Warnings: Death, Angst, Slash/Yaoi
Written for the 100 themes challenge. Wufei POV
It was his hands. That's what did it for me. Not his body, rock hard and perfect as it was. Not his eyes, fierce and beautiful. Not even his wild scent. No, what finally decided me were his hands.
One could tell a lot about a person from their hands. His were strong enough to bend steel, rough with calluses from handling weapons all his life. Short, blunted fingers had such dexterity and he used that often enough on that damned laptop of his. Little white scars criss crossed his tanned skin like mottled lace and I had to wonder just how hard he'd pushed himself for how long. The certain economy in movement lent to the idea of that being a very, very long time.
He had no idea of my feelings, of course. That would be dishonorable, considering he had a lover. They were a perfect pillar of strength, a union I respected with every fiber of my being. That I hated and wanted and hurt from just as much as respected. It wasn't their fault that I felt this way. None of it could ever be their fault. They didn't seduce one another for the purpose of hurting me, much as I sometimes thought in the dark of my room at night.
The other was perfect for him, really. He was strong and noble, understanding and pliant, but he also always let his lover know if he was doing something stupid. He spoke his mind and lived life as if any day could be his last...and I think that's why he was chosen.
I can't do that. I never have been able to. My entire life there was the Clan and then the War and now Duty and I can't escape it no matter what I do. At twenty, I found a woman, as I was meant to. We married within a few months, last year. She's pregnant with a son. The Dragon Clan will go on. Even so, even though I'm doing my honor-bound duty, even thought I'm living as I was meant to live... it feels empty. Cold. She doesn't care, of course. We didn't marry for love. She wanted stability, children, and a man to care for her, but she didn't mind if that man didn't want her. What luck that I came upon her. We're friends, of course. I'd never share my home with someone I couldn't get along with at least. She understands my interests lie elsewhere and I understand exactly what she wants of me. I believe she said five children, last time we spoke. Five children can rebuild a clan quickly. I decided I didn't mind five children.
I'd considered leaving the Preventers. Seeing him everyday, even just in passing, had become more and more of a burden as time went on. His greeting was always the same: a nod, a quietly spoken, "Chang," and then he was off again. I don't think he could ever understand what my name sounded like from his lips. The clear, perfect sound...
My first son was born on a crisp January morning. He screamed and shook his tiny fists, his scrunched face red and mutilated by terrified rage. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She and I fussed over him and I think I may have cried. She certainly did. He came home and I found a reason to do the same. We named him Lian. Two years later came a girl, Meiran. My wife knew nothing of my past, except that I'd fought in the war. She knew nothing of the first Meiran and I aimed to keep it that way. Only a year after Meiran was a second boy, Huo. two years and there were twins, Zhan and Ying. My wife decided she'd born enough sons for me then. Three of five wasn't bad. I provided for them all though my work, though I didn't really have to. The Dragon Clan had left me uncomfortably rich, but I tried to touch as little of that money as I could. There were five heirs now and better that they had the money than I did.
He liked children. I didn't know it until one day I had to bring the three youngest to work with me. My wife was down with a bad cold and the older two were in school. Huo, Zhan, and Ying ran around my office as I worked and though they fought often, as children were won't to do, a quick word was generally enough to quiet them again. He came to my office with paperwork from another agent. The other pilots knew I'd had children, just as I knew I was the only one of the five to do so, but they were continually surprised by the sight of the little ones. The children saw my fellows little enough that these three, who aged five and three respectfully, didn't remember them well. Huo got up and stood in front of his younger siblings, protective like an older brother should be. The twins were curious. He stared down at them for a moment, then gave a nod of greeting and handed over the file. I took it and fully expected him to leave when, instead, he knelt down in front of the children and asked about their game. He then settled to play with them for a little while before leaving. I couldn't help but stare.
That evening, the children couldn't stop talking about their new friend, Mr. Yuy. My wife was suitably amused, of course, and asked that I invite my old friends to the house for dinner sometime when she wasn't ill. She'd met them only a time or two and wasn't it just the polite thing to keep in touch? I agreed to ask, though I had no intention of doing so.
Somehow, the question dropped anyway. He agreed and contacted the others. They came a week later for dinner and overjoyed children. It became a bi weekly ritual after that. My wife found the four quite charming and struck up a great friendship with Winner. The children were most fond of Yuy and Maxwell but would tolerate Barton, especially after he taught the cat a few tricks.
It was so much harder to ignore my feelings when he was so involved in my life. The children took to calling him Uncle Heero and begged for him to visit as often as he could. He was quite taken with them as well and I realized after a long while that for him, they were something of surrogate children he himself could not father. I know he and his lover spoke of adoption once or twice but neither were confident that they could raise a child at all. Funny that I could give them a half-assed solution.
The children grew, we went on with our lives. Lian moved out as soon as he turned eighteen. He got an apartment near his college and worked in town to pay for it. I was covering his tuition and other fees, but no son of mine would grow up without knowing the benefit of hard work. He was happy enough and visited often. My wife sighed now and again, saddened by his leaving, but she knew all children had to grow up at some point. Meiran was itching for her chance, which both amused and saddened me.
My wife died three years after Lian left. It was an accident, the other driver's breaks had gone out, but she was still dead. I found myself suddenly very alone. The children stood at my sides as they lowered her casket into the ground, solemn and wet faced. I pretended it was raining, so that my own tears were invisible. I hadn't been in love with her, but she had been my close friend for twenty-two years. She had been a good woman, a great mother, and all a man could ask for in a wife. The other pilots were there as well, watching just as solemnly as we were. His eyes lifted suddenly and caught mine and for a moment, it was as if he had his arms around me and was protecting me from the pain of loss. I broke down, falling to my knees, and wept.
The house was quiet after that. I quit my job and stayed home to care for the children. The others visited more often and that made things easier. It took a while to adjust and there would always be a missing piece to our lives, but we adapted. He was there most of all and that was the only reason I survived.
Meiran had gone to Lian's college. She lived on campus and he had a girlfriend living with him now. They were in love and talked of marriage. Meiran thought it was very cute. Huo graduated in the spring and went off to his own new life in another city. He'd thought long and hard about his decision through most of high school and I felt sure he was ready for whatever continued education had to throw at him. The twins seemed fine without their older siblings, but I felt a quiet loss in myself.
With the twins in high school and the other three gone, I returned to the Preventers. It was hard and I was old enough that much of the work I did was low danger, but it gave me something to do. I saw my fellow pilots less, as they worked in different sectors than I, but that was all right.
Lian married his girlfriend at twenty-four after a three year engagement. I watched him cry at the alter as he stared at her and her own eyes misted. They laughed together after the kiss as they left the church under a rain of white confetti. Meiran and Zhan cried together and lamented over how beautiful the ceremony had been. Huo joked with Ying over what the wedding night would be like. I stayed quiet and silently wished my son the best of luck.
I realized that evening after the children had all gone to bed (Meiran and Huo were staying the weekend because of the wedding) that I was fourty-five years old and unhappy. I wondered if I ever had been happy in my entire life and wasn't surprised when I could only think of one time. The war, with all its mixed up emotions and values... During the war when the five of us were children ourselves and working for something far greater than ourselves... I remembered working along side him. I remembered how perfect it had been, how well we meshed with one another. I remembered the way we came together to finish the missions, to survive another day, to complete the insanity that had befallen the world. I remembered all of it and felt a great sense of emptiness for how things were.
Zhan and Ying left for different schools just after the wedding. The house was cold and quiet, too big for one man. I sold it and moved into something quite a bit smaller that still had just enough room for five young people to sleep if they cared to visit all at once. It was better, then, less empty. The children called often to keep me up to date.
Lian graduated and as a gift, I bought him a house. His wife cried and embraced me but I felt little joy from the act. My son was provided for and now it was his job to support his own family. I got news of pregnancy only a few months later. Lian had a daughter, whom they named after his mother, and she was beautiful.
Time started to mean very little to me after that. Huo married next, a plump little woman with big eyes and a huge smile. Then Meiran to the strangest young man I'd ever seen, with his wide glasses, white hair, and adoration for numbers. Zhan decided she was a lesbian and found a partner. She was quite surprised when I, the traditionalist father, accepted her choice and supported her. Ying stayed single and perhaps that was the way it should have been.
Fifty-one surprised me. I hadn't realized fifty years had passed before I was suddenly assaulted by the fact that I was now in my waning years. I had two grandchildren by then, as Huo's woman had borne a boy just a few months prior, all my younglings had begun lives of their own in different cities, and I was very much alone. The small house, which had soothed me for a time, was more lonely than ever. My job, done around so many people who couldn't possibly understand me, was empty of meaning. The only enjoyment I had was in the few and far between visits of him.
He had quit being an active agent a few years back. Even the Perfect Soldier couldn't delay the inevitable with his aging body. He still looked wonderful and kept himself in shape, but the time had come to leave the danger to younger men and women, to sit back and manage instead of doing. He visited my office every week or so and sometimes we chatted over coffee. I found myself looking forward to that more and more as time went on. It was the only light I had in the overpowering loneliness that had become my life, even if he belonged to another man.
And then Maxwell surprised us all when he married a pretty little woman from Archives. I was in shock when I heard about it. It wasn't that she was almost fifteen years younger than him. It wasn't that they seemed deliriously happy with one another. It was that she was a woman and wasn't he with Heero Yuy?! He looked surprised when I blurted that out and said that no, he and Maxwell had't been together for years. They'd lived and worked together, but had broken off the relationship and settled into an easy friendship instead, before my wife had died.
I wanted to laugh. Or cry, whichever came first. I didn't. He left after a bit as always and I was left alone in my office. He wasn't taken anymore. The man I had loved for most of my life was single, had been single, and I'd been so certain otherwise. Of course, there was no reason to even think he'd be interested in me now. I was fifty-one, my hair was graying, and though, according to Meiran, I'd aged well, I had nothing to offer a man like him. And could I even think of doing something like this now, when I had children and the memory of my dead wife to haunt me? I said nothing about it and let things continue on as my own spiral into depression continued.
It's funny. I survived all that, the war, and then it was life that ended up being too hard to handle. I'd done my duty, my children didn't need me, my grandchildren could get on without me, and there was no one else to keep me there anymore. I was alone and always had been.
I'd never thrown out my gun. The sword was over the mantel but I was too cowardly to use it. I wanted the pain to stop, quickly and painlessly. The gun felt alien in my hands but I managed the grip and loaded it carefully. No mistakes. I was finished with everything. I was done hurting. I just wanted to rest. Photographs of my family sat upon the mantel, smiling faces I knew and loved but couldn't stay for. I sunk to my knees by the fire and lifted the gun to my head.
Somehow, he knew. He was suddenly there and he grabbed my hand and jerked it at just the right time. The bullet embedded into my living room wall. He manhandled the gun from my grip and hit the safety before tossing it aside. I could only stare at him as he grabbed my shoulders and yelled at him, his face pale. The words didn't register. He'd stopped me and now he'd never let me have another chance.
Before I knew it, he'd wrapped me up in his arms. He held me so tightly I could barely breath but I found myself returning the desperate embrace. My eyes burned and I couldn't help the tears falling. His body was shaking, or maybe it was mine, or both of us, I didn't know. Suddenly his lips were on mine and demanding everything I had and I willingly gave up to him and let him take what he wanted. It didn't matter that we were fifty-one and not fifteen anymore. It didn't matter that I was a widower and had grown children. It didn't matter that I'd never been with a man and he'd never been with me. He was suddenly there and real and warm and I needed him more than I'd needed anything in my entire life.
We ripped at clothing and I know a button or two went flying in the rush. His hands and mouth were everywhere and I couldn't stop touching him. He took everything I had and gave that and more back, over and over again until we couldn't move. And then he wrapped his arms around me and we slept, there on the living room rug. It was morning when we woke. We said nothing about it at first, complaining about aches and pains from sleeping on the floor instead. I made coffee while he showered, then he started breakfast while I did. Then we sat and ate quietly while stealing glances at one another.
Random gay sex on the living room rug was not normal fifty plus behavior.
At once, I started laughing. He joined in soon enough until we were both laughing too hard to breath. It took a while to come done from that and by that time, we were exhausted all over again.
"Does this mean I can move in already?" he asked finally. I couldn't help but grin.
For some reason, no one was really surprised when he did.