Title: Swords and Words: A Tale of Two Friends
Pairing: 6x9 in the narration, 6+13 (friendship) in the flashback in this chapter. For the uninitiated this means that the adult Zechs narrating the flashback has a relationship with Noin, and that little Zechs and little Treize are friends.
Rating: G here. The rating could go as high as R later on.
Warnings: More cuteness then you could shake a stick at. (AKA Sap)
Summary: A holodocumentary about Treize Kushrenada makes Millardo Peacecraft reminisce about his relationship with Treize, and the time he spent under the name Zechs Marquise in general. Milllardo is speaking from memories, some of them terribly distant, and so this story will have something of the ephemeral and disjointed quality of a memory.
Disclaimer: If I owned Gundam Wing, there’d be a wing of some place of higher learning named for me somewhere, and I would be on a Caribbean island, not enduring Ohio winters.
“Swords… when I was a child (that brief, blissful period), a sword was not a practical weapon, and most people thought that it never would be again. Fencing was a stylized sport for those with too much money and not enough sense. Missiles and lasers ruled the battlefields of Earth; infantry and armor were for holding ground, not taking it. Not that there had been a major war for a century. Now fencing is a staple of physical education classes, as a method of self-defense as well as exercise. The strip has been widened, and blows to the face are no longer off limits. Beam sabers and other melee energy weapons are necessary to MS combat- they are much more powerful then firearms because they are sustained rather then intermittent; and training with ordinary blades became part of basic training for MS pilots, then part of basic training for all officers. This return to close combat is a profound and positive thing; war is once again a noble, human contest”
That was enough- I turned off the holodocumentry; I would let no historical analysis sully my memory of that glorious speech on that glorious day!
I am Millardo Peacecraft, husband of Lucrezia Peacecraft, father of Walker and Otto Peacecraft, a rambunctious pair of first-generation Martians. Yet I will never forget Treize Kushrenada, and I am glad that there are others who keep his memory alive. Yet, everyone else (Except, perhaps, the dear Lady) is concerned with Treize the politician, Treize the symbol of an era. I am concerned with Treize the man.
Aye, Treize is dead, the Kushrenada family name will die when Maremaia marries, and violent era that he belonged to is a distant memory. In turn I have called Treize Kushrenada a ‘meanie’, ‘big brother’, ‘commander’, ‘friend’, and ‘more then a friend’, but the last time we met we met was across a battlefield, and we called each-other ‘mortal foes’.
Trieze wanted a beautiful, glorious life, and a beautiful meaningful death, and he did, in the end, get his wish. He got his death in honorable battle against a worthy foe, a foe that embodied his ideal of a soldier better then he ever did.
Treize cared about people, more than anything else. Even his precious roses and swords. But he never cared enough about himself!
I first met Treize when I was five and he was ten. Our fathers met about politics frequently; General-Duke Acturius Kushrenada was one of the leading liberals in Romafeller, and an old school-friend of my father’s. The General was of course no total pacifist, but he and old King Mohandas were allies in opposing the Alliance’s efforts to take over the colonies.
His only son, Treize, was given the task of keeping me amused and out of the way of the grownups. Relena was only an infant, and was consigned to a different wing of the palace with her wet nurse. Treize had freckles then, and braces, and his hair was a more fiery shade of red, not unlike Marimaia’s. His eyebrows were as wild as ever they were. My hair reached down to my collar, then. I remember that I wore a white sailor suit. Treize was still in short-pants then.
The first day of the Kushrenada’s visit was rainy, so we stayed indoors and read. We could have played with my RANT*, but there were no games that I had that Treize liked. I was could read books with chapters, and bragged about it, and then he told me that HE was reading The Wind in the Willows, a novel from before people went into space. I said that I bet I could read it, and Treize smirked and let me. I started reading the first chapter out loud, and Treize was shocked that I could read all the big words in English! I remember his exact words, “Thunderwater! A kindergartener and you can read a very old book in a language that is not your fatherland’s”. We were speaking German.
I giggled at Treize's comment, and reminded Treize “In Sank** most people speak French or German, but we Peacecrafts come from America, and Mommy was an English princess before she married Daddy.”
“Oh! So you speak English with your mother?” Treize asked. I nodded my head yes. “You are still a very remarkable boy”, he concluded.
“Thanks” I said, a bit shyly. I was very ready to defend my intelligence, and my family from all insults and all comers, but I took compliments less well, especially compliments from grownups. Remember that to a five year old a 10 year old seems practically an adult!
We read The Wind in the Willows aloud for the rest of the afternoon, each of us taking a chapter, and by dinnertime, Mr. Toad was in jail, and I had learned many new words (I could sound them out fairly well, and Treize would tell me the meanings). It was a very pleasant way for two boys to pass a rainy afternoon.
Dinner that night was a family affair, not a full court dinner, so Relena and Treize and I sat with our parents in the small dining-room. The whole room was painted a delicate pink and white; I hated it and thought it was girly. I had once told Daddy that, but daddy only laughed and told me that “my own mommy liked this room, and I keep it that way because I love her”. I was only a toddler at the time, so I simply boggled at the idea that Daddy had a mommy of his own. I remember we had asparagus soup at that meal; something I detested, that Relena managed to eat some peas, and that the grownups laughed a lot, and gushed over us children, but it all seemed fake to me somehow.
The next day of the Kushrenada’s visit to our home was taken up by affairs of state, which meant that I had to dress up in scratchy dress clothes, tolerate Nanny combing my hair (she always pulled too hard), and sit still while Treize’s Father and Daddy made very long speeches that I couldn’t really understand.
I remember Treize muttering to himself in German, but when I whispered to ask him what was wrong, he told me “you’re too young to understand, it’s politics, and it’s bad; your daddy is being silly, and Father only wants to help him.”
“Daddy is never silly!”, I declared, too loudly. I was firmly shushed by Nanny.
On the third day of the Kushrenada’s visit to Sank, all of us went fox hunting. That’s fox hunting with hounds, not with guns. An ancient saying referred to this pastime as “the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible”, and as an adult both Treize and I preferred shooting, especially shooting pheasant and other game birds. But that one fox hunt in our childhoods was a wonderful thing. The thing about fox-hunting*** is that it is not just a sport for aristocrats. On the contrary, practically whole household is involved. The grooms ride out with the gentlemen and ladies, as does the Master of Foxhounds and the rest of the kennel staff. The Cook and the rest of the kitchen staff come out with a picnic luncheon, and the parlor staff help serve it. Really, the only people not involved in the ritual are the lady’s and gentlemen’s personal attendants and the butler, and they may ride with the hounds themselves, especially the butler; a butler is very close to being a Gentleman himself. Our butler, Pargan, did ride with us; he was a tall, pale young man; I didn’t think he was very nice because he never played with me or smiled at me.
On that blessed day it seemed like Mommy and Daddy were able to forget whatever was making them sad as everyone gallivanted over the Sancian countryside. Sank was a very green country then, with rolling hills and little brooks. I remember that the fox swam a little river, and Treize horrified his parents by jumping his pony over it rather then finding a bridge or swimming his pony. Daddy laughed, and followed Treize.
After the hunt, Treize and Daddy talked quietly for a bit. I had a PB&J sandwich with no crusts for dinner, and Treize had sliced egg. Odd the things that you remember. Treize and his family went home to Russia the next day. The next time I saw them would be under much more trying circumstances.
*RANT stood for Really Awesome Nintendo Tech, which was at the time the latest gaming system. The Japanese have never quite mastered marketing in English.
**Sank was created when the Rhineland declared its independence from France and Germany in 152 PC (Pre Colony). Our loathing for war comes from being fought over, conquered and reconquered for centuries.
***The target of a fox-hunt is not necessarily a fox. On L2 rat is the only legal quarry, but the sport is still called fox-hunting. On the other hand, I am working to ensure the importation of proper European Red Foxes to Mars in the course of building the Martian ecosystem.