"The Running Woman"

by: the archduke

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing and this is a totally not-for-profit endeavor. And this also has nothing to do with the movie "The Running Man" other than I like the movie.

Relena Dorlain opened her eyes and immediately sat upright and looked to her left. Her bedside clock read 7:58 AM and she quickly ran her hand along the side of the little black box in search of the button that would disable her as-yet-to-go-off alarm. She smiled triumphantly as she heard the reassuring "beep" that signified her success. This was her early morning game: challenging the alarm clock as to who would be the first to start their day. She was becoming very good at it, with her internal alarm kicking in with about two or three minutes to spare for the last couple of days. After mentally patting herself on the back at her victory, she lay back on her bed and just stared at the ceiling.

She took these few minutes of peace to mentally go over her schedule for the day. Morning run at 8:15, shower at 8:45, breakfast in her limo at 9:30, and her first meeting of the day, with the Interior Minister, at 10:00 in her office at Preventer's Headquarters. She sighed, hating to go all the way downtown when she had a perfectly good office in her own home. But no, according to the Preventers, or more accurately one very adamant Preventer in particular, it would be too dangerous having her private residence serve as a public government building during office hours.

Relena's fingers began to drum against the side of her bed as her thoughts turned to Heero Yuy, the afore mentioned Preventer. He had joined the Preventers three years ago, at the close of A.C. 197, and had been a major pain ever since. She still thought fondly of him, some would even say pined after him, but she was now less public about her feelings. She was always cordial towards him on the rare occasion he allowed himself to be seen by her, but other than that there was little contact between them.

However, that didn't mean that he was completely out of her life. For example, she was certain that he was the one who put up all of those cameras around both the main building and the surrounding grounds of the complex that was her home. She had put up with the cameras in the halls and in the gardens, but when she had come home one night and seen a camera in her bedroom, well, that was the breaking point. She had taken a formal walking stick that a member of the African Delegation had given to her and had enjoyed a rousing game of "Hit the Camera Until It Breaks Into Tiny Pieces". Of course her little fit had lead to a whole army of Preventors coming into her room with guns raised, and upon seeing her, standing with a large stick over a beaten camera, they drew their own conclusions as to what had happened. Suffice it to say, she had made it clear that there would be no cameras in any of the private quarters.

And it was all Heero's fault. She hadn't been able to confirm it, but she was sure that he was behind turning her life into a voyeur's fantasy all in the name of "protecting" her. It wouldn't surprise her in the least if she found that he wanted to implant her with some sort of microchip that would keep constant tabs on her whereabouts. She made a mental note to carefully examine all her food before ingesting for the foreseeable future.

Deciding that ten minutes of thinking about Heero Yuy was enough for one day, or at least one morning, Relena got out of bed and changed into her jogging apparel. After completing the outfit by lacing up her athletic shoes and then spending a few minutes stretching all the important muscle groups, she left her room and made her way down the stairs and out onto the expansive grounds that she called her backyard.

She surveyed the land as was her habit, and marveled at the beauty of the surrounding area. The home and land had been in the Darlian family for several generations, and though she was not related by blood, she was the latest in a line of Darlians to reside there. She had inherited the estate after the assassination of her father, and after offering it to her mother, who declined citing her love for city living, moved out to the relatively more peaceful existence of the country.

Her eyes landed on the beginning of the jogging path, if the faint trail that led through some of the more heavily wooded areas of the property could be called that. She enjoyed cross-country running more than if she used a track, savoring the unpredictability of tree roots and animals that littered the trail. When she had first moved to the estate she had had to fight for the right to run through her own woods, many people telling her that it was too great of a security risk. After a series of compromises (she was Relena Darlian after all) it was agreed that she would adhere to a preplanned trail that would be lined by a series of tree-mounted cameras to monitor her progress. The only other viable alternative that she would agree to, having a Preventer agent accompany her on her run, was quickly vetoed by some of the less athletically inclined members of her security detail, most vocally led by Duo Maxwell, who argued that it was inhuman to expect him to go running around right after breakfast.

After taking a few cleansing breaths and closing her eyes in preparation for her run, Relena began the stopwatch she wore at her wrist and set forth upon the path. Little did she know that the familiar journey would have several unexpected twists and turns this morning.