I am a pacifist by choice and by some twist of genetics.
I don’t believe that fighting solves anything. I don’t believe
that mankind is destined for nothing more than a continuing cycle of pulling
each other down into the mud. We are, by nature, a nurturing species and
I believe we have the capacity to achieve harmony. Achieve true peace.
But still, somehow, over the years I have found myself in the midst of
conflict many times, and more… in the midst of the aftermath of said
Don’t mistake me when I say this; I take no perverse joy in the
situation… but I have a certain amount of pride in dealing with that
There isn’t some twisted pleasure in any of it. I’m not some
vapid damsel in distress who derives some strange ‘rush’ from
having others leap to her rescue. But I won’t pretend to deny that
there’s an odd, but very deep bond that develops between people who
have gone through adversity together.
Those of us who played an active part in the war find that, when there
is a crisis, people tend to turn to us and expect us to know what to do.
Experience has given us the answers. And time has taught us how to look
past the moment and set those answers into motion.
The current conflict was an as yet unexplained attack on the grounds of
the Darlien estate… my current residence. The occasion was of little
consequence; a Christmas dinner party planned with the soul intent of bringing
together some key officials from the colonies. But somewhere between the
serving of dessert and the planned dancing, there had been an… explosive
invasion. And while the lone attacker was in custody, and my guards and
the Preventers were securing the area… I had a smoking hole in the
side of my foyer, a front yard full of emergency vehicles, and a house
full of guests and staff in a state of panic.
The secret that I will take to my grave is that somewhere in the depths
of my heart, being able to look up across a room in chaos and meet the
eyes of Heero Yuy as a peer… is my greatest pride. I will never speak
of it, because while I am secure in what a detached feeling it is… I
know how it would sound.
Heero Yuy is an amazing person, no longer a boy, he’s grown into
a man even more admirable than he was when we were teenagers caught up
in the web of politics and war together. He’s a Preventer agent now,
cutting a fine figure in his uniform. He fights still, as he always has,
for the peace we both believe in.
I have found, despite our differences in the philosophy of pacifism… that
we work well together. We understand each other in a way that has to grow
over time. Once, he might have tried to usher me away to a more safe location,
might have swept me off the grounds entirely, but he’s come to accept
my need to not cower away like some scared little girl. He understands
what my station demands.
And I understand his firm belief that his destiny is that of a warrior.
To forever stand up for those weaker than himself. I accept that part of
him, while striving to show him that one can stand just as strong with
an open hand.
‘Heero,’ I called out to him, when he met my glance and I
knew I had his attention, ‘do we have a central location for the
walking wounded yet? We need to clear this area as much as possible for
the emergency crews.’
The worst of the casualties had already been transported, Heero’s
partner Trowa Barton among them, but there were a number of injured that
really were not going to need more than some antiseptic and some time.
There needed to be some organization. Some evaluation and prioritizing.
Everyone would be seen to, but the more serious injuries needed to be expedited.
Heero frowned, and I could tell he didn’t say the first thing that
came to mind… must have rethought his original plan. He works best
under pressure, adapting as he needs to, on the fly. ‘The back of
the ballroom will do, Relena. If you could escort them there and… try
to keep everyone calm.’
‘Right,’ I nodded, and helped the maid I’d been seeing
to, to her feet. ‘Can you walk, Marissa?’
The poor girl gave me a watery smile before the tears spilled over. ‘I
think I can manage, Miss Relena. Thank you.’ She limped away and
I turned to the next person, finding one of my dinner guests picking glass
from his pants legs.
‘Quite the party, my dear,’ he said with an attempt at a wry
smile as I knelt beside him, but I could see he was rather shaken up.
‘I had hoped for something a little… quieter, Colonel,’ I
smiled and bent to just cutting away the tattered and bloody leg of his
trousers. I’d long since removed the bottom of my own party gown
for the ease of movement.
He watched me, a bemused expression on his face which was almost comical
under the shock of his rumpled white hair. ‘You’re a very prepared
I found myself looking up to find Heero. ‘I had a very good teacher,’ I
murmured, and finding nothing under the pants leg but some minor cuts,
offered the gentleman a hand up.
A very good teacher indeed.
The man in question was a whirlwind of activity, issuing orders and directing
everyone around him like the seasoned veteran he was. You’d have
never known that he’d just handed his partner into an ambulance,
unconscious and bleeding. You’d have never known he had thrown himself
between me and an attacker barely a half an hour ago. His focus and determination
were unfazed. His dedication and resolve a shining beacon for us all.
I strove to work harder. To be worthy to work beside him. And as the hours
slipped by, no matter where I was or what I was doing… I could look
up and find him near. A protective presence, though he did his best not
to interfere with my doing my job. Balking only once, when I tried to go
out front to see off one of the last of the ambulances.
‘Relena, please…’ he sighed and I had to smile at his
fierce frown of concentration. He has no idea how intimidating his expression
can be when he’s focused on the job.
‘Relax, Heero,’ I chided, though I relented and stayed inside. ‘I
think we’re down to the mop up.’
‘All the same,’ he said, ushering me away from the front entryway, ‘until
we’ve finished questioning the perpetrator, we can’t assume
He took my elbow as we made our way through the foyer, walking almost
mincingly across the slippery broken glass. The wounded had all been evacuated
and those guests that had not been among them, had given their statements,
expressed their condolences and gone home. It would certainly be a dinner
party they would not soon forget.
I was, as I’d said, down to the clean up. I was sure the Preventers
would demand another sweep of the grounds before I could bring workmen
in for repairs, but calls would need to be placed. I’d have to check
with Paragon and make sure he hadn’t already done it. I wondered
idly, as we left the ruined foyer behind, if the musicians had assumed
they were dismissed, or if they were still waiting around somewhere. So
much to do…
When we cleared the debris field and entered the ballroom, Heero let go
of my arm. I saw Paragon and went to speak to him while Heero veered off
to consult with one of his fellow agents.
‘Miss Relena,’ my assistant said, nodding at my approach.
Such a dear man; I’d be lost without him. As unflappable as an honor
guard, yet as kind as any grandfather; I doubt I would be who I was if
he hadn’t been there to guide me through my growing years. ‘Paragon,
I imagine the Preventers will be here through the night, perhaps we should
set up a buffet? Coffee, at the very least?’
‘Excellent, Miss Relena,’ he smiled. ‘I’ll see
‘Thank you,’ I replied and impulsively leaned in to give him
a peck on the cheek, more than relieved that he’d been in the back
of the house when the attack had happened. He patted my arm and went to
make my thought a reality.
‘You sure know how to throw a party, Princess,’ a voice said,
and I turned to find Duo Maxwell standing at my side.
‘Duo!’ I exclaimed, moving in to get my hug. ‘What are
you doing here?’
He gestured across the room where I saw Chang Wufei conferring with Heero. ‘I
brought the relief team.’
‘Relief team?’ I asked, finding it hard to imagine something
as mundane as a shift change when it involved Preventer agents.
Duo chuckled at the look on my face. ‘It’s almost two in the
‘Oh,’ I said, blinking at that notion too. Surely not?
‘Sounds like you could use a little relief of your own,’ he
said and eyed me critically.
I glanced across the room at Heero and tried to stand a little taller.
It wouldn’t do for the Vice Foreign Minister to falter now.
Duo followed my gaze and his smile disappeared. ‘How’s he
doing?’ he asked softly.
‘He’s fine,’ I told him. ‘We were well away from
He blinked for a second and glanced down at me. ‘I meant… how’s
he handling Trowa?’
‘You know Heero,’ I said, and watched Heero and Wufei shake
hands. ‘Is there news?’
‘Very little. He’s stable,’ Duo sighed and we watched
Heero turn to walk across the ballroom toward us. ‘I’m going
to take Heero over to the hospital now… I’ll let you know if
we find anything out.’
I almost told him that it wasn’t likely that Heero would leave in
the middle of an investigation, but then didn’t. Duo had known Heero
almost as long as I had; I’m sure he knew dragging Heero off the
job wasn’t going to be that easy.
‘Hey, buddy,’ Duo smiled as Heero joined us. ‘You about
ready to call it a day?’
It surprised me when Heero just gave him a warm smile and a nod. ‘News?’
‘Stable,’ Duo replied, and tossed an arm around Heero’s
shoulders to give him a quick hug. ‘I have a room number. Quatre’s
on his way.’
Heero nodded again, and there was a strange sense that he’d… what’s
the phrase? Stood down? He glanced across the room where Wufei was speaking
with Paragon, and their eyes met for a moment. I could feel some communication
pass between them, but I couldn’t decipher it.
Duo chuckled in a way that indicated that he’d gotten the message. ‘Come
on, fly-boy. Wufei’s not a total cave-man… it’ll be fine.’
It was a seriously strange thing to say, but Heero only chuckled in return.
He turned to me then and I had to quell the urge to ask him to stay. I
trusted the Preventers as a whole, and it was ridiculous to think I felt
the need to hand pick who responded when I had a crisis.
‘Give Trowa my best,’ I said, cutting Heero off before he
could quite formulate what he wanted to say. There was some part of my
head that just knew it wouldn’t have been something I wanted to hear.
He nodded and then Duo was leading him away.
I felt… abandoned, and would have laughed at myself if there hadn’t
been so many people around. Wufei and Paragon were still engaged, presumably
going over the requirements of the Preventers that were roaming about my
home. While they were occupied, I drifted back into the foyer to watch
Heero and Duo as they left.
They paused for only a moment to look at the crumbling hole in the wall,
Heero pointing and gesturing as he related the event. They skirted the
blast area and left through what was left of the front door. It only took
a few steps to the right for me to watch them through the window as they
made their way down the walk.
I had expected for Duo to be the one jabbering away; he usually makes
such an effort to keep up the spirits of those around him, but Heero seemed
to be doing all the talking. They slowed once they were outside and I saw
Heero tilt his head back to look up at the sky, he said something that
made Duo come to a full stop and look at him oddly. I couldn’t really
make out his expression with nothing more than the yard lights, but I could
tell from the way he took hold of Heero’s shoulders that he wasn’t
happy with what he’d heard. I wasn’t sure what reaction I was
expecting from Heero, but it wasn’t to see him bring his own hands
up to his face, scrubbing at his eyes in a gesture that spoke of weariness.
It made me blink… Heero Yuy didn’t get tired.
I couldn’t see Heero’s face, but I could see Duo’s and
his expression softened. He opened his arms and it shocked me to see Heero
almost fall into the offered comfort.
It was most certainly something I’d never thought to witness. Gundam
pilots… Preventer agents just weren’t supposed to waver. And
especially not Heero. Through everything we’d been through, I’d
never seen him slow down. Never seen him hesitate. Even after the disaster
at New Edwards, he’d been unflinching in his decisions, and moved
forward down the path he’d chosen, facing his own possible death
without a second thought.
Seeing Heero with his head resting on Duo’s shoulder, apparently
soaking up whatever comforting words were being murmured to him… it
left me feeling very strange.
Heero was the yardstick I measured myself against. His dedication and
determination were the examples that had led me through a myriad of difficult
decisions during the war. The very idea that he could be… just as
human as the rest of us was disconcerting.
I somehow wanted to laugh, but I wasn’t quite sure why. My naivety?
Or just wondering how obvious my apparent hero-worship was?
I was brought out of my reverie by a sudden voice quite near my ear. ‘You
shouldn’t be standing at a window, Vice Minister,’ Chang Wufei
said, and I tried to hide how much he had startled me. I glanced up to
find him looking out the same window to see what I was watching, and caught
a frown on his face. It… annoyed me somehow.
‘Don’t you approve of… work relationships, Agent Chang?’ I
asked, trying for an innocent tone, but I’m sure the defensiveness
‘I don’t approve of you spying on an intimate moment between
my friends,’ he countered, and reached out to pull the curtain from
my hand, blocking my view.
‘Well then, perhaps they shouldn’t be having an intimate moment
on my front lawn,’ I replied, but retreated; I’d already seen
It surprised him, and he snorted, giving me a little nod of acknowledgment
before gesturing toward the interior of the house. ‘Nonetheless,
if you would be so kind as to return to a more secure location…’
I cut him off with a wave of my hand, his slightly imperial tone not setting
well. ‘There is still work to be done, Agent; I’m not retreating
‘Miss Peacecraft,’ he cut in return, his eyes narrowing, ‘I’m
not Yuy… I won’t indulge your Florence Nightingale tendencies.’
‘And I won’t indulge your apparent shrinking violet fantasies,
Agent Chang,’ I informed him, using my boardroom voice and turning
away before he had time to do more than raise his eyebrows in surprise. ‘If
you are going to be my bodyguard for the evening, do attempt to keep up.
We’ll be starting with a visit to the kitchens; I want to see to
‘I doubt the kitchen staff was the target of the attack…’ he
began, and there was a sound in his voice that spoke of forced patience.
‘Even so, they were as much in harm’s way as I,’ I told
him calmly, and I heard him sigh as he followed me back into the house
I’m not sure if he surrendered the argument, or was just formulating
his next attack, but a sudden thought made me stop us in our tracks and
I turned to look up at him. ‘Is there someone waiting up for you,
I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone raise their eyebrows quite
that high before. ‘Pardon?’ he blurted, and just stared at
me like I’d suddenly asked him to do something outrageously inappropriate.
I glanced toward the front of my ruined foyer, no longer able to see the
two men on my front walk. ‘This… relationship business is not
something I’d ever considered before,’ I said, not quite sure
I had the thoughts aligned in my head, but bulling forward anyway. ‘I
can’t say I like the idea of people putting themselves in danger
on my behalf if there’s the possibility… if there could…’ I
lost the thread, but it actually made him snort an almost amused little
‘Admirable, but impractical,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘And
no, there isn’t anyone waiting up for me.’
I wasn’t sure if that was reassuring or sad, but he gestured me
forward and I took it to mean the topic was closed. I continued toward
the kitchen and he continued to follow me; his moment of shock at my bizarre
question had passed, and he was back to being his unreadable self.
They were all quite unreadable, apparently. Or maybe I just wasn’t
that good with perceptions. I had not noticed that Heero was, apparently,
worried sick about his partner. I had not known that there was anything
between Heero and Duo but a wartime friendship. Had not seen the weariness
that Duo had recognized immediately. My mind was trying to take that new
perception and look around with it, like a child gazing at the world through
tinted glasses; taking them off and putting them on… studying the
changes the lenses made.
The Gundam pilots had always been something in my eyes to look up to.
And Heero in particular had always been a pillar of strength and courage.
I couldn’t help striving to achieve that same strength. That same
level of courage. But… what, exactly, was I matching myself against?
Was it all a façade?
There were concepts and thoughts circling around in my head that I was
just beginning to suspect should wait until a time when I hadn’t
been awake for going on twenty-four hours, and hadn’t just had an
attempt made on my life. There would be a better time to ponder philosophies
and contemplate perceptions when there weren’t a dozen other things
needing my attention.
When the mess was cleaned up, when my home was again a safe haven, when
there were no longer security guards prowling my hallways… then there
would be time to try on the tinted glasses again and take a look around.
There would be time to think about just what I was trying to live up to,
and if… perhaps… it was time I stopped trying to make other
people my yardstick. Time I looked inward for those things I wanted to
become. I glanced across at Wufei as he matched my steps. ‘Merry
Christmas, Agent Chang.’
It made him chuckle an odd, dark little chuckle. ‘And to you, Miss
Fiction : GW :