Braid Your Hair With Wind

Relena is in training and Zechs is distressed. In the background, Treize and Barton plan. Drama, I-2

Treize watched with some amusement as Zechs paced back and forth through his office, scowling at thin air, long hair fanning out at every turn. "I’d say you should check in on how her training is going and set your mind at ease," he offered, "but somehow, knowing you lovely sister, I feel sure she’s threatened you with a dire fate if you do."

"She told me she’d get a training suit and step on me if she saw me," Zechs confirmed, glumly. "I really don’t know where she got her temper from."

Treize manfully stifled the hoot of laughter that tried to break free. "Zechs," he said with great restraint, "your father was a pacifist, but he was not noted for his reserve, that I recall. And you must admit, you yourself have quite a passionate streak." Since this probably wasn’t the moment to call it a stubborn streak.

"But she’s my sister!" Zechs flung out both hands as if entreating the universe to witness the justice of his cause.

"Precisely," Treize said, dryly. He raised a soothing hand when Zechs turned to glower at him. "Look at what direct terms you’re thinking in right now, my friend. Surely there are other ways to find out how she’s doing than going and asking her yourself."

Zechs opened his mouth and then closed it, crossed his arms and hmphed. "Well. Perhaps." He gathered himself and gave Treize a dignified nod of farewell.

Treize chuckled as the door closed behind Zechs, and pulled Relena’s file out from under the others on his desk. Her results so far were extremely encouraging, as was her choice to enter OZ in the first place. With both Peacecraft siblings in his hand, he might genuinely be able to recall the world to honor.

"Paul!" Relena flew light-footed down the hall to catch her fellow Cadet by the arm and steady him before he wandered into the wall again. "Are you sure you’re all right?" She bit her lip. "I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to spin your unit that hard when I hit you!"

Paul grinned ruefully, bracing himself between her and the wall. "You should have; it’s what we’re training for right?" He shook his head and stopped quickly, wincing. "You’ve got the touch all right, Relena." He laughed. "Maybe we should just start calling you the Lightning Countess now, save time."

She rolled her eyes; she was starting to wonder whether she should have assumed a different name and tried to pretend she didn’t have a brother.

"Need some help there?"

Relena looked up with relief into familiar, warm indigo eyes. "Zia-neesan!" And then she nearly died of mortification on the spot. "I mean! Pilot Noin." She came to attention, only slightly impeded by her grip on her listing classmate, trying to ignore the heat in her cheeks.

Zia-neesan chuckled. "That’s right, Cadet Merquise." She was smiling, though, as she slung one of Paul’s arms over her shoulder. "Let’s get him down to the infirmary, shall we?"

"Yes ma’am," Relena said in a small voice.

There were times it really wasn’t an advantage to have an older brother who had always brought his friends home to meet his little sister.

"How’s training going?" Zia-neesan asked, kindly changing the subject as they steered Paul down the hall.

"Very well, ma’am." Relena eyed Paul, whose eyes were crossed. "Barring a few minor accidents now and then."

"Were you guys in the drop-shaft today?" Zia-neesan looked reminiscent when Relena nodded. "I remember that. Well, better to get the accidents out of the way there than once you’re in suits."

Relena relaxed as they talked. It was good to talk to someone senior who wasn’t a trainer, and someone who knew what she was going through who wasn’t her brother.

"…so the entire rank went down like dominos except for Zechs, he hopped out of the way handily." Zia-neesan grinned. "Except he stepped on the Colonel’s jeep coming down!"

Relena giggled helplessly, closing the infirmary door and leaning against it. "Oh! Poor Onii-san." Both of them hated to be awkward.

Zia-neesan ruffled her hair. "Anyway, you’ve probably got drill in a little while, right? Off you go. I’ll see you around."

"Yes ma’am! Thank you ma’am." Relena trotted off, in a better mood than she’d been in all week. Zia-neesan was so nice; Onii-san was lucky to have her as a friend. Maybe more than a friend, if Relena was guessing right; she thought that might be good, too.

Maybe Zia-neesan would even be able to get Onii-san to take off that silly mask.

Zechs looked up as a tray clattered down beside his and half rose when he saw who had carried it. "Noin! How is she?"

Noin shook her head at him as she sat down. "She’s doing just fine, Zechs. Knocked one of her classmates for such a loop, today, I had to help drag the boy down to the infirmary. I think you’re worried for nothing."

"She did?" Zechs blinked. He was still having a hard time reconciling the idea of his sweet little sister with the idea of a mobile suit pilot.

"She did." Noin stabbed her meatloaf, possibly to make sure it was really dead. "And I stopped by Sergeant Froud’s office on my way back. He thinks she’s going to be a natural. Says she keeps a very cool head in all the exercises. Went on about how it must be in the blood."

Zechs winced.

Noin bumped his shoulder with hers. "Relax, all right? If she’s good she’s that much more likely to stay alive."

Noin had, Zechs reflected ruefully, a very hard practical streak. "Thank you for looking in on her," he murmured.

"My pleasure. I always wanted a little sister." Noin smiled brightly.

Zechs decided he’d better just let that one lie, and took another forkful of green beans.

"Have you seen this?" Quinze waved a report at Dekim. "There’s apparently more than one where Merquise came from!"

"So?" Dekim frowned; sometimes he thought Quinze was far too excitable for their line of business.

"So, what if the second one is as good as the first? Should we be thinking about pushing up the timing, here?"

"We will continue as planned. If there are two, we’ll kill both of them."

"Yes, but…"

"And if that doesn’t work," Dekim continued firmly, "we’ll find another way until something does. I’m not going to let those Alliance bastards strangle the lifeblood of the Colonies forever. And neither will anyone else among us."

Though he did seem to be the only one who truly understood contingency planning. Or the fact that the life of the Colonies was, and always would be, money. Ah well.

"Well… I suppose so."

"Don’t worry, Quinze," Dekim sighed. "You’ve seen the quality of our weapon. Do you think he’s going to hesitate to kill anyone in his way?"

Quinze relaxed at that. "Of course not."

"Of course not," Dekim agreed with a smile.

The plans were all good, and the primary plan was going better than well. Their weapon would do exactly as he was told, and everything would fall neatly into place.

Right where Dekim Barton wanted it.