fingerpaint the sky

till everything shines

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Fic! Gundam Wing fic, in fact.
[misc] dreamers
genarti
So I wrote this fic ages ago, in an attempt to figure out how a certain piece of canonical backstory could happen, and have just had it kicking around waiting to be posted properly. Which I am finally getting around to doing.

Title: Names
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Length: 1800ish words
Rating: gen, PGish
Spoilers: Spoilers for backstory revealed in the manga and movie, I guess, if anyone cares. None for the plot of the show.




Mama has dozens of names for him, dozens of names for his sister. "Triton," she sings most often, her voice murmuring low and just a little different from everyone else's. "Little green-eyes," she whispers to him, and "darling," a new endearment or pet name for every mood. Catherine is Katya, Cathy, princess, sparkle-girl, sweetheart. Mama cuddles him close and kisses his mop of brown-blond hair, paler and softer than hers. She tickles his toes and tells him he'll be an acrobat someday, walk the tightrope with those baby feet. She sets him in her ring of yapping tumbling poodles and doggy tongues swipe over his face and hands; he shrieks with laughter, and she laughs too and brushes ineffectually at the sawdust clinging to his clothes. He watches lions over her shoulder, grabbing at the air when they cough in their cages, and his mother clutches him tighter to her chest and tells him to be careful, tumbler-boy, lions don't mean any harm but they don't know the difference between a little baby clown and their dinner. He watches them anyway, fascinated.

Papa uses fewer names: Triton, lad, Cathy, girl. He tosses his children up in the air and catches them. Cathy spreads her arms like wings, but Triton just laughs and laughs.

---------------

"What's your name?" the visitor asks, crouching down to the baby's level.

He sticks a finger in his mouth shyly. The other chubby fist clings to his mother's ruffled skirt, and she brushes a soft hand over his hair. It's flopping forward; it always does. He looks up at her, uncertain.

"Go on, Triton," she urges. She's smiling. Mama's almost always smiling. "Tell Mr. Wahid your name. You can say it, right, Triton?"

"Ito'," he echoes around his wet finger.

The adults laugh, and his mother praises him, and he's surprised into a toddler's wide gummy grin.

--------------

There was heat, and a tumult of shrieks and sirens that stabbed into his ears and his head, and the cart jolting down the road behind a panicked horse. Papa clutched him hard enough to hurt, and he could hear Mama breathing in sobs. He waited for them to tell him it was all right, it would be okay, it was just an act for the people and soon they'd all clap, nothing to be afraid of, but they never did.

And then he was flying through the air, terrified as he's never been in his two and a half years, and the ground smacked the breath out of him.

He hurts. He's dirty and bruised and he can't stop crying, and no matter how loud he wails nobody comes.

He toddles down the hill, because maybe his mother and father and Cathy are down there, but all he finds is rocks and dirt and broken bits of cart, and fire crackling down the road. "Don't touch fire," his mother told him. "Don't go near it." This fire is huge, bigger than a lion's cage, and he trips and falls and skins his knees open on gravel and splintered wood. He can't cry any harder than he is, so he just crawls and pushes himself up to run and trips and stumbles on again, sobbing "Mama, mama, papa, mama," but nobody comes.

When he falls asleep it's under a bush, and tears and snot smear the dirt around on his face. Blood crusts on his palms and his knees.

---------------

He doesn't see anybody for a day. No people, just trees. He doesn't have any food, either, and Papa never comes with lunch. He tries to eat a few leaves, but they're bitter and they prickle at his tongue, and he spits them out again. He's never been so hungry.

He doesn't find his mother or his father. He doesn't find Cathy. But on the second day he follows voices to a huddle of children, all older, all dirty like him. A boy with a matted shock of black hair is handing out apples.

A brown-haired girl -- not his sister, too old and too thin and too unsmiling -- looks at him, and the black-haired boy does too, and then he offers another apple. They talk at him and around him, but he's too busy trying to eat the apple. He's never had one before that wasn't cut into slices. It's messy and awkward and grimy, smearing juice all over his hands and chin, stinging in his scrapes and cuts, and he's never wanted any food more.

"What's your name?" the girl asks, later, when he's listening again. "I'm Mary."

He looks for his mother to prompt him, but she isn't there.

---------------

"Ito'," he tells them that evening, while black-haired Sven is slicing up stolen bread. "Ito'." But none of them get it.

"Ida?" guesses Kimiko, and giggles. The others join in, the names scuffling over each other: Aidan, Itachi, Tommy, Tony. None of them are right.

"Ito'," he shouts at them, and runs away as fast as stubby toddler legs will carry him. He cries at the river, smacking the mud with small fists and flat palms, until Nikolai comes down to rub his back and tell him in a voice a little like his mother's that it's okay, they can guess again some other day, it's okay.

They never do guess right.

---------------

Children come and go. It's not so much a family as a loose knot circling around Sven: each of them drawn by his charisma and the hope of food and company, drifting away because of social services or better hopes elsewhere or just plain chance. Every once in a while someone finds family, and the boy who used to be Triton (and sometimes still remembers that he is) spends days looking extra-hard for a flash of brown curls in a crowd.

He's old enough now to say his name, but he doesn't. He's out of the habit. No one prompts him any more. Some of them have picked names for him -- Tommy from Sven, Ida from Komiko (who's out of her own habit of giggling now), something different every day from Anastasia. He might have told Nikolai his real name, to hear the way he'd say the vowels and the r, but Nikolai vanished a year ago. Some of them call him nothing, and he answers to that too. He knows when they mean him. Grown-ups just shout, or look pitying, or say "kid" and "boy"; grown-ups take no for an answer.

Triton, he thinks when he remembers, is his secret now. His name for himself. That name lives in the fuzzy half-memories of being held, of lions and sawdust and people called Mama and Papa and Cathy.

---------------

"Hmph," the one-eyed man grunts. "What's your name, kid?"

He shakes his head.

The man peers at him, and the boy returns his stare with calm green eyes. He's never seen a man with that kind of sunken eye-socket, not cleanly healed anyway. It's interesting. The man blinks first, and laughs aloud. He has a nice laugh, loud and brief. "All right. Want a ration bar, no-name?"

The boy nods.

They give him food. He stares at their mobile suits, huge oiled collections of gears and guns and armor, and they watch him out of the corners of their eyes to see if he'll touch anything he shouldn't. He doesn't; mobile suits, he thinks, are like lions. You have to learn to see the world the way they do before you can know when it's safe to touch them. He thinks he could, though. Already he can see how the pieces fit together, bolted and soldered.

A blond soldier makes him a bed of olive-drab blankets on the flat bed of a truck, and the boy thanks him. It's the first word he's said all day. It makes the soldier startle, and then laugh. "Guess you aren't mute after all," he says. The boy shrugs.

He follows them the next day, perched on the truck as it rattles and sways down the road. They don't invite him to, but they don't stop him either, and a soldier with dark brown eyes gives him another ration bar for lunch. That night the one-eyed captain cleans his gun and shows the boy how the bright shells fit into the cartridge, how the cartridge fits into the gun. "Think you could do it, No-name?" he jokes.

The boy studies the gun, thinks back on the captain's blunt fingers moving quickly across metal, and finally nods. The captain's single eye glints, and his amusement fades into an assessing stare. He slaps out the cartridge and passes the gun over.

It takes some fumbling, and the boy's hands aren't strong enough yet to make every piece click into place with the solid snaps he already knows they should, and he doesn't really know what he's supposed to be looking for when he sights down the barrel like the captain did. The captain reaches out once to help, without comment, and the soldiers watch around the fire, attention snagged and held. The boy tips his head forward so his stiff bangs flop down over his face, and concentrates on the gun.

The captain takes it from him in the end, and does it once more himself. To make sure, the boy thinks. He'll remember that, that guns are supposed to be checked personally just like ropes and ladders and cardboard box hidey-holes.

"How old are you, kid?" the captain asks, and the boy shrugs. "Four? Five? You look four."

The boy shrugs again.

"Hell," the captain says, to himself or to the group at large. "What kind of a life've you got here? No name, hanging out with a bunch of bloodthirsty mercenaries like us. You got any people? Any parents?"

"You're not bloodthirsty," the boy says. "You get paid."

The captain brays a laugh, over the snickering of soldiers close enough to hear. "Guess so! Smart kid. All right, mister no-name. You want to come with us? We can feed you, at least. You look like you need it."

The boy thinks that over. Thinks about the stew and stale bread in his belly, about gleaming belts of ammunition being fed into mobile suits, about Sven bleeding out into the dirt after the air-raid three months ago, about a bed of olive-drab blankets and the soldiers' eyes watching him now. He nods.

They call him No-name in English, Nanashi in Japanese, Sin Nombre in Spanish, Namenlos in German. War is everywhere, it seems, and soldiers travel with it. Some of the soldiers seem to find comfort, or amusement, in using the language they know best for him. The boy doesn't understand why, but it doesn't matter.

He doesn't need a name. He knows who they mean.

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Woooooooooooooow. It's been years since I followed GW fandom at all, but this is excellent. Trowa's backstory has so many holes in it that a lot people never bother addressing. I really like that you started him out so young and let his identity shift so subtly. Nice work!

I am only starting to dabble in the fandom, mostly via recs. I have low tolerance for (perceived, from my interpretation) OOCness, which often doesn't serve me well in large fandoms. *grin* But there's some excellent stuff out there, all the same.

And thank you! I wrote this mostly because I was just so curious -- how the hell do you end up a kid with no name? A kid who won't give out his name, or who goes by aliases, or whatever, sure. But no name at all, even inside your head? That's fascinating, to me.

I'm glad it worked for you too. :D

Aw, baby Trowa laughing!

I love the word/language play around the way you've done the loss of his name; I think it's really well done.

(NOT NEAR THE FIRE TROWA)

I love cheerful baby Trowa/Triton/whatever entirely too much. *ruffles his hair, which is already in a proto-bang, btw* Poor little doomed kid.

And thank you! :D That's what I was trying to do, and I'm delighted it worked.

(Ha! BUT WHAT IF THE FIRE COMES NEAR HIM?)

A banglet! :D :D :D

*grins* I figured. And it really did - especially that bit at the end with the various-languaged iterations of 'no-name,' I think.

(WHAT WAS HE DOING PUTTING HIS FACE NEAR FIRES?)

It is. A wee proto-banglet. I will try to dig up a picture for you when I'm home.

Hee. That is my cunningly disguised attempt to work in the fact that it is ANYONE'S GUESS what language anyone is speaking at any point in canon. (English is the official language; there are pretty clear canon hints at this. But everyone is also speaking Japanese, what with it being an anime, and it takes place all over the world and in various colonies with assorted degrees of ethnic homogeneity, so... who knows! It's a fun excuse to make the guys multilingual, anyway...)

(YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. THAT FIRE HUNTED HIM DOWN!)

Very plausible and well-thought. I liked it.

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