I suppose if there’s anything in this world that Gundam
pilots know how to do, it’s brood. And if there’s anyone in
the world who can recognize a brooding Gundam pilot, it would probably
be another Gundam pilot.
So, being a Gundam pilot, and admitting to my fair share of brooding,
I’ve come to understand that there are flavors of the habit. The
angry brood… the peeved brood… the deep pain brood. And what
I was witnessing now… the frustrated brood.
Heero Yuy had become something of an aficionado of the frustrated brood
of late, and frankly… it was getting old.
I’d have asked if I was intruding before I interrupted his broodfest
if he hadn’t been sitting on my patio.
‘If you’re drowning your sorrows, Yuy,’ I said as I
pulled a deck chair around to sit beside him, ‘you’re going
to need something stronger than green tea.’
He snorted, giving his glass a little tilt of salute. ‘I’ll
keep that in mind, Barton, the next time I have sorrows I need to drown.’
I thought about indulging his evasiveness, but then I thought about Quatre
or Duo finding him just sitting there… brooding… and decided
that owning up to me would probably be less of a headache.
‘Really?’ I prompted. ‘So you’re just out here
glaring at the squirrels and butterflies for the fun of it?’
‘I am not glaring at anything,’ he grumbled and I could see
him try to clear away the expression. It was a little amusing to watch
him ease through several before he managed to work it out to a bland smile
that bordered on bored.
‘I’m assuming that Duo has something to do with your need
to be alone in the middle of one of Quatre’s parties,’ I said,
and the bland look was gone. Hadn’t been very convincing, so I suppose
it was just as well it hadn’t hung around long.
‘You’re prying,’ he muttered and took a drink of his
tea, as though that was going to absolve him of the need for further explanation.
‘Funny thing,’ I mused, ‘that’s usually Duo’s
line when you’ve set me on him to get him to talk.’
It’s also kind of funny how Heero Yuy can manage to look like a
petulant five year old when he’s been out-maneuvered and the conversation
goes where he wasn’t expecting. He kind of sank down further in his
chair, his shoulders hunching up a bit, and the squirrel he was glaring
at paused to look around as though sensing the weight of the eyes on it.
‘Just spit it out and get it over with,’ I told him, ‘I’ve
got all afternoon.’
He huffed out a sigh, gave me a side-long glare that was more of a glower
and made me wait through another gulp of tea. ‘Look… I just
thought Duo might join in that singing business if I wasn’t around,
I left off watching the squirrel looking for a good hiding place for the
walnut it was carrying around, and turned to look at Heero to catch the
expression on his face. Because there was a whole lot more ‘miserable’ in
his tone of voice than one would have expected over…
‘Karaoke? ‘ I asked. ‘Really? You’re out here
being depressed over… karaoke?’
He rolled his head slowly to the side and gave me a look that was pretty
damn disdainful. ‘You know… you suck at the compassionate support
thing. The next time I need somebody to talk to Duo, I think I’ll
ask somebody else.’
As a threat… it wasn’t very. Honestly, I’d been getting
a little uncomfortable with that whole business anyway. Heero and Wufei
had started to make me feel like a damn double agent with all their insistence
that Duo would open up to me easier. I’d already made up my mind
that the next time Duo and I had a chat… Heero could just bite me.
‘Perhaps,’ I said instead of revealing any of my inner thoughts, ‘if
you would just tell me what in the hell we’re talking about, I could
work up a little more compassion. Or support. I’m not sure you’re
He snorted and went back to… whatever he was doing. Trying to mind
control the local wildlife?
It took him three or four more sips of tea before he made up his mind
to talk. I just waited… I’m a fairly patient guy.
‘I told you about Duo’s friends that we met on that trip to
L2?’ he finally said, and I couldn’t help wondering how he’d
made the leap from karaoke to colony jaunts.
‘That really big guy from the expo and his wife, right?’
He nodded. ‘Yeah… the ones who lost their ship.’
His tone was… odd, and I looked his way again, not sure of the mood.
His expression was a weird mix of melancholy and pained and… I’m
not sure what else. But there was an else in there somewhere.
‘The wife… Victoria,’ he hesitated for a long minute,
obviously hunting for words before deciding on his phrasing. ‘She
didn’t care for me much. I was treated to more than one lecture from
‘Lecture?’ I had to prompt, because he’d kind of just
gone back to watching the squirrel while it thought that placing the walnut
in the seat of a deck chair was a grand hiding place. Or… on second
thought; I think perhaps Heero was seeing something else entirely.
He seemed to come back into focus all at once. Another swallow of tea
was taken and then a deep breath. ‘One of the more memorable ones
involved the fact that Duo wasn’t… acting normal. At least… not
what she perceived as normal.’
I thought about that a little bit before deciding it was kind of a no-duh
sort of thing.
‘Of course not,’ I told him. ‘Duo isn’t the same
person he was before that accident.’
He turned away from the dithering squirrel and looked at me with something
in his eyes that looked a lot like doubt. It was kind of weird to see.
From the minute that he’d been told about Duo’s… asteroid
situation, Heero Yuy had been a man with a mission. Full steam ahead, damn
the torpedoes and get the fuck out of his way. And once the rescue had
been executed, and he’d discovered that his feelings were returned
full measure… nothing was going to stop him from keeping Duo in his
There was frustration sometimes, and maybe even a little confusion, but
I’d not realized there was room in him for doubt of any sort. Kind
of made me feel bad. Won the idiot some of that compassion after all.
‘Hook this to the karaoke for me, will you?’ I asked. ‘Because
I just cannot figure the connection.’
Got me a snort of a laugh, and he lost that look at least. We turned back
to watching the squirrel. It had changed its mind about the deck chair
and was scoping out a tuft of tall grass in the middle of the yard.
‘I am given to understand,’ Heero said quietly, measuring
his words out carefully. ‘That Duo was much more of a… free
spirit. Before. And one of the things missing from his… habits now,
is music. Singing. Toria said that Duo used to sing all the time.’
I hadn’t come up with the connection on my own, and that probably
wouldn’t have occurred to me. I thought about it for a while, thinking
back, I could vaguely remember Duo humming or whistling while he worked
over an engine, or did Gundam repairs. I couldn’t say I’d been
in many situations since Duo had come back into our lives to say one way
or the other if that had changed.
‘And he doesn’t sing now?’ I prodded. It was pretty
much an empty question that had already been answered, but Heero had gone
all introspective again.
‘Not…’ he hesitated, ‘when I’m around. Sometimes… if
I’ve been out and he doesn’t hear me come in.’
‘Ah.’ Was the best I could come up with for a minute. I had
to mull that over a bit, and was surprised that Heero didn’t wait.
‘Do you think,’ he said very quietly, ‘that he’ll
ever… feel comfortable with me the way he does with… his old
The squirrel seemed to decide that the tuft of grass was a perfect spot
and the walnut was nestled into the yard, the grass patted into place by
little paws that were disturbingly like little hands.
Comfortable didn’t seem like quite the right word to me, but I couldn’t
seem to find a better one. It was the one that was stuck in Heero’s
craw though, so it was the one we had to work with.
I thought about what I knew of Duo’s personality, and I thought
about some of the things that he’d said to me on more than one occasion.
Thought about what was important to him.
‘You know,’ I said at length, ‘Duo suffered a hell of
a lot of damage from that accident, but the thing that took the biggest
hit was probably his dignity.’
I didn’t even have to turn to see the narrow eyed, somewhat heated
glare I was getting, so I just watched the squirrel hop away, secure in
its winter store. I kind of felt bad knowing what was going to happen the
next time the yard was mowed.
I didn’t give Heero time to voice any of whatever he was working
around his tongue. ‘Because his dignity is damned important to him.
Sometimes too important.’
The frustration was back and there was an inarticulate grumble of it next
‘I will never understand that,’ he huffed, shifting in his
seat almost harshly, as his aggravation had to have an outlet. ‘I
don’t understand how he can’t see….’
He couldn’t seem to find a word that encompassed all the things
he seemed to feel that Duo should see, and just let it hang there. I really
didn’t need the laundry list.
‘Heero,’ I said, leaning forward to prop my arms against my
knees and really look at him. ‘You have to know that it’s not
a matter of his being comfortable or not. It’s a matter of him winning
your respect back.’
I thought for two seconds he was going to throw what was left of his tea
in my face. ‘He never fucking lost my respect. Never.’
If he was getting the compassion and the support… he could live
with a little bit of a condescending smile. ‘In his head he did.
In his head he botched a job in the worst way possible, and lost his ship
and his business because of it. He’s not seeing the potential there
His tiny little flare of anger washed away, and his shoulders did that
slump thing again. There was another of those heavy sighs and he ran a
hand through his hair. ‘I don’t know what else to do to convince
him how strong we think he is. How damned impressed we all were that he… even
It took him back to a very bad place in his head and I reached a foot
out and nudged his, to bring him back to the patio with me and the squirrels. ‘Patience.
He’s getting there. Think about it, Heero… those first few
months, he’d be having a panic attack right now, with you out of
his sight this long.’
What washed over his face then was pretty damn weird… a surge of
wistful with guilt following hot on its heels. It left me blinking at him. ‘The
hell?’ I had to ask that look and was damn surprised to see him blush
like a school boy caught with his first porn magazine.
He had to look away to tell me, ‘It was just… so easy back
then. He told me when he needed something… wanted something. I always
knew exactly what to do because… he asked.’
His hands were in his hair again and I sighed. ‘Just give him time.
Let him prove to himself that he can do everything his own damn self, and
eventually he’ll figure out that he was the only one who needed convincing.’
It got me a snort of a laugh and he dropped his hands to give me a grateful
kind of look, before he bottled everything carefully away again. Put his
frustration and doubts back up on the shelf, and I could tell we were pretty
much done with the conversation.
‘I suppose I should get back in there before Duo wonders where I
disappeared to,’ he said from behind his bland smile.
I leaned back in my seat and couldn’t help a chuckle. ‘He’s
not singing anyway… I think Sally waylaid him for another game of
He just shook his head and stood to go in. I let him get half way to the
steps before I called out, ‘Smooth your hair, Yuy, or he’ll
know the minute he sees you that you’ve been off brooding.’
‘I don’t brood, Barton,’ he grumbled, but his hand went
up and knew just where to smooth his hair back into place. I didn’t
bother laughing at him.
He’d left his tea glass, so I finished it while I watched a second
squirrel come along and hijack the carefully hidden walnut, bounding off
to find a new hiding place.
Funny what a fragile thing security can be.
Fiction : GW :