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A Boarding School Facade - by Jooles*



Author notes: I've used a few lyrics in this chapter and their marked with this-// at the beginning and end of each lyric phrase. The lyrics used at the concert have a note to go with them which you can read at the bottom of this chapter installment.



****



Disclaimer - usual stuff...I don't own Gundamwing blahblahblah....



Chapter Four



Relena stared disdainfully at the appearance of herself in the mirror. Eugh! She was at that moment very tempted to strangle her best friend. As loyal and lovely as her tousled blond-headed friend was; he did have an annoying habit of babbling at times. Actually, to be honest she had the habit also. She was still a little pissed with Quatre for babbling to Reganald about her taking on the role as a soloist for the concert. Quatre had thought he'd been her knight-in-shining-armour, rescuing her when Reganald found out about her not taking his class seriously. She hadn't planned on taking part in the concert either. Still, funny how things worked themselves out. Quatre possessed all the traits you could ever want of when it came to looking for friends. But he was still human. And his tendency to babble had gotten Relena into the situation she was now at present in



Her uniform for the evening made her feel nostalgic. She wore exactly the same type of uniform whenever she helped out Elana with diner's catering jobs. All she needed to reenact the memory, making it real was an imaginary bar tray with shot glasses and champagne flutes.



Lacing her newly polished chunky school shoes, Relena headed for the concert hall...preparing to face either her stage fright or her impending doom. The main reason why she was so set against not taking part in the concert was the status of many of the parents who would end up attending it. Many of students' parents were prominent people. Being either wealthy or prominent in politics. Or some in both cases. There was no way for Relena to tell for sure, whether or not she'd be recognised by the adults who attended that evening. She may not have continued to go by the Peacecraft name. It was inevitable, however that she inherited the Peacecraft looks. Although no one would be able to link her with them at first glance. But at the end of it all, she was still a true Peacecraft. Through and through. If anyone were to recognise her, she'd be doomed. Not that she wasn't already. She was still on her guard from the break-in to her room the night of the dance. And although her development from girl child to woman had been slow, she'd grown a great deal during the summer break. And, judging from the history books on the Peacecraft family she had inherited many of the traits likened to that of the Peacecraft family.



Relena was surprised to find Wufei sitting in the common room of the girls boarding area. The Chinese boy had a distinctively pissed look on his face. Scratch that. He nearly always looked pissed. Whether it be with the weather, Duo, a teacher, a mark he got in a test, or just the world in general. Relena wondered what was stuck up his ass on this occasion. Hesitantly Relena took a step forward and gracefully took a seat next to the silently seething boy watching the common room's television.



"Wufei." Relena didn't want to come across all sappy and gooey with Wufei. That sort of stuff never went down well with him. Correction. That sort of stuff didn't go down too well with any of her strange yet wonderful new friends. They were generally too stoic for their own good. Wufei especially.



Wufei glanced at Relena without turning his attention away from the television. He raised an eyebrow to let her know that he'd seen her, yet didn't speak. Oh gawd... Relena couldn't help but groan. He was having one of his "I will endure all this subhuman driveling shit with a sneer" days.



"Who you waiting for?" She asked, all of a sudden interested at the prospect of Wufei sitting peevishly in the girls common room. Had he lost his sense of direction?



Wufei continued to ignore her. So Relena prodded some more. Duo was definitely right about Wufei. He was just so damn easy to annoy. Hook, line and sinker, he practically asked for it!



"Oh come on Wu-man" Relena teased deliberately using Duo's favourite nickname guaranteed to annoy the shit out of the Chinese youth. "Unless you've lost your sense of direction, I don't really see a good enough reason for you to be here." She cleared her throat, "and in the girls common room by the way. The girls common room."



Wufei snarled at Relena. Idiot girl-friend/friend whatever of Quatre's. She was such a busy-body...couldn't keep her nose out of other people's business. He was there to meet Sally Po, but Relena didn't need to know that. After all his relationship with the medic-trainee was no one else's business but his and Sally's. They were after all the only ones involved. And he preferred to keep it discrete. He hadn't gone digging around trying to find out her secrets. Not that he really cared or wanted to.



"Damn Wufei," Relena groaned, "I'm just making conversation. Don't have to be so serious about it. You show the sensitivity of a Medieval dentist you know?!" She grinned inwardly at the line Duo had given her. Point for her!



Wufei turned his attention back to the television, although he wasn't really watching. He was observing Relena's reaction to his 'anti-social' behaviour from the corner of his eye. He watched as her fists clenched and then unclenched several times. She moved around, fidgeting with her skirt a bit. Then after a few minutes of more restless movement she finally settled down.



"Why are you waiting here Relena?" Wufei finally spoke.



Relena, startled out of her pondering reverie shrugged at Wufei. It was her turn to play the coy one now.



"Has it got something to do with the concert on tonight?"



Relena shrugged. She was giving him the silent treatment. Bitch. Out of habit Wufei drummed his fingers on the side of the couch, the only evidence of his annoyance with her.



"Quatre said you were singing tonight..."



Relena sighed. Did everyone know she was performing or something? Dorothy had put her through a thorough twenty-questions feat while she'd gotten ready that afternoon. The girls in the boarding house wouldn't shut up about her upcoming solo. And Duo kept on winking at her meaningfully whenever she saw him. Gawd!! It was beginning to get on her nerves immensely.



"You'll be late." Wufei stated. He then shoved his wrist in her face, displaying his very elegant and most expensive Rolex watch. How could teenage boys be allowed to wear those things? They were so 'extravagant' looking. He was right though. She was going to be late if she didn't get a move on. She was a procrastinator at the best of times, tonight being one of those times. If they were truly desperate to see her perform they'd be okay if she were a tad late.



Relena shrugged once again, and much to Wufei's dismay leaned back further into the couch. "I like to watch the news," she stated simply. She wasn't being pert, nor was she telling a lie. She liked to keep up with the world's current affairs. It kept her informed with her homeland without looking too obvious to the innocent onlooker. To the outside eye it appeared as though she were a news junkie.



Wufei grumbled a bit. So he was going to be in her esteemed presence may hap a little longer. "Oh get over it Wufei. I'm not going to tell Duo and the others about Sally. I am capable of keeping my mouth freaking shut you know?!" Relena snapped. She instantly regretted her harsh words and the surprised look of hurt that crossed Wufei's features. So she knew about Sally hmm...how?



"I saw you guys together at the dance. You looked cute together." Relena stated. That was her evidence to the conclusion that she'd gathered. Surprisingly she was obviously a very perceptive person to have been able to pick up on the nature of Wufei's and Sally's relationship from just the casual observation of them together at the dance. Maybe he'd misjudged Relena after all.



The two quieted their discourse and settled in an eerily uncomfortable silence watching the items on the news programme that hour.



Relena almost fell out of her chair when the Cinq Kingdom's flag was flashed across the screen as a symbol of a breaking-news story. Wufei glanced at his now very agitated companion. She was sitting on the edge of the couch, her knees pulled up to her chest and she looked as though she were hugging her kneecaps to death. What was going on?



//Out of my depth. Lost in the air. Falling faster. Like a broken elevator//



"In a now breaking story," the commentator began, "the Cinq kingdom today saw the worst bout of riots ever, with the deaths of up to fifteen hundred people, the worst death toll in a protest rally of this kind, ever . . ."



//Out of my depth. Lost in the dark. Waiting for the other shoe to come down hard.??



"Oh dear god." Relena breathed. Wufei studied his companion once again. She'd gone a deathly pale and her cheeks were moist-stained. What the hell was happening?



//I cannot communicate like I wish I could. I do not deal with my problems like I know I should.//



The commentator continued describing the scene of the crime in disturbing detail. "The question that everyone now is asking is whether the Romefellar's rule of the Cinq Kingdom is as just as they once promised on their ousting of the Peacecraft family. Certainly fifteen hundred dead in one day cannot be titled as a just and fair rule. One can only question how the Peacecraft family would react to this atrocity if they were alive today."



//I am out of my depth. I am out of my league. Watching everything . . .just slip away from me.//



Relena was shaking terribly. It was like she was having a nervous breakdown without having anything mentally wrong with her. Wufei looked nervously at his companion. Relena seemed to sense that Wufei was watching her and gathered her wits about her. "I'm okay Wufei. Sorry just a little relapse in thought."



//Something bad is going to happen. I can feel it deep inside. There are shadows all around me. Like a bad moon on the rise.// I am in over my head.// I am in too deep over my head.// I guess I should keep my opinions to myself.// I guess I am out of my depth.//



"Ah ha." Yeah right. Something had happened to Relena in the small space of just a few minutes. She'd looked nervous and apprehensive if anything when she'd first encountered him before sitting on the couch. Wufei had put it down to pre-concert nerves. She'd even wrangled him a bit while they'd been sitting on the couch. But after watching that news footage of the Cinq Kingdom something had happened to Relena. Something had shuttered off - or on. Wufei wasn't quite sure what. The only conclusion that Wufei could draw on based on Relena's reaction to the news footage just shown was that Relena had some sort of emotional bond with the Cinq Kingdom. Maybe she was worried for relatives living there. She might be presuming their deaths. There had after all been a countless number of deaths in the a fore mentioned rioting. What a horrible place to be living in right at that moment. And judging from photographs and descriptions in the history class Wufei took, the Cinq Kingdom had once been a beautiful kingdom, ruled by a beautiful and good-at-heart family. It probably was still beautiful, Wufei surmised, but the iron-fisted rule of Romefellar had probably degraded the natural beauty a great deal. People could not live in iron-constrictions. It was not natural. The rioting was a protest against the rule, against the suppression. And those Cinq civilians that had taken part in the rioting had paid dearly with their lives. They had undoubtedly proved a point however. A time of great change was upon the Cinq Kingdom. The Romefellar Organisation either had to change their ideals or be overthrown. On the latter reasoning Wufei was unsure. Just who, or what would be courageous and strong enough to overthrow the Romefellar Organisation? It was such a strong organisation. It already ruled a great deal of the world's weaker nations. The United States were lucky in that they had always been governed by such a patriotic government with such patriotic people that it was a country very difficult to overthrow. So, in that way they had survived the brink of Romefellar's attempted takeovers. This however left other smaller peace-loving countries such as the Cinq Kingdom open to the harsh hands of Romefellar who cared fairly little about their needs or wishes. However the Cinq Kingdom was different in that its support and input of pacifism had meant it a target of Romefellar's. Its people still paid the consequences of taking on such an extreme point of view of government almost twenty years after its instigation. And the honey-haired girl dressed in the black skirt-white shirt ensemble beside Wufei was crying unshed and unheard tears of grief for people he could only guess she never even knew. She had such a big heart. And she seemed to feel their grievances as a mother did their child's.



//Out of my depth. Right from the start. I feel like I was born with an invisible heart. Out of my depth seems like everyday. I can't find the words to make the good things come my way.//



Wufei reached over unsuspectingly and patted Relena's shoulder gently. He wasn't very open to moments of sentimentality, but the girl seemed to need someone at the moment. She looked so lost, as though she had no clue at what she should do. Not that she should be thinking to even do anything. The Romefellar Organisation was just too big for a seventeen year old nobody to deal with. What the Cinq Kingdom really needed was a secret armament programme. They would then be able to deal evenly with the Romefellar Organisation and Oz; it's military force.



//I feel like I'm faking it. I feel like I am wrong. I feel like I'm a guest . . . like I just do not belong.//



Relena wiped her face with the sleeve of her now dampened white shirt. So much for looking spiffy. It was disgusting, no mortifying the waste of lives that had just been broadcasted on the news footage. How could such a horrid government get away with ruling such a peace loving nation? They should have learnt by now that the Cinq people, even after years and years of tortuous rule would not take the Romefellar government and its Oz special forces standing down. There was no way of that. Relena needed to contact Pagan. He would know what to do.



//I am out of my depth. Every single day. I just cannot find the words. To make my monsters go away.//



"Um, excuse me for a moment Wufei." Relena stood up and left a thoughtful Wufei watching after her as she moved to the phone booth that was situated outside the common room.



****



Relena leaned against one of the three walls in the phone booth, grateful that she hadn't all but broken down in front of Wufei. He'd sensed that something was up with her, but hadn't been able to pinpoint it. That was good. Her cover hadn't been blown yet. Reaching for the phone, Relena flicked a myriad of coins into the pay box. She then dialed a phone number she'd learnt off by heart the day after she'd escaped the Cinq Kingdom.



Three customary rings sounded out before the other person on the other end of the phone line picked up. She and her brother were the only ones to have this cell phone number. It was another secret in itself. And the person who answered the phone was an old and respected friend. He was something of a guardian and had hidden both herself and her brother safely in exile. He also linked the two siblings together, acting somewhat as a go-between. His name was Pagan, and he'd just picked up the phone.



"Ahhh...Miss Relena I was expecting you to call about now." The gravely voice spoke with such eloquence yet you could hear just from the way that he articulated each word that although he was an aged man, he was also a wise one. He in a way held an esteemed wisdom one could only be gifted with through years of hardship and experience in the ways of the world.



Relena sighed a tired sigh of frustration. Things never got any easier. She was living two lives. The Dorlian life she lived more readily and more often. But every now and then something like the rioting that had occurred today pulled Relena back to her Peacecraft origins reminding her of her destiny.



"What do I do Pagan? I can't just stand by and watch those people die . . . it's not meant to be like this." Relena idly ran her fidgety hands up and down the telephone set. It was the truth, what on earth could she possibly do?



There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. Pagan had been anticipating Relena's phone call. But the news had only been broadcasted a few minutes ago. He hadn't had enough time to work the situation through competently.



"There's nothing that you can do for the moment Miss Relena." Pagan said finally. There was no way that he could hide the hopelessness of the situation in the current tone of his voice. He sounded like he'd lost his Butler of the Year trophy, only the situation was way worse than that.



"But I have to do something Pagan. Fifteen hundred people are dead because I am too much of a coward to go back there." Relena was now near tears. She couldn't cry. She was sick of crying. God, no wonder none of the girls at St. Michael's had befriended her. She cried way too much for her own good.



"You are no coward Miss Relena. Nobody else knows you're alive. How can you be a coward if you're considered deceased?" Pagan said firmly, putting his foot down as a father did when his daughter tried to stretch her curfew by a few hours.



"But what am I to do Pagan?" Relena continued in her trip to self-deprivation. "You said last time that my brother is not ready to return home yet. 'He doesn't have everything sorted' is what you said last time we talked. But how can we stand idly by and watch our people killed off like cattle. Just because they are protesting what should be their democratic right to voice their unhappiness at their current stature of government." Relena fisted her small, callused yet delicately royal hand against the wall of the phone box. What was she to do?



Pagan cleared his throat. He needed to keep the royal children in their current positions for the time being. Any sudden and uncalled for movement would draw attention to themselves, and they needed to be alive and well so as to take back their kingdom and in doing so save their people. Relena obviously understood that, but he could sense the seething guilt that came with staying stationary. She wanted to be there for her people, she wanted to grieve for her people. Yet her current situation in life called for her not grieving about people so far away. His heart went out to her. To both the siblings.



"You mustn't do anything rash Relena. The right time is upon us. Just not yet. You are too kind Relena. You are also too unselfish and selfless for your own good if I do say so Miss."



Relena gasped. Too unselfish?? Here she was cavorting on the other side of the world in some preppy rich school and Pagan denoted her unselfish. Was he on medication? "You're very wrong about that Pagan!" Relena snapped half angry at herself and half angry at Pagan for suggesting her of being of the like.



Pagan interrupted her easily, "You are too unselfish Miss Relena in that you will not do anything rash that could quite possibly hurt your people more than the current situation that they are in would."



"But Pa-"



"No Miss Relena. You are a Peacecraft, and my opinion stands. You are too unselfish to leave your people defenseless. I know that when the time comes you will find a loophole...a way to defend your people and still uphold your family's true ideal of pacifism. I just know it." Pagan was such an old knight. Although he was a butler he just oozed nobility and eloquence. And Relena loved him ever so much for it. He was like the grandfather she'd never had.



"Thank you for the compliment Pagan. But that doesn't put my heart any more at rest. Have you heard from Milliardo?" Relena glanced at the clock she could see across the hall. The concert started in five minutes. She needed to end the conversation soon and probably sprint her way to the auditorium. She pocketed a few more quarters into the phone wanting to churn out just a little more information from Pagan.



"Not for a few weeks Miss. He'd just been promoted to Lieutenant last time I talked to him. He said that it would only be a short while before he'd be ready to talk business with you." Pagan had said it. He'd said the code word that was like money to a pauper, music to a deaf man, colour to a blind person. The word business meant that once the two were reunited they could plan their way into the Cinq Kingdom and than overthrow the Romefellar Organistaion.



Relena breathed a sigh of relief. "That is music to my ears Pagan"



"I know Miss. You must understand why you must not do anything sudden or drastic that will draw attention to yourself right?" Pagan had finally gotten Relena to see the sense she already knew but had been unwilling to admit.



Relena nodded, then voicing her confirmation. Pagan's voice cut through the line once again. "Ah Miss Relena are things okay at your new school?" The question seemed innocent but Relena had the feeling that Pagan was wanting to know whether or not anybody had suspected her of her true identity. She couldn't afford to let him worry anymore than he obviously already did so she refrained from telling him about the break-in incident. Instead she told him things were fine, in fact they were great and in doing so said her adieus to the butler who had been her guardian angel through thick and thin ever since they'd left the Cinq Kingdom and parted ways. He'd been both hers and Milliardo's protector and for that he would always be one of the few people Relena held close to her heart.



Hanging up the phone, Relena let out a breath she'd been unknowingly holding. She would make no rash decisions. And she would not draw attention to herself. Cinq civilians had died today, but Relena had to deal with the news and also with the idea that probably many more would die if her and Milliardo were to go through with the promise they'd both made to each other the day they'd escaped Cinq. They were going to return to the Cinq Kingdom and overthrow Romefellar. And they would rule the nation as their parents and Peacecraft sovereigns before them had ruled the peace-loving nation. They would uphold the ideal of pacifism.



****



Relena burst out of the phone box finding a concerned Wufei still waiting on the couch. "Where's Sally?" She'd seen Sally walk past the phone booth towards the common room while on the phone. But she was nowhere in plain sight, and Wufei was still sitting as stiffly as ever on the couch he should have leaned back into. It looked so damn comfy!



Wufei stood up. He was a young man of honour and had been unsettled upon seeing the girl his friends seemed to respect and honour so highly upset. He had wanted to see her safe and sound and was taking it upon himself to escort her to the concert safely. Relena looked okay now. She was at that very moment straightening her skirt and shirt, fanning out the wrinkles gained from sitting on the couch and leaning against the telephone box. She'd been in there for sometime. Whoever she'd talked to had calmed her down well enough and she seemed a different person altogether now.



"I will escort you to the auditorium."



Relena looked at him smugly. Duo was right in saying that Wufei for all his anti-feminist ranting was indeed a ladies man. She nodded at him. "Escort is not the word you should be using Wufei. We have about a minute to make a dash for it to the other side of the school. You up for it?"



Wufei smiled a small yet genuine smile. Grabbing her hand he led her down the stairs of the girls boarding area and through the shortcuts he'd memorised to the auditorium. The two panting teenagers made it to the nearly overly filled auditorium just in time for the first performance, a Christmas carol performed by the choir. Wufei left Relena at the back of the stage, spotting Duo who was waving like a madman for him to come and relinquish the seat he'd so kindly saved for the Chinese boy. Wufei decided to take Duo out of his misery.



****



Relena bent over, panting from the sprint her and Wufei had made. She really needed to stop skipping her physical education classes. She truly paid for the lack of exercise whenever she tried to do something even overtly physical.



"Relena!" Quatre squawked coming to stand beside her. "Where have you been? Reganald has been screaming 'bloody murder' for the last half hour."



Relena groaned. God! She hated that uptight music teacher. He really did have one giant pole stuck up his ass. "I had a couple of things to do Quatre." Quatre eyed her unbelievingly. Relena rolled her eyes. Now was not the time to give Quatre a status report. "I'll tell you about it later okay?"



Quatre nodded although he still couldn't help but be concerned. The choir had finished their Christmas carol and had moved off the stage leaving the Master of Ceremonies to introduce the next act.



"Quatre that's our cue." Trowa uttered from behind Quatre. He held Quatre's violin out to the blond boy who'd been so anticipating the concert. This was the Arabian's niche. And Trowa didn't want his friend to miss out on something that the boy spent so much of his spare time preparing for. Relena shook Quatre's arm, wishing him good luck and eyed the two young men as they made their way out to the front of the stage. Half-lidded cerulean blue eyes trailed an outline of the two young men performing. One a short blond Arabian boy with an exceptional talent for music had his head thrashed wildly back as his fingers untamedly moved up and down the strings of his violin. His small yet long pale fingers seemed to move completely to a time all of their own. While Quatre's tall friend held a small narrow and long piece of metal, a flute. His long slender fingers moved evocatively up and down the instrument as a sweet harmony was sourced in a duel-like dance that matched Quatre's own dark and brooding tune. The two really were riveting together, moving in time to their own music, in their own worlds. It was bliss.



Quatre and Trowa's duet came to an end all too soon and Relena found herself facing Reganald's wrath. He'd found her during the duet and once the audience started clapping in a massive applaud for her two friends, Reganald started yelling at her. "What time do you call this Miss Dorlian? You're late and you're up next!"



Relena shrugged. She was there after all. The old bag really had to learn to shut up and take it. She'd shown up and that should be good enough. She didn't even want to perform really. And she still felt completely lousy about the rioting incident in the Cinq Kingdom. If these people knew the truth Reganald wouldn't be forcing her to sing in but a few minutes, and those people out there wouldn't look at her with such disdain.



Relena observed from the crowd hers and Quatre's new friends. Duo was on his chair amongst the audience making a roaringly loud stomp, waving his hands in the air while chanting a very audible mantra of "Q and T rock!" and "Way to go Q and T!" She watched as Wufei sat with Sally clapping his hands together with a little more force and noise than was necessary. He looked as though he now had a new respect for the duet. They had played well together. Like a team. They seemed to have read each other through the music playing remarkably well through even the difficult to reach notes. She recognised a dark head of mussed hair sitting near Duo trying not to draw attention to himself. Heero looked up at that moment, seeming to have sensed Relena's eyes on him. Intense cobalt blue eyes met Relena's own thoughtful cerulean blue. Relena couldn't help but flush. She hated being caught staring, but it was kind of difficult not to stare at Heero. He was the type of guy you stared at without realising so. He was the masculine version of beautiful...in an unkempt, serious, and intense cold kind of way. She was brought back from her musings by the tug of annoyance on her dress shirt from Reganald. "It's time Relena." He no longer looked angry with her. Instead he looked worried. "Good luck Relena. You can do it. Please don't screw up." The guy has serious issues when it comes to sentimentality. He really needed to cool down, let loose for a little while. He had pushed her into this after all. Relena grumbled a little bit as Reganald pushed her towards the stage just as the Master of Ceremonies finished introducing her.



"...and without any further ado I'd like to introduce to you Relena Dorlian, who's singing a solo this evening with the school's choir to back her up. Though I hear she doesn't need it!" The Master of Ceremonies cheesily added the last bit much to Relena's dismay. She visibly winced as the MC winked at her before sashaying off the stage. Pervert!



The spotlight was on Relena as she stood in the middle of the stage, the blurry faces of the choir behind her and the indistinct faces of the audience in front of her. She clasped her hands together and cleared her throat, trying to remember what in the heck she was meant to be singing. Ahhh....bingo. She recalled the words to the music as the orchestra started up in the background, and she visibly wooed as she heard Quatre's violin in the background playing his own solo role amongst the many instruments performing. Opening her mouth to sound out the notes in a sweet melody uniquely her own, Relena sang the quiet yet haunting melody that was hers for the evening.



" Midnight in winter. The glowing fire.... Lights up your face in orange and gold...." Relena paused as Quatre's violin cut through echoing her own harmony before hand.



"I see your sweet smile. Shine through the darkness. It's line is etched in my memory.....So I know you by heart..." the audience's attention was drawn to the blond violinist as he once again echoed what Relena had just sung. Relena smiled absently smoothing her skirt down as she recalled the next lyrics.



"Mornings in April. Sharing the secrets. We'd walk until the morning was gone....." Gaining confidence at the eerily quiet auditorium Relena raised her hooded eyes to meet that of her audience's. "We were like children. Laughing for hours. The joy you gave me lives on and on...Cause I know you by heart."



Unknowingly Relena's gaze at the audience met Heero's own. Locking eyes with him, Relena sang the second verse of the song, not wanting to break her gaze with his own intensely pensive one, afraid that if she took her eyes off of him for a moment he would disappear. He seemed to be the type of person who would vanish into thin air if you didn't pay close attention to his whereabouts.



"I still hear your voice, on warm summer nights. Whispering like the wind...." The choir joined in at the background finally, allowing Relena to regain some of her composure. Singing in tune could be daunting at times, especially in an auditorium filled to the brim as much as this one was.



"You left in autumn...The leaves were turning. I walked roads of orange and gold." Relena turned to where she knew Quatre was and watched as his bow moved gracefully up and down his violin as he echoed her own melody. "I saw your sweet smile. I heard your laughter. You're still here. Beside me everyday. Cause I know you by heart....Cause I know you by heart....." Relena breathed a sense of finality letting the honey that she'd let drip in the musical pitch of her words on the last phrase she sang in time to Quatre's violin movement. "Cause I know you by heart......"



The auditorium did not break out into a wild applause, but the audience was sufficiently pleased with Relena's very sweet yet haunting voice that had just permeated through the walls of the auditorium. Duo, was of course the first to clap jubilantly just as he had for Quatre and Trowa. And when Relena looked up from the bow she'd just taken she found Heero still in his seat, staring at her with that blank analytical look of his.



She pulled an invisible flinch, tearing her gaze away from Heero's and made her way off the stage. Well, she'd done it. She'd managed to perform without worrying about the stage fright. And once she'd gotten up there and sung half the song she realised that she hadn't really worried or wasted time trying to figure out if any of the parents in the audience recognised her true heritage.



****



Heero watched as Relena made her way behind the stage, her golden halo of annoying braids bobbing around as she briskly moved away. He'd been unbelievably surprised at her performance. So far for Heero, Relena was something of a superwoman. She was smart, funny, kind, could drive a car and had an obviously pleasant singing voice. No, correction. Not only pleasant, but haunting, beautiful . . . and filled with much sadness. Too much sadness for a girl of seventeen. He joined the crowd in their applause of her as Duo punched him in the shoulder trying to get him to join in his ecstatic cheering for the girl they now considered their friend. But what was she to Heero? As much as he'd liked to call Relena his friend, how can you do so if you've never trusted anyone? He wasn't even sure if a 'friend' is what he even wanted to consider her as being. Friends weren't meant to make you feel queasy, or uneasy, or uncomfortable, or terribly warm all over. But this 'friend' did. And it was worrying for Heero. For he had a job to do and right at that moment it was becoming increasingly difficult to do.



****



Relena slumped against the corridor wall outside the auditorium only vaguely listening to the rest of the evening's performers. Her head was a flurry of so many things. The topic most highly ranked on her list was her conversation with Pagan and what would happen once her and Milliardo were reunited. There were a great deal many things she wanted to do to Romefellar for the toll of lives lost in the Cinq Kingdom. But, she was at a downer in that her ideals of pacifism clashed with the idea of beating the shit out of the organistion.



Relena decided to leave the concert. She wasn't in the mood for socialising tonight. And Duo was bound to hound her about her talents or her lack of talent - or something like that. And Relena wasn't really in the mood. The guilt was eating her up to a great extent at present, and she felt that if she didn't leave the concert where there were so many people, that she would likely suffocate.



Before she could turn to go, a familiar bob of mussed dark brown hair had made its way before her. Heero? What was he doing there? He was meant to be sitting in the audience still, watching the actual talented performers perform. "Heero...what are you doing here?"



"Hn..."



Relena audibly groaned. She hated when he did this. His conversational skills really did suck. In fact they left nothing to be desired of at all. Relena turned to leave Heero standing by himself, just as she had the night of the dance. But his long and surprisingly delicate fingers wrapped around her wrist once again. "Don't do this again Relena. It's boring."



"No. It's deja vu!" Relena smirked, trying to loosen Heero's hold from her wrist. His grip wouldn't budge. It was no use, he had her in a typical death grip. And was that a death glare he was sending her??



Heero loosened his hold on Relena and gestured towards the door. "Walk you back?"



Relena looked up at him, unable to hold the surprise back. "You knew....hey! How did you know I was going to take off?"



Heero shrugged. It was all part of this annoyingly odd connection he had with her. His honed skills had noted the hurried way in which she'd bustled off the stage. It was a dead give away for her trying to escape and evade the auditorium.



Relena walked with Heero in a comfortable silence to the girls boarding area. "You have a nice voice Relena." Heero was giving her a compliment. Had the earth moved or something? It wasn't much of a compliment actually, but it was a compliment nevertheless. And one from Heero. He barely ever congratulated or complimented people. Actually he never congratulated or complimented people. So why the change?



"Thank you Heero. I really didn't feel like singing tonight though."



"You didn't the other day either." Heero reminded her of her little breakdown in front of the main office the other day. She smiled a little. How observant of him.



"Yeah, well you know how you've got to deal with these things."



They stopped outside the girls common room. "Thanks Heero. Although I can really take care of myself. It was kind of you to walk me back."



Heero nodded. He still had yet to work out why he'd decided to talk to Relena, though you couldn't really call what they'd been doing the past five minutes talking. More like walking and thinking....and communicating silently....the communication of two souls.



Unexpectedly Relena tugged on Heero's shirt cuff. This would be the perfect moment for a kiss. A chaste kiss of sorts. But Heero wasn't ready for it, and neither was she. Not in the fragile state she was in. Instead she placed in his hands the lyric sheet Reganald had given her to memorise for the concert. Heero looked at her in blank surprise. "Night Heero." He watched her until she until she was out of sight. When her presence was no more, he opened up the ratty looking piece of paper. It was tea stained and had been wrinkled and creased from being folded over so many times.



He read the words out loud to himself, their meaning imprinting themselves in his memory and in his reawakening soul. "Midnight's in winter. The glowing fire. Lights up your face in orange and gold. I see your sweet smile. Shine through the darkness. It's line is etched in my memory." He paused and couldn't help but wince at the next lyrics, "So I know you by heart . . ." Heero groaned. These lyrics were a symbol of something, and Heero was absolutely dumb as to what the symbol was. He was meant to excel in situations requiring quick-minded problem solving. Yet there he was struggling to figure out the meaning of some pointless lyrics on a scruffy piece of paper. Pocketing the paper in his jeans, Heero headed back to his own dorm with much to think about.



****



Inside her dorm Relena gave herself up to the grief she'd been so longing to shed ever since she'd watched the news footage earlier on in that evening. She didn't cry. She'd done too much of that already. She did however curl herself up in a fetal position under her ancient like duvet and thought about the events of the day. Silently she imagined herself crying and grieving for those that had died earlier on in the day. They were scores to Relena's invisibly blood-stained hands. She imagined herself grieving, crying, sobbing because of her impending situation, for her family's loss. But most of all when she could not hold in the tears of grief anymore she cried for her people and the loss they had suffered that day.



//Oh, go away. Make them go away. Someday I know I will make them go away. Make them go away. Make them go away. Someday I know . . .I will make my monsters go away.//



chapter ends...but it is tbc.



****



Author notes: The lyrics I put in here are from 'Out of Depth' on Everclear's 'Songs from an American Movie - Vol. Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude' album.

The lyrics to the song Relena sang at the concert come from the song 'I know you by heart' written by Diane Scanlon and Eve Nelson. I got this from the now deceased Eva Cassidy's album 'Songbird'. She's a wonderful singer and has a brilliantly haunting voice. And I advise any of you who enjoy listening to any of Sarah McLachlan's songs or Dido's songs that you should buy her albums. Her parents put several albums out on her behalf, and all of them are lovely. My personal favourite being 'Songbird'. But 'Time After Time' and her 'Live at Blues Alley' album are also beautiful works of musical talent.



Next time: 'A Christmas Interlude'. Yes, that's right I'm getting into the Christmas spirit! And so will all our favourite Gundamwing characters. This chapter was angsty and sad enough. Christmas here we come!!