|Fields Of Hope|
|Summary: Well, I had to call the log /something./|
Lacus fell asleep when she was first brought into the brig of the Archangel. Ever since then, she's been a surprisingly placid prisoner. Not quite cheerful, of course; the look on Yazan's face still quietly haunted her. However, the idol has decided there's simply no use in weeping alone in her pen, feeling sorry for herself. After all, she was politically involved, and this did tend to happen to those who had strong opinions. Besides, if they were going to kill her, she'd be dead by now.
So she's been...not quite chipper, but Nice. Perhaps frighteningly so. Whoever has had the job of guarding her at any time has had to fend off daring attempts to start up polite conversations, and the occasional (perhaps denied) request to share a pot of tea and talk. Does the Coordinator even know she's a prisoner of war?
Lacus's requests probably have, in fact, been denied. After all, this is a real-ass military ship, and Lacus is a prisoner; what kind of douchebag would offer their prisoner amenities? It's imprisonment, not a visit to a health spa.
In fact, even after only a few days, it has become standard operating procedure among the guards to shut the tiny sliding window in her cell's door, preventing her from attempting conversationa nd them from seeing if she's choking to death on her own spit. Most guards consider it a win-win.
Today, however, the monotony is broken. A few hours after today's guard shuts the tiny window on Lacus, the muffled sounds of conversation drift through her cell door. There is a short stretch of silence, and then more muffled speaking. Finally, the door clanks and slides open, to reveal the day's guard...
... who immediately steps out of the doorway and gestures someone else in with a melodramatic, sweeping gesture. That person, it turns out, is one Lieutenant Commander Leo Stenbuck, who steps into the doorway to replace the guard and knocks gently on the wall. "Miss Clyne," he offers as a greeting, tone as neutral as he can get it. Despite himself, he still sounds apologetic.
"Oh, hello!" Lacus doesn't waste a second standing up to greet Leo through that little door, even bowing slightly. "It's nice to meet you! I'm Lacus Clyne. I realize I'm a prisoner here, but I hope we can at least talk for a while."
A pause. This is usually as far as she gets before they shut the little door again and she has to go back to sitting around, occasionally trying to strike up conversation anyway and making up new songs. "Excuse me, I know you probably can't tell me," she adds in a guileless tone, "but would you happen to know why I've been taken prisoner? It doesn't seem like a very wise move. It'll attract attention to your ship if anyone finds out. I'm really just curious. You can tell me, what good will I do with it?"
The friendliness takes Leo more than a little off guard. The guard had mentioned that she didn't seem too broken up about her condition, but this... "Uh," the boy says uncertainly, unsure of how to cope with a prisoner who isn't moping or offering up futile resistance. "Uh..."
It takes him several seconds to come up with anything to say that isn't stammering. "I... I don't know," he admits, finally. "I'm not... cleared for that information." It is, technically, the truth; he's pretty sure he ought to be, but he certainly hasn't been told, and part of him doubts Yazan has explained his reasoning to anyone.
"I don't know if... we can really, uh, talk," he explains, looking away. He seems unwilling to make eye contact with Lacus... or even look at her. For someone in full military uniform, he seems awfully anxious. "I just, uh... I just wanted to make sure... I wanted to check if you needed anything. Uh... they said you had been asking for tea...?"
What kind of douchebag, indeed.
"Well, that's a shame if we're not allowed to talk," Lacus admits with a slight sigh. "I wouldn't want to get you in trouble, though. You don't need to be nervous or anything. I'm not going to break out; I can't, and even if I did, I'd just be on the ship." Poor young man, he just sounds so awkward. Like he needs a really big hug right now.
"Well, I was asking if they wanted to sit and talk over tea," she admits. "If you can't bring that, it's okay! It was just an invitation. I kept thinking that guarding me must be such a boring job, maybe they'd want to socialize, you know?"
"O-oh," Leo responds, the very picture of eloquence. "You wanted to..." He trails off, and turns away from Lacus, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. On the one hand, he really shouldn't. On the other hand... I mean, we did kidnap her for no reason, he thinks, busily justifying the poor decision he's about to make. And it's not like it'll hurt anything to be nice to her. And I can just say I was questioning her or something if anyone brings it up.
You're allowed to be nice to prisoners to get them to loosen up, right? It almost worked on 'Allelujah.' God, what a stupid name. There's no way that's his real name. Ugh... I wish someone had told me there were four of them, it'd be so hard to-
"Yeah," the boy says, quietly. "Alright. Talk. Uh..." He finishes turning and leans slightly out of the room to address the guard. "Leave this unlocked," he says. "Contact Ensign Grabbs and tell him to make some tea and bring it down here." Muffled speech. "... n-no, I don't know what kind of... do we even have more than one kind?" Muffled speech. "Then why did you ask?!" Muffled speech, then laughter. "Ugh!!"
Leo leans back into the cell, pulling the door with him, and slams it angrily behind him. He wheels about again and freezes up when he remembers Lacus is in the room. "Uh... sorry," he mutters, turning his eyes back to a nearby wall. "Uh... what did you want to talk about?"
Lacus simply smiles up at Leo, standing to greet him again. "Oh, thank you! You didn't need to do that," she insists. "I was just thinking we could talk and get to know each other. You see, I've known a few people who ended up fighting in the EFA, but not too many soldiers before. And everything I've ever seen of Earth has been just beautiful." She sits back down again, setting her hands in her lap.
"Are you okay? You seem uncomfortable. Please don't be; I don't hold what happened against you. I know soldiers just have to follow orders. Besides, just because we're from different places doesn't mean we can't talk, does it?"
GOD WHY IS SHE SO NICE
"I'm fine," Leo assures Lacus, lifting his gaze slightly as she sits down. "I'm... just gonna stand, I think." He stuffs his hands into his pockets and leans back against the door. "Um... I'm Leo, by the way. Leo Stenbuck... uh, Lieutenant Commander. It's nice to, uh, meet you, miss Clyne. I'm, uh, I like your music."
Yeah, you're great at this, he mentally scolds himself, scowling at the floor. It'd be easier if she wasn't so nice...
WELL YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT EARLIER AND KIDNAPPED MINMAY.
"You like my music? Thank you! It's always nice to hear that, you know." Lacus thinks for a second, looking up at Leo and studying him. Is she perhaps about to castigate him for his dark deeds as a Titan?!
"That name is familiar...oh! You and...that other person were sampling music for a rap album, right? I don't mind that, but you know, I prefer in the future if you'd ask permission. It's okay, though."
"That wasn't my idea," Leo says instantly, embarassment flooding his voice. "I didn't even want to do it. I don't think Yaz-Captain Gable-he's the captain of this ship," he explains, speaking so hastily he almost trips over his own words, "I don't think he wanted to do it either, but they made us, I told them it was stupid but they said it wastoreachouttotheyouthorwhatever can we talk about something else?"
Having said all of that without little things like 'pausing' or 'breathing,' Leo takes a deep breath and scuffs his feet against the floor of the cell, trying to think of something to change the subject to. "Uh..." he begins, hesitantly... and then falls silent as he realizes he doesn't have anything to talk about. "Wh-where's that tea?" he mumbles, fumbling his space cell phone out of a pocket to check the time. Given that he doesn't know when he actually started talking to Lacus, it's not like the information is worth anything, of course.
Lacus is quiet for a second, and then just chuckles. It's a light, fluffy, musical thing. "You don't need to apologize. It's certainly not a big deal. Please don't panic like that. I'm not going to harm you," she reminds Leo, "I'm a prisoner, remember? I don't have any weapons or means to defend myself, so my life is in the hands of you all. That means it only does me good to try to be your friend, right?"
She pauses for a moment, thinking. "Have you guarded many prisoners before? I've never /been/ one before..."
"No," Leo replies tersely, shaking his head. After a moment, After a moment, his brow furrows as he realizes how obvious the answer to that question is. Another moment, and his expression softens again; she's a pop star, not a soldier. Even thinking that it was a dumb question makes him feel kind of like a dick.
"I'm a pilot," he explains, quietly. "They have a special division for guards and security and stuff. I just, uh, came down to check on you." He pauses, scuffs his feet against the floor some more, and then asks, "Were you ever worried about it? Being taken prisoner, I mean. Your dad's, like, the president of Side 5 or something, right?"
"Oh, you're a pilot! I see. What's it like, piloting a Mobile Suit or a machine? Just flying through the air, or through space. I've experienced space travel, of course," Lacus states the obvious, "but I've always been a passenger. I know it's difficult to be a soldier, but you must at least enjoy flight, correct?"
Despite her startling naivete, there's no empty or vacant gaze in her eyes. Her expression is sharp and bright, and she's...thinking.
Leo does not understand. What is... 'thinking?'
The boy shrugs. "It's... nice, I guess," he agrees. "I mean... just joyriding, that's alright. I do it sometimes just for fun... uh, or to show people. I took my girlfriend to space on our first date, she'd never-" Pause. "Uh... but, you know... it's my job. And... I mean, I'm good at it, so..."
"It's not hard, though," he's quick to add. "You're probably super rich, I'm sure you could get a Hobby Hizack or something and just fly it around. It's not like there's anything to crash into in space. I mean, not unless you're really, /really/ bad..."
"...I suppose I could," Lacus admits. "But the resources at PLANT are strained, so I don't want to put unnecessary stress on them just for my own jollies. That'd be selfish of me. Maybe someday, when things are more peaceful and safer. And about your question earlier..."
There's the first sign of regret on her face. It's subtle and gentle. "I did wonder from time to time if something would happen to me. My father is a member of PLANT's council, a politician. He and I both have very strong views about avoiding war whenever possible, and they aren't always very popular-not even with the rest of the DC. So I thought something might happen. I just feel sorry for him, he must be so lonely right now..."
"I'm, uh, I'm sure he's fine," Leo awkwardly assures Lacus. "You should be more worried about yourself. I mean... he's not the one in Federation custody," he points out. "Aren't you afraid...? I mean, you could be killed. Or..." The boy hesitates, decides other possibilities are too gross to bring up, and changes the subject back to something slightly more upbeat.
"And, I mean... it's not like taking a mobile suit out for a spin would be a big deal," he argues. "Besides, if you're in it learning how to fly or whatever, that's one real pilot who isn't going to die in battle, right?"
"Well," Lacus Clyne reasons as she looks up at Leo, "there's really nothing I can do by worrying or panicking, is there? I figured if you were going to kill me, wouldn't you have done it already? You had every opportunity. I was pulled out of the airlock with your Captain. He could have killed me there. Which means he must want me alive for something, and presumably unharmed." She glances downward. "That does worry me; I don't want him to force my father to do anything he wouldn't do ordinarily. It's bad enough that those other soldiers died during the attack..."
"He probably will," Leo says, frowning. "I don't know why else we'd do this to you except for blackmail. It was too much work for just... just ransom or something." He sighs and pulls his left hand out of his pocket, reaching up to run it through his hair; in order to maintain universal balance, he repockets his right and the space cell phone in it.
"I heard your dad quit or went on vacation or something, because of this," he adds, after a moment. "I dunno any more than that, though. I just saw the headline. But... I mean, what would we make him do? You said he's against the war, right? We don't want to keep fighting either. What are we gonna do, threaten him until he wants peace harder? Ugh..." He seems to be coming out of his shell, little by little. There's at least a 50% chance that it's a good thing.
Yes, this is JUST AS LACUS PLANNED! Well, maybe. With regards to Leo, anyway. He's communicating with her! Her face falls when he tells of her father, however.
"I imagine it's causing him a great deal of stress, not knowing where I am. I assume this isn't publicized," she adds, "or there would be more fighting going on. Maybe that's what Captain Gable wants? To goad my father into violence? But that won't happen. No, it's more likely that the other board members will try to use this as an excuse to blame the Naturals and the EFA. Do you think it is possible the Captain is trying to encourage more war...?"
Leo shrugs again. "I guess he could be, but... it seems sort of pointless. I doubt this is going to end without either the Federation or the Crusaders being destroyed... and I don't think this would make anyone fight any harder than they already are. Uh, no offense," he asides, sheepishly.
"He might have just done it to... I don't know, make you suffer. That seems more like him..." What is unmistakably hate creeps into Leo's voice as he talks about Yazan. Clearly, they're BFF. "Probably saw a video of you and decided you smiled too much. Tch..."
For a moment, Lacus is quiet, gazing downward; she seems...troubled.
"How sad. That someone would be so hurt by another's happiness as to kill innocent people? He must be very troubled, Yazan, to feel that way. Maybe he doesn't realize it, but..." She shakes her head. "You seem troubled as well, Leo. Please, if it's alright and won't get you in trouble, tell me. What do you think of this war? Do you think there's a solution that can be found without both sides annihilating each other in senseless violence? Do you think the people of the Earth and the stars could find harmony, someday?"
Well, that's kind of a heavy question.
Leo frowns, withdrawing his right hand from his pocket again and crossing both arms across his chest. He's silent for several long seconds as he works out a reply; the question isn't one he wants to answer lightly.
"I don't know," he admits eventually. "I think that we... I think that humanity can have a peaceful future. But I don't know if we can get there from here without this war running its course. The conflict with Orb... that could have ended peacefully. But the Crusaders..."
"There's no way to compromise with them," he says, more certainly. "I wish there was, but I don't think there is. All we can do is end the war with as little death as possible... and then we can try peace again. Next time... there won't be another war. I'll make sure of that," he swears, hands balling into fists.
"Are you sure of that?" There's something different in Lacus's voice now. The smile is gone, but there's nothing accusatory in her tone; it's just strong, and firm. "I'm sure there has to be another way. Even if you keep on fighting in hopes that the war will end, it doesn't mean it'll end any faster. There must be some way to compromise with them. It troubles me to hear them sometimes, because I know some of them do seek war, but not all of them..."
She glances away for a moment. "Although I suppose it's well and good for me to state such things. I'm a singer. There isn't much difference I can make, is there?"
On the one hand, it always sucks to see someone talk down about their own ability to make a difference. On the other hand... well, she's probably right. Leo doesn't much buy in to music being able to change the world. He can't bring himself to actually say that, and there's no reason to besides. So there's only one thing to do; sort of dodge the question!
"Well... you're not just a singer," Leo points out. "You're a politician's daughter... and you're really famous. You're pretty, and... and charismatic. You... inspire people, I guess. They look up to you."
"Maybe you're right," he concedes, "And maybe someone will negotiate peace. Or maybe we won't... but either way, the war will end someday. And when it does... maybe the Federation won't exist anymore, as we know it. Or maybe the Divine Crusaders won't. Or maybe neither will."
"Either way," he repeats, "The war will be over." He pauses and turns his gaze from the floor up to the ceiling. "Miss Clyne... people need to be properly guided. Humanity will need someone who can unite all of them... to guide everyone into a peaceful future. Maybe you're a singer right now... but someday, maybe that person who unites humanity can be you."
"...I have thought of going into politics," Lacus Clyne admits, listening to Leo with rapt attention. She's taking his words seriously, thinking them over. She may not agree about the inevitability of war, but he's making good points. "If I could do something to prevent another war, I certainly would. Besides, I have no intention of being a 'pop star' forever."
She stands up and sighs a little, beginning to pace. "I originally began singing to ease the hearts and minds of those who were hurt during the Bloody Valentine incident, and lost loved ones. I hoped then, and still do, that people would take comfort in my songs, either as an escape or as a way of expressing sadness, and a longing for peace. But..." Here, she turns back to Leo. "I'm not really interested in the entertainment magazines, the papparazzi or the fame that seem to come with a vocalist's career. Perhaps in the future, I will turn my sights towards politics. That is, whenever I get out of this situation..."
It always feels great to hit your stride.
"You should," Leo urges. "To be honest... I didn't think there were any Crusaders who wanted peace. I'm sure we'll ransom you back eventually, and if you'd be willing to... cooperate, I guess... it would be a huge help to have a contact in the DC. I wouldn't ask you to, to give away any sensitive information or anything," he adds quickly. "Just... someone I could contact when I needed to... well, contact someone."
Leo shifts his weight, raising his left hand to press two fingers into his neck under his left ear. For a few beats, he is silent... and, apparently, distracted. "I should go," he says suddenly. "But... think about what I said. I'm sorry I can't stay longer." Without waiting, he turns and goes to open the cell door.
It doesn't open.
Mouth drawn into a grim lin, Leo pushes feebly at the door several more times. After a few seconds, he lifts a hand and begins pounding his fist angrily on the door. "I said /NOT/ to lock it!!" he shouts.
"I'm not a Crusader," Lacus is quick to remind Leo. "I'm just a civilian from PLANT, right now. But if you ever need to contact me, you can." She smiles, pleased to find someone at least somewhat sympathetic to her feelings. After hearing the rantings of Adler Koch, Solis Vivent and Dr. Hell every day and knowing PLANT has allied with such people, it's quite refreshing.
"Goodb-...oh. Oh! Hmm." The semi-princess just stands up and glides over to the door, which she knocks on a few times politely, as if this will make much of a difference. "Excuse me! Um, excuse me! One of your soldiers is locked in here. I won't escape, I promise, so please come let him out...!"
Surely the Former Titans will listen to curteosy and reason, right?
Surprisingly, the answer in this case appears to be 'yes.'
Well, okay, to be fair the courtesy and reason might not have had much to do with it. But eventually - after a long bout of laughter from the guard outside Lacus's cell - the door does, in fact, clank noisily and swing open again. Leo immediately pushes his way through the opening door, and once outside turns back to face Lacus.
"I'm glad we had this talk," he says. Despite his words, he's obviously upset, and blood has rushed to his cheeks in a mixture of embarassment and anger. "I'll get that tea sent down to you if I have to make it myself. Watch your feet," he warns, and swings the door shut.
Not two seconds after the door closes and latches again, there's more muffled sounds of conversation from just outside the door. In this case, 'conversation' means 'shouting.'
Lacus lets Leo shut the door, blinking and listening. The shouting leaves her frowning somewhat, but she doesn't protest; instead, she just sits down again, humming a melody softly to herself. She is composing a new song.
Perhaps she'll debut it after she gets out of here.