The two men studied the evening sky from a park bench. High above them, the last detonation of war material suddenly gone superfluous erupted in a large fireball, quickly waning into nothing in the cold darkness of space.
"Looks like the big fireworks finally died out."
"Indeed... Sad, really." The other man rubbed his goatee, but didn't take his eyes away from the sky. "And now that it would finally be appropriate, too. All those ittybitty pieces of war machines, falling and burning to a crisp in the atmosphere..." He turned to face his companion, grinning. "Except ours, of course. I wonder what our young prodigies will do with them now..."
"Probably nothing too serious... I don't know about your kid, but mine never seemed interested in power. Besides, we've seen the choices they made during the war. They're good kids."
Nod. "True... but mine did try to assassinate us once."
Half a smirk, twirl of gray moustache. "He obviously held a grudge against you - a youngster rebelling against his father, hm?"
"Hah! As if I was ever that to the boy..."
Pause. "Did you ever ask him?"
Sigh. "Enough of this nonsense... you're getting soft, and I hate that..." He reached for his walking stick with his good hand. "We should go home."
G looked up again, watched as another piece of space debris fell into the atmosphere, turning into a shooting star. "There's no rush, J. They won't miss us. It's not like anyone does... To the world, we are dead men."
J nursed his fresh bandages. "A depressing thought."
"Never build a self-destruct device you can't escape from. I've never been more happy to have followed such a motto."
"It wasn't a self-destruct device. We overloaded the engines."
Shrug. "It went for the same. It was a narrow escape, though - and you, you old fool. You had to provoke Quinze into shooting you, didn't you? Always the hero, weren't you?"
"It was only a bullet or two..." Dry chuckle. "Perhaps you're right..." He leaned in over his cane, looked up again. "It's New Year's Eve tonight..."
"Yes... do you think 196 will be better than 195?"
"With the Alliance, OZ and Romefeller all gone? Undoubtedly."
"There'll be others. There are always those lusting for power."
Soft grin. "Yes... To each, his own... As for me, I plan to retire - for the evening, at least." With some effort, he got to his feet, the exoskeleton of his legs clicking into place. "Are you coming?"
Scepticism. "I know that look... You have some kind of plan, don't you?"
"Am I that obvious?"
"To me, you've always been obvious. Blatantly so."
Chuckle. "Ah, I see..." Deep breath. "Well, I've once heard by someone whose opinion I cared greatly for that whatever way you started out the new year, ended up being an indication as to how you would spend all of it."
Grunt. "Of all the things I've told you, that is the nugget of wisdom you cling to..."
"So? It would be a nice way to reminisce, would it not? And how would you prefer to spend your retirement, anyway? Tending potted plants? Playing checkers with H? He cheats, you know."
Snort. "Reminisce, huh? It's been many years since those days, J..."
Hoarse snicker. "I might be old, but I'm not that old..." He clamped his three metal fingers together. "Besides, do you really think I put less care in the design of myself than in my Gundam? This hand is detachable, you know..."
G raised a brow at that, tilted his head and studied J's face. "You didn't..."
"Attachments?" The flash of teeth was almost blinding. "Ask my young student. He was quite helpful in testing them all out."
Mild surprise to alarm, then a resigned headshake and a quick grunt as J's face gave away the joke. "You were always a fool..."
"The more things change, the more they stay the same." Sigh. "It's been nearly two decades, G. Don't you miss it?"
"I... yes, I suppose I have... But I suppose you could say I've been keeping busy lately. There hasn't been much time to consider... that sort of thing."
Snort. "You were the one who left with Howard. I always figured I'd end up finding you dead drunk in some seedy bar with a woman in each arm, and Howard in a similar state right next to you."
G sighed. "Still bitter about that, are you? I never left you for him. I left alone, he chose to tag along with me. Not my fault I was the most likeable of us."
"Yes, yes, yes... I know he would never - that you would never-" Quick sigh. "Oh, never mind."
"Remember the last time we celebrated this night together, G?"
G closed his eyes, thought back. The silliest smile flashed across his face.
J grinned at him, extended his claw to his old partner. "Same procedure as last year, miss GiGi?"
With a snort, G grabbed one of the metal digits. "Same procedure as every year, J..." To which he quickly added a muttered "...you miserable old bastard..."
J said nothing as they walked back to their little hideout. His grin spoke volumes all on its own.