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About Milady

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  1. Although war games were supposed to start in less than thirty minutes, Clare had no intention of hurrying anywhere. Why bother, really? She had plenty of time. The only thing that remotely concerned this young woman right now was whether or not Landis would approve of her uniform. Indeed, it was something. There wasn’t much left in it from the original ZAFT attire… well, perhaps the stripes, the colours, the logos and the belt… Yeah, that was pretty much it. The top coat was lengthened and the bottom of it made wider so that it blew apart every time Clare took a step. The pants were gone - instead she wore a short, frilly lilac dress right underneath the coat. It’s long sleeves went past the coat sleeves, which had also been modified. There were cut off at the shoulders and fastened to the cut by several white belts, while the cuffs were widened and gathered half way up the lower arm by emerald brooches. Even the boots were warped to fit this woman’s eccentric style. Instead of loose army-style boots, Clare’s were tight and raised on a pointy four-inch heel. Since this was an army event, Clare decided to be “modest” with her choice of jewellery - “just” an anklet on her left leg, and her usual horn-shaped hairpin that was attached just for looks since this time Clare chose to put her long brown hair up in a high ponytail. Looking more like an eccentric fashion designer than a soldier, Clare headed to the elevator, completely ignoring the glares she was getting from some of her neighbours who happened to have fought in previous wars. Sure, Sandy would have like but he was off to some gay club (well, he left last night and hasn’t been back yet - probably sleeping off twenty too many martinis in some motel), so, the only moral support Clare might have had at the moment was currently out. No matter - Clare still managed to give more than one charming smile to her neighbours while going down thirteen floors in the elevator, and a few more on the way to the parking lot… Oh, just imagine how Landis would react when he saw her! No, she didn’t want to think of that. After all, he was a male - a young male, and she was a young attractive female. In other words, she could just flirt her way out of any chat he might want to have with her about the strictness of uniform guidelines and about how a ZAFT soldier should represent oneself. As her red convertible ripped out of its parking spot all gloomy thoughts were out of Clare’s mind… And the bliss lasted for about five minutes. Fortunately, she no longer gave a damn about what anyone might have thought about her uniform. Unfortunately, she was now thinking about Ryou. These were war games, no? The rules would only be announced today, so there was no way of knowing what the bras had in mind. What if they were limited in their choice of equipment? Ryou was an ace pilot, he was a good sniper, but he was so frail! That boy could not manage in hand-to hand combat! He couldn’t run fast, he was so clumsy at times, and what’s worse, he was a bit of a coward when placed in unfamiliar, and unpredictable situations without much recourses. Clare sighed. Yes, she would have to stick beside him for the duration of the event. Perhaps that would compromise her own performance, but what if he was to hurt himself, or worse, make a fool of himself? She knew very well that his father would be watching this, and she knew how eager Ryou was to please the men and how he dreaded disappointing him. No, she had no other choice - she’d just have to look out for the kid today. “A penny for your thoughts, handsome stranger,” Clare whispered into the young man’s ear as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders in a big sister way. She had only entered the meeting room, but it was clear that Ryou was depressing himself yet again, and as always she had to be the one to notice him and to try to cheer him up. Slowly but steadily this young man was becoming a major burden that she had willingly bestowed upon herself and would never even think of abandoning… Oh, how we cling to our chains! “What’s up, Landis? Is the assignment anything crazy, oh gallant leader of the squad?” Clare turned to their captain without releasing Ryou’s shoulders and was inquiring about the task as though it was nothing more than a chore. Indeed, her careless, mocking manner of address showed as always that she was not taking anything seriously… Or was she?
  2. “Catch me then,” Clare replied with a laugh on her speaker. The Dragoons were recharged half way, but she still had a lot of reprogramming to do. Needless to say that Clare did not like this one bit. She preferred to pilot on the manual, but the Dragoons required the precision that she could never provide without a great deal of computer work. On top of that she had Ryou’s shooting to deal with. “Think you can learn how to shoot before you start piloting.” she teased as Legend dodged ever beam and made a sharp motion upwards. Clare had this crazy way of dodging shots, where she would move the machine to one side for a couple of times, and then intersected the beam moving to the other side… Yeah, in other words she flew like a very stoned pigeon… But on the bright side it seemed to work for her. Now, if only she could keep the manual piloting and computer-adjust the Dragoons… That was going to take some work. Clare shot a few random rounds in order to slow Destiny’s approach and continued to dart through the debris belt. There was no particular destination she was heading for. All she could hope for was to buy some time or to find a large enough chunks to play hide and seek with him.
  3. Camellia heard him, but knew that he did not want her to, and so his comment remained unanswered. Oh, what did he know about her? Nothing. He knew enough to consider himself close to her, but nowhere near enough for her to consider him close to her. Clare did not want this closeness from anyone, especially Ryou. She could care for him, and her affection did not depend on the amount of trust she had for him, but no matter how much affection she had, Clare could never give away everything. This was the same for everyone she ever cared about, regardless of the relationship. They could count on her love, affection, on selflessness, but her mind was not something that any of them could ever have. Was it selfish? Perhaps. She could always take back her love and care, but once someone really understood her, she could never change that, and could never take the knowledge back. In a life that really was not her own, her mind was all that she could cling to. Her thoughts, her dreams, her pains, her wishes and hopes - no one was meant to know them completely, and this isolation made Clare capable of taking on the role of a soldier, although she was least suited for the job. Ryou was right in that respect. She could never go though with this and not be disgusted with herself for what she had done. Clare would never forget that the person on the other side of the line had feelings, and memories, and loved ones at home, and knowing it she would still pull the trigger without so much as a second thought. This mentality was self-destructing in its lethal brutality, but her branch of service demanded people who could think for themselves and act regardless of their thoughts... As they entered the building and were led to the general’s room, Clare could feel a wave of nausea coming up to her throat. She recognized him even before he turned around. Somehow this did not promise to be one of those sweet reunions - not in the least. No, it would be wrong to say that Clare was afraid - she wasn’t. It wasn’t fear that made her feel this way. There was an aura around this man that she found sickening. When they first met, the two were in a garden full of people and separated by a good distance, but now Clare could tell for sure that she could not stand the presence of this man. Had she not held Ryou’s hand, she would have ran out of that room and continued to run until the building was no longer in sight. There was guilt, anger, remorse, pain of loss, hatred… Oh, so much hatred! Breathing the same air with him was like inhaling blood. It felt as though all this man wanted was death, and he would stop at nothing to have the blood shed. She stood there in stupor as he turned and began talking, but her inaction was broken when she saw the way that general Darlton looked at Ryou. It was as though he already saw a nameplate on the boy’s grave with his charred remains resting in an iron army coffin beneath it. No! No, no, no! She would never let that happen! Not as long as she lived! Instinctively, her right arm that rested on his went upwards. Clare wrapped it around Ryou’s upper arm, and cupped his shoulder in her hand. She clung closer to him, as if truly believing that as long as they touched, nothing bad would ever come to him. She did not care what this ape thought about the way they stood together - if he did not like it, he could just turn around. “Ensign Clarick, sir,” Clare replied in her sweet tone and threw a salute that was so ceremonious that bordered on mockery. Unlike Ryou, she was not affected by the general’s screaming. If anything, it forced her to retaliate and hide the turmoil inside her. Clare was not the type to let some authoritarian scare her into a model military conduct. He had limited authority over their squad, all of them were out of uniform, and the young people were on a leave - in other words he had no right to scram, to spray them with his saliva from across the room, and to demand them to act as though they were on a parade. “I believe I already had the honour of making your acquaintance a year and a half ago at Dr. Marayama’s cocktail party. The way I remember it, you and doctor did not agree on something that afternoon,” Clare continued to chatter away as though she did not care that the man she talked to outranked her tremendously. There was nothing in her voice that would even hint at an ounce of respect. She spoke with politeness that felt suspiciously like a slap. “But who’s counting those minor events, right? How have you been, sir? Do you need some help burning that disk? It is our job to assist you in any way possible.”
  4. [OOC: Fixed it. Hope you find the changes I made satisfactory.] Clare felt herself at ease once again. They were no longer fighting, which was a good thing, and Landis was back to looking relaxed, which was even better. The only thing that troubled her thoughts at the moment was Ryou. However, Clare did very well not to let anyone notice that she was concerned with him (or, more precisely, worried sick). Her expression was unreadable and calm; only a soft smile played on her lips to remind everyone that she still found this conversation entertaining. With her it was always unclear whether she was entertained by the chat or by the oddities she found a way to see in people. The line between interest and sarcasm was so thin and the edges collided and mixed so frequently, that it was painfully hard to tell where one ended and the other began. Under this façade, Clare found it very easy to care without showing concern and to do whatever she pleased without being noticed. Although, quite frankly, she did not give a damn about anyone at this restaurant other than Ryou, and could not chase away the throbbing thought that had they all just disappeared, she’d probably be able to find out what was wrong with him. “Any time, kiddo,” she replied with as her smile turned to a flirty smirk. Makoto seemed alright. He was a little shy and a little uncertain, but he did not give an impression of someone who would cause too much trouble. “By the way, you might want to try something besides fast food,” she continued, “this place has some wonderful recipes. Give them a go some time.” She continued to listen to him attentively as he spoke about Ginns and Zakus. The boy had a point, but at the back of her mind Clare could not help thinking that just like Ginns were only good until Earth Alliance decided to mass produce its own mobile weapons, Zakus would be good only until the enemy chooses to produce Gundams. Try as she might, Clare could not trust either naturals or coordinators to abide by the treaty - she simply did not believe in the honesty, integrity, and humanism of either party, and had very good reasons for feeling this way. Out of all the new people sitting at the table, Clare was most interested in Landis. He was a curious young man - there seemed to be more to him than met the eye. Clare had a hunch that just like her he liked to downplay his own thoughts and beliefs in order to lighten a situation, but could not help wondering whether it was appropriate in this situation. They all did it. In letters home, at social gatherings, at interviews for the army newspaper - they all claimed that ZAFT was unstoppable, that there would be no war, and that even if one was to start they’d crush the naturals with minimal losses. It was normal, natural, reasonable, ethical. They had to act this way. However, was it truly acceptable here? They were no longer civilians, and if the war was to start - something that Clare did not doubt for a second - they would be the ones fighting, killing, and dieing. Nobody had the right to downplay the situation to them. “Thank you, Landis,” she replied in a polite and slightly distant tone, however, there was a noticeable demonic flame in her eyes that clearly showed that this girl was up to something. “You were more than helpful in answering my questions… However, I have to wonder what all of us were really thinking when we trashed the mobile suites and demanded upgrades. Surely, every soldier hopes for one. Gundams. During the first war Earth Alliance produced them in secret. Last war they were made by ZAFT. Have any of you ever wondered who’ll run illegal research and manufacturing this time?”
  5. Clare hissed something incomprehensible underneath her breath and retracted her Dragoons. They would have to recharge for a while. Meantime she had other problems to deal with - pressing problems. Legend was not suited for close-range combat, but Destiny was more than qualified. No matter, she would not let him close the distance. Thanks to the nuclear engine, Clare’s mobile suite had an infinite supply of energy, so she could dodge him forever. This is exactly what Clare intended to do. Legend shot the beam rifle at the approaching Destiny and made a swift motion upwards. She had no hopes of hiding, but she could put some distance between them, and the debris belt would make it incredibly hard for Ryou to keep up. However, motion through the debris was hard for Clare too. Luckily the beam rifle was there, infinite, handy, and did not require much effort to use. Perhaps she was too hasty to reprogram to a manual piloting. Well, she’ just have to switch back as she went...
  6. “No, you don’t,” Clare chuckled softly and looked at him with one of her usual patronizing smiles playing on her soft lips. Ryou was lovable - end of story. Of course she knew that this dork had a more sophisticated side to him. Clare could not complain about her memory or about her attention to detail. She remembered nearly every meeting with him, and remembered all of the more formal occasions where they ran into each other (although there were very few of them). He was dazzling at those times, almost flawless, but she could tell just by looking at this young man that all his gentlemanly qualities were very much a result of strict drilling. They were in no way inbred. He would never know how to tell a person of status from an impostor, he would never have more than minimum of polite an subtle charm when it came to talking to women, he would never be able to bend the finite rules while still retaining his gentlemanly behaviour, and her would never truly be comfortable in a company of people who believe that status meant everything. It was not enough to be taught the basics - you had to have a bit of charm, a tad of recklessness, and a lot of confidence to truly merge with the mask that the upper class society imposed upon you. He took off this mask for her, and although he did not know it, Clare was grateful for that. Over the time of their acquaintance, she had seen him sulking, eating up depression with chocolate ice-cream, gloating, slamming doors, pulling pranks, blushing, stumbling, tripping, falling, laughing too loudly, acting resentfully... Oh, the list went on and on! Clare never disliked him for it. Ryou’s vices were just as much in the open as his virtues, and Clare managed to like both. She liked them so much, in fact, that she had no scruples about revealing her own. She took that lovely, tailored, artificial appearance off for him and only for him. It sat so well on her, felt so natural, fitted so perfectly, that for a long time Clare had not realized that it was not her true nature. Nor did she realize that it had a tendency to come off around him. This realization came for the first time when one of her friends told her that she seemed different around it. Clare looked at the girl in surprise as the former asked whether or not that side that came out around Ryou was Clare’s true personality, and then it started clicking in - she never treated Ryou the way she did everyone else, and it was obvious. “You never have it around me... And please don’t change that.” “I’m used to jerks,” Clare laughed when Ryou mentioned their next host, “after all; I hang out with you all the time.” Unfortunately for Clare, she had no idea that the man they were going to see was. Had she known, she would have remained in the car, but alas! She did not. Darlton and she met at a cocktail party when Clare was about sixteen (about one and a half years ago). She was invited over by a friend of a family who had known father in his former years. It would have been a very nice party had there not been both extremists and pacifists invited. After enough drinks went around and all the refreshments ha been consumed, the usual talk about war and politics broke out to the dismay of half of the invited, as well as the hosts. Poor Mrs. Marayama was trying to get some more cake for everyone, while Dr. Marayama (he was a well-known general surgeon) was forced to fight off the verbal assaults of his tactless guest - Mr. Darlton. ‘Are you telling me that there is nothing sacred in dieing for the cause, for the rights of coordinators, for the...’ ‘Are you telling me that if I was to get run over by a cab it would sanctify your local taxi service,’ came a steady, mocking, silvery voice that cut through the buzzing and the arguing that filled the afternoon garden. The entire room turned to the patio door and looked in astonishment at the person who uttered those words. No one had expected it in the least to hear something like this from a darling doll-like creature that wore the cutest black dress, wiggled her hips like a runway model, had the most uncomfortable shoes, put on perfect make-up, had her curled brown locks bounce up and down when she moved, spoke in a soft childish voice, and spent the whole party talking to the hostess about the best fabric and accessories for an evening gown. Nobody expected that cute head to have a brain in it; nobody thought that behind her small, bow-shaped, pinkish lips hid a sharp tongue; and certainly nobody could have anticipated that this young creature would come to the aid of the host and so easily disarm one of the most violent extremists around. Everyone, regardless of his or her political beliefs burst into laughter, while Mr. Darlton shot a look at her that clearly said he would not be forgetting this any time soon. That is the story of Clare’s acquaintance with him, and although it had gained her access to virtually every party ever thrown by the higher Plant society, she still had to wonder whether or not it was a mistake to reveal her political beliefs and her sharp mind on that day. “Why did I join the army?” Here she paused, considering whether or not she should tell him everything that happened before she enlisted... No - it would be a very big mistake. The moment she trusted him, she’s become dependant on him. Clare did not want that. She loved him in her own weird way, but she did not wish to ever have a need for this young man. In the end, it was much better to have no one to lean on... “I enlisted because there was no other place for me and nothing else I could have done with myself.”
  7. Clare hopped out of the car with relative ease, however, at hearing his words she seemed to have stumbled on the jump and fell forward. In order to keep her balance, she grabbed the first thing in front of her - Ryou... Or, actually, Ryou’s pants - the two front pockets. As soon as she gained her ground, Clare stood up, blushing and looking as though she was embarrassed beyond belief. In the back seat, Francois almost had his currents short-circuit. How could someone go from sleepy, to depressed, to happy, to philosophical, to mischievous in such a short time? He knew full well what she was doing. Surely, Clare was not the type to klutz out no matter how little sleep she had! About a week ago she had a lovely chat with her transsexual neighbour and asked him whether she could have a receipt for his new size forty-two designer pumps. “Sandy” was more than happy to oblige his attentive neighbour who always watched after his cat when he was out and always brought over something tasty when she baked (and she baked often). Now this very receipt was resting peacefully in Ryou’s left front pocket. Clare plotted for a week how she was going to do it, and this was the perfect opportunity. Now, whoever will wash his pants will discover a receipt for a pair of shoes too big to wear for anyone but Ryou himself... Oh, what will his father think! Francois could only sigh at her childish immaturity. No, Clare was no child. The way she designed and carried out her little plots was too precise and too professional. She just an intense pleasure from making others look awkward either though her words or actions. “Sorry about that,” she mumbled still blushing deeply, “I guess I’m really under-slept... Will you be kind enough to give me your arm again?” Without waiting for his response, Clare took Ryou under the arm and smiled sheepishly. “So you no longer find me embarrassing, eh, Ryou?” For a while now she’s been making sarcastic comments about how Ryou never invited her over to his place because he must have been ashamed of his father meeting her. Maybe Clare was a little forward with them, but then she had every right to be - for a year now Ryou’s been breaching all possible rules of good etiquette. At least three times a week he would come over to her house (uninvited way more than half of the time) around ten in the morning and leave at ten at night. On the other hand, she never got an invitation to his place. Even that jerk’s last birthday was celebrated at her apartment - let’s face it, he practically lived there. With time Clare’s subtle hints turned to blunt sarcasm about the matter, however, she never actually objected to him coming over to her place more frequently than propriety allowed. Francois claimed that it was her spinelessness that had been the reason why she had yet to receive an invitation, while Clare was convinced that it was because of his father. Either way, she couldn’t wait to see where Ryou lived, and, most importantly, to meet Kaze Mizaki. Something told her that the man would remember this dinner for a while... “Whatever made you change your mind about hiding me from your father for the rest of the eternity, darling,” she continued with a soft chuckle. “Or were you hiding your father from me? Surely, Ryou, something extraordinary must have happened to make you realize that you have been slighting me for the past year! Who gave you some etiquette lessons?” Clare could have gone on with her prickly questions, but something in Ryou’s expression made her stop. He no longer looked helpless and shy, but rather there was something curious about his slightly parted lips, something almost animal-like. For the first time since they’ve met, Clare did not feel herself to be the feline in this cat and mouse game. Maybe they were both cats? Why else would her face have the same expression as his? And why would her lips part and curve the same way right now? For some reason Clare could feel herself moving closer to him. There was nothing she could do about it, and nothing she would do. For one reason or another, something inside her wished to connect her own lips to his. However, when Clare was just inches away from him, a sudden noise brought her out of this strange stupor (do I even need to tell you that it was Francois purposely making a ruckus in her purse?). Clare’s slightly parted lips curved into a malicious smirk, and although her face continued to move towards his, it now took a slightly different direction. “Want to know a little secret,” she whispered into his ear, “we’re here to deliver something, not for you to ask me over to your place, although I have to give you credit for originality.” Clare laughed mischievously and moved away from him. “However, I do agree to pay you a little visit, since you’ve asked so nicely.”
  8. A soft smile passed along Clare’s lips as she turned to take a look at him. Ryou never really grew up, and she found it charming. She herself was never much of a child, and so she loved to see in others that which she had lacked herself. He blushed, he stumbled, he could never finish a thought, he felt constant fear of being ridiculed, and was so dependent on those who chose to show him even a little affection. Some surge of warmth inside her made her wish she could embrace him right now and just tell him that she would never let anything bad happen to him. However, they were driving, the hugging was out of the question since she was convinced he’d never accept it, and the promise was silly since Clare knew all to well that she herself was something that could hurt him. Still, when they stopped at the light and Ryou looked at her with a faint blush, she could feel the same turmoil in him as she had in herself, and as the car sped up along the road, she leaned towards him and placed her hand on his shoulder. Then, her lips connected with his temple and she let go of him. No feeling, no passion behind it - just of way of letting him know that she was not angry with him and that she cared about him. “Please don’t change,” she finally replied, but her voice sounded different as she spoke those words. Usually Clare’s words came out lacking all emotion. She usually just stated facts, and so her voice, although sweet and pleasant, carried no feeling within it. Yet now it seemed as though she genuinely cared. “Although no, forget what I asked of you - it’s silly. It would be cruel and unnatural to expect you to do something I know would bring you nothing but harm. You’re a soldier now, Ryou, so perhaps it is best that you learn to think like one - it makes life easier perhaps, and I guess I envy you for being able to do that. I wear this uniform only to humour those around me, because no matter how long I spend in the service, I know that I will never become a soldier in the full sense of the word. A soldier’s loyalties lie with his country, while mine lie with people I care about. I’m selfish, I guess - this whole world can go to bits for all I care as long as I still have something or someone to live for. And in the end, no one can force me to do anything, and that is something I’ve decided for myself. If there ever comes a time when I will stand against someone important to me, then I just won’t fight at all and come what may - I have no need for a life if to live I must betray myself and my own desires and feelings... That’s what I decided for myself when I entered into this; so, make sure you don’t do the same.” Francois sighed and returned to the bottom of her black purse. Of course he knew about Clare’s resolution, and he knew that for a soldier she thought too much. Just like before Clare wondered why Ryou was in the army, Francois often wondered the same about Clare. If she saw Ryou in some nice Victorian mansion, indulging in music and expansive coffee, Francois saw her somewhere in a corporate building, working as a lawyer and quietly buying share after share so that she may throw off the president and take that place for herself. “Hey Ryou,” Clare continued in her usual, detached, and lazy tone, “I’ll drive after the next stop, because you drive like I spit, and could you for god’s sake abide the damn speed limits?” As amazing as it might sound, Clare only tolerated speed-driving when she was the one doing the said speed driving. Somehow having Ryou rip down the night road did not make her feel safe. Oh, she trusted him and all (well, sort of), but she certainly did not like it when he drove this way... Yeah, she was a hypocrite.
  9. “No, I’m not that sleepy,” she mumbled. Clare never thought that this shapeless artificial sky could become any duller or any more lifeless. The almost tolerable night turned completely insufferable with just a few words from him. And so the artificial stars looked ridiculous, the flower-scented air stunk, and the light breeze became irritating. She turned her head away from him and pretended to be interested in the trees that zapped by. What was she hoping to hear anyway? Clare knew very well that she was just being delusional. It was obvious from the start that he would never forgive her once he’d find out. Happy people forgave betrayal, people with tons of friends and family forgave betrayal, people who were loved forgave betrayal. Ryou had no one, and so he could never forgive something like that. It was right, and she could understand him. But could Clare really help feeling the sudden pinch inside her? Of course not. She did not know what hurt more, the knowledge that he wouldn’t forgive her or the realization that he had the right not to. Clare was not the only one pondering over his words. Francois even went so far as sticking his head out of the purse to see how she reacted to Ryou’s words. He knew that she’d be upset by his words, but did not know how much. What he saw there was more than discouraging. Had Clare continued to look at him and smile, he wouldn’t have worried, but she actually showed signs of withdrawal... What was Andrew thinking! She had to be removed from here as soon as possible before it was too late! Once she realized what was going on with her... Why, she’d be crushed! This girl spent a lot of years covering every feeling inside her with a cold, hard, icy crust until nothing but numbness was left. And yet Ryou was changing that. Because of his constant presence in her life, something warm had found its way into her expression, something kind hid within her gaze. From time to time this icy-cold heart was releasing pulses of tenderness that both warmed her tired, lifeless soul and scared it further. With attachment came the painful realization that this would not be forever. Having nothing was bad enough, but having something fleeting, something so tangible and yet so distant, was even worse. Clare did not deserve this. Perhaps it was necessary that someone should melt this ice around her, but why did it have to be this boy of all people. Why did it have to be someone whom she could never have? What would happen after? What would happen one - heaven forbid! - she realized just how attached she’s become? This masquerade would not last much longer! What then? Chances were she’d close off to everyone completely... “Oh, how cruel you are,” Clare replied finally. Nothing changed in her voice - it still sounded lazy and detached as if she was falling asleep. Only the fact that she was still looking away hinted that perhaps she had lost all her interest in conversation. Of course, Francois knew better. It was a sign that she was going to retaliate although she knew she had no right to, and quite frankly, he would have felt better if she did not try to defend herself. “Cruel and resentful. Have you ever thought that perhaps life isn’t as simple as one, two, and three? What if this said person did not want to manipulate you but the events forced him or her to do it? What if that person truly cared for you and went through a lot of self-blame and self-hatred every time he or she had to use you? Have you ever thought that sometimes people are forced by the circumstances to do something for which they know they’ll hate themselves for the rest of their lives? And what of your trust? What good is it to anyone? There will never be someone whom you trust completely, there will always be thoughts that you will keep to yourself, and even if you do trust someone, you will never have their trust. That is the way life works. As for good friends... Well, it depends on your expectations. To some everybody is a good friend, while others expect the impossible. I don’t want someone whom I could trust because I do not wish to trust anyone, but to me a good friend is someone whose presence alone makes you feel warm and at ease, and that is very close to an impossible expectation.” She chuckled softly when he asked her about what she could and could not forgive. A strange question to answer for someone like her... “Unlike you, I can forgive a lot of things. I have a lot of vices, and far be it for me to begrudge something that I myself possess. I could never forgive betrayal - something that was purposely done to harm me or someone I care for, or was an act of extreme selfishness where my pain was never considered. Other than that, I think I could forgive everything had I truly cared for the person in question.”
  10. “Good,” Clare exhaled and almost fell into the passenger seat. Somehow she managed to find the seatbelt and buckle up. Not like she’d need it! Ryou never exceeded the speed limit and had the driving habits of a mother hen. That thought made Clare smile. Yeah, Ryou was the worrying type. Out of the two of them she was a lot more masculine than he. Although that would be the wrong term to use. Clare was very feminine in her attire, in the way she spoke, in the way she acted, and yet there was some hidden vitality in her that made her do some things which most would consider being unladylike. When provoked, she spoke too decidedly for a young woman; she stood her ground tooth and nail, did not possess a trace of fear, and was strangely emotionless. Ryou was the opposite. Perhaps this stemmed from his many insecurities, or maybe he was born this way, but he did not possess her obstinacy and feared quite a few things. Leaning back in her seat, Clare lifted her tired, half-closed eyes to the artificial sky and for the first time seriously thought about this young man. He was a lot more likable than she was for people seldom truly like anyone with strong self-confidence and personality, but his likeability was more of a hindrance for someone like him. He would trust anyone willing to show even a shadow of love and compassion to him. How easy someone like that would be used! Pity of it is, he’d never even realize he was being used - he’d submit knowingly like a calf that’s waling to the slaughterhouse and leading the butcher behind him. He’d think of it as something he’d have to do to repay for that ounce of affection. That thought made something cringe inside her. Ryou was a good person - he did not deserve that kind of life! But then was she not using him herself? Clare dug into her mind to try and find some excuse for what she was doing, but something self-hating in her did not allow her to find one. For every excuse she found there was a voice inside her telling her that it could easily be disproved. ‘Oh, Ryou, Ryou,’ she thought, ‘if only you weren’t his son!’ But she could not change that, now could she? All she could hope for was that perhaps he would find himself someone who would be selfless enough not to use him and willing to take care of him for the rest of his life. A friend, a relative, a lover - anyone! No... It would have to be a lover... Well, he’d find someone like that eventually right? Right, only that thought did not bring the joy it should have brought. “Hey Ryou,” Clare whispered as the engine started, “if you were truly close to someone, what would you be able to forgive that person? And is there something you wouldn’t forgive?” Francois almost lost his microchips when he heard her ask that. Was she out of her mind? Why did she even care? She knew that eventually she would leave him and that it would be very ugly - she had to have known! She couldn’t be harbouring any illusions that something might continue to exist between them even after that! She just couldn’t! Clare was not delusional - she knew that no one forgave that... But then why did she still have the stupidity to hope? Francois already did all he had to and was currently once again preoccupied with Clare’s personal life. He was convinced that both Claricks belonged to him body and soul, and so he had to take care of them; especially of the girl. He remembered Andrew saying about how she needed to be watched over and how she was bound to make mistakes. Of course, to Francois the only mistake was this weird kid.
  11. “Not today, sweetheart,” Clare chuckled as she saw the broken boulders flying towards her. She could allow them to hit, since the damage would not be noteworthy, but that would destabilize her. No, she had to shoot them down. Realistically, she did not have too many options. Clare could only hit the debris with her dragoons, but that would involve taking the aim off Ryou... The fragments were between the two of them, so she would only have to shift the front Dragoons one bit. Quickly she moved her hands along the screen to simultaneously shift the focus of the front four Dragoons and to fire both sets of them. A smile passed across her lips. Ryou would have to move forward now, but although the focus of the front Dragoons was shifted, the debris pieces were now moving towards him. Not once had she used her beam rifle, and if she could help it, Clare would not use it at all. It was just there and aimed at him as an intimidation weapon that could possibly be discharged if push came to shove.
  12. “Yet,” Clare asked laughing. “You didn’t really say ‘yet,’ did you? My darling Doctor Loyd, don’t you know that marriage ruins a woman? Heaven forbid you should wish something like this on me! Besides, I wouldn’t get an offer from Ryou even if I was the last woman on Earth - he’s so heartless!” As she talked, her eyes continued to twinkle quite mischievously. Doctor Loyd was just the type of person with whom she liked to joke the most. People like him always understood when a person was serious and when not. Unlike Ryou, she thought. Although, now that she thought about it, he’ look amazingly cute in a tuxedo. Black, perhaps... No! He would have to wear white and only white (chances were, he was more than entitled to that colour at his wedding...)! A white tailcoat with silk facings, sharply cut-away at the front; white trousers with a single stripe of satin; white stiff-fronted shirt, with cotton pique dickie, heavily starched; white stiff wing collar; white bow tie; white low-cut waistcoat; and white patent leather shoes... Oh, and of course he would have to have a large yellow tea rose in his boutonniere - it would match his eyes... Here Clare had to cut herself off. She did not just imagine Ryou’s wedding, did she? Well, she tried to clam herself, the little wimp would absolutely have to marry one day - he’s so helpless and vulnerable that he’d need someone to take care of him. She was simply stating a fact, not volunteering... OK, definitely NOT volunteering. Although when she imagined Ryou in this flawless white tuxedo standing beside some random girl Clare couldn’t help feeling a cold chill run down her back. No, she would not have him - would not want to, but the thought of someone else beside him was insufferable. “See you later, sir! It was a pleasure,” Clare called with a charming smile when the two of them turned to leave. “Hey Ryou, what was his problem anyway,” she asked as soon as they were outside. “He’s a scientist - shouldn’t he know how to hack the disk? I mean, I know that your father is a big shot, but I thought that if there is a way to make a security system then there is a way to break it.” Andrew Clarick would never whine about some stupid password (or fifty of them). Clare recalled many nights when he would come in with his equipment and sit down to crack multiple codes while she served him coffee, and it never took him more than five hours no matter how complicated the system security was. For the first time since they’ve met, Clare began to feel some pride for her father. He was pretty cool after all. In her mind that still held a lot of childish aspects it did not click right away that no everyone was like her father and that not everyone could do the things he did. Now looking back at those few years Clare began to see some of the things she initially took for granted. Andrew was very handsome. How many girls could brag that they have a stunningly handsome father whom, other than his work, belonged to them completely? He did not date, did not really go anywhere unless it was work or an important social event, and even then she’d be the one accompanying him. He never interfered in her life, but managed to know everything about it. Even when he found out about Ryou he was not mad. His only comment was that the boy did not look like Kaze, so he was rather cute. Not like she cared very much whether Ryou was cute in her father’s opinion, but this short and sweet consent for them to hang out was more than tactful. Wait, was she currently admitting to herself that she had a cool father? Yep! “So, how many more people do we have to visit,” Clare asked without much enthusiasm. The pressure she was applying to his hand was ever increasing and she was clinging tighter and leaning closer to him. Now, it’s hard to tell what Ryou thought about it, but the rest of us know that the poor girl was falling asleep as she walked - she was definitely not a night person... Although, it was already morning... He owed her... Big time!
  13. When she heard about GINN’s Clare gave a violent start. They weren’t honestly thinking about equipping them with those, were they? The rumour on the base was that the command staff would make Zaku’s the chief mobile weapon, but then it was just a rumour, right? If Brian was right and ZAFT was to abide completely by the treaty, then their choice of weapons would be limited. However, what guarantees did they have that Earth Alliance would do the same? If Kaze Mizaki and scientists like him were trying to pass new mobile suits to ZAFT, what were the chances that the same was not happening on Earth? Although Clare was a coordinator, she did not trust her own kind, nor did she trust naturals for that matter. She recalled the words of some of the extrimists during the first campaign that there would be no end to this as long as naturals continued to exist, and she agreed with him. Of course, they meant the complete annihilation of every natural - something that Clare found repulsive and inhuman - but there was a point. “You’re absolutely right,” she replied to Brian with a smile, “we still have our allies. However, Atlantic Federation, United States of South America, Eurasian Federation and Republic of East Asia are still very formidable. Also keep in mind that Orb had allied itself with the naturals for the first half of the previous war. I doubt they will do it again in the future, but that still leaves us with an interesting question. Should the war start, how will the neutral nations react?” Clare did not mention anything she thought of the naturals or how the conflict would never end as long as they existed. Inside her mind echoed distant words she heard when she was little. ‘Extrimists were fools when they wished to destroy an already dieing kind. We placed ourselves so high above the laws of nature that we sped up the natural evolutionary process. The old must die out to make way for the new, but in our world the two coexist. You cannot fight the progress - it is a loosing battle. Every human being must accept it and walk together with it. Perhaps there will soon come a time when those like me are a rarity, and that is for the best, bunny. Even now more and more people want their children to undergo modifications. But those who do not will fight to keep this world their own tooth and nail. In the end, time is the only thing that can save us...’ He was a natural, and yet he felt this way... Clare chuckled softly when the waiter brought them their food and heard Makoto’s order. It had to have been the first time he ever had anyone order ‘a bottle of water, sandwich and some chips’ at this expansive French restaurant, and so the look on the man’s face was priceless. “Monsieur,” Clare addressed him before he had time to recover himself, “I changed my mind about where I want to sit. Would you be kind enough to place my order over by this young man?” As he was serving, Clare grabbed another chair and pulled it up to the table so that she sat between Landis and Ryou. “Makoto, why don’t you take my old seat,” she offered, “this way you’ll have easier time asking all the questions you have.” Pretending to be deeply interested in her Bouillabaisse and Gruyère Cheese Gougères, Clare made sure that she sat as close to Ryou as possible. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something was up with him. She was not sure what it was, but something happened between the slap and now that made him even more depressed. Happy that no one was paying any attention to them, she moved her had to the side, and grabbed Ryou’s. No on could really see under the cloth how she intertwined his fingers with his and have his hand a gentle squeeze. Damn it! What was this guy doing in the army!? He was so sensitive, so easily hurt, so vulnerable... What made him choose this path? Every time she looked at him, Clare could vividly imagine this young man sitting by a large window inside a colonial-style mansion, wearing a wonderful crispy-white dress suit and playing Mozart on the piano. He was not made for this life he was currently living. Little did this girl realize that she was not made for it either and perhaps her unsuitability was the very reason why she felt the need to take care of him. As scared and lost as she was, Ryou was a lot more scared and a lot more lost.
  14. “Oh no you don’t,” Clare hissed and tapped on the screen in order to fire the Front Dragoons that Ryou was heading for. Since they were aimed at him, he would have to back off to avoid the beams. Not really sure which way he would go, Clare spread out the back four Dragoons to make them cover a larger area. The beam rifle was aimed at him for a while now, But Clare decided not to use it until she absolutely had to. Unfortunately the Dragoons were a great pain in the butt. Yes, they were effective, but she would have to protect them too. Meantime, Legend was not really suited for a close-range combat. It could manage, but that certainly was not something it was designed for... Ugh! A kingdom for Strike Freedom! Yeah, Clare loved overpowered battle suits. At the same time, she was good with almost any battle suit. So, she’d just have to manage with this one. Damn Ryou! Everyone else would have been dodging instead of trying to hit! She should have known though... Oh well, Clare still had plenty of firepower to keep him at bay.
  15. “Yes, I have, Brian,” Milady replied when the young man asked her about the blaze pack. “However, there are few things that I still find myself very concerned with. First of all, we’ll be assigned ZAKU Warriors, are we not? They were the most basic of the mobile suites mass produced during the second war. Back then they could hold their own even against Valentine-War era Gundams; however, we are living at a different time.” She turned to Landis with a smile, “I think you understood what I meant, or at least grasped the gist of it. I am going to hope for the best, but we have to prepare for all circumstances. There is no war now, but there is tension. How long do you think it will last? I think that from the past two wars we have earned that no tension is too small not to escalate into a full-scale conflict. Some idiot is going to start shooting, and then we find ourselves at the front. Orders were given out to equip our team with ZAKU’s, and they do have their own advantages, however, often there are operations that have to be carried out on Earth, and seldom the mobile suits are replaced or upgraded beforehand - they simply do not have the time. Whatever is on the battleship is what we can use, and there are never extra shipments until the said battleship reaches a base. That is our greatest disadvantage. ZAFT does not have many bases on Earth, while the battalions of the Earth factions can expect help from anywhere in a matter of hours. Also, let’s remember some of the atrocities that were created during the last war. If it wasn’t bad enough that Earth Alliance Forces managed to mass produce a decent mobile suite - the Windam, there were also producing overpowered mobile armours and the Destroy Gundams. I guess what I’m trying to say is that as pilots we can only do two things. One would be to train on the hardest terrains and in the hardest circumstances, and two is to look for upgrades that produce a good enough effect without draining the battery too much.” Here Clare chose to smile in order to cover up the gravity and seriousness of what was said by her before. “I guess I’m being a tad too paranoid about this. Maybe there won’t be any war at all.” When the new member of the team approached, Clare looked him over in a rather critical and assessing way. By this time she was no longer holding Ryou’s shoulders, but rather leaning against his head as if it was a rest post. This gave her a more mocking air, underneath which it was all too comfortable to masquerade the fact that she paid a very close attention to everyone who was around her. This newcomer looked entertaining enough - kind of like a hurricane survivor. And was it just her or did he give the impression of someone who just fell on his face; repeatedly. In other words, she was contemplating the possibility of Ryou and him being related. And here she thought that Ryou would be the most repressed, obsessed, and depressed member of this team! The corners of her mouth went up in a smile that was quite a bit more pleasant than the smirk she had on before. Clare stood up straight and stretched out her hand to the young man. “Hello, I’m Clare,” she told him sweetly. It was amazing to see Clare acting nice to anyone but Ryou (which was also a rare occasion). “You are not late at all. In fact, or orders hadn’t even come in yet. And don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything - the introductions, ‘the let’s tell the waiter what we want’ ritual, a brawl, some good-will slapping - you know, the usual. In fact, had I known, I would have missed it too... So, you have a name?” (OOC: Very well done for your first time - congrads and welcome to the community... By the way, love the quote [yeah, I’m a Mu la Flaga fan ])
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