2-20-2001

Title: And She Was
Song: And She Was by The Talking Heads
Ficwriter: Dalton
Pairings: None (Dorothy POV)
Warnings: A few curse words. A bit of Angst
Notes: I always had this song in mind for Dorothy, and when Tyr issued that angst challenge, I thought I'd give it a shot. I don't think it's super angsty enough for the contest, but I'd be happy to know if you all think otherwise. Oh, and I had to split the dern fic in half to get it to post! sorry for that.
Special Thanks : to Lilias for being the super nice helpful person she is!

-----------

"Once upon a time". Those are the magic words, the magic words that can open the door to hidden worlds. I cannot number the times those words were said to me in the hushed, excited baritone of my personal sandman. His nocturnal visits were more than mere bait for elusive sleep; they were the last lifelines to a fading innocence. Innocent? These hardened, boring adults that we've become, were we ever truly innocent? Once upon a time, yes, we were. As degrading and humiliating as that may be, I must acknowledge my admission or else I threaten to destroy the only pure memory of him that I allow to exist.

There are other memories, but they don't matter. They have no other use than to help chronicle the events into some kind of useless time frame, but some hold tiny, precious pearls that are excruciating in their mundane detail. For instance, his hands, they were large and warm with so many tiny lines. The skin was tanned and tough, but when he wrapped them around my awkward, miniature pair, they were amazingly soft and gentle. I remember staring in adoration at each callus as he pointed out where mine would appear if I continued my newly-acquired interest. He meant to appeal to the demure lady mother primed me to be and cause me to fear for the future appearance of my pristine palms. If my hands could grow to mirror his, then let the scars and scabs and scratches come as they might. I was six and I was full of childish adoration for a man I couldn't love enough.

//And she was lying in the grass//

The epee, though a weapon in its own right, is not the most effective and lethal of the brotherhood of blades from which it comes. However, it can whip through the air like a beautiful, deadly hummingbird and put a period on the end of a man's last sentence. It was my first sword and remains my current blade of choice. Being lightweight, it would fit a woman's small hands more expertly than, let's say, a broadsword (though a person of stature wouldn't be caught dead with so barbaric a piece of metal in hand). I mastered the singing steel by the time I was ten, much to my cousin's agitation and my mother's dismay. I could have cared less what my saintly mother thought of my alarming penchant to 'play war games" with boys older than myself. My cousin was merely an obstacle to me. An obstacle to confront repeatedly, so that I might travel onto a higher challenge, a more skilled opponent, Zechs Merquise. Not that dear Treize was a poor swordsman; he was extremely proficient in his abilities, as my bruised knuckles and scratched arms could have shown. His fault was that he had too much of the gentleman ingrained into his being from the day he emerged from his mother's blessed womb and the doctor kissed his perfect feet. Treize was too much a proper gentleman to give his little lady cousin a real man's fight. Unless my mother's influence on him was stronger than one would like to admit.

//And she could hear the highway breathing//

At that annoying, upper-chest-blossoming age of twelve, I tossed Treize's kid gloves aside and challenged his best friend to a match. I'll never forget the bemused look on Cousin's face, nor the unreadable stare on the young Merquise; but then I said something that opened a door in those carefully guarded orbs. All it took was the simple utterance of four age-old words, "Once upon a time," and what came after didn't matter. The light that suddenly lit within his closed mind shone through the slight flare of his nostrils and the fall of his pristine hair as he nodded. He understood what my wish was. I think he knew from the way my movements in the matches against Treize would become more serious, more daring when a certain family member ventured unannounced into the training room. Zechs understood, and it was a very long time until I understood him as well.

//And she could see a nearby factory//

Zechs Merquise was the first opponent to make me bleed more than the paltry scratches I had obtained in the past. My dear cousin berated him harshly every time I left a match with a tattle of redness on my regulation whites. The blossoming Adonis had his own fair share of blood loss evident on his matching clothes, which I do believe worried my cousin far more than normal friendship should allow. If I understood only one thing about Zechs Merquise at that time, it was that he fought with a passionate fairness: a cursed eye for a cursed eye, a sharp tooth for a sharp tooth, as the old adage went. Under Zechs's feigned tutelage, it wasn't long before I would be worthy to learn from the one master I did not want to fight. I needn't have worried. I never got that chance.

Calla lilies. I hated the smell of calla lilies, and ironically it was my mother's lotion of choice. The same lotion she massaged nightly into my blistered hands, trying to rub away the day's hard-won calluses, trying to erase the callus that was building over my heart. She wasn't helping, using the scent of the flower that was thrown on his grave. She wasn't wanted, infringing upon the sacred hours that were kept for a sandman who would no longer come to utter magical words. There is no magic in the extremely annoyed strains of, "Hush, go to sleep."

//She's making sure she is not dreaming//

I couldn't betray my life with sleep, like he had. I fought it until it forced itself upon my exhausted frame and took me under like a dishonorable cheat, striking at the weakest point first. Like all my opponents, I learned something from that hated blackguard, as well.

//See the lights of a neighbor's house
Now she's starting to rise//

My callus grew quite beautifully after that. I had tossed off old playfellows for newer and more daring challenges. My grandfather noticed, and took me into his world of politics to teach me more of what I already knew, but cared nothing for. That foolish old man used my seeming innocence as much as I used his seeming loyalty. He usurped Trieze with a move I'm surprised my dear cousin didn't recognize from the days when strategy entered our play. Put a man's face on it, and it's amazing how successful an attack can be. I must admit, Treize countered beautifully.

//Take a minute to concentrate
And she opens up her eyes//

"Such strong children," were my grandfather's words. He was secretly pleased with both Treize and me, but that was the only thing I ever heard from him that came close to a compliment. I didn't need his worthless praise anyway. I knew I was strong. Of course I was strong. I had been striving much too long to be like those hands I remembered from long ago. I truly didn't know I had come close to their strength until a stranger told me so. I was standing in the rain, soaked because of my stubbornness -- or my shock. Mine was the only hand that did not shake as I laid my contribution onto the shiny casket. After years of training your wrist to obey your every move, you could not have it suddenly revolt because of an emotional event. Every event had emotion. To let it control you was to allow it to weaken you. Lives were lost through carelessness like that. Someone noticed my control, some unimportant wife of some equally unimportant lord or politician, and she approached my proud vigilance with weepy awe. "You must be a very strong person. I hardly knew him and I can't stop the tears thinking about you and your poor mother." Stupid, ignorant, unimportant bitch. No, that was not fair to say. She was smart enough to see that she was the weaker person.

//The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was//

Sometimes I wonder why I was born a member of that sex I detest so much. Yes, there were definitely advantages to having a lithe frame and softer features. A cleverly placed brooch or a smooth flash of a deceptive doe's eye could sometimes win the game of power. Very few women had the ability to gain my respect, and I had my grandfather to thank for leading me to the neophyte mind of the first one. She was laughably ignorant of the way of war and the world, and I thought all I needed were a few choice words and she'd fall into that helpless puddle of sap that all women succumb to at one time or other. She surprised me, though; she fought with her conviction as well as I fought with my foil. I hated and admired her. She had two fathers and she had lost both of them. And she was still standing. Though my respect slightly soured when I discovered she had a secret prop to support her.

//And she was drifting through the backyard
And she was taking off her dress//

When I finally met the unknowing prop, he was as stiff and hard as a wall of support should be; but when he moved he was like liquid metal. It was beautiful. Enticing him into a match wasn't as difficult as I expected. It made no difference to him who or what he fought as long as he knew it was his enemy, and I do believe I made that clear to him. I think, for the first time in an eternity, that I felt my little heart beat excitedly. "Yuy," "prop," "schoolmate": whatever the title, I knew who he was and what he could do, and I thought I had found the means to the end. I had to be sure, and like a thief with no fear, I used my magic key to rattle his lock. Only his eyes betrayed the sudden scrambling behind the very expertly-barred barrier. Despite my failure to lay bare that secret room, I felt an elated rush of power that went undaunted even after his foil pierced my face shield in a graze of deadly warning.

//And she was moving very slowly
Rising up above the earth//

After he had left, after I had removed the damaged headgear, I stood staring with a lovely smirk. It was a lovely smirk because it hid so well what I truly felt. Heero Yuy would not be the one. The reins were leaving my grasp and I was floating. Lost once again. At least, until some idol-worshipping waste of human life began to fawn over how "incredibly strong" I was during the spar. I smiled sweetly at her and told her in a most respectable way to shut the fuck up.

//Moving into the universe
Drifting this way and that
Not touching ground at all
Up above the yard//

After that I had began to wonder what my strength really was. Relena Peacecraft had her strength in the name of Heero Yuy. Gundam pilot number one had his strength walled in by an unbreakable door. Dorothy Catalonia thought she had a magic key that could unlock that door. Opening the door would crack the prop and it would fail to support the spoiled, pampered daughter of two fathers. She would falter in her misery. How rewarding that would have been, had it succeeded. The magic words did not work as effectively as they once had. Were these timeless four words the secret strength of Miss Formidable Catalonia? How revolting a thought. It was time to put away childish things and prove that Dorothy needed no supporting accoutrements at the base of her strength.

//The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was//

I had a frequent tendency to refer to myself in the third person, as well as speaking to myself out loud as if I were an observer of what was taking place in Dorothy Catalonia's world. Sometimes I felt as though I was above it all, this mundane conveyor belt of life, and it was as frightening as it was freeing. I wanted to be free, I think. However, I was still being held in check by that puffy old bear of a politician who masked my power with his name. I had decided to be stronger than Miss Peacecraft and Mr. Yuy and stand on my own. Therefore, Grandfather had to take leave of this arena. I chose to play the game without my beloved weapon and it worked amazingly well, proving that I could prevail without yet another prop of strength. I was betrayed, though, by threatening tears that I blamed and cursed on my weak feminine nature. There was no excuse for tears! Someone misunderstood and put a hand on my shoulder, touting that abominable strength of mine. I made no response. I stepped into the future of my own creation.

//She was glad about it... no doubt about it
She isn't sure where she's gone
No time to think about what to tell them
No time to think about what she's done
And she was//

Miss Relena didn't know how to play by the rules of war that I grew up with, so I sought to continue the game with her brother, who seemed to have broken those noble rules as well. I broke one of my new rules, too, when I feared he would not accept me. "Once upon a time...", I nearly begged, and the magic still existed; he opened the door and let me in. I needed so desperately to be a part of the monumental force that lured Zechs into the heart of battle. Though I was sacrificing my newly-won independence, I reveled in the lightheaded glee of being a target of something greater than myself. The upcoming battle would be the closest I would come to meeting the exalted opponent I had been harshly denied. Wouldn't he have been so completely proud to see how well his princess conquered the five strongest knights in all the heavens?

//And she was looking at herself//

I would have won. I know I would have, but the one man I disdainfully overlooked at the Sanq school surprised me. No, he didn't surprise me; he frightened me. For the single moment that we had connected through the Zero System, I was afraid he had seen what even I wouldn't look at. Damnit, and I was so close to the finale that I could've tasted the metallic manna on my tongue. I had missed the power in that one pilot and I felt it was time we met properly.

//And things were looking like a movie//

However, Zechs postponed my meeting with a move neither my cousin expected nor I. Perhaps dear Treize did see what his lifetime friend had planned for him. There was never a move the one didn't see before the other acted, but this time the end result would be too dear a loss for either. The idiots were taking this game too far and I was not going to be left standing alone in the wake. I had precious few family left that really mattered to me, but, as it always was, my feelings were shoved as roughly aside as my hand when I tried to stop Zech's mistake. I was reprimanded -- stripped of my post at the forefront of the playing field -- and I deserved it. I'd take my hits as well as any man. Besides, there was a little matter I wanted to take care of anyway, and I finally got that chance.

//She had a pleasant elevation//

Quatre Raberba Winner, the little pansy. I had to practically force the sword into his too-forgiving hands when he found me waiting for him. Waiting so patiently, I might add, though I feared that my reckless desire would come to an end before the war did. No one was allowed to refuse my challenges, and I had the horrible feeling this peacemaker in a warrior's body would be my last chance. I was losing the battle with my anger and fear, which he should have used to his advantage, as any strong opponent would have - as my cousin would have. I would have known how to defend myself if he had only fought the way one was expected to. I lost. No, I won. His slumped body was proof of my triumph, but I was confused. Who was supposed to be the victor here? Any sane person would have moved on from that moment, but I fell. I fell out of myself and flew away to review the steps that led me to that point in time.

//She's moving out in all directions//

Someone entered the room, ignoring the two of us, and began to disassemble Zech's beautiful war toys. I continued to float above the scene, watching as I and this third gundam pilot carried on the most absurdly calm conversation while someone's life ebbed away silently in the corner. If Mr. Barton had commented on my strong presence, I would have killed him, too. He finally broached that subject without highlighting it. As he helped his friend leave, he said, "She can take care of herself." That stabbed me like no other sword had before, and I slammed painfully back into the life I didn't want. The dam burst and tears poured out like blood from the wounds of my eyes.

I couldn't take care of myself. I never wanted to take care of myself, but I was left with no choice! My strength was a lie. I wasn't strong, I was cold. Cold and dead. As cold and dead as the hands that once brushed my falling tears away with so much love and care. Those hands, those eyes, that smile... why did they have to leave me so helpless and alone? My tears had nothing to catch them but the hard, unfeeling metal of a lost ship and the down-turned lip of one who suddenly forgot how to fight.

//The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was
Joining the world of missing persons (and she was)
Missing enough to feel alright //

They taste salty. Why is that?

"The ocean water is salty, too, little princess. But it still carries life within it."

I don't like the water. It hurts too much.

"No. It will wash the pain away. Trust me, dear one."

I hurt.

"Do not worry, I'll be with you till the pain is gone. I won't leave my little girl."

Papa... tell me a story to make it go away.

"Once upon a time..."

Papa.

//(and she was)//

-------------

(the end)