Megaman X, Iris, 466 words.
Summary: Sometimes when he looks at her, he thinks he's jealous.
Notes: This was pretty much born as a result of me getting pissed upon reading a Zero/X fic in which Iris gets stuck playing the role of the annoying girl who keeps getting in the way of the hot manlove. Also, the fact that X and Iris never interact in canon makes me wonder what they make of each other. This was a down and dirty speed run, written in less than twenty minutes.
Sometimes when he looks at her, he thinks he's jealous.
He thinks he’s jealous whenever she approaches and smiles at Zero, and Zero smiles and moves aside to make room for her, and whatever they were already talking about is forgotten as he asks her how she's doing and where she just came from and whether anything is new with her brother. And X smiles and nods and doesn't say anything, because he feels like he's losing Zero to her fast enough and if he's petty about it he'll only lose his friend faster.
Sometimes he realizes that he's being unreasonable, and resolves to talk to her on his own, without Zero there to make things awkward. He wants to know her for herself, and not just as the girl who's slowly starting to dominate his best friend's life.
But Zero has an impeccable sense of timing, and he always manages to show up whenever X tries to approach her, and she turns and smiles at him and it's as if X wasn't there to begin with.
It doesn't help matters much.
Sometimes when the call comes in for a mission he'll be checking his buster and getting ready to teleport out, and Zero will dash in a few minutes late and mutter a quick apology and begin to make his own preparations. X will ask where he was and Zero will suddenly become very interested in polishing a tiny spot on his saber.
And then X will wonder why Zero is always with her when he should be on call, why he takes longer than he should to excuse himself and get moving when the alarm goes off, why personal matters are suddenly as important as the defense of the people.
Sometimes when they're on a mission, Zero is so focused and single-minded that X wonders how he can change gears so fast.
And he wonders what she, so gentle and peace-loving, will say when they come back to base, bruised and dirty and exhibiting the usual collection of small visual clues that things got ugly very quickly, and they have been forced to terminate with extreme prejudice.
Sometimes when they return she is attending to her own duties elsewhere, but whenever she is free, she is waiting for them. And as Zero stumbles in and growls at the rookies, she takes his hand with a smile and leads him outside and points at a rainbow in the sky or a few butterflies passing by or some other trivial, girlish object of interest.
And Zero smiles, and X realizes that he is not being replaced and will never be replaced, but rather that she is something else entirely, something he can't be and will never be.
X is a comrade. But she is a sanctuary.