T were situated. She wondered for a moment if they had already found a replacement for her, no, for Nashada. Well, that didn't matter now. She started going up the steps, the long skirt that she wore flapped lightly against her legs as the wind played with it, the thick sweater she wore protected her against it's chilly winter bite, and the warm winter hat she flopped on her head covered her hair which was held in a loose ponytail at the base of her head. She had carefully chosen her outfit so that she wouldn't call unnecessary attention and also with the purpose of only revealing her identity once she was in the privacy of Une's office. This was going to be a very long day...
Hours later, after being passed from office to office, it seemed to Relena like she had been in every waiting room in the da...rn building. How she wished that she could just tell them straight out who she was and why it was important that she talk with Une. A sigh escaped her at the thought. As gratifying as it might be to see them scurrying around she couldn't risk the media getting knowledge of her return before everything was set. Oh the headlines it would make. At least that thought made her smile, oh, yeah the beauty of public life! Just as the thought ran thru her head the phone at the secretary's desk rang.
The young woman cleared her throat before answering: "Yes, ma'am... Alright, in a second, ma'am."
The secretary turned and with the tone of a superior speaking to someone far more inferior spoke to her. "She will see you now. You should be grateful. Miss Une is a very busy woman. Be sure not to waste her time with your ideas."
So Relena, grumbling about pedantic secretaries, went into the office. It wasn't very big but it had a beautiful view of the city. There were no luxuries or personal touches except for two framed pictures in her desk. Trust Une to be the ever-efficient leader she was. At the moment she was looking over the city as if she didn't know that someone else was in the room.
"You must have something very important to say to me if you stuck around this long. So get to the point if you please." Her back was stiff. Anyone who didn't know her would think that she was annoyed but those who did would see that she was tired. Relena felt a stir of pity, she knew the feeling. Une should have gone home about an hour ago and after a full day of work the last place she would want to be was her office. Well, too bad this thing needed to be done now.
"You were always one to skip formalities. But then again from time to time they are very useful." Relena knew she had her attention when Une turned around and looked at her trying to see whom she was. "I believe in this case it would go something like: Nice to meet you Miss Une, I promise I won't take a lot of your time. But let me introduce myself, I am Relena Darlan." Relena took her hat off as she stuck her hand out to Une for a handshake. But Une simply fell into her chair looking as if she had seen a ghost.
"You're back" It was more a statement than a question but Relena nodded anyways. "We knew you were coming back we just didn't think it would be this soon. Heero said..." Une trailed off while she tried to think coherently.
So Heero had told them... Good this would save her some trouble. At least for now she could relax. Une came out of her thoughts and looked Relena over before starting to talk. Relena had grown, Une realized, her body was better formed, her face looked leaner than before, but the change inside was what astonished Une. When she had left she had been stuck between being a teenager and an adult. The Relena that stood in front of her now was simply a woman.
"Good to have you back. Now we need to get started with your comeback preparations..." Une kept on talking but all that Relena could think was that it was indeed going to be a very long day... Correct that, it was going to be a very long month...
o o o o o o o
After talking with Une until very late at night, she had been invited to stay at her house. Now if Une's office had been strictly military/Spartan then Une's house was the very expression of her suppressed femininity. All of the lace and the frills and the pastel colors had overwhelmed Relena the moment she had stepped inside. And people criticized her for having a pink limo when she had been a teen! Maybe they should have seen Une's house before criticizing her. But pink frills aside, Relena slept soundly in her bed only to be awakened into a nightmare.
A maid, with a face that was not easy to forget, woke her from a rather pleasant sleep to tell her that her company was expected in the dinning room in an hour. Relena, ever the well trained dutiful lady, stood from bed and made her way to the bathroom when the maid left her room. Only to trip with a chair in the way to the door. Muttering rather colorful curses she turned the shower on and hopped into the spray of water. To realize that the water might as well have been ice cubes since she hadn't turned on the hot water tap.
In her half asleep state, she dropped the soap while she had been scrubbing her body and she bent down to retrieve it. But soap and wet bathtubs make a rather slippery combination as Relena soon found out. Ten minutes later and out of the bath room with more than a couple new bruises and a bump in her head, Relena carefully but quickly got dressed. It was going to be a wonderful day!! Yeah, right, at least things couldn't get any worse...
How wrong she was! The morning was about to get a heck of a lot worse, for as she opened the door to the dinning room she was faced with her biggest nightmare...
o o o o o o o
Cliffhanger... Sorry but I had to stop but I promise that the next chapter will be up soon. Thanks to all of my reviewers for making me get off my butt and making me write. Please review, even if I don't deserve it trying to guilty people into reviewing.