Subject: [FFML] [fic][GW] Sainan no Kekka 10.3
From: Aishuu Shadowweaver
Date: 11/16/2002, 10:40 PM
To: FFML@anifics.com, stellarsoldiers@yahoogroups.com


Earlier Parts can be found at:
http://www.midnightrevolution.org/gundam/

Gundam Wing is property of Sotsu Agency, Bandai
Studios, and TV Asahi. Sainan no Kekka and all
original characters and plot copyright 2000-2002 by
Quicksilver and Gerald Tarrant. Please ask permission
before reposting. 

SHIN KIDOU SENKI GUNDAM WING 
SAINAN NO KEKKA
ACT X, PART III 

Anata ga kizukanakute mo
Dakishimete kurenakute mo
Hohoemu anata o ima
Mitsumete itai 
Hanarete omou dake
No ima wa hitori
Dakishimeru sabishii kedo
Suteki na kyori

Even if you don't notice me
Even if you don't embrace me
Now I want to gaze towards
Your smiling face 
As long as it's a secret
That no one knows
Loving you like this
That is my happiness

--Gundam Wing, Zutto Himitsu
[Always a Secret, Relena Peacecraft image song]


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Scene IX: Lessons in the Art of Duty
�And I want to believe you,
When you tell me that it'll be okay...
Maybe it�s not too late.�
--Avril Lavigne, Tomorrow
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

	The other pilots were still all gathered in Quatre�s
room, discussing strategy, when Trowa left. He�d
begged off because he had promised Catherine he�d be
home in time to eat supper with her, but in truth,
he�d just wanted to get out of there. He didn�t like
the stifling familiarity of that last conversation,
didn�t like the wash of tingling nostalgia he�d gotten
when Heero had announced he and Duo were leaving.

	He was supposed to have left all that behind him when
the war had ended. He�d promised Catherine to leave it
all behind, and the fact that he was even thinking
about it made him guilty, because he was disappointing
her. He�d broken her heart once when he�d left when
the news broke, and he�d be damned if he would break
her heart again.

	He hadn�t expected her to be sitting by his bedside
in the hospital when he�d woken up from whatever
they�d given him before the operation. He vaguely
remembered stumbling dazedly out of the building after
he�d shot Ilene, still seeing the crazed look of
despair in her young face as she crashed to the
ground, his bullet in her back. He�d taken about two
steps when the pain hit him, a terrible throbbing in
his temples so strong that the world swam around him
and he had to fight to keep his balance.

	That little boy in the resistance hideout in Milan
must have hit him harder than he had thought.

	An arm came around him and it was a moment before he
realized it was Duo. Duo, tears still streaming down
his cheeks, shoulders hitching with silent sobs,
helping him stand. 

	She wasn�t a fanatic. She was my friend.

	He remembered very little after that � bits and
pieces of conversation, the bouncing of truck tires
across pavement, gently hands behind medical masks.
But Duo had always been there. The last thing he had
heard before the anesthesia hit him was Duo�s voice,
speaking, low and clear even though his pain and
drug-clouded mind couldn�t make out the words.

	And when he�d woken up, Catherine was there.

	�If you didn�t have a concussion,� she�d said, �I�d
punch you.�

	He had stared at her familiar face for a moment,
hardly believing that it wasn�t a dream, that she
really was there, standing in front of him, and then
before he could say anything, she had begun to cry.

	�Cat?� he wondered.

	�You were gone�when I woke up, you were just gone�you
never said goodbye��

	�I�m sorry, Cat, I�m sorry,� he said, wanting to hold
her and to make it all better, because whatever he had
said or done in the past, he was there now. With her.
Something twisted inside him as he watched her crying
silently, face buried in her hands. 

	They were an odd thing, tears. He never thought he
was capable of them until that day when he�d blown
Deathscythe to bits in front of an entire ship and an
entire colony just to prove a lie. When he�d gritted
his teeth and forced himself to pull the trigger,
knowing he was destroying something priceless. That
was the first time he�d killed something Duo had
loved.

	He wondered what it was about him that brought sorrow
to everyone he held dear.

	Catherine didn�t punch him after all. She didn�t stay
long, but before she left, she hugged him as tightly
as she could and told him she forgave him. That she
understood why he had left, and in the end, that she
was still very proud of him. He didn�t tell her about
the bombing in Milan, or the girl he had just killed.
He didn�t tell her that one day not too long ago,
she�d saved his life.

	He didn�t tell her that he loved her.

	After the end of the war, he�d said those words very
freely because she�d told him it was the right way to
live, the good and healthy way to break out of the
world he�d been living in and to start on a new and
better path. Catherine loved passionately and
unconditionally, and he envied her for that. He had
wanted to be like her � to have her big heart and her
fierce, unwavering loyalty to anything she believed
in. He had tried.

	It wasn�t till the night he had left the circus did
he realize that some things could never change, as
much as he wanted them to. That there were some scars
that would remain forever and that not even the
unconditional love of a sister could wash away.

	Trowa didn't fight because he enjoyed fighting or
killing. He fought because it was the right thing to
do!

	Had he? He wasn�t sure anymore why he had fought. The
look in Ilene�s eyes as she fell, gazing up at him,
perfectly sane and insane all at once, haunted him.
Duo�s tears, trickling down his cheeks, mourning the
loss of one friend as he helped the very man who had
murdered her.

	Murdered.

	He�d never thought of himself as a murderer before.

	It was later than he realized, and he got to the bus
stop right as the last bus pulled up. Chose a seat
near the back, stared out the window as the bus pulled
out of the wide gates of the base and sped off into
the city of Geneva. All the shop windows were still
lit brightly, and throngs of people lined the streets,
all smartly dressed. The terrorist attack on the base
hadn�t seemed to hurt the tourist industry here. Then
again, many of these were probably politicians and
world leaders here for Quatre�s trial.

	He had not had time to ask Quatre what was bothering
him about Heero. Quatre was tired. They were all
tired. He supposed it was inevitable, that they had
all been destined to burn out some time, but this was
a rather inconvenient time for it to happen.

	The bus pulled up at his stop and he got off. The
shop district had ended some streets back and this was
clearly a high-class residential neighborhood, with
its huge, old trees lining the wide white sidewalks
and wrought iron fences speaking of grandeur and a
time long gone by for the rest of the world. Old
Geneva�s residents were wealthy and established and
proud of how far back they could trace their family
bloodlines. It amused him sometimes how obsessed some
people were with tracing bloodlines. As if the only
way they could define themselves was through a family
name, because names were such a futile waste in the
end.

	The Catalonia townhouse was brightly lit by the
garden lights and he entered through the front gate
with the key Catherine had given him. He wondered if
she had waited for him or if she had given up and gone
to bed. He reached the front door, knocked, and
waited, glancing up at the night sky. The stars were
strangely dim � muted, perhaps, in the false, cheerful
glow of the garden lamps.

	The door opened and he had expected to see the
smiling face of the maid, Rosalie, but instead, it was
Dorothy who stood there in a sweatshirt and loose
pants, looking slightly disgruntled.

	�There you are. Catherine was wondering. We were
about to go send a search party.�

	�Where�s your maid?� he wondered, nodding in greeting
to her as he entered and took off his shoes at the
door. He didn�t think the custom applied here, but
he�d been raised among the Yakuza on L3 and old habits
died hard.

	�I sent her home early�tomorrow�s her off day and she
deserved a break. Where were you?�

	�Heero called a meeting,� he replied calmly. �Is
Catherine still awake?�

	Dorothy gestured behind her. �In the kitchen, talking
with Sylvia. You know where the kitchen is?�

	�I think so,� he said carefully.

	She laughed. �What am I saying? You probably have the
whole house memorized already from only being here
once.� He blinked at her and she smiled. �I�ll be
upstairs if any of you need me. Trying to finish some
more of those damned notes.�

	He nodded at her and started off in the direction of
the kitchen. The town house wasn�t large by
aristocratic means, but it was good-sized enough that
it was confusing to one who didn�t know where he was
going. The kitchen was set behind the dining room
proper and he could hear female voices coming from
within. The door had been left propped open, but he
stopped, knocked.

	The voices stopped. �Come in,� someone said.

	He entered cautiously and saw the two women seated at
a small wooden table in front of what looked like a
large dishwasher and several sinks. Catherine looked
relieved. �I thought something had happened to you.�

	�I�m sorry,� he said quietly. �Our meeting ran over.�

	�Meeting?�

	�Heero called a meeting.�

	Sylvia raised an eyebrow briefly but said nothing. He
nodded at her and she nodded back, smiling. He had
only seen her once or twice from a distance at the
trial, but he had heard good things about her from
Quatre. �It�s nice to meet you,� he said.

	�Likewise,� she returned. Her voice was light and
high-pitched, tinkling. She rose gracefully from the
table as she spoke and gestured to her chair. �I�ll
leave you two to your own devices. I should go help
Dorothy.�

	�Good night, Sylvia,� he said politely to her, and
she smiled again at him and Catherine before slipping
quietly out the door. Catherine pointed to the chair.

	�Sit.�

	He sat and she got up. He stared after her. �Cat?�

	�I made us some apple pie.�

	�Thank you,� he said, slightly amused. �But I haven�t
had dinner yet.�

	�I knew you�d say that! I didn�t know when you�d get
back so I already ate dinner�but I made yours and left
it in the fridge.� Opening the refrigerator door and
triumphantly taking out a covered plate, she set it
down in front of him.

	�Thank you.�

	�You�re quite welcome. How was your day? The
meeting?�

	He shrugged, biting into his ham and turkey sandwich.
He hadn�t realized how hungry he was. �It was a
meeting. You know.�

	She laughed. �Yes. I know.�

	�How was your day?�

	Catherine shook her head slightly. �Very boring. I�ve
been out and about, trying to get in touch with
people. Mostly got no farther than their secretaries,
but I�m hoping one of these days my efforts will pay
off�sometimes I feel my efforts pale in comparison to
what the other girls are doing, but at least I�m
trying, right?� She laughed. �Dorothy and Sylvia are
still at it upstairs, and Relena is on base again for
something or other.� She slid back into her chair, a
slice of pie on her plate. �Say��

	�Yes?�

	�You�re not�you don�t have to�� she trailed off.

	�Don�t worry,� he soothed. �I�m not going anywhere.�

	She looked relieved, but a little suspicious. �Are
you telling the truth?�

	He put down his sandwich and laid one hand gently on
top of her small one. �I promise, Catherine, that I�m
not going anywhere. I�m staying right here. With you.�

	Her smile was brilliant. �I�m glad.�

	�I saw you on television,� he said suddenly, then
blinked in surprise at how the words had just slipped
out without him even realizing it.

	She frowned, taking a bite of her pie. �On
television?�

	�Your show�with whatever her name was. She was
interviewing you about me. I saw it on the news.�

	Catherine�s face cleared. �Oh�that. Yes, that was
Relena�s idea. I wasn�t sure I wanted to do it at
first � talk shows and interviews have always seemed
rather silly to me, but I�m glad I did. I do hope that
I managed to make a difference through that.� Smiling
at him. �I can�t do much, but at least that was
something, right?� She frowned again. �That interview
was done before the attack though. Where were you when
you saw it?�

	�You-� his voice was hoarse, like there was something
caught in his throat. �You saved my life. That day.�

	She went still. �Trowa?�

	�You were wrong about me,� he whispered. �You were
wrong�I didn�t fight because it was the right thing to
do. I fought because I didn�t know anything else. I
wasn�t a warrior, Catherine�I was just a soldier. No,
not even a soldier. I was a machine. I was�something
that the scientists invented, just like the Gundams.�

	�Trowa-�

	�I�m sorry I�m not the perfect brother,� he plowed
on, letting the sandwich fall from his shaking hands.
The lights seemed suddenly bright and he squeezed his
eyes shut. The image of Ilene, falling, was still
there. He pressed the heels of his hands to his
eyelids, trying to block her out. �I�m sorry I
couldn�t be the person you wanted me to be. I
thought�I thought��

	Warm breath pressed against his neck, arms winding
around him. �Shh. Trowa. Don�t cry. Please, don�t
cry.�

	�Am I crying?� he wondered, and then felt a wet
warmth against his neck. His tears running from the
corners of his eyes down to the corners of his mouth,
to his chin, dripping. A clown�s tears. �I didn�t even
realize��

	�You did your duty,� she whispered, her voice muffled
against his back. �There�s nothing to blame yourself
for. You did what you thought was right. I know you
did. Even if you think otherwise.�

	�Duty�what is duty?� He touched the tip of his tongue
to one corner of his mouth, tasting the salt there.
�There�s the word. Everyone uses that word. But�define
it for me, Cat. Is it fighting for something you
believe in? Is it fighting for a cause because it�s
the only thing you know? Is it something that keeps
you alive? Does duty even exist? Or is it
something�something that we make up simply to justify
our actions because there is no justification for
war?� Gritting his teeth in frustration, he stared
blindly at the wall. �And if that�s the case�what is
right and what is wrong? I don�t know who the enemy is
anymore.�

	He felt her sigh. �I�m not a soldier, Trowa. If I
could answer all this for you, I would. You know that.
But I only know what I think, and I think that there
is more to you than you know. You�re a strong person,
Trowa. Don�t lose that strength.�

	�They haunt me,� he whispered. �All those people�that
I killed. That I will kill. In the line and in the
name of duty. I killed her because it was the right
thing to do. War is such a simple thing. �Find the
enemy and shoot him down.� Isn�t it?�

	Catherine didn�t ask who he meant by �her.� He hadn�t
expected her to. Instead, her arms relaxed around him
and she leaned the top of her head against the back of
his. �It�s simple in concept,� she said. �Never in
execution. We learned that the hard way two years
ago.�

	�Treize believed that as long as humans were alive,
war would never cease. Should it be like this forever,
then? Should war go on? In the name of duty?�

	She kissed his cheek. �I can�t answer that for you,
Trowa.�

	He sighed. �I know. I just�I don�t know why I�m still
here.�

	She pulled her head away and cupped his cheeks in her
hands. �My beloved little brother�look at me.� He
stared into her eyes, so warm and caring and he read
the love in them, wishing desperately that he could
love her back just as much. She kissed his nose. �I
don�t care who you are or who you were or where you�ve
been. You don�t have to tell me your past. I�ve never
asked about it. I don�t care what you were doing this
past month after the news broke. That doesn�t matter
to me.�

	�Cat-� he said, but she shook her head.

	�There�s a conflict in you that hasn�t been resolved
yet. I thought I could fix it, thought that I could
heal you. But I�ve discovered that I can�t do that.
You�re the only one who can do that, Trowa � you�re
the only one. Not me, not Quatre or Heero or any of
the pilots, not Lady Une or the Preventers. I thought
I could understand you and why you fought. Maybe I was
wrong. All I know is that I love you. Can you believe
that?�

	�I want to,� he whispered, turning in his chair and
putting his arms around her gently. She smelled like
roses and summer sun, so far from the stench of blood
and death that he knew he must reek of, no matter how
many times he tried to wash himself clean. �I want to,
so very much.�

	She broke her gaze and pulled him close. �Then that�s
enough. Mon fr�re�we�ll make it through this. We�ll
make it through. I promise.�

	She wasn't a fanatic...she was my friend.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Scene X: Legends in the Stars 
�Stars, in your multitudes scarce to be counted
Filling the darkness with order and light.�
-- Les Miserables, Stars
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Late evening air made him feel alive. Perhaps it was
just because his circadian rhythm was just really off,
but Enrico Lopez never felt more vital than when
everyone else was asleep. Then again, perhaps it was
just because he was young. 

He walked through the dark base in Geneva, feeling a
welcome sense of homecoming. The base had been rebuilt
since he had been forced to flee with the command
team, the night of the terrorist attack, but he hadn't
had a chance to look around since arriving earlier
that day, and his curiosity was nearly eating him
alive. 

Lopez had always been called a golden child. When he
was young, people had started to call him precocious
at two, and it grew to such an extent that his parents
had gotten him tested. IQ and EQ tests, along with
multiple doctors, had determined something
astonishing. Lopez wasn't merely smart; he was a
genius who tested off the charts. His memory was a
trap - he saw it, it was filed away, and never
forgotten. 

Not only could he remember things, but he had the
ability to apply what he learned, which immediately
springboarded him into the category of someone with
the potential to become legendary. And unlike most
geniuses, he had a natural charm and curiosity about
people that balanced his interest in academics. 

Not that he cared about his designation. It was
everyone else who made a big deal about what he could
do; to him, his abilities were merely a part of him,
and accepted as such. Everyone else made it the issue
where there should have been none, according to his
opinion. Scientists were always calling him to
participate in studies, and schools wanted him for
their missions. 

As he grew and his intelligence refined, the calls
became more frequent, and he been had practically been
offered the world for his abilities. It hadn't
mattered, though. He had already decided on the
military by that point, and that had been the end of
the matter. 

If there was one word people used to describe him, it
was brilliant. The second was na�ve... but the third
was stubborn. He had set his heart on becoming a
soldier, and he knew he'd make it. 

His genius, rather than helping him, got in the way.
People didn't want to lose his potential to the
military. Roadblocks were thrown before him
consistently, and his parents were none too pleased
with the idea. They had wanted their child to do
something more important, something profound. He had
been unable to make them understand that he saw in a
military career. 

Lopez wasn�t able to define exactly what the
military�s draw was for him; it was something
emotional. When he had been seven, his father had
taken him to an exhibit of Mobile Suits. It had been
amazing to watch the giant suits fly through the air,
but that wasn't what truly caught his imagination. 

After the show, he had watched the pilots disembark,
and they had been teasing each other, playfully
needling the others about missed tricks or offering
complements of particularly difficult passes. And at
that moment, young Enrico Lopez fell in love with the
military. He wanted to be part of that family, know
that sense of normality. Only later would the concepts
of serving and protecting be broached, but by that
time, he would have sold his soul to be allowed to
become a soldier. A soldier, just one of the common
men. 

Enrico had earned numerous bachelor degrees in the
hard sciences and government before enlisting, for his
parents had forced him to wait until he was eighteen
to enter the military.  He been immediately shuffled
into the Federation's command school. Had Oz survived
the Eve Wars, they would have drafted him most
likely... But he was too late to enter that war,
thanks to the stonewalling everyone around him had
done. 

So he became one of the first recruits for the
Preventers, instead. He knew he wasn't common; even in
the Preventers, he shone. Promotions had come readily,
and soon he was in the command staff. He had little
doubt that within two years, he'd be one of the most
powerful men in the organization. He had no particular
ambition, but that was the way his life worked.

It hadn't been what he had wanted, but it had
happened. He hadn't found that community he had joined
for, but he'd found something more important...
someplace that needed him. 

The smell of lemon met his nose, jerking him out of
his reverie, and he smiled. The maids who had been
assigned to clean this hallway had been through
recently. He loved the scent of lemon, since it always
epitomized clean to him. Une would approve, when she
arrived in two days. The maids were probably
frantically making sure everything was perfect. 

He'd been sent back to prepare for Une's return to
Geneva because Etille, a man he'd never met in person,
had volunteered to go to Asia Minor. Lopez understood
intellectually that it was the best move the
Preventers could make; seasoned commanders were too
few to spare on bases, and after reviewing Etille's
combat record, he knew that the man shouldn't be
locked in a desk job. Une was going stir crazy in
Bern, and having her return to Geneva was a wise move
politically. 

In his heart, though, he was nervous. Une had never
entirely forgiven him for being the one to force her
off the base that day. He doubted she ever would, and
her return would stir those feelings. It had been the
scariest thing he had ever done, facing the General
down. 

Him, a mere captain, had gazed across the vast gulf of
rank to the leader of his organization, and evacuated
her to Bern, even against her will, as per
regulations. She wasn't that much older than he was,
he realized that day, but from the way her eyes had
been shooting fire as she had threatened to have his
commission, he recognized her power. He knew she was
more valuable than he could ever dream of being. 

As he walked through the building, he noted the
tightened security with approval. He was challenged
four different times, and noticed at least three other
agents make silent note of his presence. Security was
tight, with two Gundams and five pilots on the base.
Etille had left earlier tonight, and Une hadn't
arrived, and for the next three days, he had temporary
command of the base. Maybe that was another reason for
him being awake. 

He shivered slightly in the chill summer air, wishing
he'd thought to bring his telescope. There were
supposed to be some interesting stars out tonight, and
summertime was the best for seeing meteor showers. The
night was set to be clear, and on top of the complex,
light pollution would be at a minimum.

As he opened the door to the roof, he felt someone
else there. It wasn't empathy, at least not the kind
the Winner siblings were famed for. Lopez had always
tested high on "situational awareness," having an
almost uncanny knack for being aware of his
surroundings. It gave him an edge in sports, adding to
his already formidable abilities. It was too bad that
he had a slight case of claustrophobia which kept him
out of the piloting program.

"Who's there?" he called, trying to see through the
darkness. Even though his eyes were brown, he had poor
night vision. Another reason for him to stay out of
the pilot�s program, damn it. He�d always wanted to go
up, just once, in an MS. There was something about
those machines which was fascinating. 

He heard feet shifting before a soft voice answered.
"No one. I'm on my way out of here." 

"Don't let me interrupt you," Lopez said cheerfully.
"I just came up to study the stars." 

"Oh," the voice said, and the presence remained. 

Lopez recognized the voice, and heard the depression
in it. He couldn't blame Quatre; God knew the poor guy
was going through enough to depress anyone sane.
Still, Quatre hadn�t chosen to identify himself, so
Lopez decided to play along, even though his natural
curiosity was urging him to latch onto the pilot and
ask question after question.

He�d never had a pilot alone, before, and of all of
them, Quatre was the one who was supposed to be the
most brilliant. Lopez liked smart people, and there
were few who were able to keep up with him. According
to record, Quatre might actually be smarter than he
was, and Lopez was enchanted by the possibility.

�I like watching the sky at night,� Lopez said
casually. �It�s kind of like a scavenger hunt,
sometimes with extra bonuses thrown in.�

�Oh?� Quatre answered, and there was a slight bit of
interest amidst the distraction. �I never really had
time to take up astronomy.�

�Sure. Summer time has some of the best meteor shows�
in less than a week, we�re going to be hitting the
peak of Delta Aquarids� and then two weeks after that,
the Perseids come through.  You ever want to see a
meteor show, that�s the one to catch.  It�s amazing.�
Lopez�s enthusiasm for his hobby caught his voice, and
he walked closer to the edge of the roof, which was
carefully framed with a banister.  There would be a
watch passing through in about twenty minutes, but
that would give them enough time for a private chat.

�I wonder if they�re visible from the colonies��
Quatre mused quietly.

�They are, though the angles are a bit different. One
day, I�m going to take a year off from work, buy some
great camera equipment, and just go around taking
pictures of the sky from different places at different
times, you know?�

�I�d like to take a year off from my life�� came the
wistful reply.

�It�s a pipe dream,� Lopez said, laughing. �I�ll have
to wait until I retire� the stars will still be
there.�

�Will they? Some will, but� stars die, all the time.
We�re only seeing the light of stars that has travels
for thousands of years, and most of them are probably
dead already.�

Lopez wished he could see Quatre�s face. The cynicism
in the cultured voice didn�t fit what he�d heard about
the pilot; Quatre had a reputation for always seeing
the best in everything, and he wondered what had
changed.  Perhaps the stress of the trial was making
him crack. After all, learning you were a natural
child and your mother had died giving birth to you
when you�d always had thought you were a test-tube
child had to have some effect�

�That�s true�� Lopez said, not missing a beat as his
thoughts raced a different direction. �But there�s
plenty of stars out there whose light hasn�t reached
us yet� Nothing is eternal, but other things come to
take the place of that which passesm, friend.�

A laugh came, light and forced at the same time. The
duality of it fascinated the ever-curious Lopez.
�Funny you should call me that. Friend. I just denied
the friendship of a person who I once would have died
for.�

�What changed?�

�He did� I did� I don�t know.� Feet shifted, and Lopez
knew Quatre was moving closer. Evidentially, having an
anonymous confessor appealed to the billionaire. 

�Would you still die for him?� Lopez asked softly.

Quatre was silent for so long that Lopez wondered if
he was offended.  Then the pilot spoke, and it make
Lopez realize how truly special all the pilots had to
be. �I� I would die for anyone. My life is upon the
altar of mankind. I once thought he had laid his down
beside mine, and we shared in offering ourselves as a
sacrifice, to fight so others wouldn�t have to.�

�And he let you down?� The Preventer captain�s mind
was racing. Apparently one of the pilots had
disappointed Quatre, and now there was dissension in
the ranks of the former heroes of the Ever Wars.  This
was decidedly not good� 

�He let himself down, and those who depended on him.
People have died because of him, people I loved.�

Lopez was silent a moment, knowing that a slight nudge
from him could send the situation either way. He was
at the right place at the right time, and he knew he
had to act. He was a born meddler.

�My favorite thing about astronomy is the legends
attached to the constellations. I think almost all
societies have them, so it�s fun to learn them.� He
paused, and tilted his head towards the sky, hoping he
wasn�t going to screw this up.

�I�m European by birth, so I grew up on the
Greco-Roman mythology. The constellations for the
summer months aren�t quite as good as the winter
months, so I never was quite as interested in them. 
There�s something about a winter sky, something
magical.�

�I�ve never seen one. I�ve always been in places that
are warm during the Northern hemisphere�s winter
months, or the Colonies.�

�You�re missing a treat. One of the best
constellations is out then- Orion. He�s the hunter,
and he�s always near, but never confronting, Taurus
the Bull. Around them others cheer them on, but the
battle will never be over�� Lopez laughed. �I always
think of it as a lesson in life.�

�Oh?�

�We go around and around in circles, playing a part
that someone else has set for us. Still, many of us
never actually follow through on what we most want to
do� or know we should do. So like Orion, we always
hunt Taurus, and even though the bull may be in our
sight, we never let the arrow fly.� It was getting
late, and Lopez had to stifle a yawn before completing
his thought. �It may sound a bit fanciful, but I use
that as motivation to always keep going, and do what I
need to.�  He shifted his gaze over to the shadows
where Quatre lurked. �You know what you need to do:
the question is, will you?�

There was another of those long silences before Quatre
replied, �I�m angry.  Don�t I have the right to be?�

�Yes.  We all have the right to be; it�s part of
friendship. Still, we never discard a friend just
because they�ve changed. We learn to accept the person
they�ve become.� He winced soundlessly, fearing he�d
been a bit too heavy-handed.

Apparently he�d been right, for Quatre�s next response
was hasty and confused. �I- It�s getting late, I have
to go.� Lopez listened to Quatre�s hurried steps as
the pilot fled.

�Did I say something wrong?� Lopez wondered aloud,
then sighed. His younger sister had always told him
he�d had a big mouth, and tonight it looked like he�d
really put his foot in.

�Ah, well, you don�t care, do you?� he asked, staring
up at Scorpio. Not surprisingly, the scorpion didn�t
answer him.



For information about astronomical legends:
http://www.mindspring.com/~stardancer/index.htm





~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Scene XI: At the End of Something
�For after all, we belong�two in one galaxy.�
--Alice Holiday, Galaxy
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

	He had just rounded the bend in the corridor when he
saw her. She was leaning against the wall with her
eyes closed, by the huge window by the elevators that
opened up to the night sky. His first thought was to
turn the other way, go back into that lighted room, to
escape her, because he had been working so hard to
avoid her these past few weeks, ever since he had
arrived in Geneva. The hallway was dimly lit, deserted
except for the two of them. He turned to retrace his
steps, looked at her again, and the force of her
presence hit him suddenly and he took a deep,
shuddering breath, his eyes closing because the sight
of her was too much.

	He heard her shift against the wall.

	"Hello, Heero," she said. 

	He opened his eyes, looked at her over a space of two
heartbeats, meeting her eyes. If she was surprised to
see him, she didn�t show it.

	"Hello�Relena."

	She gave him a polite smile. "How are you?"

	"Fine," he said hoarsely, his heart suddenly beating
faster, though he didn't understand why. Her eyes were
impossibly blue in the soft light of the wall lamps.
�What are you doing here?�

	�I had a meeting with General Etille,� she said
flatly. �Une called and wanted to talk to me.�

	�I see,� he said after a pause, unable to think of
another response.

	�He told me you were leaving. Tomorrow.�

	For some reason, the flatness of her voice irritated
him. If she had sounded angry, if she�d sounded
confused or regretful or even happy�it would have been
all right. But there was no emotion in her voice at
all, just the robotic tones of the words leaving her
lips. She sounded dead.

	�Yes,� he said at last, after another long pause. �I
am.�

	She met his gaze for moment, then looked away. "I
have to go," she said stiffly. "I'm sorry to bother
you."

	"Don't�Relena," he said.

	She'd taken a step away from the window and paused at
his words, staring at the floor. He saw one fist
clench against her thigh. "I don't think you should be
ordering me around," she said tightly. "Heero Yuy."

	"I-"

	"We have nothing to say to each other." Her head came
up, staring into the darkness beyond. "Do we, Heero?"

	He didn't answer.

	"You made that very clear that first day you came
back, at the landing pad. There's nothing more to
say."

	"I'm sorry," he offered clumsily, wincing at the
taste of the words in his mouth, wondering why. Why he
had spent this entire time avoiding her only to be
caught now. He hadn't wanted this. He didn't want to
hurt her any more than he already had. 

	"Sorry�I'm sorry too." The blond tresses shook
slightly. "But sorry can't change the past."

	"You look tired," he said by way of answer. He didn't
want to think about the past, the times when he had
wished he were dead, when he had felt more dead than
alive.

	"I've been busy. So have you, I've been told. Not
that I inquired about you specifically."

	Her last words rankled him and he took another step
towards her, her back facing him, the stiff set of her
shoulders that told him that she was angry. He
remembered that about her, one of the little things
that made her Relena. One of the little things that
had made her real. He knew that now, even in the calm
tone of her voice and the equanimity of her stance,
she was angry.

	"It's odd, isn't it, Heero? That once it would be me
chasing after you, yet these few weeks I've done
nothing more than leave you alone, because that's what
you wanted. So I don't want to talk to you now."

	"Stop it, Relena," he said.

	Her hand clenched again. "Stop it? I'm not the one to
blame � not the one who's been acting like a little
lost child when the entire world is looking for a
savior. I've been working hard, Heero. I've been
holding up my share of the deal. I've been supporting
you in all that we do, and you haven't once returned
the favor."

	"Relena-"

	"So you know what?" she continued, whirling around
suddenly, and he was shocked to see the tears
streaming down her cheeks, sparkling in the soft glow
of the lamps. "You know what? I'm sick of this farce.
I waited for two years for you to find your place,
waited for two years for you to keep a promise you
made to me, and you showed me that promises don't
matter anymore. If you ever cared for me, if you
ever�the best thing you could do is to leave me
alone!"

	"Relena," he said hoarsely, stumbling towards her,
reaching out one hand to her. She reached out her own
hand and for a second a fluttering hope rose in his
heart, shattered as he felt the stinging sensation on
his skin as she slapped his palm away.

	"Leave me alone," she whispered, moving away from him
and he was frightened that she would disappear down
that dark hallway and leave him there, but she
stopped, leaned against the wall again, her form just
a slight shadow against the darkness of the sky
outside the window and the millions of twinkling stars
unshielded by clouds.

	"I made a mistake," he said. Swallowed. "I've made
lots of mistakes. I�I've been�avoiding you because I
didn't�I was scared you wouldn't want the man I've
become. When I left you two years ago I was a boy
trying to find some shred of meaning in a life which
didn't seem to matter to anyone. Not even to you. I
thought�I thought�I didn't know what you thought."

	"You mattered," she said. "You mattered, Heero."

	"I didn't believe you. I wanted to�hell, I didn't
know what I wanted. I wanted something more but I
didn't know where to find it. I wanted to forget and
start over�except I couldn't. I'm broken, Relena. I've
discovered that I can never forget the blood I've
spilled, no matter how hard I try. I've learned that
there are some things that can't be erased. The past
is one of them. It took Atsuki dying for me to figure
that out."

	"Atsuki," she echoed, but there was no bitterness or
jealousy in her voice, just a quiet question. "You
loved her, didn't you?"

	He glanced out the window at the velvet sky, seeing a
star streaking across the sky, moving too fast for a
star, a transport lifting off bound for Bern. For just
a moment, an intense wave of longing swept over him
and he remembered what it was like to fly among the
stars in the mystery and beauty of space.

	He heard Atsuki say, they were my heroes. So daring
and brave, knights in shining armor�

	"I loved her," he said. "But I didn't love her
enough."

	"I don't understand."

	"I took her�I used her. She was my stability in a
world that wouldn't�couldn't stop changing. We needed
each other. We kept each other alive. But it was a
selfish kind of love�it was a game that we played, a
game that one of us would lose eventually. We knew
that. And in the end, she lost. In the end�I killed
her."

	"Don't say that, Heero," she whispered, her golden
hair whispering across her shoulders as her head
turned towards him, her profile traced by the
silver-white stars through the window.

	"It's true," he said harshly. "She knew it as well as
I did. That's why I didn't want to come back. Even
after I realized who I was�especially after I realized
who I was. I can't keep that promise I made to you two
years ago, Relena, when I said that I would find you
again. I'm not that boy anymore. And if you want me to
go away�I'll go. I don't want to hurt you like I hurt
Atsuki."

	"I'm strong," she whispered. He heard her voice
tremble. "You know I'm strong. You know I would have
forgiven you for anything. For everything."

	"Would you?"

	She took a deep breath, let it out. "Don't throw my
own words back in my face, Heero."

	"You were always strong," he said softly. "Maybe too
strong. I don't deserve someone like you, Relena."

	"Don't say that!" she bit out, and he was surprised
at the vehemence in her voice. "Stop feeling sorry for
yourself, Heero. You've paid your penance, you've done
your time, and you've come back here for a reason."

	He placed one hand on the glass, feeling its cold
slickness under his fingers. "I thought I had," he
said. "Now, I'm not so sure."

	There was another moment of silence and then he felt
a stinging pain on his cheek, felt his head snap back
slightly as her palm met his cheek in a sharp slap. He
blinked at her in surprise, almost took a step back at
the fury in those blue eyes.

	"Relena?"

	"You're pathetic," she snapped. "Pathetic! What kind
of soldier sits around, moping, telling himself he's
not good enough? Like it or not, you're here, and you
have a duty to those around you! I won't sit here and
watch you throw that away!"

	"I-" he began, but her voice swept over his like a
tidal wave heralding the approach of a storm. For some
reason his mind flashed the image of Zechs at the
controls of Epyon, the avenging angel.

	"You listen to me, Heero Yuy! Two years ago you left
the battlefield believing in peace and a world that
would one day believe in peace. I don't know what's
happened to you, but I can't believe that you've
thrown away everything that you cared about. I�m a
stronger person because of you, Heero. We all are!
What are you afraid of?"

	"I-" he tried again, suddenly seeing where this was
going and wanting desperately to stop it. Her eyes
were at once knives digging into his soul and windows
to her own, and he was frightened by what he saw
there. "Relena, don't-"

	"Don't what?" she said, angrily, and he cursed
himself as a tear leaked from the corner of her eye.
"Don't tell the truth? What do you want me to say,
Heero? Do you want me to lie to you, like the people
in the Breaks lied to you? Like Doctor J lied to you?
Like OZ lied to you? I'm sick of the lies. I'm sick of
hiding, Heero Yuy, I'm sick of fighting you and myself
at every turn, and I'm sick of trying to hide-"

	He grabbed her shoulders desperately. "No, Relena,
don't say it!"

	"-that I love you!"

	He felt her shoulders shake as he squeezed his eyes
shut in despair. "Relena, please, no. Don't."

	"Do you want me to deny it?" she demanded. "You know
it as well as I do. You've known for two years that
I�m in love with you. That you've fascinated me ever
since I set eyes on you, whether I liked it or not,
and that you mean more than the world to me."

	Shaking his head. "No, Relena. Please, no."

	"What do you want me to say? That I hate you and
don't want to ever see you again? I tried that
already! It didn't work!" He felt her trying to wrench
her shoulders away and tightened his grip, suddenly
needing to feel her beneath his fingers, needing that
human contact, needing the sense of her presence.

	She stopped twisting. "Heero�" she said in a small
voice. "That hurts."

	He felt his soul tighten at the words and suddenly
wrapped his arms around her, crushing her to him as
she began to sob against his shirt. Suddenly there was
nothing else except pure need, the need to just hold
her like this forever and know that there was nothing
between them. The intensity of the wave of emotion
sweeping over him was frightening, and he tightened
his grip, holding her even after the last of her sobs
had faded away.

	"I'm sorry," he heard her whisper.

	"There's nothing to be sorry about," he said, trying
to stop his own voice from shaking. "Nothing at all.
You said it yourself, that sorry can't change the
past."

	"I know you don't feel the same way I do." Her voice
was muffled in his shirt. "That's all right. I
shouldn't have�I shouldn't have presumed."

	"No," he said, surprised at how calm he sounded. "I
don't."

	Even for all her brave words a moment ago, he felt
the slump of her shoulders as he said that. Felt her
world begin to tumble about her shoulders, and he
raised one hand to stroke her hair. Saw her gaze up at
him, her face confused.

	"Heero?"

	"I don't know how I feel about you," he said softly.
"Before you�everything was so�clear-cut. It was black
and white, life and death. And then you came�I've
never known a woman quite like you. Not Atsuki, not
anyone. I tried to erase you from my mind because I
couldn't even think straight when I thought of you.
There are times I need you so much that I feel like I
can't go another day without seeing you, and there are
days where I can't bear to come near you because I
feel like you could destroy me just with a glance. I
needed to be�the perfect soldier, and I thought I
couldn't be, if you were there."

	"Heero, I-" she began, but he shook his head.

	"Just let me finish. I'm leaving tomorrow�I might
never see you again. We both know that. I wanted to
give you a chance�a chance to be rid of me. You said
yourself that you've been fascinated with me since the
day you met me, and more than anything, I want you to
live your own life. I don't want you to define myself
using me, Relena. You seem to have done well without
me for the past two years�you're a woman now, a queen
and a leader, someone who is better off without a man
like me. Especially a man like me."

	She was quiet for a few seconds, and then he felt her
shoulders shake slightly. Alarmed, he thought she had
started crying again, but he looked down and was
surprised to find that she was smiling.

	"You're an idiot," she said.

	He blinked.

	"Everything I've done," she murmured, "has been
because of you. Because you're the kind of person who
gives everyone hope."

	"I don't underst-" he began, but didn't get any
further than that because then she arched her neck and
kissed him.

	It was more of a peck on the lips than a true kiss,
but the brief brush of her lips across his was enough
to send his heart racing and his adrenaline pumping,
and as she loosened herself from his grasp, all he
could do was stare at her.

	"I need you, Heero," she whispered. "More than
anyone�I need you. You can't get rid of me that
easily."

	He knew he looked like an idiot when she began to
laugh, but somehow he didn't mind, felt the corners of
his lips begin to turn up. "You're making a bad
decision, Relena."

	"We'll see," she said teasingly, reaching out one
hand to squeeze his briefly. "There's a long road
ahead."

	He held onto her hand for a moment longer, then
released it reluctantly. "Just remember what I said."

	"You remember what I said," she replied promptly,
giving him another smile, but this one was shy, full
of hope. "I�m going to bed. Good night, Heero.
And�good luck."

	"Sleep well," he said, watching her turn and
disappear into the darkness of the hall. He closed his
eyes, taking a deep breath, inhaling the lingering
scent of her hair, of her perfume, of her, and
wondered how he had been able to live without her for
so long.

	Because you're the kind of person who gives everyone
hope.

	She'd said that to him, in his dream when he'd lost
Atsuki. She'd been there in his dream. Even when he'd
given up on himself, she hadn't given up on him. It
was Relena. In the end, he knew it had always been
Relena.

	I don't know what's happened to you, but I can't
believe that you've thrown away everything that you
cared about. I�m a stronger person because of you,
Heero. We all are!

	Was that true? He didn't know. But for the first time
since Atsuki's death, he thought he could let go. Just
a little bit. Let Atsuki's ghost go, because she
needed to rest. Because like she had said, he needed
to choose, and he had chosen.

	She would be happy, if she knew.

	The stars were still shining brightly through the
window and he closed his eyes, sent her a wish. To
wherever she was now, for everything that she'd done
for him, releasing her. Resting his forehead against
the glass, he thought he could hear her voice.

	I believe in you, Wing. No�not Wing. Heero. I believe
in you, Heero.

End Act 10.3




=====
Sing what you can't say
Forget what you can't play
Hasten to drown into beautiful eyes
Walk within my poetry, this dying music...
My loveletter to nobody
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Quicksilver/
http://www.midnightrevolution.org/quicksilver/

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