The Steadfast Tin Soldier

The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

Hi everybody! I'm working on the last Chapter of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but until I'm finished, here's a oneshot. Inspired by a segment from Fantasia 2000 to the tune of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No.2. No Warnings, except for AU and mild shounen ai. I don't own Gundam Wing or Fantasia, except on video.

London, 1910.

Six-year-old Relena Peacecraft ran down the stairs two at a time to greet her older brother, Milliardo, and receive her latest gift from overseas. Milliardo was a member of the Foreign Legion and had traveled the world, always returning with strange, exotic toys for the sister he doted on. Her room was filled with real fur teddy bears from Russia, porcelain dolls from France and Italy, game sets from India and even a strange German Jack-In-The-Box, the thirteenth in a limited edition set.

Relena's pride and joy, however, was a tiny china dancing doll on a glass pedestal from the Far East. Many girls of her age, including her best friend Dorothy, had a doll that spun on a pedestal to a ballet tune like from The Nutcracker, dressed in a miniature cotton tutu with painted on slippers. Relena's doll was unique, first of all being a young male dancer, which in itself was a rarity. He was dressed in a handmade silk costume from a modern ballet called Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, which composed mostly of a calf-length white jacket embroidered with red feathers, sheer muslin stockings and real silk Pointe slippers. His porcelain feet, always on Pointe, fitted into a small groove in the pedestal that rotated when the mechanism played the first few bars of the ballet. His joints could be moved and locked into different positions, even his fingers, and he had a small internal mechanism that allowed individually painted blue prism-like eyes to open under long, fluted lashes. Even the doll's blonde hair was made from some soft, unknown material. This doll was placed prominently in the center of the little girl's bedroom.

As Relena neared the bottom of the staircase she was suddenly hoisted into her brother's strong arms. After he set her down, she held out her hand to receive her gift. Milliardo laughingly chided her for being cheeky and handed her an ornately carved box, telling her that it was a collection of soldier dolls from all over the world. Relena excitedly opened the box and examined each of the four hand-made soldiers meticulously.

The first was made of durable steel, hand painted with a slight scowl and jagged edges for dark brown hair. As it turned out he had been a melted down knife from Japan, and was dressed in a Japanese military uniform. His scowl fascinated Relena and he immediately became her favorite. The second was made of smooth polished wood, carved by an American sailor and painted with a dark blue, nearly black, navel uniform. An intricate braid trailed down his back, and he had large, vivid purple eyes and a perpetual goofy grin. The girl didn't like him as much as she did the first. The third was hand crafted porcelain from China, painted with a deep caramel tan, slanted black eyes, smooth black hair in a short ponytail and a deeper scowl than the first. He was dressed in a Chinese samurai suit.

The last soldier, it seemed to Relena, was a disappointment. He was made of tarnished tin that turned his hair, in a strangely banged style, a rusted reddish brown and his copper eyes a bright shade of green. He was taller than the others, and it seemed that his measurements were inaccurate, because his advance in height could be traced to the fact that he was missing a leg. If one ignored all of this, he was a handsome doll, immaculately dressed in a green French uniform that matched his eyes. But Relena was used to perfection, and muttered about his appearance.

She placed her new dolls in her bedroom, then picked up a few choice toys and went to Dorothy's house. At six-o clock, the Swiss cuckoo clock chimed and breathed life into the little girl's toys. Dolls stretched and straightened their clothes, teddies began to chat in an animated fashion, the rocking horse shook dust from his smooth wooden surface, the Jack-In-The-Box yawned and stared towards the center of the room where the dancing doll had removed his tiny china feet from the pedestal and was pirouetting across the glass surface.

The Jack-In-The-Box, known as Treize for the number thirteen carved on the side of his box, had been admiring the dancer for some time and was finally able to get close enough to introduce himself. Relena had set him on top of her table last night after she had finished playing with him. After smoothing down his red felt hair and forked eyebrows, he dragged the box a little closer with his arms and cleared his throat. The china doll stopped dancing to look up at him, but held an Arabesque position. Treize grinned and gave a strange little bow.

" Good day, my dear. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Treize."

He held out his large wooden hand to the doll, but the blonde gave a small wave, indicating that he couldn't make a move unless it was a ballet position.

" And what, may I ask, is your name?"

" Quatre."

" Very nice. Why don't you dance a little closer to me?"

He gave a smile he envisioned as charming, but it was actually just lecherous. Quatre offered him an apologetic smile.

" I'm sorry, but I have to get back to my pedestal. It was nice meeting you."

Annoyed, the Jack-In-The-Box made to grab the china doll, but Quatre quickly danced out of his way and fixed his toes of his right foot back into the pedestal. He raised the other foot in an Arabesque, hiding it behind a fold of his costume and held the position to wait for Relena's return.

Meanwhile, the new soldiers jumped to attention and assumed a formation behind their leader, the Japanese soldier. They initiated a march across the stack of books they had been placed on to take in their new surroundings, with the leader first, the samurai second, the American third and the tin soldier lagging behind because of his missing leg. After a few minutes, the American soldier accidentally tripped over his own two feet and knocked over the first two. They turned to reprimand him, but he also turned to lay an accusing, though guilty, eye on the French soldier. The blame was placed on the last soldier, and he was ordered to return to the box.

Hopping back, the tin soldier glanced quickly around the bedroom until he finally saw the china dancing doll on the table, balancing effortlessly on one leg. A feeling of elation spread over him, thinking that he had found someone like him, and attractive to boot. He hopped over to the foot of the table and shimmied up the seam of a nearby dollhouse, then swung himself onto the surface of the table.

Quatre turned his enormous blue glass eyes to the figure in front of him, but held his position. Trowa found himself searching for words, but he had never been much of a talker so words failed him. Finally, he settled on plucking a small paper rose from a miniature vase nearby, and awkwardly held it out towards the china doll.

Surprised but charmed, Quatre smiled shyly at the tin soldier, who smiled back. He then brought his foot down from behind his costume and tried to remove the other from the groove in the pedestal. The tin soldier stared in shock at the dainty porcelain appendage before his features clouded over in disappointment and he turned to leave. Quatre only now noticed his missing leg and quickly figured out what was wrong. He reached out to take the flower from the tin soldier, who turned around again in surprise. He watched the china doll attach the rose to the waist ribbon of his costume, then hold out his hand to him.

" I'm Quatre. You're one of Relena's new toy soldiers, right?"

The tin soldier smiled and placed a kiss on the offered hand, slightly embarrassed.

" Yes. My name is Trowa."

" I'm very pleased to meet you, Trowa."

A crash from beside them caused both to look up. Treize had watched this little exchange with growing fury, but seeing Trowa kiss Quatre's hand made him snap. He grabbed the tin soldier and looked set to throw him into the fireplace across the room, but Quatre heaved the nearby vase of paper flowers at him, startling the Jack-In-The-Box and causing him to drop Trowa onto the windowsill. Enraged, Treize pushed the heavy glass pedestal, with Quatre still attached, off of the table and it crashed loudly on the floor, but didn't break. Trowa looked frantically over the edge of the windowsill for a glimpse of the china doll, and failed to see Treize swing the open window towards him. The heavy wooden frame knocked him out of the window and into the gutter, where he was carried away by a rush of rainwater.

Before he was swept away, Trowa saw Relena return home. Inside her bedroom, the clock chimed seven and everything was still once more.