Title: Full Circle
Author: Jade Hunter
Disclaimer: None of the characters or properties of Gundam Wing belong to me.
A.N: Yes, another one of my fics that has been rewritten. It seems to be a new trend.
Sleep eluded her.
Perhaps it was the stormy weather outside, perhaps it was the memories recently dredged up by Mariemaia, or perhaps it had been the visit to Treize's grave.
But Lady Une knew that while it could have been any one of those things – even all of them combined – it was not.
Shrugging on her robe, she stepped out of her bedroom and glanced in the direction of Mariemaia's room before heading to her home office. Immediately after entering the room, her gaze flew towards her desk, to the bottom drawer, the one with the lock on it.
Her body moved forwards, as if possessed.
Now Lady Une knew exactly what it was that caused her insomnia, and her cocoa eyes were dark with undying pain as she realized that, subconsciously, she had remembered the date. It was no surprise, however, because she could never forget.
She didn't bother to search for the key – she never locked the bottom drawer in the first place. The desk was old and stubborn, and no key would ever persuade that particular drawer to open. It had been with her since before she had joined Oz, had been her mother's before that, and she had grown up learning and knowing its secrets.
Fisting a hand, she brought it down on the right bottom corner of the desk, then kicked it solidly in the side twice.
Obediently, the drawer popped open.
Sitting heavily in her desk chair, Lady Une breathed in the smell of leather and sighed. Pulling the drawer open all the way, she slowly reached in and took out the sole contents of the stubborn drawer – a picture, framed in sterling silver with intricately carved leaf petals.
The cost of the frame didn't concern her, however, nor did the beauty of the design.
Just the picture.
It portrayed two girls, in their mid teens, lounging in a gazebo wreathed by wildflowers and ivy. Both young girls were lovely, with finely boned features, and their looks only served to enhance the fantastical element of their surroundings.
The girl on the left had her hair tied into two functional braids, dainty looking glasses resting low on the bridge of her pert nose. She wore a mischievous smile on her face, almost defiantly clad in denim shorts and a plain shirt. The other girl had left her hair flowing loosely down her shoulders, framing her face, and was without glasses. She wore a gentle smile, the lines of her lips softer than the other's, and had on a simple white sundress, her hands placed demurely in her lap.
They gazed at the camera, identical brown eyes twinkling out from identical faces.
"Isabelle," Lady Une remembered, brows coming together in pain that was still too fresh, too powerful.
But how could one ever forget their other half?
How could one even try?
"So, you're Isabelle, and you're Annabelle?"
Isabelle rolled her eyes in exasperation, but Annabelle smiled at their new nanny indulgently. "No," she corrected for the thousandth time, "I'm Annabelle, she's Isabelle."
"Oh," the new nanny said, flustered. She had been hired three months ago, and still could not tell the two girls apart. "You look so much like each other."
"We're not really identical, you know," Isabelle said loudly, her tone patronizing, and the nanny balked. How could a ten-year-old be so…unpleasant? The nanny glanced helplessly at the other twin – the quieter one.
"She's right," Annabelle said, but her tone was kind, not at all like her sister's. "We're mirror twins, technically."
The nanny blinked.
"It means everything I've got on my right side, she's got on her left side," Isabelle explained slowly, rolling her eyes again. "Get it? Like, I have a dimple here – " she demonstrated, smiling, pointing at her right cheek, "and she has one there."
Annabelle smiled, too, showing the dimpling of her left cheek.
"It's our only difference," Isabelle continued, her tone proud, and a little vexed that they even had that minute difference.
Lady Une smiled slightly, a dimple forming on her left cheek. So many of their who's-who schemes had been ruined by that one difference; a single smile, and perhaps weeks of planning went down the proverbial drain, identity given away to those who knew them.
It had become easier for others, though, after a good decade of nearly identical behavior to augment their identical looks, when they had developed different personalities. Even they had been surprised by how large the difference in their personalities were.
She tried to speed up, but she had never been as athletic as her sister, who excelled naturally at any physical activity she'd attempted. Isabelle was on all the sports teams at school, somehow managing to juggle them all, even when the seasons overlapped. Annabelle, on the other hand, was more of an intellectual type, the predicted valedictorian of her class, involved in dozens of clubs that dealt with issues ranging from foreign languages to community service.
And the differences didn't stop there.
Isabelle had a temper, and was the type who stood her ground and fought ferociously for what she believed in. Annabelle practically had no fuse to speak of, and she preferred to keep quiet about her opinions or agree to disagree. Isabelle was cunning and always saw through every lie; Annabelle, despite all of her intelligence, was trusting, thereby more prone to getting into scrapes.
They didn't even agree on the little things. Isabelle wore her hair up; Annabelle liked her hair down. Isabelle liked when it rained; Annabelle couldn't get enough of the sunshine. Isabelle loved chocolate above all else; Annabelle lived only for coffee-flavored things.
It was a wonder they loved each other so fiercely.
Annabelle sighed in relief as Isabelle slowed, then stopped entirely to wait for her to catch up. It wasn't done without a sigh of irritation, but it was done nonetheless.
She skid to a halt in front of Isabelle, bending over immediately, clutching desperately at a stitch in her side, breathing raggedly. Annabelle felt awkward pats on her back as Isabelle, despite her annoyance, tried to help.
"You okay, Annie?" Isabelle asked.
Annabelle smiled at the sound. Isabelle was the only one allowed to call her 'Annie', while she was the sole person allowed to address Isabelle as 'Izzy'. Even their father was not granted the privilege. He had his own special nicknames for them, and called them 'Anna' and 'Isa' respectively.
"I'm fine, Izzy," she answered, catching her breath.
Isabelle pulled back immediately, "Good. Let's go, then."
Despite the harsh tone, Annabelle smiled serenely, as if her twin sister had just hugged her instead of barking at her.
"Where are we going?" she asked as they fell in step together.
To her great surprise, a genuine smile replaced Isabelle's normally indifferent expression, and she stared off into the distance.
"To see someone," Isabelle answered vaguely.
Annabelle narrowed her eyes slightly. Had Isabelle sounded…dreamy just now?
"Izzy!" she shouted gleefully. "Are we going to see a guy?"
Her twin's answering flush confirmed her suspicions, and Annabelle squealed excitedly. To her knowledge, this was the first guy Isabelle had expressed interest in, though many boys at their school had been disappointed along the way.
"Shut up!" Isabelle hissed, embarrassed. "I don't want the whole world to know! Geez, Annie, you always do the stupidest things!"
Ignoring her sister, Annabelle continued to gush, "Oh, Izzy, I can't believe it! What's his name?"
Isabelle smiled again, softer this time, almost reverently.
Lady Une placed the picture frame on her desk, propping it up.
"That was the beginning of it all, wasn't it?" she asked herself, her eyes infinitely sad.
She had been so damn innocent back then, and so had Isabelle, despite her hard attitude.
They had been fools.
"Oh, Izzy, how could you?" she asked, heartbroken, hot tears spilling over. "I'm the one who always does the stupid things!"
For her part, Isabelle was uncharacteristically open and earnest as she took up her despondent twin's hands in her own. Peering into watery eyes, Isabelle shook her head slightly. "Don't you understand, Annie? You always wanted me to be happy, didn't you? Well, this will make me happy!"
Annabelle sniffled, her breath hitching in her throat as her sobs overcame her ability to breathe; "But Izzy, you – you joined the army!"
"Not just any army," Isabelle smiled confidently. "OZ's army."
"What?" Annabelle hiccuped. Disbelief was painted on her features, her fears for her sister tripling at that piece of information. "OZ? You…" she trailed off as she gazed at Isabelle with grave, knowing eyes. "Oh, Izzy, no. Not for him."
"Yes, for him," Isabelle snapped, her entire face tightening at the distaste in her twin's tone. "It's all for him!"
"No!" Annabelle protested, standing up to pace, anger building up in her at her sister's uncharacteristic foolishness. "Izzy! Father has told you time, and time again, that man is no good! And I agree!"
Isabelle slammed her hand down on the coffee table as harshly as she could, ignoring the sting it caused. Startled, Annabelle whirled around to face her sister once more.
"Don't ever speak of Treize-sama that way again," Isabelle warned, her voice low and deadly. She was clearly furious, and her glasses seemed to flash ominously in the lighting. "He means more to me than you can possibly understand – I would do anything for him."
"Even turning your back on your home, your family?" Annabelle asked, shaking her head in dismay. " On me?"
Isabelle raised her head high, jutting out her chin determinedly. "Yes."
Closing her eyes and taking in a shaky breath, Lady Une tilted her head back. It took her a few more minutes to compose herself, and she blinked hard, trying to banish the tears that threatened.
"Who was more foolish, Izzy?" she asked the photograph. "You, for falling for Treize? Or me, for holding it against you? If only we'd known what little time we'd have…, you were a stubborn little fool. So was I. We were both stubborn, and stupid, with barely enough time to regret it…"
Leaning back again, Lady Une closed her eyes once more and sighed.
Perfectly composed, she sat stiffly next to her sister, who sat in similar stony silence. Their father, entirely in the dark for the reason of his daughters' feud, sat up in the front with the driver, confused and fed up with the silent war the twins held against each other, with a ferocity never seen before. He had learned his lesson at breakfast, and didn't attempt the few pitiful attempts at conversation that he had then. The chauffeur, also sensing the tension, wisely remained silent as well.
Annabelle was tired. She was tired of being angry, she was tired of sitting so stiffly, and she was tired of having to keep up this stoic mask. But she would not give in. Not this time. Though normally a reasonable girl, she was determined not to relent – not this time – because she knew she could never approve, or even pretend to approve.
To relax against the leather interior of the limousine would be a surrender. To speak first would be a defeat. It was all in the unspoken, unwritten book of sisterhood.
The stupid thing.
Briefly, she let her eyes flutter closed –
And they flew open again when the horn beeped loudly, many times.
The next few moments were confusing, and she would never be able to remember it clearly.
More horns beeping.
Her father, yelling.
Turning to look.
Seeing bright headlights.
Closing her eyes tightly, not wanting to see.
The sound of crunching metal.
Gasping, Lady Une jerked upright, eyes wild as they searched her surroundings unseeingly. Heart pounding rapidly in her chest, it took her a moment to register that she was not in the car, and that there was no screaming.
Glancing at the clock, she realized that she must have fallen asleep.
But that had not been a dream.
The first thing she became aware of was the pain in her arm. Softer, less noticeable, the fact that her head also hurt did not register until a few moments later, when she had taken a few deep breaths, scared of the silence.
"Father?" Annabelle ventured.
Fear blossomed in her chest, and she repeated, louder this time, "Father?"
Still there was no answer, and Annabelle felt something drip down the side of her face. Tears welled up as she considered the possibilities.
"Daddy?" she whispered, knowing it was futile.
Annabelle wanted Isabelle. She wanted to call for her twin, wanted to turn her head and see if she was all right, but couldn't bring herself to. It wasn't because she was still angry – no, the anger was forgotten, and fear had taken its place – but because she was dizzy and didn't know which way was which.
A soft whimper.
Breath hitching in her chest as hope rose, Annabelle tried again, "Izzy?"
There was another whimper, louder, and then Isabelle was answering her, her voice raspy, "Annie?"
"Yes," she said, nodding although it made her want to throw up. Annabelle couldn't help the slightly hysterical laughter that bubbled up and soon turned into equally hysterical tears. "I'm so scared, Izzy."
"Me, too," Isabelle mumbled. "It's okay, Annie. Are you hurt?"
"My, my head hurts," Annabelle replied unthinkingly. "And my arm. But I think I'm okay. What about you?"
Isabelle's voice was coming from her left, and she turned her head to look when there was no immediate answer.
"Izzy!" she cried out in horror.
Isabelle was clearly worse off than she was. The other car had hit on that side, and her twin sister was partially trapped by twisted metal. Annabelle couldn't see Isabelle's legs, or her right arm and shoulder, and there were many cuts all over Isabelle's face and blood was everywhere.
Isabelle opened closed eyes to look at her; "You're bleeding."
"So are you," Annabelle blubbered. Her tears were mingling and dripping down with the blood that continued to flow freely from the deep cut on her forehead, but she didn't notice. "You're hurt," she said brokenly.
Air rattled in Isabelle's lungs as she drew in a deep breath. "It's okay. Don't cry, Annie."
She reached out a blood-covered hand, but Annabelle took it unhesitatingly. She wanted to grasp it tightly, like a lifeline, but Isabelle was obviously badly hurt, and Annabelle wasn't willing to cause her sister more pain.
"I'm sorry," she babbled instead. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it, I swear…Don't leave me…"
"Me neither," Isabelle assured her quietly. "I would never leave you. I didn't mean it. Okay?"
"Okay," Annabelle sobbed. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry…I'm always doing stupid things, I…"
"You don't," Isabelle said, her voice raw, but steady. "You don't do stupid things. You do wonderful things, Annie, and I love you."
"I love you, too," Annabelle whispered. "I love you, too, Izzy."
Isabelle smiled slightly, then coughed, harsh, racking coughs that shook her frame and twisted her face in pain.
"I love you, Izzy," she repeated, over and over again. "I love you."
"Why did you leave me?" Lady Une asked, her voice cracking as she gripped the picture frame tightly. "Why? I…"
It had taken Isabelle what seemed like hours to die. Of course it had actually only been a few minutes, but, trapped in the car, people working to free them, it had seemed to stretch on forever. Help had been just there, but not close enough, and through it all, Isabelle had comforted her, and she had told Isabelle how much she loved her.
But even after all that, Isabelle had not been strong enough. When the car had been peeled open, three of its original four occupants were beyond help.
"Why?" Lady Une bowed her head, shoulders shaking from penned up emotions.
"Please, come in."
Annabelle did so, her back stiff, her expression cold, her eyes dead. Her legs felt inexplicably heavy as she followed Treize into his luxurious office.
He turned to face her, his admittedly handsome face breaking out into a small, reserved smile as he gestured towards one of the plush seats in an invitation.
She sank into it gratefully.
"I must admit, I am both surprised and relieved to see you, Lady Une," he said, tilting his head. "When you did not come for your final appointment, I thought you had changed your mind."
Wearily, Annabelle shook her head. Treize thought her to be Isabelle, despite the lack of eye wear and the flowing hair. She had come here, thinking that the man Isabelle had loved so much at least deserved to know why her devoted sister had failed to show up at the appointed time. Instead, she found herself unable to take her eyes off Treize.
What had her sister seen in him to love him so?
"I…" Her voice sounded dead, even to her, and Treize frowned in concern. "I'm…"
Something seemed to click in place as she hesitated once more. Her mind seemed to take a step back, and another force took over. She was aware of her actions, but could not control them as her body straightened her shoulders and lifted her head confidently.
Her eyes met Treize's.
"There was an accident," she explained, her voice calm, collected, nothing at all like herself. It sounded like Isabelle used to be…how Isabelle spoke to everyone besides her family. "I was the only survivor. I was in the hospital, recovering."
"I'm truly sorry to hear that, Lady Une," he said in reply, and his voice was gentle, as if he really cared.
A part of her wondered why he called her Lady Une, but the main part of her, the part in control, didn't particularly care. It was true, after all.
"Yes, well, I'm quite recovered now, and I was wondering…?"
He smiled, and stood. "Of course. Welcome to OZ, Lady Une. I'm sure you'll make a wonderful new addition."
Annabelle – no, Lady Une now, never again Annabelle – stood as well. She always did stupid things, didn't she?
"Thank you, Treize-sama."
That had been the first emergence of her split personality. Isabelle's personality, which she had taken into herself after seeing her die. Her way of keeping her sister alive, the doctors had said. Joining OZ, working her way up the ranks to become Colonel, becoming fanatically loyal to Treize…all to keep Isabelle alive, if only in her mind.
And it had worked, for a while.
After Treize's death, however, she had been completely bewildered, unable to comprehend the loss of someone so vital in keeping her dominant half – her Isabelle half – alive. It had taken her a long time to pull herself back together, to pull only herself back together, and she was never really the same as before.
She could never be the same as before.
She could never be Annabelle again, because Annabelle had been one-half of a whole. How could Annabelle function, how could Annabelle exist without Isabelle to complete her? Annabelle needed Isabelle.
She was Lady Une, now and forever, because Lady Une didn't need anyone. She wasn't someone missing half of herself, because Lady Une was one whole person.
"I know you'd tell me to be strong, to be Annabelle, if you were here, Izzy," Lady Une smiled slightly, painfully. "But you're not here. You're gone. And I always did do stupid things."