And Also Love
By the Black Rose
AN: I'm a Gundam Wing fanfic author. I have also written for and been active in Fruits Basket and Full Metal Panic! fandoms. I still consider myself a GW fanfic author and have always said that if I ever stop writing GW fanfiction, it would be because I'm not writing fanfiction at all.
That said, this is my foray into Infinite Ryvius: Blue x Juli fanfiction. Thank you so much for reading. Rose
Chapter 1 - Stay with Me
The colors have returned!
All the grey, painful days when those with no color worked to put the Ryvius back together have gone. My body feels completely new!
Brilliant splashes of amazing colors. It makes me so happy.
I want to live!
I'm so glad to be alive.
The bridge was just the same as it was when the Zwei had first boarded it, all those months ago. Some of it, Juli knew, had to be new equipment, and panels made with new metal. The scoured surface of the entire bridge seemed to shine like brushed silver. And all the damage from the last time she had been on board looked like it had just been erased; a film rewound back to the beginning.
But this wasn't the same beginning. This was a new one. A new one for all mankind.
"We're on course for the Uranus region. At current estimates, we should be there in eleven weeks and five days." Eric's voice carried over the hum of the bridge navigational equipment.
Juli took her same seat on the top level of the bridge, just to the left of Blue's-- To the left of the captain's chair, in the lower center of the room. The other Zwei members were all here: Carabona, Eins, Chick, Kevin, Brian, Lucson, Creis, Ran, and Stein. They all agreed to come back. Except for Gran, but…. Well, I can hardly blame him.
"Very good." Lucson's voice boomed. He still had on the white overalls of his janitorial outfit, with the white kerchief over his dark hair, but managed to assume his rather comical 'captain's stance' with both fists on his hips.
Juli shook her head.
"Now in order to get this journey started off on the right foot…"
"You're a good leader, Juli. You just need to practice your captain's stance," Lucson, the Zwei training captain said. His enthusiasm reminded her of her high school class president at a pep rally.
Lucson nodded; he stared right in her eyes as if the instructions that would follow were very, very serious. "If you look confident when giving orders, people will obey you." He balled his hands into fists and firmly planted them on his hips. He effected a pose with his shoulders back and his chin tilted up. " I'm sure you've noticed how dynamic mine is." He looked at Juli and smiled a toothy grin. That's why I'm the chosen leader of the Zwei."
Juli couldn't help but chuckle at the memory. Poor Lucson. He really does mean well.
"…we should take this time to decide on shifts." She caught the tail end of Lucson's speech.
"Wow." Carabona's voice was heard for the first time. Her blond head bobbed excitedly when she spoke. "It'll be quite a change to work shifts and actually sleep."
Brian nodded, his eyes sparkled above the bandage he wore on one cheek. "The rooms this time are all like officers quarters."
Juli glanced back down at the screen. Everything's checked out. And everyone seems to be in good spirits. Not at all like last time. She looked up from the monitor in time to catch Lucson's gaze.
"Juli, since you're now second in command, you or I need to be on the bridge at all times."
She nodded. "I agree."
"Good. The rest of the crew, you guys can take turns. We should never have less than three people on the bridge."
"We should draw up a standard rotation. I don't think we should plan to have minimum staff here all the time." Juli looked away from Lucson and glanced around the bridge. Strange how it feels more like home than Earth did. "I think the minimum should be reserved for special occasions, like the party this evening. The rest of the time, we should have a full crew whenever possible."
A small chorus of voices said: "Agreed."
"Yes ma'am." Eins was just a second behind the rest.
"You're right as usual Juli." Lucson stepped forward and actually dropped his pose. "Everyone report to Stein and he'll arrange a detailed schedule."
"It would be my honor, sir," Stein spoke up. His logical contribution always sounded deep and even. Almost soothing - the way a metronome's constant metallic click could be soothing, or irritatingly mechanical.
"I'm still glad he's here. I'm glad everyone's here."
"What time does the party start?" Kevin asked.
Brian piped up. "Are you going Juli?"
"There's only one person missing…" Juli let out a small sigh.
"As acting captain, I should be there. I'm sorry, Juli, but--"
Stein's voice cut Lucson off. "I have no plans to attend while the Ryvius is still computing its course. I can man the bridge so that both you and Juli can go to the party."
"I couldn't help but hope he might have come."
"Thank you, Stein," the Zwei captain said.
Juli turned her chair around and met Stein's dark brown eyes. She nodded. "Yes. Thank you."
"I've missed you. Airs Blue."
Eight months of wanting to be away from that ship, if anyone had told him that he'd voluntarily return a year later, Airs Blue would have broken that person's skull. But here he was, strolling along the shadowy area of one of the back hallways of the Ryvius - his new and permanent home.
I have no home.
Blue shoved both hands into his pockets and continued walking. That stupid garbage about saving humanity….
"It's not worth saving."
The dark-haired suit-wearing hypocrite from the Orbital Security Council put the tips of his fingers together in front of his face - almost as if he was praying.
"You want me to go back to that ship so I can help you save mankind?"
Light reflected off the man's spectacles as the sun came out from behind the clouds and poured into Blue's hotel room. "Yes."
Airs stood up from his chair. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and leaned over the table. "You're lucky I don't have a gun, or I'd shoot you in a vital part of your body and let you bleed to death on the floor." He straightened his posture and turned away.
The man chuckled. "You're not the first person to say that, actually."
Blue paused, but didn't turn around. "You left us out there to die. And then watched Hyperion get blown to bits so your friends could take another shot at us."
"I cannot ever atone for the thousands who died on Hyperion."
Blue shut his eyes and tried not to remember being there, seeing the moon explode with so many--
"I know you lost your family," the representative from the Orbital Security Council said in a quiet voice. "I knew your father--"
"Good." Blue opened the door to exit the room.
"'Cuz I didn't."
A low hum reached his ears. He had walked out into the open - the back hallway had fed into a longer corridor that ran somewhere near the cafeteria. Not much of the layout of the ship had changed, mostly repairs had been made, and unfinished areas had been completed. The graffiti had been scrubbed off the walls, more lights had been installed.
Every place he went seemed too bright. There aren't as many places to hide.
"I've come for my return match, Blue!" A voice cried out from somewhere behind him.
Blue stopped. It was only a matter of time before he ran into some idiot or another wanting to fight. "Is that an order?"
"So what if it is?"
Hn. I know that voice. Blue whirled around to face that insolent child, Yuki Aiba. "I don't take orders from nobody."
"Is that right?" The dark-haired younger brother of the weird guy, Kouji, shook his fist and assumed a wide stance. "You sure like to give orders for someone who doesn't like to take 'em."
"You ain't got your gun this time, neither, tough guy."
"I never needed one to kick your ass."
Yuki rushed at him. The kid threw the momentum of his entire body behind his right cross. But Blue easily stepped aside. He counter slammed his right knee into his opponent's stomach. The younger boy stumbled forward, the breath knocked out of him.
"I'm not done with you," Airs said.
"I'm…I'm not…" The dark-haired kid heaved for air. "I'm not done with you, either." Yuki spun around and immediately lashed out. Blue blocked the punch and dodged the second attack. But the former pilot of the Ryvius's Vital Guarder robot was all anger and instinct - and he was already winded from Blue's attack.
Airs found the hole in Yuki's guard and struck. His fist connected with Aiba's cheekbone and the boy staggered back. Blue delivered a roundhouse kick to his opponent's chest, and Yuki was down for the count.
Airs peered down at his fallen opponent and smirked. "I haven't had a good fight in months."
Aiba gulped small puffs of air. Bruises were already starting to form on his right cheekbone, reminiscent of the old days. He lay staring straight up; scattered pieces of broken dishes and trays dotted the metal floor around him.
"Since you lost, you get to do me a favor." Blue reached up to untie his bandana. "I don't care if you do it personally or if you get that brother of yours to deliver it." He dropped it over Yuki's chest. The maroon fabric fell in a slight arc and ended up on the former Vital Guarder pilot's face.
"You know who to deliver it to." Blue started off in the direction he had come from - back to the dark recesses of the ship.
"You want me to give it to Juli, right?"
Airs flinched but continued walking.
"Why don't you deliver it yourself? Are you that afraid of her? That she'll reject you?"
Blue stuffed his hands in his pockets but didn't turn around.
"What kind of a coward are you?"
The feeling was surreal. Thousands upon thousands of people gathered on Saturn in a special ceremony - to honor those who died on Hyperion.
I didn't want to go. My father and I hadn't spoken since he'd given me the news I'd be going to Liebe Delta.
"You're going to go, and you're going to make me proud, do you understand me?" His father stabbed his pointer finger into the desk.
Blue crossed his arms over his chest and glared back at the old man. "I don't take orders from you."
Make him proud…That's a laugh. I knew it wasn't ever going to happen. If I had turned out like that loser Lucson or that crème puff Charlie, maybe he would have been proud to have me as his son. As it was, there was no room in his pocket planner for a delinquent like me.
And I gave up on him a long time ago.
The loss of my family, the loss of Hyperion - my home - should have been…something to me. Something more than the loss of my chance to show my father who was going to give the orders from now on.
But it wasn't. All those people died. My family. My brothers.
I felt nothing.
"I wanted power. I wanted revenge. Against my siblings that exiled me. Against every person who did nothing but order me around. But all of that's gone blank. There's only one thing left for me: Juli Bahana."
She came to the memorial service. I can still remember the look on her face - she mourned when I could not. She cried the tears I owed those people.
And she never saw me.
I am the worst kind of coward, Yuki Aiba. I'm too afraid to let myself feel anything.
Even for Juli Bahana.