Here it is: the end of "Full Circle."
Disclaimer: stop reminding me already. It hurts enough as it is to know I didn't have any part of this.
Chapter 3: To Live
It had been a week. A week since she had spoken to him or even seen him. A week that had given her time to analyze every single aspect of every single word that was said, every gesture that was made, and every thought that was thought, and try to figure out just what had gone wrong. Thus far, Lady Une hadn't come up with a damn thing.
There you go again, Une, overanalyzing everything. What was it that Treize always said, 'Don't think about all the details all at once, let the picture come to you gradually,'? So much for following good advice. Lady Une's thoughts were without mirth. She had had a surprisingly good time with Trowa--at least I can admit that much--but the week had passed without communication, and gradually Une's spirits had shifted from "unequivocally happy," as Sally had teased the Monday following the so-called date, to "unnervingly melancholy," as Sally had called her earlier that Friday afternoon as most Preventers headed home from the headquarters office. Sally, she surmised, had no qualms about honesty.
But for all the emotional tandem, Sally's daily commentary, and good old benefit-of-the-doubt, Lady Une was still left--
Working late on a Friday night.
A part of her shuddered at such...girlish thoughts. After all, she was a former OZ colonel, the leader of the Preventers, she had helped usher in the new world order for goodness sake! So why, why, was she sitting around moping over whether or not a man had called her?
Because you wanted him to.
It was a harsh truth, one that Une had spent the last week diligently trying to avoid facing, but here in her office, alone, with nothing to disturb her, it came and reared its ugly head. That was the damnable part about hearts: they were always more honest than brains. And the absolute last thing that Lady Une needed right now was honesty. "Why, why, why couldn't I have refrained from caring?" She picked up a picture of Treize that sat on her desk. No longer a sorrowful reminder of the past, it now served as a vent for Lady Une's frustrations with the world from time to time. "Can you answer me that, Treize? You always told me to be careful, for all the world is a battlefield. Is it too late? Have I already conceded victory to the enemy?" She fell silent for a moment, her thoughts swirling around her last statement. Was it true? Was she viewing Trowa as an enemy. Or had she...
"My god," Une murmured, the revelation hitting her. It was not Trowa she had been wary of. "I'm afraid to fall in love again." So much for no regrets and love coming full circle! It was a harsher truth than the first, for it struck at the very core of her connection with Trowa. She had felt so confident that night, so sure that, regardless of the outcome, love was a far better thing to only remember than to never have known at all. But if such an opinion were to be held true, then wouldn't she also have to bring herself to task regarding this latest loss?
What am I talking about? I'm acting as though I lost an emotional connection I never had in the first place.
Is love lost when there was no love to begin with?
As Une sat and pondered this new--disturbing--train of thought, something else occurred to her. What had Trowa meant when he said that she knew his motives? Was there something in his file that might explain his line of questioning that night? Could she have missed key information pertaining to Trowa's reappearance in her life? Or was there something else he had meant...?
"Damn," she swore softly, not wanting to be pulled out of her reverie. "Who on Earth would be placing a call at such an hour?" Surely no one else in the Headquarters was working as late as she, and she wanted to analyze her discoveries more; Une was very tempted to simply not answer the phone.
A second ring. Reaching for the keypad attached to the vidphone, Une pulled up the command for caller ID. Two phrases stopped her breath: Caller: Mr. T. Barton. Location: Unknown.
On the third ring, Une snapped out of her daze and switched on the phone, audio only. The last thing she needed was for Trowa to see her in such a contemplative state. Why give the man any more advantage than he already had? "Hello Trowa," she said as smoothly as she could muster. All her years on the political scene had indeed served her well.
"No video? Is anything the matter, Anne?" No 'hello,' not formalities. Trowa's specialty. So unlike the inquisitive man of only a week before. And yet, he could not have been unaffected by their conversation, for had he not just called her by her real name? Best to save the internal cross-examination for later, she thought. There were more pressing matters at hand. "No, what would make you suggest that?"
A chuckle came through from Trowa's end. "You're working on a Friday night, don't answer your phone until the third ring, and have the video turned off. You are a more thorough soldier than that."
If she hadn't been so shocked at the attention to detail he paid, she would have been offended by the underlying implication of his analysis. "I had pressing matters of international security which needed immediate attention." It was a pathetic excuse even as she thought of it, but even three years ago he had had that unnerving effect on her.
An outright laugh came through the phone, a sound which Une found herself still wholly unused to. "If a matter was so pressing, then surely you would have been awaiting any information you could receive, and would have answered on the first ring. And you are not indirect in your dealings with other people; you would have wanted eye contact when delivered news, either good or bad."
"You presume quite a bit about you, Trowa--"
"I served under you. I learned to read you quite well. I also know you, Anne. You were honest with me last week, and I am grateful to say that I'm one of the few people who knows you well enough to know what is inside your heart."
To say she was taken aback was an understatement. Had she completely misread Trowa that night? Or had he been paying attention to even the most minute detail, just as she had? Just what was the man named Trowa Barton trying to accomplish by coming back into her life.
"If you know me so well, then surely you will understand the nature of my next question: what is the point of all this?" There it was, all laid out in plain sight. It was time for Trowa to confess his angle, so that she could get on with her life. There was no question that her life would continue without Treize, but what role would the young man, who had at one point served under her and tried to kill her, play in it?
There was a pause on the other end of the line, before Trowa's voice came through, much clearer than before. "I respected you then, even when we were enemies. But obstacles were always placed in out way until Relena's party. You fascinated me, then and now. It was as simple as that."
A creak at the front of her office caused Lady Une's head to shoot up. Her door opened wide to reveal Trowa standing there, a cell phone in hand. "I think this is something best discussed in person, don't you?" he asked, disconnecting the call on his phone.
"Should I even bother asking how you managed to get into Preventers Headquarters after hours?" Lady Une refused to concede any more of a victory to Trowa than he already had. While she no doubt believed her words from the other night, that loss is integral to life, she still wanted a bit of her pride to be preserved.
Trowa walked over to her desk, and looked at her for a moment before reaching across to switch off her phone. "No sense in driving the government's phone bill up, right?" he smiled.
"You know," Une said softly, unsure how to handle Trowa's close proximity, "I distinctly remember you as not having a sense of humor. How much has changed these passed three years?"
"I learned to love. And I learned to laugh. Three years of peace is a long time in which to learn how to live."
"So then, you live the philosophy we discussed last week?" Was she ready for this? To love again, to live? Life was precious, and the past littered with the mistakes of human hearts. Would she--could she--pick up the pieces from the past and embrace a clean future? Was this what Trowa offered to her now, as he continued to stare into her eyes, into her soul?
Trowa shook his head. "Unfortunately, I do harbor regrets about my actions during the war. But a very wise person told me, a very long time ago, that they best way to live was to act on your emotions." Trowa shook his head slightly. "When he told me that, I was in no position to understand him. But, as I said, three years is a long time. And I understand him now."
He stood up, and motioned for Une to join him as he walked to the window. She got up and walked to him, waiting to hear him continue. Hope is a light that shines in the darkest hour, she had heard once, and at that moment, all she felt was hope. Hope for the past, the present, and most importantly, for the future. So, she waited for him to finish his train of thought. And she hoped.
"I don't know if I always had emotions, but regardless, I learned to embrace them. They made me stronger, and they made me better. But I don't regret how I used to be, because to regret the past is to not understand how we got to where we are today, is it not?" He inclined his head slightly, and Une nodded once in response. So, Trowa mused, we are heading towards the same place after all. Trowa's pensive expression turned to one of contentment. "And I came to the decision not to waste a moment. Live life, and love as if tomorrow may not come. Is that close to your own philosophy?"
Lady Une smiled then. "Yes, it is quite close, Mr. Barton."
Choosing not to respond verbally, Trowa instead tilted Une's face up towards his, and gently lowered his lips onto hers.
To love, to lose, to live; they are all the same, are they not?
And then, you love again.
"Why are we doing this?"
"Because technically, he's a trespasser on Preventers grounds, and we have to make sure he's not a threat. Now shut up!"
"A threat? Him?! This is thinly veiled, even for you.
"Oh be quiet! Do you want them to hear you?"
"What would it matter? This was all your idea."
"Yeah, but I'm not your superior, so you have no reason to be here, except of your own reconnaissance. You'd be in as much trouble as me."
"If you're admitting that there would be hell to pay if we got caught, then why are we still here?"
"Because they're our friends and we have to make sure that they don't get hurt."
"This all sounds eerily familiar..."
"If you stopped asking the same questions over and over, I wouldn't have to repeat myself, now would I?"
"Woman, you are grating on my last-- What are they...?"
"So much for worrying about them! They look like they're doing fine. I guess we weren't needed here after all!"
"Your eye is twitching..."
"*Sigh* Let's go, Wufei."
Okay...it's over. That wasn't so terrible, was it? I realize that Trowa's actions and motives seemed unclear at best, and convoluted and out-of-character at worst. It was through no intentional reason, other than the fact that he was not my primary focus. Yes, I do think that this was interesting couple ripe for exploration, but about halfway through writing is (and countless bouts of writer's block) the story turned into a Lady Une exposition piece. She is still my favorite character in GW, as those of you who read my other Une-centric piece I Dreamed a Dream are doubtless aware of. The story didn't follow quite the road I had hoped for, but Trowa was harder to write than I had expected. All you Trowa-writers out there get a huge banner of support from me. And the little Sally/Wufei blurbs? I'm sorry, but I see them as comic relief equal to anything Duo and Hilde could be put up to. They're just fun.
So, let me know how you liked it, okay?