Title: Differences

Author: Hawk Clowd

Disclaimer/Warnings: I don't own any of the Gundam Wing characters in this fic, but all original characters and content are mine for the taking.  So there.  This story contains random references to death, dying, and general morbid-ness

Blood Type: O

Word Count: 815

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It was two nights after Maki had died when I first heard the boy padding into my room, shutting the door behind him as quietly as he could.  Not that it mattered; I wasn't asleep and, even if I were, I would have been woken up by the door anyway.  It creaked loudly whenever it was moved.  I had tried to fix it on several occasions but all my attempts only worsened the noise.

I shifted in the bed.  "It's past your bedtime," I more or less said to him, "don't you think you're up a little late tonight?"  No answer.  "What's the occasion?"

"I heard Gramma cwying," he answered quietly.  He was only six years old.  I oftentimes forgot that, though--he was more mature and grown up than a lot of the adults I'd met over the years.  The way he couldn't always pronounce the 'r' sound when he spoke, though, always reminded me that he really was just a little kid first and foremost, no matter what.  The way he composed himself and the complexity of his speech sometimes made me forget that.

"Is she being too loud?"

The boy shook his head.  His light brown hair--neatly trimmed just this morning--fell into his eyes; we had combed it carefully only an hour or two before, but it was already knotted, tangled, and wild again.  I felt a pang in my heart; Maki had always loved the boy's hair, unruly and frustrating as it was.  I hated it.  If given the choice, I probably would have opted to have it all shaven off.  It reminded me too much of what I had lost.

"Then what's the problem?"

The kid looked at me with his blue eyes wide and asked: "Where has Mommy gone?"

I started at that.  I guess I had expected him to wonder about that and to ask someone about it, but it had never really occurred to me that the "someone" in question might be me.  His grandmother was around, after all--I couldn't get rid of her--and I had never really been comfortable around the kid.  I could never forget who his father was--what he had been like--and sometimes I thought I could see traces of the beast in the child's eyes.  But he was Maki's son, not the son of that dead maniac, and certainly not mine.  I was just his step dad.  So why did I have to answer his questions?

"Well, it's sort of hard to explain."

"Try?"

I shook my head.  "I can't," I said finally.  "I don't know either."

"Who knows, then?"

"Nobody knows," I said sullenly, meeting his level gaze.

He paused.  "Someone knows," he insisted.

"Maybe."  I shrugged.  "Everyone dies, kiddo.  It's just how things work."

He frowned again.  "Why do we live if we're just gonna die anyway?  Aw we alive just so we can die?"

"No," I said.  "Life if the thing that gives meaning to life; we live so we can have a life and make a difference in the world.  Does that make sense at all?"

"To make a diffewence," he repeated.  "What sort of diffewence?"

I had to think about that.  "Any sort of difference, so long as it changes the world a little.  It could be a little difference.  Or a big one.  Or a good one.  Or a..."  I stopped, not wanting to finish that sentence.

"A bad one," he finished.  "Do you think Mommy made a bad diffewence?"

"No," I answered, meaning every word.  "Your mother could only make good differences.  They weren't very big differences, really, but she made a lot of tiny good differences."

"Okay."  He shifted.  "Am I going to make bad diffewences?"

"Yes, maybe.  But probably not."

He didn't say anything more about that.  "I don't like it.  Death.  It's cold and mean."

"Yes," I said.  "It is.  But it's necessary.  And you must never ever forget the people who have died, okay?  It's way too easy to lose sight of how awful death is and to forget that everybody, at one point, was alive and happy.  You can't forget the dead, no matter how easy it is."

He looked up at me again with his big blue eyes.  "I'm never going to die," he whispered as though he was telling me a deep, dark secret.  "Not weally.  I'm going to make such a big diffewence that people will wemember me for a long time and won't ever forget me and it'll be like I never ever died!"

I smiled at the notion of this tiny, messy-haired child ever being much of anything.  "All right.  Just don't start a war or anything, okay?"

He only smiled.

As I watched him turn and leave, I sighed to myself.  Treize Kushrenada, I silently asked his quickly retreating form, please--oh please--don't turn into your father.

--Owari--