Since I did SP last time, and I know you've said you still enjoy good 1x2, I thought I'd take a stab at returning to GW. Wow, it's hard to come back to a fandom after so long! I hope this is up to your standards. ^_^;;;
Title: Once In A While
Pairing: Gen, Duo & Heero
The bonds formed by war are both tighter and looser than you might expect.
It's funny. You'd think that fighting a war with four other people against the entire Earth Sphere would, you know, bring you close to each other. I mean, it stands to reason, right? You go through that kind of shit together, it forms a bond that can't be duplicated any other way.
That's the theory, anyway. In truth, we so rarely saw each other during the war that most of us never got a chance to know each other. Sure, we ran into each other on missions sometimes early on, and by the end we were all up there together in the Peacemillion. And there's not a doubt in my mind, there's nobody else I'd want at my back in a tough spot. But you know, we were fighting a war. A damn near impossible one, too. That didn't leave a lot of time or energy for socializing even when we were in the same place.
Honestly, we just don't see each other all that often now. In the beginning some of us made an effort to stay in contact, through email or vidcalls, whatever. Still, it didn't take long before the letters got shorter, the calls infrequent.
We're all busy, for one thing. If we'd been the kind of people who were capable of just kicking back and relaxing, we'd never have been Gundam pilots in the first place. Personality differences aside, we're all ambitious go-getters in our own ways. We don't know how to leave well enough alone; we see a problem, an opportunity, and we tackle it. That sort of thinking tends to fill up your schedule real quick.
It's not like we've lost contact completely, though. Quatre's swamped with the company he started, but we still exchange cards and presents for birthdays and major holidays. Once in a while the circus will come to L2, not that often, because there's not a lot of money here for people to spend on entertainment, but when they do I make a point to drop in and say hi to Trowa. Wufei's a little harder to track down; occasionally I'll get a phone call from him, just to check in and give us a chance to make sure the other is still alive and well.
I see Relena on the vids all the time, and I have to say she's grown up well. The spoiled little princess is long gone, thank God. I get a card from her at Christmas, too, which causes a huge stir at the local post office and amuses the hell out of me.
For the most part, my life is pretty unremarkable. I've got friends here, and work I enjoy. Even if overhauling scrap engines and mechanical equipment is a pretty far cry from being one of the world's top five terrorist fugitives. I do some work on the side for Howard and the Sweepers, and they're probably the closest thing I've got to a family. I'm happy. Hell, most of the time these days I hardly even think about the war.
Every so often, though, a reminder turns up. Like now, when the soft knock at the door has interrupted my dinner on a night when I'd had nothing more planned than a quiet evening with a couple of engineering journals. It could have been anyone; Hilde, one of the neighbours, someone from the Sweepers.
Somehow, though, I knew who it was even before I stood up.
"Heero." He looks pretty much the same as the last time I saw him, about eight months ago. Sometimes it's only a couple of months between his visits, and sometimes it's well over a year. He never gives any warning, just shows up on my doorstep like something the wind blew in. I asked him once what he does if he shows up and I'm not there, and he just gave me a look and said that he never comes when I'm not around. Maybe he's got me bugged, who knows? I wouldn't put it past him.
"Duo." That's it, no 'hey, long time no see, you're looking good' or anything like that. He doesn't even ask if he can come in before he steps through the door, and I don't bother to say the words. He knows the invitation is always open. He wouldn't be here, otherwise.
I lead him into the kitchen even though he's been here often enough to know the way by now, with a brief pause for him to drop his duffle beside the couch. He'll sleep there; I tried offering him the bed the first couple of times, but he wasn't having any of it. In the kitchen he slings himself down into the other chair at the table like he belongs there, and there's something about seeing him there that always makes me smile a little broader.
Conversation over dinner is mostly me catching him up on what's been going on in my life. Sometimes he'll volunteer information about what he's been up to, sometimes not. I learned early on not to push if I want him to stick around for more than a day or two. This is one of the times when he's not exactly forthcoming, and that's okay. The shadows in his eyes tell me everything I need to know.
That pretty much sets the tone for the coming days. He's as talkative as ever, but I've always been enough of a chatterbox for the two of us, and I don't need a participating audience. He speaks up often enough to let me know he doesn't mind the chatter, and we pass the time companionably. He helps me with the mechanical stuff, just like he always does, but it's not just the extra pair of hands that makes the work go so much faster.
After a couple of days he's smiling openly, that heart-stopping grin that makes him look like an ordinary young man instead of a ruthless killer. When he smiles like that, you can see a glimpse in his eyes of the innocent boy J says he once was. Another few days and he's laughing aloud at my jokes, and by the end of the week he's even teasing me back.
Once that starts, I know it won't be long before he's gone, but I can never bring myself to be disappointed. It's a hell of a privilege to be the person he opens up to like that, and anyway I know he'll be back eventually.
I don't know what I am to him; a haven, a vacation, a distraction, or just an old friend. I do know that when he shows up he's usually tense and more than halfway back to being the boy I knew then, during the war. By the time he leaves, he's as close to a normal person as any of us are capable of being after all the horrors we've seen - and done.
Maybe he's using me. If so, that's fine, I don't mind. I'm using him too, in my own way. He's my anchor to the past, and by the end of his visits I'm always feeling renewed and full of energy. What is friendship, but using each other with a positive intent?
Sure enough, the next day he's already dressed when I get up, stuffing his few belongings back into his duffle. He zips it closed and stands, turning to meet my eyes. He always does this at the end, studying me like he's figuring out if it was worth it, or maybe trying to decide if he'll be welcome the next time. I just smile back at him, telling him without words that he'll have a place to come back to here no matter how many times we play out this odd little drama.
Nodding once, he smiles back at me and turns to go. And that's the end of it; a moment later he's through the door and gone, out of my life for another month or year or however long until he needs to come back.
Whenever it is, I'll be here. Maybe someday he'll decide to stay, though I doubt it. I think that what we have between us, what we are to each other and the memories evoked when we're together, is too intense to be sustained for long.
Chances are good that we'll just continue in this pattern until the day when he doesn't come at all. Whether it's because something's happened to him or just because he doesn't need me any more, I may never know. But my instincts tell me we'll be at this until one or both of us are dead.
That's cool. I'll keep sending letters to Quatre, dropping in on Trowa, and talking to Wufei. When the knock on my door comes, I'll be here to answer it. And the rest of the time, I'll just get on with living my part of the life we won for ourselves.