3nanashi: (Past.)
[personal profile] 3nanashi
Trowa dreams, like everyone else. Events from the past, or from the day, or the news or a book he was reading, or just his imagination, all filtered through his subconscious into a surreal mish-mash. Sometimes the dreams are telling, of anxieties or bad memories; sometimes it's not. Mostly the latter.

Right now, he's dreaming about wandering through a city he's never been in, though he knows it's Moscow. He's looking for a lost car, and for some reason, he's a hot dog vendor. Dreams are weird. There's ammunition for Heavyarms hidden down in the bottom of the hot dog cart.

He passes through a half-substantial crowd, turns down a small alley, and the dream shifts around him--


"Hey, kid."

Trowa's awake at the first word, his body instantly alert before his mind has quite caught up, staring through half-closed eyes at the darkness while he casts about rapidly for the location of weapons, enemies, exits, cover. He's motionless, except that his hand is beneath the pillow already, and so his fingers spread, searching. This wartime startle reflex is almost gone these days, but that's under normal circumstances; usually he's not waking to a strange voice with no footstep outside or door opening preceding it, no one in the room when he went to sleep, nothing to warn him--

There's no weapon beneath the pillow. He hasn't kept one there in years. And this isn't his room, with his gun and kit in the duffel bag under the bed. It's Milliways.

Trowa sits up.

A small bedside lamp is enough to see the whole room by, when your eyes are sufficiently adjusted. The shape by the wall is broad-shouldered, with a dark beard and military fatigues and the furrowed slash of a scar across one eye. Impossibly, abruptly familiar.

The first word, Captain, is too revealing. It's Milliways, and--

Trowa should have heard someone approaching; he didn't, and that means he's on edge, and it means there's a good chance this is some kind of trick. Milliways means you can't rule anything out.

"You're," Trowa says, and stops there. (It's a test. But it's not only a test. There's a lot that he could say, and Trowa's never been good at saying it.)

The man grins, lopsided and lazy-sharp. "Dead? Yep."

Well. That too.

The man flicks on the overhead light, and Trowa slits his eyes against the brighter glare. He doesn't move otherwise.

"Sorry," says the man who looks like Captain Singh, in Captain Singh's voice; it's deeper than he remembered, even though he thought he remembered everything perfectly, but it's exactly right all the same. "You'll adjust, kid. I don't want you thinking I'm a trick of the darkness."

"Aren't you?"

The captain snorts a laugh. "Trick of something, maybe. Nah, not me. I won't be here tomorrow, but I'm not a trick."

Silence greets this. They study each other.

"Hear you've got a name now," says the captain.

"Yeah." The name belonged to another dead man. Most of the time, he doesn't care.

The captain grins suddenly, that fierce grin that's somewhere between a private joke and no joke at all. Trowa never could figure out exactly which, but he remembers it perfectly. For some reason, seeing it makes something tighten in Trowa's chest. He ignores that.

"Not much more talkative, huh? Come on, kid. I came all this way for the silent treatment?"

"I talk."

The captain got the silent treatment a lot from Trowa back when he was no-name, too. Everyone did. Some things stay true.

He breathes in, and breathes out. "Why did you come?"

The captain shrugs. He takes four steps closer -- Trowa sits motionless, watching him -- and halts at the foot of the bed, folding his arms. He never was the sit-on-the-bed type, even when Trowa really was a kid. "It's not enough to say because I could?"

Trowa's not the only one who gives tests. "That's not a mission objective."

The captain laughs, a bark of genuine amusement. "True," he allows, and shakes his scarred head. "I taught you well, kid. Or I taught you terribly. Never could figure out which."

"I know."

He remembers the captain's face over his comm screen, and his voice harsh and shocked: Those were the guys who made you what you are. You... you're not human. He remembers how the captain never quite looked him in the eye again, not the same way he had, and never again ruffled his hair or clapped him on the shoulder.

Maybe if he'd lived more than a few months after that, he might have forgiven his nameless prodigy. Or maybe he wouldn't. Trowa's never allowed himself to wonder much about it. It's unanswerable, and he suspects he knows the answer anyway.

The captain, here and now and dead, shakes his head again, more slowly. "Not that."

Trowa waits.

"You were a damn good soldier."

He sounds old. Trowa's taken aback by it, even if nothing shows on his face. He wonders, a little -- did the captain sound like this in life, and he was too young or too preoccupied to notice? Or is this something new?

"A damn good soldier," Captain Singh repeats.

"You were a good captain," Trowa says, after a long moment.

It's only truth, and he says it simply, but the captain snorts. It's a bitter sound, and his weathered face matches it. "Nah," he says. "If I was, things wouldn't've fallen out like they did."

"Yes they would've." Trowa meets the captain's single eye with his own calm gaze. He did this a thousand times when he was young, and it feels like only yesterday; it feels impossibly far away, at the same time, and he feels every centimeter and year he's grown since the last time he spoke to a living Captain Dal Singh. "We were used. You know that."

There's no reason the captain should know. He died before Trowa discovered Middie's betrayal. But he shouldn't know Trowa's name, either; he shouldn't be here.

Captain Singh doesn't seem confused. He just puffs out a breath, not quite agreeing. "Maybe."

He drops his arms, and takes two strides around the bed. He's close now -- close enough to touch, close enough to smell the smoke and gunpowder and machine oil and captain that hovers around him. The scent, nine years later, hits harder than it has any right to. Trowa watches him, and doesn't move.

The captain's big hand clasps his shoulder. It doesn't envelop it like it used to with no-name's skinny child's shoulder, but his hands are still broad and warm. "You did good, no-name," he says.

Trowa looks up at him. "Not always."

"Not always," the captain agrees.

They both know what they're talking about.

But his hand stays where it is for a minute more, and (no-name) Trowa stays looking at his captain's one-eyed face.

Then the captain's hand lifts away, and he gives a slight nod, and strides away across the room.

Trowa's eyes narrow, very slightly. "See you," he says to the captain's retreating back. It doesn't sound like a question; it is.

"Nah. Not for a long while you won't."

Captain Singh flicks the lightswitch down, and the room goes black--




And he's awake. The real thing, this time; he remembers, now. This is where he went to sleep: in a Milliways room with too many interior doors for comfort, and a bedside lamp casting a yellow glow around the room, and Quatre beside him. The half-familiar weight on his chest is his boyfriend's arm.

Quatre is curled next to him, motionless except for his breathing. Trowa exhales and glances sideways, and Quatre's eyes snap open.

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Trowa Barton

December 2012

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