Disclaimer: I don't own Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam Legacy, or Space: To the End of a Flash/From Place Beyond the Blaze. That manga's title is way too long, by the way.
Anyhow, this story is based around events from Gundam Legacy, a nice little side-story manga that really, really needs to be scanlated because it looks pretty damn awesome.
Despite everything that had happened in the past 48 hours or so, Ford Romfellow knew that there would be one shining beacon in the murky (and soon to be really goddamn cold) darkness that had become his career.
That beacon was presently staring him in the face via viewscreen, and saying she looked absolutely poleaxed was akin to saying the Gundam caused Zeon some mild problems back in the day.
"You did what," Miyu Takizawa choked out, the pretty redhead looking like she wanted to faint.
The sable-haired pilot gave a cheeky grin in response. "Missed it the first time? Got myself transferred to Antarctica," he said casually, waving his hand in seeming dismissal. "But enough about me. What's new with you?"
"Transferred to – Ford, what the hell did you do?" his former operator demanded, her eyes going wide as she blew past the second part of his statement without pause.
"Insubordination," he responded easily, though the dark look that crept into his eyes wasn't missed by Miyu. "Long story short, me, Captain Healy and that jerkoff Agar" - Miyu simply rolled her eyes at that – "weren't too happy with the way the Titans were handling one mission, so we… deviated from the parameters a bit," he said delicately, not wanting to go into specifics.
One eyebrow twitched ever so slightly. "Deviated."
"Deviated hard," Ford amended, schooling his expression into the most innocent one he could possibly muster. "Really hard. 'Sent off to Antarctica hard', though you probably got that already."
The resulting sound she made as she massaged her temples much resembled the noise a balloon slowly being relieved of air might let out, and it took all of Ford's willpower to keep from grinning in spite of his situation. "Never gets old."
"Antarctica – insubordination – deviated, he says, what does that even mean…!"
It went without saying that any hope of having a nice, relaxing after her duty was pretty much gone when Ford's face had shown up on her monitor in her quarters suddenly, saying "Hey! Guess what?"
… she thought she would have been used to that on some level by now, really. He hadn't changed that much since the One Year War, after all. Deep down, the fact he could still throw her like this almost qualified as impressive.
(A fact that she would take to her grave before telling Ford, of course, but the truth was the truth.)
Finally, she managed to collect herself and look at the now clearly amused pilot with a neutral expression. "Ford," she began, her tone crisp and clear.
"Miyu," he said, mimicking the pitch and inflection of her voice almost perfectly.
Resisting the urge to groan (this had been so much easier when they had just met, getting to like the man had really thrown a wrench into how she could tear a strip off him) she continued onward. "Being sent to somewhere as remote as this… it's only a step or two below being dishonorably discharged," she said, looking the pilot dead in the eye, the implications clear.
His expression softened noticeably upon seeing the look on her face. "I know," he replied quietly, looking a little somber but resolute nonetheless.
Ford's face made Miyu's heart clench just a little, and the impromptu lecture she was getting ready to deliver no longer seemed so appropriate.
"… were the orders that bad?" she asked softly, deciding to take another tack as she leaned a little bit closer to the image. Ford's jawline noticeably tensed in response, his eyes going hard and cold, before nodding.
"Yeah. They were. Look," he began, running his fingers through his hair. "the three of us didn't exactly make this decision lightly. We knew what might be coming but we did what we had to do."
He paused briefly, looking down at his feet for a second before he returned his now serious gaze to Miyu. "I can't go into too much detail, but trust me: I didn't join the Titans to do the bullshit they wanted me to do. Not following orders was worth it."
Another pause. "It was right," he said finally, a resigned smile on his face. "Can't say much more than that. If Luce were still around, he'd have been right there with us."
Well. Not a lot she could say to that, was there?
Miyu blinked once, then twice, before finally closing her eyes and letting out a long sigh. "Okay."
Needless to say, this sedate reaction threw the pilot off just a little. "I – you – 'okay'?" Ford asked incredulously, looking much like the operator had not ten minutes earlier.
"Okay," she repeated, nodding resolutely before opening her eyes again and looking at Ford. "I mean, there's not a whole lot else I can say, right? Besides; I know you're not the type to take serious action without a good reason. Well, aside from when you decide to indulge in your warped definition of 'fun'."
The tension in Ford's shoulders that he hadn't realized was there dissipated almost immediately upon hearing her words, and he couldn't quite hide a small sigh of relief.
Miyu blinked. "What?" she asked quizzically, upon seeing the pilot's reaction. "What did I say?"
"Hmm?" Ford asked, having been shaken out of his brief reverie. "Oh… nah, it's… it's nothing. Don't worry about it, Miyu," he replied, waving his hand in dismissal.
The redhead, however, was not content simply to let it go. "That didn't sound like nothing, you know," she said patiently, frowning a little at his weak attempt at evasion. "Come on, Ford. What is it?"
The blue haired man let out an irritated exhale. "God, I forgot how nosy you were sometimes," he told her, smirking slightly at the face she made in response. "Like I said, it's nothing… just a little relieved, that's all."
She cocked her head a little in confusion. "Relieved… why?" she asked.
"Mainly because I got to you before you heard it from anyone else," Ford told her, shrugging casually. "I mean, probably would have looked bad if you had been reading the latest updates from high command and saw what happened, right? Figured it was better to tell you myself so that you didn't misunderstand or anything."
If Ford thought that this explanation was enough, however, he was sadly mistaken. Miyu simply raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms, obviously still quite curious. "What exactly would I have misunderstood?" she queried. "Even if I had heard the news from high command, it's not as if I would have thought you were a traitor, or anything…"
She trailed off as she saw Ford jerk suddenly before looking away, and the realization that she had hit upon the issue wasn't long in coming. "Really…? Come on, Ford!" she exclaimed, laughing at the idea while shoving down the little bit of hurt she felt at him not having more faith in her. "Don't worry, I doubt I would have had a lynch mob ready even if I hadn't heard your explanation - or what passed for an explanation, anyway. Seriously, 'deviated'?"
"W-well yeah, I figured that much!" he exclaimed, looking more than a little bit uncomfortable. "I told you it was nothing, didn't I? Just wanted to make sure, that's all."
"So what, you're just going to contact everyone you've ever known in the EF and say 'hey, don't believe what in the latest bulletin'?" Miyu asked, still a little amused.
The reply was swift, automatic, and clearly had no thought put into it whatsoever. "Screw that," he shot back, giving an elaborate eye roll as he did so. "I care about what you think, why would I waste time telling anyone else?"
A quiet gasp.
"I mean," Ford continued, "there's not a whole lot of point in… what? What'd I say now?" he asked upon finally seeing the slightly slack-jawed and red-faced Miyu.
"Okay, pause, rewind, what did I say to make her mad this ti – oh, man."
"Fine, there's Annie, too, I guess," Ford 'grudgingly' allowed, somehow managing to keep his stride as he attempted to recover. "Guess she might flip out if I didn't tell her, right? It sounds like something she'd do. What's up with her, anyway? She still tinkering around with MS, or did she move on to something – "
"… Ford?" Miyu spoke quietly, breaking up his increasingly rapid babble, her cheeks still a rosy hue.
Dropping his head, Ford merely exhaled loudly before looking up with an uncharacteristically tender expression. "Come on, Miyu," he said, the affection in his tone impossible to miss. "You're really gonna make me say it? You know what I mean."
The redhead couldn't help but giggle a little at his lack of articulation, but the intent was loud and clear. "I do," she murmured in response, bringing up her hand and letting one of her fingertips ghost across the screen. "Don't be dumb, Ford. I wouldn't have believed that dreck from the higher-ups even if I had seen it first."
"Yeah," Ford chuckled, a little embarrassed. "Still nice to know, though," he added quickly, throwing her a smile that he knew – and she knew – was only ever meant for her and her alone.
"Dummy," she whispered fondly, before straightening up and looking at the pilot again, her blush not quite gone.
"Anyway," Miyu said, her tone back to being crisp and professional. "I've still got some work to take care of on my end, so I'm going to have to talk to you again some other time."
He blinked. "Aren't you relieved now? Shouldn't you be using this time to eat and sleep?"
"I have a bit of a backlog," she said, shrugging. "Noel's been feeling a little under the weather, so I've been pitching in a little."
"Whatever you say," Ford conceded. "Still, don't forget to rest or anything. Section 14 of EFSF regulations clearly states in microprint under blacklight – "
"Good night, Ford," Miyu laughed, reaching out to terminate the connection with a quiet beep.
Silence reigned in her quarters now, and she couldn't help but frown at how empty it felt all of a sudden. Shaking her head in bemusement, she went over to her desktop terminal and started typing. It wouldn't do if this particular request was held up, after all.
"Oh, that's right," Miyu thought, snapping her fingers as she went over their conversation again. "Ford mentioned a Captain Healy was being shipped off too, didn't he? Bet Noel would be interested in hearing about that…"
Surprisingly, Antarctica Base wasn't especially cold. Ford wasn't really sure what to expect when he first arrived, but he was pleasantly surprised to see that central heating was alive and well in the Federation's doghouse. Matt had joked that it was probably the one time Ford and Agar hadn't been at each other's throats – they had been too busy rejoicing that they wouldn't freeze to death in their sleep.
Reclining back on his bunk, he briefly wondered about the new arrivals that were supposed to be coming on later that day – as far as he knew, there wasn't anyone else who had pissed off the top brass to the extent that the three of them did, and no one in their right mind would voluntarily come out here.
"Man, doing the right thing sucks sometimes," he groused, turning on his side to face the wall.
If there was one good thing, though, it was that duties were relatively sparse – Ford would put good money on this being the most relaxing post he had in years. If not for the intense cold anywhere outdoors, it would almost seem like a vacation.
"Well, guess we're getting out to pasture, anyway," he thought wryly, closing his eyes to try and catch a quick nap. "Doesn't really matter how hard we work now, does it?"
Some time later – it could have been minutes or hours, Ford couldn't tell in his bleary state – three solid raps echoed from the door of his quarters.
"Come in," Ford half-yelled, not bothering to open his eyes or get up. If it was something for duty, they would have called him on the comm channel, Matt was off dealing with that Zeon girl, and the odds of Agar making a social call (or him accepting, for that matter) were slim to none.
The sound of the door opening filled the small room, and Ford soon registered that someone was standing above him. Someone who… smelled kinda nice. Did Antarctica Base get sent a cache of awesome hair-care products, or something?
Blearily opening his eyes, Ford looked up – and was suddenly wide awake, all vestiges of sleep gone.
"Hi," Miyu cheerfully said in a tone way too bright to be entirely genuine, looking down at the pilot with a too-wide grin on her face. "Guess who transferred?"
Miyu. Here. In his quarters. Which were in Antactica. Which meant that…
Ford's eyebrow twitched. "You did what."
"Missed it the first time? Got myself transferred to Antarctica. But enough about me, what's new with you?" she asked, clearly enjoying this a lot more than he was.
"Okay, that's not funny," Ford growled, pulling himself up to a sitting position.
"You thought it was funny from where you were standing a week or two back," she pointed out, sitting down beside him with a loud theatrical sigh. "You know, it's not as cold as I would have thought."
"Yeah, heating works wonders here. What the hell, Miyu?" he demanded, obviously wanting an explanation and wanting one now.
She shrugged diffidently. "First off, good to see you too. Second, I was due for a change of pace."
For possibly the first time ever, Ford Romfellow was struck speechless. "Change of – how the hell – that makes no – is this what it's like to be her? Do I make her feel like this? Is this karma?" he thought wildly, unable to organize his thoughts well enough to even try speaking.
"Not fun from that side of the fence, is it?" she asked placidly, somehow having managed to read his mind in addition to almost destroying it.
Massaging his temples with his right hand, Ford inhaled deeply and tried to regain some composure. "All right, it's not that I'm not glad to see you again, because I am " - that earned him a bright smile from the redhead - "but I still don't know what you're doing here. Last time I checked, only one of our careers was in the dumps."
She tilted her head quizzically. "And?"
"What do you mean, 'and'?" Ford groused. "That doesn't answer anything!"
A long suffering sigh from the operator. "Ford," she began. "Think about it and be honest. If our positions had been switched and yelling at our superiors wasn't an option, what would you have done?" she asked him.
"Well?" she prodded, looking a little annoyed he was taking so long. The blue-haired pilot narrowed his eyes, looking like he was thinking hard before he finally threw up his hands in surrender.
"Fine," he muttered. "But since when did you think trying to act like me was remotely a good idea?" Ford finally asked, unable to fight his growing urge to grin upon seeing the almost smug expression on her (very, very pretty, he noticed for what seemed like the thousandth time) face.
"Seemed to work fine for you, for the most part," she told him, closing her eyes and resting her head on his shoulder. "Besides; you didn't really think I'd leave you here alone, did you?"
"You should have, but you didn't. Because you're stupid," Ford murmured, a fierce swell of affection rising in him as he reached out and wrapped his arm around her waist, tugging her closer as his cheek slid against her forehead.
"Learned from the best," Miyu said lazily, shifting slightly until she was settled against him comfortably. "Missed you."
"Yeah, me too," he replied, tightening his grip a little and earning himself a low purr of contentment – a guy could get used to hearing that, he decided.
"Wanna stay here for a bit?" Ford asked, knowing full well how little the brass down here cared about fraternization – something that made no sense until one considered how little they cared about anything.
"That would be nice, yes," she nodded in assent, content simply to remain slumped against Ford, a small smile gracing her features all the while.
He studied her peaceful face regardless, looking for any hint of regret or reluctance. "You're sure this is what you want?" he asked quietly.
"If I didn't, I wouldn't be here."
"Okay," Ford murmured, almost to himself, before leaning down and pressing a quick, impulsive kiss against her forehead, drawing a light blush from the redhead. "Okay."
"Don't worry. You can't get rid of me that easy, Romfellow."
He snorted. "And after the inevitable discharge?"
Her eyes opened lazily, regarding him with an expression that read' you idiot' all over it. "We do what ex-Thoroughbreds do – figure something out."
"Roll with the punches and come what may, huh?" Ford mused aloud.
A second passed.
"Eh, why the hell not?" he continued with a sudden grin. "Seems like we've gotten pretty good at that, anyway."