Heero walked to the old, crude, threadbare motel room he was currently staying at until he could find a place that wasn’t ready to collapse around him any minute. He had just come from his current job as a car mechanic in an old country gas station. He was tired, dirty, and freezing. Cold snow fell on his exposed head and the arctic wind went right through his worn, patched jacket. He didn’t like the biting cold but he could barely afford the Motel room and put food on the table, let alone a luxury like a new winter coat.
He slowly trudged to his door, grease freezing on his fingers, and reached for his keys. Just before he got the door open he noticed an envelope sticking out between the door and the door-jam. He reached for it and forced his frozen fingers to grasp it before moving in the slightly warmer room. He trudged over to the bed and curled up on it, trying to warm his frozen body and, when he could more of less feel his fingers again, opened the envelope.
It read: Meet me at the picnic aria at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
“What the?” He mumbled to himself and looked over the envelope and the letter, looking for anything that would tell him who sent it. The Envelope was blank and the letter was typed so he couldn’t guess who it was by the handwriting. He read the letter again but found no clue as to whom it could be. Any number of people might want to meet in the Picnic aria. It was almost too convenient for him though, the only picnic aria in the county was a bit more than half a mile away, he didn’t work that Saturday, and it was in the heat of the day, he just wished it could be inside.
He mulled over who had sent the letter until he was too tired to keep his eyes open. His last conscious though was that there was something special about that day but he couldn’t remember what.
Heero sat down on one of the picnic tables and tried hard to keep himself from shivering, it may be the heat of the day but he was so cold, the wind from last nights snow storm hadn’t died down. He might as well be wearing his green tank top for all the good his jacket did him. He jammed his fists into his pockets and willed his body to be still. He hoped that the person would get there soon. He was so caught up in the fact that he was cold that he didn’t notice the person watching him from the shadows behind him. They smiled and started forward, feet crunching on the snow.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t come.” Heero stood and jerked around at the too familiar voice coming from behind him. He watched with wide eyes as Relena Peacecraft came into view. He quickly regained his composure, but couldn’t help notice the thick winter coat she was wearing, the fuzz lined snow boots, the scarf and the earmuffs.
“Relena? You’re the one who called me out here?”
She nodded, “You know, you’re a hard guy Heero.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means many things.” She said cryptically and finally came to a stop a few feet away from him. Heero notice that her face was devoid of all emotion; even her eyes gave no hint of what she was feeling and couldn’t help but be impressed at her newfound control. Normally her face would be blazing almost every last thought that went through her head, her eyes betraying every emotion. “Like ‘You are a hard guy to find.’ Or ‘You’re a hard guy to get information on.’ Besides the well known fact that you are a gundam pilot.”
“Why did you call me out here Relena? Why this place?”
“The place was a hard thing to decide as well,” she looked to the side at the trees and snow, “I wanted some place that was more or less convenient for you, where we could have some privacy, that would suet my purpose, but wouldn’t scream Relena at you. That’s also why I typed the note instead of written it. I was afraid you wouldn’t come if you knew it was me.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” He asked her sincerely.
She looked back at him for a moment, her face unreadable, and smiled slightly, sincerely. “I guess I’m just a bit paranoid when it comes to you.” She looked at his patched jacket and decided not to keep him any longer than necessary. “In answer to your other question, Heero, I’m returning a favor.”
He raised an eyebrow skeptically, “A favor?”
She paused before answering, seemingly considering her answer. Finally she held out a couple of bulging shopping bags she had been holding. He looked at them as if she were offering him a gun. The bags had tissue paper sticking out, hiding what their contents. “What’s this?” He looked up at her, confusion and skepticism evident on his etched features. She smiled, amused by his reaction, and bent down, taking his pail, and she noted with concern, almost blue and very thin hand in her own gloved hand, placed the straps handles over his palm and wrapped his stiff fingers around them. She held his hand like that for a moment and looked up into his cobalt eyes, making sure to keep her own features under tight control, showing him none of her concern. “Just take them.” She told him and pulled back, sticking her hands in her pockets and waited patiently.
He looked from the heavy bags in his hand, to the pale pink clad girl in front of him, to the bags again. It was almost comical how his confusion steadily dominated his face as he looked back and fourth between the bags and Relena until it was all she could do to just stand there, desperately holding her carefully formed mask of indifference in place.
He finally looked at her, held up the bags and said, “I don’t understand.”
She sighed, both to keep herself under control and in patient tolerance of his naiveté. “Remember how I said you were a hard guy to get information on.” He nodded slowly; still confused, unsure of himself, off guard by the way Relena was acting in general, and more than just a little uncomfortable. “Well I spent I don’t know how long trying to find some specific information about you and finally came across some old school file you forgot to delete,” she gave him an accusing look for a moment, which he interpreted as ‘Sloppy work, Heero’. “I have no way of knowing if it is accurate or if you just randomly chose a date, but it said…” she fumbled slightly, “Um… That today was your birthday.” She said that last in a rush and looked away and desperately tried to keep her mask in place.
Heero stared at her in shock for a moment before looking down and the bags again. “So… this is a present?” He looked up to see her nod in conformation. She took a deep breath and blew out her mouth, letting her cheeks puff out some under the pressure. The tension in the air was almost more than she could bear. She looked back at Heero to see him looking at the bags with a curious, unreadable expression on his face.
“Heero?” She asked anxiously.
He heard her but was unable to respond for a moment as the reality of the situation dawned on him, or more accurately hit him like a ton of bricks. My birthday. That was what was so special about today. It’s my birthday. “No… no one has ever remembered my birthday before. No one has ever cared to ask. Not even Dr. J. The only presents I ever got were weapons.” For some reason, knowing that she must have gone to a lot of trouble to find out when his birthday was, that she had bought something for him, oddly, knowing that she hadn’t swamped him, that she was being very discreet about this entire thing, that she had gone to the trouble to choosing a place convenient for him…It all made him feel… warm… good. He couldn’t describe how he felt and he didn’t understand it. He didn’t understand why it no longer seemed so cold, or why he had a strange urge to… cry. He blinked as unbidden tears started to blind him. He looked up at Relena to see her smiling sympathetically at him.
Relena felt her heart melt when she saw him blink back tears. Tears! She felt like he had just hugged her, yet she was the one giving to him. She smiled sympathetically at him when he looked at her. “Open it.” Said quietly as she gestured to the bags.
Heero looked down at them again, hesitant to open them, not wanting this moment to end. He blinked against the tears a few more times before he hesitantly set the heavier bag down and reached to take the tissue paper out. Underneath he saw a dark mass. Slowly, he reached his frost bitten hand into the bag, forced himself to grab it and pull it out. He looked up at Relena, His eyes wide.
She smiled at him again. “I guess that means you like it?”
“Well, at first I was at a complete loss of what to get you. I though maybe one of those cute Wing Gundam or Wing Zero action figures, but thought why when you have the real thing and I didn’t want to get you some knick-knack because that would be more of a liability to you than anything else. I was practically pulling my hair out until I got here and saw the situation you were in and knew exactly what to get you.
“Relena…” Heero couldn’t express his gratitude at the gift, and felt a lump lodge in his throat. He closed his eyes, forcing the tears to come out, and looked down at the thick black winter coat with a sewn image of stars and Wing Gundam Zero flying through space on the back.
“Turn it over.” She suggested gently.
He did and felt more tears slide down his face, felt his lips curl into a smile as he saw the image on the front. Relena looked down, and smiled to herself, pleased to no end by his reaction. On the left side of the zipper, about four by three inches, was a picture of himself in his trademark tank top and spandex shorts, holding a gun out in front of him, ready to fire, with the words Omae o korosu beneath it. He laughed a little as he read the words, but it came out more of a gasp, and felt more tears fall down his face. He didn’t even feel the freezing wind blow through his worn, thin jacket.
Relena did however, “Put it on. You must be freezing in this.” Her words seemed to bring him out of a trance and he wiped irritably at the tears sliding down his face. Then he slipped on the coat and had the strange sensation of being hugged. He felt warmer on the outside already, as he zipped it up.
Relena quickly assumed her mask as Heero looked up at her. “Thank You, Relena.”
“Don’t worry about it. Open the other one.” Heero looked down at the package as if it just materialized out of thin air. He had completely forgotten about it. Attached to the strap was a card. He knelt down and pulled it off. He saw the word Heero written on the outside and assumed his mask of cold indifference. He closed his eyes as he lifted the card and ripped it in half, letting the wind carry the two halves where it will. He looked up at Relena to find amusement evident in her blue eyes, if not on her face.
“Why do I have a feeling that is going to become a tradition between us?” she asked, letting him hear her amusement in her voice.
“Hn.” He pulled out the tissue paper and saw more winter gear. He pulled out some black earmuffs, smiled slightly at them, unable to retain his mask with these foreign feeling swelling within him, and put them on his frozen, numb ears. Then he pulled out some winter gloves and slipped them on. He paused when he saw white lettering on the back. One glove had a zero sewn on it and the other had a one. Again he smiled and held his hands together, palms down, so the numbers made 01. “Are trying to put a sign on me saying “Heero Yuy, Gundam Pilot.”
She shrugged, “ If anyone asks just say you’re an obsessed fan.” He snorted.
Then he pulled out a black scarf and wrapped it around his frozen neck, shivering slightly as the threads tickled his tender skin. Last, but not least, he pulled out a pair of thick winter boots. As if on queue he frozen toes screamed for warmth. He sat back and quickly replaced his worn sneakers with the comfortable fuzz lined boots. Then he stood up and looked at Relena, sneakers in hand.
“Thank you Relena. I owe you a big one.”
“ I told you, I’m returning a favor. You don’t owe me anything.”
“What did I do to deserve this kind of payback?” He gestured to the winter gear.
“You remember the bear you got me for my last birthday.” It was more of a statement than an question.
“You have got to be kidding. That bear isn’t worth half of this.” He looked down at the coat, still not believing what was happening.
“That bear means the world to me Heero.” He jerked his head up at her suddenly wary of her. Relena laughed at his expression but quickly regained her composure. “Don’t worry Heero. I got over thinking about you like that a while ago, while you were at the Sank kingdom actually. I’m content thinking of you as a friend. That’s what that stuffed bear means to me, like a symbol of our friendship. Besides, no offence, but a girl would have to have infinite patience and infinite tolerance to begin to date you, and that’s just to begin with. I could go on and on about the virtues and attributes your future wife would have to have to survive spending a lifetime with you. I only have a couple of them.” She smiled at him.
Slowly, Heero walked toward her, keeping her eyes captive with his, never looking away. He didn’t stop until they were practically toe-to-toe. Then he just looked into her eyes, seemingly searching for something. Relena found his intense gaze somewhat unnerving, but she held her ground, refusing to show weakness to him. While she had Heero to herself she so desperately wanted to show him that she was strong too. That there was more to her than the pampered little girl that needed protecting at all costs. She forced her body to remain still while he searched.
Suddenly, just when she thought she couldn’t take the scrutiny any longer, Heero slowly, awkwardly, at first, leaned forward and gave her a gentle, very friendly kiss on her cheek. Relena’s eyes flew open at such an unexpected move from him. She froze, unable to comprehend what he was trying to communicate with that gesture, if anything. After a moment he pulled back and looked into her eyes again. Relena saw a softness in his eyes that she had never seen before, and she couldn’t begin to put her finger on what it meant. “Heero…” she breathed, still in shock, and desperately trying to replace her mask. He smiled, amused, and said, “Thank you Relena.” He Held out his hand, “Friends.”
Relena looked down at his extended hand for a long moment, slowly comprehending what he meant by these gestures. This time it was Relena’s turn to be blinded by tears, which she blinked back as she hesitantly grasped his hand and looked up into his face. Heero smiled and lifted his hand to wipe away her insistent tears.
“Friends,” she whispered and tentatively reached up with her free arm and wrapped it around his shoulders, leaning her head on his shoulder without seeming to be insistent. He smiled and snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her close, trapping their hands between them for a moment. He let go of her hand and wrapped it around her back. Relena put her hand on the base of his head and unconsciously played with the ends of his hair. It felt so good to be in his arms. They stayed like that for a long time, sealing their newfound friendship in an embrace they would never forget, both shedding tears of joy, tears of love, love for one another, and joy of being loved.
Back to the Homepage