Warnings: Christmas and Christmas traditions contained within. I apologize if that offends you in any way.
The weather proclaimed it was winter, and the calendar nudged closer and closer to Christmas Day. Relena had agreed to spend her holiday traveling this year, her duties as the ESUN Foreign Minister seemed to be ironically more necessary at this time of year - when peace and love were touted almost universally.
"Not that I had anyone else to spend the holiday with." Relena's breath puffed tiny clouds of vapor in the winter air. She stood on the front porch of her home, back from a long day of work, but not quite ready to face the emptiness indoors. It was twilight. The days had grown so short so quickly. And a thin layer of snow already dusted the ground. The smell of a fire burning combined with the crisp winter air.
"Relena…" His deep voice sounded so real inside her head, she had to turn to make sure he wasn't there.
She couldn't look at him. "You know how I feel. I don't think I can say it again."
"I'm sorry." His tone was low, but never wavered.
Relena turned around when she heard his footsteps. "It doesn't have to be this way. Please don't-"
He stopped. "It can't work between us. I do…I will always protect you. But, it's all I can do."
Relena stared up at the night sky and wondered for the thousandth time where he was, how he was doing…. If he was happy.
"Have you found someone?" She asked the stars. Tears collected, unbidden in her eyes. The cold wind threatened to turn them to ice as it swept through and chilled her exposed skin.
"It's Christmas time, again. And people always ask me what I wish for. I tell them all the right things about peace on earth and the colonies, food for the hungry, and shelter for the homeless. And I do wish for those things." She brought a gloved hand up to her chest, closed her eyes and bowed her head.
"But the one wish I hold closest to my heart is that you were here. And if I can't have that wish for myself, because I know it's selfish of me, then I just ask that wherever you are, you're happy."
She shivered and wrapped her arms around her chest. 'Heero….'
Heero tossed and turned in his bed, twisting the cool sheets around his calves. The air in his room felt chilly; the heater turned off at night, and the temperature sank in the climate controlled 'winter' of the L2 colony X2376 sector. "Hnnnnn…Relena…"
The name on his lips jolted him awake. 'I wasn't really asleep.' He wiped a hand over his face and pulled the comforter on his twin bed out of its self-made jumble and back over his legs.
But sleep was an infrequent guest these days. And 'she' was an ever-present vision in his mind. "Why am I thinking about her?" He shook his head. "It's been two years…"
"Heero, I don't understand why it is you still shut me out. I told you I-"
He didn't want to hear it. It was a lie, anyway. "This isn't working, Relena."
"It isn't working because you won't open up. When you said we could give our relationship a try, I thought you really meant it." She looked up at him with that pleading expression on her face.
'I knew you'd get tired of me, eventually.'
"I did." His right fist tightened to the point he felt his knuckles might break.
"This isn't trying, Heero. Trying isn't standing there when I kiss you, not pushing me away when I hug you, and 'enduring' me when I talk to you."
He looked away. "I can't be what you want, Relena."
"I'm not asking you to change! I'm only asking you to let me know you, all of-"
"There's nothing else to know."
She didn't cry. Relena wasn't like the girls in movies or television, the emotionally charged females who seemed to cry with little provocation. She simply stepped back, bowed her head, and turned away. It was the second to last time he ever saw her face-to-face, the last time being when he told her he was leaving.
She didn't cry then, either.
Heero pulled the pillow over his head and groaned. She had moved on. He had just been someone for her to take pity on.
"We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year."
Heero pulled the comforter over the pillow on top of his head. Carolers. Some people had to be up at four in the morning, and didn't want to listen to carolers at nine o'clock at night.
It made him remember things, like how Christmas was her favorite time of year…
She twirled around in the snowfall like they were kids out at recess. Her tongue flicked out every so often to try to catch snowflakes in her mouth. She paused when she caught sight of him just standing there, watching her. His hands shoved in his pockets, his Preventers jacket buttoned tight, and a scarf wound around his neck to keep him warm.
"The snow always makes the Earth look so beautiful."
He frowned and sniffed the air. It smelled faintly of pine; the air felt thin. "It's cold."
She laughed. The winter wind had reddened her cheeks and the tip of her nose. "It's cold, but white, pristine - like it's all brand new." Her expression turned serious. She chewed her lip between her teeth before continuing. "I think people can be like that."
That was a surprising change of conversation. "People."
"Yes. I think that people can start living their life one way, following a particular path, but-"
"Change roads?" His lips cracked from being so chapped. He resisted the urge to wet them, knowing it would just make things worse later on.
"Something like that."
His body shivered despite his efforts. "They don't start over."
"They do in a way."
"But their past is still their past. Just because they change their minds, doesn't erase-"
She took his arm, and he no longer felt cold. "It's like the snow. It's not erased." She bent down a scooped a handful of the white slush from the ground. "See? The grass is still there. The snow is just…a new footing, a clean slate laid over the top of the old." She stood; her blue eyes stared up at him.
"You don't forget the past, but you can go forward without looking back."
If that was true…
Why couldn't he?