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I.

Every morning Char Aznable wakes up to cold hands around his neck. They are always trembling, accompanied with labored breathing and wild eyes. He doesn’t wake up due to this, but he wakes up because it’s simply time to get up in the morning. Char places his hand on the left wrist, gently prying it off.

“You can let go of me now, Amuro,” he murmurs softly, then gets up. Sometimes Char looks back. Most of the time he does not. It’s the same scene every time. A smaller man in boxers and an undershirt, looking at his trembling hands.

And of course, he feels nothing.

II.

“I’ll become your dog if you don’t do this, Char.” Amuro spits out every syllable without a shred of hesitation. “Giving us information on the Psychoframe and planning to drop an asteroid on Earth just to get back at me ? You’ve lost it. What the hell is wrong with you?!”

He clenches a note in his hand, gritting his teeth. There are tears at the sides of his eyes, probably from the intense confusion and frustration running through his mind. Char Aznable, reduced to such exaggerated ends. Char Aznable, all for the sake of rivalry. Char Aznable, Amuro Ray-declared “conceited” man.

Despite bursting into Char's room absolutely furious, Amuro’s dressed nicely. In that blue suit of his when they tackled each other down those days ago. Those weeks ago. Char doesn’t remember those little details, especially not in regard to Amuro. There’s too much to think about when it comes to dropping Axis on Earth.

And he absolutely stands out like a sore thumb against the deep red carpeting.

“Amuro.”

“W, what?” The younger man bolts upright after his unexpected, yet concise prompt. Perhaps Char had been silent longer than he thought.

“Were you serious about that? The ‘dog’ thing.” Char accentuates the second to last word, much like how Amuro spat it.

His eyes flicker at his unexpected, yet concise question. Perhaps Char had been more forward than he thought.

“...Yes. Absolutely.”

And yet, being forward in such a situation is all but necessary. Garma’s control of women and Char’s observation of them came in handy for one small instance. Even if it wasn’t romantic in nature.

“It baffles me how much you’ve dedicated yourself to keeping… rats on Earth. Though all it needs to do is rest peacefully at this point, you would toss your pride just to make me stop for its sake.”

Char Aznable of course, feels nothing when he lifts the chin of Amuro Ray. He can feel Amuro swallow nervously. His eyes show the unease in his heart all too well.

“You don’t need to do this,” Amuro says firmly, though he trembles. “I would do anything to make sure you wouldn’t.”

His eyes show the question in his heart all too well.

Char, what the hell happened to you?

“Your ‘anything’ can’t bring Lalah back to me.” 

Char brings his forehead to Amuro’s. And Amuro’s face radiates warmth. Not of typical warm-blooded creature warmth, but of something else entirely. Of something entirely unexpected.

And then Char wraps his hand around his wrist. And Amuro Ray never breaks his gaze.

He can hear Amuro’s heart pound in his ears.

Interesting.

“Fine. I’ll call it off.” He relaxes his grip on Amuro’s wrist.

First shock, then pleasure, then suspicion. “It couldn’t have been that easy.”

“It’s as easy as that if you stay here.”

Char Aznable gently closes the door that locks Amuro Ray in.

III.

“I love you.”

It is a relationship filled with absolutely nothing for Char.

His hands make the motions across Amuro’s shoulders and waist, but that’s only information that comes from being told, ‘This is what you do when you are with someone.’ And Amuro is not the first to be touched by him.

All bodies feel the same.

When his hair is tugged and he hears a ragged breath, he feels nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

IV.

“Why do you love me, Amuro?”

It is not in a ‘Quess in love’ sort of question. Head over heels in love, looking for reasons to reignite a flame.

It is not simply a question of insecurity. Requiring consolation, looking for reasons to believe in him.

Char has a pen in his head, looking at the scrawled ‘Reasons why Amuro Ray would love me’ at the top of the page. There is nothing written beyond that.

He doesn’t have to know, because he already knows, but Amuro’s excuses would prove nothing short of hilarious.

Because Char knows there is nothing quite lovable about him.

“I don’t know why. I just do. I feel drawn to you.”

Like a fly to a flytrap.

V.

And of course the both of them know their relationship is full of lies. ‘I love yous’ are heavy yet brittle, an act curiously put on for the detriment of the both of them.

There are times where Amuro’s hands press harder and harder into his neck, enough for Char to have trouble breathing. And he’ll manage to pronounce his name, and Amuro will open his eyes and stop. Times where knives are found on nightstands. Times where he’ll pull on his hair hard enough that it slowly comes out in clumps.

“I hate you,” Amuro will say breathlessly. “I absolutely hate you.”

“I know,” Char will respond evenly. “I absolutely know that.”

And by the next morning, after these periods of time where Amuro can’t stand the half-act anymore, Char will wake to Amuro draped over him in a light embrace. And he will make him coffee and they will act as if nothing ever happened.

VI.

Char tries so hard to find Lalah within Amuro. She was the one who chose him, the one who loved him as much as she loved Char. The one who died because of him. The one who took her away from him.

Amuro is as well meaning as she was, as pleading as she was, ‘Stop, Commander!’ ‘Char, stop it!’ It is all worded differently yet it is all the same.

Amuro doesn’t carry himself as gracefully as Lalah; no one could ever amount. But sometimes when he leans over the counter with a cup of coffee, lost in thought, he can feel Lalah smiling at Amuro.

But not him.

When Char initiates these empty touches, he wonders. He wonders if Lalah Sune sees this and what she thinks of it. And somehow these empty touches become much warmer and much more enjoyable.

VII.

It is later that Char finds out that Amuro wishes him to be of the time they worked together, on the same side. It’s in his sleep where he murmurs gibberish but also wistfulness.

“Kind of prickly and unlikable,” he mumbles, “but better. Easier to understand. Easier to talk to.”

Char feels nothing.

“I love you.”

Nothing becomes more than nothing.

VIII.

“Are you happy like this?”

“I’m happy.”

“Are you happy like this?”

“I’m happy.”

“Are you happy like this?”

“I’m not. I’m really not. Not at all.”

IX.

“I can read your mind even when you simply blink. You’re troubled, aren’t you,” Amuro says, phrasing the question like a statement. He laughs bashfully, but it is in confidence.

“I am, but I’m not sure what of.”

“Maybe when you think about it harder, you’ll realize that you're thinking about your feelings for me.”

Because months have passed and they’re all the more the same and yet closer.

But he isn’t thinking about that. Char Aznable never thinks about Amuro Ray that hard.

He doesn’t think about romance that hard.

Amuro Ray is just deluding himself. In a house all alone with his nemesis, of course his mind is slowly falling apart to reject the reality.

The ‘I hate yous’ have lessened at night.

The warm grip of his hands have steadily increased.

And yet Char Aznable still feels absolutely nothing.

X.

Every morning Char Aznable wakes up, there is a warm body draped over him. He doesn’t wake up due to this, but he wakes up because it’s simply time to get up in the morning. Char wraps his arms around this body gently, placing it over so he can leave.

Sometimes Char looks back. Most of the time he does not. It’s the same scene every time. A smaller man in boxers and an undershirt, sleeping peacefully, sleeping delusionally.

And of course, he feels nothing.

It is not a nothingness that disturbs him, it is simply a fact. Amuro Ray cannot let go of Char Aznable, not anymore. Never anymore.

Earth rotates in space, still awake, rats crawling on it. Char’s mind itches for him to do something and yet a broken man is the equivalent exchange of that, curiously enough.

“You are the center of my universe, huh.”

Such romantic words have never sounded more horrifying in context.

END