* Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing or it's characters. I do own the original plot and the characters I created. Please e-mail me and let me know how I'm doing with my first fanfic. I welcome criticism and compliments! You will not understand this story unless you read the chapters in order. *
(This information might help you keep track while reading this story. This is the last time I will give you information like this. So if you need it, memorize it. Let me know if putting out the ages and names like this helps you or not and whether or not you would prefer I did not do things like this. Thanks! P.S. I made a big whoopsie! Laura Coville is not Catherine's cousin; they're just good friends. I plan on setting her and Trowa up, so they can't be cousins. Anyway, enjoy!)
Characters (Current Age at Chapter 2)
Relena Darlian/Peacecraft - 24
Heero Yuy - 24
Zechs Merquise/Milliardo Peacecraft - 28
Lucrezia Noin - 28
Duo Maxwell - 24
Hilde Schbeiker - 24
Trowa Barton/Triton Bloom - 24
Catherine Bloom - 26
Quatre Raberba Winner - 24
Christine Malcolm - 25
Wufei Chang - 24
Sally Po - 28
Lady Une - 28
Mariemeia Barton - 15
Laura Coville 23
Gregory Larson 26
Children (So far born at time of Chapter 2)
Sylvester Peacecraft 6 (AC 198)
Emily Peacecraft 3 (AC 201)
Avery Maxwell 5 (AC 199)(Twins)
Alvin Maxwell 5 (AC 199)
Dominic Winner 5 (AC 199)
Lilac Winner 1 (AC 203)(Triplets)
Azalea Winner 1 (AC 203)
Daisy Winner 1 (AC 203)
Han Chang 1 (AC 203)
Andrew Coville 5 (AC 199)
Somewhere on colony L3-X11486 . . .
Relena hurried, not wanting to be late for her first gallery opening. Her short black hair flew behind her. She missed her long honey colored hair but it was necessary, if she didn't want anyone to recognize her as former Vice Foreign Minister Relena Darlian. She was Reyna Pax now, an artist who had just recently gotten recognition for her work.
It had been three years since she had run away. It had been a big story on the news for awhile, with press playing her resignation video over and over. The Preventers had officially given up the search for her but she knew that they were still on the look out for her. And she also knew from Catherine that her brother and Heero were still searching for her. Zechs couldn't search for her as much as he would like too. Lucrezia, their kids, and the Mars terraforming project kept him pretty busy. It was just as well. She just wished Heero would give up and lead a life of his own. But from what Catherine had reported to her, he wasn't likely to give up soon.
Oh Heero she thought as she ran. Why can't you learn? I have so much freedom now. My dreams are slowly coming true. You never really cared for me, so why search for me? It was true. When she had first arrived on the L3 colony, Laura had offered her a job working at her restaurant, the Sunrise Diner. It was the most popular restaurant on the colony and Laura was a fabulous chef. When she wasn't working, Relena was taking classes at the local university. With encouragement from her art professor and Laura, she had begun painting. Laura had liked her paintings so much, she had them displayed on the walls in her restaurant. An art dealer had seen them and the rest was history.
Who knew that her paintings would be so popular? Maybe it was because of the poems she wrote for each painting, which were on display along with her work. Relena had always dreamed of becoming an artist, but she never though she'd become famous. She had promised her friends she'd stay out of the limelight. Well, she wasn't that famous yet. This was her first gallery showing in a prominent museum.
Relena stopped to catch her breath as she reached the museum. Straightening her clothes and fluffing out her hair, she went inside. There were few reporters. As much as she wanted people to like her paintings, she would rather stay a smalltime artist and avoid the press as much as possible. She headed straight to the part of museum where her art was being displayed, arriving just as the curator called her name to come make a small speech about her art.
Taking a deep breath, Relena quickly spoke the short speech that had given her so much trouble to write she was late. "Thank you for coming today to see my art. When I wrote these poems and created these paintings to match them, I never expected them to become so popular. I thank those who admire my work so much and I hope you enjoy the pieces I selected for this showing. Thank you." And with that, she stepped down. Being up there had reminded her too much of her old life as a minister making speeches about peace and pacifism.
Surprised at the short speech, the crowd quickly dispersed to explore the museum and admire the art. A few people came up to congratulate her but most were there to see her art, which relieved Relena to no end. Flattery from strangers never sat well with her.
During her speech she had noticed a tall, lanky man who had stared with such intensity in his eyes it had reminded her of Heero. It made her curious. But when she had stepped down from the podium, he was already gone. It was just as well. The look in his eyes had made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. It gave her the feeling that there was something wrong about him. She shook her head. You are just being paranoid. Left over from being a foreign minister and worrying about assassins.
Preventer Headquarters of the Sanc Kingdom . . .
Lady Une had just called a meeting in her briefing room with Preventers Sally, Wufei, and Heero, who became a Preventer last year. Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Zechs and Noin were also there. There were headquarters around the world but it was convenient to meet there while everyone was in town for the yearly celebration of Relena's birthday, which was in two days. The kingdom was now a democracy but the people still honored there former sovereign, even though she was missing.
Lady Une turned to face the room. She did not have good news to present to them. "I have recently come upon some information that disturbs me, to say the least."
"Is this about Miss Relena?" Lucrezia asked, her instinct as sharp as ever.
"Have you finally found her?" exclaimed Duo.
"No, I have not," replied Lady Une, trying to hold onto her patience. It was hard to keep, with Duo around.
"Well, then, if you haven't located her, what have you discovered?" asked Wufei, who never had any patience to begin with.
"Let her talk," ordered Zechs, instantly quieting the room.
"I have not found Relena Peacecraft but the information I have found is related to her. Just recently Preventer Officer Gregory Larson, age 26, went missing. Upon searching his apartment, investigators found numerous photographs, newspaper clippings, drawings and videotapes that all featured Relena. In his journal, all he talked about was her. I'm afraid that Mr. Larson was obsessed with Miss Relena," explained Lady Une.
"You think if he finds Relena, that he might harm her," stated Heero.
"How could he find her? Not even Heero was able to track her down," said Quatre, a frown marring his features.
"You're stepping on Heero's toes, Q-man. Although, you do have a point. Maybe Heero's grown soft with no war to fight," remarked Duo, stealing a glance at the cold pilot. Heero gave him a freezing glare.
"Well, I'm afraid that from what was indicated in his journals, he has already found her," announced Lady Une. Silence fell on the room.
"Are you sure? I mean, he could be wrong. If he's mentally ill, don't you think he might be disillusioning himself?" asked Sally, her skepticism plain in her features.
"I don't want to take the chance that he did actually find her. Or he could be stalking some innocent person, pretending she's Relena. From what we've recovered on his computer he's heading for somewhere on colony cluster L3," commanded Lady Une.
"Wait, Lady Une. I know a way of confirming whether or not he's on the right track in his search of Relena," spoke up Trowa. All heads turned towards him.
"What do you mean, Trowa?" asked Quatre.
"I know someone that Relena contacts to keep tabs on us," replied Trowa, as calm as ever, even though every person in the room was glaring at him.
"And when were you planning on telling us this little piece of information?" asked Zechs, trying to keep an ironclad control on his temper.
"Well, never, unless she was in trouble. Which, she just might be," came the monotonous reply.
Suddenly they heard the click of a safety being removed on a gun. Heero had quietly crept around the table unnoticed and was now pointing a gun at Trowa's head. "Get the contact in here. Now."
Even Trowa felt a little afraid at the cold anger in Heero's eyes. "Fine. Let me just call her."
Up in space . . .
Relena slowly walked around the museum, observing how people studied her artwork. It was strange to see her work on display in such a regal place for the public to see. There was her first painting of a woman similar looking to her crying all alone upon a statue pedestal while a sea of strange faces stared. It was entitled 'Pedestal':
Why must you set me upon this pedestal,
In high display for all to see?
Can't you see how lonely I am upon this pedestal,
With only the admiration of many and never the love of one?
Most of her poems were short; either couplets or quartets. Her most popular painting was of a teenage girl running in the forest, with a dark shadow chasing her. It was entitled 'Free':
Let me go, let me leave,
Why won't you let me be free?
Her own personal favorite was the one entitled 'His Mask'. It was of a teenage boy similar in looks to Heero, hiding behind a mask. A ghost form of girl was reaching for him, trying to remove the mask:
Must you always hide behind a mask,
That tells the world lies?
Why won't you let me in,
To the soul I know is hiding there?
Relena stopped to study the one painting that confused her as well as others. She had painted it in almost a trance and when she was finished, the image shocked her as well as others. It was a girl with weak-looking, transparent wings, chained to the ground. She was pleading and crying to a boy hidden by shadow who had his back to her. It was the only painting in which she wrote the poem after the painting was finished. It was entitled 'Love or Death':
Must I find freedom in the darkness that lies in wait for all life?
Or will you give my soul the wings I need to fly free from these earthly chains?
Suddenly, from behind her a voice said, "While I usually like most of your paintings, this one is a little too morbid for me."
Relena whirled around to discover the tall, lanky man with intense eyes she had noticed earlier. She could now see that he had a thick mop of curly auburn hair and that his eyes were a lovely hazel color. Those eyes were currently studying her so hard that Relena instantly became uncomfortable.
Shifting her feet nervously, Relena asked, almost accusatory, "What makes you think that I am the artist Reyna Pax?" Relena instantly winced, realizing that in her anxiety she had just asked a silly question to which she already knew the answer.
"Well, your picture was in the art section of the paper right next to the advertisement for your showing. And I did catch your speech a few minutes ago," he answered, a small grin appearing on his face. "That was an awfully short speech, by the way."
Relena blushed. What are you doing, grilling him like that? He's just an innocent admirer of your work! It's not like he's out to kill you! "Um, yeah, well I couldn't think of anything to say," she replied. "It's not exactly like I'm a professional public speaker." Aware of what she just said, Relena gave out a short bark of laughter.
"Really." Something in his face made Relena think that he didn't believe what she had said. You're being silly Relena. He can't possibly know that your name is not Reyna Pax and that it's really Relena Peacecraft.
He offered his hand for her to shake. "I'm Greg, by the way."
"Well, you already know my name," she replied, taking his hand. His grip was strong and Relena was again made uncomfortable when he held her hand longer then she liked.
Letting her hand go, Greg pointed at her painting. "So, why paint something like that? Don't tell me you've felt like committing suicide just because someone wouldn't love you?"
Relena felt her face turn red. The way he said it made her sound like she was pathetic. Abruptly she became angry and retorted, "Just because I painted it doesn't mean it happened to me. And besides, a lot of young people take their first loves very seriously." Relena paused, reflecting. "Sometimes too seriously."
Greg immediately put up his hands in surrender, making Relena feel a little foolish. "Sorry. I didn't mean to step on your toes."
"It's all right. I didn't mean to snap at you."
"I shouldn't have said what I did about your feelings. That was too personal. Let me make it up to you. I'll buy you lunch. What do you say?" His intense eyes stared at her, making her think that he wouldn't like it if she said no.
Relena almost said yes but the intensity of his eyes gave her the feeling that his intentions were not very noble. "I'm sorry but I have a previous engagement with a friend. Maybe some other time."
Greg gave a shrug. "If that's what you want. I'll guess I'll see you around."
His hazel eyes flashed fire, leading Relena to believe he really wasn't that amiable about her refusal for lunch. "Yeah, sure. See you around."
And with that, Relena left. What she didn't see as she left was how Greg glared at her retreating back and how he squeezed his hand into a fist so tightly, blood began to drip from in between his fingers. But she did shiver as she stepped out of the museum, feeling as if someone was watching her.
Back on Earth . . .
Within the hour, Catherine had arrived at the briefing room, with Hilde and Christine in tow. The babies had been left with the Winner nanny, while the elder children were left in the charge of Mariemeia, who had become quite the baby-sitter.
"What is all this about, Triton? You didn't explain it very well on the phone," said Catherine, slightly annoyed at having her shopping trip interrupted. As she looked around the room, Catherine suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable as several pairs of eyes glared at her coldly.
Quickly, Trowa explained the situation to her, before anyone could begin yelling. Catherine blanched as she heard the name of the place he was heading for. Noticing, Trowa asked, "Is colony L3 where Relena has been living for the past three years?"
Catherine nodded. "Yes. On colony L3 X11486. I don't see how he could have found out. She's been staying with an old friend of mine, Laura Coville, and studying to be an artist. She changed her looks and stays away from the media."
Zechs slammed his fist on the table. "You should have told us Relena was planning on running away! And you should have told us where she went three years ago when she first left!"
Catherine glared right back at him. "I will do what I feel is right to me. Relena needed to go live a life of her own without you guys oppressing her with your over-protective ways!"
Lucrezia tried to restrain her husband as he suddenly jumped to his feet. "A few simple bodyguards is not overprotective! And that's beside the point! The point is - "
"The point is, is that there is a man with questionable intentions after Relena! So if you two could put aside your bickering, I would like to have Relena warned about it," scolded Lady Une at her worst ire.
Turning to Catherine, she continued. "Miss Bloom, would you mind calling Miss Relena and let her know she's in trouble?" asked Lady Une.
Catherine went straight for the vidphone and dialed the number. A young woman with orange hair, gray-green eyes, and freckles appeared on the screen. "Hi, Catherine. Anything wrong?"
"There's a stalker after Relena, Laura. Somehow he found out where she was hiding. We need to stash her somewhere safe. Where is she now?" explained Catherine.
"She's out right now. She'll be back soon. I'll have her call you," replied Laura, worry etched onto her face. "I think I know how he found her. Reyna's paintings are becoming popular and her first gallery showing opened today. He might have read about it and recognized her picture."
"Thank you, Laura. We'll be out there soon to fetch Relena. Be careful," warned Catherine. The link was terminated.
Lady Une took control. "Sally, you and Wufei prepare a shuttle. We're all leaving as soon as possible for colony L3 X11486."
As Sally and Wufei left, Heero spoke up. "What alias is she hiding under?"
At the colony . . .
The Sunrise Diner. Open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., it was always busy and crowded no matter what time. Laura and her son Andrew lived just above the restaurant. Relena boarded with them still but just recently she had started looking for a place of her own. She felt guilty for imposing on her and Andrew, no matter how many times Laura reassured her that she was very welcome to stay.
Relena went inside through the employees' entrance and began sneaking towards the stairs, hoping she wouldn't get roped into working on her day off. Just as her feet hit the stairs, a voice behind her said, "Reyna, there's no need to sneak around. Are you that afraid I'll rope you into working on your day off? Don't be ridiculous. Now come down and have some lunch while there's a lull in business. You know how rare that occurs."
Relena turned to greet a small slim young woman who looked like a teenager but was really 23 years old. Only her face, which had too many strain lines for her age, told differently. Being broke and homeless and a mother at eighteen could do that to a person. Luckily, she had a friend like Catherine to help her out and set her on her own feet.
Relena sat down upon a stool as she watched Laura dish up some stew for her. "So where's Andy?"
"He got invited to a friend's birthday party. I swear, he must be one of the most popular kids at his school or something. He has more friends than I can keep track of," replied Laura as set the bowl of stew in front to Relena. Taking off her apron, she settled down across from Relena.
"So how was the gallery opening? I didn't expect you to be back for a least another hour."
"It was fine. There were only a couple of reporters, for which I was grateful. I would prefer to stay out of the limelight in case someone can recognize me despite my new look."
Laura sighed. "I think it might be too late."
Relena paused in her eating. "What do you mean?"
"Catherine called a little while ago. It seems someone saw your picture and recognized you for who you really are. And not a good someone either."
Relena shoved the stew away from her, which was only have eaten. "So who exactly recognized me?"
Laura sighed again. Catherine said it was stalker. Someone who is pretty obsessed with finding Relena Peacecraft and who doesn't exactly have the best intentions in mind."
Relena let her head fall to the table with a defeated look. "Will I ever be free of being 'Miss Relena'?"
Laura reached over and lifted Relena's face with gentle hands. "Relena is who you are. You can't run from who are."
"I can try."
Laura let go of her face and sighed. "That's not your only problem. Catherine told everyone where you've been hiding."
Relena's eyes widened with horror. "No. She wouldn't."
Laura nodded. "I'm afraid so. They're coming out here as soon as they can to protect you."
"Don't they have anything better to do?! I'm not the Vice Foreign Minister anymore! It's not a problem for the Preventers! It's my problem and I'll deal with it! I don't need them coming here and dictating my life anymore!" Relena was on the verge of tears.
Laura went around the table and tried to comfort Relena. "Oh come now, they wouldn't really do that, would they?"
"You don't know them! Once they find me, they'll force me to go back to my old life! And I can't do that! I may sound pretty selfish but I haven't had a chance to do what I want since I was a little girl. And even then I rarely got that chance since my father was a diplomat. I enjoy the life I've been living lately. It's been so carefree and peaceful." With those last words Relena burst into tears, something she hadn't done since her father died.
Laura hugged her tightly, unsure of how to comfort her. "I don't know what to do. You can't stop them coming here."
Relena suddenly stopped crying. She pulled away with a determined look on her face. "You are right. I can't do anything about them coming here. But I can make sure that I'm not here when they arrive."
"I'll just have to run away again. Change my identity. It would mean starting over again but I can do that." Relena stood up. "I better get packing. There's no telling when they'll get here. If they consider it priority, which my brother will insist on, Lady Une could get a private Preventer shuttle for them. Which means they could get here by tonight or tomorrow morning."
With that, Relena hurried upstairs to pack her things and see about buying a ticket to get off the colony. Which colony should I head for next? Not L4. Might be spotted by Quatre and Christine. Duo and Hilde are on L2. Maybe L1 . . .
Laura studied Relena as she left. I hope she knows what she's doing. She can't run and hide forever. She must face her ghosts sometime. I just hope they won't be too hard on her. Laura sighed and got up as some customers came through the door.
Down on Earth . . .
Three hours after the briefing, Sally, Wufei, Zechs, Lucrezia, Duo, Trowa, and Quatre were gathered in a hanger, preparing to board the shuttle that would take them to colony L3. Lady Une was there to see them off. Hilde and Christine had already said their good-byes. Catherine had only said good-bye to Trowa, seeing as she was not on good terms with everyone else, especially Zechs.
Just as they were about to board, Duo noticed someone was missing. "Hey, where's Heero? You'd think he would be the one who would want to see Relena the most."
Zechs growled while the rest frowned at Duo. "Hey, what did I do? I was just pointing out an obvious fact."
Lady Une gave a small smile. "You are right about one thing. Heero has disappeared. And so has his Preventer mission shuttle. I think he thought we were too slow and decided to go ahead without you."
Quatre shook his head. "That's just like Heero to do something like that."
Sally looked at her watch and began herding everyone on board the shuttle. "If we don't hurry, Relena may decide to run again. As it is, we won't get there 'til tomorrow morning."
Zechs glared. "She wouldn't be that stupid to refuse our help."
Wufei snorted. "You don't know your sister. If she runs away once, she'll run away a second time. Remember that she hates bodyguards. And we're going there to basically act as bodyguards."
"I hope you're wrong," said Lucrezia as she strapped into her seat beside her husband.
"Heero will arrive there before us. If she decides to run, maybe Heero could stop her," suggested Quatre, casting a hopeful glance towards Trowa.
"Maybe," Trowa replied quietly.
Elsewhere . . .
Silence resounded throughout the small shuttle. The only thing moving inside was the silent blue eyed pilot. The serenity of space had always calmed him, even during the war, when the serenity belied the turmoil of those times. As he approached his destination, he slipped a picture out of his pocket and studied it. The picture showed a young woman with long, honey colored hair and blue-green eyes. I finally know where you are Relena. And this time, I won't let you slip through my fingers.
(Sorry that I took so long writing this chapter. Not much happened in this chapter but the next chapter should be much more interesting. Quite a few things will happening. I'm looking forward to writing it.)