Notes:  Whee! Aoe here, Shoori let me update for her! I am so in love with Zechs in this story. Isn't he so broodingly marvelous? Also, Wufei's painful past comes to light (a bit)...
by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 20

I stare unseeing out the window of the car, not really focusing on anything as the blur that is the countryside of my native land speeds past me.

It's odd to be back in Sanc. I have set foot here only a handful of times since it ceased to be my home, that day twenty years ago when the fate of the entire world changed forever.

I don't think that it is hubris to say that the fate of the entire world changed. Certainly my world changed. I woke up that morning as Prince Milliard, the boy who would one day rule an almost Utopian nation and proudly carry on the legacy of peace. By nightfall my parents were dead, my home was a smoldering ruin, and I was on the run from the Federation, who wanted nothing more than to destroy everything my father had ever created, including me.

They didn't succeed in destroying his legacy to me. I had to do that myself.

But not only my life changed that day. The world lost one of its most principled leaders. If my father had not died, the Gundam Wars may never have happened. Peace might have come to the world much sooner, with much less suffering and loss of life.

Of course, it might not have. The world might have had to suffer through that atrocity just the same. But I persist in arguing that it would have been different. The people who died that day would have lived, and their contributions may have made a difference. Certainly my father and mother would have made contributions which the world will now never know. And I... All those who have died by my hand would now be alive.

Zechs Marquise would never have lived.

So, the course of history changed that day. And since that day, my fate has rarely brought me back here.

I do not enjoy coming here. Everywhere I look, I am reminded of the past. For Sanc is beautiful again. The two decades that have passed have healed the land, if not the people that walk it. The pain of those who have gone before has faded away, their suffering is hidden with them deep beneath the ground.

But that very beauty, that tranquility, reproaches me. I have no right to be here and see that, for everything that I am and have been defiles it.

I had to become what I am. I had to bring into being Zechs Marquise. Only he and those like him could have saved Sanc. Milliard Peacecraft could not avenge his father, or stop those that gloried in war and the oppression of others. Only Zechs could do that.

But Zechs does not belong in the Sanc Kingdom.

And Zechs' deeds have stained Milliard's hands so that he too is unfit, unworthy, of being here.

Fortunately, there was another. My work enabled her to remain pure and unsullied, so that she could take up the work our father left unfinished.

But she is young. And she never had the benefit of really knowing him, really understanding the work he did. And now, for her own purposes, she is blemishing that legacy.

I can't stand by and let her do that.

I need to help.

All I have ever been is a servant of Sanc. I can't fail her now.

"You'll be staying at one of the Preventer properties just outside the city," the woman beside me says abruptly. "We'll bring you in to see Relena as soon as we're able to set up a meeting."

I nod in reply.

"There will, of course, be a car available to you. Anything you need... "

"I'm sure that everything will be fine," I interrupt smoothly. I dislike hearing Commander Une play tour guide, as she does for visiting diplomats and politicians. I am neither of those and I don't need any help finding my way around Sanc. Additionally, her solicitous manner is painfully artificial.

Une doesn't like me. She never has, really. In the early days of OZ, she resented my closeness to Treize. She wanted the position I had, as his most trusted friend and confidant.

I would have given it to her if I could.

Later, she hated me bitterly for what she saw as my betrayal of the New World Order Treize was trying to create.

And finally, she was angry with me for surviving when he had died.

We made our peace for the sake of the Preventers. I believe that organization to be something that my father would have approved of.

He would not, however, have approved of the way Relena is going about attempting to seize control of the organization. Dufasion's method, imbued as it is with all the somewhat militant equality of the American nation's political ideology, is nevertheless the best sort of set-up for an organization like the Preventers. Peace is meant to be universal, and so the Preventers must be as well. They can not enfold the world as they must if the head, heart and body of the organization is of Sanc.

The heart will always be of Sanc. Anything this focused on peace through peace carries the legacy of the Peacecraft ideal of Absolute Pacifism. We must ... Sanc must... allow it to grow, away from her.

That is what I must convince Relena.

"What was that all about at lunch today?" Une demands abruptly. I see that she has decided to abandon even the facade of diplomacy with me. So much the better. It doesn't really suit her. I always preferred the Colonel to the Lady - at least you always knew where you stood with the Colonel.

"To what are you referring?" I ask her smoothly. I know very well what she is asking about. But I learned young never to answer any but the most specific of questions. That way, you minimize the chances of accidentally revealing information that should not be revealed.

I turn my head to look at her, and see her brown eyes narrow with anger. She thinks I'm mocking her.

That was always Une's weak point - fear of ridicule. Her title came after she had proven herself militarily, by virtue of her association with Treize and the Specials. She was not born with it. So, among the elite of Romefeller and the Federation, she was always conscious of a feeling - on their part, if not on hers - that she was somehow inadequate, or beneath them. She therefore became abnormally sensitive to any hint of scorn or derision.

"I am referring," she says, her rich voice tight with anger, "to the scene you and Heero put on."

"What do you wish to know?" I ask, masking the irritation in my own voice. I am certainly willing to concede that Yuy created a scene. I don't think it quite fair that I be accused equally with him.

"Why is he angry with you?" she demands.

"I imagine he has many reasons to be angry with me," I say vaguely. "I've lost track of the number of times we fought each other."

"I don't think it has anything to do with that," she snaps.

I bow my head politely. "As you say, Lady," I reply, pointedly not contradicting her.

"What is he angry about?" she presses. "And what does it have to do with Wufei Chang?"

I feel another flash of irritation. Chang Wufei's culture is very much a part of him. She could do him the courtesy of addressing him properly.

But that's one of those things Une doesn't see the point of. She doesn't really grasp these minute differences between people and between peoples.

That's one of the things that makes her an excellent leader for an organization so prone to bureaucracy as the Preventers.

It's also the reason that she was never quite able to understand Treize.

"I don't know what has occurred to make Heero so angry," I say smoothly.

That is at once the complete truth and an outright lie. I don't know why Yuy is angry. I haven't spoken to him in four years, so I have only my suppositions to go on.

But while I know nothing concretely, I know of only one thing that Yuy could have discovered to enrage him to this extent. I read the truth of his knowledge in his eyes. He could never hide his thoughts, was never able to conceal his feelings from shining through his eyes.

That was his only real weakness, then. It was a weakness shared by Wufei and by Duo Maxwell. Only Trowa Barton and, interestingly, Quatre Winner are able to stare out at an enemy through shuttered eyes.

But even though I am sure that Heero has learned what is one of my most shameful secrets, that knowledge brings more questions. I doubt that Wufei ever spoke of it, not to Heero. So how did Yuy find out?

I'm not given the time to consider that most pressing problem.

"He said you are dishonorable," she repeats for me.

I nod again. "I'm sure that he is correct," I agree placidly, gazing directly into her eyes.

They narrow further, and I see the venom in their brown depths. "He said you were dishonorable, and seemed to indicate that your dishonor has something to do with Wufei Chang," she muses maliciously. "I can only then infer that you have somehow behaved dishonorably to Wufei Chang," she continues. "Now, how could you have dishonored him?" she ponders. "It couldn't be anything recent... as you say, you've not seen any of them for four years. Perhaps during the wars, when you were a commander and he a mere boy... "

I'm suddenly angry, more angry that I have been in years. She can say what she wants of me, but it is reprehensible of her to drag Chang into her attempt to undercut me. He has suffered enough at my hands. I saw, today, when I walked into that room how much he is still pained by what I have done to him. I was surprised, and rather shaken, to see how greatly my mere presence grieved him.

Hopefully, my business here in Sanc can be accomplished quickly, and I can leave. With luck, he will never have to encounter me again.

But Une must not be allowed to create associations between us.

"What could you have done indeed... " she croons deliberately, maliciously.

And I realize then. She knows.

Of course she does. She made Treize the focus of everything she did. Every move he made, she was aware of. She wanted only to be able to fulfill his visions, to help him attain that place in the world that she, even more than he, believed that he had been born to occupy.

So of course she would be aware of this. It doesn't matter how. But she is using it as leverage against me, using it to shame me.

I am shamed. The events to which she is oh-so-obliquely referring stripped away the last vestiges of the man named Milliard Peacecraft.

His final death throes ultimately came on a bed of blue silk, and were witnessed only by a boy with tears running slowly down his smooth brown cheeks, and a man, staring at them both with hot desire smoldering in his blue eyes.

Milliard Peacecraft died there, pouring his lust and his need and his frustrated pain and rage and sorrow into the boy.

But neither of the only two witnesses knew what they were seeing.

So he died unseen, and unmourned.

As is only fitting.

But this woman, this woman who knows nothing of that, thinks to use it against me.

I stare at her, and see the cruel enjoyment in her eyes.

So I strike back with the cruelest weapon that I have available to me.

"The only times I have ever behaved dishonorably to Chang Wufei," I tell her, slowly and deliberately, "I was accompanied and encouraged by Treize."

She gasps, recoiling back from me as though I had struck her. She goes very pale, except for two red spots high on her cheeks, and her eyes are suddenly seething with rage.

"Never," she hisses, "never say that Treize-san was dishonorable! He was glorious!"

I say nothing. It is rather frightening to see how devoted she remains to a man whom the world has not seen for seven years.

"You... you pollute his name when he is not here to defend himself," she spits, actually trembling from the force of her fury. "You didn't truly know him. You didn't understand him, didn't grasp his vision. You... "

"Commander." I speak as quietly as I am able. "If there is anyone who did not understand Treize, it is you," I correct her bluntly. "You have been told that before, I believe," I note. "He told you himself."

That was cruel. But her reaction shows me that I am right, and that this is her most buried fear.

"Never speak his name!" she shouts, and lunges forward and slaps me hard across one cheek.

I accept the blow, hardly moving despite its force, staring unquelled into her eyes, forcing her to read the truth in mine.

She breathes hard, clenching her hands into fists, obviously trying to get herself under control.

We are separated from the driver by a barrier of glass, so he can see us though our conversation is blocked from him. At the moment, he is watching us avidly in his rear view mirror.

I hope he's enjoying the show.

"There is no shame in that, Une," I tell her softly. "You are the more fortunate for it."

Her arm twitches, and I know she wants to strike me again. "We will not speak on this," she tells me coldly. "You are here to speak to Relena, and to publicly make your stand for the Preventers. I will not diminish your credibility," she sneers on the word, "by being seen to be at odds with you. However," she warns me coldly, "do not let me hear of you speaking of Treize-san in such a fashion ever again."

I nod. "Very well," I concede quietly. It is pointless to argue with Une on this matter.

The car rolls to a stop in front of a small house. It's the only one in sight, and it's built at the foot of a large hill. Through the car window, I see the fields surrounding it, and the forest at the other end of the fields.

My attention is brought back to the car when Une takes a deep breath and coughs pointedly. I turn back into the car, calmly meeting her glare. "I will contact you later tonight with information on when you will be able to meet with Relena," she informs me. "Your luggage has already been brought into the house. Try to be sure that you are available when you are needed."

I'm being dismissed. "Thank you for your hospitality," I tell her formally as I step out of the car.

She sneers, and I close the car door on the rude expression. I stand and watch the car as it pulls out of the drive and disappears.

I step into the small house, hardly noticing the tastefully appointed decorations

I ascend the stairs and enter the bedroom, noting with some small irritation that my belongings have already been unpacked.

I have never liked that "gracious" touch.

Several minutes later I descend the stairs again, clad in much less formal attire. I stand and thoughtfully regard the small beeper and portable telephone pointedly lying on a table in the hallway, recalling Une's instructions to remain available.

I turn my back, leaving them untouched on the table, and walk out into the fields surrounding the house.

For the first time in twenty years, I am free to explore the Sanc Kingdom.

I'll be damned if I carry the present in my pocket, just waiting to pull me back, while I go into the past.

+

[cont]