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Stew

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Title: Stew
Fandom: Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Characters/Pairing: Siegfried Kircheis, Reinhard von Lohngramm, Yang Wen-li. Some implied Reinhard/Kircheis.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: None.
Notes: Spoilers for up to Kircheis and Yang's meeting in the anime (and I definitely took some liberties with said meeting here). Written for j7j, and I hope you like it! I'm still definitely a novice of LoGH and its (really fun to write!) characters. I couldn't figure out how to fit in Oberstein, sorry, but I think I touched on everything else. ;;

--

Kircheis was fairly sure that the only reason he was still living after accepting the request was because he was Reinhard’s second.

No, Kircheis was positive that the only reason he was still living after accepting the request was because he was Reinhard’s second. Even with the overtures of peace to the Free Planet Alliance (which, of course, were all part of Reinhard’s plan, but no one would find out about that until it was too late), Kircheis was very aware of the started gasps from the younger FPA officers (and glares from the older FPA officers—the only two that seemed unphased were a sharp-eyed man who appeared to be in his thirties and the young man Kircheis, despite everything, hoped would do well as a solider) during the whole exchange. It had shocked Kircheis himself—he’d honestly thought that the ceremonies were over. He was ready to go home, report to Reinhard, and try not to think about how underhanded the whole thing was. How underhanded he was being.

It was then when Yang Wen-li--the Yang Wen-li, scourge of the Empire, someone who reduced Reinhard to visible anger and frustration—smiled sleepily and suggested that they get drinks that night. He knew the perfect pub and everything.

Without even thinking, Kircheis said that he’d love to.

And that was how the one person who was privy to Reinhard’s plans to conquer the universe—which included the handful of rebel planets that Yang Wen-li had sworn his life to defend—was going to have drinks in enemy territory that night.

It wasn’t even until Yang had smiled, clapped him on his shoulder, and left, that Kircheis realized that he hadn’t even found out if he was old enough to drink alcohol in the FPA.

--

It turned out that he was not, a waitress at the local Iserlohn pub Yang had praised informed him, so Kircheis settled for a soda water. He also decided to come clad in casual clothes—while he was on a (supposedly) peaceful mission, coming to an Alliance pub dressed in full Empire military garb seemed, well, rude.

Yang had not arrived yet, so Kircheis took the time to study his surroundings. There was few men in work uniforms nursing their beers, and young couples gossiping at small tables. It was loud, but there was a peace in the atmosphere that in between battles and meetings with sour-faced nobles, Kircheis had almost forgotten.

Too bad that he was going to destroy it all soon.

“There’s the universe’s favorite guy.”

Kircheis wasn’t sure what surprised him more—how softly Yang spoke (his voice was almost drowned out by the pub’s background noise; he had to strain to hear him), or what he said. While he was expecting an exceptionally terse night (he wasn’t sure what he had been expecting, really), but the warmth in Yang’s tone was… something he never thought he’d hear from someone in the FPA.

Yang gave him a lop-sided grin. “Mind if I sit next to you?”

“Well, you’re buying the drinks, so it only makes sense,” Kircheis reminded him.

“Oh, right!” Yang plopped down in the stool next to Kircheis, and then ordered a brandy. “Do you want anything to eat? This pub’s food isn’t the best—”

“I heard that!” their waitress hollered from the booth from the other side of the restaurant.

Yang laughed weakly. “But their Irish stew is great.” For once, he spoke loud enough to be heard in the room. The waitress glared at Yang, but left him alone after that.

“Thank you, but no.” Kircheis took a sip of his soda water. “I need to leave after this round of drinks, actually.”

“Of course,” Yang responded with a sage nod. “You have obligations to fulfill.” Then Yang frowned thoughtfully. “I suppose we need to talk about today.”

There was something in Yang’s tone that made Kircheis’s gut twist. He knew. He knew everything, and that was terrifying—and impressive. If Reinhard were here, he would either try to kill Yang, or recruit him to his cause.

Kircheis kept his composure, and sipped his drink. “You’ll have to clarify what you mean.”

“I think I may need to apologize to you.” Yang downed half his brandy—and even if Kircheis was his enemy, he very nearly found himself asking Yang if he was all right. That much alcohol all at once could not be healthy. “I… well, let’s just say I’ve been a solider long enough to not start celebrating when someone holds out an olive branch.” He shrugged, staring at his drink. “Even if I’m drinking with the enemy.”

Kircheis took a deep breath, and then nodded. “Of course.”

“But then I met you, and honestly?”

Here it came. “Honestly?”

“You remind me of my ward.” Yang took another gulp. “Good and honest and cheerful---all that nice stuff that the military eventually destroys.”

Oh. So there was something personal in all of this as well. “I’ve only know him for a few moments, but I can tell that he’s a good kid, and…” Kircheis almost added, I’m sure he’ll grow up to become a good man, but war had a terrible habit of killing young people. It was just through skill and good luck that Kircheis had lived to see his twentieth birthday.

“I hope that I never have to face him in battle,” Kircheis finally admitted. He didn’t want to face Yang—who was brilliant, and clearly cared for his child, and the corrupt FPA didn’t deserve in battle, either. But both of them were military leaders of the opposite sides of a war that had lasted over a century.

It was only a matter of time until they met as enemies again.

“Kircheis?”

“I’m sorry?”

Yang grinned at him over his brandy. “I caught you daydreaming, that’s all.” Then he gave Kircheis a thoughtful look. “Anything you want to share?”

Yes. I want you to come with me, and defect to the Empire. Reinhard’s plan is ruthless, but brilliant—the FPA will fall. The FPA should fall, just like how the Goldenbaum Dynasty will fall. Your leaders are every bit as corrupt as ours. They don’t deserve you, or your ward—take him with you. I’ll find positions for both of you. And maybe you and I can help Reinhard find a way to help Reinhard to root out the universe’s corruption that doesn’t involve all these plans that involve tricking and hurting good people.

Kircheis wanted to share, more than anything. But… Yang was still a FPA soldier. While he may not agree with his superiors, he still believed in ideals that Reinhard would not permit.

He couldn’t be trusted. Not at this time. Not in this place.

Kircheis shook his head. “Perhaps another time.”

Yang made a displeased sound, and then… then the waitress appeared, and Yang ordered two Irish stews.

“But—”

Yang held up a hand. “You guys have doggie bags in the Galactic Empire, right?”

“Um. Yes?”

Yang huffed slightly. It was strange; while Yang was admired on both sides of the conflict for his genius strategy, Kircheis was beginning to suspect that he didn’t enjoy confrontation. He could identify with that—nevermind that confrontation was arguably the key tenet in a soldier’s job.

“Look, I’m not the best dad in the universe. In fact, my ward picked out my outfit today.” If Yang felt any embarrassment admitting that in a public space, it didn’t show. “But I do know better than to let a young man go out without a hot meal. So,” he added with a smirk, “listen to your only slightly older peer and make sure you take some dinner before you leave.”

It was a bad idea, being this friendly with an enemy.

But maybe, just for this moment, he could smile and agree. Kircheis could allow Yang to be his friend, if not his ally.

--

“Kircheis?”

“I’m sorry?”

Reinhard smiled fondly at Kircheis over his tea. “Nothing. I just caught you daydreaming, that’s all.”

Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li differed in age, politics, and ideals. Despite all of that, there were times that the former reminded Kircheis of the latter so much that it was mind boggling. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I know we need to be working on our next move.”

“There’s no point until Oberstein gives us his report—we won’t have the data we need until then. So,” and Reinhard leaned back his plush seat. “Tell me more about your meeting with Yang Wen-li.”

Reinhard laughed softly. “That’s all we’ve been discussing since I returned. Honestly, I’m starting to get a little jealous.”

“You never have to worry about my feelings concerning you.” Even if Kircheis had been serious, the conviction in Reinhard’s voice would have wiped away any concerns. “But anything concerning Yang would be valuable information.”

“There’s not much left to say,” Kircheis admitted. “But… if things work out, don’t kill him if you can help it. See if you can convince him to work for you rather than against you.”

“And if he refuses?”

Kircheis shrugged. “I would just let him retire somewhere. He’s the type to react rather than strike out on his own. He’s not like you at all. But,” and they were alone, so Kircheis indulged himself to reach out to Reinhard. For someone as cool as Reinhard, he was very warm to the touch. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the universe quite like you.”

Reinhard smiled. “Flatterer.” Then he stood up, but had not assumed the air of an imposing officer just yet. “My sister’s made some a new cake, and she wants us to taste test it. I hope you don’t mind that I agreed for both of us.”

“Never.” Annerose was a gifted baker, and he would never refuse a change to sample her work.

He’d be lying if he said he didn’t miss the Irish stew, though.