Pairing: bit of Lockon x Sumeragi, depending on how you see it

Summary: Responsibility comes with guilt and a drink too many.

Author's Notes: set right after that episode when Tieria was screaming at Sumeragi for being incompetent

Buzz Kill

She hears the ringing of her doorbell. It's loud and annoying and interfering with her buzz. So she answers, "The hell are you and what do you want?"

The door slides open, revealing Lockon with his characteristic smirk, and a keycard waving in his right hand. She gave each Gundam meister a master keycard in case of emergencies. The vodka burning down her throat disapproved of the plan.

"Get out," she tells him, "I'm a mean drunk."

"You're not drunk enough if you can still tell me that." He replies and strides over to her desk, cluttered with empty bottles of all sorts of liquor. He picks up the bottle of vodka, the only one still standing up. It's a bit more than three fourths empty. He downs all that's left.

She stares at him with an incredulous look, amazed at his stupidity, as he groans and coughs, his face contorting in painful expressions. He pounds his chest once, as if that would help his scorching throat, and drops the bottle onto the desk with its companions. "I have a dozen more in fridge." She says to him. "And a few boxes of beer."

He walks over there and checks. She was actually underestimating her stash. He grabs the nearest bottle anyways and takes a swig out of it and coughs again. "Christ, the things I'd do for a beautiful woman." She doesn't even bat an eye and finishes off her shot while he downs another gulp and hacks and coughs. "Damn, this hurts like hell. Why do you even drink this stuff?"

"When you get a wound, you wash it even though that hurts even more, right?"

He's silent then, sipping at the tequila without any complaints. She turns around on her swivel chair to hold out her glass to him, asking for a refill. Half drunk and half unwilling, he simply stares at her glass. Impatient, she pulls herself up and grabs eight bottles from the refrigerator, the necks held between her fingers. Her steps are still graceful and steady, even though he's already leaning on the walls for support.

"Why are you here?" she repeats.

"I wanted some booze." She doesn't respond, but he can feel her impatience by the way her arm is propped up next to her cheek. "I can't let you get drunk enough to be mean. I like my paycheck very much, you know." Her hand's gripping the glass, but she hasn't been drinking it. She's not exactly in the mood for jokes. So he doesn't bother telling any more. If she can figure out what the lies are, she can figure out the truth.

With neither of them choosing to speak, there's an awkward silence in the room as he swigs and she sips at the liquor. It doesn't take too long for Lockon to finally feel tipsy and like puking, so he sets the bottle aside, vaguely wondering why all the booze in her fridge has to be so strong and bitter. Some nice and sweet wine would be much appreciated.

But in the end, silence isn't his thing. So he speaks up again. "Tieria doesn't really mean it. He's a child and a perfectionist. He simply can't accept the blame being placed on himself. You should know that and not let it get to you."

She laughs bitterly in response. "And exactly what do you think I'm doing getting hammered with you?" Even if it's a joke, Lockon can't manage to form a smile. The jokes were funnier when he cracked them, because he doesn't have such a painfully sad voice when he's drunk.

"No one else blames you either, you know."

"Not consciously," she retorts sharply.

He offers her a weak smile, and a joke not any better, "See? You're not drunk." His humor is starting to dry up too.

"It's my fault. It's all my damn fault." She cries out angrily, dangerously swinging her glass around. Lockon tries to tell her again that's not true, but even he knows it's futile to say that. "What if you had died, Lockon? What if you all had died? It would've been because of me, all because of me. All that blood, all those people, those eyes just staring and blaming and accusing me because it was all my goddamn fault." She throws her glass against the wall and it bounces back in a hundred pieces that fly off in every direction. Lockon jolts to life and makes a motion to block the shards from his captain with his hand, but hers are quicker. Some shards cut her hand, and one implants itself firmly between her bones. Uneasily, Lockon moves over and sweeps the shards together, muttering for her to be more careful next time. She ignores him and falls into a heap of hair and blood and tears on her desk, right by the pile of bottles reeking of alcohol.

Lockon gingerly takes her hand and pulls the imbedded shard of glass out. She just sobs harder, but he doesn't speak. They're beyond even pathetic attempts at humor now. He just waits there dumbly, holding a shard with blood trickling down its edge. "Get out of my room," she finally tells him.

Sighing, he places the shard back in the pile with the rest. He rubs his fingers; the blood's already all over them. And without warning, he walks over to her bed and flops down on it like it's his. With another sigh, he tells her, "You can't hate yourself. Not for things out of your control, not for things you didn't and couldn't have known. You have my file, don't you? About the terrorists? Those aren't all the details. I hated myself. As much as your hate yourself now. Because I kept on thinking, what if I went with them? What if I told them to come with me? What if I delayed them just a bit longer when they were at home? What if, what if? But that was stupid, wasn't? Blaming myself for things I didn't have any control over." He pauses for a moment before adding, "Things sure sound stupider when you hear other people doing them, don't they?" She doesn't respond, but it's not like he expected her to anyways. "Besides, almost killing us isn't the only thing you've ever done. The fact that we've done this much, gone this far; it's all thanks to you. Even if you sent us to our deaths, you know what? I wouldn't have cared. If I make the world a step closer to peace, I wouldn't mind dying at all. So don't hate yourself just because you're human. Mistakes, you know, are the proof that you exist. God, what a loony philosopher I sure sound like."

The sobbing hasn't ceased yet, and he knows his presence isn't wanted. She'd be yelling and throwing things at him if she wasn't so busy trying to not cry. He can tell. She's taking in these large, gasping breathes – a pathetic, botched up attempt at trying to calm herself down enough to stop looking like a little girl in front of her subordinate.

He's a proper gentleman when he wants to be, and takes his leave. With a few last words, though. "You can't ever forget your past, but you have to remember that there's a future too." His mouth opens to say more, but the doors have already closed on him. He hates technology sometimes.

-

Lockon sees her the next day at breakfast, as cheerful as she always was. It's heartbreaking, really. When people cry, they should cry, not smile. He doesn't delve too long on this topic, though, when he notices the beverage in her hand. "Water?" He inquires, staring at his captain in surprise. "No more martinis in the morning to burn through your liver any more?"

"A woman's got to take care of her body," she replies with a smile. He returns it, and walks off as she sits down on his table in the cafeteria. "Wait here a minute." She nods, a bit confused, and sips her water.

He comes back, a half full glass of water in one hand and a glass of gin in the other. He pours half the gin into her glass of water, and the other half into his own water. Their glasses clink together, and he downs his in one quick gulp. A pretty smile graces Sumeragi's lips. It's honest and bittersweet, something that Lockon hasn't seen for a while. Slowly, she brings her glass to her lips and takes a drink.