the gundam pilot finds true love and forgiveness on an annual pilgrimage of repentance

by Midii Une


She watched him drive away from the tiny, peaceful country cemetery situated outside the city of Marseilles. The boy who had killed her grandfather. The coward who had asked her to kill him in retaliation. As if that would ease the pain of her grandfather's tragic death. She felt only cold contempt for him. She could not even hate him. Hating him would taint her grandfather's memory. Marshall Noventa had been a martyr for peace.

He looked in the rearview mirror as the truck carrying their Gundams drove away. She was still standing there by the grave, watching him go. The girl who had the face of a Botticelli angel, like a picture he had seen in an art book once. A picture whose beauty had almost touched him. But not quite. He had asked her to kill him, even handed her the gun. But she had refused him that release. She had called him a coward. And he could never forget that. For him that was the only insult that could hurt. The only word that could even begin to pierce his impregnable shell. A shell as impregnable as Gundanium alloy itself.

He vowed to return to Marseilles every year on the date of Marshall Noventa's death. Maybe in that way he could repent for his horrible sin. The sin of failure.

The First Anniversary, AC 196

Sylvia stood in the bright sunshine of the French countryside. She knelt and placed a bouquet of her grandfather's favorite flowers beside the headstone. It had been exactly one year since he had been killed.

She missed him so much. He had been her only family. But at least the peace he had died for had finally become a reality. And his killer, Heero Yuy, had been a part of that. She had forgiven him for her grandfather's murder finally. It had all been part of an OZ plot. She forgave but she could not forget. She still missed her darling grandfather. He had treated her like a princess and loved her above everyone, calling her his "petite Sylvie." Tears of sorrow slid down her cheeks as she remembered him. He had spent as much time with her as his busy schedule allowed and when he was with her he indulged her with picnics in the garden and horseback riding lessons at which she had excelled.

Heero watched her from a distance. He should have realized Sylvia Noventa would be here on the anniversary of her grandfather's death, but he hadn't thought that he would meet her here. He didn't want to upset her, he would return later. But she caught sight of him out of the corner of her eye. "

So you came," she said.

Heero nodded, looking not at Sylvia, but at the words carved in the marble. "Rest in Peace." Yes, peace was here at last. But so many people had died, some, like Marshall Noventa, because of his failure as a soldier.

Sylvia seemed to read his thoughts. "

My grandfather would be pleased that there is peace at last. Peace here on Earth and also in space," she said. "I have heard that you were involved in bringing peace about Heero. Perhaps my grandfather did not die in vain. He wanted peace above all else you see. I want to tell you that I have forgiven you for his death." "

His death was meaningless," Heero said bluntly. "There is no reason good men should have died for peace to be achieved. He died because I made an unforgivable error. You may forgive me Sylvia, but I can never forgive myself. Every year on this anniversary of Marshall Noventa's death I will come to this cemetery to remind myself of what I've done. I promise you that."

She shrugged philosophically. "Do as you wish Heero, but just know that I do forgive you. I will pray that some day you can forgive yourself. Goodbye."

He watched her walk away from him down the hill.

Heero continued to stare at the tombstone. Yes, at least there was peace.

The Second Anniversary, AC 197

Sylvia stood beneath an enormous black umbrella in a torrential rain storm. It had been two years since her grandfather's death. She had expected to see Heero Yuy here. She had felt that he was a man who would keep his promises, a man who would honor his vows. But, perhaps he had been killed. She had heard the Gundam pilots were involved in the brief battle that had threatened peace about six months ago. But no. She knew that Heero Yuy was not dead. Except for that one time he was always the perfect soldier. That one time. She said a final prayer for her grandfather and tears slipped down her cheeks, mingling with the rain that struck her face despite the umbrella. It really did not matter to her whether he came or not. It was growing dark and she decided to head back to Marseilles.

When she saw her car she knew that she wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. The cemetery road she had parked on was a rushing river of mud. Sylvia cringed a little and sloshed through the brown water to get to the car. She sat inside and shivered with cold. She wanted to turn on the heater but she knew that was dangerous. If she fell asleep with the car running she could die of carbon monoxide poisoning. She settled for removing her cold, damp sweater and rubbing her arms vigorously.

It was nearly midnight when she awoke with a start, wondering where she was. The sound of rain pelting heavily on the roof of the car reminded her and she stared at the sheets of rain rushing down the windows. She knew it was useless but she turned on the headlights to check the road. It was worse than before and Sylvia sighed, knowing that she would be hiking back to civilization tomorrow instead of driving. It would take a tow truck to move the car now.

Suddenly a figure crossed the beam of her lights in the road. Quickly Sylvia grabbed her umbrella and a flashlight she kept in the glove compartment. She went back out into the rain.

Heero stood there by her grandfather's grave, bareheaded in the downpour. He looked up when the gleam of her flashlight caught him. "Sylvia," he said. "What are you doing here this late and in this storm?" Part of him had hoped he would not see her this time. He had been delayed by the rain, eventually having to abandon his car and walk in on foot. "

My car got stuck," Sylvia explained, gesturing at the road behind her and flashing the light on it. "

Well, you'd better get back in your car before you get even wetter than you already are," Heero remarked, turning back to stare at the tombstone. "

What about you?" Sylvia asked. "

Things like rain don't affect me," he said briefly. "

Don't be an imbecile Heero Yuy. Even you get wet in the rain, just like everyone else," Sylvia remarked. "Come in the car with me. You know you can't stay out here like this and it is miles back to Marseilles. You can keep me company."

He didn't speak but he followed her back to the car. They sat inside in the dark not speaking or looking at each other. Finally he allowed himself to glance at her and he noticed that she was shivering violently. "

You should keep a blanket in your car for emergencies like this," he said.

Sylvia smiled at this mundane piece of advice coming from someone like Heero. It was such a normal thing to say after all. Then she remembered she did have some blankets, but they were in the trunk. No sooner did she mention this to Heero than he grabbed her keys and went back out in the rain to get them. He got back quickly and the blankets were just a little damp. He handed both of them to her wordlessly.

Sylvia wrapped one around herself, savoring the instant warmth. Why hadn't she thought about the blankets? Maybe Heero wasn't the only imbecile at the cemetery today."
Go ahead and take the other one," she told Heero. He was totally soaked. "Better take your shirt off first though or it won't do you much good." She was comparatively dry since she had had an umbrella at least.

He didn't answer or move to take the blanket. "

I insist," Sylvia said. "I feel colder just looking at you." "

Alright," Heero said. "In that case . . ."

Sylvia started to look away as he pulled his shirt over his head. But she found she couldn't. He had been rather slender when she first met him, shortly after her grandfather's death. But he had filled out since then, more of a man now than a boy. She thought briefly of a picture she had seen of a marble sculpture of David by Michelangelo, the beauty of that wonderful, muscular chest. She looked away quickly hoping the darkness hid her sudden blush.

Heero didn't notice her glance. But he looked at her profile as she looked away from him and back out at the rain. The darkness did hide the embarrassed flush on her cheeks but it didn't hide her beauty from him. She still reminded him of that painting of the angel or had it been the goddess Venus. He couldn't remember, only that it had looked like Sylvia Noventa, with her blonde hair, wide turquoise eyes and sweet, gentle smile. Heero's face also felt hot suddenly and he too looked out the window, away from her.

When Sylvia woke up in the morning, she was alone in the car. Both blankets were tucked carefully around her. "

Oh Heero," she whispered.

The Third Anniversary, AC 198

Sylvia decided she would not visit her grandfather's grave on the third anniversary of his death. All year she had been haunted by memories of Heero Yuy. For a year she had dreamed of him removing his wet shirt in her car. How could she be attracted to the man who had killed her grandfather? She forgave him, yes, that was true. But that was a whole different situation than being attracted to him. He was so handsome with his perfect body and exotic Asian face. So tragic with his inability to show his emotions, his inability to forgive himself. Heero Yuy was a dangerously fascinating person and she had no business getting involved with him. She would stay away and let him repent on his own. She had told him she had forgiven him. This would have to be the end.

She would go ahead and visit grandfather's grave a day early, at least the weather this year was good.

Heero arrived early in Marseilles for the anniversary of Marshall Noventa's death. He didn't want a repeat of last year's episode in the rain. He noticed that the town remembered the man as he and Sylvia did. Black ribbons were tied on nearly every door in remembrance of the beloved leader. Everywhere he went he heard people speaking favorably about Marshall Noventa and his lovely granddaughter Sylvia, who followed in his footsteps safeguarding peace in the region, settling the small disputes that arose among the people in spite of everything.

He thought briefly of Relena Peacecraft. She had loved him, but he couldn't live with her image of him. She thought he was perfect in every way. But he wasn't and he couldn't be with someone who wouldn't acknowledge that. He wanted someone to understand, to understand the real Heero Yuy. But even he did not know who that was. Part of his training as a Gundam pilot had involved the suppression of his emotions and to this day almost nothing could make him feel. Not sadness, not love, not even happiness.

He decided to make an early trip to the cemetery to pay his respects to Marshall Noventa, to remember what he considered his worst failure as a soldier. And tomorrow as well. Then he would see Sylvia again. Somehow that thought was a pleasant one.

Sylvia turned from the grave with a tear-streaked face. She wondered if she was crying partly because of her decision not to see Heero tomorrow. After three years the pain of her grandfather's death had begun to fade. But still, she was so alone. The people of Marseilles loved her, that was true. But they loved her as their leader, as Marshall Noventa's granddaughter. Not as the real Sylvia she was inside. The lonely young woman she was.

Heero stared at her tears. She had always seemed so strong to him before, strong yet gentle and kind. It occurred to him that Sylvia knew who he was. She knew his faults, she knew his sins and she forgave him. She could even tease him about them. He remembered her telling him that even he got wet in the rain. She knew him. Did she know that sometimes when he was alone he feared that he wasn't like other people? That he never might be? He had never thought she might need someone. Never considered her sadness or loneliness. He had actually never thought those things about anyone before. His own suppressed emotions had kept him from thinking about other people's. "

H-Heero," she stammered, hastily wiping the tears from her eyes. "You're early."

Without thinking he took her in his arms. "I didn't want to keep you waiting. Not like last time," he explained, the wonderful feel of her in his arms starting to crack the barrier he kept around himself at all times.

Tentatively he touched her cheek and looked into her face. She stared at him in astonishment. There were tears in his eyes too. Tears in the eyes of Heero Yuy. "

Heero? What is it? What's wrong?" Sylvia asked, concern evident in her voice. "

Nothing," Heero said. "Absolutely nothing. Except that I'm feeling something. I'm finally feeling something."

His voice contained wonder and disbelief. "

What is it Heero," Sylvia asked again. "What is it you feel?" "

Love," he answered. "I love you. Sylvia."

He bent his head and kissed her softly on the lips and she held him close to her. He crushed her against him, so tightly it hurt. He didn't always remember his own strength. But she didn't gasp or cry out. She didn't want to ruin this moment. He buried his face in the soft skin of her neck and her silky hair brushed against her cheek as he let the tears fall and make a damp spot on her shoulder. "

Don't cry Heero," she said softly. "Don't cry. I love you too. I love you."

The Fourth Anniversary, AC 199

Heero put his arm carefully around Sylvia's waist and helped her up the steep hill to Marshall Noventa's grave. From behind you couldn't tell that she was seven months pregnant. But when she turned around her stomach jutted out hugely underneath her maternity dress.

She sighed, only two months to go. She was a big as a cow and just about as graceful. She smiled at her husband. "

Heero, I knew you should have brought a wheelbarrow to get me up here," she joked. "I'm enormous."

She gasped a little in surprise. "

What! What is it," Heero said quickly. "I knew I shouldn't let you walk up here." "

Nothing but your son kicking his mother. He's as strong as his father too," she said. "Stop worrying. You're not going to be a nervous papa are you my love?"

He smiled back at her glowing face. He still didn't smile much but he was getting better.

Sylvia leaned against the headstone and Heero knelt to put down the traditional bouquet of flowers. She remembered how her grandfather had told her he would be happy if she married a strong man. She had, and she was happy too. "

I'm happy grandfather," she said. "I still miss you so. But next time we'll have someone else with us. Your great-grandson, Novento Yuy. I'll teach him to love your memory grandfather and to love peace as much as you did."

Heero placed his hand gently on her stomach and felt the baby kick again. "I'm happy too Sylvia," he whispered.


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