DISCLAIMER: Not mine, don't sue. _Please_. I don't have any money and I've been feeling really down lately and I don't think I could put up with a law suit or anything and by the time the trail would begin I probably wouldn't be able to take it seriously because I'm just that way–-But I'm rambling. *sigh*
PAIRINGS: Anything you want them to be, but I'm sure there will be mention of 1+2 SOMEWHERE... I just don't know WHERE...
WARNINGS: Language, not exactly pilot POV, but based mostly on Duo Maxwell and past experiences. For a simple `article for a magazine', this thing sure is long...
STATUS: One-shot
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've been feeling low lately. Not low as in "I've done something wrong and I feel guilty about it.", low as in "I've been wanting to write sympathy stories and angst for the past week." That kind of low. And I sat in my room reading a magazine (weird for me, who'll only pick on up if it's for a project involving the pictures) when I read this article of a one-time killer on death row. The writer of the article seemed pretty convinced the young man didn't deserve to be where he was; he had killed his father out of defense. So I ended up getting an idea in my uncreative mind (story ideas come to me in other things I read and songs) about an interview, an article, and a Gundam pilot.

Quiver in fear, poor souls, I've only just begun...

 

A Story Behind Every Action
Kel
One-shot

 

As I write this I listen to a song that reminds me much of the young soldier I met. The song is one of those old Earth songs of five hundred years ago, you know. Not many people know the real title of this song unless you search very deeply.

"Don't Fear the Reaper" barely has anything to do with my article, however, it still has a small part in it.

It was a cold night when I came to Death's door. Funny how the way I describe it reminds me of that old saying "Don't knock on death's door." Because that, my dear reader, is exactly what I did. Well, more like I rang the door bell and waited quietly.

Perhaps you are wondering why I was at Death's door. Perhaps I should be more elaborate with what my article is about. You see, Death's door just happened to be the doorway to one of the ruthless rebels of the war, the `acclaimed' "most cold-hearted bastard of the Earth and its colonies". I laugh at this description. Perhaps, when you've finished my article, you will too. I'm not going to explain how I came across the knowledge of a Gundam pilot's whereabouts, nor am I going to give you the name of the Gundam pilot. He deserves what little peace he can scrape up for himself.

I didn't expect to find a child opening the door, all smiles and eyes. He wasn't really a child, but he was short enough to be mistaken as one. I will not describe his looks, but he was a very beautiful boy. I asked him if the Gundam pilot (referred to by name) was in.

He smiled and nodded, replying cheerfully that he was the one going by that name. I was, inept to say, floored by this announcement. I thought I had made a mistake, and told him just as much before apologizing for my intrusion. He shrugging in a care-free manner and said it was no problem at all. "Maybe I can help," he offered politely, grinning this time. "Though I doubt you'll find anybody else going by that name."

I told him exactly who I was looking for. A Gundam pilot going by his name. I had never in my life seen anyone grow as pale as he did that instant. His eyes, beautiful and sparkling, lost their depth. His smile, wide and caring, lost its width. Instead of the chipper young lad who had answered Death's door was a broken young boy with a chip the size of L1 on his shoulders.

I asked him, softly, not really believing, if he was the Gundam pilot. He flinched and looked away before asking if I wanted to come inside for tea or coffee, but to not expect anything to be cooked. He was a terrible cook. The last part was said in more vigor, but I had a feeling it wasn't as much élan as usual.

Later I was sitting across from the Gundam pilot, sipping tea. He asked me, bluntly, what exactly I wanted from him. "I hope you know," he added, "I don't have any money to pay for your silence, and I refuse to do anything that involves assassinating or killing. I don't kill anymore, and I don't plan to ever do so again."

I asked him why he didn't lie to me at the door. I didn't expect for such a young boy to be a `cold-hearted killer' like media says. I was still shaken by it all. The seemingly innocent young man in front of me looked like someone I could pass on the streets without looking at twice. He replied, "Hey, I run, I hide, but I never tell a lie. I can usually get out of telling the truth, though, by twisting the truth a bit, but I had a feeling you'd be back." He was right. Would I not have found anyone else going by his name, I would have went straight to him with suspicious questions.

He asked me who I was and why I was there. I told him straight out that I was a journalist and I wanted to interview a Gundam pilot. He just shook his head with a small, sad smile and said, "Didn't expect me, didja? You looked as if a dog bit your butt when I told you I went by the name you were looking for."

I asked him if he would allow me to interview him. He shrugged, meaning he didn't care. But I could see in his eyes that he really didn't want to talk about anything to do with being a Gundam pilot at the moment. So, in sympathy, I improvised.

"Tell me about yourself," I said softly, placing my elbows on the table and leaning forward, fixing my chin into my palms. "What are your likes and dislikes?"

He didn't like accusations, people who kicked dogs and abused women and children, and blood. He liked just about anything else.

"What kind of food do you like?"

He told me he enjoyed any kind of food as long as it was edible. I asked him why. "I'm a war orphan," he admitted. "I spent the first years of my life living on the streets as a child. A lot of times I went to sleep in a cold alley with barely anything more than the clothes on my back to keep me warm and an empty stomach. These days I'll eat any type of food that doesn't move."

I guessed it was the reason he was so short and thin. He was malnourished. I didn't say this out loud, however, and kept my questions light. It seemed to relax him. "And your favorite color?"

Black, he said. "Not that I'm morbid," he added, "but black is the color of habits. For the most cherished year of my life I lived in a Catholic church."

"So you're Christian?" He was quiet then, and I had the feeling I just touched a sensitive subject. In a somber, quiet way he told me he didn't really know. He'd never seen one of God's miracles in his life, but he believed the priest's and the nun's god existed. He just didn't know if he could worship such a cruel being.

"Would you mind telling me about the nun and the priest?" He smiled then, a genuine smile. They were the nicest pair he'd ever met, he told me. They took care of him, tried to keep him out of trouble and well fed. For the first time in his life he felt he had something akin to a family.

"Besides my old friend who died of one of the many plagues of L2," he added, "Father Maxwell and Sister Helen were like parents to me."

I asked him what happened to them, even knowing deep down that I shouldn't have. His smile never left his lips, but he looked sad and forlorn. He explained that rebels had taken the church hostage. To appease the rebels, he went out to retrieve the mobile suit they wanted from the Federation. "By the time I came back to the church," he added quietly, "the Feddies had bombed it. Over two hundred innocent children died because the Feddies wanted to take out a worthless rebel faction hardly worth the missiles used to destroy the church. I... I don't remember much after that. But I do remember that, the next thing I knew, I was slipping on a ship to Earth with the Father's golden cross in one hand and a vow that I would never cry again in the other."

Had he ever cried again, I asked him. He gave a lopsided grin. "Of course not. I don't break my promises."

I gave him time to collect himself, feeling a sharp sting in the back of my eyes. For a moment it seemed Death was older than he was. He had the eyes of a regretful soldier forced into a life-long battle at an early age. It seemed as if I were going to shed the tears he couldn't.

"Is that how you came to Earth?" I asked him. He shrugged.

"Sort of. I didn't come immediately to Earth. The ship I stumbled upon was a Sweepers ship-a group of smugglers and sort of rebels. I was caught, but the scientist on the ship was impressed with how I sneaked onto a seemingly invincibly guarded craft that he offered me a certain position... and a chance at revenge."

"He offered you a chance to be a Gundam pilot," I guessed softly, watching as he nodded slowly.

"I'll level with you," he said. "The doctors didn't like the original mission we were to fulfill. I especially didn't like it. I tried to destroy my Gundam before I had a chance to pilot it. I told myself I'd rather die than become a senseless killer with no moral. But the Prof. stopped me and told me to steal the Gundam. So I did."

"Wasn't the real Operation the Mariemaia incident six months ago? They tried to drop a colony on the Earth, did they not?" Death nodded.

"So the scientists responsible for the building of the Gundams rebelled themselves, causing anger with Dekim Barton. Which in turn brought on the Mariemaia incident of A.C. 196." I was surprised. No one had ever even tried to make a connection to both the Gundams and Dekim Barton other than the fact the Gundams fought against him. No one realized that Dekim Barton, in turn, funded the creation of the Gundams for his own personal gain.

"Could you tell me about the other Gundam pilots? Not their names or anything, but how they were like. Surely they aren't as young as you!"

He laughed, a deep sound, as he threw his head back. "The oldest of us just turned seventeen, Michiru-san. Pilot 05 may not have celebrated it, but we're all very aware that his birthday was recent." He went on, explaining in something of a playfully mischief tone, telling me of the surprise party he planned to throw the very next day. I sat listening, observing his excitement and noting the care he had for his fellow pilot.

"But you wanted to hear about the others, ne?" he added at last. And he told me of them. How pilot 05 was stuffy and somewhat aloof, misguided, and confused. Pilot 05 was a good guy, he added with a grin, but he needed to loosen up a bit. Ergo, Death's endless teasing had the pilot of Gundam 05 playing along with him.

Pilot 04 was a nice, sweet, polite young man. He had a large amount of guilt on his shoulders because of "an episode with the ZERO system", whatever that means, but he was seeing a psychiatrist about it. He was, as Death described, `sensitive'. "Something about his heart," he added vaguely. Pilot 04 was a nice boy, if not a bit too polite. Death also loosened him with jokes and lewd yet playful come-ons to cheer the boy up.

Pilot 03 was a walking enigma to Death. He spoke little and when he did, it was worth the time to stop and listen. Yet no matter how aloof pilot 03, if one managed to get close enough to the stoic boy, he would feel it was his duty to protect you. "He's a really nice guy," Death grinned. "I love the way he does his hair. He's just too quiet! Everyone else complains on how I can't shut up, and I can't stop complaining on the silence when I do. Especially when I'm trying to get both pilots 03 and 01 to open up. It's a nightmare come true!"

I smiled at Death's exaggerated sighs of distress and felt something close to a motherly bond toward him. Suddenly I wanted to make sure he ate right, went to the doctor when he was sick... Motherly concern was not my usual forte', but I felt as if I were full of it when it came to the child–-no, young man–-that sat in front of me. He was a charming young fellow, not including a vicious flirt.

He went on to Pilot of Gundam 01, and I knew then. No, I won't tell you what I know. It isn't my business to tell. But Death's eyes became brighter and his grin became wistful as he explained his first meeting with the boy. "I shot that poor moron. Twice." I blinked, surprised. "We didn't know there were others like us, you see," he added. "We weren't informed of anything like that." When he saw the pilot of 01 pointing the business end of a gun toward a young lady, pilot 02 didn't think twice. But later on they became unofficial partners of sorts. "He stole the parts of my poor baby to fix his own Gundam, not to mention he set his own damn leg in front of me without a yelp of pain. Urgh! You ever have to see a guy set his leg with his own hands? It was so... Just thinking about it makes me ill!"

I believe Death was deeply attached to this other pilot, be it friendship or otherwise. He went on for at least half an hour about something the pilot of 01 did. Self-destructing struck me most of all. "Didn't pause or anything," Death went on with a strange quirk of his lips, "Took the time to blow himself up when Oz was still reeling over his age. Pilot 04 nearly had an empathetic heart attack or something, and I think I locked myself up in my room afterwards. It was one of the worst moments in my life, like the church massacre and my best friend dying rolled in one. I liked the guy, man. If I hadn't had thought he was already dead, I would have killed him for being such a jerk." But an order was an order, and the Perfect Soldier did not deny an order.

Pilot 02 described pilot 01 as thus: a silent, abusive, aggressive stick-in-the-mud with no sense of humor and a serious attachment to his spandex and guns. But, pilot 02 added, he was a very cool silent, abusive, aggressive stick-in-the-mud. I'm just not supposed to let HIM hear that. "The only reply I would get the next time it was mentioned would be a slight frown and a grunted `Hn. Baka.' He is so mean to me..." Death pouted playfully, and I couldn't help but laugh at his antics.

"Tell me about yourself." Death paused. He didn't really know what to say about himself, other than he was a bit of a gun short of a few bullets. He liked to smile and laugh at his mistakes and the mistakes of others, turning them into more of light jokes and slights other than serious errors. He liked to consider himself the joker of the five of them. "I also liked to consider myself the best damn pilot of the group, but I'd be lying to myself if I did," Death grinned. "But I must be a close second." Others said he talked too much. He claimed they spoke too little. So, in his view, it was a lose/lose situation.

I didn't ask him any more questions. I didn't feel the need to. It was quite obvious that this young man wasn't what the media claimed he was, as were his companions. They were all young men, I believe, trapped in the bodies of teenagers and forced into a bloody war at too early of an age. If their eyes were anything like the boy in front of me, I knew. I knew they didn't deserve the title the media and old soldiers of war cursed them to be. I knew that it was the war that drove them to do what they did and be who they were.

Every action has a story. If one digs deep enough into something, they'll find out that people were raised to be who they were. Serial killers, repeated sex offenders... More often then not these people do what they do because it was done to them at an early age. Not intentionally, no, but they were. These brave souls were young and ripe, deliberately raised to know how to kill, how to set a bomb, create a device for murdering out of unusual things. I blame the war for what has happened, not the group of rebels that ended it. I blame the situation of it all, not the young boys that were quite obviously guilt-stricken because of the actions forced onto them.

You may not agree. That's okay with me. But this is how I feel about the Gundam pilots now that I finally know the real people behind the machines. All I know is, Death and I spent the rest of the day's light talking of idle things and the miracle of babies and families. I do not see the boy as Death at all; it's his own image of himself, even though I told him outright that I saw him more as a young man full of life and laughter.

I end this with a smile and a happy heart. The pilot of 02 and I are clearly friends now. I don't see him as often as I want, but from what I've heard he and pilot 01 have been speaking for the first time since the end of the war. I've also been invited to the party thrown for polite 05 in order to finally meet the others for myself.

If the secrets of the pilots' identities ever become public knowledge, I hope you will see beyond your personal dislikes and hateful prejudice because of how they were raised. All you have to remember is that every action has a story.

The actions of the Gundam pilots, indeed, have five separate stories all on their own.

Michiru Konekai
June 25, A.C. 197

 

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OWARI
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