I'm starting to wonder if this was such a good idea after all.
Rashid has insisted I take a break from corporate life for a while now, and I guess he's been right. After some eighteen months as the head of Winner Enterprises - actual head or figurehead, I'm still undecided - I've grown wearied of exchanging fake smiles with people I'd rather have shot, if I had the chance. We broke a lot of eggs in the war, but there are plenty of rotten ones left.
The Winner estate at the southern Mediterranean coast is about as remote as the corporation is willing to let me go to. The Maganacs still maintain the underground complex there, and I'm sure that in some sub-level they've tucked away a couple of mobile suits as well, despite the new regulations. I don't ask, they don't tell. It's an insurance, I suppose. We don't believe there are any more Dekims hiding in the woodwork - that is, none of us but Wufei. He accepted the loss of his gundam, but only for the power of example. The disarmament process would not have gone as smoothly if we hadn't led the way.
Anyway... Rashid suggested I spend time with friends - and I knew he didn't mean the Maganacs. That sort of limited my choices. Still, it'll be good talking to them again. At least I know whatever they say is real, unlike the make-believe world of the business suits. Alice has her wonderland, I have mine; plenty of Mad Hatters and stressed rabbits, not enough beheadings.
Just before I left for the airport this morning, Sally called to let me know Wufei would arrive late - some last-minute Preventer case, she said. I suspect it was a cover, but I didn't push it. I know Wufei has a grudge with us for 'going civilian' on him. Heero, Duo and Trowa all came in today, and Duo immediately insisted we have a party - with fireworks.
Heero asked him 'what for', before I could. Duo went on a rant of explaining why and how the fourth day of July should be celebrated, leaving more questions raised than settled, judging from Heero's expressions. Even when Duo said the celebration was 'as old as Islam', I didn't bother to correct him. Duo has always been a 'here and now' kind of person; not much for any history but his own - but in return, damn proud of it. I don't think he's a Catholic, and I don't think he ever lived in old America, but he considers both part of his heritage, and treasures them.
I can relate, of course. Though some tenets of Islam came with the Winners as we went into space, most matters of faith were left on the ground. It changes your outlook on divine beings when you get to see the Earth from far above; the sight which is supposed to be reserved for the gods.
Digressing again... The party became a fact. We did manage to find some old pyrotechnics on our way back, and Rashid added some crates of old ordnance from the underground bunker. It was scheduled for destruction anyway, so why not enjoy the blast? The mansion is remote enough the fireworks wouldn't bother anyone, and much of the landscape to the south is desert already. Beer, barbecue and big explosions - I think Duo was in heaven.
I wasn't, but didn't have the heart to tell him. I've never been fond of beer, heavy red meats upset my stomach, and I had my fair share of flashy kabooms during the war. I guess I just don't match the 'guy likes' stereotype.
Still, that doesn't matter. My guests seemed to enjoy themselves, and that is the important part.
Of course, looks can be deceiving... We chatted a lot, but we didn't talk. I've always had a knack for sensing what people feel, which is sometimes more of a pain than an asset. Trapped here for four weeks, I hope they'll open up about whatever is bothering them. We all cleared the psych evaluations after the war, but that doesn't mean there aren't thoughts and nightmares that linger on.
Perhaps tomorrow, we'll be more honest with each other.