Disclaimer - Gundam Wing does not belong to me…
Note the First - this one is for Snow. I'm sorry I can't send you a real rainbow, complete with a pot of gold and a leprechaun or two….
Many thanks to KS for editing, and for the last word!
Note the Second - this can be read as a one-shot, but it also slots into the ALG universe.
He'd actually managed to stay silent for forty-five consecutive seconds. Unbelievable. Then again, he probably needed to replenish his air supply.
I was running a programme to compute the repairs Wing would need; he seemed to be under the impression that we were on a sightseeing tour, and had spent the last fifty-seven minutes favouring me with his a long list of all the things he hoped to see on Earth. He also apparently possessed the gift of multi-location, dashing back and forth to the rail on either side of the ship, keeping a lookout for dolphins, mermaids and the lost city of Atlantis.
Of course, the silence didn't last. He was off again, rambling on about some movie he'd once seen about a mermaid.
'Is there a remote chance that you could keep the noise level down? I'm trying to work here.'
'Well, excuse me for breathing,' he snapped. 'You can't do anything right now; you don't even have the proper parts. And is there a remote chance that you could maybe thank me for all my help?'
'Thank you?' I echoed. 'What have I to thank you for?'
'Oh, let's see now,' he spun back to face me, braid swinging and crossed his arms. 'How about….. I rescued you from that hospital, I got my friend Howard to give you a lift instead of leaving you on that beach to be captured again, and I pulled your Gundam out of the ocean.' He flicked a finger at Wing, still lying on the deck of the salvage ship. 'Any of that ring a bell, huh pal?'
'I didn't ask for your help,' I retorted, nettled. 'I was managing perfectly well by myself.'
'Yeah, sure you were.' That constant sarcasm was really starting to grate. 'You really looked like you were in control when you were strapped to that bed back there.'
'I was just waiting for the right moment to escape. For you to involve yourself was a supremely foolish and potentially dangerous action. You didn't even know who I was, and there's no way you could have possibly have done sufficient research on the hospital's security system. We could both have ended up captured.'
He shrugged. 'Planning's a waste of time. The way I see it, there's no way you can work out every possible thing that can go wrong, so why waste time trying?'
'Statistical probability is a useful tool for…'
'For what? Working out how to break your leg? Or was that your warped idea of fun? No, thanks. I'd rather just make it up as I go along. Works for me.'
'That was an - error on my part,' I admitted reluctantly. 'I computed distance and impact time, but failed to calculate the wind factor, plus the parachute failed to open fully.'
'And you set your leg. Ewww! I still can't believe you did that. Didn't it hurt like hell?'
'Pain is irrelevant,' I shrugged, 'save as a means to improve the mind's control over the body.'
It was what Odin had always told me
'I don't like pain,' he said quietly.
'Then maybe you shouldn't be flying a Gundam. This isn't some sort of game even if you think it is.'
'Maybe I don't know all those long words you do, but I'm shit-hot at blowing things up, ' he glared at me, pulling his braid over one shoulder and fiddling with the little elastic hair-tie.
'Hn. Another thing. Your hair.'
'What about my hair?' He coiled the inappropriate length of it around one wrist, almost protectively. I couldn't help thinking that it would look mesmerising loose, but what I said was, 'It's a liability. It makes you too recognisable, and…'
'I'm recognisable? That's a joke! You're the one with the girlie fan-club following you around, shrieking your name all over the place. Who is she anyway? Your girlfriend?'
'No! She's no one,' I snapped.
'Oh yeah?' His eyes sparkled as he drifted back over to me. 'She didn't seem to think so, trying to stop me shooting you and all.'
I quickly pressed a couple of keys on my lap top and swivelled the screen around for him; it wouldn't do for him to see that my repair plans for Wing involved a certain amount of recycling parts from his Gundam.
'You still want to see a mermaid? Look at this, It's a mammal called a dugong; pre-colony sailors used to call them mermaids.'
He leaned over my shoulder to take a closer look, laughing at the image on screen. Close enough that I could feel his body heat, that his breath warmed my ear and stirred my hair. 'They'd have to be seriously frustrated sailors to think those things were women. They're kind of cute, though. Can you enlarge that picture of the baby one?'
'If you like.' He pressed closer to see, one fingertip not-quite-touching the screen, as if he wanted to touch the creature, and that incredible rope of hair fell forward over my shoulder. It was soft and sun-warmed and stirred slightly against my bare skin.
'You think we might see one of them?'
'I doubt it. They're an endangered species; the remaining ones all live around Australia.' I ran my eyes over the information on dugongs, trying not to mind that he'd got up, hair and all, and wandered back over to the rail. That braid had swept across my arm as he'd moved, like a caress.
'What happened in that movie you were talking about?' I asked, just a little bit reluctantly. 'The one about the mermaid?'
'Dunno,' he shrugged. 'I never got to see the end.' I actually got another couple of minutes' silence; his back was to me and I could admire the way his braid stirred slightly in the breeze.
'Heero! Look! What's that?'
Oh. It wasn't a mermaid, or a lost city appearing out of the waves, or even a dugong. It was a glowing arc of colour stretching across the sky. 'It's a rainbow.' I'd seen pictures of them, but they hadn't come close to the reality. I'd never imagined they would be so big, or so beautiful, stretching across the sky in a vibrant blaze of colour.
'It's a rain-what? '
I threw him a disbelieving glance. 'You don't know what a rainbow is?'
He snorted. 'I wouldn't've asked if I'd known. Is it dangerous?'
'Hardly. It's an optical illusions caused by the sun shining on water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere. This is visible as a arc of seven different colours, with red on the outer part of the arch, and violet on the inner section. Violet on the outside and red on the inside.'
'So that's violet? That bluish colour?'
'It's more of an indigo-purple. It's the he same colour as your eyes.'
'Oh!' His long lashes fluttered closed at that and I watched a faint blush colour his skin. There was no logical reason for me to feel embarrassed, none at all; he'd asked a question and I'd simply given the most simple explanation. Of course, I'd noticed his eyes, and everything else about him; observation had always been a vital part of my training.
There was no reason for me to feel a flush warming my own cheeks.
'The other colours are orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. Ah, indigo is a dark purple colour.'
Not unlike his eyes when he was angry, actually.
I embarked on a long explanation of the theories science had always propounded with regard to rainbows. In the middle of my discourse on the Persian astronomer, Outb al-Din al-Sharazi, he cut in.
'How the hell do you know all this stuff?' he marvelled, strolling back over to sit beside me.
'Elementary research. I've been studying metrological patterns and phenomena on Earth for some time now, prior to this mission. I'm surprised you haven't.'
'Oh, yeah. Stupid me.' He hit his forehead with the back of one hand. 'I knew there was something I forgot to do before I came to Earth; look up all this obscure stuff so I could dazzle OZ with my brilliance.'
'The acquisition of knowledge is never a waste,' I muttered defensively and he threw me a grin.
'Chill, Heero. I'm just teasing you. It's beautiful, isn't it? Like it's going all the way up to Heaven.'
'That's what the ancient Greeks thought. Iris was the messenger between their gods and Earth, and the rainbow was her path back to Olympus, where the gods lived.'
'Yeah? That's so cool,' he enthused, turning over on to his stomach, to see the rainbow better, and I felt a ridiculous pang of disappointment that I wasn't able to see his face. As a consolation prize, of course, I had a totally different view; that ludicrous, mesmerising braid snaking its way down his back, and resting snugly on his ass. 'No one's ever told me stories before. Not since Sister Helen. She used to tell us stuff from the bible.'
'You have a sister?' I tried to imagine a younger Duo sitting on an older girl's knee, listening wide-eyed to her stories. I'd never had that; I'd always looked up my own stories on my laptop.
'Nah. She was a nun. She looked after me for a bit when I was a kid.' I tore my gaze away from that improper spot to rest on his face. His jaw was set; subject very definitely closed.
'You're a Catholic then?' I'd studied world religions, and of course it made sense, given that cross he wore around his neck and the black outfit.
'Nope. I know death is real, but I don't think God is. I've seen way too much stuff. Screw that. Can you tell me some more rainbow stuff?'
I racked my brains for other rainbow legends. 'In Norse mythology, the rainbow was called Bifrost, and it was the bridge between the realms of gods and humans. There's an Irish legend, that leprechauns - they're little mythical beings - hide their gold at the end of the rainbow.'
'Wow,' he twisted around to face me, those incredible eyes glowing. 'Do you think I could get there, if I took Scythe? Even if there's no treasure, it'd be so cool to stand in all those colours?'
'It wouldn't be like that, Duo,' I said slowly, hating to disappoint him, to watch the excitement fade from his eyes. 'It's only an optical illusion. It would disappear as you get closer.'
'Oh.' He pulled his knees to his chest, resting his chin on them, and twiddling the end of his hair with one hand. 'Yeah, you said that. Stupid, right, to think I could just go round Earth chasing rainbows.
'You have missions to carry out, and so do I.' I said it far more harshly than I'd meant to, quashing the little thought bubble that had sprung up, suggesting just how wonderful it would be to follow Duo Maxwell around the world, chasing rainbows, as he'd put it, just so I could see that look on his face.
'Yeah,' he muttered, nibbling on the end of his braid.. 'You know, is there any remote chance you could shut up for a bit? I want to enjoy looking at the rainbow, okay?'
I shifted slightly so I could watch his face for a few minutes, still spellbound by the colours hanging in the sky. Then I tore my gaze away and back to my monitor, checking the programme I'd had running to assess our Gundams' compatibility. Trying not to think about him.
Physical attraction was natural enough; he was very attractive after all. Resisting it was merely be another way to impose my will on my body. It didn't explain why I wanted to hear him laugh, to watch the expressions that danced across his face, or the subtle variations in the colour of his eyes.
He was hanging over the rail, watching the colours slowly fade. I wondered if I'd ever see him again. Probably not; we had our separate missions, and that was that. It was unlikely that he'd ever want to, when he discovered exactly what I was planning to do.
My laptop beeped, signalling the programme was complete.