in wisdom, we weep
It was the smell of her. That bare hint of cologne she always wore blending perfectly with her scent, making it unique - the scent of her that pulled him from his meditation and plunged him back into awareness. He hadn't heard her, and only now could he hear the faint whisper of her breathing. For a moment, he debated acknowledging her presence. He wasn't ready, but then, he doubted he would ever truly be ready.
"Relena," her name slipped from his lips, though he sat in lotus with his eyes closed.
"You still do that," she said, and he heard the smile in her tone. Her clothing rustled as she shifted, and he guessed it was a pantsuit today. "How...have you been?"
He grunted softly; expecting and hearing the expected were contrary in logic. "Well," he said, leaving it simple. "And you, Relena? How have you fared?"
"Well." And she gave the smallest of laughs.
She moved again, shifting closer, almost to his side. He thought of moving then, but this meeting, this confrontation had to take place - sooner than later. And then, maybe he would find the solace he sought. She was now on his right flank, and her hand touched his resting on his thigh.
"I've missed you." Her voice was but a whisper; he heard the hitch and bowed his head.
"My old life is dead, Relena."
"That's not true, and you know it." The steel he knew so well was back in her voice. "I never took you for a coward."
He hissed and jerked away from her, spilling out of his position, and up on his knees before her hands wrapped about his arm. "Don't go. Please." Her voice was soft again, but no less strong than it'd been before. "At least listen to me first." He hesitated, and it was the second ‘please' that was almost not there that had him sit, facing her.
"It isn't cowardice that keeps me."
She made a faint sound, and he almost smiled remembering the face she would make, her lips pursed and blowing air in her impatient don't give me that crap non-noise.
"And you live up on top this mountain in this god-forsaken wilderness for the view?"
He wanted to be mad, but snorted a laugh instead. "I hear it is an excellent one."
Her sigh was soft, and her fingers were chilled on his hand. "It is." She was quiet for a time, and he waited, letting her hand rest on his. He could almost believe the past year hadn't happened, that they sat in one of the unused cavernous rooms dotting the palace.
"I wanted to come visit you in the hospital," she said finally. He tilted his head forward slightly, hearing her voice as though she'd turned her face away. "My...my injuries were such, they wouldn't let me, and by the time I was released, you were gone."
His fingers closed over hers in a slight squeeze. "I was told you were caught in the blast after all."
She returned the squeeze. "You saved my life, you know." He started to open his mouth, but she tugged on his hand. "You did, and don't try to tell me it was just the job." She snorted that very unlady-like snort that used to surprise him from time to time. "I still need a bodyguard, Wufei."
He averted his face, though he knew she still saw the rapid blink and desperate swallow. The yearning in her voice stripped months of enforced isolation. "I'm blind, Relena," he forced from his throat, harsh and cold.
"I know, but you still have abilities no others have." He heard the rustle of her clothing again, and her scent drew closer yet. "I meant something to you once," she whispered, and he could feel the warmth of her body, of her face inches from his own.
Two deep breathes, his eyes focused on her unseeing, he held her hand. "You continue to do so."
"Wufei..." Her lips brushed his cheek and the chilled air rushed in at her sudden retreat. "Please return to me."
He lowered his head. "I am not...you need a man, whole and able to be at your side."
"But you are." The edge returned to her tone.
"Not like I was, and I will not let you lower yourself for me."
She pulled her hand free. "So instead you'll force the both of us into your arrogant isolation? Make us suffer for your cowardice?" She was moving, shifting about, but hadn't stood.
"You should move on, find someone who can be that man-"
"Enough!" Her shout echoed in the chamber. "I went through hell this past year, Wufei. And I waited for you. I knew you had to come to terms with your own injuries, but I always thought you'd be back. If not for the job, at least as a," her voice caught, "as a friend."
"Relena," he whispered, his hand reaching out for hers. She held his, keeping it on her lap.
"We never said more, I know." There was a puff of air, and her fingers were touching his face, tracing down his hairline and along his jaw. "We thought we had so much time..."
"We did," he said, his tone a soft gruff. "We should have."
"Were you told what happened? What my injuries were?"
He shook his head. "Not in detail. Some shrapnel, a concussion."
"This is what happened." And she brought the hand she held to her head, first, flattened its palm against her hair, and guided it downward.
"Your...what happened?" he was choking on the words, his fingers searched for the length no longer there.
"There was an ancillary fire," she was saying, now guiding his hand to her face, letting the pads of his fingers trace over her cheeks. "You protected my body from the explosion, but the carpeting behind us caught on fire," her voice became softer still, and he was leaning forward, both hands now seeing her.
"My hair and shirt caught." He could feel the pull of her lips, a ghost of a smile. "If it hadn't been for Heero, it would have been much worst."
"Relena," His fingers trailed down to her neck, feeling the ropey tendrils as they had climbed. He frowned, confused, when his seeking hands continued to meet skin.
"The burns have healed," Relena said, moving his hand down her right shoulder, showing him her arm. "I've been told some of the scarring will fade over time, and some can be removed with surgery."
She guided his hand to her chest, and down to the twisted swell. He made a gargled choke, and tried to pull his hand from her grip. "You...I shouldn't - I can't..."
"Yes, you can," she was whispering again, with the plea hidden so deep, he almost didn't hear it. "I need you, Wufei. And you need to know what you're getting."
He released the breath he held, and moved swiftly. His arms slipped around her body, pulling her gently into an embrace. "I know what you are," he said, his voice soft but strong, doubt and uncertainty long departed. "A strong, beautiful woman. One I will never call weak again."
Her laugh was on panted breath, her hands clutching his back. "You were blind then, too," she said. But, she turned her face to his when his hand guided her head closer.
The kiss wasn't enlightening, or even the peace he had long sought. But it was warm, and it was comfortable, and he thought that peace and maybe enlightenment might follow. If he did it often enough.