At The Core
We had worked on the Leo for longer than expected. We'd stripped most of it down, inside and out. Some of the instrument panels, wirings and large hydraulics remained. The former was what I was wrestling to bits that morning, picking at plastics and circuitry from the unupholstered pilot seat.
I'd seen the rift in the plating, back at the left - as well as the dried-up smear around it. Couldn't help but pity the former owner. Through the cracks is not a good way to go. Good thing this suit was going as pieces of scrap and not a whole unit; I wouldn't give much for its resale value with that sort of paint job. Didn't look like the stains would come off even with a steel brush.
Mobile suits and ships are somewhat alike in that regard - nobody likes a 'dangerous' ship, or the name of a ship that's gone down once already.
Nobody would want a suit that killed its former pilot.
Except crazies like us Gundam pilots, perhaps. We all sent our suits to death and resurrection - except Heavyarms. Trowa took that duty in on himself instead, more than the rest of us. Then again, we all tend to do a good job on ourselves even without the help of haywire mobile suits or enemy fire.
I muttered a quick prayer for the last owner, apologizing for picking apart her ultimate grave marker. Grimly, I wondered if I should carve out that section of plating and send it to her family. I'm glad I decided against it.
I'd come across the lockbox welded into the side days ago. Faint clawmarks lead the way there. I'd murmured another quick request for forgiveness before flicking the lid open.
I knew I hadn't been the first to spot it, or open it. The hack job at the lock was one sign, the marks of disturbance in the dust inside was another. There was no question who'd checked the contents before I did; Hilde prefers sorting the scrap or do second-hand demolition - the sort that requires a bit more subtlety than Heero and I care for.
Heero'd obviously run out of patience near the end there, judging from the wedge marks - probably from a screwdriver shoved in and turned over, unlocking the box with more brute force than finesse.
He'd probably taken a good look - and put it all back in a hurry.
Perhaps Hilde had returned at an inopportune moment. The gods know she's good at that.
I grazed my fingers along the stains again, glanced down at her husband and young sons. Now, this, I would send to them. That much, they deserved - along with the knowledge her that last thoughts were for them. The details weren't necessary.
I'd already disposed of her old handgun and the small bottle of liquid comfort. I didn't need them. Hilde didn't need them. Heero certainly didn't need them. He had a gun of his own, and he kept his personal little fortifier close to his heart now.
My eyes lingered on the family photo once more.
Nobody has it all. Something always has to give.