Title: Wash It Away
Author: Tressa
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Don't own. Which really stinks, but oh well. They belong to Sotsu/Sunrise Agency.
He felt dirty.

He felt dirty and he needed to take a shower. The mission had barely been a success. It would've been a complete success if the number of casualties hadn't been so high. But there were incidents in life that he could not control, no matter how hard he would like to. He smirked as he lowered himself out of Deathscythe. No, that wasn't the case. He was Shinigami. And those soldiers had died at his hand. He controlled their lives and had the power to end them.

This didn't make him any happier then he was when this war started. In fact, he made him feel even worse. Even so, things had to be done. And he was chosen to complete them.

He entered the bathroom and turned on the shower, no bothering to turn on the cold water. The small bathroom was filled with steam within a couple of minutes. Entering the shower, he felt the sharp droplets rain down on him, each drop piercing the nerves in his body. The hot water was more than his body could handle, and reflexes and common sense told him to move out of the way and cool off the scalding water. However, penance and guilt kept his feet planted in place, while he miserably took the punishment.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He continued his mantra until his skin began burning from the scalding water. Allowing his reflexes to kick in again, he reached over and quickly turned on the cold water, allowing it to cool off his rain of fire. His body didn't protest to the change, and he found himself in a comfortable, daily shower. Reaching behind him, a grabbed a bottle of herbal shampoo and squeezed a generous amount in the palm in his hand before working it through his hair, building up the necessary lather.

He scrubbed to get his hair clean. He scrubbed to get the sweat and grime out. He scrubbed to get the blood out. Thankfully, he didn't scrub enough to draw blood. After rinsing his hair of the shampoo, he completed the same procedure with the conditioner. He remained under the warm water for a while, working out the kinks in his shoulders and his back. It would take a miracle and a 24 hour massage to work out the tension that had built up over the years, but this would have to do for now.

Grabbing a wash rag, he grabbed a bar of soap and attempted to wash the sweat off his body. He scrubbed and he scrubbed. Once the sweat was gone, he continued to scrub. His mind went back to the nights work. All those people. Dead. Their families and friends never to see them again. They died because of him. He could still feel the controls of his Gundam under his fingers and hands, controlling the scythe to go through the building. He could still see the explosion that rocked the base, still here the cries of those unfortunate to get caught in the blaze. He had their deaths on his hands. Blood on his hands.

He scrubbed the washrag over his body, especially his hands. He continued scrubbing. Harder and harder. His skin became pink with irritation. That didn't stop him.
"Have to get rid of the blood," he muttered. "Have to get rid of the blood."

He felt the shower run down his face, but the water tasted salty. His skin began to be rubbed raw, but he wouldn't stop. "All those deaths! On my hands. All those people I killed. They didn't deserve to die. But they were there. They were enemy soldiers. They chose." His guilt filled ramblings became louder and his emotions were finally let loose.

He continued to scrub his body until he had no energy left in him. Sinking to the bottom of the tub, he let the water run over him. "Wash it all away," he pleaded. "Please. Just make it go away." He didn't know how long he sat there, till he heard a loud crash outside the bathroom. Turning off the water, he grabbed the towel from off the towel rack and wrapped it around his waist. He wished he had remembered to bring his gun, but it was sitting outside on his bed.

"Well," he muttered, forgetting about his previous problems momentarily. "Guess I'll have to fight this guy hand to hand." He twisted water out of his hair and flung it back. Grimacing, he looked down at himself. "Fight him hand to hand in a towel and wet, unbraided hair."

Unlocking the door, he pressed himself against the door, prepared to burst out. He counted to three silently, before flinging the door open. "Now I've gothcha!" he yelled before stopping in his steps. "Um, hehe."

Standing in the room was Heero Yuy and Quatre Raberba Winner. The two pilots looked at him, Heero's expression neutral, while Quatre's was more of embarrassment for bursting in at an obviously personal time.

"Duo, gomen. If we had realized you were . . . indisposed . . ."

Burying his previous worries, Duo plastered on his smile and laughed. "Hey, don't worry about it, Quatre. It happens. Although, you guys could've left a note or something instead of breaking down the door."

"You weren't answering your phone," Heero broke in. "And we had stopped by earlier. You weren't answering the door."

"We were worried about you," Quatre interrupted. "You didn't seem all together when we left that base."

"Your mental status is of some concern right now," Heero said. "We can't have you out on missions if you're emotionally disturbed."

"What Heero is saying is that if you are feeling upset, you need to get it out in the open so we can help you."

"You'll be a danger to others."

"We don't want you hurting."

"Hai, hai." Waving his hands for them to stop, he faced both of them. It wasn't that Heero didn't care. Heero knew where to place priorities, though, and right now, the rest of the galaxy was going to come before Duo Maxwell. Which was fine with him. That's the way it should be. "I'm fine," he said, cringing inside as he said that. His infamous claim about running and hiding but never lying echoed through his head. He was fine. Now anyway. He tried to convince himself.

"Anou . . . we haven't eaten in a while," Quatre said hesitantly. "It would be a good idea during this lull to get something and refresh ourselves. You never know when the next time we'll get this chance."

"Yeah, yeah," he muttered. "Just . . . lemme get dressed first. I didn't expect to be standing here in a towel and I'm definitely not going out there" he emphasized there by pointing toward the door. "In just a towel."

He turned to leave when a hand stopped him. Turning around, he found himself face to face with Heero. He shrugged the hand off his shoulder. "What is it?"

"The back of your arm is bleeding."

Craning his head back, he noticed the blood that had threatening the spill. He smiled a shaky smile before he clamped a hand around it. "Uh, yeah. I think I might have hit it."

Heero looked closer. "It looks rubbed raw."

"Now that you mention it," Quatre said, coming closer. "There are a couple raw spots on your back."

Biting his lip, Duo turned to face the wall. "Doncha get tired of the killing?" he asked softly. If either one of the other pilots was surprised at his tone, they didn't respond. "I mean, we do all of this, claiming it's for the colonies on such. And it is. Don't get me wrong. But why kill?"

"Sometimes, it's the only option left. We need to use force to take out the opponents. It's not like we purposely go out of our way to hurt people. Why do you think we started taking into consideration the amount of people in certain locations before attacking? Why do you think we make sure the areas we fight in are clear of civilians? It may seem like needless killing, but these soldiers chose this. And once they chose what side to fight on, than they chose their fate."

"It's not as black and white as you're making it," Duo bit back.

"No, it's not, Duo," Quatre spoke up. "But nothing is ever as black and white as it seems. There are always shades of gray. Sometimes, there are no answers. I don't think anyone can answer your question to your satisfaction. It's just the way things are. But, I think with the current situation, what we're doing is the best for us. We were given Gundam for a reason."

"Before you continue on, let me get dress." Chuckling, Duo grabbed the clothes he had on the bed and ducked into the bathroom. He hadn't realized how hard he had been scrubbing. His skin didn't feel irritated at all. It was a depressing scene now that he looked at it. But all he wanted was to get the blood off him. He wanted everything washed away. Quickly dressing, he grabbed a brush off the sink and exited.

"Duo? Why was your skin raw?"

Blinking, he began to roughly drag his brush through his hair, wincing as the bristles caught on the snags. "It was a rough battle, Q. Don't tell me you weren't there."

"I was there, Duo. Those aren't injuries from a battle."

Closing his eyes, he tossed the brush on the bed. "I wanted everything washed away. I wanted to be clean again. I wanted everything that I've ever done to be gone. But no matter how hard I scrubbed. No matter how long I showered, no matter how hot the water was, it wouldn't go away. The blood is still there. I felt so dirty. I needed it off me. I needed to feel clean."

"You're hurting," Quatre said. Duo opened his eyes to see Sandrock's pilot holding a hand over his heart. He'd forgotten about the kokoru no uchuu. "Duo. Think about this. No one else has to suffer like this."

"Then why do we?"

"We were chosen for a reason," Heero butted in. "I have a vague idea why. But maybe you should concentrate on the good. Instead of doing this. It's not going to make the situation any easier. But maybe you should make the best of the situation."

"Listen to him, Duo." Quatre sat himself on Duo's bed and looked up at him. "We're not normal. Let's use that to our advantage. Let's fight so that no one else has too."
"People are still fighting," Duo said bitterly. "No one can stop that."

"No, no one can," Heero said. "But we can take the place of those who would fight. This will continue as long as war continues. But maybe we can do something about it."

"We can't solve the world's problems." Quatre chuckled. "Even if people think we can. But we can try and help the world see what the problems are and let people like Relena-san help that way."

"There might not be an answer to your questions. But this is what we do. This is our contribution." Heero pointed at the clerical collar. "You wear that for a reason. I don't know those reasons. I'm not going to dig. But you wear it for a reason." He raised any eyebrow at him. "Don't you?"

Fingering the clerical collar, Duo let out a small sigh. "You're right Heero. I do wear it for reason." No one will have to suffer like Father Maxwell and Sister Helen. No one should have to. Picking up the brush, he continued the arduous process of detangling his hair. "Let me finish up with my hair here and I'll be with you guys."

"Don't brush this aside like it's nothing," Heero told him as he and Quatre headed to the door. "You're going to have to deal with it whether or not you like it."

"I just hope you realize how much good you've done," Quatre said positively. "Don't let the bad overshadow the good."

Without a goodbye, the two pilots left his room. Duo finished brushing his hair and began to braid it. It was then he began to feel the irratation from his shower. Would the priest and the Sister let him do this? He quickly tied the end with a hair band and stared at himself in the mirror. There deaths flashed in his vision and soon he was back at the Maxwell Church, leaning over a dead Sister Helen. Others would lose their loved ones as well, due to the fighting. Loved ones who were merely innocent bystanders. And then he remembered why he was there. Why he chose this lifestyle.

"Well," he said to his reflection. "It doesn't make me feel righteous or anything. But it helps me to deal with it." Almost as an afterthought, he added his line from when he first received Deathscythe. "For the peace of the colonies, I'll glad become the God of Death."

For the peace of the colonies. For the peace of the colonies, he'd do what he feared.

Giving himself one last look, he ran out of his room, slightly more at peace with himself.

AN: Phew. Longer then I had anticipated.