It was over; it was finally...OVER. Peace could begin...it could REMAIN again. Then...why wasn't she happy about it? There wasn't going to be anymore killing, no more FIGHTING...just...serenity.
She knew the reason why, even if she didn't want to agree with it. Reaching the seemingly unobtainable peace didn't fill the emotional void in her heart. Not after what she saw on Noin's screen.
He was gone; the person she knew she loved was GONE. His Gundam was nowhere to be found. None of the others could find it amidst the Mobile Suit rubble, even though it should've been easy. They were all Gundam pilots, they SHOULD'VE been able to find such an intricately designed and RECOGNIZABLE piece of equipment. But...he vanished without a trace. Again. He vanished from her life. AGAIN.
Knuckles dug into her eyes as she looked out the window in her room. After the remaining Gundams were inside, Quatre was sent to the infirmary, and the party started, she retired. She had no desire to celebrate. Sure, she was HAPPY inside, but...she was alone again. The one person that filled the void in her heart vanished. A quiet sigh rang through the room, bouncing off the walls.
Her forehead touched the cold glass. Where WAS he?? Why did he leave? She didn't want to keep following him around; it was kind of pathetic. She knew he was unable to deal with life, one reason he left. He couldn't, he wasn't ALLOWED.
Her eyes hardened. 'Such a cruel world we both live in.' She darkly thought. Indeed, the human race was a brutal one when it all boiled down to the nitty gritty. How could another human extinguish what made up that person?? It wasn't fair...and it was, as Wufei would say, injustice.
She could put that word with his training, even if he didn't think so. His entire life was that of a soldier. Like that of those around her, save for Quatre and maybe Duo. Her lips quirked. 'Kind of odd they weren't able to locate him, if THAT'S the case.
So she was alone again, part of her thought, big deal. Like she hadn't spent a good deal of her LIFE alone. With her father and his meetings, he was hardly home as it was. She only had Pagan's company in that large house.
A kind smile tipped her solemn demeanor as she mentally pictured him. He was a big part of her life now, even more so than before. She wondered how he was holding up, if he was taking care of himself. She knew he was worried about her, she was over herself sometimes.
A quiet knock sounded. "Come in." She answered, not turning around. She looked at the glass as the person entered.
"Hey, you coming down to the party Lena?"
A small smile appeared as she gave a denying shake, still staying toward the window. "Thank you but...no thanks Duo. I'm not really in a 'partying mood'."
Duo's smile flashed on the window. "Hey, don't be so DOWN Relena. We WON."
That smile widened a little as she felt his enthusiasm. "Yes," She quietly agreed, "you DID."
His head cocked at her odd mood. "You helped TOO y'know."
She quietly sighed. "In a war, my pacifist ways HARDLY 'helped', Duo."
"You okay Relena?"
She finally turned and leaned against the window. Cold shot through her clothes, though she hardly felt it. She was oddly numb to a degree. Just knowing she was so isolated again was a heavy burden on her heart.
"I'm probably just a little tired Duo." She sidestepped. It wasn't really a lie...she WAS tired. "I don't think ANYONE on Peacemillion has gotten much sleep."
"Too TRUE." He gave a mock sigh, as if sleep suddenly caught up with him. She quietly chuckled. "Well...you plan on leaving your room tonight?" He queried, leaning against the doorway.
Her lips momentarily pursed. Might as well go and be sociable with the remainder on the ship before they evacuated it. "I think I'll go visit Quatre and Hilde later." She figured. "How are they both fairing?"
She knew that adding Hilde to that question was a very bad idea on her part. Duo's happy mood quickly turned sour, his eyes almost misting over. She almost thought they did, but those violet orbs shot to the floor, his bangs covering them up.
"Quatre's still unconscious, but Sally thinks he just needs time to recover. Hilde..." He harshly swallowed. "Well...she's not doing as good as HE is."
Relena's heart went out to Duo. Quietly crossing the room, she stopped before him, wondering if she caught his attention. His eyes still remained on the carpet, his jaw tightly clenched.
"Duo..." After a second, his gaze slowly raised. She was right about the tears, but none fell. He looked like he was desperately holding them in. She was mildly taken aback, having NEVER seen Duo cry. She could tell he loved Hilde immensely; that kind of reaction was only normal.
Her arms slowly wrapped around his waist, female instinct knowing he needed comfort in a small way. He needed to know, deep down, that Hilde was going to be okay, and that she'd pull through. She knew a hug wasn't going to do that, but words of comfort WOULD.
His arms wrapped around her frame, holding tightly. "You just have to give her time Duo." She whispered. "Hilde went through a LOT to get you that data. You just keep track of everything that goes around you so you can tell her all about it LATER. Give her a reason to try and strangle you." She lamely joked. She knew bringing up instances of the old Hilde would help bring back happier memories for him to rely on while she was unconscious.
His arms tightened through a brief chuckle. "You're right Relena. I should keep track of life while she's not...'around' to look at it. Make her want to wrap my braid around my throat to shut me up."
The quiet intensified after his sigh, but it was a comfortable one. After a bit, Duo pulled away briefly. "Thanks." He whispered, giving a smile.
She smiled back, lightly patting his shoulder. "No need to thank me Duo. I'm ALWAYS happy to help cheer you up."
'It takes the focus off MY problems.'
He gave a wider smile and fully stepped away. "So, you coming?" He tried again, jerking a thumb behind him.
Quietly giggling at his constant offer, she waved him off. "No thanks Duo. I'd rather keep away from the noise right now." She gave a wry smile. "And I'm sure there's going to be plenty of it for a few more hours." They both chuckled.
Duo gave a farewell wave before floating down the hall to the party again.
Quietly closing the door, she floated across the room to the window again. She didn't feel like being around anyone until she could get out of this 'funk'. It was self-misery really, plain and simple. She was sad the one person she loved was gone.
She should've KNOWN loving him was a bad idea. He never stayed in one place too long. She sighed. 'Heero...WHEREVER you are... hope you're alright.'
True to her word, she did visit both Hilde and Quatre later that night. She found Rashid faithfully sitting next to Quatre, almost like a mother hen. She knew Rashid held a deep respect and friendship for the Arab; it would kill Rashid to lose his friend.
She had no clue how those two became friends, but, maybe she could ask later. She hadn't really spoken much with Rashid; it would be an interesting story.
Visiting Hilde took more out of her than seeing Quatre. She assumed it had to be Duo next to her, holding her 'clean' hand. A few tubes and an i.v. ran through the other, sending a small shiver up her spine. She didn't have a problem with needles, but there were more in the thin girl's arm than there NEEDED to be. It was quite ghastly actually.
She didn't sit next to the girl, just stood in the doorway and observed. That small body was covered up in a white sheet, bandages over her chest to help keep it from excessive moving. She knew Hilde sustained internal damage along with numerous external injuries from hearing Sally talk about it.
She almost wondered if the thin girl would SURVIVE. 'If she DOESN'T, I don't doubt that Duo'd JOIN her.' He was obviously broken up about Hilde's accident, even though he didn't really show it.
She could tell it in his eyes, even in the dim lighting. They were lined with circles from lack of sleep and focused on Hilde's face. As if he were desperately expecting her to wake up and smile at him again. To laugh at him for being so worried about her.
Sadly closing her eyes, she slowly turned from the room with a mental prayer that Hilde quickly recovered.
During the days that everyone packed up to leave, she kept out of the way and idly watched. She didn't really know anything about Mobile Suits or the machinery they used to ready a few shuttles, but she was still curious about it. Just because she practiced peace didn't mean she didn't like knowing how something WORKED.
Maybe, if she did learn something, she would be able to help somehow. She almost felt like she was in everyone's way. They kept moving around her in the beginning, not saying anything about it, but SHE knew they didn't really want her there. They had a job to do, and she was in their path. So, she leaned against a wall with crossed arms after that and watched from there.
She was glad when Quatre woke and was able to leave his room. There would be someone for her to talk to finally. She hadn't really spoken a word to many of the people around; Trowa NEVER said much; Rashid was too worried about his crew and Quatre; Duo was always next to Hilde, as was Sally; Lady Une was busy getting preparations complete; and Noin was understandably upset about Millardo.
She was as well, but not as much as Noin. The elderly woman knew her long-lost brother more than she did, so there was no way she really COULD be sad. As harsh as THAT sounded.
The day finally arrived that they could leave for Earth. She made sure everything she wanted from the ship was put inside the shuttle as early as possible. It gave her more time to say goodbye to space. She always loved being in space, there was no gravity. She was weightless, and therefore, so were her PROBLEMS.
She lived a good deal in outer space; it was her home in a way. So, it was understandable that her mood was dimmed a little, even despite Sally's proclamation about Quatre's release.
She watched from a high wall as everyone milled around. She watched as Sally and a few other medics carted Hilde's still unconscious form to the shuttle, Duo following at their heels. She heard Lady Une shouting her head off at the 'incompetent' mechanics.
A small smile tipped her lips as Quatre floated into the large hanger a little later. She WAS happy he was alright and able to get out of bed; she knew he was about ready to throttle Rashid for being so overprotective.
She watched their conversation with low interest, almost wondering what they were talking about. She couldn't really hear due to the noise of everyone that moved around her. Soon after, Quatre floated off, back the way he came.
What seemed hours later, Quatre returned to the hanger, Trowa next to him. She watched the two stop next to Lady Une. "I want a full report of all systems running, fixed and damaged!" Commotion and movement followed her order. "NOBODY goes home until I get those reports!"
She smiled, knowing of Lady Une's personalities. She knew that tone of voice and knew the others would be smart to comply. It was mildly funny that, among all the noise, she could hear Une loud and clear. She gave a quiet chuckle, her eyes still on Une. The two pilots stopped next to her.
"...WHERE ARE THE REST OF THOSE DIAGNOSTICS?" Her commanding voice bellowed. A paper waved that someone previously handed her around. "NOBODY LEAVES PEACEMILLION TILL I GET THOSE STATS!"
Her smile widened a little more. 'I never knew Lady Une to be so IMPATIENT.' She amusingly pondered. With a musing shake of her head, she slowly left the wall, floating after Quatre and Trowa.
She heard wonderings from Lady Une about where Trowa wandered off to. She hadn't been able to find him either, and she looked around for a little bit. It was one way she could've been of use. She figured he'd come with, since there was really nothing here he could still do.
"Relena!" She expertly turned in midair and spotted Lady Une floating to her. "Good thing I found you."
She stopped in front, giving a small smile. It mildly took her for a loop, since she just got a glimpse of the Lady's OTHER personality only minutes ago.
"Preparations for takeoff are almost complete. I just wanted to let you know so you didn't get left behind."
"Thank you Lady Une." She nodded and the two parted. She knew Lady Une had a lot of work to still do before they took off, things she needed to get prepared for their arrival to Earth and the soldiers from the battle.
She stopped at the top step, seeing two forms near the front of the shuttle. Sally crafted a small 'room' for Hilde, something to keep all the medical stuff out of view of the others. She was glad the elder woman was so considerate of Hilde. She knew if the same thing happened to her, she wouldn't want to be exposed to the public in such a manner. She was somewhat a private person by nature.
"Quatre, I see you found him." Both turned as she floated to the doorway. "We were wondering where you wandered off to." She smiled a little, but her eyes held only haunted emotions. She knew she wasn't over her self-misery, but it'd only been a good week. There was just too much to process; her life had taken turns she NEVER thought she'd undergo.
"I'm glad you agreed to stay at the Sanc Kingdom while you find what you're looking for." Trowa nodded. She looked at Quatre. "I'm going to get strapped in. Lady Une said we'd be taking off very soon."
Turning, she floated back to the passenger area. Getting left behind was not what she wanted to do. As much as she loved space and all its properties, she wanted to see the natural characteristics of Earth and Pagan again.
She was also happy the two decided to stay at Sanc for a while. She didn't want to part with them just yet. They were her friends, and as soon as Quatre and Trowa left, she would have no other reason to procrastinate work. She would have to embrace peace and preach what she had to offer to the public.
After they left, she would basically have no time to herself. The 'boring' week she had watching everyone was going to seem like a HOLIDAY. She almost cringed at the thought of the meetings she was going attend.
The surprising thing was, Trowa came to her about the idea. It basically knocked her for a loop, since she figured he'd leave from the ship on his own shuttle, or stay somewhere else. But, she accepted his invite, glad he wanted to stay. She needed to fill up some of those rooms in that empty mansion.
Not having anything to do but wait was going to take its toll on her. Not due to thoughts of work, but of thoughts of HEERO. She truly wished he hadn't disappeared.
She wondered where he went. Would he go to Earth? Maybe stay in space? She speculated if he would go back to L-1 now that his part in the war was over. She highly doubted it. Even though he lived in L-1, that's all it was, a place to live. Heero didn't really HAVE a home, except maybe for Wing Zero.
Her brow upturned a little. To not have a REAL place to call home was a sorry state for a soldier's life. Although she tried not thinking about it, she DID feel sorry for Heero. He thought all he had to do in life was fight.
'Not anymore.' She vowed. 'Now that I get to 'have my way', I'm going to make sure there are no more wars.' Deep blue looked at the people outside milling around the shuttle. 'You're never going to have to fight again Heero. I don't CARE if that's all you know, you'll never have to experience that kind of suffering as long as I live.'
After successfully pulling herself from the latest stupor, she started in on work. She knew the whole 'all work and no play' quote, but that couldn't apply to her. She had too much to do to think of play.
Pulling tired eyes away from the paper, she looked around, startling at seeing Quatre next to her. She didn't know he even sat down, wondering when he did. During the flight? Before they LEFT? If he sat down before they left, it was a very good possibility she didn't notice. She didn't notice a whole lot until very later, a good distance away from the wreck.
Knowing she was purposely procrastinating as she looked at the stars, she regrettably went back to the current document. 'Just think, all this will eventually help Heero.'
Thinking of Heero and peace seemed to strengthen her resolve. KNOWING she would be the one to keep him from fighting ever again, even through long meetings and boring papers, would be the only reason she carry on. Knowing that, she forced concentration to keep from looking away again. As soon as they arrived on Earth, she was going to keep every paper safe until later. She would have a lot to do at Sanc with her guests.
The plane began its long journey into orbit and landed in the vicinity of the Sanc Kingdom. An ambulance immediately came to pick up Hilde, Duo following closely behind with a pained look of nostalgia on his face.
She exited after the group, feeling sorry for the youth. Something in his stance told her he was more experienced in this type of matter with Hilde than he let on.
A limo pulled up in place of the ambulance for the rest of the passengers. An elderly, kind looking man got out and walked to the edge of the ramp. Pagan. Her heart skipped a beat and tears actually came to her eyes at seeing him.
"Miss Relena! So GOOD to have you home."
"It's good to BE home Pagan." She agreed. Truth be told, she loved the colonies more than Earth, but Earth was humanity's descent; where everyone originated.
"These two are going to be staying at the Sanc Kingdom for a while." An arm stretched to wave at the two next to her. "Trowa Barton and Quatre Rebaba Winner." Quatre nodded in greeting.
"Also once we get back I want a list of the best doctors and nurses in the area. The ambulance that just left holds one injured and another friend. They will be staying somewhat longer." Noin and Sally Po walked off the plan and stopped behind them.
"Why Miss Noin. It's good to see you again."
"As it is with you Pagan." Noin smiled. "Been keeping safe, staying out of trouble?" Her eyes danced with merriment.
"Of course. Wouldn't want the captain of the royal guards after me, would I?" Noin chuckled.
"We should hurry back Relena." Sally intervened. "I want to make sure Hilde took the trip okay."
She nodded, also wanting to make sure. While Hilde was in her country, she didn't want ANYTHING to happen to her friend. "Yes of course."
Pagan walked to open the door and let the five enter into the luxurious setting. During the trip, she looked at the beautiful scenery, glad not ALL of the country was destroyed. She knew it was damaged, but not broken. It could be repaired, made into an even better land of peace than before.
Upon arrival in the Sanc Kingdom grounds, she stopped and lovingly looked at her home, now to be occupied by more than just her and the workers. She smiled as everyone got out of the car.
"There are thirty bedrooms and twenty bathrooms. Take whichever you want." She explained, sweeping her arm in a grand introduction as they walked. "Most of the bedrooms are in the expanse of the third floor, above the classrooms. The kitchen is on the ground floor, along with a dinner hall, ballroom, library, and study. There are classrooms along the west wing there," She pointed as they walked up, "along the first floor to the main staircase by the entrance doors."
She stated everything by memory, picturing all the rooms she encountered in her mind. Staying in an empty, big mansion by herself gave her time to explore everything. It also helped when she started having students.
"The gym and fencing room are in the basement along with all the other pipes and machines that run this hulk. If I remember correctly, I read something about a mechanic's garage that connects with the outside."
Arriving to the main doors, she opened them and walked inside. Stopping at the main stairs about ten feet away, she turned to the group and smiled. "Welcome Trowa and Sally to the Sanc Kingdom. Quatre, it's a pleasure to have you back, under better circumstances of course."
Quatre smiled. She looked at a nearby ornate grandfather clock and her eyes took on a surprised note. "Well, time sure has passed. Why don't you three go pick out your rooms? Noin, yours should still be next to mine. Would you show the others the way?"
"Actually Relena, I wanted to go check up on Hilde first." Sally cut in, stopping next to her. "Do you know where she might be?"
"I'm afraid I don't Sally. But we can go and check with the servants. And I'll tell the cook to make something light for everyone."
Going their own ways, the group split up. Quatre, Trowa, and Noin walked up the large main stairs silently. It didn't take the two long to find someone in the place.
Seeing the amount of doctors, Hilde, and Duo was a sight. Knowing about the stairs, she was pretty sure the doctors carried Hilde inside. That right there was bound to raise attention.
Entering Hilde's appointed room, closed drapes killed any light. She betted Duo was the one responsible for that idea. She wondered about that, but figured he had a good reason in his mind. She just wished there was more light, so she didn't have to worry about TRIPPING on something. A little later, she left the trio and walked around, just to reacquaint herself with the place she would call home.
During the time Trowa spent searching for the circus and Quatre locked himself in his room, she started in on the rules and laws of Earth and the colonies. She hardly saw her guests, but knew that not getting work done now would hurt her LATER.
She was more lenient to ditty up her time than others. There were times when she'd go down to dinner and not see Quatre. More than once, she had to go and remind him to get out and get some sun or food.
She usually dragged him downstairs to dinner too. She almost felt like a mother hen, not minding it. He needed to eat, and if she was going to keep reminding him, so be it. It was basically her land, and if he wouldn't listen to the SERVANTS, he'd listen to her.
Days passed with the same routine. She got up and showered, met everyone for breakfast, chatted for a while, and then went back to her study to read another document or two before giving herself a break.
One of those days, she was constantly reminded of the outside by the beautiful, sunny day that kept shining through the windows. Looking up from the document with longing eyes, she decided to take another break and get some exercise.
She took the quickest route outside and walked around the grounds, reveling in the small sense of freedom and fresh air. The land was just so beautiful, one reason Earth would ALWAYS be better than the colonies. It rested smack in the middle of space like the colonies, but it wasn't handmade.
Stopping amidst the edge of the small, hilly grove, she spotted something she never thought to see in such a 'classy' establishment. A swing; a very OLD swing. With a childlike smile, she quickly walked over and sat down, happy for a place to sit.
Wrapping her arms around the ropes, she gently pushed and looked around the hill at her land. She looked at the ground and pressed her lips together. Knowing she was a princess, also a queen, was just too fairytale for her to believe. But staying in the land and being part of the bloodline, she knew it was true.
A small pressure on her back a little later immensely startled her. She instinctively gripped the ropes and quickly whirled around. Seeing Quatre's smiling face relaxed her instantly. "I thought you'd still be inside." She muttered, feeling the air on her face as she moved. Quatre gave the swing another soft push and moved to lean against the tree.
"I had to get out." He said, eyes staying on her swaying frame. "All those words...all that paperwork was getting to me." His head shook, blue still locked on the hair that flowed behind her when she moved forward.
She smiled at their familiar behavior. "That's what I came to do. I feel like I'm ignoring everybody by staying in my study, just looking through papers all day." Her lips formed a small pout. "But we don't have any other CHOICE do we? This is the life we are destined to take."
"We may be DESTINED, but we can still make the most of it." He answered. "We have to do this for everyone." He muttered, looking up into the tree.
She stopped the swing and looked at him, taking note of his tone of voice. His gaze swung to hers from the change in movement. She smiled encouragingly, hoping to make her friend feel better.
"We always have a choice Quatre." She softly argued. "But sometimes the choice we WANT isn't always the choice we GET." That haunted look appeared in her eyes again, even though she wasn't really aware of it.
Dark blue eyes and brown hair clouded her mind's eye. Heero... As quickly as those eyes clouded, they cleared. She smiled. "When do you have to go back?"
He shrugged. "Soon is all I know. But I was hoping..." He stopped, blue drawn to the bedroom windows of the palace.
She followed his gaze, wondering what he was getting at. "You were HOPING?" She prompted, asking him to finish. He looked at the ground with a sheepish smile. A curious, dark blonde brow rose.
"I was HOPING that Hilde would wake before I left. I wanted to tell her thanks and how proud I am that she did all she has." He blushed slightly.
She kindly smiled. "Well I hope your wish is granted Quatre because I'm sure she'd love to hear those words."
He met her eyes bashfully and nodded slightly. After a while of procrastinating, he sighed and let her know he'd be down for dinner and made off for his room.
She turned in the swing to watch him go. He was bogged down as she was, but he seemed to be taking it a little harder. Teeth chewed on her lower lip as she stared at the ground. Pushing off, she swayed in the wind.
'It's as if all the tension he felt during the war shifted to the business he's been pushed into.' She wondered. 'Unlike me, he didn't have a choice in the matter. He doesn't want the Winner name to go through the mud and so he took sole responsibility of his father's business.'
She looked up at his exit, even though his form was no longer visible. 'I CHOOSE my title with pleasure, but he still longs for his father to be alive so he doesn't have to take his business.' She sighed softly, wondering if what she was thinking was true. 'I sure hope not.' She wished.
She knew the pressure of the world, even the BUSINESS world. She didn't really wish Quatre to know the extent of it, of the long, hectic hours and people he needed to talk to in order for his father's company to be successful.
But Quatre had a good head for strategy and she knew if ANYONE could make the Winner business work, HE could. She knew he needed to stop longing for something to happen that never would. 'Quite like my situation with MY father.' She sadly mused.
Not wanting to sit any longer, she shot from the seat with the determination to leave that thought where it rested. If only that were true. Arms tightly crossed with a small sigh as she slowly ambled back to the mansion, knowing she was purposely wasting time. But one did not get to enjoy a day like this ALL the time. Unlike the colonies, beautiful days like the one she was in didn't happen all the time.
Strolling into the heart of the garden in the back, she maneuvered through trees with a purpose. If she had to leave this beautiful day, there was one thing she wanted to watch before going back inside for the rest of the day.
Seeing the tip of a large, beautifully detailed fountain, she also took note of something else. Trowa, the one person she made the least contact with. Not by purpose, she was just too busy to seek him out. He was normally outside anyway, and there was a lot of forest around the white mansion.
She quietly watched him as he walked around the fountain, seeing his look of awe. She eyed it in slight surprise, knowing he rarely showed emotion. To see such a sight on his face was a feat in itself. With a smile, she pushed through the trees and shrubs.
"That's always been my favorite part of the grounds." Trowa spun around, but relaxed when their eyes locked. She smiled serenely and gave the fountain her attention again. "Millardo and I used to play out here when we were younger."
She walked forward to stand by him. "If I remember correctly." She shrugged lightly. "That seems like another time." Both stared at the fountain. "I wish you didn't have to go, but you have a life to get back to. Quatre leaves a day after you." She smiled wryly, remembering their recent encounter. "He's procrastinating going back to sort through the paperwork at his father's office. I guess I'm keeping as much possible freedom to myself until I'm needed too."
"One can only imagine the burden both of you face." Came the monotone answer. "Facing up to expectations of your previous generation won't be easy."
She nodded. "Such is the sacrifice for peace and prosperity." She softly lilted. "He's also hoping to say goodbye to Hilde before he leaves."
Slight surprise showed in his eye. "As was I."
She smiled at the ironic twist. "You two have a similar thinking." She joked softly. "Scary." His eyes looked down at her sideways face. Humor danced in her eyes as she stared at the angel fountain.
"So it appears." His head turned back to the fountain.
"Well I've dallied around enough." A hand came up and rested on his shoulder. "Come see me before you leave, ok?" He nodded and she turned to go back to her office. Back to eye straining paperwork, and eerie quiet.
She didn't know how much time passed, but she knew a few hours had to've by the position of the sun. A hand propped her chin up, eyes on the document. A small breeze ruffled the paper from open windows and her main door. If she had to stay inside, she'd be damned if she couldn't enjoy some of it!
She startled from her paperwork and looked at the clock. "That time already?" She hadn't known he was leaving TODAY or she would've made an effort to spend more time with him. Even though they never really connected, Trowa was her guest and friend. She wanted SOME memories of him before he left for who knew how long...
Pushing her chair back, she propped a hand on the desk and leaned over it. With a smile, she extended the other. "I shall miss you Trowa." He walked over and clasped her hand, yet she didn't shake it, only held it. "I hope that whatever you're looking for leads you to happiness Trowa." She smiled warmly. "Be sure to come back and visit sometime."
He nodded and she let go of his hand. He let a wisp of a smile come to his face in departure and silently left her to the work on her desk.
When the door clicked shut, she sat back down with a sigh. Hands folded over her desk as she solemnly stared at them. "I miss him already." She missed his quiet, comforting presence. She picked up the document and propped her chin lazily with a hand as she stared at it. She missed her friend and he probably hadn't even left the front doors yet. "Oh well, back to work." She muttered, adjusting her position for the long haul.
Just knowing Trowa was gone didn't help her mood any, but she tried not to let it show. She parted ways with Quatre and Heero when they were in Sanc, but it never affected her as badly.
She could keep in touch with Quatre better than Trowa though. It didn't help to know that his traveling lifestyle kept him uprooted all the time. She didn't even think sending a friendly letter would reach its destination.
She carried on to the next day. To the day when Quatre had to leave. She didn't like that any better. They never saw each other save for dining purposes, but she felt his presence in the halls. She knew he was around and that was all that mattered. Now that he was leaving as well meant she had no one but Duo and Hilde around to keep her company.
With Duo, that wasn't saying much. She, or one of the servants, usually delivered food for him. She did it to check up on Hilde and give Duo company, though the two didn't talk. Duo barely took his eyes off Hilde as it was. Whenever she walked into the room, he didn't look up, or even look at her until she sat across from him next to Hilde.
Another beautiful afternoon taunted her to come outside and enjoy it. Remembering what happened yesterday, mostly on how much TIME she wasted, she vowed to double her efforts and get ahead so she could relax. But, if she got ahead, she would most likely start scheduling meetings to get the ball rolling.
Her head jerked up, eyes instantly lighting when they landed on Quatre. ANYTHING was better than looking at the tedious mounds that covered her desk.
She smiled and stood. "Something you needed Quatre?" She asked cheerfully. His eyes momentarily shot to the floor. He looked back into her eyes and smiled softly.
"I just came to say I was leaving."
She felt a sense of déjà vu. It was nearly the same as when Trowa came to say goodbye. Her heart felt a stab of isolation from his nonexistence. Even though his personality was a silent one, it was comforting and strong none-the-less.
Her smile dimmed immediately, but she pasted on another one to cover the slipup. Another friend leaving, making the entire place even more empty and larger. She fought a desolate sigh.
Standing, she walked around the desk, all too happy to leave work behind for a while. She hadn't taken a break since breakfast and it was well past time.
"Time flies." She softly joked, embracing Quatre in a tight hug. He returned it as much as he could through his briefcase. She sighed, unable to hold it in. "Hilde still hasn't woken up."
Quatre nodded and pulled away. "I know, but I can't wait any longer. I've finished everything in here," A hand momentarily held up the briefcase, "and there's no other reason to stay. If I DON'T leave, I won't be able to get things started." He sighed, a hand running over his tired face. "There's so much to do, I need to find a shovel to dig THROUGH it all."
She smiled despite the exhausted appearance before her. One hand came up and comfortingly patted his shoulder. "I know what you're going through Quatre, and I understand. I'll tell you what, I'll call you at the office the moment she wakes up." A smile lit her face. "And Duo lets her have visitors."
The two chuckled; knowing FULL well that Duo hardly left her side, save for bathroom purposes and to stretch his legs when Sally examined the comatose girl. He told her to have all his meals brought up so he wouldn't miss her waking up. The small jest brought a smile to Quatre's face, lighting his eyes.
"I'll send you the number when I get there and get things situated around." She nodded. Not able to find a reason to stay any longer, Quatre turned to the door, Relena walking him out. He paused in the hallway, a small sigh working its way through again. "I guess this's it. I'm going to go talk to Duo before I go." He said nonchalantly.
She nodded and gave her friend another quick hug in departing. Her heart painfully clenched at seeing him. Knowing that would be HER soon, didn't make letting him leave any easier. Having friends around gave her an excuse to leave work and take breaks more often than needed. Her eyes followed his form until he walked around a corner, out of sight.
'But not out of mind.' She silently promised herself. He seemed tenser than he was when fighting. At least then he could take some time to relax.
She turned to her paperwork, feeling the déjà vu in her situation. 'Yes...I know what you're going through all too well Quatre my friend.' She thought despairingly. With a wrinkled nose, she trudged back and sat down in the warm chair, picking a paper up. 'If this is the life of a politician, I think I'd rather quit NOW.' She tiredly joked, rubbing blue eyes.
She was tired, but she couldn't quit. There was still a little longer to go until it was lunchtime. Maybe she should go eat with Duo instead of eating at the now empty table. Sure Noin and Sally would be around, but there wasn't a whole lot to talk about with the elder women. Noin was still caught up in thoughts of Millardo. Noin held the same reminiscing look SHE held when thinking of her father, Millardo, and Heero.
"Heero..." She whispered. Shaking her head, her resolved hardened. "I promised myself I'd do this for Heero. If I can ease his troubled life any, then all the troubles in MY life don't matter."
Knowing she had a reason to work as much as she was helped put her back on track. "Think of Heero, Relena," She whispered, "and remember the MAIN reason why you're doing this."
Not only did she take this life for every human being on Earth and the colonies, she wanted to create a peaceful world so Heero didn't have to fight anymore. That right there, was the only thing that mattered to her. In her head and in her heart.
It was over; it was FINALLY...over. Peace could finally begin...it could REMAIN again. Then...why wasn't he HAPPY about it? That was what he was FIGHTING for... All he knew was war. He was trained for this, it was his LIFE. So, what kind of life could a used up soldier have??
'Nothing.' He darkly thought. That left only one option left. Not the option he used in the past...he now knew there was a different life. Although invisible, he could see wisps of it in the corner of his eyes, in the folds of sleep. He could imagine things that had never been, but could now be.
He could change his destiny, something he never tried to do. He was always a soldier, someone who took orders and followed them to the letter. He never hesitated to kill others or even himself. He proved that in the past. Though now...he knew there was an indescribable change in the world that majorly affected him.
Even through the elation of this change rested a few large details. Where would he go now that the war was over? He had no home, no real way of life. He was a drifter...a SOLDIER. He roamed to where the missions were, not owning anything but the clothes on his back and Wing Zero.
'So where does a washed up soldier go to spend the rest of his days?' He hypothetically wondered. Indeed, where SHOULD he go? L-1 was where he lived for a while before the war started. But there was no point in going back. It was just another colony. There was nothing there. It held no main purpose in his mind.
He floated in space, dangerously close to the Earth. The glowing sphere rested before him, light coming through the monitors. Everything he owned was currently in his possession. He did his job; he would've thought it would be time to end things.
It wouldn't be hard, he tried before. But, as Duo once said, "I know you'd rather die... But if you couldn't die after all that, you'd better come up with a really good way to kill yourself."
It was true; he chased Zechs into ground zero and still managed to come out alive. He was at the heart of the war, where his soldier instincts roamed free. He was in his element. So why LEAVE it?
'Because there's no place for a washed up soldier.' He knew that was true. It still didn't solve his current problem. 'Where do I go from HERE?' Staring down at the blue/green sphere below, of the bringer of human life, he knew his choice. He fought to save the colonies from Earth, and he lived on both. Why not, once again, live on something he ended up protecting? He shifted Wing Zero and started his descent.
As soon as he passed the stratosphere, he floated above the ground, a little torn about what to do next. Now where to? He managed to narrow it down a little, but the Earth was huge. There were MILLIONS of places he could live, but didn't want to.
There was really no place on Earth he really wanted to live...save ONE. Blinking at his odd mindset, but able to reach a decision, he pushed Zero in that direction. He briefly wondered what would greet him upon his arrival. Would the area still be destroyed? Would anyone have repaired the damages? He hadn't heard much after Romefeller took Relena captive.
As he flew above the trees and water, plans of where to hide Zero loomed in his mind. He started calculating what he could to stash his Gundam. The forest around the area was out, since travelers could spot it.
He was fully aware that seeing a huge, hulking Gundam would attract attention. People might start searching for him, something he didn't want. He really just wanted to be left alone, even if he couldn't be alone. He knew that human contact was required to some degree.
His mind remembered the first time he ever arrived at Earth. Zero fell into the ocean, but it was the best place to hide. There was a lot of room and no one bothered to go into the very depths. How to get to the surface would be the problem.
'The deeper Zero goes the better.' But HOW to get to the top? He didn't have a suit to keep him safe from the pressure, nor did he hold an oxygen tank in the cockpit. He wasn't wearing the same suit he did upon his first arrival. 'I'll manage.'
Not long after his resolve, he arrived at the closest body of water. With set determination, he pushed the control sticks down, plunging straight for the deepest part he could find. The shock from such speed hit, minutely tossing him around in the confines.
After that, he set the Gundam's outer lights on to direct him around rocks. Finding the closest spot to the shore was the task; it had to be close enough so he could reach his Gundam if need be, but far enough to keep any divers from reaching it. Maybe a dozen stories would suffice, two even. 'The deeper, the better.'
He finally stopped Zero on the ground and turned the lights off, casting him into total darkness. Turning off all systems, he waited a minute, wondering if this would be the last time in his Gundam for a while.
'Maybe even at ALL.' He knew Relena would do her part in distributing peace throughout the solar system. Zero would be basically useless. Still, he wasn't about to self-destruct it just because it wasn't needed NOW. 'Mankind has always fought. I'm not destroying Zero on a pretense that peace will last.'
Now came the hard part. He didn't have any other hatch but the one in front of him. There was no way to keep water from getting inside Zero. 'I have to risk it. I won't get out any other way.' He could always repair his Gundam, he knew. It would just be the matter of finding the right parts.
Shutting off the interior lights with a small, empty feeling, he pressed the button to open the hatch. He almost figured the pressure wouldn't let the door open, but he was in Gundamium, pressure wasn't a problem.
Water rushed in and he quickly took a deep breath. In less than a minute, the small cockpit was filled. Quickly going for the shoulder restraints, he struggled from them and pushed from the seat. The pressure in his head was deafening, but he willed the pain away. Pain was a small price to pay for his ultimate goal; getting to the surface.
Knowing his lungs would hold for a while longer before they burned, he let the air in his lungs raise him to the surface. He may've been able to stand the pressure, but the bends he could NOT will away. He'd been trained for almost every extremity on land, not WATER.
After a while, his hands lazily brought him higher, purposely taking his time. He wouldn't be able go quicker for another hundred feet or so. His eyes looked around the blackness, not seeing too many fish in the area. He knew worrying about underwater predators wouldn't really happen until he got to more lighted areas.
After those hundred feet passed, he swam with more vigor than before. His lungs were burning and the remaining oxygen in his lungs was almost all carbon dioxide. He needed to get above water. Drowning so far into the expedition was not an option.
The light grew so much until the white of his Gundam all but disappeared in the black depths. Looking up to the moving waves, he broke the surface and gasped for air. Deeply breathing for a while, he floated around to get his body back to normal. His heart was pounding from the whole ordeal, giving his system a rush. Turning full circle to get his bearings, he mentally mapped out where land was from the air.
He turned to where he last saw it and started a lazy stroke. It didn't take long; even though he was mildly worn out from the underwater experience, he recovered quickly due to his training. The whole thing was nothing compared to what doctor J put him through.
Finally reaching land, he walked to shore, heavily sitting down a minute later. A hand moved his bangs around, probably the dozenth time since he hit the surface. They were a nuisance when wet, but he wasn't going to be in the water for much longer.
Feeling wanton, he plopped on his back and stared at the blue sky, feeling solid earth. It felt mildly good to be back on Earth again. Although he didn't really pay too much attention to the land during the war, he could now. The only time he really paid any notice to such beauty was during his stay in the Sanc Kingdom. Why not? He had to have SOMETHING to do.
Slowly sitting up, he knew he was wasting time. There was still so much to do. He needed to find shelter, food, water, and perhaps a dry set of clothes. Heck, a DIFFERENT set of clothes. He just wore what he did because it was flexible and didn't get in his way. Walking around the streets in his current wear was liable to gain attention.
Anonymity was priority one right now. Too bad he didn't really have any money... Changing funds wouldn't be a problem, but he didn't own a computer, nor did he know where to go to use one. During his stay, he rarely went into town unless he was fighting. But, where there was a will, there was a way. He was capable of practically ANYTHING, he just needed to know where to look.
"Hey kid, you need to get the limo up and running in an hour! Pagan needs that to go pick up Miss Peacecraft."
Grabbing onto the metal underneath the long car, he rolled out from under it, meeting his superior. "I know you'd rather tinker around with that thing, but it's better when it's USEABLE." The elder man gave a wry smile. "Think you can get it fixed in an hour?"
"Good. I don't know why you bothered taking some of the damn engine apart in the FIRST place..."
Watching the man go from his horizontal place on the useful object, he silently rolled back under the limo and grabbed the wrench on his chest. Hearing his superior rant about something he did for fun was a waste of his time. If they needed the limo, then he'd get it ready. It didn't matter when; he'd get it done before they said.
He didn't even take it apart really; he just loosened a few bolts and looked around. The machine mildly interested him and looking at how it worked was vital to his job. Especially if he intended on staying around.
He couldn't really believe Relena was coming back to Earth. It seemed like forever since he arrived on Sanc soil and almost stumbled upon this stroke of good luck. Knowing complex machines and being able to take orders very well basically landed him the job.
He'd been living on Sanc soil since he walked into town. Working in the near empty mansion seemed a little easier when she was in space. He didn't have to feel her presence. Right now, he was in a secure spot in his life, able to make ends meet need-wise. Just knowing she would be around put him off-keel again.
He didn't really know why she kept following him around, but he knew why he followed HER around. He wanted to know why she followed him around, why she acted like she did before he pushed her away from Zero, and why he could never clearly follow orders like he used to when she was around.
The incident with Duo at the Federation Naval hospital during their jump, the fight with Zechs that she interrupted, that night Une went after Relena at her school dance, and why he never killed her like he SAID he was going to were all prime examples. The instances all bugged him too. He couldn't figure out the why's and how's to those problems and it irked him until he forced it from his mind.
He wheeled from under the limo, grabbing the rag in his back pocket. His eyes thoughtfully narrowed as he cleaned the oil and grease from his hands. They were dark from oil splotches, but it made no difference. It was a job, dirty hands were just part of it.
He was just glad he WAS able to get this job. It was a delightful surprise to find something so easy. Fixing cars and appliances was NOTHING compared to Zero. The job was cake and it paid well. He was also allowed to live in the nearby maintenance house provided to staff.
It was all pros with really no cons. He held an easy, relatively pleasant job, with good pay and free board. The only problem was, he was right in Relena's vicinity, working on her cars, basically her employee. Even if she would never know he was around, he knew she'd be around.
He still didn't know what was wrong whenever she was in the area. She always imbalanced him, but strangely enough, not in a bad way. He couldn't figure it out, but knew he NEEDED to. He couldn't keep living like he was, always avoiding her because of what she did to him. He didn't even know how describe what he felt, or the words to use. It was an unnamable emotion he never experienced, but wished he could. The unidentifiable was never part of his vocabulary.
After the limo left, he was given a break with the others. Cleaning his hands, he walked the small way back to his 'home'. The maintenance house consisted of stacked apartments. He didn't really furnish it, since he was never there. There was always something better to do, he just had to figure out what it was.
He looked around the land idly. It felt ODD to have a job that paid money. He almost felt...NORMAL. If not for his upbringing, he would've sworn he WAS normal. A little anti-social, as the others liked to say about him, but on the right path to the rest of his life.
Still in the apartment with a deny to go see Relena arrive, he looked out the window. He could see the limo from there and liked it at that. Nobody knew who he was and none of the others knew he was at Sanc; he liked where he currently was VERY well.
Just seeing those blue eyes and female form triggered that unnamable emotion again. He felt an indescribable urge to leave his safe hiding spot and stand by her. Even if he DIDN'T say anything, he was closer to her than he was NOW. That was all that mattered.
'No.' He forcefully thought, quickly moving away. Not wanting to leave until Relena and the others were safely inside, he started pacing the small living room. The feeling sped up his heart, adrenaline upping his reaction time, allowing him to spin in the small circle even quicker. Although it was perfect already, just knowing Relena was around perfected it even more.
'But it's mainly useless now...' All his experience and useable traits for the war were useless. But maybe he'd use them for something later. 'Maybe see what the deal is with Hilde.' He watched Sally and the other doctors wheel her away to a room when she was injured and hadn't seen anything of her since.
He missed her entrance to the mansion, but caught a wisp of Duo's braid when he entered. Their whole thing was a little confusing, and he wasn't going to dwell on the notion. 'What they do is their business; it doesn't concern me.'
After a quick check at his bedroom clock, he decided things were safe outside to leave his 'confines'. Grabbing the hat he usually wore at work, he left the door unlocked on his way out.
The afternoon seemed to pass slower than normal, mostly since Relena and the other pilots were back. He figured she took Hilde to Sanc for medical attention, while Sally and Duo followed. Noin naturally accompanied her as her royal bodyguard; though, why Quatre and Trowa were here was beyond him.
When dinnertime came around, he denied spending it with the others, being his 'anti-social' ways. He ignored the looks, not wanting to be friendly with them.
He wasn't at this job to make friends; he was here to WORK. One reason he rarely talked to the mechanics in the morning or during work, it cut into his time and he wasn't getting paid to talk to others. Although he was well aware they didn't like his notion, there was nothing they could do. He was too good a worker to fire on the pretense of unfriendliness.
After nightfall came and the sun left, he left the apartment. It was after ten, maybe even close to eleven; everyone would be asleep by now. He had a small mission to complete. He wanted information and intended on finding it.
He snuck into the garage, using the key to get in. Being one of the first inside usually DID have an advantage...the boss gave him a key because he could be trusted with it.
During the slow time at night, much like his first visit at Sanc, he looked around empty rooms to reacquaint himself with the structure. He found numerous hidden passages that connected rooms on same and different floors, some which went to the basement. It was that one he walked through, repositioning a toolbox as best he could later on. He'd be able to move it back later.
Expertly making his way in the dark, one hand against the wall, he wondered the best place to start. There was nothing he wanted to ask Trowa or Quatre, since they would tell Relena he was in the area. If she knew, he might be forced to leave again.
Those deep blue eyes confused, but excited something inside him that he could never identify. Again, a word he didn't like connecting with himself. Then, the next best choice was Hilde's room. He did want to see how she was doing ANYWAY... The only problem was where to FIND her.
He took a few passageways up to the third floor, knowing Relena would put everyone in the guest rooms. Peeking from behind a few strategically placed rugs, he kept getting empty rooms. One room he went into held her sleeping form.
Seeing her sideways form under the sheets choked any breath from his throat. He actually forgot to breathe as dark blue locked on that peaceful face. She really WAS beautiful when she was asleep...
He never denied her looks before; he just never paid too much attention to them during the war. There was always something more important to look at... Now he had no reason to ignore her small nose, high cheekbones, parted lips, long hair, slender figure...
Blue squeezed shut as his head directed to the floor. NO. Thinking about those things only confused him! He COULDN'T think about that if he wanted to stay! Running just because of some small insecurity was stupid, but he was always so GOOD at running... It was only natural that he relocate to a more private place when things got too 'comfy'.
He decided it was a good idea to leave; a VERY good idea. Not wanting to give her a last look, he slipped back into the passageway, counting the rooms he already passed. If he needed to go into an empty room and cross the hallway, so be it. From this way to the end, there was no way to get to the rooms on the other side; he would have to double back and go again...taking more time than planned.
A hand lightly ran across the brick way, stopping when he reached another hidden door. Stealthily pushing it open, he moved yet another rug and peeked through. He was glad to find the right room. The good thing about a pitch black secret passage, his eyes were already adjusted to total darkness. Even the moonlight that peeked under the bottom of closed curtains was enough for him to see everything. The monitor glows helped the rest of the way.
Hilde's form rested in the center of the large room, those helpful lights giving her skin a sickly greenish glow. The cropped black hair shined in that green light; the white sheets covering her also glowing. If not for all the tubes in her arms and medical equipment around her, he would've figured her to simply be asleep.
He took a few quiet steps into the room, eyes on the one thing that WOULD wake up. Duo. The youth's form was haphazardly positioned on part of Hilde's bed.
He knew that this was the ONLY time Duo slept; late at night. He could tell by just looking at that scrunched up form that the former pilot didn't allow himself much sleep. The deep breathing was indication enough. It also told him that Duo waking up wasn't a big problem.
Even as he neared Hilde's bed, his eyes still kept watch on the ex-pilot. Hiding wasn't really a problem, he was in his element. He worked best in the nighttime, blended in with the night. Even with Duo's training from the doctors, he wouldn't be able to spot him.
He stopped at the foot of Hilde's bed, taking hold of her chart. His eyes scanned what he could in the near pitch black, using the machines' light for help.
She was still pretty badly damaged, and still in a coma. His eyes narrowed slightly. That had to've been a week ago... 'She was worse than I THOUGHT she was.' He put back the form and eyed her, figuring that someone her size would need time to properly heal. Her system just wasn't ready to support her yet.
His hands gently rested on the wood, lightly leaning against it. He hadn't really been able to say thanks for her help. But, he knew there'd be no real way he could, not if he wanted to keep anonymous. 'Hilde, you really WERE the turning point in the war. We could've used you during it to fight. You're pretty brave for someone so small.'
Thanks said in the only way he knew how; he turned to leave the room, knowing he had a full day of work tomorrow.