Warnings: 13+6; very mild language; angst; mild WAFF for the particularly
succepitble; Noin POV
Notes: Comes after Zechs kills O'Neguil, after they recapture Cinq, an
after Otto dies. It's one take on how the "office scene" could
As Noin ascended the stairs
to the General's office, her greatest friend walking a bit slower than
usual beside her, her heart began to sink. She watched Zechs out of the
corner of her eye, his own steps mildly labored from his recent injury,
or more precisely, his recent brush with death. He always was a stubborn
one, her Zechs, and despite the pain that she knew he must be going through,
he made all attempts toward normal outward appearances. He refused any
assistance in walking.
'Oh Zechs . . .' the phrase echoed through her mind. Was she the only
one who saw how truly vulnerable he was beneath that impeccably stern
exterior? And why, after years of friendship had he not let her any closer?
Did he not know how well she understood him?
Or perhaps it was not any mistrust on his part, certainly not toward her.
After all, apart from having never seen the whole of his face, much to
her disappointment, she did know him better than anyone in his life, or
so she liked to think. No, perhaps it was simply a need, an impulsion
on his part, to keep his frailties hidden from her, to save himself from
her pity. He never did like pity.
But she would never give that to him. Empathy . . . perhaps--and a certain
amount of sympathy as well--but pity . . . she admired him too much.
It was then, as they took those few steps across the landing in front
of the General's office, stopping to nod to the guards posted outside
the door, that those recurring thoughts came back to her. They included
Zechs, of course, and his sadness and frailty and to whom he might show
these things, and . . . and a certain nagging feeling that always found
its way to the back of her throat. She'd never liked the taste of it--nor
the name . . . Treize.
"Good to see you, lieutenant Noin," General Treize Khushrenada
greeted the two individuals that walked into his office, noting immediately
the sliver of resistance in the latter's steps, "Zechs."
"Good day, General," Noin intoned, snapping her heels and saluting
her superior; ever the soldier.
"Sir," was Zechs's terse reply.
Treize sat comfortably in the sill of an open widow, one leg baring his
weight, the other, stretched to the floor, like a lady riding side saddle.
The sun behind him made it impossible to see his features or exactly what
he was doing as he leaned slightly forward to retrieve something else
spread on the sill, but any trained soldier knew his actions well. He'd
always preferred to clean his own pistol.
"I trust you have full reports for me, Noin." As he spoke he
lifted a part of the dissected weapon, peering down the hollow barrel
instead of looking at his visitors.
"Yes sir," she replied and stepped forward to place a thin,
black binder on his desk.
"Very good," he finally looked at her then, "and I thank
you,Noin, for your command in Cinq. Excellent as always."
She bowed slightly, "Thank you, sir."
"Colonel Une will be holding a briefing at 1600 hours. I'm certain
you may find it enlightening."
She had the distinct feeling she was being pushed out the door, "Yes
"You're excused," and with that his attentions left her and
found his weapon again, some spot of burned dust marring it's surface.
She moved to leave.
There. There it was . . . that nasty taste again, welling up inside her
as she regarded both the inattentive form in the window and her friend
beside her with a bow, and left the two men alone.
"Is it sweet, Zechs?" Treize asked a few moments after Noin
had left. He finally decided to put away his cleaning for the moment and
stood from the window sill, removing his slightly dirtied gloves.
Across the room, Zechs saw something he'd rarely seen before: Treize's
"What's that, sir?"
"Revenge, Zechs. Is it as sweet as you'd hoped?" He walked around
the desk and leaned on its edge, crossing his arms over his chest. They
were perhaps a double arm's length apart.
"I had never hoped, sir. It was necessary."
"And the bullet you put in O'Neguil's head . . . that brought you
no sense of satisfaction?" Treize sounded sincerely curious.
"Treize . . . please . . ."
With a slight nod of concession, Treize apologized. He always forgot how
tender his friend could be at times. His vengeful and stoic mask, much
like the metal one on his face, was firmly placed and could be quite deceptive.
"Excuse my harshness, but I thought that was what you'd wanted .
. . revenge for your family-- your kingdom."
Zechs raised his head to regard Treize, "Not at . . . such a cost."
The flesh visible below his mask was a bit more flushed than Treize remembered
it being a moment before, and invisible strings tugged at the corners
of his mouth, "I am not fit to have men die in my name."
Treize knew what he meant. He'd read the first sketchy reports of the
recapturing of Cinq, of the initial retreat and some injury Zechs had
suffered (the younger man never allowed details of that sort into reports),
and of a very brave man who'd taken the country on his own . . . dying
with Zechs's name on his lips.
"Otto?" he asked softly.
A nod was his only reply, and he watched as Zechs's breathing became a
bit harsher, and one of those perfect lips were lightly bitten. He pushed
himself off of the desk and stepped forward. He was glad when Zechs did
not pull away, and even more grateful that he did not protest when Treize
reached out to him and removed his mask.
The face beneath was battling for passivity, the eyes reddening yet harsh
and avoiding contact with Treize's, the lips down-turned but not trembling,
and the few sparse tears stoic in their solitude.
"Zechs," he whispered, stepping closer and bringing his hand,
the bare flesh of his fingers, to touch a hot cheek.
At the contact, Zechs finally looked into his General's, his friend's
eyes, and took the last step between them, nearly at a fall. Treize caught
Zechs easily, and the blond head fell against his shoulder, a hot face
burrowing into the crook of his neck.
Even then, with Treize's arms around him, Treize's body warm and solid
beneath his embrace-- the smell of roses and gun oil, the taste of his
own tears as they ran hot down Treize's neck, picking up the taste of
him before they met his own lips--even then, he did not sob. He did not
weep. The tears came singular, coupled only by the pain of loss and the
comfort of being held.
Treize bore the weight of his friend easily, rubbing his free hand over
Zechs back as if it might alleviate the tremors that the other man was
probably unaware of. He decided that he might remove his gloves more often
in his friend's presence.
And then she walked in.
That damned Lady Une! Who did she think she was?! 'Come, now. Go back!
You insolent fools!' Noin scoffed as she thought of the high degree to
which she loathed the Lady. Simply because his Excellency looked to her
as a valuable asset didn't make her queen of the damned world! That was
Relena's job . . . and she at least liked Relena.
But, in most cases, what the Lady wants, the Lady gets. At present, the
Lady wanted Noin to retrieve the report she'd left in General Khushrenada's
"You fool. His Excellency can't be bothered with such things until
I've approved their correctness and pertinence! Is that understood?"
Noin often wondered how she'd come to be called "Lady" when
she was anything but. Still, Noin had assented and now stood in front
of the General's door. The guards were gone. That was odd.
Later, she would curse herself for not having waited a few moments longer
after her quick knock. Zechs had always said she was sometimes too familiar
with her superiors. But at this moment, door handle still in her hand,
mouth agape, all she could think of was that taste in the back of her
She'd heard the rumors, certainly. Who hadn't? She'd even heard something
about an incident in a restaurant months earlier in which Treize and Zechs
had all but had sex in front of a crowd of lunch-goers and had been asked
to leave the establishment. Still . . . rumors were rumors, or so she
There, in the midst of the General's office, was the man himself, holding
delicately in his arms . . . her Zechs. And more than the arm he had around
Treize's waist, more than the guess at what he was doing with his face
buried in the other man's neck, she was struck most, by the glowing fall
of hair, unhindered, for the first time to her virgin eyes, by a certain
metal mask. And there it was, in the General's hand. Damn. . . . that
was a nasty taste.
Treize felt Zechs stiffen against him at the knock on the door, but before
he could protest to an entrance, before Zechs could replace his mask,
the door opened, and Noin's head came into view.
What can a man hiding his identity from the world do, confronted by such
a situation as he was, but bury his face a bit deeper. He heard Treize
speak a second later.
"Another time, please, Noin."
She hadn't had the presence of mind to reply, and simply shut the door.
Zechs made move to pull back, feeling foolish for being caught. At least
it was Noin. Noin was easily quieted.
"Please," Treize said, pulling Zechs back to him, "allow
yourself a moment longer . . . allow me a moment longer."
Zechs sighed deeply and returned to his place against the other man.
That was Zechs, always apologizing. "For what? You've realized the
fruition of what was, until now, your life's goal. Your family is avenged.
Your days of bloodshed can end, if you wish. And yet, you've lost a loyal
man." He felt a fist tighten in the fold of his overcoat, "My
dearest, Miriald, I fear the world owes you an apology."
"Treize . . ."
"I know, I won't say it again." He was still holding Zechs,
rubbing his back and sides, enjoying the moment, when he became aware
of something he had been loathe to notice before.
When Treize pushed him away a little, dropping his mask to the floor,
Zechs was somewhat surprised. A moment later, when Treize was unclasping
the thick buttons of his Specials uniform, fingers naked and deft, he
was near to stunned.
"Treize, what are you doing?"
The other man didn't answer but continued disrobing Zechs. Once he finished
with his overcoat he began on the buttons of the white-collared shirt
"Treize," he said with slight alarm and attempted to pull away.
Treize held him fast though, pulling on the shirt so that he was still
And for reasons beyond Zechs's comprehension, he did. A moment later and
Treize had his second shirt open, touching reverent fingers to the layers
of white bandages beneath.
"How badly were you injured?" He tore his eyes from the binding
cloth and looked into still-raw eyes.
Zechs looked at the ground, as if the recognition of his injuries was
far worse than any ignoble intent he had first suspected of Treize's actions,
"A few broken ribs . . . minor heart failure."
Treize breathed a laugh, "Only you, my friend, can make broken bones
and coronaries sound like cuts and bruises."
Zechs did not laugh.
"I wish that Otto were still alive," Treize said, voice serious
again, "I think I would have liked to thank him."
"And I believe that he was correct in his loyalties."
"Treize . . ."
"I would like to think that I will have the presence of mind to declare
mine when my time comes."
"Treize!" The older man had moved away from him now, picking
up Zechs's mask and handing to it's somewhat jolted rightful owner.
"Please Zechs, no more on the topic. I think it's nearly time to
attend that briefing of Une's."
Zechs took his mask mournfully, turning it in his hands before placing
it back onto his head. He stood a bit straighter.
[back to the Reverand's fic]