There are few people who look more innocent when they sleep than Heero Yuy. It's surprising though, simply because of how he sleeps. When he can't get to a bed, he sleeps in his Gundam, clutching the self-destruct switch like a teddy bear. It's amazing that he doesn't blow himself up in the night. When he does happen across a bed for the evening, he doesn't just sleep with one gun. He doesn't just sleep with two. There are three guns in bed with him at all times, and the one under his pillow is an automatic. For him, the act of arranging these things to his liking is as taken for granted as fluffing his pillow or brushing his teeth. He's surrounded by pieces of the war we're in, but he doesn't seem a part of it at all when you look at the way his eyelashes splay against his cheeks as he cocks his head a bit and begins to, just barely, snore.
The Heero Yuy who came before the war, the one who was just a little boy without a name yet, was not a mischief maker. He followed orders, and that's why he was chosen. He was told to be a good boy, and so he was a good boy. That's just the way things were. Then, he begin to learn and the knowledge felt so good that he couldn't stop. He was corrupted before he knew what the word meant.
When I met Heero, he shot at me; several times. At the time, I was more than a bit annoyed, but moreso by the girl he was threatening to shoot than by him. She kept trying to step in front of him as though she could stop me from putting a bullet through him. And, he was trying to kill her at the same time, so I wondered how many kinds of crazy she had to be for her mind to work the way it did. I don't suppose it matters. She loved him in a way, I'm sure, but she'll never see the way he looks when he's asleep.
There's something about innocence which manifests itself in the most unusual places. That something is what I see in Heero's eyes before his first cup of coffee. Before he is completely focused on the day, he allows himself innocence, in as much as training a gun on anyone who might take his mug of coffee while he reaches for the half and half is innocent. But, with slippers on his feet and flannel pajamas, it was sometimes hard to relate the Heero I see at breakfast to the one I see on the battlefield. For as often as I've seen him fight, I've never really stopped to think about his style of fighting. But, it's ruthless and efficient. He is the proverbial "good boy" who does exactly as he is told.
Heero has been changing lately. Since his first truly failed mission where he killed the same pacifist leaders whom he was trying to protect, he has begun to grow. Growing up requires a lot of rebellion and pushing limits and testing bounds. This is exactly what the war effort needed on our side.
I was relatively independent from a very young age. I hadn't intended to be, but when you're an orphan without anyone to take you in, it makes it tough to rely on anyone else. I can't say it made me grow up any, but I'm still happily a child while being as adult in my activities as any guerilla warrior. I've lost that innocence that Heero carries around like a badge of honor. He may not realize it, but that very innocence is what drives us, like a western wind, when we are on the verge of absolute failure.
This war, while not having lasted as long as many wars, has been taxing for us. All soldiers are taxed upon by the things they must do to live, and let live, and sometimes not let live. Heero, until recently, did not stop to think of death. He did his job, and he was on his way. I'll be the first to admit that dwelling on the things you've done does certainly seem to keep you from looking to the future. But, when both your future, past and present are as bleak as the ones we have, what are you supposed to do? Though, our pasts are all different, our futures will be even more different; but, for the present, we are all the same.
When I think of what life could be like when this is all over with, when I even think of the fact that some day, it *will* be over, I am overjoyed. Then, I take a look around and see the death and destruction. It has a sobering effect. I see Heero take notice of the same things, and it seems to affect him somehow more than it does the rest of us, as though everywhere livable where he has been alive is his homeland. It does hurt to see everything and everyone in your homeland destroyed, so it makes me wonder about Heero's state of mind sometimes. In his innocence, he could do himself great harm, and all because he doesn't allow himself the capacity of mind to realize the things he should and should not do when following the guidelines of a mission.
It hurts sometimes to look at this boy who is so close to becoming a man, and to realize the sharp contrast between what he really is and what he strives to be. There are remarkable similarities as well, but his innocence hurts those around him sometimes, if only as they watch him flail blindly in a world where even fools are expected to see.
Heero brings light to this war for us, and to the way we think and feel. We become reacquainted with our own innocence, and we are rejuventated, while at the same time placed in mourning for the things that we have lost. I, in addition, am in mourning for who Heero might have been without this war. Were he not trained from birth to kill and never be killed, how might things be different? Though, perhaps that is too much to think about sometimes. The war has happened, and it continues to happen, and it exists right outside my door.
I remember innocence. Innocence is the feeling that everything is possible before you discover that everything has its limits, and so does everyone. I remember losing that innocence by watching a mother who was almost, but not quite, my own die, and I remember not understanding why she wouldn't wake up, and I remember vowing in the middle of a pile of rubble that I would be a good boy if she would just stop pretending to be asleep. Then, I learned the difference between asleep and dead. I hadn't even known the word "death", but I came to understand the meaning all too well.
If I could save Heero from that realization, I might, but it has already begun. Now that he has begun to contemplate death, the best I can do is to be there to explain the things that I have learned. Knowledge is the true defeat of innocence, and he craves it as I crave his innocence.
There are things he understands which put my brain to shame, and things he fails to understand that make my heart ache. But, if he were to lose his innocence, it would almost feel as though I were losing mine again.
I'll protect him, but only by shielding him from the greatest attacks. Without exposure, he'll never grow to be the kind of man he deserves to be.
And, really, the zephyr may only blow for so long before another wind must take flight.