by Orla
Part Six

Pairings: 13xSP, 5+SP??

Disclaimer: The Gundam Wing characters do not belong to me,
I am only borrowing them for a short while and promise
to return them in one piece.

AC 199

Thunder boomed and cracked, announcing the rain that the damp air had hinted at. Inside the old dorm room, the light dimmed, casting shadows on the faces of the two women. Their gazes were fixed, neither willing to look aside and show any weakness.

"And despite everything, you just let him slip through your fingers," Nicola said eventually. "_I_ would never have let such a prize walk away from me."

Sally quirked an eyebrow. "You know what your problem is," she said calmly. "You just won't accept the fact that I never saw Treize in that way."

"That's because you were too dense to realise the advantages such a liasion would bring you!" Nicola sneered. "You could have been raised so high, become so much..."

Sally sighed. "Nicola, I was well aware of the 'advantage' my liasion would bring, and quite frankly, it wasn't enough."

"I was content to simply hate you before then," Nicola muttered, ignoring Sally's comment. "But once you took the final thing I wanted away, then I _had_ to do everything I could to discredit you... hurt you."

"Such as stealing the exam?" Sally shook her head. "That could have damaged the careers of the others, not just me! Did you ever think about that?"

Nicola grinned. "Huh, if yours had been the only one to go missing then it would have been more suspicious," she explained. "Ah... you have no idea the effort I had to go to in order to hijack those exams."

"Effort that surely would have been better placed elsewhere," Sally commented acidly, earning another vicious glare from Nicola.

"Stop giving me that fucking crap!" Nicola hissed. "You were so fucking lucky... I couldn't believe that you placed so well after everything I did! I tried to throw you off balance by sabotaging your gun, knowing that the commander would tell you about the exam later..."

"And did you try to shoot me too?" Sally asked, her mind flashing back to the exercise when she'd had the distinct impression that she was being targeted.

Nicola smirked. "Now, now... remember, I couldn't have killed you with paint pellets, but..." she looked a little coy. "I do admit that I was trying to hurt you... one of those pellets in the eye would have ruined your career and your relationship for good!"

"Treize wouldn't have dumped me, just because I was blind in one eye!" Sally snapped.

"But he dumped you anyway," Nicola said in satisfaction. "You couldn't hold Treize Khushrenada... and that makes me feel happy, although not as happy as I'll be when you're finally dead."

Sally's lips curled into a mocking smile. "Nicola dear... who ever said that Treize dumped me? I dropped him."


AC 191

The rain had stopped sometime in the night and the early morning sun was drying the soaked streets. Looking out of the window, Sally hugged her knees to her chest and decided that the city always looked fresher on sunny mornings after heavy rain. Then a sleepy murmur from the man beside her shook her out of such idle reflections and she looked down at him, turning her mind back to the thoughts that had awoken her.

Treize looked alot more... vulnerable while he slept. Sally smiled slightly and brushed some strands of hair from his forehead. He twitched slightly, but didn't awaken and for that she was thankful. Especially as she was going to have to leave and, as cowardly as it was, she really wanted to be gone before he woke.

Sally sighed. She didn't regret what had happened between them, she had enjoyed making love to Treize and felt secure in the knowledge that he cared deeply for her... as much as she cared for him.

No, what hurt was that it wasn't enough. She didn't love him enough to give up everything she had worked so hard to achieve. And after weighing up all the options Sally knew that staying with Treize would be too much of a personal sacrifice to make.

He had spoken of her joining the Specials. Telling her that even though the majority of people were from aristocratic backgrounds, there was still a place for people with talent. But that wouldn't work, she couldn't function as an OZ officier and Treize's lover. She would never be judged on her own merits, only on his influence. Besides which... there were some ideals held by Treize and others that Sally felt very uncomfortable with.

Remaining an Alliance officier and and his lover was also out of the question. Not only would it be awkward, but for a while now the relations between the Alliance and OZ had been strained, despite the outward mask of friendship and cooperation that both wore. Sally wasn't a psychic, but she was sure that the masks would fall in the near future.

Quitting her career wasn't an option that Sally particularly fancied either. Remaining with Treize as his lover or... Sally looked down at him with some amusement... his wife wouldn't suit her at all. She couldn't possibly fit in with that sort of lifestyle!

*So the best thing, for the both of us, is to enjoy what we've had and move on with our lives and our careers... seperately* Sally thought as she slid from the bed and tiptoed into the other room to find her clothing. Everything was dry now and Sally dressed quickly, a little concerned that Treize would wake. She didn't feel ready to explain things to him yet.

"You know," a voice edged with sleep and a touch of irritation drawled as Sally reached for the door handle. "Usually the one who creeps out without a word is the man."

Sally froze and then let her hand drop. "Just doing my bit for gender equality," she said lightly. "Besides, it would look a bit silly for you to sneak out of your own apartment."

"True," Treize acknowledged. "So may I ask why _you_ are sneaking out, Sally?"

She turned and faced him. He was wearing a deep blue satin robe and his hair was mussed, however his expression was very alert. She sighed. "I'm sorry Treize, I shouldn't have tried to leave like this."

He folded his arms and regarded her steadily. "It was a bit impolite," his eyes flashed briefly. "Regrets, Sally?"

She shook her head. "No... no regrets, but I..." she looked at her hands, trying to collect her thoughts. "I should have told you something. I was going to last night, but... well..."

A wry smile tugged at Treize's lips. "I understand," he said softly and crossed over to stand before her. "So, tell me now."

"Before I met you, I had already decided that I wanted to work in medical," Sally said, she looked up at him and smiled. "My mother was a doctor once you see... Anyway, there is an Alliance surgeon who is based near L5 colony who is considered one of the most brilliant in his field. From him I can learn things in months that would usually take a year!"

"Ah... I see," Treize picked up one of her hands in both of his and lightly stroked the slim fingers. "So that is why you were so concerned with getting the right marks. If I remember rightly, he's very picky about who is assigned to his staff."

"Yes, he only choses top-ranking graduates," Sally sighed again, half from sadness and half from the tremour of desire that shot through her from Treize's gentle caresses. With a considerable effort, she pulled her hand away from his and moved back. "I contacted him a few days ago and he said that he was impressed with results I had achieved and that if I passed well then he'd accept me. And I got enough for him to accept me and," she met his eyes. "I can't pass up an opportunity like this."

"And...?" Treize pressed, sensing she was leaving much unspoken.

Sally grimaced. "You're not going to make this easy are you?"

"Sally, this is the first time something like this has happened to me," he explained with a slight smile. "I think I deserve to know the full reason behind your decision."

"Oh well, if you put it _that_ way..." Sally brushed back her hair and squared her shoulders. "All the options that we talked about, and that I thought of, wouldn't work. I can't join the Specials and be judged on my own merit. I can't remain part of the Alliance and carry on a liasion with you... not when things are progressing as they are."

"I knew that someone as astute as you would not be oblivious to the rising tensions," Treize sounded more amused than upset. "The Alliance served a useful purpose once, but now it has become rusty and needs replacing."

"This is exactly the sentiment that makes it impossible for me to stay!" Sally frowned. "You know I... no, Treize, you need someone who believes in your ideals, someone who will work with you... I can't see what's going to happen in the future, but I have an awful feeling that one day we're going to find ourselves on opposite sides."

He raised an eyebrow. "Worried that you couldn't bring yourself to pull the trigger?"

"Oh I could," Sally said coolly. "If I had to then I could, but it would be a lot easy if I wasn't emotionally involved."

Silence dropped between them then and Sally was just starting to wonder if he was furious with her when Treize threw back his head and laughed.

"Sally... if I could make you stay I would!" he said. "There is no one so refreshingly blunt as you!" he reached out and captured her hands again. "But you've made up your mind haven't you? Well, maybe you're right, and I won't argue that there are some things we don't see eye to eye on, so I'll let you go... however reluctant I am."

"You are just too generous..." Sally muttered sarcastically not sure how pleased she felt about him 'letting' her go.

Treize chuckled again at her tone and grazed his lips against hers. "You have no idea," he murmured in her ear before biting it gently.

"Treize..." Sally tried to pull away again, but he held her fast. "Treize, I'll be leaving right after I graduate, I don't think..."

"Shhh," he kissed her neck. "I believe your graduation ceremony is in three days?"

"Uh... yes..." Sally twisted her head to look into his eyes. "Three days from now," her eyes narrowed. "Are you going to try and convince me to stay with you for those three days?"

Treize kissed her expertly. "That was a very silly question, Sally," he chided her. "Of _course_ I am."

Slightly breathless from the kiss, Sally considered her position. Most of the other cadets would be spending time with their families before the ceremony and they left for their various posts. Sally knew that no one from her family would show up, she hadn't expected them to, and there was nothing to _keep_ her from spending the time with Treize. And she might as well enjoy the time she had with him as it was highly unlikely that they would meet again. She smiled and kissed him back forcefully.

"Well, I guess staying with you is better than getting the third degree about my activities from the other girls," she teased and Treize smiled in satisfaction.

"Then might I suggest we retire again? You left the bed much too early in my opinion."

AC 199

"I don't believe it..." Nicola muttered. "After all the time I spent believing that you were going through hell because you loved him, but you... you dumped him?"

"Well, that might have been a bit strong... considering it was an amicable part of ways," Sally said. Her tone was careless, but her sharp eyes were watching Nicola's every move, seeking out the right opportuinity.

Nicola shook her head. "You're lying... you have to be lying! No one would... WHY?" she demanded and Sally's shoulders slumped slightly in exasperation.

"I _told_ you why!" she snapped. "I didn't love him enough to sacrifice everything... and there were alot of other reasons which are too long to go into now... is it so hard for you to grasp this?"

"It doesn't matter," Nicola mumbled, seeming not to hear Sally's words. "I don't care anymore... I'll die and you'll die... and that will be the end of everything," a crazed smile curved her lips. "I've been waiting so long..."

"I'm curious," Sally interrupted her. "You keep talking of killing me... how do you plan to do away with me exactly? A bullet in the head?

Nicola blinked and then shook her head. "It's tempting, but no," she leaned forward. "You see... as I said, I'm dying and this... thing..." she touched her chest. "Is eating me alive and it's much too far gone to to stop now. All that's left is to wait for it to consume me... possibly wait in a white hospital bed... alone, since no one will care to come to see me. I don't want that... that will _not_ be my death!"

"So..." Sally said slowly. "You want to kill yourself... and me at the same time."

"Exactly," Nicola looked almost cheerful. "I really want to take you to hell with me. You can't imagine how I felt after the Alliance was destroyed... Do you know that my little brother was killed during that time? By OZ soldiers too... _Treize's_ soldiers. I hoped that you had died too, but you didn't!" her face twisted. "You rose out of the dust and became a _hero_!" she shuddered and then straightened, pointing the gun at Sally. So..." she said brightly. "I've set explosives in and all around this building... in less than five minutes, you and I will be consumed by fire."

"I'm sorry about your brother," Sally said quietly with her head bowed. "I lost some good friends during that time, but you can't make me the focus of your anger and grief, Nicola..." she raised her and glared at Nicola with blazing eyes. "I won't let you!"

Nicola's upper lip curled. "What can you.... NO!" she screamed and fired as Sally surged forward.

*Just as I expected...* Sally thought as she ducked the wild shot, going in for a low body blow. Tackling Nicola with her full body weight, Sally bore the lighter woman down and then rolled away before Nicola could regather herself and strike.

With a speed rivalling a cat's, Sally was on her feet and running out of the door. Nicola had said that the explosives would go off in less than five minutes which meant Sally didn't have long to clear the building.

"SALLY!" Nicola screamed after her and Sally heard the sharp report of a gun being fired. She ducked and swerved, but felt a burning pain rip through her upper arm and staggered. Biting her lip, Sally continued to run through the dark building as Nicola pursued her. *How long do I have? What exactly is _less_ than five minutes? Four? Three? Where was the exit again? Shit!* she staggered again as one of Nicola's bullets found their mark again, this time ripping through her right leg.

"I'll shoot you into pieces if I have to!" Nicola cried and Sally's eyes narrowed.

*Not likely!* she pushed the pain aside and put on an extra burst of speed, distancing herself from Nicola. She half-fell down the stairs as she turned a corner and managed to halt her break-neck speed by grabbing the banister at the bottom. Gulping in air, Sally moved forward again, hands outstetched, reaching for the door that she remembered. Her memory didn't fail her and her fingers fumbled desperately to open the latch as she heard the distant sound of Nicola's running steps coming closer. *Shit... what if she locked it from the outside?*

The door flew open and Sally tumbled forward, catching herself before she fell into the arms of...

"Wufei?!" she exclaimed.

His black eyes widened in relieved surprise. "Sally! Wh..."

"RUN!!" she screamed at him, shoving him back. "RUN!"

He didn't question her, just grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him. Sally stumbled after him as fast as she could, looking back over her shoulder she saw Nicola reach the top of the staircase. She couldn't see the other woman's face but she knew Nicola's expression was one of rage and chargin.

*I told you... I wouldn't let you make me your focus... I'm sorry, you brought this on yourself... Treize would have told you the same.*

Then all thought was drowned out as explosions ripped through the building and the blast knocked Wufei and Sally off their feet. Wufei twisted and reached for Sally, but her hand slipped from his grasped and she crashed onto the asphalt, rolled and lay still.

AC 191

"Second lieutenant..." Sally touched the new bars on her uniform and smiled slightly. The graduation ceremony was over, she had emerged from the Academy with some of the highest honours and now she was acutely conscious of the papers in her pocket. Papers that confirmed her posting to the staff of one of the Alliance's greatest surgeons. She looked down at the duffel bag by her feet and smiled. Soon the transport would be here to take her and the others to the Spaceport.

She raised her head and looked around at her classmates. Many were tearful, hugging each other and promising to keep in touch while their families looked on with proud smiles. Sally's lips curved downwards slightly. As expected there was no one to smile proudly at her. Not even a lover...

Sally frowned and shook off that thought. She hadn't asked Treize to come, it didn't seem _right_ some how, and it was better to break things off cleanly, right? Still, a small part of her acknowledged that it would have been nice to see him one more time even after last night's passionate farewell.

"Hey, Sally!" Nicola's voice drew Sally out of her thoughts and she smiled at her now ex-roommate.

"Nicola! Congratulations on your posting!"

The other girl grinned. "Not too shabby, huh? Better than I expected too!" her eyes narrowed and she regarded Sally with a serious expression. "Of course, not all of us can _choose_ our place."

Sally raised an eyebrow. "Well, maybe some of us should have worked harder!"

Something unreadable flickered in Nicola's eyes before she laughed. "Maybe, maybe..." she peered closely at Sally's face. "And how are you holding up?"

"Huh?" Sally looked at her blankly. "What do you mean?"

Nicola made a vague gesture. "Oh you know... you and Treize..."

"It's all settled," Sally said firmly, her tone leaving no doubt that she wasn't going to discuss the matter further.

"Oh... yes, of course," Nicola bit her lip and Sally touched her arm.

"Don't worry about me," she said just as the transport arrived. "Look, I have to go... keep in touch, okay?"

Nicola smiled brightly at her. "Oh don't worry, Sal! You haven't heard the last of me."

Sally shouldered her bag and smiled. "Good."

She walked towards the transport and then paused, feeling the prickle of eyes on her back. Turning, Sally saw the crowds parting and a familiar figure stood there, watching her.

Treize smiled and bowed, hand on his heart, before straightening and saluting her.

Sally's lips curved into a broad smile. She blinked away the sudden tears that pricked her eyelids and saluted him back.

They looked into each others eyes for a moment and then Sally turned on her heels and walked into the waiting transport.

She never looked back.

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