Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is the property of its writers and creators, whom I admire very much.  The only things about it that I  happen to own are the legion of toys that live on my bookshelf.

This brief musing from Noin's point of view takes place during episode 9 of Gundam Wing, right after Zechs' first test flight with Tallgeese.

"Medic!" Noin screamed into the comm reciever, before pushing her goggles up to her forehead ripping off her restraints, and throwing herself at the hatch release.  She grabbed the cord to lower herself from the cockpit of her grounded Aries and cursed it for not going faster.  Turning, she saw the white mobile suit, crumpled in the mud, not far away.  It was an odd sight – a mobile suit sitting…

Too impatient, she let go of the cord and jumped, a little before it was wise to do so, landing hard, but upright, her booted feet sinking a good couple of inches into the thick mud.  Wrenching them free, she ran, heart already pounding.  She hadn't made it a dozen steps when her ankle turned in the mire and she hit the ground hard on her hands and knees.  Her fingers curled into the viscous sludge, and the sharp smell of scorched metal was dulled by the flat odor of rain, mud, and worms.

Seconds later, she was on her feet, running as recklessly as before.

When she reached Tallgeese's smooth side, she wasn't certain how she'd make it to the cockpit.  Later, she wasn't sure how she'd done it.  But the muddy bootprints smeared on the white Gundanium armor assured her that she hadn't flown.  Smashing the exterior hatch release, she took a moment to catch her breath as the door opened, slowly.

Zechs was hanging limply, the straps holding him into the pilot's chair apparently biting painfully into his neck and side.

Well, he was breathing, at any rate.  Wiping the worst of the mud left on her hands on her once spotless uniform, Noin wedged herself into the small cockpit.  She released the restraints across his chest and let his limp, unconscious body fall against her.  The shining silver mask tumbled from his head and struck her bruisingly on the shoulder before it clattered to the cockpit floor.

He was alive.  His faint heartbeat through the layers of wool uniform assured her of that, as did the weak breath passing through his slightly parted lips.  Strands of flaxen-pale hair stuck to his forehead with sweat, and his thick lashes lay placidly against his pale cheeks.

She felt, irrationally, like a fool.

How she'd longed to see his face… and to hold him.  So she clung to him, as if, as he was standing at the threshold of death, her arms would hold him with her, in life.  He moaned a little, and Noin tightened her grip on him as he began to slide out of her grasp, leaving muddy smudges on his uniform too.

"Lieutenant!  Help us get him onto the stretcher!" one of the medics called, startling her.  She obeyed, helping the two men lower Zechs onto the board.  As they maneuvered the stretcher out of the cockpit, she leaned to pick up the mask, and settled it gently on his head.