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Connection (Gundam Wing)

Title: Connection
Words: 1700
Rating: G
Synopsis: It wasn't the first time Trowa had held Heero's life in his hands.
Spoilers: Through episode 21
Author's note: I swear that the next in the series "A Boy Loves His Gundam" will not be set in a repair bay.



Heavyarms knows my name. Maybe he named me.

It took me some time to figure out that the particular spiral pattern of dot-dash-star that lit up his screen in blue was not a code I didn’t recognize, or even “attention.” I wonder if it frustrated him that I took so long to understand, or if it pleased him to know the sudden burst of my understanding. Though I’m not certain that the emotions I label “frustration” or “pleasure” are truly analogous to what a Gundam feels, nor that what I mean by “feel” is at all similar to anything experienced by a being of metal and humming power. Still, Heavyarms calls me by name, and his pattern feels as right to me as “Trowa Barton” or “Nanashi.” However alien we are to each other, I can’t deny our connection.

I don’t have that connection with Vayeate. Sometimes I think of talking to it, but silence is a habit it took Heavyarms to break, and I am saving those words for him. Instead, I play verbal chess with Lady Colonel Une, trying to figure out if she knows why I’m here, and if so, if she knows that I know that she knows, and if her personalities know about each other, and whether it would be best to suborn her, befriend her, gain her trust, keep her off-balance, drive her into a mental breakdown, or get Lady Une and Colonel Une to stage a coup against each other.

Sometimes I think of tuning in to the private frequency I set up to talk to Heero suit to suit, but it seems wisest to reserve that for when it’s absolutely necessary. So far I’ve been able to make myself understood to Heero without it. Today while we worked on our suits in the repair bay, he climbed into Vayeate’s cockpit with a pack full of assorted and battered spare parts, and dumped them out on the floor.

“I need your hand-held laser,” he said. “And some solvent.”

OZ has forbidden him unsupervised access to supplies that they’ve arbitrarily decided are dangerous, though nothing we use for repairs—not the laser, not the acid, not even the Gundanium cutter— is as deadly as Heero’s bare hands. Of course, they don’t know that.

“And gloves?” I suggested, tossing him a pair. Heero sometimes forgets what normal people can’t do. I have to watch him carefully to make sure he doesn’t pick up anything he shouldn’t be able to lift, or reach into a live electric field. So the orders regarding his access to dangerous tools are quite convenient for me.

“And gloves.”

I pushed my tool box in his direction. “Anything else you want?”

He glanced around the cockpit. I followed his gaze to the dual self-destruct mechanism, safely boxed away but within easy reach of my seat.

“Sorry,” I said. “Maybe they’ll let you install your own later.”

He didn’t reply— there was no private frequency here, sitting in the dock with the cockpit door open and six OZ soldiers watching us work— but I could see him seething that he had lost the power to control his own life and death. But it wasn't the first time I'd held Heero’s life in my hands.

I’d thought Heero had died when he’d pushed the button to destroy himself and Wing. Quatre’s radio was still on then, and I heard him cry out in pain. I guess he was struck by debris or thrown by the shockwave, though I never got the chance to ask. I would have gone to assist Quatre, since Heero had to be beyond help, but my name began to flash on the screen. When I looked back up, Quatre was fleeing with the Gundam with the beam scythe, and I had to assume he wasn’t badly hurt.

Heavyarms turned on the directional mike, and I heard Heero breathing. It was obvious from the mechanism of injury and from what I saw with the zoom lens that his wounds weren’t survivable. Still, I didn’t like the thought of OZ hooking him up to life support on the off chance that they could interrogate him later. I had Heavyarms pick him up. I didn’t expect him to make it back to the circus, but the palm of a Gundam’s hand was a better place for a pilot to die.

Back at the circus, when Heavyarms tilted his palm and slid the limp body into my arms, I realized that Heero was an advanced model, as much as a Gundam is an improvement over a normal mobile suit. The burns that had covered him were gone, and the smaller lacerations were visibly closing. But that made it far too risky to call in a doctor. I sat up all night piecing him back together— the bones in his left arm were so shattered that it felt like a sock full of gravel— while Catherine scolded me for harboring a mutant terrorist. But she helped me with him anyway, in an old workshirt that started out spattered with paint and ended up spattered with blood. Girls don’t have the luxury of being squeamish when they grow up jointing meat for lions.

You get attached to anything you take care of, anything you remake. Heavyarms hadn’t been built for me, but after I’d piloted him, loaded and cleaned his guns, polished his exterior and (very carefully, with gloves that weren’t just for show) fueled his reactor, he was more than a machine to me. After he’d saved my life time and again, he began to call me by name, so I must have been more than a pilot to him. Catherine taught me clowning, tightrope walking, acrobatics, and the trapeze, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when she cared enough to stop me from following Heero’s suicidal example.

But I was surprised. I still am, when I think about it, despite its logic. The bond I knew to expect between man and machine or man and animal came as a shock when it was person to person. I respected Heero’s dedication and fearlessness, but when, day after day, I followed him, first on his mission of penitence to the Noventa family, and then to his pointless duel in the Antarctic… When I fought in his stead so he could rest and recover… When I loaned him my Heavyarms without him even asking… When I did all that and more, knowing that none of it was truly to further our mission… It surprised me. I surprised myself.

This connection can occur in other ways, too. Though I only knew Quatre for a few days, and all we did together was fight, surrender to each other, share a meal, and play a duet, I feel a similar bond with him. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, as I’m sure I’ll see Heavyarms. If nothing else, he can’t have lost the common goal all of us pilots share, our commitment to free and defend the colonies. He’ll show up eventually to rejoin the fight.

When he does, I want to ask him the same questions I want to ask Heero now: “Is our goal still worthwhile, now that the colonies have given up on us? Should we save people who don’t want to be saved? Is there a purpose for soldiers after the war is over? Will we ever find anything as fulfilling as piloting a Gundam?”

Heero’s six inches away from me now, he’s the only person I’m in contact with who could possibly understand, and I can’t ask him any of those questions, even if we went out in our suits and I risked the private frequency. He doesn’t have quite the same aura of burning determination to die fighting, die trying, or just die, but I didn’t miss the hunger in his eyes when he looked at my self-detonator. The last thing he needs is me questioning his mission.

I watched him as he sat cross-legged on the floor, working away in the gloves he didn’t need, with his arms bare between forearm and shoulder. He has no scars. I wouldn’t expect him to. But he was slow, when I captured him here. I shouldn’t have been faster than an improved model, unless he had planned to be captured, or had never quite recovered from detonating Wing.

“Heero.”

“What?”

“Try the controls for Vayeate’s left arm. I’m not sure my last repair brought it back up to full strength.”

He got up and took my place in the pilot’s seat. As we switched over, I stood to block him from the sightlines of the very bored soldiers watching us, leaned into him so he’d be used to my touch, and closed my hand over his left arm, where he’d worn a bandage for so long. He didn’t flinch or turn or even catch his breath. I was the one who forgot to breathe. I hadn’t realized till that moment that the last time I’d touched anyone at all was after the duel in Antarctic, when Heero half-fell out of Heavyarms, trembling with exhaustion and pain, and I gave him my shoulder to lean on.

My message had long since been received. I let go of his arm and stepped aside.

He ran Vayeate’s arm through its range of motion and picked up a couple carts of supplies, while our OZ guardians, no longer bored, backed away until they were all bunched up against a bulkhead.

Heero let go of the controls. “No loss of strength or flexibility.”

For the first time since he’d sat down on the floor, he looked me in the eyes. His own gaze held the same old intensity that makes you feel like you’ve been shoved a step backward, and the same understanding I’d seen when we traveled together, but there was something else there too. If it wasn’t Heero, I might have called it gentleness.

“Your repairs were perfect,” he said. “Don’t worry about your work, Trowa—there’s nothing you should regret.”

Heavyarms, back on Earth; Catherine, at the circus; Quatre, somewhere in outer space; and Heero, right here in front of me. All of them knew my name.

“Heero,” I said, and couldn’t think of anything else that was safe to say.

Heero sat back down and picked up the laser. Then he and I got back to work, melting metal and fixing things.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
rilina
Dec. 10th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC)
This is great. I love Trowa's voice here and his perspective on Heero, especially on Heero forgetting what normal people can't do.

Also, the bit about Une's personalities staging a coup against each other totally made me laugh. That line really sums up the complexities of GW politics!
edonohana
Dec. 11th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Such a shame that never happened in canon.
oyceter
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
I love the Trowa voice and how he thinks almost like a machine as well! Heero as advanced model, hee!
edonohana
Dec. 11th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
edonohana
Dec. 11th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not convinced either. ;)
poilass
Dec. 10th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
You've got Trowa's voice perfectly. He's got that dry sense of humour and down to earth approach, but at the same time he's so lost, and such a mystery to himself. And Heero! I don't even have the words for how I love Heero! No, I really don't. I'm trying to think of some, but all i got is {{{{{Heero!11!}}}}} ! His longing looks at the self-destruct! His intensity! His forgetting what normal people are like!

I can't wait to see what you make of his relationship to Wing if you continue this series; also, you can set any number of stories in repair bays as far as I'm concerned.
rachelmanija
Dec. 11th, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!

You mean Wing, or Wing Zero? I'm still trying to decide. I don't have as much of a sense of how Heero relates to Wing as I do with the other pilots and their Gundams, but it might be a bit difficult to write a Wing Zero story from Heero's POV.
poilass
Dec. 11th, 2007 08:23 pm (UTC)
I think Wing Zero might be more interesting - Jei's stories have an good take on that relationship if you haven't got to them yet. But I think the personality there is kind of in the program, not exactly the Gundam.
On the other hand, he just doesn't seem that attached to Wing.

I think the problem with Heero is that he mostly sees *himself* as a weapon, so he's not likely to anthropomorphize his Gundam much. it's more a tool for blowing himself up.

maybe you could write it from Zero's POV? ;]
edonohana
Dec. 11th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
SPOILERS FOR LATER EPISODES, BEWARE
Yeah, I think you're right about Heero and Wing. Unlike every other pilot, I don't think he ever talks to it. Wing Zero, now, he does say was talking to him. (He probably means the Zero system, not Wing Zero per se, but close enough.)

I have been trying to figure out what Zero is supposed to do, and what it really does. It's supposed to increase the pilot's reaction time and tactical abilities by enabling the pilot to see the whole picture of the battle and how your decisions might play out, right? And that includes a rather glitchy anti-friendly fire capability in that it points out who your enemies are? ("YOU'RE ALL MY ENEMIES!")

Except what it mostly seems to do is make pilots hallucinate, go berserk, glow, decide to kill everyone in sight, and, occasionally, fix them up mentally if they were already crazy when they got in.

And then Epyon is supposed to show you your own personal future, but seems to mostly just make you go insane while your eyes spin like pinwheels.

Am I missing anything?

maybe you could write it from Zero's POV?

I thought of that! But there's something oddly attractive to me about writing Heero's POV.
poilass
Dec. 12th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC)
Re: SPOILERS FOR LATER EPISODES, BEWARE
My understanding of Zero is that it makes predictions based on the data available (from the Gundam's sensors but maybe also from the pilot, so if the pilot is not thinking that clearly, it's Garbage In Garbage Out?), and has a direct interface with the pilot so they can act on Zero's predictions without conscious thought, thus speeding up their reaction time.

Unfortunately, acting without conscious thought means nothing goes through the 'is this a good idea?' filter first.

Also, Zero doesn't seem to have any sense of proportion; all possibilities are presented as equally likely -- 'that guy will jump left', but also 'everyone will turn on me', 'i will miss and hit the colony and accidentally destroy it'.

In an infinite universe everyone, potentially, really *could* be an enemy, and Zero is usually in the hands of fairly paranoid people.

If you can maintain your focus it really works pretty well -- it's worth remembering that Heero and Quatre both use Zero without going crazy later in the series (and Wufei doesn't go crazy at all I think? long time since I watched it) -- but if you happen to think to yourself, "I wonder what would happen if the colonies were destroyed" or something, well, Zero will *tell you*. And maybe the answer is, "peace! peace for everyone!", who knows. Maybe Zero knew what it was doing all along!

As for Epyon, I came across a theory - I don't think it's canon - that he made it for Une, so maybe it works great if you have a split personality.
rachelmanija
Dec. 13th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
Re: SPOILERS FOR LATER EPISODES, BEWARE
OK, I have a take on Zero now. Watch this space!

PS. That is hilarious that Epyon might have been designed for Une. There's a story in that somewhere...
genarti
Dec. 11th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like this. I really like the mix of introspection and silence and conversation, and the way Trowa's so perceptive and so oblivious at once. And Heero, of course, forgetting what normal people can do and eying that self-destruct button.

(The one thing that didn't quite work for me was the switching of verb tenses. If the introspection wasn't so related to what was happening right then I think it'd have worked better for me, but as it was I was mildly disconcerted to have present tense for "Heero's six inches away from me now" and then past tense again for "I watched him."

But that is minor, and again: I like this.)
edonohana
Dec. 11th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
sheepfairy
Dec. 14th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
Trowa! I think you have his character down perfectly - he's so quiet and reasonable about everything (or at least in so much as you can be when you have that strong undercurrent of crazy in you), and I like he way he's trying to figure out how he relates to the world. 'Heavyarms, back on Earth; Catherine, at the circus; Quatre, somewhere in outer space; and Heero, right here in front of me. All of them knew my name.' is a really nice line.

Oh. And Heero would be the guy to get annoyed that they wouldn't give him a self-destruct button. And I loved the analysis of Lady Une, too, and all her drama.
tarigwaemir
Dec. 18th, 2007 05:47 am (UTC)
Oh, what a lovely fic. I got directed here by rilina after reading her Trowa fic. I like the measured pace of his thoughts, and out of all the pilots, Trowa is the one I think most likely to ask questions like these:

“Is our goal still worthwhile, now that the colonies have given up on us? Should we save people who don’t want to be saved? Is there a purpose for soldiers after the war is over? Will we ever find anything as fulfilling as piloting a Gundam?”

It's been years since I last watched Gundam Wing, but reading this fic makes me want to watch the series again.
okaasan59
Jan. 9th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
That was lovely.
theoriginal_ist
Feb. 23rd, 2011 07:54 am (UTC)
This was lovely. I enjoyed the quietness of it. The guardedness against the guards. Une's personalities potentially at war with each other. =) And just...the general atmosphere of it. Especially the way Heero and Trowa can talk without really actually needing to talk. The question with the arm was nicely done as well. Great job!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )