Counting Clouds by DaMoyre

17-Apr-2001

NOTE: This is a humble tribute to the Zechs, Treize, and Wufei mikos, whose wonderful stories have made me appreciate these characters even more. Most specially to kumi, whose Treize/Zechs stories are and will always be a source of inspiration.

Pairings: 13+6, 6+5 (implied 13x5, 13x6, 6+9)
Rating: R
Warnings: shounen-ai, implied yaoi, songfic, angsty/sad
Disclaimer: I don't own the bishounen, no money being made.
Lyrics: "Lovesong" by The Cure
C&C: Always welcome!

Thanks to Stephanie for beta-reading, and Jaimie for all the encouragement! You gals rock!

Counting Clouds by DaMoyre

[Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I'm home again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I'm whole again]

I look up at the sky, admiring its inmensity; intense blue with drifting clouds. And then I sit on the ground next to you. The grass is wet. The smell of spring flowers and herb is floating in the air. It is here that I want to be...next to you.

It was always like this in the past, you realize? Many, many years ago, when I was an orphan, a lost child, you always managed to make me feel welcome. You managed to make me feel like I had a home. I don't think I ever thanked you for that, did I? Please, allow me to do it now.

Thank you for taking me in, and for looking out for me. Thank you for inspiring me, and for allowing me to look up to you. You were always a gentleman, a man of honor. I always admired that in you, sir.

I look up and see you shaking your head at me, the look on your face, playfully reprimanding. Why did I call you 'sir' again? "I'm sorry," I whisper, "Treize."

I've always loved the sound of your name coming from my lips. I used to whisper it like a mantra in the hardest of times. I know you love hearing it from me too. So I say it again, a little louder this time, "Treize."

"Much better, my friend."

Your voice, so deep, so calm. I want to hear you call my name, my real name.

"Milliardo," you say softly.

"Mmm..." I close my eyes and enjoy the moment.

Thank you for everything you were to me, for everything you taught me, and for always expecting the best of me... even when I couldn't deliver. You never reproached me anything, never condemned me, and always believed in me. "Thank you."

"Why do you thank me?"

Don't ask me that. It's hard to explain. How can I express my gratitude with such simple words? Everything that I am, I owe to you.

"Milliardo, everything that you are, you owe to yourself."

I don't believe that. I think it's all because of you.

"No, Treize. I have to thank you."

"It is I who should thank you, my friend. Thank you for being here."

I don't want to be anywhere else.

I look down again and brush the palm of my hand over the grass, slipping my fingers in between the culms. I like the feeling. You taught me to love nature, to love the Earth and its people.

It was your love for humanity that gave you strength, wasn't it? It kept you going, kept you alive.

There were darker feelings harboring within me. I saw my home destroyed, my parents killed, my sister stolen away from me. All I wanted was revenge. It was this that drove me to fight.

But you...you always saw the beauty in it all, the sublime beauty of war, of bloodshed in battles. You were my guide, my light.

I'm glad to be here with you, on such a perfect day. I feel at peace. I feel complete.

[Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I'm young again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again]

I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with fresh air. There's no one around here today, have you noticed? It's perfectly quiet and still. Just you and me. I lie back in the grass and stare up at the sky. Maybe we can count clouds, the way we used to do it before.

It's been so long since those days, when we could relax and enjoy each other's company without a worry in the world. I always looked forward to short leaves from the Academy, hoping that perhaps, I could see you again.

To this day, I cherish those moments. Each and every minute we spent together is precious in my heart. We had our fun, didn't we?

I examine the clouds for a moment and then point up to sky. "A cirrus," I say softly. "And that over there, is a cumulonimbus." I might be wrong. It's been a long time since I've counted clouds. There aren't any in space, and in the colonies, they all look the same.

I never realized before how much I missed the clouds. Since I came back to Earth, I had not paid much attention to them at all. I had forgotten how much I love the sky. It's hard to think of clouds and nature when you have a busy life, assignment after assignment from the Preventers. I think I've lost myself in work.

"You never lost yourself, did you, Treize? You always remembered."

The wind blows and I feel your fingers stroking my cheek, gently brushing back an unruly wisp of blond hair that insists on falling over my left eye. "You're not lost, Milliardo."

No. Not today, because I'm here with you. You make me think of things long forgotten. You make me remember.

Remember...

I close my eyes and cross my arms behind my head, forming a pillow. I should rest my head on your lap instead...

Do you remember the time we spent at your family's estate, over the summer, when little Dorothy was also there? We tried counting clouds that day, in the garden. But the little pest followed after us and insisted on interrupting us, always making sure we lost count.

We climbed up a tall tree and she tried to follow. And as the gentleman you always were, you helped the lady in need. Then we jumped down and she stayed up there, unable to descend, and so we ran away from her.

I remember her yelling for us to come back. I thought she would never stop. General Catalonia and your cousin Angus came out to see what was wrong with her, and at that very moment, the little imp decided to jump down.

I could not believe she had done it. She must have been four, perhaps five. I thought she had broken her legs, an arm at the very least. Her dress was torn, her knees were bleeding, but other than that, she was unharmed, and even at the sight of blood, she did not blink once. She did not cry. Quite an impressive child.

You and I decided to hide in the bushes until General Catalonia went back into the house. I don't know why we hid. Dorothy never told on us.

I can't help laughing. I don't laugh too often. I never have... except when I'm around you. You always made me smile, made me laugh. It feels so good.

I keep my eyes closed and I don't hear you laughing, but I know you're smiling.

I've thought of your smile many times in the past. That was another gift I received from you.

[However far away I will always love you
However long I stay I will always love you
Whatever words I say I will always love you
I will always love you]

The wind blows stronger now. The clouds keep drifting on high, and this time at an increased velocity, as though if they were running away from our prying eyes. Perhaps they don't really want to be counted.

You keep touching my hair, running your fingers over my head, brushing my bangs back. I sit up and take a deep breath. I smell flowers, but there are no roses anywhere here. We need some roses.

Red roses, like the ones in your garden.

Whenever we're apart, I go out and buy roses. They help me to feel closer to you. Perhaps I should start cultivating them in my own garden. I don't know much about flowers, however. I wonder if roses are hard to grow?

Sometimes during missions, I'm gone for weeks at a time. I would probably not be able to take good care of a garden. I will just continue buying them. It doesn't matter where I go, I can usually buy a single one, and sometimes I buy a couple dozens. They sit in my hotel room and make it a little less impersonal.

I would like to be here with you, all the time.

I always wished that, Treize. I always wished being close to you... even during the brief time our friendship ended. Even when were enemies, fighting against one another, even then... I wanted to be close to you.

Even when I attempted to kill you, I wanted to be close to you. Perhaps that was the only way I could find to be near you again. Even while I was firing that cannon, I never once forgot that you and I had counted clouds before we counted lives lost in battle.

I don't regret that, Treize. We both wanted peace, and I couldn't find any other way. Perhaps I was mistaken, but I don't regret my attempt on your life. I hope you can forgive me for that.

"There's nothing to forgive, Milliardo."

I have longed to hear those words, for so long. Even now, my chest feels heavy. Why do I feel so guilty, when I don't really regret my actions?

"Milliardo, my dearest friend." Your voice, always so gentle.

We are still friends, aren't we? Even after all these years. "Yes, Treize. My friend."

I do regret trying to destroy the Earth; the Earth that you always loved so much, the Earth that you taught me to love. How did I forget my lesson? You see, I always forget.

And I always come back to you, to help me remember.

Heero Yuy lives and the Earth is intact. You always loved both, because of their strength, because of their beauty.

"I love you, Milliardo."

You said that so many times in the past, and to this day, it still amazes me. Why would you love one such as me? I never had much to offer.

But you loved me.

"I love you too, Treize. I always will." I feel the strongest emotions taking over me as I whisper those words, my throat feels dry, my chest filled with joy, pain, love. Our love.

I cross my arms over my chest, hugging myself tightly. I don't feel cold. I just want to be held. I want to feel your arms around me.

Yes, like that. "Oh, Treize," I sigh softly.

[Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I'm free again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I'm clean again]

The birds are singing. Can you hear them? They are all over the place. Maybe I should get a few to keep around the house. They would brighten up the place.

"Birds were born to be free."

Yes, free, always free. They all leave the nest and fly away in search of their destinies. I know this, you taught me.

"You will fly high someday, Milliardo." Your voice, calm and velvety. Soothing. It was your promise to me. Somehow you knew, you always knew.

Many years later, the Lighting Count flew the Tallgeese higher than any bird ever has. And then it was Epyon.

I feel a shudder running throughout my body at the sole thought of that Gundam.

Did you design that for me, Treize?

I know, somehow, somewhere in the back of your mind, you knew that it would end up in my hands. That machine, that god, that monster.

I think of all the bloodshed and the sky turns dark, everything around me seems tainted with crimson. I look down at my hands. They are still stained with blood. No matter how many times I wash them, they will never be clean.

"Perhaps if I had died..."

"Don't say that." Strong hands on my shoulders. I lean back into the familiar embrace and close my eyes again. His steps are so light, I never hear him approaching. Sometimes I think he walks on air.

"I'm sorry," I say, a little apologetically. "I was just thinking--"

"Shh!" he says. "You were talking to him. I understand. I have done it too."

Yes, he understands. Perhaps he's the only one who does. I turn around to face him, to meet the deep ebony eyes that always return my serenity. He's been with me for a long time now. He offers unconditional and quiet support, yet never intrudes.

He is strong; he is honorable, and he's kind. He is a lot like you, Treize. It's easy to understand why you loved him. It's not easy to understand why he would be with me. We were enemies once. I thought he hated me.

To me, he was nothing but one of the five brave kids, the Gundam pilots. Those five kids who fought the war, expecting nothing in return. Five kids, who have now become men. Men I respect, and always will.

I still don't know how it is that we became close. It was working a mission here, and another mission there. With his strength, with his courage, he made believe in life once again. He helped me to cast away the ghosts of the past, and touch my heart in ways that Noin was never able to.

Noin is a good woman, and she really tried hard. I wish I could have loved her like she deserved, but I couldn't. Our marriage would have been a disaster. I'm glad the engagement was broken.

He remains silent for a few minutes, sitting there with me, holding me in front of your grave; and then he points to the tomb next to yours. "You should have your name removed from there."

"No," I say quietly. "That is where my name belongs."

"Hn," he doesn't say another word. I know he disagrees with this decision, but he respects it.

"Did you bring the flowers?"

"Yes, I did." He pushes me up a little, and then straightens up. "Here they are," he says, handing me a large bouquet of red roses he had set on the ground, right behind him.

I thank him and take the flowers, and then place them on top of your tomb. I stand up and look over at him, realizing that he's kept a single red rose on his hand.

He bows his head and closes his eyes, speaking softly in Chinese. I take a few steps back and watch him from a distance. This is his time with you. I respect that.

I know he still mourns your death as much as I do. I know you're still alive in his heart and mind, as alive as you are in mine. Sometimes I wonder if he closes his eyes and thinks of you when we make love, as I know I have done in the past. I wonder what he feels when I'm inside of him... I wonder if he feels the same as I felt when you were inside of me.

Sometimes I wonder if you're the only link keeping us together...

He's finished paying his tribute, casting his prayers. He kneels down before your tomb and places the red rose on top of the bouquet I've already laid there. And then he stands up, with his usual agility and grace.

He wears his hair down now, whenever we're not on duty. He's much taller than he was at fifteen; but he has not yet reached his full adult size. I think he has at least one more year to keep growing, and maybe he'll add another inch or two. He'll be only slightly shorter than me. Perhaps about your height, Treize.

"Are you ready to go home, now?" He walks towards me, his lips slightly curved. He looks beautiful when he smiles.

I simply nod, but do not move. I remain motionless next to him, just watching him, drinking in his essence. He smells of youth and patchouli, and now he also smells of roses.

I reach out to hold his hand, and that is when I know that my doubts should be cast away. We do not remain together because of you. Though I should admit it was you who brought us together at first.

"Yes," I say at last. "I'm ready to go home."

We walk in silence through the cemetery, and I'm still holding his hand, and he's holding mine. It is a rare occasion when he allows public displays of affection.

"What do you want to do this afternoon?"

We both have the day off, something that doesn't occur often. I turn to look at him and smile softly. "Let's go home and make lunch, and we'll eat in the courtyard. And maybe later... we can count clouds."

He raises an eyebrow. "Count clouds?"

"Have you never done it before, Wufei?"

He shakes his head. "No."

"I will show you."

[However far away I will always love you
However long I stay I will always love you
Whatever words I say I will always love you
I will always love you]

I will teach him to count clouds, the way you taught me, Treize. I must thank you again for that gift. And perhaps I should thank you for giving him to me. Somehow, you must have arranged this too. You always thought ahead.

Everytime we come to the cemetery together, I feel cleaner. I feel the heavy load in my chest lightening. I feel free, walking down the sunny path next to him.

The wind has stopped blowing, and I no longer feel the stroke of your fingers over my skin.

Maybe someday I will be able to let go completely. Maybe someday he and I will plant roses in our garden.

Whatever comes, whatever happens...

I will always love you.

- Fin -

DaMoyre

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