by Dyna Dee
It's been two months now since Duo...... Even now I can't bring myself to say it. Quatre contacted me the other day. It seems he and Trowa are still apart, as are Wufei and I from each other... and them. I think the guilt of what's happened has made it too difficult for any of us to be together just now.
I miss him. I miss them.
Quatre strongly suggested that in our time between missions, each of us should write down what we could remember of those last five weeks together. He said that Duo's message and pain were too important for us to forget, and that by writing it down, it might become more clear to us so that we will never make the same mistakes again.
I never realized what a huge mistake I'd made until I saw Duo jump up from his place on the porch from next to me and stared at me in shock. I tried to rationally explain to him that I had felt lonely during our separation, and one night, as I comforted Wufei from a nightmare, well, things just happened. I didn't know that Wufei was feeling so alone, my feelings of loneliness paled in comparison to his loss and loneliness.
I was still new in understanding and learning about emotions and feelings, and I've still got a long way to go. I was new to love. Duo had awakened me to so many things, emotions and feelings that I had never grasped before, and that night, he wasn't there to help me figure out what to do. I rationalized my way into the predicament I found myself in. I liked Wufei, and he seemed to need me. I did what I thought Duo would want me to do, and I comforted him the only way I knew how. I was wrong, dead wrong.
I watched with morbid fascination as the apple and half peeled orange he'd held in his hands dropped and split open on the porch surface, and then rolled down the wooden steps to lay bruised and inedible on the sidewalk. A premonition of what was about to happen shivered up my spine. I tried to explain calmly to Duo that what had happened didn't change how I felt about him, that maybe it was good to explore new emotional avenues so that I could understand emotions and relationships more fully. I ended saying that I hoped he would understand. But when I looked up and into his large expressive eyes, I saw something in his face that I had never seen before, the look of unbearable hurt and betrayal. All color drained from his face and his eyes looked unfocused and dazed. I began to fear for him.
"Duo..." I reached out for him, but suddenly he looked up to the front door as if something had just occurred to him, and he stumbled up the stairs and went in. I feared for a moment that he was going to retaliate on Wufei, but all I heard him say was, "Go to hell, Wufei." I stood in the doorway as he turned accusingly to Quatre and Trowa sitting on the couch. He was mad at them for not preparing him, that they knew of my betrayal and didn't tell him. He called them all Judas and then turned and ran up the stairs to our room. I heard the door slam with a loud crack.
We all watched as Quatre clutched at his chest, his eyes squeezed shut, tears escaping from the corners. Reacting empathically to Duo's pain, he curled into a ball and lay on the couch in silent agony. It was then that I truly realized how deeply I had hurt the one person that I loved.
Wufei and I sat down dejectedly and watched as Trowa tried to sooth Quatre with soft words and comforting touches. Trowa had brought himself closer to the blonde and rested his golden head on his thigh, looking up to glare angrily at the two of us sitting across from them.
"Well, I hope it was worth it." he said, his voice as cold as gundanium in space.
Wufei lowered his head into his hands and groaned. "What have we done."
I could only sit there, mutely aware that I had just lost the best thing in my life, and I don't know if I even realized it until it was gone.
"What's a Judas?" I asked, never having heard that term before.
Wufei sat back just enough to remove his hands from his agonized face and turned his head to look at me, dumbfounded at my ignorance. "Judas was a man in ancient times, in Duo's religion. He betrayed the one person who loved him unconditionally for a handful of silver. He is not remembered well; it's a derogatory term."
I just sat for a while, thinking of what Duo had called us as Quatre silently cried, his quiet sniffles the only clue to Duo's silent anguish upstairs. Duo was right, I had betrayed him, more so than the others.
After a while, we could definitely hear some activity upstairs, but I waited until it was quiet again to make my way up, hoping I could talk to Duo, to somehow make it right. But as I reached the top of the landing, I saw all my belongings thrown onto the floor, even the mattress which was slumped against the wall. He was done with me, and from what the others had been saying, it's what I should have expected.
Wufei followed me up and stood behind me. "I'll help you move them into my room." he said quietly. Silently, we both began to pick my things up and hoped that Duo hadn't heard.
Days passed and Duo continued to stay apart from us; not sharing meals, watching t.v., or hanging out as he usually did. We missed him. Each of us tried to talk to him, to reason with him through the bedroom door, only to be rudely rebuffed. I think it's what we deserved.
I received orders for Wing and Deathscythe to destroy a transport train and supply terminal. I was secretly elated. Maybe alone, I could talk to Duo, apologize again. He curtly told me he was going solo. He didn't trust any of us anymore. I think he was teaching me something new, feelings I hadn't experienced much, shame and sorrow.
I felt the need to make this right again, and not knowing how, I went to find Quatre. He and Duo had been close friends. Looking tired and clutching at his chest and with watery eyes, Quatre told me that Duo was in too much pain to talk to me. It was obvious that he was feeling Duo's pain, and was suffering for it. That short talk with the Arabian showed me again how wrong I had been to turn to Wufei. Quatre, in return, asked me why? Why had I cheated on Duo when the American loved me more than anything? How could I reject him in such a way, knowing he had lost nearly all those he had loved and trusted?
I hadn't realized I had "cheated" or that it was wrong. I had no experience in anything other than being a soldier. Never even remembered a role model of a couple relationship. Duo always tried to get me to follow my emotions. I think that's what led me to him in the first place, he was the bright light in my grey world. He held in his eyes the promised hope of a fuller existence. He grounded me to life, to the good things in life.
I know now that I was weak. At the time, I was lonely being away from him and was drawn to Wufei. His strength and inner vulnerability was attractive to me. I ignorantly followed my emotions. Wufei had asked that first night as we held each other about Duo, what would he say and how would he react to what we'd done? I told him simply that he would understand, after all, I was following his advice to follow my emotions. I never envisioned the emotional devastation I would soon cause him. I wasn't trained to interact in any way other than as a professional soldier. But I think the others knew how he would react. Why else did Quatre and Trowa keep it from him? I'll never forget the look of horror on their faces when they silently picked the lock and walked into our dorm room trying to surprise us, but instead, they got the shock of their lives when they found Wufei and I in bed together. That should have been my first clue that what I had done was so wrong.
Quatre looked at me with pity. He tried to explain to me the expectations that are assumed when two people are involved in an intimate relationship, especially if they are in love.
Wufei also tried to help me, even in his own guilt-ridden state. From the moment we returned, we shared a bed only once in a while, and that was merely to hold each other, to offer comfort. Each of us is too riddled with guilt to enjoy any other touch than that of a friend's comforting embrace.
We were all shocked by the minute glimpses we got of Duo as he walked past us coming or going from the safehouse. He was growing thinner, and his features were drawn and tight. We felt helpless, none of us knew what to do. Weeks went by as a pattern had set in. We accepted missions as they came in, and Duo had left several times on his own in Deathscythe. Each time I was relieved and surprised when he returned. Daily his television and stereo played endlessly. I think he was trying to drown us out.
Then one day, five weeks from when the nightmare had started, Duo returned from a mission. He staggered in looking half dead, blood running from a wound to his shoulder and from a long gash that ran from his thigh down to his knee. Wufei rushed to help him, but Duo curtly refused any help from him or Quatre, and as soon as the bedroom door closed, his loud music came on and shook the house.
"This can't go on." Trowa said, looking at the stairway as the Arabian teen sat on the couch next to him.. "He's destroying himself. We should try talking to him again."
"We've tried, Trowa." Quatre replied sadly and he laid his head back wearily on the couch and closed his dark rimmed eyes. "He won't listen to any of us."
The Heavyarm's pilot sighed. "I'll try again after lunch."
He came to us later and reported that he had waited for Duo to come out of the shower and tried to talk to him. It didn't go well, and the music continued to play on loudly. I recognized it now as some of Duo's favorite. I hoped at the time that in listening to the more upbeat tunes than those he'd chosen over the last few weeks, that maybe his anger was easing. The music stayed on, loudly through the day and evening. Finally at 2 a.m., Wufei urged me to ask Duo to turn it off as none of us were able to sleep with the noise. He suggested that maybe Duo would talk to me now.
I approached his door with that hope in mind. Dressed only in my boxers and t-shirt, I pounded on his door so that he could hear it above the loud music, acutely aware that everyone in the house was awake and listening.
He either didn't hear me or was, as usual, ignoring me. I hate being ignored. With a well aimed kick, his door flew open and I saw him beautifully silhouetted by the light of the moon while sitting in a chair by the window. His wonderful hair was unbound and fell all around his thin body. He looked ethereal. Coming out of my momentary daze, I moved to turn off the stereo.
"Enough of this, Duo. We need to talk." I told him, surprised that my voice came out so harshly. I moved towards him, longing to hold him in my arms once again.
I registered the sound of metal scraping on wood and blinked as I saw him raise his gun and level it at my chest. No one points a gun at me and gets away with it. I ignore his demand to leave the room and took a step forward. "Duo." my voice was low in warning. I hoped to stop this nonsense once and for all.
A burning pain hit my thigh at the same time I heard the report of his gun. He shot me! I couldn't believe he shot me once again. I fell back to sit on the floor and clutch my wounded leg. I looked up at him in disbelief, even as I heard the others running down the hallway. Between my wound and the thoughts running through my head I didn't exactly hear the exchange between Duo and Trowa, but I did understand his meaning when I saw him stand up and put the barrel of the pistol into his mouth. Quatre's voice rang out, begging him not to kill himself. I was quickly dragged out the door as Duo followed, the gun still in his mouth as he lifted his foot and slammed the door shut on our shocked faces.
We didn't sleep much that night as my wound was tended to and our nerves were shaken by the night's events. Our ears were tuned to any sound coming from the bedroom above us, each of us silently hoping we wouldn't hear the gun go off.
We had a late breakfast and were trying to decide what to do, when we heard foot falls on the stairs. Trowa and I both grabbed our guns, knowing we would only use them in self-defense.
He came into the kitchen wearing his priest's outfit, his gun visible in his shoulder holster, and paused, his pained, blood-shot eyes taking in the four of us sitting at the table. He told us he had something to say and didn't want us to interrupt. We accepted his terms, we owed it to him. I could see, even under the brim of his favorite black hat, that he was struggling with his emotions. I wanted to do something to help, but realized that anything I did now would probably make it worse. After all, I was the one that caused him that pain.
We sat quietly as he spoke to each of us of our betrayals. First Wufei, who bowed his head in shame. Then Trowa and Quatre. They too, accepted their part in his pain. Then he turned his accusing eyes to me. I guess I never realized the depth of his love for me and what it had cost him. He said I threw him away like yesterday's garbage. I never would have seen it like that, but now, I understand why he had been so upset, felt so betrayed. He even tried to joke about fidelity, a word I lacked in my vocabulary, but his emotions began to surface and he had to struggle to control them. Again, I wanted to help, somehow.
He yelled at me to shut up. I had broken the agreement. The pain in his eyes told me he had earned the right to have my silence.
He was crying......., and it was tearing me apart.
Suddenly, he reached up, clutching his braid by his neck, and with a knife I hadn't seen a second before, he severed his braid and threw it's long length onto the table, landing in front of me. He told me I could think of it as a trophy or just throw it away, just as I had thrown him away.
I stared at the chestnut colored mass dumbfounded and confused as his words washed over me that it didn't matter, he wouldn't need it where he was going. The words didn't fully sink in until I looked up and he was gone. I called out his name in desperation, but I knew he was gone. I had lost him forever.
Wufei stood and followed to watch him pick up his duffel bag and run out the door. "He's going to his gundam." he reported and sighed as his shoulders slumped. "That cold piece of metal had been a better friend to him than we have." he said sadly defeated. He then moved to walk out the front door to thoughtfully watch the rapidly retreating figure.
I picked up the now partially braided length of hair and held it to me. Lowering my head I took in the scent that was so familiar. Memories of holding Duo, of loving him, rushed back to me and the enormity of what I had lost overwhelmed me. The other two sat quietly, lost in their own thoughts, as I held the braid to my face, tears falling unheeded.
"Fire!" Wufei's voice broke my train of thought as it called out the warning. Quatre and Trowa jumped to their feet. Trowa grabbed the extinguisher from under the kitchen sink, and they raced up the stairs as I hobbled behind them as quickly as I could on my wounded leg, the braid still clutched in my hand.
By the time I made it to Duo's room, the fire on the blackened bed was thoroughly doused by the fire retardant. Wufei picked through the smoldering, messy debris with the nozzle of his gun. His brows were drawn together.
"These are all Duo's things." He said as he continued to sift through the pile. "Here's his music, pictures, books. All the personal things he cares about." He reported
"Why wouldn't he take them with him?" Trowa queried.
Wufei's gun hit on a larger, melted surface. "His laptop." he said confused.
Quatre gasped, his eyes widened in horror. "No..... oh no." he said emotionally and trembling. We all turned to look at him alarmed. "We've got to stop him, Trowa." Quatre lunged at the Heavyarm's pilot, grabbing hold of his shirt front. "By Allah, Trowa.....he's going to...."
The blast that erupted from the woods and the shock that followed sent us all to the floor.
"The Alliance?" I asked alarmed from my prone position on the carpet.
"No!" Quatre cried out in agony. "Duo self-destructed!"
Somehow I got to my feet and stumbled out the door. I even managed to hobble across the field, ignoring the horrible pain in my thigh.
The woods ahead of me were catching on fire and pieces of hot, black metal were littered across the ground and in the trees. I ventured into it's shade, regardless of the dangers, intent only on reaching the destroyed gundam and hoping against hope that he'd survived. I stopped suddenly, and looked down in horror on a burned and mostly dismembered body covered in tattered, black clothing that was melted onto the lifeless skin. The short brown hair was singed heavily and Duo's face was down in the dirt for which I'm now grateful for. I don't think I could have withstood the dreams of his burnt and ripped apart corpse accusing me with lifeless eyes. I moved forward blindly, trying to breathe through my sobbing when a grip around my chest stopped me.
"No, Heero. He's gone. Let's try not to remember him this way." Wufei held me tight as he whispered into my ear, crying unabashedly.
I turned around and melted into his arms and cried harder than I ever thought possible. All the emotions I'd held in check all my life crashed through the barrier that had been built up around me in my training. We both clung to each other and mourned Duo and our part in his death.
"We need to leave now." Trowa's voice sounded behind us, his tone firm and authoritative, he was clearly taking charge of the situation. "The authorities will be sure to send someone to investigate the explosion." he explained.
Wufei and I managed to separate but he held my shoulders in order to keep me turned away from Duo's tattered remains.
"We should bury him." I said as I struggled to compose myself.
"I'll take care of it." Trowa said, then suddenly, he looked down, studying something under his foot. Bending over, he picked the object up. It was Duo's crucifix, still on it's chain. Trowa's eyes closed as he gripped it in his hand, his quivering chin the only evidence of his grief.
I looked at the abused metal as it dangled from Trowa's fingers. "I know I don't deserve it" I said. "but, may I have it?"
Trowa slowly opened his eyes and raised a dubious eyebrow.
"It will serve as a reminder of my mistake and the price paid for it. I'll not repeat such a mistake again." I promised.
Trowa nodded and carefully placed it in my hand. "Go quickly." he entreated us. "I'll take care of the remains. Pack only what you need. Quatre's already in Sandrock."
Wufei led me out of the forest as flames, surrounding Deathscythe's shattered hull, seemed to chase us out, angry that the tranquility of the forest had been violated by a senseless, violent death. We entered the safehouse for the last time, and I moved mechanically to gather my things, the cross and Duo's braid joined together in one fist as I worked in a blind haze.
It seemed that all of a sudden I came to my senses and found that I was in Wing, buckled in and beginning the fire up sequences. I didn't even recall leaving the safehouse, much less entering my gundam. My mind only registered that I was there at that moment and that my face was wet with tears.
The coordinates of a new safehouse flashed onto my communications display screen. I knew I wouldn't be going there, too much guilt filled me to want to be with the others who were equally guilt ridden. Unknown to me at the time, the others felt the same. Even Trowa and Quatre separated.
Quatre was right, writing this down has helped me, and I feel I may be ready to move forward, soon. Tears have dropped onto my keyboard as the memories have come back. Reaching over, I touch the braid on my desk lovingly. For some reason I need this reminder that I once had something beautiful. I might be ready to move on, but I will never forget.
My hand goes to the cross around my neck that I'd repaired and polished. It will never be perfect again, but I prefer it that way. Duo had always chided me about my habitual drive to be the perfect soldier, but in doing that, I put that need ahead of my need for him. I am no longer the perfect soldier. I have been awakened to too many emotions to ever go back completely. Duo, in death, has continued to teach me. I now know what it is to have loved and to have lost. I can never be the perfect soldier again, and I think Duo would be happy for that. But I won't let the other people that I care for be lost to me for long. I'm going to contact Quatre and tell him that it's time, I want to come home.