Title: In These Arms
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairing: Heero Yuy x Duo Maxwell
Summary: Even in the darkest times in the bleakest future, there are still special days to celebrate.
Author’s note: birthday gift fic for clarediva Clare! ♥ ♥ *supersmooch* Happy birthday, dear! For those who are curious: “Dertig” means ‘thirty’ in Dutch, as a little hommage to the number system in GW ^__^
I wish I had a moment to sit down. I wish I
had a moment to think. I wish I had the time to indulge myself in something
else but warfare. A simple bath, for instance. Or a nice
dinner, with real, good food. To get up on a morning without wondering
which nation has been invaded now. I don’t have much of a choice,
unfortunately. No one knew that the future would turn out like this. After the
Eve wars, we send our Gundams to the sun for
destruction, to send a message of hope. We wanted to show the world that there
would be no more need for firepower, for another war, for grief. It went well
for another five years - and then a new
Relena disappeared immediately, and not to a safehouse. To this day, we haven’t found her, and I fear for her safety. Romefeller had her in their clutches once before, planning to use her as a mere sock puppet for their own gain. What’s keeping people from using her again? The current ruler, Colonel Dertig is a bastard, a man who’s not above manipulation. I’m sure he has a hand in Relena’s disappearance - and if necessary, I will force my way into his headquarters and ask him…man to man.
The scientists are all dead, and with them a lot of knowledge and competence is gone. We don’t have our Gundams anymore, or the technology needed to rebuild them. Our message of hope and peace has been trampled upon, discarded like trash. The only thing we could do, was to organize a resistance movement and to set up an underground communications network. All five of us have dealt with this before as experienced, former Gundam pilots, and so we weren’t really surprised when people started looking to us for salvation.
I snort as I knock on the heavy, metal door. I have secured a certain package that I wish to give to the recipient personally. Salvation? Idiocy, pure idiocy, but people were desperate. They were civilians, I couldn’t - and can’t - expect military structure or discipline of them. All that they needed was a strong leader, and when they found five, no one but the infamous Gundam pilots themselves, they were all but ready to fall down to their knees and worship us.
It’s bittersweet. I have never forgotten how society used to despise us, how we were used as gears in the machine of war. That’s not ever going to happen again. We have claimed our rightful position, and this time, the tables have turned. I really wish it didn’t happen for the third time. For all that people think of me as a ‘perfect soldier’, I’m abhorred by war. It’s not necessary. It’s grief and pain and death, and it could’ve been avoided… if people just believed in hope.
The men in the hallway salute to me, pressing their backs straight to the wall. I’m not even thirty and I’m a war veteran. I see men much older than me saluting me, and taking my word for as if I were God. I used to be a pilot, toyed between alliances, factions and movements, and now I’m the head of my own movement. We’re the resistance, and it’s pathetic that it took another war for everyone to value us as the people we are. We’re not freaks. We’re not sniffling, whimpering war orphans. We’re not cold blood killers. We wanted peace so bad, and it’s not our fault that it got wasted. That doesn’t mean that I’m happy with the situation.
“There you are, Heero.” Quatre looks up
from a giant map, spread out on a large table top, corners taped down. He uses
colored pins to mark the new
Quatre smiles at me, albeit a little tiredly. He’s been working non-stop, but it’s reassuring to see him smile - the day Quatre Winner doesn’t smile is the day when another apocalypse is upon us. It’s human, and reminds me that it’s not our fault that war broke out anew, and that no one but Dertig and his cronies are to blame for this situation.
“Has Trowa returned yet?” I ask.
“I’m waiting for his message,” Quatre nods at a dark green pin in the northeast corner of the map. We divided the resistance into smaller cells, spread out over the continents and space colonies. Quatre’s the master planner and the main financer of the communications network, which he was fortunate enough to secure before all hell broke out. We are experienced soldiers, even in times of peace; Quatre only had a few years to rebuild his company, but he was quick to react when Dertig seized control. Not thirty yet, and a war veteran, just like the rest of us - it’s actually quite saddening.
He looks at the small package in my hand, clutched to my chest. Another smile, this time warmer, more brilliant. He knows why I did everything I did to get that particular package, and he nods, almost solemnly.
“Wufei called in this morning,” he says, not touching the subject of the package. Quatre barely talks about private situations anyway. This war has hardened him - he hasn’t lost his faith in humanity, in the strength of love and friendship, but he has seen too much to count on hope unconditionally. It’s actually quite sad, to see the one with the most emotions and heartwarming feelings getting numbed by the tragedies of war. I know we deal with it in different ways, but I hope Quatre will never lose his beliefs. It would be one apocalyps after another, that’s for sure.
“What did he have to say?”
“There has been an uproar lately,” he says, heaving a deep sigh. “The national parliament has been all but replaced with Dertig sympathizers. Wufei intercepted their communications, but it was nothing new.”
Wufei is leader of the resistance in the asian countries, concentrating on
A little bit too brusquely, I turn around and leave Quatre with his map. Package secured in my hand, I go looking for him, the one everyone knows who belongs to me. I’m not blushing about that. I’m just as much his as he is mine.
“Where is lt. Maxwell?” I ask a man who holds a bunch of papers in his hands. He salutes and points to the hallway. There’s actually no need for military ranks, but we decided that we didn’t want to be addressed with our first names (too familiar) or our last names (too distant), so we simply tacked ranks to it to create slight distance, but still be approachable to our allies. Of course, only the five of us refer to each other with our first name, except for Wufei.
I should’ve known Duo is in his room. This day is special, and he deserves some time alone. He still is our stealth expert, and Quatre uses him for every scouting and data retrieval mission. There’s no one but Duo who can blend with the shadows so well and return with everything needed without being spotted. I knock on the door, but don’t wait for his permission to enter. He should know that it’s me. It always goes like this on this special day.
“Duo,” I say as I take off my coat and throw it on the bed. His room is devoid of any luxury and frills. He’s only here to sleep, and he often goes to my room. He doesn’t like to sleep alone. My room is just as small.. it’s not about the space or the bed. It’s about warmth and comfort, and we find that with each other. I don’t care how sparse or how gray my room is, if Duo’s there, there’s warmth and comfort.
He doesn’t answer, just sits on the only chair, his back turned to me. Ever since this war broke out, Duo dresses in all black. I miss the clerical white collar, and the bright red sweater he once wore…but I should never forget that this is the God of Death. I move towards him, and he turns his head around. His eyes have lost the typical roundness, they appear much smaller, much more cynical and harsh. It’s the toll of war, and it saddens me. I know I don’t look the very same either, but both Duo and Quatre didn’t deserve to change like this. They shouldn’t be tainted by war… but this is reality, the hard reality.
He breaks out in a smile, and he twists his body on the chair, turning towards me. Despite physical changes, Duo didn’t suffer changes in his personality. The master of stealth is loud in bed, loud in the hallway, and loud when he agrees or disagrees. The God of Death fights harder for any kind of life than anyone else, and his smile is still the most beautiful in the entire world, heaven, and hell.
“Happy birthday, Duo,” I say and I hand him the package. He looks confused, not knowing whether to accept it or not. Years ago, in a rare moment when we were all together, the topic of birthdays had come up. As the majority of us were war orphans, we assigned each other a date for his birthday, just for fun. Little did we know we would keep each other to it - only not always with cake, balloons, or presents. In the middle of a war, it’s pretty strange to see a carefully wrapped present in one’s hand.
He finally takes it from me, curiosity on his face. For a second, a very small second I see the traits on his face that he used to have - that heartshaped, almost childish face, with round cheeks and wider eyes, and the enthusiastic glee that made me fall for him. I love Duo Maxwell, my own Shinigami. He returns the feelings, and we’ve been together for quite a few years now; he’s the only one I need. Without him, I couldn’t do this again. Not another war. I need him by my side. I need his arms around him. I need to see him, hear him, touch him. I take a step closer and put my hand on his shoulder as he unwraps the package. He looks up at me, his tongue in the corner of his mouth, a small kid eagerly wanting to know what’s inside. It’s a small, rectangular box and he examines on how to open it. He finds the small button for the lid to pop open, and he presses it.
I’ve seen him naked. I’ve seen him in tears. I’ve seen him angry. I’ve seen him in despair. I’ve seen him laughing out loud. I’ve never seen him really silent, though. Duo Maxwell and silence aren’t exactly friends. I wonder if this gift…is maybe a little too much. A little too close to home. We’re all soldiers…we’re all humans…and we deal with things differently. Duo pretty much had the shittiest youth of us all, pardon my language. The church, death, the plague…
“I know you lost it during a scouting mission,” I say. My grip on his shoulder tightens. It was during the same mission that he took a bullet there. It wasn’t his fault, we had a traitor in the group. I personally took care of that…burden.
He stares at the jewellery.
I’m not Sister Helen. I’m not Father Maxwell. I’m Heero Yuy. A name that brought me tears, a name that brought me joy. A name that spills over his lips in a way that only he can - a name that only moves me when he says it.
Reaching past him, I take the necklace out of the small box. Instinctively, he lifts up his head, freeing up his neck. I brush my hand past the thick, heavy braid that seems to lengthen every year. Even for me, he won’t let it down, not even in the most intimate of our moments. Death. Destruction. Dertig and his men.
I put it around his neck, the silver crucifix that has taken me a year to find. It’s not his original, unfortunately - I immediately went to the spot after I dealt with the… liability of the group, but I couldn’t find it. The terrain was too rough, and there was a strong current in the river nearby. It was impossible to find it again. He was devastated, and I should’ve allowed the God of Death to take the life of the double-crosser. Duo didn’t think it was worth it, but I did. I don’t care for more blood on my hands.
The click of the clasp isn’t audible, but as soon as it’s fastened around his neck, Duo moves his hand and caresses it, a familiar gesture that he even continued after losing the original jewellery. He moves his head backwards, his smile radiating so brightly that it puts Quatre to shame.
The night we became lovers, was the night we became really adults. We were still kids, even when piloting ridiculously tall and heavy mecha. Kids in a war, and our hormones were suppressed by tactical use of weapons and fighting for peace. We were friends, even if I denied it in the beginning, not feeling very comfortable with the thought of ‘friends’. Duo was stubborn, and kept in touch with me during the short interlude of peace we had.
Ironically it took a third war to bring us really together. When Quatre called out to us to set up the resistance, he didn’t bat an eye when we walked in at the same time. He mentioned later to me that he was surprised though, that we weren’t holding hands. I never told him that even then, we still hadn’t made our feelings for each other known - that was a week after. Our first time was mechanical, awkward even, and the morning after we were both confused. Was this really what we wanted? Why did we even do that? There was no candlelight, no piano music, no roses. There was pressure of an upcoming and fast raging war, the need to fight, the need to survive once more.
It was at that moment that we decided to survive together, I think. We both didn’t want to face another war alone. We felt something, even if it was the thinnest thread holding us together. We silently took each other into an embrance, strong arms holding each other, and then we were ‘an unit’, as Trowa likes to say, and the people around us are used to see us together. No one questions it, no one blinks, it’s just completely normal. As it should be. During the years, we’ve grown closer, the awkwardness disappeared, melted away, and we finally admitted love…real, genuine love. After that, our nights together were far from mechanical, as we finally knew how to respond and react to one another.
He stands up and turns around, hand still on the crucifix.
“I can’t thank you enough,” he whispers. I know he’s thinking of Sister Helen and the first crucifix he had. It was hers… given to him in her very last moment. This is a new one, given to him on a very special day, his own birthday. I don’t know if it’s healthy to tie such intense emotions to an inanimate object, but I know Duo’s sadness when he lost the other one. I don’t want to see my God of Death sad. He does everything to make my life bearable, and so do I for his. We’re friends. We’re lovers. We’re together.
He opens his arms for an embrace, and I happily accept it, returning the gesture. It’s quite funny that Duo’s braid is still growing, but he isn’t; he fits perfectly under my chin. It doesn’t matter. I revel in the feeling of his arms around me. Warm, comfortable arms. A little bony at the elbows, perhaps - but that doesn’t matter either. With a soft sigh, I inhale Duo’s scent, I absorb his strength. In these arms I feel safe.