She made her way through the doors, flashing her ID at the front desk as she walked right by. She knew the way though the twisting hallways, eventually reaching the large inner courtyard. Lush greenery of many kinds helped to create the illusion of some privacy, but concealed windows and carefully hidden cameras allowed them to watch everything that went on there. A path led her to a bench, and she stood there a moment beside another girl sitting there.
"Good morning, Hilde," Noin said to her quietly.
Hilde smiled up at her shyly, her hands cradled in her lap. She was very pale, and was made even paler by the dark green pants and top she had to wear. A medical monitoring device was strapped to her slim wrist, it's soft sounds fading to the background as they talked.
"Good morning, Noin," Hilde answered her softly. She extended a hand, which shook slightly, even as she struggled to try and keep it steady.
Noin took it, gently shaking her hand before letting Hilde tuck it back into the safety of her lap. "The doctors tell me you're making real progress with your exercises," she said softly, sitting down beside her on the bench.
"The physical therapy is helping," Hilde agreed softly, "I can write out my name now." She looked over at Noin sadly as she continued, "But I still can't remember anything."
Noin tried not to wince at that. It had taken several long months for Hilde to come out of her coma, and when she finally awoke her memory was completely gone. Specialists were brought in, test were run, and it was quickly determined that her amnesia was for real, not an act. She really didn't remember anything, to Hilde's own great distress.
Her nervous system was also very badly damaged, so even as they began to treat her physical damage they tried to determine all the effects on her mental state. She seemed to be almost a totally blank slate, with no memory of anything that happened to her before waking up that first day in the hospital. She could talk, read, and probably write, though the shakes she had when she woke up prevented that. But other than that...
The thin girl looked at her, her eyes dark. "Who are you, Noin?" Hilde asked her softly, right out of the blue. Noin looked up at her in surprise, as Hilde continued on saying quietly "I still don't know anything about you, other than your name."
"You know I can't tell you that," Noin said, "we need to give any of your original memories the chance to resurface, rather than giving you any second hand information." Noin smiled wryly as she added "I had to argue with the doctors just to let me tell you my name."
"Thank you for that," Hilde said softly. She sounded so grateful for such a small kindness, really, that it made Noin feel a bit uncomfortable.
Hilde looked off across the greenery of the courtyard, and after a few moments of silence she said, "I do wonder, sometimes, what it was that I did. I know I'm being held captive here, as well as being treated for my injuries. I think it must have been something pretty bad, though," she looked over at Noin sadly, "I know you can't tell me."
Noin sat there silent, unsure what to say to her. Sometimes Noin found herself hoping that Hilde wouldn't regain her memory, it might be better for her.
Hilde smiled sadly, "I'm just glad you come visit, you and the quiet lady."
"What quiet lady?" Noin asked her in surprise. She knew no one else was authorized to see Hilde other than the medical staff treating her.
"She never comes inside, just parks her car on the street. I can see her from my room sometimes, she has long brown hair, and looks a little sad," Hilde said. She looked thoughtful, "Or maybe regretful."
'Lady Une,' Noin thought, 'it must be.' Before she could say anything, her watch chirped softly to get her attention. Noin looked down at the message there and scowled before saying, "I'm sorry, I have to go."
"Duty calls, I guess," Hilde said with a sad little smile. As Noin was walking off, she softly said, "See you next week."
Releena sighed softly, pacing the dark office hallway impatiently. She had come down to try and surprise Noin, but a major crimp had appeared in her carefully thought out plans: it appeared Noin was trapped in the meeting from hell.
According to Lady Une's secretary, she, Noin, and most of the Preventers' brass were behind closed doors with one of their greatest opponents: the government accountants. Releena almost felt sorry for Noin as it was likely that she and Une were being forced to justify every expenditure for the past year, down to the nuts and bolts if needed.
"Looks like you're here waiting as well, Ms. Releena," a familiar, and quite amused sounding, voice said from behind her. She turned to see Dorothy Catalonia standing behind her, a pleasant smile on her face. "Would you like some tea while we wait?" she invited.
Releena chuckled softly, "I'd love to." She followed Dorothy to two plush chairs, the tea already set up for two. She raised her eyebrow at Dorothy inquiringly.
"One of the guards saw you pacing," Dorothy explained. She poured the tea neatly, then sat down across from Releena. She smiled wickedly, "How's married life been for you?"
"No complaints," Releena said with a contented smile. "Are you and Une planning to settle down any time soon?" she asked in return.
Dorothy took a small drink of her tea. "I suppose it will have to depend on how the adoption arrangements go," Dorothy answered her calmly.
"Adoption?" Releena echoed, sounding more than a bit confused.
"Well, we couldn't just leave Mariemea with the Barton family, could we? Une was already making the arrangements when I entered the picture, and I support her completely," Dorothy said with a little smile. She looked up from her tea to see Releena's reaction.
Releena gaped at her, almost like her brain had derailed at the thought of Dorothy and Une raising a young girl together. She shook her head, "I hope you know what you're getting into. I spent a few days with her, and she's one of the most... intense children I've ever met."
"I know," Dorothy said with a fond smile, "that's one of the things I most like about her." Releena laughed softly, and they settled down to some serious tea drinking.
A young woman in a Preventers' uniform jogged up to where they were sitting, and then saluted Releena. She gave her report as if it was a military debriefing. "They'll be out of the meeting in another half hour," she repeated calmly, "even if they have to shoot their way out. That's a direct quote from Lady Une, by the way."
"Thank you," Releena said with a sigh. The girl jogged off, and Releena turned to Dorothy with a shrug. "Only half an hour left."
Dorothy looked at Releena thoughtfully, "I've always wanted to ask you this: what in the world did you see in Heero Yui, anyway?"
"You don't pull any punches, do you?" Releena said with a nervous little laugh. "Well, part of it was a sort of mothering thing. He was so badly wounded, even back when I first met him. I guess I wanted to protect him, make him better." She sighed softly, "And part of it was... well..." She blushed, "I'm a bit ashamed to admit it."
Dorothy grinned as she quickly bargained, "Tell you what. I'll tell you why I had a crush on you, all those years ago, if you'll tell me the rest."
Still blushing, Releena shyly admitted, "I think it was also because he completely ignored me." She pretended to look very surprised, "He's ignoring me?", then a bit indignant, "How dare he ignore me?", then finally a exaggerated, seductive pose, "I'll make him notice me!" To the quiet sound of Dorothy's laughter she sheepishly explained "I got so caught up in the thrill of the hunt I don't think I really noticed the faults of the prize."
Dorothy sipped a bit of tea before finally keeping her end of the bargain. "When I first met you in the Sank Kingdom, you were dressing in that ridiculous school teacher outfit, surrounded by your students, and all I could think was, 'She's so beautiful.' Of course, that was before I even talked to you," she explained with a smile.
"I probably ruined that first impression as soon as I opened my mouth," a blushing Releena said with a nervous laugh.
Dorothy shook her head, "No, once we started debating my crush got worse." She smiled up at Releena, "There's so few people who can actually keep up with me, Releena. Thankfully Lady Une is one, Mariemea, one or two others, and you. I loved sparing with you, crossing swords with our minds over the merits of war versus peace."
Releena blushed softly, "Thank you."
"And you were such a babe," Dorothy said offhandedly, toasting her with her tea cup.
Releena hid her blushing face in her hands, laughing softly.
"Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty we're free at last," they heard a pair of quite happy women's voices chanted together, growing closer by the second. Releena turned to see Noin and Une jogging down the hallway towards them.
Une gently pulled Dorothy out of her chair and into her arms, surprising the blonde with a vigorous kiss. "You have no idea how good it is to see you," Une sighed.
"Gee, I should trap you in budget meetings more often," a broadly smiling Dorothy said with a breathless little laugh.
Une winced, "Don't even joke about that, please."
Noin laughed softly, helping Releena up from her seat as well, "That goes double for me." She pulled Releena into a slower, more thorough kiss until the wolf whistles from nearby Preventer officers caused them to separate.
"Don't you have something better to do?" Une asked the revelers, sounding fairly severe but still smiling slightly. Once they were more alone she turned to the other three, "Lets get out of here before the accountants decide they missed something."
Noin all but shuddered at the idea of dealing with the accountants any more today, "Very good idea. Let's go!"
Une slid a arm around Dorothy's shoulders as they walked out into the sunlight. Noin and Releena followed a bit more slowly, watching their friends walking together. "They do make a lovely couple," Releena said softly.
Noin gently took Releena's hand, smiling down at her. "Yes, they do. But not so lovely as you," Noin answered her softly.
"You know just what to say," Releena smiled, squeezing Noin's hand slightly.
Noin smiled down at Releena, "What say we go home, skip dinner, and go to bed early?"
Releena grinned back at Noin, "Promises, promises."
Une smiled, her arm around Dorothy as they all walked away from the Preventers' building together. Treise's dream of a peaceful world still hadn't come about, but they were getting closer to it everyday. Absolute pacifism, she had realized, wasn't the answer. Only hard work from people with the courage to make the world a better place could accomplish that dream.
Une looked at her lover and her friends, and felt certain that it would be done, someday.