Eighth in The Children's Series.
Pairing(s): Haven’t decided yet but slight hints of 1+2 and/or 5+2
Warnings: Minor angst. Endless existential questioning. Mildy pissy/jealous Heero.
‘Why’ was not a word I heard often. Or cared to.
It troubles me now that, when I am asked it, I have no way to answer. I never learned how to. I fear I don’t have the correct answer, even when I know there is no correct answer. It was never important enough to bother with. But then again, neither was life.
I pull the baseball cap down lower and observe the group across the way from me. What a strange picture they make. Two tiny children, swinging wildly from the branches of an ancient oak, screaming in delight and for attention from their keepers. A vigilant dragon warrior, calmly setting up a blanket for a picnic lunch, scanning the crowded park oh so casually for threats and smirking at the antics. A braided baka, laughing and running around the base of the tree, having fun with the kids but also making sure he’s there to catch them if they fall. A lovely scene of family bliss.
This was NOT supposed to happen.
I tried to handle this in a civilized manner. I really did. When I found out he had final approval and children were chosen…… I was not happy. My first thoughts were to hack into the adoption agency’s network, delete everything they had on Duo (in fact, anything ANYONE *ANYWHERE* had on him), then grab my sniper rifle and eliminate the expendable idiots that started this mess in the first place or allowed it to continue. They obviously did not deserve to live if they had no problems with this, Relena and Quatre included. After winging them badly (possibly kneecapping them if I was severely pissed), I’d haul Duo off to a secluded location by that braid of his and lecture him until his ears bled. Then I’d make sure he’d never leave my side to do anything like that ever again. Lock him away, seal off all exits and entrances, restrict access and contain the damage done to him and his life before it got totally out of control.
Never let it be said I don’t try to protect my friends. Lucky for them, I decided it might be just a tad too extreme for circumstances and might not go over well with the recipients, i.e. the violet-eyed moron this was all intended to safeguard and the innocents he was planning to include in all this. Besides, I tried the kidnapping thing already and it was a miserable flop. Never follow a failing plan twice.
The twins are on the ground now, engaged in a ticklefest with the baka. They are rolling around in the ankle-deep grass with abandon, laughing their hearts out. Wufei is grumbling good-naturedly about the grass-stains never coming out and that if they don’t stop that this *minute* and come get lunch, he’ll join in and they’ll ALL be sorry. Duo responds with a spirited raspberry, his cause taken up by his little ones to make a resounding Bronx cheer rend the air. Standing in the shade of a tall willow, dressed in the most non-descript, non-Heero-like clothes I could find (actually, I look like a character from an anime Relena likes. Ryuiichi something or other. But since she and Dorothy were both snickering like mad, I suspect a hidden joke at my expense), I gaze at them and frown. It’s…… cute. Too cute.
I smell trouble in the wind. This scene is too perfect, too peaceful. We live…… lived lives of war and pain and consequently have the wonderful survival-assisting ability to foresee danger before it gets the chance to get you. I don’t trust this. Too much can go wrong, too much can turn sour on them.
Smiles can turn swiftly to tears. I have no desire for them to learn or experience this.
What’s done is done. I can’t break this…… family up now. It would hurt them all deeply and that’s not my intent at all. Never was. I don’t want them to suffer any pain; I went out of my way to stop it from happening because of that. My desire is not to destroy but to protect. I grimace. This is all Duo’s fault. I’m not supposed to think like this. Feel like this. It goes against everything I’ve ever been taught. The world I knew did not and still does not tolerate any hint of disobedience against the established order. The slightest inclination of critical or alternative thinking and acting was dealt with extreme prejudice. I was taught to respect the ways of the military, orders, and the chain of command implicitly.
And the standing orders are to protect what is now our peace and stop any threat to it. And damn me, but do I see a threat before me. I did then and I do now. What I have been taught says that what I see is wrong in many ways and should be stopped now. Eliminated now.
But I don’t want to.
Now I have a wider vision. Thanks to my friends (braided idiot at the forefront), I can see the flaws in that way of thinking that had not been apparent to me before. The whole concept of a chain of command assumes the person above you is the right person for the job, knows what they are doing and will do the proper thing. But what if they aren’t? Your superior officer is human like you, capable of making mistakes and errors in decisions. If you know they are wrong, do you have to obey? Is disobedience to save the mission or its participants justified? After all, I was the Perfect Soldier, not J. Shouldn’t I know better than the one who commanded me, by virtue of my nature? The mission takes precedence - that is a given. But in order to preserve the mission, I have to be able to evaluate threats to it. Which meant thinking on my own. Back to the ability to ask why.
A puzzle without a satisfactory answer. Two mutually exclusive realities competing for my attention and belief. They can't both be right. Which one is it? What if it isn’t the one I choose? What if my life is based on a false perception like the other pilots believe? Does that invalidate everything? Or what if *I’m* right and *they* are terminally incorrect? Is Duo’s way wrong or mine? And what the hell am I supposed to DO about it?!
Damnit. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. To me, ‘why’ equals serious pain and a couple of Advils. To hell with it all, I’ll just do what I’ve always done. It’s just easier that way. Works for me.
But now…… looking over the past I see that my actions may not have been totally helpful or beneficial in the way I had intended them to be. It galls me to have been so far off the mark that I screwed this up. Professional pride as a marksmen injured that my bullet hole was nowhere near the target. Salt in the wound is the fact that Chang managed to hit closer to the bull’s eye then me. He’s set himself up in a prime position that grants him access to the inner circle, accepted and welcomed unreservedly, yet he maintains the distant protector position as well. He’s their de facto bodyguard and keeper.
I grit my teeth. That should be *my* job.
Small figures race towards the blanket, demanding to be fed NOW. A hungry baka is on their heels, backing them up loudly. A resolute Wufei says no, tells them to settle down or no food. My eyes grow hard as I see the pouts that result, the pleading eyes, the beseeching pleas for leniency…… He is the one with the duty and privilege to provide, protect and lead them safely. He’s in charge of the ‘grown-up’ things. He’s co-master along with Duo. He’s in MY spot and I don’t like it.
I have always been the point man. The leader, the guardian, the law. To see someone else do my job, as innocent and honorable as it may be (damn well better be), it still angers me. All my efforts to do what I perceived as my duty failed miserably. Now this…… reality in front of me exists and I can’t do much about it.
Except lurk on the fringes and guard the perimeter.
I’ve been doing this for weeks now. Watching, protecting…… what I have always done. Be a soldier and guard the valuable, irreplaceable resources at my disposal and discretion. I will continue to do so until…… until I’ll no longer be needed. Or something. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. And it’s not like I have anything to do with my life anyways……
A particularly loud screech startles me and I shift unconsciously towards it in case there’s trouble and I’m needed. A chestnut head turns in my direction; a soft smile and beckoning gesture are sent my way.
“Hello Heero.” Damnit, there goes my cover. Of course he knew I was there. Wufei too. They were just polite enough not to say anything since I didn’t seem to be an immediate threat. “You can come out now. No more hiding.”
I slowly approach them, feeling slightly like an intruder on this blissful domestic scene. The kids squeak and scrabble up, seeking shelter behind where Wufei stands while Duo confronts me. Suddenly, I have to know. The thoughts that have been burning my mind seek release and the treacherous word escapes before I can stop it.
Violet eyes glitter at me, full of something I don’t really comprehend yet. Twin pairs of green hiding behind their Oji-san for safety but still interested in my presence. Dark onyx stares impassively and warily as they stand guard. Tough crowd.
Duo smiles at me. “S’long story. Sure you have time right now? Maybe you should sit down. You look kinda edgy. Want some tea? ‘Fei makes killer egg salad, too.”
“But…..” That’s not enough. I need more. I need……
“Yuy.” Chang steps forward. “Don’t ask questions you’re not ready to hear yet; that you don’t understand. We are incapable of answering them for you. Sit down and enjoy. Accept it. You’ll find it goes much easier.”
They all gather together on the blanket again and sit down. For a second, I feel like I’m being ignored but I know that they are acutely aware of me and are awaiting my response. I consider it and make my decision. I’ve been offered an in. Join and be the guardian you want. Their message is unmistakable. Welcome, stranger. Welcome and be family. That gleam in amethyst eyes….. you’re one of us. And to my surprise, I find I am. I can protect the fragile and precious thing I see before me to my heart’s content. Ninmu ryoukai.
I take a seat at Duo’s right. The children offer me shy grins and I attempt to respond in kind. I guess I succeeded because Duo smiles at me and offers some celery. Wufei begins to pour the tea with an…… interesting look on his face. I accept and say the only thing that I can that still makes sense to me. The only question I think I can ask right now.
“Baka. What are you going to do now?”
“Not me, Heero. US.”