Author: Anria Lalumin
Disclaimer: if I can get Trowa to babble and Heero to dress up in drag
and do the cancan in front of Relena, will you admit they're mine?
Warnings: um . . . angst? Maybe? Sap -- again maybe? Relena-bashing?
I really don't know what to put here. . . . OH, SPOILERS!!!
Pairings: this fic wasn't really meant to have much of a Duo pairing in
mind, although certain people might find hints of 2+1, 2+3, 2+4, or 2+5.
There's also a surprise pairing at the end, which WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO
BE IN THIS FIC THANK YOU VERY MUCH EVIL CHIBI MUSE!
ECM: Who, me?
A little note: I have a friend whose personality is almost identical to
Duo's. When I asked her why she joked around so much, I based this fic
on her answer.
People have come up with hundreds
of different theories for why I joke around all the time. They've said
I'm covering up for depression, that I'm a moronic baka, that I believe
in 'the Maxwell curse' and don't want anyone to get close to me again.
They're all wrong.
You want to know why I joke around so much? It's a very simple reason.
I like to see people smile.
One smile can usually lighten an entire situation. In some cases, this
isn't true, but mainly it is. And I mean a true smile. Even I,
who grins all the time, can see the difference on my face between the
usual grin and my true smile.
I am proud to say that I have managed to get a smile out of every single
on of the other pilots. I'm serious. Oh, I know they smile as well, but
I mean the smile you get when -- how to explain this? Okay. You
know when someone tells a joke that someone else finds really, really
funny, so they're almost doubled over laughing? It doesn't last, I know.
But after they've stopped laughing, often they'll wear a smile for a long
time. That smile is the remnants of the laughter, and if you look at it,
it is one of the most lovely things in this world. It exposes that part
of a person's soul where they're still a tiny child with no concept of
all the wrongs in this world, even if that time was so long ago they cannot
remember it. Let me tell you, it was the hardest mission I was ever assigned
when I swore to myself that I would get that genuine smile out of all
the pilots. I ranked them all in order of the difficulty it would take
to get that smile, and it went like this, from easiest to hardest: Quatre,
Wufei, Heero, Trowa. You may wonder why I put Trowa at the bottom and
not Heero; well, it's like this. Heero has emotions. Well, duh. He knows
he has them. He acknowledges them, and then shoves them aside, which is
the easiest way to deal with them. That doesn't work if you don't acknowledge
them. But the point is, Heero has emotions and he knows it. Trowa, on
the other hand, has emotions -- and he pretends he doesn't. He's
lied to himself so much that when I appointed myself this mission, he
had convinced himself that he did not have emotions at all. It was a neat
way of dealing with a troubled past, but it was undoubtedly the wrong
Never mind. Let me explain first how I got Quatre to smile.
And now you're sitting there looking at me going, 'What? Quatre smiles
almost all the time!' and you could not be more wrong. Sure, Quatre smiles
a lot -- that simple, innocent, angelic smile that puts everyone
off guard. At that, my friends, is why he does it! Quatre himself
is nowhere near angelic. But imagine this: you're an OZ officer
sent to gently interrogate the Winner heir who is under suspicion of helping
the rebels. You're not sure, because he has too many ways of covering
his tracks, but the higher ups have an inkling of doubt about his innocence.
You go into the questioning room, and there, sitting at the desk, is a
fifteen-year-old blond boy who barely tops five foot, with the most open
face anyone could imagine. Even though he's obviously nervous (the hands
clasped tightly together in his lap, the faint hint of it in his expression)
he smiles at you as you come in, being as courteous as he was brought
up to be. And his smile looks like a small child's, making you at least
half convinced right there and then that he was completely innocent of
all charges. And a few simple questions answered with the just right amount
of guilelessness and subservient politeness, and you're convinced.
And yes, Quatre did use this technique. He demonstrated it to me once,
and within five minutes I was almost convinced he could have had
nothing to do with the rebels.
But despite this, Quatre never really learned to smile. According to Rashid,
he was somewhat of a spoilt brat when they first met, but from what he
gathered, Quatre felt neglected by his family. Not just neglected, but
made to feel as though they could make a replacement of him at any time.
This wasn't true -- Quatre is the only Quatre --
and while it isn't as drastic as the lives the others of us have had,
it was just as brutal in its own way. Yes, it is the spoilt little rich
kid syndrome. Except in Quatre's case, a little more pronounced, since
he is not a subservient person by any means.
When I finally got Quatre to truly smile -- and I had to break
down years of training to be accepted in polite society which state that
you do not open up that much around anyone to do so --
it was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. Quatre's true smile
has an impish look about it, that makes you expect at any moment someone
(most likely you) to be the victim of some ingenious prank that he has
been building up to all day. His eyes sparkle -- and I'm not kidding,
folks, they get this shine in them -- and his mouth looks like
he's suppressing a full-blown belly laugh, kind of twisted up and compressed
but still smiling and looking so happy. When he's really happy,
I kinda find myself expecting him to sprout horns and a tail at any moment,
and start persuading me to sign my soul over to him.
Okay, enough of Quatre. On to Wufei!
Wufei, in his own way, was easier to crack than Quatre, and at the same
time harder. It's kinda confusing when I think about it, but. . . . Oh,
never mind, I'm not making any sense. Anyway, Wufei already had a kind
of smile when I started on him -- you've probably seen it. He has
this little smirk he's cultivated so it's somewhere between endearing,
annoying, and insufferable -- and can travel all shades of the
spectrum between. Much like Quatre, Wufei practiced that smile for a specific
reason, and once again it had to do with OZ. Unlike Quatre, Wufei did
not have the resources or the remaining (and powerful) family to cover
his tracks for him, and he was positively identified as a Gundam pilot
by OZ, so he had no other recourse against 'questioning' (aka torture)
than to hold out. He once told me once that he did not take physical pain
well -- yeah, coulda fooled me too -- and knew he would
give in after a while if he did not find some way to make the questioning
end sooner. And you know what he did?
He smirked at them.
Now, that doesn't sound like much, does it? But let me put you in OZ's
shoes for a moment again: imagine you are questioning someone who is a
known Gundam pilot. He has undoubtedly killed people you know, whether
close friends, family, or merely passing acquaintances you knew in MS
school. But at any rate, he has almost certainly hurt people you know,
and stretched this war out longer so you cannot go home to those of your
family who remained. You have been instructed to question him for information.
You are beginning to get frustrated that he does not break easily, but
sense he is beginning to weaken. He throws insults at you all the time,
and not just at you, but at those closest to you. And when you think you're
so close to getting him to break, after all the time it has taken
you, that his body language tells you he can't take much more --
what does he do? He sits up, acting as relaxed as though he was out for
a stroll, and smirks at you, as though telling you you've been
duped. The results of this are always the same. The questioner doesn't
just lose his temper -- he goes ballistic. He doesn't ask Wufei
any more questions while he hits -- he just hits. Wufei doesn't
even have the opportunity to answer, so he doesn't.
Now if you ask me, this is a damned stupid and self-destructive way to
go about avoiding breaking in questioning, and according to Wufei he has
more scars on his body from that than from fighting in battles. But still,
he found it useful, and he knows how to take a hit, and according to him
he knew how to stop it before it got too far, so. . . . Who am I to complain?
It's his life.
You may find it odd that a smirk could cause someone to lose control so
drastically. Yes, I used a big word. Big whoop. Anyway, if you've ever
had that smirk directed at you with the intention of pissing you off,
you'll understand precisely why. Even when I'm in the most congenial mood
of all time, one smirk from Wufei can have me wringing his neck. Even
when he hasn't done/said anything. It's . . . really remarkable.
All I can say is, I'm glad he can do it the other way round as well. When
I'm in the pissiest mood imaginable (say a mission has gone wrong or something)
the others send Wufei in and ten minutes later I'm fine. And all he does
is make sure my eyes meet his, and then smirk at me in a way I can't help
but burst out laughing at.
So of course, I had to find a way to repay all of that. First of all,
though, I had to prove to Wufei that I wasn't a brainless baka, so guess
what I did? Every time I saw him, I would say everything I had to say
to him specifically in Chinese, and continue in English with the rest
of the pilots. Everyone seems to overlook this little talent I have for
languages. I'm fluent in two dialects of Chinese, Japanese, English, French,
German, Spanish, Italian, and after meeting Quatre I started learning
Arabian. I'm sure there's something I've forgotten there. . . . Oh, never
mind. The point is that I startled Wufei enough that he began to actually
talk to me, and afterwards began to respect me. It took me a long time
to build up to getting a true smile out of Wufei, and when I did I almost
wished I hadn't. You see, Wufei's smile is . . . sad. His face is beautiful
when he smiles -- and yes, I know how corny that sounds --
but his eyes are sad. Gah! That's even worse! Okay, I'm not explaining
this well, am I? My point is that when Wufei smiles, it brings back all
the memories of when he was last happy in his life, which is his childhood.
Wufei might have been the only one of us who was happy as a kid. And,
of course, after that his thoughts continue on to the end of it all --
Meiran, and after her the destruction of the colony, and even the death
of Treize. So even when Wufei is happy, he is sad. I don't think anything
will ever cure that.
So, on to Heero!
Heero's weird. There is no other word to describe him. And I love a challenge
-- which is the entire reason I followed him around for a while
at the schools. I was trying to figure him out. And before you say it,
no, I was not 'doing a Relena'. For one thing, I didn't ask Heero to kill
me (apart from one time in an OZ base, and that wasn't really a question)
and I didn't go around yelling his name at the top of my lungs after driving
around the place in, of all things, a PINK limo.
But anyway, enough red herrings. I think I'll start off like I have with
the others, describing what sort of smile -- if you can call it
that -- Heero had before I got my grubby little mitts on him.
No, not like that. Hentai.
So, Heero! Hm . . . how to describe this. . . .
I've already said Heero's weird. Well, he is. I was working on him long
before any of the others, and he still took longer than Wufei and Quatre
to crack, and I even enlisted the others to help in their own way --
some without even knowing what they were agreeing to. I think you should
know I'm grinning right now. Anyway, Heero's only joy in life was in the
battlefield. He once told me that the only time he truly felt alive was
when piloting Wing, because that was the only freedom he had. Dr J had
essentially made sure he would only feel that way in Wing, because it
would mean Heero would always follow his orders as J could disable the
Gundam at any moment with an override system. There were a few times when
he fought in Wing that I heard him laugh -- and damn, but that
is a scary sound. He sounded completely psychotic, and it was that that
convinced me that he did not truly have any happiness in this life. He
attributed the feeling he got when flying to happiness only because he
had nothing better to measure it up against.
Besides the psychotic laugh, Heero also had this funny little smirk that
would show up every now and again. It wasn't like Wufei's smirk --
most of the time when he wore this one, I wasn't sure he was actually
aware of it at all. And unlike Wufei's, it didn't look endearing, or irritating,
or downright infuriating, or anywhere in between. Heero's little smirk
looked . . . sexy.
And the scariest thing was, he wasn't even aware he was doing it.
Heero's smirk served no purpose whatsoever other than to tell me there
was still a human with emotions under all the training. Whenever I felt
like there was no way I would ever get beneath that shield of his and
drag him, kicking and screaming, out of the hole where he followed orders
and killed mercilessly and never questioned anything, it always seemed
like that smirk would make an appearance. Sometimes I wonder if it was
Heero's way of telling me not to give up on him, that somewhere deep inside
he was fighting this just as hard, but he couldn't break free without
help. It was a long and exhausting process, but I finally got a true smile
out of him.
And what a smile it was.
I've already mentioned that with his smirk, Heero looked sexy. When he
wasn't smirking, he had this cold, doll-like beauty that made me think
of a statue -- no, not a Greek one, since I always felt they overdid
the muscles (and under-did the genitalia) -- but as perfect as
he could get when made out of human flesh, which left him looking not-so-human
at that. Hmph. I blame J. How the hell are you supposed to be friends
with a guy when you either go green with jealousy or get a hard on whenever
he walks in the room? Okay, so it wasn't as bad as that, but still! I'm
getting sidetracked again. So imagine all that -- the incredible
beauty of him (which still managed to be masculine) and that sexiness
-- and then add the happiness of a contented child, strip it of
any kind of guile, maliciousness or even the hint of a 'bad' emotion,
roll it all up in one, and you'd get what Heero's smile looks like. It's
not just drool-worthy, it's slobber-worthy. Except that would make a mess
on the carpet.
More than that, though, it made me happy to see Heero happy. I worked
so damn hard at it, and then he goes and gives me that gift in return
for my efforts. I hope he knows he couldn't have done better if he'd tried.
Trowa, on the other hand . . . was incredibly difficult to deal with.
I had no idea how to start, I had no idea how to continue, I even had
no idea when I would see him for more than five minutes at a time. In
the very beginning, I wasn't aware of how totally messed up Trowa was
until Quatre started telling me about how he worried over the tall boy.
Well, Trowa wasn't exactly tall, but hell, anyone taller than me is tall
in my opinion.
Now, you may wonder why Trowa, out of all of us, is the most emotionally
retarded. No, that was the wrong way to say it. I think saying that he
has no idea how to even want to be happy would be more accurate. All of
us have our problems. I've got my own demons haunting me, but you've heard
about all of those already, and to be honest . . . I have the sort of
personality that takes things as they come, and has a tendency to sort
through emotional problems fairly quickly and get down the bare facts.
Trowa, on the other hand, gets so tangled up in thinking about what he
did do, what he didn't do, why he did this, why others did that, how it
all fitted together and -- most importantly -- what the
outcome was that in the end he might as well just slap a sign on his forehead
saying 'Guilty!' and wander around in that state of mind for the rest
of his days.
All of us blame ourselves for things that weren't our fault. Quatre is
the prime example, but if you can't figure out what he blames himself
for then you've never sat down and had a conversation with him. Wufei
blames himself for the colony, and for Meiran. Meiran especially. Heero
blames himself -- or he used to blame himself before I ranted at
him and he gave in -- for the entire damn war. There's something
else he blames himself for that eats him up inside, but he's not ready
to talk about it yet, so I don't push. I have a feeling it has to do with
an innocent that died. As for me, I worked my way out of blaming myself
for Solo and the Maxwell Church years ago.
And then there's Trowa. Ah, dear Trowa. He blames himself for the deaths
of all the mercenaries he grew up with. And I hear you saying, 'What's
so different from the rest of you?' Well, the difference is, it's obvious
to anyone with half an eye and a grain of common sense that the rest of
us weren't actually to blame for what we blame ourselves for. Trowa, on
the other hand, was directly linked to the deaths of just about all of
the mercenaries -- being as he killed them, thinking they were
traitors -- only to find out he had been the traitor, after all.
True, he had unwittingly betrayed the only family he had, but do you think
that matters to him?
And what sort of thing do you think that is gonna do to your psyche?
Trowa went through life after that thinking that he was made to be a soldier.
That only an emotionless bastard could have done what he did, a person
who was barely a person at all and not worth any kindness of any sort.
Subsequent actions taken against him before he became a Gundam pilot were,
to him, his own brand of personal punishment.
That is a hell of a lot of baggage to throw out. Let's list them, shall
we? Guilt over events no one can say was not truly your fault, physical
abuse, mental torture of the worst kind -- since it comes from
yourself, and betrayal. Betrayal of those people who cared about you and
who you cared about most in the world. Pretty darn heavy, ne?
Heero only learned to smile when the wars were over. Trowa only learned
to smile in twice the length of time it took Heero. And do you know what
did it in the end?
Don't look at me like that. I'm serious! Music was the only form of real
enjoyment Trowa had ever allowed himself, since it was a punishment as
well, in a way -- one of the mercenaries Trowa had killed had been
the one to teach him how to play the flute. When I -- with the
help of Quatre, who hovered ever-present on the edges -- got him
to open up a bit more, there was one time when I asked him if he knew
how to play the piano. He said no, but some walls had been let down enough
for him to admit he'd always wanted to. I can play the piano. And don't
you dare ask where I got the time to learn! Sister Helen taught me --
well, actually she taught me to play the organ in the church, but it was
close enough to a piano that after a few tuitions from Quatre I was able
to pick it up. Ah, the joys of being a fast learner.
Anyway, I taught Trowa to play a couple of simple melodies, and after
that he just sat there listening to me play. I was moving through the
fast tune of one of the pre-colony pop songs that got into your blood
and rode you , hoping Trowa would like it. When I finished, I looked
at him and saw he had his eyes shut, with the same look of bliss on his
face that he only usually got when playing the flute.
Then he opened his eyes, and smiled at me. I will tell you right now that
nothing in this whole damn world could hold a candle to that smile. Not
even Heero's. Maybe it was because I had worked so long and so hard for
it. Maybe it was because it was a relief to see Trowa enjoying something.
Maybe it was pride in my work. Maybe it was the fact that he never usually
showed any expression of any kind. Maybe likely it was a combination of
all of them.
Maybe it was because I have never seen something so beautiful in all my
Trowa's face is made for smiling. While I can describe all the others'
happy smiles as though they intimate something else, the only way I can
describe Trowa's smile is . . . happiness. Simply that. I was so overjoyed
I gave Trowa one of my equally rare true smiles as well.
I've been told that when I smile like that I look like an angel. Quatre
told me that, of course. The little blond imp is the only one of us who
could ever say something like that and not either stop halfway through,
turn bright red and splutter, or never consider saying it out loud in
the first place, if it was even thought of. I've never been able to see
that smile as anything more than a quick glimpse in the mirror, but .
. . oh, hell, everyone deserves a bit of vanity. I agree with Quatre.
I see a glow in my smile. I see a little bit of all of them in me.
Whenever I smile my true smile, I picture Trowa's face, on that afternoon
by the piano.
I said at the beginning of this that I like to see people smile. I never
said why. I like to see them smile because it makes me happy. That sounds
so corny, that other peoples' happiness is my happiness. But corny or
not, it's true. The two smiles that gave me the most happiness out of
any I have seen were Heero's and Trowa's.
It makes me wonder why, when the smiled at each other like that as they
told the rest of us they were together, it made me feel so damn sad.
Um . . . I didn't mean to end it like that. This was supposed to be a
completely happy fic. . . . Okay, yeah, this is me, I guess. And sorry
if it seemed like I rambled when writing it.
 The music I imagined as I wrote this was the piano solo in Tori Amos'
"Cornflake Girl". Simply beautiful. ^_^
 I have been wanting to put that little smiley face all the way through
this fic! Argh! I've been spending too much time on the internet. <whistles
and waits for feedback>
[back to Anria's fic]