Once upon Lunchtime
A Gundam 00 fan fiction by Hitokiri-san
A/N: This has been sitting in my database for one or two years, as I have no idea how to wrap it up. Anyway, this is set in season 1, where Lockon - the first one - is still alive and kicking. At the time, the Meisters are somewhat highly dysfunctional in their missions, and never seem to make any effort to work as a team. At all. This is intended to be one of those "failed bonding" moments.
Eating with Setsuna, Lockon had long decided, was the most boring activity one could ever have in mind.
It wasn't that Lockon did not like Setsuna; it was quite the contrary. Despite Setsuna's irritating tendency to ignore everyone around him, Lockon included, the Irish man found himself rather fond of the younger boy. He had long come to appreciate the fact that Setsuna did not intend to be cold – he was made out that way. Whatever had happened in Setsuna's past, it had made him reserved, cynical - distrusting of anyone and anything except Exia.
Ironic though it seemed, the Gundam Meisters were a bunch of people who tended to attract tragic experiences. Or it should be the other way around – it was people with tragic experiences who would feel compelled to join the Celestial Being and become Gundam Meisters. Setsuna, of course, was no different in this respect.
Lockon knew better than to pry into Setsuna's private history. Discounting the fact that the Meisters were under orders to keep their identities confidential, the thought that Setsuna would willingly open up to him was something highly unlikely.
The Arabian boy was a competent pilot and believed in the Celestial Being's aims wholeheartedly, and those were the only things Lockon needed to know.
However, being a competent pilot and a staunch supporter of the Celestial Being did not excuse Setsuna from being boring. They were having steak for dinner – a rather rare occurrence, since meals provided by the Celestial Being usually followed the Food Pyramid with an accuracy that bordered on obsession. It was supposed to keep the Meisters healthy for their missions, but in Lockon's opinion the food was just unbearably bland. Steak, doused with gravy and served with potato wedges, was definitely out of the ordinary. Maybe it was the kitchen's idea of a reward for their latest mission, and Lockon found that he wasn't averse to the idea at all.
Not that Setsuna seemed to be appreciating it, though.
Setsuna was currently cutting his food meticulously into cubes, sharp brown eyes looking at the piece of meat as though he was staring it down. Incredulous, Lockon froze in the consumption of his own meal.
Way to go Setsuna, make it 3cm times 3cm times 3cm, thought Lockon, snorting in amusement. He'd honestly – and perhaps understandably - never seen normal people eat like that. It seemed, like everything else in the organization, Setsuna was trying to take the meaning of "precision" to a whole new level.
Setsuna looked up at the sound, regarding Lockon with disinterested eyes, "…what?"
"Nah, I'm just thinking…do you always eat like this?" Lockon gestured at the steak cubes on the plate, frowning. "I think that's no way to treat food."
The Arabian boy contemplated his food, as if he didn't really understand what Lockon meant. "I don't see anything wrong with the way I eat."
His tone was so serious that Lockon couldn't help but smile.
"I mean, people usually eat their food like they enjoy them. They don't glare it down and cut it like they're doing target practice," he told the boy teasingly, reaching over to spear one of Setsuna's beef cubes with a fork. He waved the fork around to emphasize his point, "don't you like this steak? High quality sirloin straight from New Zealand. Looks good to me."
Setsuna frowned. Lockon, it seemed, had too much free time on his hands if the man was going to argue with him about steak. There were times when he didn't mind the man's excessively buoyant personality – he was ignoring it most of the time anyway – but this time wasn't it.
"I have…no qualms with this steak," he told the Irish man with an air of finality, turning back to cutting his food single-mindedly. Steak…had never been his favourite food, but then again, he had never cared about food at all. Steak was merely another name for protein and energy supply. Vegetables were vitamins and roughage. A harsh life had taught him not to indulge in idle pleasures like food and clothes.
Lockon's amusement did not wane. Whatever façade Setsuna wanted to put up, he was still a child; and children were easier to read than adults in most cases. "You're saying that you don't mind the steak. From what I see, though, it doesn't really suit your taste. What do you usually eat?"
Setsuna stared, expression carefully guarded. Possibly he was contemplating what Lockon wanted to know and what information he should give. Still grinning, Lockon raised his hands in a gesture of peace.
"Hey hey, don't stare at me like that! It's meant to be an innocent question."
"I eat whatever is available to me at the time," he replied, and from the slight narrowing of Setsuna's eyes, he was apparently suspecting an ulterior motive to the food conversation. Smart kid.
"Okay, Meister Protocol, no leaking of personal information including your favourite food. Got it," Lockon bit into the steak cube, slightly exasperated by the younger Meister's hostility. He knew they weren't friends, and wasn't even supposed to be friends, but the fact that they weren't on remotely good terms was not at all encouraging. After all, it was essential that they watch each other's back in missions, and that required at least some form of effective communication.
The status quo was bad as it was – Setsuna frequently acted upon a reckless whim, leading to disastrous (but thankfully still remediable) results; Tieria was harshly critical of imperfect execution of any assignment (which, sadly, was what happened with most of their missions); the purple-haired Meister got on particularly badly with Setsuna, whom he saw as the embodiment of human imperfection. Allelujah, for the most part, knew better than to leap into the crossfire without good cause. Lockon saw an urgent need to unite the Meisters before the lack of coordination cost them their lives, but none of the Meisters ever quite listened to him either.
Obviously deciding to ignore the Irish man once and for all, Setsuna continued with his dissection of the steak, disinterested russet eyes turning downwards. In a way, Lockon thought, the boy was giving off such an impersonal expression it was hard not to be creeped out. Lockon chewed upon the steak cube he'd stolen thoughtfully, before noticing the obvious lack of potato wedges on Setsuna's plate.
"You like chips."
He exclaimed, admittedly with a touch of vindictive smugness at the realization. He'd subconsciously thought that the Arabian pilot was above liking something as mundane and normal as chips.
Setsuna looked up, a little inquisitive, as though the notion of liking chips was an entirely alien one altogether. Lockon snorted with hysterical amusement at the expression – it was so priceless he couldn't feel bad for being amused at Setsuna's expense – and nearly choked on the steak cube.
Setsuna cocked his brow just so slightly, in a way that said, unequivocally, serves you right.
Lockon erupted into loud, uncontrolled laughter, and wondered if Setsuna was referring to the theft of the steak cube or the chips jab.
"You know what, Setsuna? You're really interesting!" he crowed, to Setsuna's blank disregard, and proceeded to chuck all the potato wedges on his plate over to Setsuna's.
The boy didn't argue – perhaps he saw no point in dealing with the older man's utter idiocy – and went on with his meticulous dissection of the slab of meat on his plate.
Lockon, with his eyesight as a sharpshooter, didn't miss the slightly more savage way Setsuna's knife bit into the steak.