This fanfic is kind of different than most of my stories, and it’s only been edited/revised once, so if there are any rough spots, please feel free to point them out to me. C&C welcome, as always; flames are too, I guess. I’d rather have negative feedback than none at all!
Disclaimer: The characters aren’t mine (oh, what I wouldn’t give for them, though!). Don’t sue—it’s just a little story. There. I think that should cover it.
Pairings: 5x9, 5+Sally. In a twisted sort of way, 5xMeiran and 9x6
Warnings: Umm . . . well, there are non-descriptive sexual situations. (definitely PG-13, not NC-17) And it’s tinged with hints of angst (Poor WuFei; I made him think!) Other than that, I guess not.
The lounge was silent. Too quiet for my liking, actually. Duo was visiting his little friend in the sickbay; Trowa was working on Heavyarms, no doubt. Heero was heading for the Libra and that Peacecraft girl, and god only knew where Quatre was. As much as I hated their useless conversations, I kind of wished the other pilots were around.
Silence only made me think, and thinking made me remember. Even though I’d spent the whole war fighting for my past, remembering it was a different thing altogether. And I didn’t want to deal with it. I’d save that for when the war ended. Once there was peace and justice in the world, I would sit down and tell myself what it was for—who it was for.
It wasn’t only the silence that unnerved me. I hated being alone. It was strange to realize it—I’d been alone since the war began. My clan considered me a loner; I had preferred reading on my quiet hill to socializing with friends and family. But I hadn’t really been alone, then. I had my friends—Aristotle, Confucius, Foucault, Marx—I spent each hour filling my mind with impractical theories, trying to understand life. I didn’t know that I was ignoring life; that I could’ve learned more by going back to my home to talk to people.
But they were gone—my family, my friends, my colony. I would be alone forever. Except for my Nataku, maybe. She’d be my companion forever. But what was the use of having her if there was no war? To cling to something so I’d feel a bit better? She was a piece of both parts of my life—the protective warrior shell that kept me safe in my battles for justice, and the willful, stubborn wife who reminded me constantly of the coward I’d been.
I sighed, moving over to the chessboard. The pieces were in place from that afternoon’s match between Duo and Quatre.
“Maxwell plays too defensively,” I snorted as I analyzed the pieces. He had no chance of winning, especially with the white rook ready to capture his bishop. I moved the rook aside, offering Duo some semblance of an opportunity. It wasn’t exactly fair, but Duo hardly stood a chance against a master strategist like Quatre.
Listlessly drifting over to the doorway, I peered out into the hall. It was too early to go to bed, but perhaps Maxwell was done visiting the girl. Certainly she would need her rest, and then he could come talk to me. Even Duo’s chatter would be better than the frightening subjects running through my head. Nothing numbed the brain like a conversation with Duo Maxwell.
I saw Sally head into the infirmary. I could vaguely hear her voice as she greeted Hilde and Duo. Her voice didn’t carry that mock-cheerfulness that most doctors used on their patients. For Sally it was just an extension of the war, and nothing to smile about.
For a moment I contemplated heading down there myself, to see her do her work. But I didn’t want to distract her. Saving lives was a remarkable feat—and it made me feel inferior. How many of my enemies could’ve been saved by a medic like Sally? Was I worthy of watching the miracle of healing? Even if I was, I couldn’t waste her time because I was feeling bored and lonely.
As much as I tormented her, I knew that Sally was special. She was so like my Meiran in some ways. Yet so completely different. They were both stubborn; determined to fight despite their weaknesses. Maybe it was just the difference in age that made them unalike in my mind. Sally was a mature woman who’d seen the world, while Meiran was hardly more than a child, fighting for ideals rather than truths.
I pressed my hand to my forehead, trying to will away the headache coming on. This kind of thinking stressed me out too much. It was easier to think of cold-blooded statistics, to concoct battle plans or escape routes. Anything that wasn’t personal.
Footsteps approached from the opposite direction. Noin. I knew it without looking; she was the only one who bothered to walk on the floor in the limited gravity of the spaceship.
“WuFei.” Her voice was soft, unusually sweet. “You should rest. Another battle may begin at any moment.”
I turned to face her, anticipating her slight frown and disheveled hair. But I was surprised by the sight of her red-rimmed eyes. She’d been crying? Although I knew she was weak, I never assumed she was that weak.
“I’m not tired,” I answered, heading back into the lounge. “I’m just bored.”
She followed me, closing the door and leaning against it. “I understand. Sleep would be a lot easier than waiting around with nothing to do—but I’m not tired either.” She crossed the room and sat beside the chessboard. She absent-mindedly moved the white rook back to its previous location. Within the next three moves she had Quatre’s king held in check.
I examined the white pieces. There was no move to save his king. Perhaps there was something about Lt. Noin that I had been missing all along. I examined her face carefully. I doubted she was even thinking about the moves she had made. Her eyes met mine and I raised my eyebrows.
She shrugged and smiled sheepishly, looking back at the chessboard. “The only subjects in which I actually beat Zechs Merquise at the Academy were land and space battle tactics. In everything else I placed second to him.” She smiled wistfully.
I’d forgotten that she’d trained alongside him. They’d been the best fighters to ever come out of the Specials Academy—the youngest to ever receive such high ranks in Oz. Noin probably knew Zech’s weaknesses better than anyone; but she hadn’t offered any suggestions to us yet. What was she waiting for?
“What’s bothering you?” I asked finally. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know or if I wanted to keep my mind off of my own concerns.
She shrugged again and her gaze returned to me. “I keep slipping further and further away from this war.”
I could understand. Ever since my experience with the Zero System I’d felt detached from everything—except my goal of defeating Treize Kushrenada.
“It’s hard to understand Zechs’s motives,” she continued. “I used to know him so well—or, at least, I thought I did.”
I sat next to her on the couch. “Sometimes we think we know someone well, but then fate or circumstance changes who they are.” Was I talking about Zechs or me?
Noin laughed slightly, her smile catching me off guard. “I’m not used to such wise words coming from someone so young. Sometimes I wonder if you gundam pilots aren’t programmed with the knowledge and experiences of older men.”
“That’s not the first time you underestimated me because of my age,” I replied with a shrug. It was the first time either of us had brought up our past meeting. “I just think they found five people who’d already seen hell. That way they wouldn’t corrupt innocent kids.”
Her mouth formed into another smile, but this time she looked sad. “You’re remarkable.”
I shook my head and turned away from her. She wouldn’t think that if she knew the truth, if she knew how I’d let my people destroy themselves, how I’d let down my Meiran.
Her hand rested on the back of my neck and I fought the urge to jump up. She began to massage gently, her strong fingers feeling wondrous as they pressed into my tense muscles.
“You’re too tense,” she stated. “You can’t fight if you’re this tense.” Her free hand held me by the shoulder.
I glanced over at her. Her face was pinched, her eyes darting around the room. Her elegant eyebrows furrowed slightly and she clenched her teeth. “You’re tense, also,” I answered.
Wordlessly, she dropped her hands to her lap. I couldn’t tell what was going through her mind, but she was obviously unhappy. Her violet eyes filled with tears.
“Peacemillian used to be Zech’s ship,” she stated, looking down at her hands. “The last time I was here the war hadn’t even begun—we were flying to the colonies together for recruiting. That was when he told me the truth about his heritage.” Tears spilled over, streaming down her cheeks.
For the first time in my life, I let an affectionate instinct take over. I gathered her in my arms and let her cry. She didn’t tell me any more, and I didn’t bother to whisper useless promises that everything would be all right. We knew that nothing would be all right—we were at war, and nothing could be all right. She clutched onto me and cried, the same way Meiran had cried the evening after our wedding, when we’d finally been left alone to consummate our union. I had sat next to her on the bed, not entirely confident about what was supposed to happen. Before I could say or do anything, she was sobbing, leaning against me and holding on to me. Like Noin.
But I hadn’t held Meiran then. I’d stared at her, confused by such an unusual display of emotion from the defiant girl. Then I’d left the bedroom without a word.
“I’m sorry,” Noin whispered, pulling away from me and wiping her eyes. Her cheeks were flushed; I couldn’t tell if it was from her tears or her embarrassment. She hung her head. “I just—I-I can’t think of Zechs as the enemy. I don’t want to have to fight against him.”
I shook my head, unable to speak. I didn’t want her to apologize for feeling, for releasing emotions. I was envious of such honest actions. She had treaded into a place I could not follow. This woman, with all her weaknesses, was more honest with herself than I had ever been. She had found it within her heart to love, and allowed herself to admit it. She was stronger than I.
I was filled with admiration for her—as a soldier, as a woman, as a human being. I felt as though my chest had swelled with awe. I had only admired Treize in this manner before.
What was I supposed to do?
I pulled her against me again, running my fingers through her soft hair. It was what I’d always wanted to do with Sally, what I should have done with Meiran. Brushing the backs of my hands over her tear-stained cheeks, I kissed her forehead gently. I liked having her so close to me.
She looked up at me, her eyes wide with surprise—or maybe fear. She leaned toward me hesitantly and brushed her lips against mine, our eyes never breaking contact. I could feel my heart thudding in my chest. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was how my wedding night should have been.
I traced her lips lightly with my fingertips before I lowered my mouth to hers again. My mind was spinning, lost between two women, two different nights. Her lips were soft and tasted like the salt from her tears. I brought my hands up, cupping her face in my palms, and marveled at her soft skin. I’d never noticed that she was beautiful.
Finally, I broke the kiss and turned away from her in disgrace. I had lost control, and I hated myself for it. How had I let my confusion and regrets toward Meiran effect my feelings toward Noin?
I felt her scoot even closer to me. I wondered if she, too, was lost between two different nights. Perhaps I was being confused with Zechs. Maybe she was using me to recapture memories of a night with him aboard the Peacemillian.
“We can’t do this,” I whispered, once I felt her arms wrapping around my waist. “I can’t do this to her.”
“Sally?” Noin asked, her voice low.
My face flushed with shame. Somewhere in that kiss I had lost Sally. I’d forgotten how she had somehow wheedled her way into my mind twenty-four hours a day. I’d forgotten how she made me feel each time she said my name. But Meiran was who really mattered—not Sally. Not Noin.
“My Meiran,” I corrected, saying her name for the first time since her death. I fought the sudden urge to cry. Only weak men cried—and to be weak would waste her sacrifice. But a sacrifice is a waste, part of my mind told me. Her death brought nothing. She was not the Nataku she had claimed to be.
“Who is she?” Noin’s voice was gentle and muffled as she leaned against my back.
“She was my—my wife.”
“Wife?” she pulled away in alarm. “You were married?”
I nodded. “It was a clan marriage—not for love.”
I wished I didn’t have to say it. I’d never told anyone—I’d never said the words out loud. “She fought for the colony and she was killed.”
“You two fought beside each other?” She was thinking of Zechs, I knew, and how they used to fight together.
“No,” I replied shortly, turning to face her. “I only fought once it was clear that she would be killed. I’d wanted to help her, but it was too late. I don’t believe in war. I fight in her name.”
Saying it out loud made it hurt more. My chest ached and my eyes burned at the memory of my small wife, trapped between childhood and womanhood with her irrational arguments and fierce self-confidence. I wished, for the hundredth time, that I could relive that day—that I could save her. I wished that I could relive that part of my life with the knowledge I gained after she was gone. If I had only let myself love her—if only I had been able to reach through her defensive shell, stronger than gundanium. If only I had held her that first night.
My cheeks were wet with tears. When had I let my guard down enough to allow myself to cry? For a moment I wondered where she was now—had I managed to keep her spirit with me? Was she feeling these tears I’d shed in her name? Was she thankful—grateful that I finally paid this tribute—or was she ashamed that I was not the warrior she’d wanted me to be?
I felt Noin tug me into her arms. She held me tightly, like I had held Meiran that last day on the hill. I had clutched her to my chest, begging her not to die. And she had smiled up at me and asked me to call her Nataku—because she would always be that strong warrior, and she would always fight through me.
Noin’s fingers ran over my hair, soothing me and comforting me. I could feel the wisps coming out of the ponytail and resting against my damp face. Even my hair was a testament of dedication to Meiran. Before I had worn in down; once she was gone, I pulled it back, not too unlike her tight, youthful pigtails. I clenched my eyes shut and grabbed the fabric of her shirt in my fists, letting go of myself.
She held me for at least half an hour without speaking. As my mind lulled and my head ached, I wondered if she was thinking of Zechs again. I could almost feel her thoughts spinning.
I sat up slowly, holding my hand to my hot forehead. Her weak smile met mine, and she kissed my cheek. I knew it was meant to be a comforting kiss—but it felt like there was something more to it. It was as if she wanted more, but she was only willing to test the waters, for fear that I might not be willing.
My stomach twisted nervously and excitedly at the realization. I wanted to kiss her. I had been kissed before, but it had not made me feel nervous or excited. This was really the first time I’d ever wanted to kiss another person.
I yanked her toward me, our lips meeting in a forceful kiss. We let reason slip away, our minds were shut off completely. I enjoyed the sensations: her hands on my back, her tongue against mine, her quick fingers untying my ponytail. I felt free again—a liberty I hadn’t felt since before the war began. As we kissed and held onto each other tightly, I felt as though my heart was soaring, no longer weighed down by painful memories.
My confession of my past made me free. I was free to love, somehow. And I chose to love my Meiran again. I chose to keep her in my heart always, no matter who else resided there with her.
Our kisses grew frantic; I felt her trembling hands against my chest as she untied my shirt. I helped pull it off of me, and then began to remove hers. I fumbled; my fingers were clumsy with inexperience as well as anticipation. I’d never made love to a woman, and I didn’t know what I was doing. But we managed.
Our lovemaking was fierce, primal. I’d never allowed myself to feel such incredible pleasure. I wished, for a moment, that I were with Meiran. I wished I could show her how much I was able to love her.
I opened my eyes, expecting to stare down at lovely Meiran, with her dark eyes and sensitive mouth looking back at me. I was almost surprised to see Noin’s half-closed violet gaze. Her lips were curved into a sensual smile as her thin, strong arms wound around my back. I watched her mouth unvoiced words as her fingernails dug into my flesh.
I closed my eyes, conjuring another image of Meiran as I gave in to the final, incredible waves of pleasure that made my spine tingle and my heart skip beats. Even as I imagined my beautiful wife lying in my arms, I could hear Noin moaning Zechs’s name. I smiled and kissed her softly, nibbling slightly on her lower lip. I could feel her mouth curving into a smile beneath mine.
For a while we lied silently together, each lost in our own memories and wishes. I kissed her forehead gently, brushing her hair out of her eyes. We shared a shy smile.
“Thank you, WuFei,” she whispered, running her hands through my unbound hair. Her smile faltered a bit. “You do care for Sally, though?”
Did I? I loved Meiran—no one could ever take her place in the depths of my heart, in the essence of my soul. But Sally had a place somewhere, too. In my mind, my body, my heart, even.
I gazed at Noin, wondering if she was concerned for Sally’s sake, or if she was reminding me that she could never love me as she loved Zechs. I had to assure her that my feelings for her had not transformed into something romantic.
“Yes, I do,” I answered finally, as pleased to admit it as I was to hear her sigh of relief.
We both began to dress slowly, our eyes avoiding each other. We were both a little embarrassed, but we couldn’t hurry. We knew that our dreams and memories would end as soon as our lives returned to normal.
“You should tell her if you love her,” Noin stated with a smile as she buttoned her shirt. I was surprised by the amusement in her eyes.
I threw my shirt over my shoulder. “Shouldn’t I be telling you the same thing?”
She blushed slightly and stepped toward me. Her voice was low, embarrassed. “It’s different for me, WuFei. I can’t love him—he’s our enemy. I need to let him go once and for all. You’ve helped me realize that.” Her face grew a deeper shade of red. “You gave me one last night with Zechs.”
“I know.” She still looked beautiful to me, though in a completely different way. I would never again think of her as a weak woman.
“Next time I face him,” she began, “I will be able to put our past behind us.” She left the lounge and started walking toward the bridge with a lighter step.
I stood in the doorway, watching her retreat. She seemed so confident in herself, so sure that she could forget about a relationship so important to her. She reminded me a little of Meiran, with her youthful optimism and strong conviction. I hoped that she’d be able to live up to her promise; I hoped she’d be able to put their past behind her.
I turned my head, my eyes searching for any sign of Sally in the infirmary. The light wasn’t on, so I decided to go find her. I needed to see her; I wanted to tell her as much as I could.
All right, there was no real reason for writing this. I just love Noin, and originally this was going to be part of an ongoing series where Noin gets everyone. ^_^ But, this is how it turned out, and I’ve dropped the rest of the series. It sounds, at the end, as though Noin is going to give up on Zechs, and if you’ve seen the end of Gundam Wing you know she most certainly does not—I considered this one of those moments of strength when you think you can conquer your greatest fears, but once you face them, it’s a completely different story. So she’s not being wishy-washy, she’s being realistic (in my opinion).