Author's Note: A challenge fic and one I could not meet L I was supposed to write in 1000
words or less a 5xRelena story. Sorry Li-chan, it turned out 1120, but I couldn't do any
better. Wah, I'm a failure! Read and review anyways.

A Woman Alone, The Strength Within

By Midii Une

Her small hand moved slowly as she worked her honey-colored hair into an elaborate twist and she
winced as she pushed the ebony hair stick through the heavy knot of hair.

Relena glanced at her wan face in the mirror as automatically she smoothed down the dress of rich
China silk. The black embroidery gleamed on the black garment, the proper attire for a memorial

Would it have been possible? He had been arrogant and proud. When they talked about her ideals she
had always been positive that he was barely concealing a sneer of derision.

"I thought you despised me for the consequences my policies brought to the people," she said to her
reflection. But the mirror did not show her a sad young woman, swathed in black, her back straight in
her dignified grief. She saw the face of a misunderstood warrior, the blood he shed for her a startling
ribbon of red on the loose white garments he wore . . . . .

"Now I am truly alone," Relena whispered to her reflection.

As a girl she had always found herself seeking someone to lend her strength. It wasn't a crime; her
burdens had been heavy and her sorrows. First and always there had been Heero. As they worked
together toward the same goal she had taken solace from his presence, found a pleasurable comfort in
the fact that when she needed him he would appear.

But he had known when she no longer needed him; disappearing into the vastness of the world they
knew. A world she worked to improve.

He had never held Heero's strange reverence toward her. He saw her mistakes and deplored them. He
was not tolerant of her youth or inexperience. He believed her shortcomings should not stand in the
way of justice.

She shut her eyes wistfully and remembered a day so long ago, when the world was embracing peace
with jubilance and exhilaration. Meanwhile she had been buried under a pile of paperwork, the hidden
snake in her Eden attained at last.

As she stared down at the never-ending scroll of words on her monitor the sound of angry voices
echoed in the reception area and suddenly her door slammed open to reveal him.

"It isn't right," he'd said simply. "If you do this they will not tolerate your brand of peace Relena

"I don't understand," she'd asked puzzled by the passion and conviction ringing in his voice. He
seemed so familiar.

"You are Chang Wufei," she said, recognizing him at last. "One of Heero's friends!"

"I am no one's friend," he had said simply. "I am one of the soldiers you seek to destroy with your
treaties and documents."

Again she was puzzled, no one wanted to destroy anyone, but something had to be done with the
soldiers and those who would not make their peace with the new world had to be detained. What other
way was there?

She opened her mouth to explain but he had been able to read her answer in her face.

"What we fought for has changed nothing," he'd said, carefully controlled rage trembling beneath the
surface of his calm demeanor. "Earth will have to be taught again."

He'd disappeared then but she hadn't been able to forget that face. A face that accused her of not
being all she could be. Of not having done enough to share what had been won with those who had
actually fought for it. She'd let the soldiers slip beneath the cracks of the new world order and for that
she was truly sorry.

He had been right; Dekim and Mariemaia Barton had come to show her and the world the error of their
ways. Discontented soldiers like Wufei giving them the strength they needed to stage their coup.

And after it was over she'd seen him again.

She walked in the park alone outside the hotel in Beijing. Her head throbbed slightly with one of the
headaches her position forced her to bear. Everyone always made a show of listening to her but
sometimes they ignored her words as if she were a child.

"We must provide a welcome to all those who fought for Mariemaia. We must show them what peace
means and that it is something that has been won for all of us. Especially for the soldiers," she had said,
her conviction bolstered by memories of Wufei's visit so long ago. If she had listened then might not all
of this been avoided?

She was drawn to a lovely and delicate bridge, a perfect half-circle with the other half reflected in the
black water below. Starlight shimmered around the circle. I am that circle she thought, seeking my
other half, seeking my strength.

"Now you understand," a voice said and she turned to see him there. So he had heard her speech and
he approved of her at last. Her body and heart responded to his approval as the girl she had been had
always reacted to the sight of Heero Yuy. He had been her strength as a girl and this man would be her
strength as a woman.

"Sit with me," he said, his request given as an order. The time together in the flower-fragrant twilight
was magical. He was so much more than a soldier, he boasted a scholarly intelligence. He gave her
advice to reach her goals, ways to make the people see the importance of properly recognizing the
soldiers of the past.

He took her hand in his, the night had been short, dawn approached. "I was wrong about you," he
said. "You are a strong woman. You can do this."

Wufei turned from her and a cry escaped Relena's lips. A cry from the heart.

"Stay with me," she begged. "Help me. You can help me so much. With you I am a better person."

He was beside her, his hands on her shoulders, his eyes on hers. In the gray light of the dawn she thought
she saw desire and regret there, a wish for something that could not be.

"You belong to the world and I am still a soldier," he said, removing his hands from her arms, leaving the
ghost of his touch behind, a touch she would never forget.

"But if you need me I shall always be near," he promised.

The next time she'd seen him had been that nightmarish day a year ago. The sharp report of an
assassin's bullet meant for her. He had been dead before she could even reach him. Her heart had
been broken, yet her soul was now stronger.

She was a woman. A woman of strength.

Relena needed only herself.

The End