Author's Notes: I can already tell this fic is going to be a constant headache for me. However, I'm determined to try. It will be my first attempt at using instances in the series extensively. Also, I really think this relationship needs to be written. I love 1x3, I love 1x5... why not just throw 'em together? yihihi ^_^ And yes, I suppose the title is a little corny in a way.. ^^; But it fits, so oh well. Ami is not a big fan of the sap, and not very good at writing comedy, so that sarcastic title will probably be the majority of the 'humor' you'll see in this fic. ^.^;; *ducks rotten eggs*
Warnings: This is a YAOI fic. If you're not even remotely interested in GW boyluv, you can do an about-face and find some nice little het fic, or fluffy shounen ai. This is neither. I suppose eventually there will be a little sap, but I personally have a strong dislike for sap when it comes to these three boys, so don't hold your breath. Sorry ^^;
Also, the POV may change at certain parts during this fic, though primarily I think it'll end up being Trowa's perspective. Hope it's not too confusing.. @_@;;
Notice: Before you get all edgy about how strictly the fic seems to run along the GW actual timeline, I'll go ahead and tell you that the second part isn't like that. To develop parts of the relationships, I have to go pretty in-depth with the series in the first half. The second half is a lot looser.
Also, as with ALL my GW fics, don't expect any mention of Preventers after the war is over. -_-; I choose to ignore "Endless Waltz"'s very existence in my fics. ^.^;; Leaves me free to do whatever I want with the boys after the war. kekeke. Enjoy ^___^
As close as we are today, tomorrow when we come back from that battlefield, we will be as close as two men can possibly be, sharing a bond that can only be forged in the face of imminent disfigurement. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
I suppose I should start at the beginning, but that would take too long.
Things were much simpler back then. My mission- my objective -was clear. My orders were to destroy OZ. Simple as that. I was a fighter for the people of the colonies- their knight in shining armor. Not that I wanted their praise or even their acknowledgement. I wasn't interested in being a hero or a legend. I wasn't even sure exactly why I was fighting. Not that it mattered much to me. Funny how it isn't until things really go to shit that you really start to question your own morals, your methods, and your intent. Those things didn't used to bother me as much as they do now.
But then, that was back when I was alone.
I fought alone because I neither wanted nor needed anyone's help. Myself and my Gundam were more than enough to bring OZ to its knees- even if I had to chop off a limb to get them there. I didn't need anybody, because I was a soldier in the most destructive mobile suit seen on earth or in space. I didn't need any help to accomplish my goals. I was strong enough to fight the war alone.
Then I made a startling discovery: there were others like me.
Other Gundam pilots, fighting for the colonies on earth like I was. And from then on, whether I liked it or not, I was never completely alone anymore. Even when I went out of my way to avoid them, to fight my battles alone, they were always there in the background- sometimes fighting by my side.
We all met face to face that fateful day at New Edwards. We didn't trust each other, and we even sought to fight each other. Each of us was sure we could fight alone- with perhaps the exception of Quatre Raberba Winner... I have yet to decide whether his yearning to be with other people in battle and in his heart is a strength or a weakness. Nothing is as clear as it once was. And that day at New Edwards was the day that forever changed our perspective on the war.
Things spiraled out of control too fast to comprehend. Suddenly we weren't sure who our enemies were, or if we should even fight any longer. We were forced to question ourselves. Just what were we fighting for? Was it for the pacifist ideals of the Sanq Kingdom? The thought of no more war, no more death? I think, at heart, none of us really believed that. Not even Quatre. We were born for war. Fighting- killing -were all we knew. This was our era- the era of war. And whether or not victory was possible, we were all going to go down fighting, because that was all we could do.
We thought we could do it alone.
We thought wrong.
PART I: FATAL ATTRACTION
"The Passionate Warrior"
Trowa Barton wasn't interested in sleep.
His fingers tightened reflexively around the cheap tin coffee mug in his hands at a slight sound behind him. The mug was empty and cold. He hadn't gotten around to pouring himself a cup, yet. He'd been sitting here, staring blankly into the fire for... how long? Minutes? Hours?
Back from relieving himself, his companion stepped out of the surrounding shadows, stepping around the fire and seating himself on a fold-up chair to the tall pilot's right. Trowa's eyes shifted sideways to regard the other boy, unwilling to gaze into the flames any longer. Seeing them only reminded him of what had just occurred that morning. Going into battle against OZ with the friendly pilot of Sandrock whose very openness put Trowa on edge; going head-to-head against a pair of strange Gundams... and the destruction of an aircraft logged as one of OZ's.
Only to be told moments later upon his current companion's arrival that they had just destroyed a jet full of peace delegates.
He had chosen to follow the boy who had brought them such horrible news, aiding him in tracking down the one responsible. He'd left Kushrenada's execution to his new partner and thrown himself into battle with the surrounding mobile suits on deck and in the water. At the end of the mission, his teammate had joined him with an eerie silence that was proof enough that he had failed.
Against his better judgment, he'd calmly offered a place to sleep. After all, Quatre had been nice enough, if a little overly friendly. And although this pilot was wildly different from the blond Arabian, Trowa instinctively realized that he and this new soldier would most likely be more comfortable around each other than the others.
Obsidian eyes flashed in the firelight, clashing with emerald for just a fraction of a second before Trowa returned his gaze respectfully to the fire. He'd been caught in his study of the tense Asian, and had no desire to insult the other boy.
The pilot intrigued him- perhaps that was why he had asked if he would like a place to sleep. There was a burning intensity and passion to everything the other pilot did and said. It was like fighting alongside a crackling bolt of lightening.
But now his partner seemed strangely subdued. Trowa could understand on some level how a failed mission would be a disappointment; but such a solemn, almost depressed attitude was not what he had expected from someone as full of life as this soldier.
Whatever had transpired between Treize Kushrenada and this fierce-eyed boy must have been serious to put him into such a mood.
Dark eyes flickered slightly at the sound of approaching footsteps. Trowa's own eyes shifted instead towards the nearby lion cage. The animals seemed undisturbed; whoever it was, it wasn't an enemy.
"What have you guys been talking about for so long?" a familiar voice sighed in mock exasperation. Catherine. "It's been two hours!"
Only two? Trowa shifted just slightly. It felt like he'd been sitting here for longer than that. He lifted his head slightly as the tall woman set a tray on the ground by his feet. She smiled at them both cheerfully. "Here, have some soup before it gets cold," she offered brightly. "Just make sure you clean up. Trowa, did you find a place for your friend to sleep?"
'Friend'? That was laughable. Until this moment, the other pilot hadn't even been aware of Trowa's name, and the acrobat was still in the dark as far as his partner's identity was concerned. Mentally, he'd labeled him 'Nataku' after hearing the young man mention the name more than once. It mattered little to him whether or not he would ever learn the boy's real name. They could all be dead tomorrow-- what did names matter?
Nataku's eyes had returned to the fire; Trowa gave a slight nod in answer, and Catherine seemed satisfied. "Well, enjoy," she said with a little wave as she headed off. "Don't stay up too late, now."
A long moment passed in heavy silence before Trowa reached deliberately for the coffee mug and poured two cups. He held one out in offering, watching the boy beside him for a reaction. After a moment he fell back on a method he usually avoided to get the other boy's attention. "I'm not sure if it's good or not," he said quietly. Offering meaningless words and starting unwanted conversations were not Trowa's style, but he was hoping after such a long silence, his voice might shake some of the lethargy from his partner.
Slowly Nataku dragged himself from his dark contemplations, accepting the mug with sword-calloused fingers. Satisfied, Trowa set the pot back on the ground and tasted his own mug of coffee. The warmth of the bitter drink seeped through his body in a welcome wash, relaxing him slightly.
"I don't think I'm up to this job," Nataku said abruptly.
Trowa glanced sideways at the bowed head, firelight casting highlights off the ebony hair, pulled back in a tight tail of propriety. He took another sip of coffee, returning his own unfocused eyes to the fire. "Sou.."
In his mind's eye, he watched 01's beam saber slice through metal frames and burning engines, destroying the aircraft of what they had assumed were OZ officials.
He saw a slender, golden-skinned boy step out of his Gundam proudly, fists clenched in irritation. Heard that angry, scornful voice inform them of their horrible mistake.
OZ had tricked them- Treize Kushrenada had tricked them.
Nataku's failure to kill the older man must be weighing heavily on the proud boy seated not three feet to his right.
Trowa glanced up at the murmured words to find his partner staring blankly at the mug of coffee in his hands, his face suddenly overcome with weariness.
"Aa," he said after a moment. 'Xie xie' was... Chinese, if he remembered correctly. That explained the other boy's elegant oriental looks and clothes. Back before he had become the pilot for Heavyarms, one of the mercenaries he'd known had been half Chinese.
The dark mood was shivered slightly when it quickly became apparent that Nataku had never had coffee before. Catching a glimpse of the unconscious grimace on his companion's face, Trowa gave a small snort of amusement that could have been interpreted as a sneeze. Unfortunately, the young swordsman knew when he was being laughed at. He looked up quickly, eyes flashing in the first sign of real emotion since their attack on Treize's fleet.
"I know it's not ginseng tea," Trowa apologized in a rare moment of sarcasm. "But it will warm you up."
Nataku peered at him in suspicious silence for a moment, unable to catch any hint of mockery or teasing in Trowa's carefully neutral voice. It was a tone the acrobat had worked his whole life to perfect. He had developed a mask for face and voice that was practically impenetrable.
Even this sharp-eyed warrior couldn't break through the shields; after a moment a little of the defensive tension went out of his wiry frame, and he took another careful sip of his coffee. Trowa reached down and lifted the tray of soup. When Nataku opened his mouth to protest, he interrupted calmly, "You need to keep up your strength."
That must have been the right thing to say, because Nataku grudgingly took one of the bowls with a fleeting scowl. His eyes lifted and met Trowa's, and lingered. His gaze shifted minutely, back and forth, taking in Trowa's perfectly composed face. Aware that he was being weighed, Trowa held the slightly shorter boy's stare, gazing back without visible emotion.
Nataku leaned back slightly, settling the bowl on his knee. His face was stern- almost severe. "You pilot a Gundam," he said briskly. "Are you from the colonies?"
Trowa dipped his spoon in his bowl and lowered his eyes. "It's possible. I'm not really sure."
Nataku frowned, and corrected himself with a hint of irritation to his voice. "Were you sent from the colonies as a Gundam pilot?"
"What's your intent?" Nataku demanded, ignoring his food.
Trowa looked up at him calmly. "My mission is to destroy OZ. And to kill those that see my Gundam."
Nataku cocked his head slightly in what was obviously an unconscious gesture. His eyes narrowed slightly, fathomless in the shadows and firelight. "I've seen your Gundam," he pointed out.
"And I've seen yours," Trowa countered quietly.
Nataku flashed bared teeth in what could have easily been a snarl or a smile-- gone too quickly for Trowa to analyze. "At least you can fight," he admitted grudgingly. "If I have to get stuck with somebody in this insanity, I would rather it be someone who isn't pathetically weak."
Trowa arched a brow at the other boy, face mostly hidden in the shadows cast by his bangs. "Thanks," he said drolly.
This time Nataku caught the dryness to the tone, and snorted, lowering his gaze to his bowl.
They finished their meal in silence. When they were through, Trowa took the dishes over to the hose by the cages and washed them out. Then he led his guest towards the trailer he shared with Catherine.
Nataku noticed a potted flower in the window as Trowa pulled open the door, and frowned. "That onna sleeps in here?"
Trowa glanced over his shoulder at the other boy. "She's sleeping in another trailer tonight," he reassured him. "Or did you want to sleep on the ground?"
Nataku scowled at him darkly, and followed him inside.
Trowa pushed aside the sheet Catherine had hung across the room to partition the trailer, and motioned to the performer's bed. "You can sleep in hers, or mine, it doesn't matter to me."
Nataku nodded, but his eyes flicked towards Trowa's bed. Trowa's mouth gave a slight quirk, there and gone almost too quickly to be felt. Evidently Nataku had something against women- was he just shy, or..? He cut off that trail of thought, shutting the door behind himself. He toed off his shoes and padded over to Catherine's bed without another word, stretching out on it and tugging the sheets over himself.
Nataku hesitated for a moment before taking his own shoes off and settling down on Trowa's own bed, not bothering to pull any covers on. He clasped his hands behind his head and lay staring at the ceiling.
Trowa lay on his side, watching the other boy pensively as he waited for sleep to claim him. Nataku didn't fidget or make any noise other than his soft, even breathing, but Trowa was still very much aware of his presence not seven feet away. There was a crackling energy to him even now that gave him away; whatever had happened, he was still conflicted about it. Trowa closed his eyes, but sleep evaded him. He couldn't completely relax with another tense body in the room. His instincts wouldn't allow it. He opened his eyes again and rolled onto his back, turning his head to gaze out the window by the bed, up at the stars above.
There was a rustle of cloth as Nataku turned his head on the pillow, obviously surprised at the other's question. He was silent for so long Trowa was beginning to think he wasn't going to respond. Finally, he said in a grating voice, "He let me go."
Trowa shifted to stare across the trailer at the other boy, but Nataku had returned his attention to the ceiling, eyes narrowed in anger.
"We dueled. He defeated me. He was stronger than me, and I lost. But he didn't kill me. He let me go." His words were laced with barely-controlled fury. It took Trowa a second to realize that loathing was self-directed. Trowa's brow furrowed slightly, finally understanding his partner's somber mood. Nataku was humiliated and disappointed in himself. He had lost to someone he saw as the enemy. But worse than that- in this warrior's mind -was the fact that Kushrenada had been arrogant enough to let Nataku go. He didn't see the boy as a threat, and had waved him aside carelessly. It must have been a heavy blow to the pilot's pride.
Nataku suddenly made a strangled noise and struck the trailer wall by his bed with a fist, making the whole structure quiver. "Kuso!" he snarled, face twisted in helpless anger.
Trowa regarded him silently for a moment longer before sitting up, the sheets sliding to pool in his lap. Nataku glanced over at his movement, and their gazes locked and held for several heartbeats.
It was Trowa who looked away first from that intense, defensive stare. "You're a strong soldier," he said quietly. "You shouldn't let this one issue confuse you. One defeat doesn't mean you've lost the war." Inwardly he wondered why he was bothering to console the other pilot.
Nataku's eyes narrowed further, his teeth clenched. "One small battle can determine the war," he quoted in a hard voice. "I should not have lost."
"But you did." Trowa looked back at him steadily, undaunted by that fierce gaze. "You shouldn't take it so hard- Kushrenada beat two pilots today, not one."
Some of the animosity faded from Nataku's expression, replaced with momentary confusion. "The peace delegates," he said suddenly in realization.
Trowa nodded, closing his eyes and lying back once more. "The whole thing at New Edwards was planned by Kushrenada and OZ. That other pilot fell for the trap."
Silence greeted these words, and Trowa felt his body slowly begin to relax in preparation for sleep as some of the screaming tension in the room began to slacken.
"Our mission is the same," Nataku said quietly after several minutes. "So are our Gundams."
Trowa sensed the unvoiced question, and nodded, eyes still closed. "That could make us allies," he admitted. "That doesn't necessarily mean I'll fight with any of you."
"Hn." Nataku snorted softly, and Trowa sensed more than heard him smirk. "Wokatta."
There was a brief silence, then cloth rustled again as Nataku shifted in obvious surprise on the bed, probably turning to look at him again. Trowa didn't open his eyes. "You don't have to tell me your name," he added to put the other boy at ease.
Nataku hesitated for quite a while before saying brusquely, "Chang Wufei."
Trowa opened his eyes and turned his head. Across the room, emerald and onyx met and held. "Yoroshiku," Trowa murmured with a faint dry smile.
Wufei gave another snort and turned his face upwards again, eyes sliding closed. The tension seeped from his rigid body, and his face relaxed. Giving another faint smile, Trowa closed his own eyes and let sleep overcome him at last.
Trowa was a light sleeper, but when he awoke shortly after sunrise the next day, the bed across from him was empty and neatly made.
Sliding out of bed, he combed long fingers through his bangs to get some of the tangles out as he slid his feet into his shoes. Opening the small fridge, he pulled out a bottle of water before exiting the trailer.
No one was up, yet. In another hour the camp would be swarming with animals and performers as they prepared for the next show. But for now it was silent and empty. A creak of metal alerted him to his guest's location, and he walked through the tents until he reached the large carrier he and Wufei had brought their Gundams back on.
Wufei was climbing into the back and unhooking chains, pulling the tarp back from his own mech. He heard the scrape of shoes on gravel and glanced over his shoulder, his hand drifting towards the sword sheathed in his belt. Recognizing Trowa, he straightened and released the sword hilt.
Trowa stopped a few feet from the carrier and tossed the water underhanded. Wufei caught it instinctively, lifting it up to inspect before giving a curt nod of thanks.
"Perhaps we'll meet again," Wufei said, lowering the bottle and glancing up towards the sky as he estimated the time. He turned his head to offer a quick, arrogant smirk. "If you stay alive, that is."
Trowa tilted his head in acknowledgement, arching his brows in mild humor. "I look forward to it," he said honestly.
Wufei gave another short nod and leaned over to press the hidden switch to open his Gundam's hatch. Muscles rippled under copper skin, and beside his powerful Gundam the warrior looked suddenly years younger than he was. Trowa knew, however, that inside that slender teenage body was a fighting spirit unlike any he'd encountered before. He took a few steps back to give the mobile suit room as Wufei disappeared inside and the Gundam came to life under his skilled hands.
The sound of the Gundam thundering off woke Catherine, and she came running to find Trowa standing by the carrier, staring off into the trees in the direction the suit had gone.
"Trowa, what was that??" she gasped, coming to a halt beside him and looking around quickly. "Did you hear it too?"
"Iie," Trowa said quietly, turning his back on the trees and walking unhurriedly towards the camp.
"Liar," Catherine called after him in frustration. Never thinking to climb onto the carrier and thus notice the missing bulge, she dashed after Trowa, demanding answers. Trowa tuned her out, already doing a mental check-up on his own Gundam, reminding himself to refill Heavyarms' arsenal before he left for his next mission. In the back of his mind, coal-dark eyes burned.
Chang Wufei-- he hoped he would have the chance to fight with the other boy again before the war claimed their lives.
Still, he secretly doubted he would be interacting with the other pilots much. Perhaps in another day he wouldn't even remember the Chinese warrior's name.
Two days later, he had another guest.
But this pilot ended up staying with him for much longer than just a night, though he was unconscious for the majority of his stay.
And Trowa Barton was never the same again.
Heero had that affect on people.
Author's Notes: Pleez excuse any mistakes/typos T.T Mami (my beta) is on her way to Japan and couldn't read this. I fixed things as best I could, but I probably missed something x__x
And no, you're not supposed to know which of the three pilots' POV it is for the prologue. ^.^; It could be any of them... *grin*
Also, I have no idea how much time lapsed between New Edwards and Heero's self destruction, so I just said two days. >_<; I'll probably do that quite often in this fic- take liberties with the lapse of time. XD;;;
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