Author: Flamika
Category: General, light angst
Notes: Relena's POV
Pairings: 1+4 (mildly implied)
Warnings: It's a bit short...
Rating: PG
More Notes: The 1+4 hint is so subtle, if you blink when you're reading this, you'll probably miss it! O_O

Precious Things

It is a bad habit I have developed - to go wandering at night. Some part of me says that such a thing is dangerous, even in my own kingdom. And that little voice of paranoid sensibility is always there, a jittery demon sitting on my shoulder, whispering fearful things into my ear in that never-ending, perpetual voice of its. I often wish that I could flick the imp - annoying creature that it is - off my person and allow it to sail off into a place where I would never be able to see it or hear from its chattering mouth ever again. But as it stands, I can do nothing but ignore the creature's ceaseless talk about the Sanq Kingdom crumbling into ruins or an all-out war breaking out at such a delicate time. The day I submit to the demon's dark prophecies is the day... that I loose everything.

The night air is cool and calm. The moon is so full and beautiful that it nearly burns away all the shadows grabbing at the hem of my long, pleated white skirt. I suddenly think that I must look like some sort of ghastly apparition, floating aimlessly on the school grounds in the dead of the night. I wonder how everyone would react to the knowledge that Princess Relena had such a mysterious habit? They might think I am conspiring against the Kingdom... or that I have some secret lover, who I meet only when the moon was full and the night is just right.

People - myself included - tend to romanticize things at times.

I tell myself that there's no one I wish to encounter during these nightly walks of mine. I tell myself that I just want to stretch my weary limbs and allow my frazzled brain to be free of all thoughts of peace and politics for a couple of precious hours. I'm only fifteen years old, and sometimes I feel as if I'm fifty. I suppose the lingering smell of death and the prospect of an all-out war might do that to you. But the kingdom is different tonight. The air is charged, as if with electricity. The moon seems brighter, the shadows dimmer. My heart itself feels lighter, and it beats strangely fast, just like it has been since the day he returned. It's like this impregnable barrier has been thrown around my kingdom... and around me. I feel strong. I feel invincible. Tentative plans that were wavering delicately in the fabric of my mind are now solid plans in motion, progressing rapidly and efficiently. All my doubts have been obliterated, and I feel confident in my decision to promote the ideal of absolute pacifism, to stand up to the Romefellar Foundation's tyrannical yet sophisticated rule. Heero may not believe in me, but he has given me the strength to believe in myself.

My walks used to be for me, for my own personal peace, for a time to calm my turbulent mind, and they still are partly for me. Yet, I can't help but hope beyond hope that maybe, just maybe, he and I will stumble across each other one of these moonlit nights. Is it all just the romantic dream of a silly little girl? I do not know at the moment, and I do not give myself time to think about it.

During my walks, I used to travel only the familiar ground outside my quarters, the rolling green hills, the meadows with moonlight pooling amongst the blades of grass. But not tonight. Tonight I walk on the grounds of the Kingdom's university. I overheard that sometimes the two intriguing new boys - "Blondie" and "Blue Eyes" - can be seen wandering the school grounds after dark. Sometimes alone, sometimes together, but one of them is usually there.

"They are so beautiful to watch," the girls gushed.

"So gorgeous, the both of them! I'd like to-"

Some of the students I teach have things other than peace on their minds.

Not that I can blame them, though. After all, here I am, with silly dreams just like theirs, hoping to frolic in the moonlight with the love of her life. I smile slightly, not quite able to imagine Heero - or myself, for that matter - doing anything close to frolicking. What a scene that would be!

My comfortable loafers make almost no sound on the stone beneath my feet as I silently walk around the side of the university, heading towards the entrance of the building. The school during the day is an overwhelming structure with towering ceilings and wide expanses of different buildings that you can easily get lost among, but wrapped in the cloak of Night, it is a vaguely disconcerting structure with dark windows like yawning mouths of ancient beasts and pillars like the fingers of fattened giants. But this place is familiar to me, and I have nothing to fear from it. However, it is as I approach the top of the steps leading into the school that I realize there is someone else out here, sharing the night with me. My steps falter for a second; some part of me hadn't thought those girls were telling the truth. Does Heero really walk these dark grounds like a ghost at midnight? The moon has hidden its luminous face behind a cloud for the moment, and so the figure sitting on the steps is shrouded in shadows. It is male, though. I can tell. The set of the shoulders is slender and narrow, but not delicate enough to be that of a female.

I start to open my mouth, to call Heero's name, but the moon suddenly pierces the clouds and shines its celestial light down on the steps, and I see, to my dismay, that the figure is not Heero Yuy, but his companion. The blonde one with the soft teal eyes and sweet smile. Quatre Raberba Winner.

I had been hoping for Heero, but I have to admit that Mr. Winner is quite a striking figure in the moonlight. He has his back to me so I can see nothing of his face, but the moon bleaches his hair from its normal platinum blonde into a luminous shade of white. He is sitting on the very top of the steps, his slender hands gripping the edge of the top step. He wears only a lavender short-sleeved dress shirt and a pair of dark pants, and I cannot help but admire the very subtle muscle tone in his pale arms.

My feet take me to a very short distance behind his back before I realize what I am doing. Should I even approach him? It's against the rules to be on school grounds after lights out. But then again, here am I. It would seem hypocritical of me to chastise him for something that I am guilty of as well. Maybe I should ask him where Heero is?

Before I can come to a conclusion, however, he suddenly turns and spots me standing a mere five feet from his back. Teal eyes blink up at me. "Miss Relena?" he asks.

I nod at him, not knowing what else to do. He has caught me so unexpected. "It's me," I say. "I'm surprised to see you out here, Mr. Winner."

Pale coral lips turn up in a gentle smile. "Same here, Miss Relena. I'd have expected you to be fast asleep by now."

I am suddenly embarrassed to have been caught out prowling the night like some dirty-minded teenager out to meet her boyfriend in secret. "I just like to take walks from time to time," I say, trying to sound convincing as possible.

His face looks sad for some reason. "I suppose it's relaxing, isn't it?"

I clasp my hands in front of my skirt, giving them something to occupy themselves with. "It is," I tell him with a small smile. "Very relaxing at times."

"That's nice," he said pleasantly. A light breeze whispers by, ruffling his moonlit blonde hair. My own golden hair is also stirred up by this wayward gust, and I absently raise one of my hands to keep the strands from blowing into my eyes, a sensation that I find irritating to no end.

"Was there something you needed to ask me, Miss Relena?" he speaks up suddenly, teal eyes soft and keen all at once. I find it disconcerting.

I blink. "Ask you?"

He nods.

I just stare at him for a moment, suddenly feeling as if I do have something to ask him. But I do not know what it is, and since I can find no source for this sudden bout of irrationality, I refuse to give it voice.

"No," I say. "I don't believe I have anything to ask of you at the moment, Mr. Winner."

He looks up at me from underneath his soft-looking bangs. "May I please ask you a question then, Miss Relena?"

I nod. "Go right ahead."

He looks horribly melancholy again, but his voice is steady when he asks, "Has your search turned up anything on Trowa yet?"

"Who?" That loathed word is out of my mouth before I can rein it in, and when I see the look of both pain and anger on Quatre's face, I wish for nothing more than the opportunity to retract that word. Of course I know who Trowa Barton is! It's just that... he wasn't the most important thing on my mind lately.

"Trowa Barton," Quatre says evenly, and with that soft voice of his, I can't tell whether he's truly angry or not. "The missing Gundam pilot. My friend Trowa."

I nod hastily. "I know who you're speaking of. I'm sorry for my reply a few moments ago. I wasn't thinking clearly." I pause. "And... I'm afraid the searches have turned up nothing so far. I'm sorry."

A cheerless smile comes to his delicate face. "You don't have to apologize, but please tell me one thing, Miss Relena."

"Yes?" I ask warily.

His eyes are still gentle as he says, "Why did you use Trowa's life as a bargaining tool to get Heero to stay in the Sanq Kingdom?"

I feel cold all of a sudden. "What do you mean?"

"I'm not accusing you of anything, Miss Relena," he says almost apologetically. "But you did use Trowa and Heero's friendship with Trowa as a weapon against him. Miss Relena... Trowa is the first friend I ever had in my life. He's my best friend. All human lives are precious things, and they shouldn't be used as mere bargaining tools."

His eyes accuse me of nothing, but I still feel my mind locking into defensive mode. "Mr. Winner," I say. "I know that human life is precious. Why do you think that I am struggling so hard to prevent the meaningless slaughter of civilians and soldiers alike? I'd much rather surrender my kingdom to Romefellar than watch my people dying in the streets because of some ridiculous war."

He smiles sincerely, taking me a bit off guard. "You're a kind person, Miss Relena. I hope you stay that way forever."

His words are simple, child-like, but I find that I can formulate no response to them. We sit in silence. The breeze is back, ruffling my hair and sending my skirt flapping gently against my legs. For the life in me, I can't decide what to think of the diminutive man-boy sitting five feet away from me. Quatre is kind, sweet, attractive, delicate, but there is something in him that unnerves me. I suspect that it is the fact that he is an empath, and that otherworldliness has settled about his small form like some sort insubstantial cloak, whispering and unobtrusive, but there nonetheless. I feel its presence in him, and I know what he can do. He can feel what others feel in their hearts. Their own emotions betray them, and he feels their pain. It is a terrifying ability. Both for him and for those around him.

One day I fear he's going to look me in the eye, smile that sad smile of his and tell me that my soul is tainted, foul, and impure. Unsuited for being a leader. Unsuited for carrying on the work of my father. That is what I'm afraid of, and that is why I fear Quatre Raberba Winner even though he is probably one of the gentlest souls I've ever known in my short lifetime.

One of the girls said that Quatre looked like an angel. I don't think so. Angels never had such sad, tragic eyes as the ones that stare at me now. I look into their depths, and it's almost as if I can feel this young man's pain, so bittersweet.

Then comes the guilt. I treated Trowa Barton as a mere tool, not even thinking that he might be someone's friend, someone's son, someone's brother, someone's lover. Precious thing, indeed. I curse my hard heart, made cruel by violence and bloodshed. Who says that pacifists are untouched by the horrors of war? The pacifist sitting in front of me has been abused and scarred by the very thing that we are supposed to be shielded against. We are not as impervious to evil as people think, are we, gentle Quatre?

"Mr. Winner," I say, ignoring the telltale stinging in my eyes. "I swear to you, as long as the Sanq Kingdom still stands and I am still its monarch, the search for your friend will never end."

The beginnings of a real smile appear at the corners of his mouth. "Thank you, Miss Relena."

That is our cue to part, an unspoken closure to this much unexpected encounter. He turns around again, drawing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. I start to turn away, to head back the way I came, but I suddenly stop, my chest aching.

"Quatre?" I ask. "Are you... waiting for Heero?"

There is long pause and then his soft voice comes, "Yes, I am."

//Sometimes alone, sometimes together. Together... //

"I'm sorry, Miss Relena," he says, so quietly that I can hardly hear him over the gentle breeze still toying with my hair.

"No, that's... quite alright," I say with a sigh. Then I walk off silently, leaving Quatre Raberba Winner on the steps to wait for Heero Yuy.

+

I boot up the computer in my dark office, watching the moonlight pooling on my large desk as I wait to access the system. The screen winks on sleepily, displeased at being awakened as such an ungodly hour. Fancy that. Even computers deemed to be "superior" act like spoiled brats who do not wish to do as they are told. I silently plow through the files, clicking and opening until I find the file I am looking for.

The file on the missing Gundam pilot 03: Trowa Barton. The face shot of the young man nearly takes up the entire screen, leaving only miniscule room for his statistics and the current updates on his supposed whereabouts. I don't look at the text, though. I am aware that nothing has turned up on our fruitless searches. I know what I am about to do is not wise, but I do it anyways. I study the face of the young man the search party is looking half-heartedly for.

He has strong features, not quite as pronounced as Heero's, but they come close. Heero is mostly chiseled angles with a bit of gentleness here and there. But not this young man; his features are gentle all over, smooth and unbroken like calm water. An untouchable serenity. His mouth is full, and his lips look very soft. His skin has a natural golden sheen to it, perhaps hinting at a Latin heritage. A shock of light brown hair shields one eye, but the other blazes brightly on the computer screen, as if alive. That one visible eye accuses me of sins, and I do not bother to deny its soundless words.

"What pretty green eyes you have, Trowa Barton," I whisper to the screen with the missing boy's face on it.

Funny, how I had never taken the time to notice them before.

Precious things, indeed.

~owari

(Author's Notes: I really don't know what I was doing with this fic. It just really bothered me that Relena used Trowa get Heero to stay in the Sanq Kingdom, and I wanted Quatre to have something to say about it. I also wanted to offer a small insight as to why Relena surrendered the Sanq Kingdom instead of accepting Noin's help and becoming armed. That and... I'm on a bit of a 1+4 and 3+R kick... ::looks sheepish:: Thanks for reading!)  

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