Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is the property of Sunrise, Sotsu Agency, and Bandai. This is a fanwork, written out of love. Lawsuits are both unnecessary and messy. ^^; No profit is being made from this fanfic in any way shape or form, except perhaps for personal satisfaction. Mission accomplished.

What Once was Lost
by Fushigi Kismet

She smiled, turning as the slanted sunlight struck her golden hair. She laughed, her voice ringing out like the peal of a golden bell, or perhaps the tone of silver chimes, striking gently against one another to the tune of the wind. The flick of the dog's tongue against her smooth, ivory cheek was a brief flash of pink, as she laughed and the world around him stilled.

God. There was a flash of guilt, a burst of pain that had not left him after twenty-two years. It was an instant of remembrance that suffused him and spread throughout him in less time than it took to draw a breath, to breathe.

There was regret mixed throughout the pain, and a kind of slow, weary bitterness that he could not - did not seek to fight. He had done things throughout his life that he found no pride in having done, that he thought of only with pain and regret. These things had the taint of death upon them, of something left unfinished, unresolved - of something gone awry in the meticulousness with which he carried out his own endeavors that left him breathless, paralyzed, grasping for something that was never there, had never been there, and would never be there again.

He wondered how people could achieve the peace of mind needed to dream. He had never dreamed. Sometimes he had woken from nightmares, but he had never dreamed.

He had always known that the things he desired most, the things he wanted most - he could not afford to dream about them. If he wanted them to become reality, then he had to make them tangible through the force of his own will - of his own desire. Yes, that was the only way.

He had accomplished so much in the course of his life. He acknowledged his accomplishments but did not dwell on them - knowing that they were completed was enough; he moved on.

The desire to stay still and think about himself, to dream and dwell for an instant in a dream, had never occurred to him. The only things that concerned him was the harshness of reality, and of the realities he would create.

It is enough, he would think to himself, enough that I have what I do and that I can move on, and by doing so continue living. As a man who had taken so many lives, he understood the fragileness and importance of life, of living. He felt the joy of it, the pain, and the sorrow. Living was hard, harder than dying. No matter how much dying hurt, there were times when not dying, when to do just the opposite, living life to the fullest, could be even more painful and strike even more deeply at the heart. As a man who had faced death many times, who had fought and won against it, who had lost to it, sacrificing friends and innocents, who had sought to embrace it on more than one occasion and had been violently repelled - as a man who understood all aspects of death, he understood that to not live as fully as he could was to succumb to it.

Many people had taught him that lesson, each in their turn. The parents whose faces and names he had long since forgotten, the man who had raised him, a little girl and her puppy, golden in the sunlight . . . .

There was a sting of pain, like the impact of a piece of shrapnel, exploding and spreading within him. He was living in place of them now, of the lives taken and those he had taken. He was living his own life, following his instincts and the dictates of his emotions. He would never move beyond the pain, but he had moved on.

"Daddy!" the girl cried, bathed in sunlight, the tiny puppy in her arms. The dog wriggled out of her grasp to the ground, its eyes bright, tail wagging furiously.

"Daddy!" the girl cried again, her arms open wide as she ran towards him, sunlight glinting off the gold of her hair and the white of her dress. He caught her, hefted her up as though she were as light and as bright as the sunlight that bathed them both in its radiance, whirled her around through the air with a smile as she laughed in delight, then held her closely against him, her cheek pressed to his.

In that instant, his heartbeats sounding in his ears, her laughter slowing and dying down, he heard the echo of a long ago question.

Are you lost?

Shutting his eyes, he let his heart answer.

No. Not anymore.

Settling his daughter against him, he looked into her clear blue eyes, vibrant with joy and love, the puppy scampering about his feet, barking in excitement. "Shall we go home?"

"Yes," she said, twining her tiny hand around the fingers that held her secure in his arms. She leaned her head against him and closed her eyes. "Let's go home."