Summery: Lady Une discovers an order from Treize Khushrenada she never fulfilled and it leads her to a solution to a mounting problem. A lot of manufactured history for Lady Une. Takes place four years after Endless Waltz. This is a "What if..." vignette off of my story War Corespondents. Same letter from that short story, but she didn't read it in time.
Warning: In this one Lady Ann and Middie are cousins. (Typical me) I don't typically care for song fics, but I put the lyrics at the start that in spired me. I don't own Gundam Wing characters, Sunrise/Bandai does. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment purposes.
Credits: The lyrics are from Joy Division
This is the hour when the mysteries emerge
Strangeness so hard to reflect
A moment so moving goes straight
to your heart
Condition that's never been met
the attraction that's held like a wake
Something I'll never forget
Pattern is set, the reaction will start
Completed but rejected too soon
Looking ahead in the grip of each tear
Impulse that blinds every move
Shadow that stood by the side of the road
Always remind me of you
How can I find the right way
to control the conflicts inside,
All the problems beside
As the questions are right,
and the answers don't fit
Into my way of paying, into my way
Lady Une looked at the alarm clock and sat up quickly. She couldn't believe she'd slept so late. It was ten after ten. Her brandy colored eyes traveled around to the bedroom's billowing lace drapes. This was not her normal room on the Khushrenada Estates in Luxembourg.
She was hundreds of miles away in Southern France, where her mother's last piece of land was located. She settled back in her childhood bed again. The room was done in yellow and cream flowers with white wicker furniture.
She resisted the urge to run downstairs and call Wufei and Sally Chang. After all, they would call if war miraculously broke out. Sally had berated her for trying to cancel this time off. The Chinese woman pointed out it had been three years since any serious threat of war had occurred.
No massive troop movements, no Gundams, no dictators pushing their people into hostility. Of course, a massive spy network was essential to maintain the peace along with the show of a strong militia. Lady Une maintained the Preventers Earth Sphere Militia, but the spy network was beginning to get clogged by corruption.
There were some speculations that unseen forces may be secretly organizing weapon's research somewhere in space, but for now it was no more than an elusive rumor. She needed this free time to plan her steps for clearing out the espionage network. Wufei was keeping an eye on it, but he was too well known to work his way inside and ferret out any double agents.
"Chief Marshal?" She sat up and looked at the door where the knock came from. The pinch faced elderly woman always gave Lady Une the most disapproving scowl a servant dare give.
"Yes, Madam Croix?"
"Shall I serve your breakfast in bed today?"
"No. I'll wait and have an early lunch."
"Yes, Chief Marshal." Lady Ann Une hadn't realized her mother had hired all new staff before she had passed away and it had caused a lot of awkwardness. Her mother had never told them that she existed. When she had walked through the country home she found no trace of her or of her father and it deeply wounded her. She had once hardened herself against her mother's callous treatment, but she had learned to embrace her emotions once again and reconcile her mind with her heart.
Her mother had not spoken one word to her since she ran away and joined Grunner Military Institute when she was fifteen. Gisselle Une had threatened to cut Ann off if she insisted on joining the military, but Ann could not turn away from her calling. It was a destiny she was unsure of until she met Treize Khushrenada two years later.
She was a top mobile suit pilot student when Mister Treize visited the Institute and gave a speech to the students. From the moment he walked off the stage, Lady Une vowed to live by every word he uttered. Soon after she graduated, she signed articles with the OZ Specials, where her outstanding record caught Mister Treize's attention.
Her thoughts turned to her odd military career with OZ that followed. For example, Ann never had intentions of visiting space, but Mister Treize ordered her to become the OZ ambassador to the colonies. She would never have denied one of his orders. It was unthinkable to displease him, so her tormented mind found its own means of self-preservation. For most of those days, she lived in constant fear she was not properly serving him and living up to his ideals. Now she was in perfect peace with his teachings and under control of all of her confusion. Not everything was suited to her, but his wisdom was the backbone of every aspect of her life.
She swung her legs out of bed and walked to the small lavatory. While running a bath with all the same lavish rose oils Mister Treize had once used, she caught sight of the long jagged scar over her heart. She regarded it for the first time since she received the wound. It was hideously large due to the fact she'd had three operations to repair the damage to her heart, the first of which was next to a battlefield during a mobile doll attack. She didn't wake up from that first operation for months.
Mister Treize had been by her side for most of her coma. Sometimes she dreamed of the things he whispered to her, always just out of her memory's reach. The meaning of those conversations was locked deep in her subconscious never to be touched, to her profound sorrow.
After the bath, she got dressed in a white skirt and green angora sweater. She only applied a small amount of makeup. The staff always looked oddly at her clothing and cosmetics. She realized they expected her to be adorned in her Preventers uniform or in some masculine way. They never expected the world's top military leader to be so feminine. Then again, the only person who could ever see her dichotomy was Mister Treize.
She slipped on a pair of green flats and walked down the hall towards the study. It was too late to call her ward, Marimaia Khushrenada. Classes had begun at the Saint Gabriel Boarding School. Marimaia's second term at the school was going even worse then the first one.
Lady Une had noticed Marimaia was becoming introverted and detached from human interaction. Her grandfather's twisted ideals had left her in a wheelchair and with a deep scar on her soul. Lady Une let the tutor go and insisted the redheaded girl try school for one year in the hopes that she could be socialized among kids her own age. Unfortunately, the other students remembered Marimaia's name. The kindest merely avoided her, but the others were ruthless.
There was added stress this term. Three months earlier the last doctor Marimaia went to had declared her permanently crippled. After three years of exams, surgeries, and a parade of doctors, Marimaia had insisted it stop. She felt as if this was her just punishment for her grandfather starting a war on her behalf, no matter how much Lady Une tried to persuade her otherwise. The child was only ten at the time and was totally brainwashed by her wicked grandfather, Dekim Barton. Lady Une prayed for wisdom to give her guidance on how best to persuade Marimaia to live and not withdraw into the nihilistic shell she was developing.
"Chief Marshal, would you like soup?" Lady Une put her glasses on before taking a seat behind the ornate oak desk. Madam Croix's face was like wrinkled marble. No doubt the woman was afraid she would lose her job, but she sure was not making a good case to keep it.
"Yes, please," Lady Une said with a warm smile. One thing she had come to realize is that grace made the way to achieve your goals. It weakened those around you; made them your allies. Of course, if they still didn't comply there was nothing wrong with striking like a brick in a velvet glove of refinement. The woman turned on her heels and slammed the door.
She picked up her mother's paperwork where it left off and examined what was left to the estate. If she sold it she would have a modest amount of money or she could keep it running and spend the rest of her OZ Specials pension on it. Her father had depleted most of the wealth out of the estate when he left and divorced her mother. Ann was only five when it happened and her mother had spent what was left trying to lure a new husband.
"We are ready for you, Chief Marshal. Come now before the soup gets cold." She rose at the craggy voice's request and made her way to the back of house. She sat at the table in the kitchen and stared at an iron key beside her soup bowl.
"Thank you for finding the cellar key," Lady Une said as Madam Croix filled her wine glass with burgundy. "I will need to contact Vice Minister Sylvia Noventa tonight and I need privacy. Everyone is dismissed until tomorrow morning."
"As you wish," came the curt response. Lady Une quickly finished her brunch and went to the cellar door, which was located at the back of the white colonial house. She had never minded the small dark hole under the house. She drew up short at the bottom of the stairs.
A large chest with the OZ Specials blue lion's head crest sat in the way. Lady Une recognized the box. She had sent many to grieving families herself. It was unopened except for the letter tossed on top. She took the faded, winkled envelope and removed the contents. The first document was dated three days after she had been shot. Mister Treize would have been under the impression she was dead for another week after that. She was listed as 'Killed in Action' for a month in total before she was sent back to earth, still in her coma.
Lady Giselle Une,
It is my sorrowful duty to inform you that your daughter was killed in action three days earlier. She served the OZ Specials with extreme devotion and diligence. Her presence on the battlefield helped turn the tide to our favor again and again. I will miss her companionship and loyalty. No other person who has served under me has done so so vigorously.
Be proud of her accomplishments and rest well in the knowledge that her sacrifice on my behalf will not be in vain. She will always have a place in my heart and mind. Ann was a special woman to me and that's why I would like to request that she be interred on my family estate in Luxembourg. I know it is forward of me, but knowing her these last few years, I feel confident that she would want that.
I have sent you some of her personal effects as is traditional. I implore you to discover her outstanding accomplishments in serving the OZ Specials. I assume you two were not as intimate as she would have hoped, but maybe these things will let you still have a chance at discovering her. I encourage you to write me concerning Ann's arrangements.
With Fondest Regards and
General Treize Khushrenada
She could not stop the tears from flowing. He had know her so well when she had not even known herself. She tucked the letter away to give to Marimaia. Everything of Treize's she could find she gave to the invalid girl so that she could get to know her father.
Lady Une unsealed the trunk and smiled at the fond mementos. One of her old dress uniforms was folded on top with the OZ Specials' flag wrapped in a tidy triangle. Her parade saber and pistols along with her Colonel's insignia were underneath, plus all of her ribbons and citations. Every bit of paper work ever done while she was training to become a mobile suit pilot was at the very bottom. She picked up the bright red cut-away coat she rarely wore. It was identical to Colonel Peacecraft's uniform rather then her field uniform. Treize kept that one for her recovery.
A snicker escaped her lips thinking of her erstwhile rival, Colonel Milliardo Peacecraft. She had been bitterly jealous of how Treize forgave Milliardo anything and accommodated any whim. She wanted all of Mister Treize's attention, but it seemed he reserved friendship solely for the blond pilot. She realized, looking back, she could have had the same type of friendship with both men if she would have relaxed and allowed them to feel comfortable rather then make everything into a proving ground.
She suddenly remembered she had not sent Milliardo and Lucretia a shower gift for their second child due next month. They had just gotten back from Mars and were taking time away from the Preventers to acclimate their son to all the changes that Earth presented. The three year old boy was versatile and too smart for his own good. With any luck, she could persuade them back sooner then they requested, but she understood something she never had before.
Children came first. Marimaia's care was tremendous at first, but as she got to know the child she grew to love her as her own. Marimaia had inherited her sharp intellect and blue eyes from Treize, but she definitely was her own person already at fourteen. Lady Une was happiest when the girl was around, but it was unhealthy for her to be so isolated. School was the best decision, even though she loathed sending her ward away. She gasped when she realized the other document in the envelope was her death certificate, 'Bullet wound to the heart.'
She folded the papers and tucked them away in the envelope as she caught sight of something stuck to the bottom of the trunk. A second letter. She picked it up gently. It was unopened and addressed to her from Mister Treize. She also noticed it was five years old and stained on one corner with something brown.
"I know! This is the letter he sent me before I faced Tuberov and got shot. I was going to read it after the battle," she said aloud, taking her switch blade from the back of her waistband. She learned to carry one on advice from a subordinate she had once. She could not quite remember which one. Nickole? Barton?
"Barton! It was Trowa Barton! I remember now. We were drinking scotch in my quarters when he gave it to me. He told me to always have a last resort." She flicked the blade and examined the handle that was engraved with M. U. + N. Something was vaguely familiar to her. She shook her head and flicked the letter open. She gave a slight shiver, remembering how close she allowed a spy, and possible assassin, by her. She had reasons why she had placed herself in such danger, however her heart always nagged at a deeper meaning as to why she played with fire. It was something she hadn't resolved or even thought about for five years.
My Dearest Lady,
Your last letter caused me great distress. You mentioned that you have a new adjutant by the name of Trowa Barton from L-3. It could be pure coincidence, but I feel I must mention something that will be of a great concern to you. The man whom you have taken as your most trusted aide may actually be committing espionage and have his goals set to cause further mayhem.
The mother of my child, her name was Leigh Barton, hailed from L-3. She had an older brother by the name of Trowa who ended up falling in with some unsavory elements. He was murdered by a group of mad scientists who were working on a secret project that OZ spies never unraveled. I assume now one of the Gundams was that project because he was a mobile suit pilot.
He was six foot four with blonde hair and brown eyes. He would be about twenty-six now. If by some miracle it is the same man, tell him that you and I are on intimate terms and I will not abide any mistreatment of one of my agents. He and I have crossed swords before. Mister Barton knows not to gain my attention twice.
If not, you know in fact that a spy and a Gundam pilot has been at your elbow, serving your beck and call. The Trowa Barton I knew was a horrid man who should have never been allowed in society. He deserved his end. The impostor still needs to pay for his crime, but execute him for the following reason. He was trying to destroy a valuable piece of the Oz Specials, you. I could never accomplish what I have without you. Protect yourself and be as kind to the boy as you can. I regret that such a prodigy needs to be destroyed, however I will not risk an assassination attempt on you no matter how fond you are of him.
Always in my thoughts,
"Oh Mister Treize." She clutched the letter to her heart and sighed. The irony of the whole situation bubbled uncontrollable laugher out of her. Mister Treize's warning wasn't only too late, but the Trowa she knew had been very honest about his feelings towards OZ.
Her woman's intuition told her he was a spy when she first interviewed him, but she also felt Trowa would be best wooed to OZ because of his incredible talent. She went by the old axiom of keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer.
Trowa was never truly her enemy, even though they worked for opposing sides. If it was not for Trowa her fool Captain, Ivan Nickole, would have ruined what she had worked so hard to achieve in space. Trowa was her prodigy. He helped her to see how precious the space colonies really were in spite of the harsh and tragic past she had with them. Besides, it was the ultimate thrill to know a spy was guarding your bed only three feet away while you slept.
The green eyed boy was so bright, but not emotional in the least. Lady Une could see a hint of melancholy at rare times. Unlike the other seventeen year old boys under her command, who went to nightclubs, Trowa would stay at the base and work hard on several projects. Unfortunately, those projects were to undermine OZ and Romefeller. She had hard evidence of that now. Trowa was from L-3 as well, but he certainly did not match Mister Treize's description.
"Wait a minute!" An idea that was just out of reach suddenly fell into her mind. Trowa was a masterful spy. He committed acts of espionage no one under her command could trace. Nickole tried everything to get Trowa in trouble out of jealousy, but nothing was ever found. If anyone could clean out the spy network it would be him, but to bring him back into this kind of life wouldn't be kind.
Obviously he had lived a hard life. What if he were settled and living peacefully? She would have to trace his whereabouts and find out. Besides, she wanted to see him. Their time together was cut too short by a bullet, an explosion, and a matching set of comas. The only way she knew he was still alive was that all five Gundams appeared when the last battle to save Earth occurred. She really didn't even know for certain which Gundam he had piloted. She guessed Zero-Three, because Mobile Suit Gatling racks were invented on his home colony.
"Mister Treize, what would be your advice? I don't want to cause him any pain or put him into any danger. I just don't have anyone else who I would trust with this large of an operation." She packed her trunk and mulled it over. Yes, she would locate Trowa Barton. How to find him was the question.
"I was sorry to hear about your mother, Chief Marshal," Queen Relena Peacecraft said, extending her hand to Lady Une. She shook it and took a seat in front of Relena's orderly desk. "If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know."
She had once again taken up residence at the Sanq Kingdom Palace and taken her title back as Queen. She appointed Sylvia Noventa to her former position, and reinstated useful peace policies to benefit Earth-Space Colony relations. Many pundits theorized that an essential piece to preventing war was a strong ruler. People on the Earth and in space wanted someone trustworthy in the position. It was granted to Relena by an overwhelming majority. Only after a lot of torturous soul searching, did Relena feel she was mature enough to take up the mantle of monarch again.
"Thank you. I really appreciate that. I sold the land and moved a few things to Mister Treize's home. Marimaia's cousin arrived from L-4 three days ago. She's staying with me until her wedding," Lady Une said, tugging on the cuff of her emerald and black Preventers' uniform.
"Dorothy always wanted the Winner's money and poor Quatre is enough of a fool to allow her access to all that wealth and power. She always gets what she wants," Queen Relena said, narrowing her cerulean eyes.
"She did send her greetings," Lady Une said as Pagen served hot tea. Relena nodded curtly after he left. "She asked if she might be granted an audience, Highness."
"I won't see her. You mentioned a favor?" Relena asked.
Lady Une suspected Relena would avoid Dorothy. How could a Queen look her arch rival in the eyes after realizing that her hollow brand of pacifism was wrong? Dorothy had been the soft voice in Relena's background working to convince her that humans could never live apart from struggle. Whether it be in war or in other ways, humans needed to struggle to better themselves, or the essence of the race became feeble.
Relena's brush with Dekim Barton had opened her eyes. It had almost crushed Relena to turn her back on the Peacecraft heritage, but she was responsible for a united humanity now. Personal philosophies didn't count next to billions of lives.
Ann was grateful Marimaia was away at boarding school rather than exposed to her Machiavellian cousin. Dorothy took her love of war to extremes that no human should even contemplate. Yes, Ann agreed she was right about struggle, but she was wrong to idolize war. Lady Une was nervous that Dorothy would try to convince Marimaia she should sit on Relena's thrown again because of occasional backhanded comments recently made.
"Yes. Do you remember one of the Gundam pilots that went by the assumed name Trowa Barton?" she asked, grateful Relena was abrupt.
"I never had a chance to speak with him. He was close friends with Heero Yuy," Relena said, adding a spoon of sugar to her tea. "May I ask why you want to look him up?"
"I knew him when I was with the OZ Specials, and I want to have him do some consulting. Do you know how to contact him?"
"Heero would. He's very ill and thinking about the past only makes him worse so please be brief him. Here," Relena wrote an e-mail address out of the L-1 space colony. "He's in an asylum there. Give them my name an his physiologist will let you talk with him over a video phone."
"Thank you, Highness. You have my word, I'll be discreet." Lady Une stood and took the piece of paper with Heero's information. "I wish he would have stayed with the Preventers. I empathize with his illness." Relena sipped her tea while her attention was drawn out towards the night sky where millions of people drifted in velvety silence on several man-made worlds.
"I never expected to hear from the Chief Marshal again. To what do I owe this pleasure?" Heero asked from Lady Une's monitor.
She took her glasses off and smiled at the video screen that displayed Heero Yuy's face. She was dismayed at his appearance when she first saw him. His chocolate hair was going prematurely gray around the sides and the dark patches under his eyes had deepened.
The young Japanese man's Persian blue eyes were holding back intense emotions and filtering them through broken logic. She realized those eyes weren't of a sane man. He was trained to be the perfect solider and nothing else. What was he supposed to do after four years of atrophy?
"I'll be brief because I know you have a hectic schedule, Yuy-san. I'm trying to locate Trowa Barton." Heero's laughter was raving.
"Barton-san is dead. If you're referring to Nanashi, he's working at a circus up here in the colonies," Heero said in his low melodic voice after he calmed down. "I'll tell you his location if I'm satisfied you mean him no harm."
"I want to talk to him about old times and maybe have him do some consulting for the Preventers. I would never harm him. If you remember, he was a trusted aide to me," she said. The left side of Heero's face began to twitch uncontrollably.
"I remember. He was the best person you had working for you. Too bad he was the best spy we could have hoped for. I'll tell you his location. He'll be there in one week," he said.
"Thank you, Professor," Lady Une said as the video image faded to reveal orange glowing letters across the screen. She felt alternating waves of relief and sympathy when she realize how close she came to becoming just like him.
She watched a clown do a row of hand springs and start to juggle several knives. The clown was six foot and four inches tall. He was built like Mister Treize, now at the age of twenty-one. She remembered sneaking in on Trowa one night.
He was juggling several items from her desk with amazing dexterity. Trowa profusely apologized for his infraction of protocol and slipped away to his quarters before she could ask him where he would have learned such a bizarre thing. This masked clown was definitely him. She would have recognized the wild bangs anywhere.
She took a bite of her cotton candy as the ringmaster appeared after the opening act. Several acts followed, but the one that made Lady Une's heart pound was 'The Amazing Blooms.'
The same circus clown came out with a redheaded woman in a pink costume. Trowa took his place in front of a target and let the woman demonstrate her knife throwing ability. Lady Une was a little dismayed. This might be his wife and 'Bloom' might be his real name. She almost left, but no need jumping to conclusions.
"You're that woman on the news sometimes," the ginger haired woman said to Lady Une after she answered the trailer door. She had tracked Trowa after his act to a row of shabby mobile homes behind the midway that was still in full swing. "You're in charge of the Militia?" the redheaded woman asked Lady Une, she nodded. "Then you aren't welcome!"
"I've come to talk to Trowa. He knew me when I was a Colonel with the OZ Specials," Lady Une replied with a wrinkled brow.
"Impossible! Trowa was never with OZ! Now I know for sure you aren't welcome. Just go away and leave him alone. He doesn't even go by that horrid name any more. He's living the life he deserves to live now without people bring up a lot of hurtful memories. Just leave!" the woman shouted at Lady Une.
"Cathy, the Chief Marshal is very welcome." The women looked over to where Trowa was standing in the doorway. He was still wearing his blue and green clown suit, minus the mask.
"Triton, please don't," Cathrine pleaded up at him. "She was with OZ!"
"Please leave us alone. I won't be around for supper," Trowa said softly. Cathrine stood firm between the two, glowering at Lady Une. "Cathy, please go. I have very personal business with the Chief Marshal that was left unfinished. She would never bring harm me."
"Please be careful," Cathrine said, hesitantly walking away. Trowa stood back and let Lady Une enter the orderly trailer. He walked over to the kitchenette and made a scotch on the rocks. Lady Une took the drink and smiled at him.
"You remembered?" she asked.
"I always hated scotch, but I acquired a taste for it working for you," he said, disappearing behind a dressing screen. She could see him change in the reflection of a dressing table's foggy mirror. She felt her face flush watching his taut muscles undulate under five white scars on his back. She couldn't believe how much he had changed. It left her wondering when had he become such a handsome young man.
"You could have requested that I serve you something else," she blurted out to halt the uncomfortable thoughts that were rising, along with a flush to her face she hadn't felt in years.
"It wasn't my job to inconvenience you," Trowa said, coming back around the screen. He was wearing jeans and a gray pullover shirt. She gave him an exasperated look. "Oh yeah...I guess it was my job to interfere with yours," he said in a chagrined way and scratched the back of his head in a charming manner. He fixed himself a scotch and joined her on the small threadbare sofa. "My sister is very protective of me. She worries so much."
"I thought she was your wife," Lady Une said.
"That was my sister. She's married, lives two trailers down with her husband. Besides, I would never be crazy enough to marry a woman who would be throwing knives at me every night," Trowa said flatly.
"I forgot about your dry wit. It must have been nice growing up with a sister," Lady Une said, pushing her glasses high on her aquiline nose. She couldn't help feeling a little empty at seeing close siblings.
"I took back her name and made some family ties here. I was separated from my real family when I was very young. I took on Trowa Barton's name after he was killed and came to Earth with his Gundam," he explained. Pieces of a four year old puzzle slid in place. She turned away so he wouldn't see the empathy she was feeling for him.
"I want to ask what made you take the mission to spy on me. I've wondered all these years," Lady Une asked.
"Her name was Middie. I knew your cousin, Lady Une. It was my job to know every detail about you." He removed a photo album from under the sofa. "I had personal reasons for taking the assignment related to you. I was hoping to find her again. I found out that your families were so estranged that you never even met her in person. I was disappointed at first, but things changed when I was with you."
Lady Une felt her head tingle as she gingerly took the album and opened the cover. Pictures of an angular blond girl with several dangerous looking men littered the pages along with Trowa as a little boy, then as a teenager. She started to breath again as she flipped through the album with trembling hands.
"Who are these people?" she asked.
"The mercenary troop that we traveled with. We were fed and clean. We had to work hard, but we had each other for company," Trowa said. Lady Une glanced over at Trowa after she shut the album. He then turned to her said, "I wasn't going to tell you, but Middie was a spy for the ESA. She betrayed us."
"Thanks for telling me, but I never figured you for being so unguarded. What kind of person was she? Please tell me everything about Middie and where I can find her."
"She died some time ago," Trowa said before taking a large sip of his amber liquor. Lady Une regarded him with a blank stare that turned heavy.
"How?" Lady Une asked.
"She made some powerful men at Romefeller angry after she was captured. She refused to tell them anything about the Alliance and ended up taking her own life before they could extract information from her. There was no way for her to escape and those people weren't above torture. It happened six months before the Gundams came to Earth. She never imagined getting caught," Trowa said.
"Why didn't you do something?" she asked in a whisper.
"I was to indebted to Doctor S and the Gundam," he answered. Lady Une nodded at his explanation. They were silent for several minutes. "It was five years ago, but it always feels like yesterday. Forgive me, but I really don't want to talk about her any more," Trowa said, uncurling his lanky legs from under him. "I'm sure you didn't just stop by for a social call. If you traveled all the way from Earth you must have a purpose."
"I wanted to ask a favor. The espionage network is getting bogged down with corruption. I'm looking for an unknown to clean it out. I wanted to offer you the job, but you seem to be settled here on L-3 pretty nicely," Lady Une said while Trowa made two more drinks.
"I still keep my connections. I heard trouble was starting on the fringes. L-1 is smuggling in Gundanium and bribes are being taken in the South American sector. Working a circus gets you everywhere," he said.
"I'm glad to see you're up to speed, but I really don't want to put you in an awkward situation. Make sure you want the job." Lady Une took Mister Treize's letter from her glossy black purse that was Preventers issue. "I don't think your family will be thrilled."
"Cathy and her husband won't know. After tonight we can't be seen together. I'll contact you when I gathered up your leaks," Trowa said.
"Here. An curious letter I received right before we got wounded. I never had a chance to read until a week and a half ago," she said. Trowa read the letter and began to chuckle. Lady Une gave him a baffled look.
"The scientists ordered me to do away with you after I got back with the Gundam Vayeate. They said your mental illness was making you too unpredictable. We would have had one big standoff if we had met after the battle," Trowa explained. Lady Une joined his laughter.
"Could you imagine? Heero Yuy wanted a piece of Nickole so it would have been a fair fight."
"I wanted a piece of the fool Ivan Nickole! He was more of a detriment to my command than you," she said, earning Trowa's rare and earnest laughter again. "I'm glad I didn't read the letter," Lady Une said, smiling at him. "I don't know if I would have been strong enough to carry out Mister Treize's order," she confessed solemnly.
"One of the reasons I set myself adrift in space was so that I wouldn't have to face you. I had a lot of other concerns at the time as well," Trowa said after finishing his second drink. Lady Une gave him a critical look.
Lady Une finished her drink and shivered at Trowa's impassive gaze. It was sinking in how close she had been to death at his hands. He asked, "Another drink? You're looking pale, Lady Une."
"Please, Trowa." He brought out fresh drinks and drew his hand back subtly before she took the sweaty glass. Their eyes met and started to reform the bond they had begun to develop four years ago.
"You would have followed General Khushrenada's orders to do away with me because you are a good soldier," he said, giving her the drink.
"Thank you for that, Trowa. I need that encouragement, and I really do need your help."
"You have it. Always," he promised, sitting beside her again. He dropped the photo album on the floor and banished it under the sofa again.