Drama! Revelations! Panic attacks! Whee~!
Alarums and Excursions
Author: Mel and Christy
Pairings: 3x4, and more to come.
Warnings: Yaoi, language, crossover, AU, magic. Panic attacks!
Disclaimer: 'Gundam Wing', '3x3 Eyes', and the characters from them, all belong to the wonderful people who wrote them. Mixing them together was our fault.
“You don’t approve.”
Une stiffened. “I assure you, Treize-sama, I had no intention of--”
“Protesting?” Treize interrupted, raising one eyebrow at her.
“…Arguing with you,” she said, choosing her words carefully. “It’s not my place to object to your orders.”
“But you don’t approve,” he repeated, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his desk, hands folded together in front of his chin. “Do you?”
She hesitated for a moment, marshalling her thoughts, then lifted her chin and met his eyes. “No, Treize-sama, I don’t. This does not match well with your previous actions and philosophy of war.”
“You don’t think so? I rather thought it was quite an elegant solution to any number of problems, myself.” He was smiling faintly, almost derisively, and she frowned.
Is he laughing at me, or at himself? “It’s certainly convenient,” she admitted. “Undoubtedly useful, as well-- to a point, at least. I must remind you that although Doctor Morrow’s techniques can apparently guarantee truthful intelligence reports from his ‘subjects’, they cannot guarantee the success of operations based on that intelligence.”
“As is currently being demonstrated by the Gundams, yes,” he agreed, lips thinning. “I can assure you that I don’t overestimate its utility, Lady Une, but I also don’t underestimate it. We should be able to take direct and decisive action against the Resistance within the month, thanks to the good Doctor.”
’Good’! Une thought, suppressing a shudder. There’s nothing ‘good’ about that man. “I can’t deny that he gets results,” she said stiffly. “I do object to the fact that he refuses to disclose his methods.” And to the fact that you’ve just handed over all the facilities and funding he’s demanded, without even trying to find out what he’s doing with them…
“Artistic temperament,” he suggested, smile returning.
“From a scientist?”
“The two aren’t mutually exclusive.” He rose to his feet, waving one hand dismissively. “Be that as it may, he and his ‘subjects’ have proven to be very useful, and his work is necessary for the next phase of our strategy, so I’m not inclined to upset him by arguing when he demands privacy. Now, I believe my transport is waiting, so--”
“Treize-sama!” she interrupted, and he paused halfway to the door, looking back at her.
“It may seem odd for me to be the one expressing doubts about the doctor’s methods, given that in the past you yourself have rebuked me for being too eager to declare that the ends justify the means,” Une went on, forcing the words out past the tightness in her throat. “However. Even I know that you can’t judge whether the ends justify the means if you don’t know what the means are.”
He stalked out without saying anything more, not quite slamming the door behind him.
Is he getting impatient? she thought, gathering up the paperwork they’d been discussing and tucking it neatly away in her briefcase. He’s been tired lately, irritated when things haven’t gone to plan, and the military campaign has suffered so many setbacks… does he want a way to make his plans work badly enough to compromise the ideals he based those plans on?
He’d left without logging out of the computer -- as usual -- and she walked around the desk to shut it down, checking to make sure he hadn’t left any classified data chips or paperwork behind. The familiar routine was accompanied by an unfamiliar twinge of annoyance.
He remembers to log off and secure his data well enough when I’m not here to do it for him! Une frowned, ejecting a data chip and checking the label before tucking it into the briefcase next to her own files. When I am here, he takes it for granted that I’ll tidy up behind him.
Well, I am his assistant…
But not his maid!
The irritation was a welcome distraction from her worries, and by the time she snapped her briefcase shut and left the room her normal cold façade was securely in place once more.
* * * * *
When Haan woke up, Heero was sitting opposite the sofa, watching him. The Gundam pilot had dark shadows under his eyes, fatigue (and the overstuffed chair he was sitting in) shifting his posture away from his normal rigidly straight bearing into something that was almost a slump, but he was awake and alert and sat up straight as soon as Haan opened his eyes.
“Feeling better?” he asked, expression unreadable.
“…Yeah.” He was, too, muzzy from sleep but otherwise feeling fully recovered; even the scars on and in his throat barely twinged as he moved. He sat up slowly, rubbing at his eyes. “How long--?”
“Eight and a half hours,” Heero answered promptly, without needing to check the time.
“Uhm. That’s good. I think. Did you get any sleep?”
Haan blinked and squinted at him. “Some?”
Either he’s back to being pissed and paranoid, or ‘blank’ is just his default look, Haan decided, rubbing both hands over his face. His memory was poking at him, telling him that Heero hadn’t been either blank or paranoid while he was dealing with the after-effects of the nearly-failed spell, but… I’m not awake enough yet. He’s going to want to talk about what happened, and… no. Not awake enough.
“…I need some coffee.”
- - - - -
Heero stayed silent as Haan made coffee, watching as the smuggler slumped down onto the counter with a discontented noise, head on folded arms as he waited for the kettle to boil. It brought back the fleeting resemblance to Duo he’d noticed earlier, and he frowned, examining the feeling.
It’s not just the implied ‘Oh God, morning already, give me caffeine or give me death’, he thought, remembering a direct quote from Duo, it’s… I’m not sure. Is it because he’s moving differently? Talking differently? It could just be lingering fatigue…
Without lifting his head, Haan dropped one arm down next to him, tugged open a cupboard, and felt around blindly for a few seconds before pulling out a mug and pushing it in the general direction of the coffee supplies. After a slight pause, he did it again, pulling out a second mug.
He wouldn’t have behaved like this two days ago, Heero realised. He wouldn’t have shown any sort of vulnerability in front of me. He would have been snarky, or darkly amused, or angry, or aloof, or any number of things, but even if he felt tired or sleepy he wouldn’t have allowed himself to act like it.
Is he just too tired to realise what he’s doing, or has he actually decided he doesn’t need to be that defensive around me?
Probably just tired, he decided eventually, ruthlessly suppressing an unexpected pang of disappointment. He was still wary last night, and it’s not as if he’s had time since then to make any sort of decision.
The purr of Ryuukossei’s engine -- which had continued at a low, worried throb all night without filling the cave system with exhaust fumes, leading to some wary speculation about magical fuel systems on Heero’s part -- shifted to a slightly higher pitch for a moment, and Haan chuckled.
“’M fine,” he said, rolling his head to the side so that he could see the truck without straightening up. The truck revved again, and from where Heero sat he could just see Haan’s smile soften fondly.
Whatever the smuggler said next was too quiet for Heero to decipher, and he looked down at his hands, eyes narrowing in thought. Do I mention it? Or do I let him think I just never noticed?
If he thinks about it at all, he’s going to realise I must have noticed. There’s the first aid kit, too. Bits of it literally fell apart, so I can’t just put it back together and pretend it never happened. It’s going to be really obvious I messed with that when he-- wait. How likely is it that he’ll look in that cupboard any time soon? And how long is it since the last time he looked in there? It’s not like he’s been using it, ha, he doesn’t need a first aid kit, maybe he hasn’t opened that cupboard since-- since-- since whenever the hell it was that it got put in there--
A hand appeared in front of his bowed head, holding a steaming mug, and he reared back in shock, grabbing for a weapon he didn’t have.
“…Sorry,” Haan said, looking genuinely apologetic. “Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”
“Uh. That’s. Uh,” Heero stuttered, then coughed to bring his voice back under control. “I wasn’t paying attention.” The black dragon tattooed on the back of Haan’s right hand seemed to be staring at him as he reached for the mug, and he avoided touching it, eyes sliding to the patch of unmarked skin on the back of Haan’s wrist and then away. For all I know it is looking at me…
The smuggler settled back onto the squishy sofa cushions, shoving the blankets and quilt out of the way, and breathed in the steam from his coffee with a quiet sigh. He seemed more awake already, eyes much more aware, and Heero realised that the constant background throb from Ryuukossei’s engine had stopped.
He must be better if the truck’s stopped worrying about him, he thought, and hid a snort behind his own mug.
“If you’re going to ask any questions, now is good,” Haan said, breaking the slightly awkward pause. His voice was calm, but Heero noted that his eyebrows were drawing in again, crinkling the skin between them in an expression that was almost-but-not-quite his usual half-scowl.
- - - - -
Why am I anxious? Haan thought, exasperated at himself. The fog of sleep and recuperation from energy-drain was clearing from his thoughts, slower than he’d have liked but fast enough for intelligent conversation, and he was startled to discover that as it faded, what it revealed underneath was… concern?
I actually care what he thinks. About me, he realised, startled. He’s been a paranoid asshole who started out with an unacknowledged grudge against me for kissing his secret crush, I’ve been cheerfully pushing his buttons and snarking at the results, and suddenly I want him to like me?! When did that happen?!
On cue, another bit of memory fell into place, and he lifted the hand that wasn’t occupied with his coffee to rub at his eyes again, ducking his head to hide a wince.
Oh. Right. Last night. When he was on the edge of the magic, and I felt him, and he was… decent? Unhappy, that’s for sure, but not an asshole underneath his barriers… though he’s depressingly good at acting like an asshole, that’s for sure. I think I would have liked him from the start if he hadn’t been so set on hating me.
“I found your first aid kit,” Heero said abruptly, derailing Haan’s train of thought into utter confusion.
“My what?” He looked up, startled, to find the pilot clutching his own coffee mug so tightly that his knuckles were white and staring at him with an expression that he would probably have called ‘paranoid’ or ‘accusing’ a day earlier.
“Your first aid kit.”
“…I don’t have a first aid kit,” he said eventually, unable to think of anything more intelligent to say in the face of the teenager’s obvious tension.
One corner of Heero’s mouth twitched up in a brief, mirthless smile. “I think it’s about four hundred years old.”
Haan went very still.
“It’s not surprising that you forgot about it,” Heero went on, starting to talk faster, “seeing how old it is, and-- and I’m pretty sure you don’t need a first aid kit anyway, given that when I cleaned up the blood and tried to treat the cut on your wrist it had already healed.” He paused for a moment, hands flexing nervously on the mug, then seemed to take courage from the fact that Haan was just staring silently at him and took a deep breath to continue. “So I spent a lot of time last night thinking about magic, and reasons why you might have a four hundred year old first aid kit in a base you say you personally built, and since I don’t think you’re the type to collect random antiques and then not take care of them I keep coming back to the idea that maybe you have a four hundred year old first aid kit here because it was new when you bought--”
“You need to stop talking right now,” Haan choked out, letting go of his mug and doubling over, clutching at his head. He barely noticed as coffee splashed everywhere, hot liquid soaking through his socks.
Oh gods he knows, he worked it out, he knows-- calm down, stop it, he has his own reasons for not wanting to expose me, calm down, he won’t-- that won’t happen again--
Something stirred in his mind. …Kill?
Oh shit no.
“Shut up.” He was gulping air, huge shuddering breaths that shook his whole body. “Ryuukossei!”
The truck rolled forwards, bulling furniture out of the way as it advanced, and Heero’s chair went over backwards as he scrambled away from the oncoming wall of chromed steel.
Good he’s out of reach-- “’Kossei, wait.” Another gasp for air. “If I go Lizard-- if I lose it, let him in your cabin and don’t let me in until I’m safe. Understand?”
=haan is afraid of boy?! i can--=
“Good.” More shuddering breaths. Heero had stopped backing away. “Yui. You got that?”
“Yes.” The pilot’s voice was cold and businesslike as he replied, and Haan shuddered as the Lizard stirred again. “If you attack me, I should take shelter in the truck instead of fighting--”
“No,” Haan interrupted, still clutching his head. “If I attack you, fight back any way you have to and then take shelter in ‘Kossei. Don’t worry about hurting me.”
“Good.” Gasp. “Now for fuck’s sake stop talking like a robot. Please. You’re creeping the Lizard out.”
There was a pause before Heero replied, and his voice was back to a slightly shaky facsimile of ‘normal’ when he spoke. “Sorry. Duo--” He cleared his throat as his voice cracked, then went on, “Duo calls that ‘Mission Computer Mode’. I tend to do it in fights. Uh… ‘the Lizard’?”
Haan huffed an almost-laugh and made a vague gesture with his right hand, waving the unmarked wrist in Heero’s direction. “Kind of a split personality thing. Came with the healing and… other stuff.” He knows, he knows, he already knows, fuck it, there’s no point in trying to hide it… and I did feel him. He isn’t really an asshole. Maybe…
“Other stuff?” Heero took a tentative step back towards the fallen chair, and Haan waved again, this time more of a warding gesture.
“You should probably stay out of reach,” he said quietly, uncurling until he could get his elbows on his knees and relax a bit, still hunched over but no longer in a cramped knot of panic. “For a while. As long as we’re talking about this, at least.”
“You could just tell me it’s none of my business again,” Heero suggested, looking down at the mug he was still clutching, though its contents had joined Haan’s coffee all over the floor when he took evasive action to get away from Ryuukossei. “Though you did say now was a good time to ask questions.”
This time, Haan really did laugh, and Heero managed what looked like a genuine smile. “Want some more coffee?”
“Yeah. Maybe I should ask Mary-girl for some decaf next time I stop there…”
By the time Heero came back with fresh coffee and the towels he’d used to clean up the night before (still damp after being rinsed out and draped over the sink to dry, but effective enough at mopping up spilt coffee), Haan had managed to straighten up and was lying back against the sofa cushions. He didn’t dare close his eyes -- if Heero took him by surprise the way he’d startled the pilot earlier, things could get very bad -- but he was staring up at the patterns of light and shadow on the water-sculpted rock ceiling, controlling his breathing and feeling the icy knot in his stomach slowly dwindle.
The Lizard wasn’t going anywhere, though. It wasn’t pushing, but it stirred again at the sound of footsteps from the kitchen area, wary and interested, and Haan shivered.
Heero put one of the coffee mugs down on the end of a low bench that usually sat against the wall in Haan’s workshop, then used one foot to nudge the bench across the floor. As soon as the mug was within the smuggler’s reach, he stepped back, watching carefully until Haan had picked it up and settled back on the sofa; then he used the same foot to hook the bench back towards him and sat on it, cradling his own drink, poised and ready to jump up again at a moment’s notice.
The cold lump in Haan’s stomach abruptly loosened. He gets it. He understands!
Heero had delivered the coffee while staying out of grabbing range, been ready to dodge if Haan had thrown the mug or bench at him, and then removed the bench from consideration as a possible weapon.
He took me at my word. He’s not giving me some bullshit about trusting me not to hurt him, but he is trusting me -- he’s trusting me to give him accurate information about the threat I pose to him right now, and he’s taking proper precautions without me having to spell them out. Even if the Lizard goes for him, I think he’ll be okay--
He laughed, choked on a half-sob, and let his head fall back against the cushions again. “You have no idea how glad I am right now that you’re a paranoid terrorist.”
- - - - -
Heero paused, mug halfway to his lips, and frowned. “I thought you didn’t like me being paranoid.”
“That was when you were being unreasonably paranoid,” the smuggler demurred, lips curling in a strange smile. “Now you’re being sensibly paranoid.”
“I’m taking precautions based on what you’ve told me,” Heero snorted, taking a swallow of coffee before going on. “That’s not paranoid. That’s standard procedure.”
“For you, maybe. Other people have a depressing tendency to say something like ‘Oh, you don’t really mean that!’ if you tell them it’s dangerous to be around you right now. Then they insist on patting you on the hand and getting you a glass of water, and standing right next to you while-- are you okay?”
Heero had choked on the next swallow of coffee and was spluttering, wiping his chin with the back of one hand. “Yes! I-- *kaff* I know exactly what you mean. Heh.”
Haan was looking quizzically at him, one eyebrow raised. “Exactly?”
“About ten months ago, I tried to shoot… somebody,” Heero said, editing his sentence to keep Relena’s name out of the story at the last second. “I told her that I’d kill her as soon as I got a better chance. The next thing I knew, she hand-delivered me an invitation to a tea party, and now she’s stalking me.”
It was Haan’s turn to snort, but at least he wasn’t taking a drink at the time. “So you didn’t actually shoot her, in the end?”
“She’s more valuable to the colonies alive,” Heero muttered, not realising until he’d spoken how disgruntled he sounded. “She thinks I haven’t shot her because we’re ‘destined’ for each other.”
“Ah. Romance novels and sappy movies have drained the good sense out of yet another victim, I see.” Haan took a sip of coffee and rested the mug against his stomach, settling deeper into the cushions.
He’s breathing more steadily. Hands are relaxing. Muscles in his throat aren’t tensed so much any more. And he’s deliberately put himself in a position where he can’t jump up in a hurry… Heero shifted one foot further underneath him, just in case, and licked dry lips before speaking again, careful to keep his tone conversational. “Was there something specific that I said or did at the start of all this, that set you off? So I can avoid doing it again, if possible.”
Haan’s right hand jerked, spasming tight around the mug’s handle, but the rest of his body remained still. “…You knew enough to be having that conversation with me,” he said eventually. “That’s all. You… worked it out.”
Heero swallowed hard, feeling a chill prickle down his spine. I didn’t really believe it, though! “Then… you actually are…?”
“Approximately eight hundred and fifty years old,” Haan said flatly, staring up at the ceiling. His hand twitched again. “Yes.”
- - - - -
Haan kept staring up at the ceiling, but he was acutely aware of Heero, tensely waiting to find out how the pilot would react. It felt like the Lizard was lurking at the bottom of his mind, waiting for its cue, and he hoped -- desperately -- that it wouldn’t get one.
“…Huh,” Heero said eventually, and blinked. His coffee mug had been hovering just below his chin, poised in one hand, and he took a slow sip, then carefully lowered the mug to hold it in both hands between his knees. “I… wasn’t really expecting to be right, so… I frankly have no idea how to react.”
“That’s better than some of the possible reactions,” Haan said, and winced at how bitter his tone had become.
“I assume you’re speaking from experience.”
“Oh, yes. The time my friends tried to burn me at the stake was not the worst one.”
Heero’s eyes widened and he shifted uncomfortably on the bench. “That’s…” He struggled for a moment to find a way to finish the sentence, eventually managing a heartfelt “Ow!”, the most teenager-ish thing he’d ever said in Haan’s hearing. “That’s definitely the best reason I’ve ever heard for trying to keep something a secret.”
“Speaking of which,” Haan said, keeping his voice flat with an effort, “I need to ask if you’re planning to share this with anyone.” His right hand flexed, tightening on the mug’s handle and relaxing again, and this time he didn’t try to push the Lizard down.
Heero didn’t answer immediately, frowning in thought and rubbing one hand over the back of his neck. Oddly enough, Haan found that the delay was reassuring; if Heero had jumped to answer, assuring him that he’d keep silent without thinking it through, he didn’t think he would have been able to believe it.
And if I can’t believe him-- if I think he’s going to tell-- the Lizard is going to jump, he thought, feeling his gut clench coldly again. And this time I’ll jump with it.
“I can’t think of any circumstance where knowing your actual age would be essential to someone’s survival,” Heero said abruptly. “That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist, but the probability has to be incredibly low. So, no. I don’t intend to tell anyone, with the caveat that if the information could somehow make the difference between life and death for one of the other Gundam pilots, I will tell that person and no other.”
Haan’s right arm went limp as the Lizard abruptly lost interest, and he felt almost ill as his abused gut started to relax again. …What do you know. I believe him. The Lizard obviously believes him too, which is one hell of an accomplishment! “I think I can accept that caveat,” he said quietly, “so long as it only applies to the other pilots.”
Heero nodded decisively. “Only the pilots. Even if we weren’t currently dealing with a leak in their organisation, telling the Doctors would involve passing the information to several--”
“No doctors!” Haan snarled, snapping around to glare at him in mingled rage and panic. “No scientists!”
“That’s what I said!” Heero agreed hastily, one hand lifting in the start of a defensive stance.
Thank fuck the Lizard already backed off! “No scientists,” Haan repeated weakly, struggling not to hyperventilate. “I spent fifteen years chained to a wall with that asshole trying to find out what would kill me. No scientists. Never again. Never--”
He broke off, swallowing hard, and pushed himself up out of the sofa cushions’ squishy embrace, barely remembering to put down the mug as he rose and took a few shaky steps. The look of undisguised horror on Heero’s face was a relief, something he clung to. He wouldn’t do that to me. He won’t let it happen again. He won’t tell…
The pilot stood up, reaching out uncertainly towards him, then hesitated. “Are you okay--?”
“Gonna be sick,” he mumbled, and bolted.
* * * * *
Sally stepped out of her tent and shivered, pulling her uniform jacket tighter around the very non-uniform sweater she’d put on underneath it. There was frost on every surface in the hidden camp, sparkling like fine white lace on the ammo boxes, and she scowled despite its beauty.
“I swear, if I find whatever animal chewed a hole in my hot water bottle, I’m going to skin it for mittens,” she muttered, and the nearest soldier turned towards her.
“What was that, Major?”
“Nothing!” she said hastily, and then did a double-take as she realised he was standing there wearing only a t-shirt above the waist. “Aren’t you cold?!”
He blinked, looking blank for a moment. “No.”
“Well you should be! Put your jacket on before you get frostbite!”
“Yes, ma’am.” He trotted past her towards his tent, and she wrinkled her nose at a faint, sickly-sweet scent.
That’s odd. We ran out of tinned peaches last month.
End 'Alarums and Excursions'
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