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A Boarding School Facade - by Jooles*



Disclaimer - I don't own Gundamwing yadayadaya...





Chapter Three



"I have never wished to cater to the crowd,

for what I know they do not approve,

and what they I approve I do not know."

-Epicarus





"Quatre. Will you wait up man?" Duo called out to his friend as he attempted to catch up to him in the bustle of St. Michael's main corridor.



Quatre regarded his braided friend briefly before switching his attention to making his violin lesson in time. He was already five minutes late. Reganald, his uptight yet marvelously talented tutor was bound to have a major hernia if Quatre didn't get there soon.



"What's up with you?" Duo implored, noting the frazzled pace that Quatre was walking at.



Quatre lifted the violin case he'd been idly swinging by his side in the rush to make it to the music room on time. He was one of the few students that the school's music teacher Reganald took under his wings for one-on-one tutoring. And Quatre wasn't one to get off side with his teachers. As magnificent as Reganald was, he could be incredibly troll like if you weren't punctual. "I'm late for violin Duo. Reganald will have me for lunch if I don't get to class soon."



Duo rolled his eyes, the purplish blue of them emphasizing his disdain. "Let me guess, no pun intended? It is lunchtime blondie!"



"For some. My lesson's at lunch time."



Duo shrugged, wanting to continue the comfortable banter that had developed between the two friends. Deciding this, he resolutely walked with Quatre to his violin lesson. And just for the hell of it. He wondered idly if it would be big-headed of him to announce to Quatre what a good friend he was. No. Maybe not a good time to do so. Quatre looked too out of sorts for his usually sensitive yet placid self. No. He needed some perfectly innocent teasing. Then he'd be able to draw from Quatre the information he'd come in want of. "Whatever. Why'd you wanna do a crazy thing like play the violin anyway?"



Quatre smiled. Duo was just messing with him now. "I don't know. Why'd you wanna do a crazy thing like take 'shop?"



Duo lifted his hands in a mock surrender signal. "Ahh . . .whatever . . . you know I want my business later on. It's good training 'shop. But anyway, your point is taken.. Now are you going to ask what I'm really doing here?"



Playing along Quatre asked the wanted question.



Duo answered his own question all too eagerly. "I was just wondering if you being Lena's best friend and all had noticed her odd behaviour of late? Eh?" He couldn't help but ask the question in a bit of a sing-song voice. He liked adding a twang to things sometimes. It livened things up a bit.



A sharp sidelong glance and slightly widened ocean blue eyes confirmed the answer to Duo's question.

"Have you talked to her about it?" Duo asked noticing the way Quatre's shoulders had hunched over and his head now had a defeated lopsided tilt to it.



"Tried to talk to her is more like it..."Quatre muttered.



"And?"



"She didn't want to talk about it. Said she was tired and busy and stuff like that." Quatre replied, his voice portraying the hopelessness that he must have been met with upon confronting Relena.



"Do you think she's lying?"



Quatre nodded. "Probably. But Relena doesn't like to lie. It's not her way. Though when she has to, she opts for saying nothing . . . which is why she's been avoiding us. She'll tell us in her own good time Duo. Until then we'll just have to wait it out."



Duo groaned, "This bites man. Things just aren't the same with Lena in a funny mood."



Quatre shook his head, "Well there's nothing we can do about it. Especially when she's like this. Don't worry, she'll come out of it sooner or later. I've seen her like this before."



Duo's braid flicked to the side as he turned his head to study his friend. "How long do you think she'll be like this?"



Quatre shrugged. There was just no telling with Relena. Her 'moods' could last from anything from hours to days to weeks at a time. And Quatre was acutely aware that her funny mood of late had nothing to do with the bane of the female population's existence (menstruation) coming in the form of PMS. No, something else was up. And Relena wasn't letting on what had her so out of sorts. But like he'd told Duo there was no way that she'd actually tell them what was wrong. She was too kind for that. She'd never liked the idea of burdening her friends with her problems. Quatre knew that she hadn't quite forgiven herself for telling him the haunted and dangerous secret of her past all those years ago when they were but wee children playing in the backyard of the Winner family's estate. Whatever it was that was bothering her she'd mull for awhile working it through her system, and eventually when she thought herself capable enough to deal with the problem would go back to being her usual self.



"Hey Duo what are you doing for Christmas?" Quatre asked his friend as they stopped outside the music room. He was inexcusably late for his lesson with Reganald, but taking his time to talk with Duo had been worth it. It had given him the chance to work some stuff, namely Relena's weird mood, through his own system.



Duo's lanky shoulders lifted in consternation. He hadn't thought about the upcoming seasonal holiday that much. It had never been a holiday that he particularly enjoyed. Especially with the recent passing of Father Maxwell. He did want to return to the orphanage for the holiday and spend it with the nuns and some of the children he'd grown up with. But somehow this year going back just didn't seem right.



"Not much Quatre. I haven't really thought about it."



Quatre smiled. That was the answer he was looking for. It meant that Duo might possibly consider his invitation of spending the Christmas holiday with him and the others (if he could convince them) at his family's estate on the outskirts of Treventville.



"Well then. Would you like to spend Christmas with me and the others at my place?"



Duo stopped mid-pace. He'd never been invited home for the holidays by friends he'd had in the past. Sure he'd had friends before he'd arrived at St. Michael's. It was just that Duo had never allowed them to get too close to him. It was with this startling piece of information that Duo realised he'd let people get close to him at St. Michael's. He'd made friends with the likes of Quatre, Relena and even social retards (well they were) like Wufei, Trowa and Heero. What was it about these people he'd come to call friends that made him consider spending the Christmas season with them? Duo wasn't quite sure what it was. He felt, however as though he'd formed a strong bond with them. And, with a small enigmatic mental groan, Duo realised he'd done so without even realising it. That is, until Quatre had extended the Christmas vacation invitation to him today.



"Have you asked the others?" Duo asked, wanting to do a little research before he accepted Quatre's generous invitation.



It was Quatre's turn to look startled. A faint cheery pink blush stained the bridge of his nose and the apples of his cheeks. He looked like a little kid caught by their said parent doing something they'd expressively forbidden them of doing.



"Um I asked Trowa last night. But I haven't gotten around to asking the others yet."



Duo grinned slyly "Oh so you're going to be all shy now??" He jibed enjoying the light teasing he was bestowing on his overly sensitive friend.



Quatre didn't reply. He didn't have to. Because now, the faint cheery pink blush that had only slightly stained his nose and cheeks had deepened into the unmistakable colour of beet red.



"Oh brother. Quatre do I have to do all your dirty work?" He exclaimed.



"No Duo! I just haven't gotten around to asking them yet. I'll ask them later on."



"Uh uh, and I'm the embodiment of the god of death!" Duo exclaimed, flicking his braid to the side of his right shoulder signaling his disbelief.



"I really will. Now will you accept my invitation?"



The unmistakable grin that spread across was all the answer Quatre needed. But Duo liking to have the last word no matter what voiced his acceptance anyhow. "And I thought you'd never ask!"



****



"Hi. Can I change my music class please?" Relena stood at the front of the school's main office. The secretary looked up at her in disdain and got up to get the 'necessary forms'. Relena shrugged and leaned against the counter to wait.



"What's wrong with music?"



She'd recognised his voice almost immediately. The clearly grazed yet monotonous sounding voice that could only be Heero Yuy's. Relena turned to face the speaker beside her. And there he was. He stood leaning against the counter, just like she had been doing only moments before. His craftily messy brown hair was splayed damply across his forehead. And his uniform, usually so pristine looked a little rough and ready.



"Just come from PE?"



He nodded. Not wanting to admit to himself how much he enjoyed being around such an observant young woman.



"What are you going to take instead?" He continued his attempt at conversation. Although he'd never been terribly good at the art, it was necessary (all so he kept telling himself) to get close to this girl. Although his teenage hormone loaded body couldn't quite make out the reason why at present. He knew that he had to get close to her for his client's sake. But there was also this uncomfortable feeling that nagged at him every time he saw her, or every time somebody mentioned something about her. It was this much too warm and not very comfortable feeling that made him shift as though he were restless, though the reality was that the thought of her had caused a sort of reaction within himself. Doctor J had never explained feelings to Heero. Even so Heero had done pretty okay up his meeting Relena in the dealing of new and uncharted emotions. But of late he'd been absolutely shell-shocked with the overwhelming feelings that came with this new emotion that he didn't know how to react, what to say, or even how to feel. And it was with this realisation that Heero recognised whatever this unnamed emotion was, it was one of the big ones. One of the important emotions that only come to people so many times in a life time and are worth the wait in the times in between its absence. Heero would give anything if he could actually name that damned and said emotion. That way he'd be able to block it out.



Relena studied Heero. They hadn't spoken to each other since the night of the dance where she'd snapped at him. To be truthful, she hadn't really spoken to anyone seriously since the night of the dance. Since her room had been broken into she'd been on her guard, big time. Quatre had tried to get her to tell him what was going on with her that morning. She'd put on the 'everything's okay' facade. Of course he didn't believe her, but he recognised her stubbornness' when he saw it and had left her alone. She had however gotten over the little grudge she'd had against Heero. One thing the break in had taught her was that the time she had as just another teenybopper was short. But if possible she could make it sweet. That bit was up to her however.



"Japanese," she replied, not being dumb to the slightly awed expression that settled on his features when she told him of her subject choices.



"You do know how hard Japanese is right?"



She responded the Japanese version of her agreement while at the same time grinning an absolutely wicked yet delectable grin at the young man beside her. Heero had a strange urge to lean over and press his lips to that grin, Just to see what it would feel like...the meeting of his lips with her own soft coral ones.



He smirked instead. At least he didn't smile. Smiling would be too much out of character for his own good. "Smart ass," he muttered.



Relena couldn't help it. She playfully punched him in the shoulder. Heero not being used to the 'touchy-feely' type of contact Relena exerted jumped at her touch.



"Hey aren't you Japanese?" Relena inquired as she once again leaned back against the counter. Heero noted the outline of her figure in the disgusting mauve excuse for a uniform. It hid the curves he knew she had so well. And this, Heero realised, made him absolutely utterly miserable.



Heero nodded through a pair of gritted teeth. Now how had she known that? He couldn't recall ever speaking of his ethnic origins to her. Maybe Quatre had said something...



"How'd you know?"



Relena shrugged. How could she explain to Heero that she'd more or less guessed that he was Japanese? She seemed to have a knack with these sorts of things for some reason. "I kind of guessed," she said not very convincingly.



Heero openly stared at her in a mixture of morose and disbelief. He couldn't quite get the phrase 'yeah right' out of his mouth. However Relena could tell that he was thinking exactly that. She lifted her shoulders in another shrugging motion, illustrating to him that it was just another hidden niche about her that he ought to find damn interesting if he knew what was for his own good.



"How come you're changing classes?" Heero asked, he himself relaxing against the counter once again. He watched with wry amusement as Relena blushed a little seeming to search her mind for the correct way of wording what she wanted to say.



"Um....well you see the music teacher kind of forced me to take part in the concert tomorrow night."



Heero frowned. So what? Most music students loved the chance to show off their talent. He knew that Quatre was looking forward to the concert, as nervous as he said he was. Heero had after all heard his friend practicing in the wee small hours of the morning and into the witching hour of the night in the weeks leading up to the concert. It was violin and piano in the morning, singing and the clarinet at night. If it had been Duo practicing Heero would have strangled the little bugger by now. But Quatre was a good friend (not that Duo wasn't) and he did seem to have an extraordinary talent for music. Even when he spoke his voice rang like the gentle bells supposedly heard on the hooves of Santa's reindeer come Christmas time.



"And you think that by dropping music you won't have to take part in it?" Heero said letting Relena know his assumption of the situation at hand.



Relena frowned at Heero. Funny how the quiet ones were nearly always the most perceptive.



"Reganald found out that the only reason I took the class was so I could share at least one of my classes with Quatre." She explained to Heero, feeling in a surprisingly sharing mood. Plus Heero seemed to be a bit more talkative than usual. Which was to Relena's chagrin, despite the reeling feeling of surprise she knew she was hiding.



"Can you actually play an instrument?"



Relena flushed. "Um, does the recorder count?" She looked up meeting Heero's cobalt blue gaze. And she couldn't help but once again be surprised. For what she saw flicker in her quiet companion's eyes for the briefest of moments was amusement. Heero shook his head, "Everyone knows that you play the recorder if you can't play anything else. It's like the musical instrument for dummies."



Relena lifted her head in acknowledgment, her cerulean blue eyes sparkling. Heero couldn't help but grimace. Throughout their whole exchange he'd been aware of that uncomfortable feeling again. Then Heero remembered something, wasn't Relena supposed to be made at him?



Relena watched as Heero cleared his throat, looking to her disbelief almost nervous. Huh? "What's the matter?"



"Aren't you meant to be mad at me, or something?" The flat way in which he stated the question hid the anxiousness he felt at maybe losing the small acquaintance they seemed to have built up within the last few minutes.



Relena shook her head. "You have this way of making me so unsure of myself. It's sometimes a little . . ." she searched for the right word, "off putting."



Heero couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. So she felt the same way too. At least the uncomfortable feeling wasn't one way. But she didn't know that he also shared the same 'off putting' feeling.



"Anyway it's not healthy to keep grudges."



Heero nodded. Indeed it wasn't. But that didn't mean that he actually followed through with the age-old philosophy. He still hadn't quite forgiven Duo for the 'anal retard' comment regarding his general attitude to the world around him. Duo had of course paid sorely when he'd made the comment which he swore was 'harmless'. But Heero was known to have an abrupt temper at the worst of times and Duo just happened to be there slagging him off when he'd been in a foul mood.



Relena started to say something else, but the secretary that had looked so sullen only minutes ago came back looking highly amused. Relena glanced at Heero who shrugged at the unspoken question - what drugs is she one?



The secretary, an overly thin and heavily made-up woman handed Relena the forms she'd been gone so long in retrieving. "So can I change?"



The secretary studied Relena for a moment. "Oh, of course you can dear. It is after all your education." She handed Relena the necessary paperwork that gave her the go ahead to leave Reganald's music class. Relena looked at the paperwork suspiciously. Something was not right. The secretary had come back looking far too smarmy for her own good.



Heero peered over Relena's shoulder, his breath on her neck creating a noticeable tingling sensation. Relena told herself to concentrate on the piece of paper in front of her. Yet she was finding it noticeably difficult. Suddenly she felt an unmistakable chuckle...wait, was that Heero laughing? Impossible!



"Looks like you'll have to perform tomorrow anyway," he coughed, trying to cover his amusement.



The paper on the counter came back into focus as Relena grappled with what Heero had just told her.



"Oh crap." The dean and Reganald had given her permission to change classes. But Reganald being the ass that he was renown as being had insisted that she not be moved until next week. After the music department's concert was all over and done with. "When I refused to participate he told me that there was no way out. He kept on going on and on about how performing was unavoidable and that it there was no way out of it . . . blah blah blah!"



"I thought you didn't know how to play anything?" Heero inquired interested at this new tid bit of information Relena had given him. So, she could do something musical after all...



Relena shook her head in disagreement. "I suppose if I must admit it, I can sing. But only a little. And nothing compared to the others in the choir." She let out a sigh of frustration. Must everything at this damned uppity school be so damned difficult! "You know this totally sucks. Can't anything go my way? Not even once!"



Heero considered Relena. Why'd she have to look so fiercely and startlingly beautiful when she was angry? It seemed that whenever he encountered Relena she was or in the near future was angry. And from what she'd just said, he gathered that she didn't mean to be annoyed a lot of the time. Instead it seemed as though disturbing things just happened to come her way. And in doing so offsetting the eternal balance of the aligned stars above them....Or maybe it was just a string of bad luck.



He was brought out of his reverie of deep thought as he heard and rather felt a distinct thud sound against the counter the two had been so lazily leaning on before the secretary had come back. He couldn't help but smirk at the sight of Relena carelessly kicking the counter for all her worth. Her golden honey-coloured hair had come loose from those wretched braids she always had them done up in, and had come to splay itself around her head and down her back. She was in no small feat 'entrancing'. Heero mentally groaned as he felt the wretchedness of that uncomfortable feeling he had yet to pinpoint settle very inconveniently in his thoughts. He wished that Relena might kick him a little bit. Maybe that'd get him out of the mess he felt he'd gotten himself into. In so few words and as many confrontations as he could count on a single hand she'd worked his way into his system, and in a way he'd become attached to her. Only fate could be so cruel. He realised with a hint of sardonic yet dramatic irony, that he was living a real life tragedy. The girl that he'd not so obviously (not even to her) become attached to, even if it was an odd sort of 'I want to kill you'-yet 'I would love to kiss you' attachment had become he could only suppose, the object of his affections. And the complete tragedy of it all was that his masochistic and arrogant client wanted information on this girl so that he could eventually Heero suspected get Heero to kill her. Although Heero still had yet to find out why Relena was so important. Though he had his suspicions. And his gut instinct. He still had as yet to figure out exactly what both were trying to piece together.



Relena had now created a very noticeably deft mark in the counter's front. St. Michael's had been marred! Shock, horror! She'd stopped kicking the counter, Heero noticed and was now instead hunched over the counter, obviously trying to regain some composure from her loss of temper.



"And I thought you were a pacifist..."was Heero's flat yet tinged with wry amusement remark. Relena groaned. Did he have to be there to see her whole little episode? He seemed to catch her at the worst of times.



"You still here? I thought you'd have run away like everybody else seems to have." It was true. The main office, with the exception of the secretary who'd gone back to her desk as though she'd seen it all before had all but emptied. She hadn't scared the living shit out of them, Relena admitted to herself. But she had given the snobs that made up the indefinable amount of cliques in attendance at the school something to gossip about - Relena Dorlian's mental state of health.



"You must think I'm schizo or something, the way I'm so up and down?"



Heero smirked. No she wasn't schizo. Nor was she mentally unbalanced. She did however, seem to have a lot on her mind. "Hey, it is only one night. One music performance. It can't be that big a deal. The rest of the music class has to perform right?"



Relena shook her head once again. She'd been doing that a lot lately. "Reganald's making me sing a solo with the choir," she winced at the thought of her upcoming performance. So much for keeping a low profile. "Oh god...I think I'm going to be sick."



Heero frowned. Relena was definitely losing it. "Relena get a hold of yourself," he deftly grabbed her arms so he could pull her upright. "You can do it Relena."



"I know I can," Relena groaned, "that doesn't mean I necessarily want to."



Heero patted her shoulder. Hey, since when did he become so touchy feely Relena wondered?. "This is nice." She observed.



"What's nice?"



"Us. This. Not fighting." Relena explained. "It's a first!" She couldn't help but laugh. But it was the truth. And Heero obviously saw the truth of her words by the frown that marred his face and the faint blush of his cheeks. Not only was that unbelievable, it was also inconceivable!



"Great, you're probably going to go all mushy on me or something!" Heero groaned beginning to realise he may have made a grave mistake in his comforting of the girl.



"Forget it Heero. I've enjoyed our confrontations way too much." She dismissed the comment with a wave. Although she was quite tempted to turn all mushy with him; thanking him for comforting her and talking her through her panic attack, not thinking that she was a head case at the end of it all. "Thank you Heero anyway. Things around me go way too mental for their own good. I occasionally need somebody save from drowning in the troubles that come my way." Heero nodded. Good. He understood. Or he at least accepted her reasoning. "You want to go to lunch now? Losing my temper nearly always makes me hungry?"



Heero was very tempted to say yes. Actually he was sorely tempted to say yes. Just so he could spend a little longer acting like he could possibly care for this girl. But he couldn't. And he didn't. At least that's what he told himself. So turning Relena down, Heero shook his head and hurried off in the opposite direction well aware that he left Relena confused, rejected and once again a tad upset with him. He wanted to care for her. Oh god, did he want to. But it wasn't his job to care for people. He was hired specifically because he didn't care. Because he could get the information his clients wanted and carry out the job the way his guardian's clients wanted him to. He'd been trained so as that he wouldn't feel any guilt, remorse, pain, loss on his missions. Yet, for some reason this mission was becoming inextricably harder for him to follow through with. He was beginning to suspect that he had a heart. And with this suspicion followed another one. He was beginning to care. And that was something nightmares were made of.



****