Disclaimer: I do not meddle in the affairs of Gundam Wing, for I am penniless and own no copyrights.

Pairings: Again, itís meant to be ambiguous, but you all know what I write by now, and it's a pretty safe bet that's what it is. (that being 1x2, duh.)
Rating: PG
Warnings: Nothing, really, itís all in how you interpret it. Duoís POV.
Category: Post EW/Monologue/Short and angsty
Spoilers: Not really, maybe for Ep 0.

Notes: This was written for a contest, that somehow or other vanished or petered out or something. In any case, it's 3AM, I'm going through my files, and I've decided I'm sick of letting something this good sit around on my hard drive and gather dust. Or whatever it is that digital information gathers when it's left sitting for a while. Yeah. So, it's getting posted already.

Summary: A reflective monologue while walking in the rain. Probably my best canon Duo to date.

The Halls of Broken Stone
by Casey Valhalla

This is my last cigarette.

I walked back through the old town today, you remember, the sector they still have the yellow police lines hanging around? Yeah. Not like anyone ever paid attention to those, anyway. The more fortunate just pretend they arenít there, just like they always ignored that sector, anyway. Wasnít such a great loss, yanno, just the ghetto that went through all that destruction.

The lighting systems were being unreliable again, so the colony was only half-lit when I went for my walk. Sometime in the middle of it the weather controls went out too, and it started raining, just a little Ė that light, misty sort of rain, like youíre standing by a waterfall and the wind blows the spray on your skin. You know, remember Snoqualmie Falls? Course it actually was raining then, and we were both soaked through, but it was on Earth, and everything was okay then. Yeah, that was a good day.

The thing is that when I was walking today, and that soft rain started falling, everything went quiet. Not totally quiet, you know, but quiet enough that I could hear the whirring of the air filtration systems, and the sound of water falling through the drainpipes on the buildings I passed. A comforting quiet, not the eerie kind where youíre waiting for something to happen, cause you know something is gonna, and you tense up and reach for the gun you used to carry in the waistband of your jeans. Only itís not there, and in a way, youíre glad itís not there anymore, but at the same time you wish it was, just cause itís too damn quiet.

No, it was a divine kind of quiet. And I just walked through it, with my hands in my pockets, watching the rain turn the wrecked buildings into shiny, wet monoliths. Thatís a good word, Ďmonolith,í donít you think? Iíve been going to school again, you know, just like you always said I should. My English professor says thereís hope for me yet.

Thereís still some people living in that sector, I didnít see them all, but I could tell by the way some of the buildings had windows that were boarded up from the inside, kind of shoddy work, but itís hard to get a lot of tools around here. It was always hard to get much of anything here. Looks like things havenít changed.

Some things donít, ever.

I was walking down C street, right along the center on the yellow lines, one foot in front of the other, like a tightrope walker with my arms out to the side. I was chain-smoking again, yeah. I know you never liked that, but itís okay. Iím quitting. For real, this time. It was just funny, cause I kept walking like that, and my cigarettes kept getting all soggy from the rain. It didnít make me stop doing that, of course, cause Iíve always been silly that way. But you know that already, donít you?

There were three kids hanging out on one corner under an awning, playing checkers with rocks on a board they drew with chalk on the sidewalk. Two of them were playing, and the other was betting on their moves with a handful of pennies. They were just boys, you know, about the same age we were during the war. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I didnít think theyíd even notice me till I was gone. But just as I passed their corner, one of the players lifted his head and looked right at me. He was wrapped up in a black hooded sweatshirt a few sizes too big for him, and had all this sand-colored hair tied back with a red bandanna, and these huge blue eyes. I donít know why he looked at me, or why he didnít say anything to his friends, but he just stared for a minute, no expression, until I saluted him with my cigarette and walked off.

Funny thing, I donít remember what the other two looked like, but I remember that kidís eyes perfectly.

C street turned off onto 22nd, and I walked along that way for a while. There arenít any yellow lines on that road, so I stopped doing the tightrope thing, and my smokes didnít get as soggy. I started humming to myself, the way you know I do when itís quiet. Remember when we went hiking in the Sawtooths? It drove you crazy, because you didnít know the song I was humming, and you made me sing it to you when we stopped by the creek for lunch.

I miss you, you know.

There were two drifters huddled around a trash-barrel fire on the corner across from the church. I stopped to talk to them for a few minutes and warm up, cause it was getting kind of chilly, and the rain didnít show any sign of stopping any time soon. They were nice guys, a little weird in that homeless-guy kind of way, but if anyoneís used to that, itís me. One of them was an Alliance veteran, imagine that. Guess he didnít recognize me. I gave them two cigarettes apiece, cause I was trying to get rid of the pack. Last pack, last cigarette Iím smoking now. Youíd be proud of me, if you were here. Wouldnít you?

You know, no one ever bothered to clean up the church site much. I think the medic teams were there for a day, at most, and no one ever came back. Anything left over that was valuable after the place went up is long gone by now, but thereís still a wooden crucifix stuck in the ground at the far end, where the altar used to be.

I think the organ burned. I used to fall asleep listening to that old thing, after midnight mass. It was soothing, kind of like the silence was while I was there today. There was a choir, I remember that; I used to sit in on practice, just to learn the words.

/ Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. /

You were surprised that day when I started singing to you in Latin, werenít you? Iíll never forget the look on your face, the way nothing moved but your eyebrows, how your pupils contracted just slightly. I saw it; I was close enough to smell you, to lean forward and brush my lips over yours while I was singing.

/ Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. /

I always worshipped you, and you never once realized it. And I was standing in the old church today, in the rain and the dim light and the quiet with ghosts tiptoeing around me and the memory of flames reflecting on the half-demolished walls, and realized I have nothing else left to worship.

/ Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. /

This is my last cigarette, and youíre not here to see it. This is my absolution, my sanctification, my transcendence, and youíre not here to witness it.

Thereís a drop of water on the back of my hand, and it isnít rain. And youíre not here to pretend it isnít there.

But I forgive you, nevertheless.

/ Amen. /


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