Worth Fighting For
They huddled together against the back wall of the shack, the only
place in the structure that didn't have a leak in the roof. The
torrential spring rain had begun when they'd landed in the forest
behind the building. They'd struggled for nearly an hour, trying to
get the camouflage netting over their Gundams, the rain hindering
their progress. They were both cold and soaked to the bone by the
time they found the shelter, the closest safehouse nearest them.
The last mission had been bad. It had only been the two of them to do
the job that should have required four pilots, but the others had
been too far out of range to make it within the allotted time limit.
The battle had been fast and furious. It wasn't the first time they'd
come up against the new mobile doll technology, but each time the
dolls' reaction time had improved, their targeting systems more spot
on... almost as if they were learning with each battle they fought.
This time, the battle had spilled over into a nearby village, nearly
decimating it in their relentless, mechanical fury. They'd done their
best to draw the dolls away from the populated area, but they hadn't
been very successful. They could only hope the general populace had
had some warning and had been able to flee.
The sight of the burning, bombed--out shell of a church had hit Duo
The pilots themselves had not escaped unscathed. Heero supported a
nasty cut over his right eye and he'd had to make a make--shift sling
out of an old shirt after he'd wrenched his shoulder nearly out of
its socket while trying to shrug off a particularly stubborn mobile
doll. Duo had fared little better. A wicked--looking electrical burn
raced from elbow to shoulder, and he'd nearly broken his ankle while
trying to rig up the netting in the rain. Heero had had to help him
through the woods to the shack.
There had been nothing with which to start a fire, and even they had
been able to scrounge up something dry enough to burn, there was a
steady stream of water tumbling through down through the half--
crumbling chimney. The chilly spring air wasn't enough to cause
concern for hypothermia, but it was enough to keep them miserable.
Duo sniffed and edged as close to Heero as he dared. He was
exhausted. Hell, they all were. Too many missions, not enough down
time. At the moment, they were only waiting long enough for any
possible search teams to give up and head back to their base.
Hopefully the rain would stop before they had to head back out. Duo
didn't relish the thought of trying to limp his way through the mud
and the wet a second time.
"Are you all right?" Heero asked, so softly Duo at first thought he'd
He grunted and shrugged his good shoulder. "I'll live." He glanced at
Heero out of the corner of his eye. "You?"
"I've... been better." Perhaps it was the way Heero had said it, but
Duo couldn't help but laugh.
"We've all been better, buddy," he said through clattering teeth. "I
just can't remember when right now..."
They sat in silence, the only sound the rain pounding on the roof,
demanding entrance. Duo looked up at the ceiling. "Think it'll hold?"
"Looks dubious, but I think that section will stay sound long enough
for our stay," Heero replied, shivering slightly. He looked at
Duo. "Come here."
"Huh?" Duo turned his head to face Heero, confused. Had he just heard
"Come here. I'm cold, and you're shivering so badly, I'm afraid
you'll crack a tooth."
"Sharing body heat, eh?" Duo said, trying not to blush like a silly
schoolgirl as he moved to touch shoulders with his partner--of--the--
moment. He nearly stopped breathing when Heero wrapped his good arm
around him, drawing him close.
Duo sucked in a breath. He was still cold and wet, but yes, it was
More silence. Duo took a chance and leaned his head against Heero's
shoulder. He blinked drowsily, knowing he should stay awake, keep
alert in case they had to move quickly, but leaning against Heero
stirred something in him. Something he hadn't felt in a long time.
Something he'd yearned for, without realizing it. For the first time
in months he felt... at peace. His worries seemed to drain away
through that simply contact, and he knew, if he allowed himself to
sleep, that there would be no dreams, no nightmares...
No burned out churches like the one they'd left behind.
God, he was tired. Tired of the war, of the fighting, of the constant
need to be watching your back, not knowing who to trust. Solo and
Maxwell Church seemed like a distant, foggy dream ---- like someone
else's memory. Those had been happier times, before the plague,
before the Alliance. Father Maxwell and Sister Helen had given him
hope, that one day he could be happy and loved -- part of a family.
That had ended in a nightmare of fire and death. And like the
phoenix, he'd risen from those ashes a changed man, reborn with a new
purpose. But damned if he was too tired to remember what that purpose
He sniffed and reached up to wipe his nose with the back of his hand,
realizing to his horror that he was crying. He tried to bury his face
against his knees, hoping Heero wouldn't notice...
"Duo? Are you all right?"
Duo nodded, not looking up. "I'm fine. Just... tired. Always tired."
"Aa. I think... I know the feeling." And he pulled Duo closer.
And to his horror, he began crying harder.
"Heero..." he said, his voice barely above a whisper. "Why do you
"What do you mean?"
"I think... I can't remember why I'm fighting. I don't know why I go
out there, day after day. I thought I knew, once, but now..." His
voice broke, and he struggled to get himself under control. "I don't
know anymore." He turned desperate, pleading eyes to his
friend. "Tell me why you fight. Remind me why I have to keep doing
Heero was silent for a long moment, so long Duo was afraid he'd
offended him in some way. He tried to pull away, but Heero pulled him
back, keeping him close.
"I never had a reason to fight," he said softly. "I was just given
orders and I followed them."
"I was just a tool, a weapon to be used. I never had a reason or a
"Oh." Duo went still. He suddenly felt cold inside, colder than his
damp skin and wet clothes should have made him feel. If *Heero*
didn't have a purpose...
"Until I met you."
Duo blinked. "Huh?"
Heero shifted until he was facing Duo, half curled around him with
his injured arm tucked between their bodies. "Duo, I..." He swallowed
and blushed. Duo couldn't breathe. Heero never blushed.
"Duo... you're my purpose now. The reason I fight. I... want to make
the world a better place, a peaceful place, for you to live in. You
deserve that. And even... even if neither one of us survive this war,
I want to make the world a place where no child has to go through
what you went through." He hesitated, then leaned forward, resting
his forehead against Duo's. "But I want to survive. I want you to
survive. Because I don't have any other purpose for my life and...
when this is over, I'd like you to teach me how to live. It's that
hope that makes it all worth fighting for."
Duo had to remind himself to breathe. The tears still fell from his
eyes, but they felt oddly cleansing. The cold feeling inside him
melted away, leaving a gentle warmth along with something he hadn't
felt in a long time... hope.
"I... I'd like to help you," he said, almost shyly. "I used to dream
about... about that. The future. But I lost that dream somewhere
along the way." Gathering his courage and wrapping that small spark
of hope around him like a warm blanket, he leaned in and brushed his
lips gently over Heero's. "Thank you for helping me find it."
Perhaps there were things worth fighting for after all.