DISCLAIMER: (Borrowed in part from Jay, with her permission) The Gundam Universe of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, ANB, and Bandai America, Inc. Characters, places, timeline and other elements of the Gundam Wing series are the property of said organizations, and I do not profess to own them. The original material herein is the author and not considered public domain. Please don't sue or plagiarize. I'm in a perpetually non-prosperous state and all spare change usually goes into coffee or bags of oats.

PAIRING: 1x2x1
WARNINGS: Sap, slight angst, implied yaoi, songfic.
LYRIC CREDIT: Hero, by Chad Kroeger, from the Spiderman movie soundtrack

NOTE: Every once in a while a song comes out that convinces me that the person who wrote it is a Gundam Wing fan too. Do me, and yourself, a favor before you read this - if you haven't heard the song before, go to Kazaa or wherever else you download mp3s and download it, then listen, and think about Heero, to get into the full mood for this little introspective piece of writing.

SUMMARY: Heero expresses himself about his feelings during his time as a soldier.

Hero Heero
by Shira

"I remember...the first time I sat in my gundam, when the told me what they wanted me to do. What all the years of training and structure had been for. What the machine and I were capable of. What was expected of me."

I shift in my seat to find another comfortable position as your piercing eyes cut into me, waiting for me to continue. My fingers are automatically scratching the top of a plush tan head, Brandy having slid herself under my hand and in the perfect position so that there was no question as to what I was supposed to do.

"They raised me as their very own human war machine, but at the time, I didn't know any better. At first I rebelled against them, but the recourse was harsh. Punishment is a convincing conversationalist, and really, what choice did I have in the matter anyway? A kid, maybe twelve, thirteen, they being the only "family" that I ever remembered having. I still don't know the truth behind it all, how I came to be theirs, but at this point, after everything I've been though, I'm not so sure I want to know anymore."

My fingers stop and she raises her head up slightly, her soft eyes meeting mine, only upside down. She looks ahead again when the scratching begins once more.

"So they had their little soldier, their robot. It's taken years for me to realize it, but they really did a number on me. Stripped me of all my emotions. I remember that if I protested, or God forbid cried, the punishments were hard and swift, so after a while, I learned to push it away, all the pain. All the hurt. The physical torture and the emotional torment. I had to, or they would have killed me, or so they wanted me to think. I understand now why they did it - just look at what I was able to accomplish by pushing my emotions aside. Somebody else might have hesitated, and that would have spelled disaster. Its always been said that emotion is what comes between the best thought out plans and total failure, and they anticipated that, taking me when I was so ripe and moldable, teaching me to be the unfeeling puppet that I became."

I'm so high, I can hear Heaven

"I understand why now. I do." My eyes, which have been staring at the floor this entire time, raise briefly to yours, still transfixed on me, before I look down once more.

"But the cost was high - for me, at least. I suppose, though, that one man, or even one child, as the case was at the time, is a small price to pay for peace on Earth and everywhere else. That is unless you are that child. I was that child. I didn't realize it then the way I realize it now, but the damage that was done will haunt me forever. Because still today, even though I know what's wrong with me...I can't always combat it. I can sit here and talk about it over and over again, but I still find myself hiding away inside where no one else can witness what really goes on in my head and in my heart. I'm doomed to a life of self-denial, that is, if it weren't for the few of you who've managed to get inside me and figure out what it is that makes me tick. But even so, the hurt, it's always here. It reminds me every day of how they fucked with my head, and now I have to live with it for the rest of my life."

A sigh. Not sure if it was mine or yours. Or hers.

"No wonder I would have died finishing my missions back then."

I'm so high, I can hear Heaven

"Life had only one meaning, and it wasn't necessarily to live. It was to succeed at all costs, which I did, very nearly at the cost of my own life." I chuckle. "Would they have been especially proud of me if I had been killed accomplishing their agenda? I can see it now...J and the rest of them sitting around today, years later, at some get-together so they could sit and reminisce about the days that the world almost ended, and J would pipe up and say something like "Ah, but we all know that if it wasn't for Heero, rest his soul, we wouldn't be enjoying what we have here today. He was truly an inspiration, that boy." My voice is filled with sarcasm, as I continue. "Then the rest of them'll nod in agreement, but J would know it was all a bunch of bullshit. It was all bullshit. Because he brainwashed me, tormented me, and he knew it.

My eyes get moist, and I can see my pain reflected in yours as you listen to my outpouring. For a second I think about how great you are to listen to this crap time and time again the way you do, when I get so bogged down that I have to let it all out all over again.

"And he knew how afraid I was...so afraid, but he trained me to ignore it all. He trained me to believe that there was nothing to fear in dying, and I stupidly believed him. I believed that I was expendable, so it didn't matter what happened to me. But the funny thing is...I'm still here, but he's not."

But Heaven, no Heaven don't hear me.

"Yeah, I was headstrong back then, and probably a little foolish, too."

You give me a look.

"OK, maybe a lot foolish. When you have no emotions and you ignore your fears, you can be that way. Hell, I was ten feet tall, bulletproof and invisible1. You can do things without thinking about the repercussions when you're invincible like that, because really, the only repercussions were to myself, and I was constantly reminding myself that I didn't matter."

My fingers are still scratching soft fluff.

"It wasn't about me. It was about the mission. So I took risks. I did what I had to do, turning heads everywhere I went and with everything I did. Some of you called me brave. Others called me unstoppable. I suppose I was, but I was also stupid. Back then I saw it as carrying out my responsibilities. Today I look at it as having lived on the edge of a razor. One wrong move and the blade would cut deep. But then I think...if not me, then who? I was just as good as any, I suppose." I rest.

"I know I was supposed to be part of a team, but I couldn't work that way."

"No kidding," comes your smart-assed reply, the first time I've heard you since we sat down.

"Wanna know why? Because in every one of you, I saw myself - a kid being forced to do what no kid should ever have to do - so I tried to do it all alone. I tried to be the hero, no pun intended, to spare you all the suffering, even though I know now that nothing I did could have saved you from your own personal suffering."

Our eyes meet again, and this time my sincerity causes yours to get a little moist.

"Regardless, I didn't want to see any of you go out in a ball of flames - if it had to happen to anyone, it would happen to me, because...because. Just because." I sigh, and for a few moments say nothing. Then I look up, my eyes filled with hurt. "You all thought I was cold and indifferent. That I have an attitude problem. None of you knew that what was really spinning around in my sick, warped head the whole time was my own fear manifested on you! I wasn't allowed to be afraid for myself, so I feared for you instead."

"I wanted to save all of you, since I couldn't save myself."

"But no matter what I did, no matter how I tried to go it alone, you were all right behind me. I know I wasn't very good at giving thanks back then - but you have no idea how that felt. Even though part of me cursed you all for following me, even though I said I didn't need any help, or any friends, the other part of me - the part that had been locked away for so long, the part of me that actually did need someone to worry for me - that part of me was so grateful that you didn't let me go out there by myself to die. If I had gone out there by myself, I would have died, I think, because I wouldn't have had to stick around to keep you all safe."

And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away

Again I stop, and we just sit for a few minutes while I collect my thoughts. I know you know how hard this is for me, coming to terms with myself like this, but I've reached a point where if I don't express myself like this every once in a while, it'll eat me up from the inside. I know you already know all this, but I have to say it anyway.

"I remember how Relena was so stuck on her idea of pacifism." I adjust in the armchair again, and Brandy lies down at my feet now, putting her had on her front paws. "I thought she was a silly little rich girl with these grandiose ideas at the time, thinking that people would ever use anything other than fighting to separate the weak from the strong. But really, she had a lot of great ideas. It's just a shame that not everyone can agree with them. That, I think, is what she could never understand - that even if three-quarters of the world wanted to sit down and talk, if there were still a quarter of us out there with weapons and gundams and whatever else, there weren't going to be any talks. Nobody sitting down to lunch to decide how to handle the disputes."

Someone told me
Love will all save us
But how can that be
Look what love gave us

"The only way pacifism can work is if it's voluntary and all-encompassing, and unfortunately I don't ever see it happening. I don't ever see the entire world, every human being, willingly destroying all weapons and organizing talks. There isn't enough bloodshed in it. Call me crazy, but I think there is a certain amount of bloodshed that the human animal expects to experience in the name of boundaries and rules and policies. We've always been killers; we always will be killers."

I smirk, and your eyes question.

"She used to think all I wanted to do was go out in that gundam and blow people away, when that couldn't have been farther from the truth. I didn't want to kill anyone...but, that's just kind of how things are in a war, ya know? Kill or be killed? And what with my head filled with J's bloodlust to destroy anything in my path..." I chuckle at myself again, shaking my head. "And then, if it wasn't everyone else I wanted to kill, I know she was afraid I was going to do it to myself."

"Ya have to give her credit there, though," you say to me, knowing what I was like during the final days of that first battle. You were there. You remember it all too. "I think there was a point where we all thought you wanted to die out there in that gundam."

"I guess. Yeah. I know. But I already told you why. It wasn't a death wish that I had...it was a life wish. That everyone else would go on, even if I didn't. I know it probably doesn't make sense to you, but I know what I mean."

A world full of killing
And blood spilling
That world never came

Then you interrupt me. "But in the end, it was you, after all, who stopped it all. You managed to pull it off, and without doing yourself in, in the process." Your smile is warm and appreciative, and I don't know if it's more because I did survive, or because I survived and now I'm here with you. I guess it really doesn't matter though, because each reason is probably good enough all its own.

I get pensive for a little bit, and answer with a subdued "Yeah, I guess I did."

And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away

"But you know..." My voice trails off as I contemplate. Then I smile to myself, blushing a little, my eyes looking down to the dog on the floor beside me.


"Poor Relena."

"How so?"

"After all that... I guess at one point it was all looking like it would be a story book ending for her."

"Hmm? Oh, oh yeah. Right." Now you blush bashfully too, hanging your head a little bit. "Yeah, I guess so. Poor Relena. But hey... what are ya gonna do, ya know?"

"I know she was disappointed. In me. I mean, I love her, I do...I'll do anything I can, still to this day, to help her..."

"As would I," you add.

Now that the world isn't ending
It's love that I'm sending to you
It isn't the love of a hero
And that's why I fear it won't do

"... but how could I tell her to her face? I mean, I know it would have been the best thing to do, to tell her, rather than have her see us together like she did when she finally figured it all out... but I just couldn't."

"You shouldn't feel guilty."

"I know I shouldn't, but I do."

"Why? Is it because you didn't amount to what you think she expected of you?"

I pause for a moment and think about that statement. "Maybe. Yeah, I suppose. Because she deserved better. I think she really thought she loved me."

You smile. "She may very well have loved you, but what about you?"

You caught me doing it again. "Right, I know... I'm past the days of doing for everyone else and it's my time for me now."

"And me," you correct, and teasingly blow me a kiss. Smart-ass.

Again we sit in silence as I go over my thoughts and memories some more, deciding what else it is that I need to say. There's more. There's always more. I just have to convert the pent-up feelings into words so you can understand me and feel what I feel. For someone who was never allowed to feel, these days it's what I'm all about - feeling. It's like the dam finally broke, there after the second war, when I had my breakdown, and now it all just flows out, unstoppable.

You go to the kitchen to get us each a glass of tea, then return, placing mine on the coffee table in front of me. For a bit, I just stare at it, watching the ice melt in the glass, until I finally begin again. The pile of fluff at my feet sprawls out and falls fast asleep.

"You remember after the Eve War? When I had my breakdown? Remember what lead up to all that?" You nod silently. Like you would ever forget such a thing? "That was the closest I've come to dying, I think."

"You had me really scared. Even more scared than when you had to blow up the Libra."

That's because you cared more a year later.

"It was like the devil himself had possessed you, the way you went at that fortress, determined to get in. You should have seen yourself. I was sure you'd flipped your gourd that time."

"I couldn't help it. It was a repeat of the last time - I had to save her. Save us, all of us. Didn't matter at that moment in time what happened to me. All I needed to know was that I had done everything within my power to keep the rest of you from getting hurt, and if that meant I got killed when my Gundam bit it, then so be it. Never occurred to me that me getting killed would have hurt you all too. Never actually figured anybody cared that much, being that no one ever had before."

And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I'll hold on to the wings of the eagles
Watch as we all fly away

"I cared," you say, and take a sip of tea, the glass leaving a wet ring on the top of the second-hand table that we got, and like so much that we never replaced it.

"Back then I didn't know that, remember? But...seeing you when I woke up in the hospital, it made me realize a lot of things." Our eyes meet again and the corners of my lips tug into a faint smile. "I didn't know what the feeling of relief was in me, the happiness that I felt when you were the first person that I woke up to, but...after all the time we spent working so close that year before, well...I guess I grew to care for you and hadn't even realized it. I never understood until that day that I was pining for you the way Relena was pining for me. When I put it into that perspective, I understood it, finally."

This time all you do is smile, a smile that threatens to melt me faster than the ice in my glass.

"But for a long time I didn't know how to handle it, the fact that I actually had feelings. Didn't matter for whom, really...just that I was having them. I'm glad it was you though. I'm glad that we figured it out, that we felt the same."

"Yeah...were a crazy couple of years after that. We were playing cat and mouse with each other there and didn't even know it."

This time I'm the one who just smiles.

Then changing the subject slightly, I say "You remember how impressive we all were, in our gundams, cutting through space like we were nobody's business, so full of purpose, so...righteous? Remember that? The adrenaline?"

And they're watching us
They're watching us
As we all fly away

"Like it was yesterday."

And they're watching us
They're watching us
As we all fly away

"The five of us, I guess we really were quite a team, weren't we?"

"When you let us play too, yeah, we were." You tease me.

And they're watching us
They're watching us
As we all fly away

Then I say something that I know will change the somber mood. I can only take the self-revelation for so long before I have to shut away the memories again until next time. "Those wings were the coolest, weren't they? The ones that Wing Zero was outfit with after the colony war?"

Your expression changes and you fall into my little trap, but I know you have plans of your own, as you usually do.

"Oh, here we go again about the wings! Fucking show off! That's all you were with those wings!" We laugh. "You know as well as I do that Deathscythe's bat wings were cooler. Besides... the old boy had a bigger thermal scythe outfit as well. That scythe was waaay cooler than Wing's beam cannon, any day."

"The beam cannon was ten times bigger."

"Oh? A little self-conscious about size are we?"

I nearly spit tea out of my mouth as I try to stifle a laugh. I respond one better, the conversation naturally turning dirty. You always do that to me - take my conversation and turn it into something dirty. I guess that's why I let you, because you manage to get my mind off the heavy stuff.

"Well, I don't know... last time I remember I was plenty big enough to keep you screaming for more!" My eyebrows shift teasingly at you, and you feign a look of shock and disgust, eyes wide, mouth gaping, as if I said something that embarrassed you, but we both know that's nearly impossible - embarrassing you, that is. I'm the one who turns beet red instead.

The talk deteriorates from there until the next time I need you to save me from saving myself.

[1]Def Leppard lead signer Joe Elliott, in the VH1 "Behind the Music - Def Leppard," said of former guitarist Pete Willis, who had a problem with alcohol that would make the diminutive man act like he was "ten feet tall, bullet-proof and invisible". I have always thought that was a rather memorable quote.


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