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fic - so very backwards [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - so very backwards [haven]
Title:  So Very Backwards
Series:  Moments of Haven
Summary:  Sometimes it's okay that things don't turn out at all like we expected.

So Very Backwards
A Moment of Haven

Relena yawned even though it wasn't that late and decided she deserved a little break before redevoting her attention to the papers in front of her.  She got up from her chair and stretched.  It started out dainty, until she realized that there was no one there to see.  After just a moment's hesitation, she stretched as widely and satisfyingly as she could, bringing a smug smile to her face.

Her phone rang.  She almost groaned aloud, until she heard the little trill in its ring signifying a request for a secured line.  Snapping out of her outstretched position, almost quickly enough to hurt something, she hurried over to her commset and initialized its encryption protocols.  Her fingernail tapped impatiently on her tabletop for the few seconds it took to set up.  There was only one person in this sphere who was paranoid enough to call her on a secured line for no particular reason, bless his big plushy heart.

The vidscreen flickered on, and she smiled.  "Heero."

"Relena."  He tipped his head slightly in greeting.  "I have to stop being able to find you in your office this time of night."

She caught herself glancing reflexively toward the clock on the wall.  No, that would be admitting guilt.  "I could just as easily bring my work into my bedroom," she answered instead, proud of her mildly amused tone.  "My location proves nothing."

A corner of his mouth tilted upward, sending a little thrill through her heart.  "At least maybe you'd be more comfortable in there."

"Not really.  I prefer to keep my work in my work places when I can.  When I retire for the night, I like to try to leave the work behind."

He nodded amiably.  "It's a good plan.  Do you keep to it?  You look tired."

She laughed lightly.  "You don't spare a girl's ego, do you?"

"Sure I do.  If you were Duo, I'd have told you you look like shit."

The laughter burst out of her more robustly this time.  Normally, she wanted him to be less delicate and protective of her feelings, but in this, she supposed she could settle for 'tired'.  "Well, you look good, Heero.  And if I were Duo, I'd tell you... well."  Now there was ground better left untread upon.  "You look good, Heero.  Duo agrees with you."

"Rarely," he responded dryly.  "How's life?"

She had something light and airy on the tip of her tongue, ready to go, but something stopped her from speaking the words.  "The new year... has seemed a lot like the last year, actually."

"Is that good or bad?"

"It's... I'm not sure what it is," she admitted, suppressing a sigh.  "I'm... Can you imagine?  I never even graduated from high school!  Even you all managed to do that!"

Heero blinked at her.  "Only technically.  I don't think any of us ever really attended any accredited educational institutions until the government made us.  We only 'graduated' in the sense that we passed an exam that required the school to give us our certificates."

"I don't even have that."  She glanced over to a bookshelf along the wall.  There were texts there that she hadn't had the chance to study for far too long.  "I've attended plenty of accredited educational institutions in my time.  And all the same, I think the only way I'll earn my certificate is to take that same exam."

"A lot of students had their education interrupted by the war.  I was told it's not that uncommon for them not to return.  And if they're smart, they'll take the exam to get the certificate so they can move on with their lives."

He was just being reassuring, in his own way.  And he was right.  But it didn't change the fact that none of this had turned out the way she had expected it to when she was younger.  "I tried to make plans for it, you know.  I've finally accepted that I won't be able to finish high school in any normal way, but that I can at least pretend if I pass my equivalency test.  I'm fairly certain I know enough to pass, though my math score might be a little lower than I might like.  It's just so hard to study that by reading a book.  But even being prepared, I've just found it difficult to schedule.  They administer the test locally about once a month.  I've had conflicting appointments, or there's been too much going on and I don't want to try to take that test when I'm stressed with other matters."

"Even the government has official vacation times."

"It does."  She flipped idly through the appointment book on the corner of her desk, not needing to read what was written there to know what her schedule was like.  "I've still a few more months to go, I'm afraid."

"So it's a few more months.  It will happen.  Take the time to raise your math scores."  He shrugged, then smiled.  "If you feel you need help with that... I think I might be able to recommend a good tutor."

She chuckled.  "Really."  She didn't think tutoring would be very easy or effective over the comm lines, but Heero proved her assumptions incorrect.

"Really.  I could ask Wufei for you, if you're interested."

"Wufei?"  Though she was aware of the fact that he worked with the Preventers in this very city, she had never given it much thought.  She thought perhaps only once had their professional paths crossed, their personal paths not even that much, excepting their winter holiday retreats.  There, he seemed quiet, serious, and maybe a little bit distant, but that was perhaps simply because she did not know all that much about him.

"Wufei," Heero confirmed.  "I'm sure he'd be willing to teach, as long as you're willing to learn.  I think he likes that kind of thing."

She wasn't quite certain what to say, so she laughed a little.  Was it the person that threw her off?  The suggestion that she have a tutor?  The way that having a tutor would suddenly solidify her plans?  "I'm sure you'd have to discuss the matter with him first.  Besides, we haven't even determined for certain that I require tutoring.  My math skills aren't that poor, you know.  I just said, lower than I might like."

"What about that college course that you were auditing?" he asked, shifting the topic slightly.  "It would have ended before the winter break, right?"

"That's right.  It was interesting, what classes I managed to make."

"You sound lukewarm about it."

And since when was he so perceptive about such things?  "I just felt... out of place there."  She grimaced.  "Whether that was because I'm sure everyone knew that I didn't belong there, or because I felt like I was just... just... 'pretending'.  Oh, what was the point?"  Her sigh was deep and heavy.

"Relena..."  Heero waited until she looked up and met his eyes on the screen.  "I know I'm about to suggest something revolutionary, but... have you considered taking a sabbatical from your current job?"

"A... sabbatical?"  Her tone made it clear that her answer to his quesiton was 'no'.

"Turn it around a little.  Take your exam, get your cert, tie up your loose ends, be an official student in the fall, and 'audit' a Senate session every once in a while."

"But..."  It sounded appealing.  So appealing that there had to be something wrong with the idea.  "For what?  One year?  Four?  I... I don't think I could do that, Heero.  I don't think I could be satisfied with leaving my duties for four years and sit on the sidelines while decisions are being made that affect the lives of people everywhere.  People count on me to represent their interests."

Heero stopped her with a gentle shake of his head.  "I'm not suggesting you just quit your job and become a full-time student.  I understand the sense of responsibility you feel.  Believe me, I understand."  His tone led her to believe that Duo would have been rolling his eyes if he'd been there to hear.  "But I also understand that you can't stay on high alert for long periods of time without it taking a toll on your body and your mind.  There needs to be balance.  That balance may be in a different place for everyone."  He paused, cocking his head in thought.  "Different enough that some certain people may have trouble believing that you have balance in your life."

"Someone in particular you have in mind, hmmm?"

Her insinuation did not seem to faze him.  "Of course, that someone might insist that, just because you feel as if you have balance, doesn't mean it's true.  And I could agree.  But I think we'd at least be able to agree that if you don't feel you have balance, then it's almost definitely true."

Relena reminded herself not to try to read too much into what that said about their opinions about each other.  Instead, she spent a moment contemplating how little she understood Heero's thought processes sometimes.  "Even supposing I did, Heero...."  She sighed.  "I'm not one to give up before I've even tried, but even supposing I did stop to take some classes... Good lord, if I went about things that way, maybe it'd take me ten years to get enough credits for a degree!"

Heero scratched his chin thoughtfully.  "They have those online schools, don't they?  You're supposed to be able to go through the courses on your own time, I think.  You could probably get it done faster, if you were really dedicated to it."

She blinked at him in mild horror.  "An online school?  An online...?"  She buried her face in her hands and rubbed hard, not caring how it looked at all.  "God, Heero.  Do you have any idea how wrong that is?"

He looked honestly at her and gave a simple answer.  "No.  I don't.  Tell me."

"It's... It's..."  She laughed helplessly, but at least it wasn't hysterically.  Not quite.  "Oh God, Heero.  Do you know how it was supposed to go?  I was going to graduate from St. Gabriel's.  I was going to apply to all the best universities -- actual brick and mortar, four year institutions!  I was going to get into all of the ones I wanted to get into, and I hadn't quite decided yet if I wanted to attend my father's alma mater or not, but I was going to seriously consider it.  It was a good school, after all.  And I thought I'd major in something like political science, and after undergrad, I would go on to grad school at another prestigious university, and I was going to write my thesis on the viability of pacifism.  I'd no doubt have been interning in government programs all this time, if not holding a true, minor position.  And then after I had finished my post-grad work, I'd be ready to really get out there and start working for the people.  I-- I..."  She pressed her fingers to her mouth to hold in another sad laugh, and didn't give it a chance to become a sob. "How did I get it so backwards, Heero?"

His initial expression gave her the impression that he was completely unprepared for this question, and it gave her a little boost in confidence.  She'd managed to ruffle him.  Surely that deserved a little pat on the back.  It gave her the power to form her lips into a rueful smile and return her hand to the tabletop with a deliberate air.

The silence was a little awkward as Heero groped for an appropriate response, but he finally found something to offer.  "If it's really backwards... then you have nothing to worry about.  You'll get your masters in the end."

She laughed.  It was a sound of startled amusement, and not as desperate as it could have been, so she was satisfied with it.  "Oh my.  That's one way to think of it.  Will I get it before I get an undergraduate degree, do you think?"

"Hmm.  I think I read recently that universities like to grant honorary degrees to the people they get to speak at their commencement ceremonies.  I'm sure there would be lots of institutions interested in a live speech from you.  So yes, I think it's quite possible."

"Oh, can you just imagine?"  She shook her head with a smile.  Of all people, how had Heero somehow become her cheerleader?  No, she'd simply presented him with a dilemma, and he'd taken it upon himself to help her solve it.  It was close enough.  "So very backwards.  Can I still write my thesis?"

"If you want to."

"Will you read it?"

He nodded solemnly.  "I expect my very own copy of it."

"You'll have it.  On paper.  And bound.  Very stylishly, I might add."

"And I expect your signature on the inside cover."

"Naturally."  She almost giggled, imagining pressing her lipstick-covered lips to the page next to it, just to be scandalous.  It'd almost be worth risking Duo's wrath, though she hoped it would be amusement instead.  "I'll write a whole dedication to you, Heero.  None of it could have happened without you.  Not the thesis, not pacifism... not anything.  Not without you."

"Nor you, Relena."

Tags: ,

31 comments or Leave a comment
fractured_sun From: fractured_sun Date: October 6th, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay more Haven. This is great, poor Relena.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 6th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I keep thinking, egads! she actually WANTS to write a thesis??
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: October 6th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is so very Heero.... ^___^ I'll bet, if she actually engages with Wufei, that he can tutor more than math. She could have her degree a lot sooner than she thinks. ^___~
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 6th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
So very Heero... as a cheerleader? =D

I think it would be great fun if it turned out Relena could tutor Wufei in a thing or two, too. ^_^
windiain From: windiain Date: October 6th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love how you write a realistic Relena who is actually likeable. I really feel for her in this, poor soul. And Heero is his usual awesome self, as is Relena's imaginary Duo. :D
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 6th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Relena's usually a weird one for me... because on one hand it's like duh, she's Vice Foreign Minister.  And on the other hand, it's like, wait she's what?  How does that even work? O_o

Just goes to show that I can't write a Heero without a Duo somewhere in there. =D
bloody_winged From: bloody_winged Date: October 6th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww, haven! ^___^ I always love it when you write Relena into it :D I love your Relena in here :D (she makes one hell of a matchmaker btw ^___^) I'm just sorry for her. The poor woman has much too much work to do for her young age. If she doesn't slow down sometime soon she is going to burn out - hopefully Wufei will be able to convince her of that (and yeah, I very much like the idea of him tutoring Relena :D And maybe a little bit more... XD")
And I *sooo* laughed at the sentence of Heero being her cheerleader now XD""" God, just the image of him in the typical cheerleader outfit, standing behind her while she is doing some work... XD
*coughs* Well, back again XD This was a lovely new chapter again^^ Thank you :D
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 6th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
The poor woman was so much work to do for her age that I don't quite know how to reconcile it with reality.  =p  I mean, who in their right mind appointed her as Vice Foreign Minister, anyway? O_o

We'll see what Wufei can do for her, if I have them doing anything together.  I think it would take a while for him to be comfortable enough with her that he could be forward enough with her to tell her to stand down for a bit.

If you laugh at the image of Heero as a cheerleader... you can bet Heero hopes Duo never conjures up that image!
yira_heerai From: yira_heerai Date: October 6th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love their interactions together. I love them so very much. *____*

It's also kind of funny how Relena seems to expect so much out of herself, yet sell herself short at the same time.

I seriously can't put into words how much I loved this chapter. Well, I could but it wouldn't make much sense and be full of sputtering, stopping, starting, and babbling. So maybe it's a good thing I'm not doing that? xD
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 7th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I first thought, well Heero and Relena are just birds of a feather, aren't they?  Then I thought, no, Heero can totally downplay his own contributions to the cause while remaining supremely confident in his own self-worth and skill.  =D  I guess he's just magic like that.

Splutter or no, I'm glad you liked. =)
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: October 6th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
There might have been a tiny little, grudging wibble by the end. >_>
And I hear you on the 'She's WHAT?' thing... especially after the attempted public assassination gig. O.o How does THAT work? Get out of jail free card? But I like your Relena; you do justice to the original concept of the character despite the somewhat improbablity of her. ^___^
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 7th, 2008 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
A grudging wibble, eh?  Not a Relena fan?  Or just not a Relena+Heero fan?  I'm just glad I'm convinced that the two of them would be terrible for each other!

I'll excuse her for the shooting at Une thing.  I can accept that the aristocrats at that party could have just kept that little episode to themselves and not spread it around too much.  Especially since there seemed to be a few of them that were sympathetic to her cause.  Though I can imagine that one day, it could come back to haunt her.  In that case, Une is her friend now and would probably calmly deny that the reputable Miss Peacecraft had ever pointed a weapon at her.  And if that wasn't the way they wanted to go, they could always spin it as being the action of an young, angry child who learned better and become a devotee of pacifism.

I'm just sort of baffled by, what, a hereditary position?  Makes no sense.  Elected?  When was there an election?  Appointment?  Okay, I can go with appointment by the government, wanting to make a good show of things.  I think I started out with her being more for show in her position, without many duties, and then she fought for more responsibility, and then she got it and now she's regretting it but not really.  Or something like that.  Surely if I don't know what's happening in my own story, none of you do, so I should be safe! ^o^
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 29th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really good, you do an excellent portrayal of Relena, and the idea of a reverse education is hysterical.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: October 31st, 2008 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Relena's such an interesting character because she changes course several times during the series, bouncing from annoying to respectable.  So she's got this depth... and yet her situation absolutely strains my credulity! (in a way 15-year-old badass gundam pilots doesn't...)
miyun From: miyun Date: November 20th, 2008 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I love your Relena. She's so interesting and vibrant. *laughs* Going backwards...awesome. :D

I especially love Heero and Relena's relationship in Haven, it's just so balanced. Their friendship is so vital in both their lives. I mean, yes, Heero has Duo, but Relena acts almost like a break from that. Not in a good way or bad way, it's just a break. I think you've addressed this before, I'm not too sure. I'm trying to point out something and it's late, totally not succeeding here. XD Anyway, the point is...just much love for this! :) Yep.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 21st, 2008 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)
*petpet* Don't worry, you have it exactly right!  *waves no-prize wand*

Relena gets to be Heero's not-Duo.  Father MacKenzie is sort of Duo's not-Heero, except that he's tied up with all sorts of amusing Duo priest/religion issues.  And Duo needs more elaborate excuses to go visit him. =)
From: _d_s_a_ Date: January 22nd, 2009 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Some of the happenings you write in Haven really does make you think- deeply. This is one of the stories which I consider to provide a very helpful perspective on the many paths in life, and like very much how you brought it up and handled it. DSA
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: January 22nd, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel like GW in general has saddled us with a lot of things in its canon that are really rather absurd, once we stop to take a look at them through the lens of real life. (well, to be fair, i think i've saddled myself with a lot of haven canon over the last eight years that have made my life inconvenient!) On the other hand, it can make for some interesting analysis! =)
tyreling From: tyreling Date: May 28th, 2017 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was a good read. I'm glad Haven discussed the issues of Relena and the pilots still needing to finish their schooling. And wow Heero is Relena's cheerleader... laughs.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: May 30th, 2017 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I dunno, those Japanese ouendan cheer guys can have some pretty hot outfits... ^^'
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