Title: Don't Cry
Author: Becka
Pairing: 1+2

Warnings: Heero-POV. Angst, AU?, Blood, Dark, Duo-torture, OOC?, and Violence. Very mild shonen ai.
Spoilers: Minor spoilers for a couple of the first eps.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing does not belong to Becka; characters are used without permission for a non-profit purpose. No infringement is intended.

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"Don't cry," comes the soft, insistent whisper. As always, "Don't cry."

"Cry?" I say. Why should I cry now? Tears have been trained out of me; they serve no purpose. Maybe you say that because you're trying to make me feel human. Once, a long time ago, before this war, I might have been human. I might have smiled and laughed like you do. I might have been able to joke and make light of it all. I might have been able to wash away the stains. Maybe. I don't remember. J trained that out of me as well.

When I first met you, you shot me. You grinned at me impishly, callused fingers tightening on the trigger of your gun as you told me to put my hands in the air. I refused. After all, I didn't think you _would_ shoot me; you looked too innocent, with your strange rope of chestnut hair and your expressive violet eyes. Dressed in the stark outfit of a priest, pearly teeth flashed as you warned me a second time and when I shook my head again, you pulled the trigger. Before I blacked out, I remember seeing your eyes widen in surprise when the other soldiers came running out of our safe house at the sound of the gunshot, yelling at you. You thought I was the enemy; in reality, we fight on the same side.

I don't think you've ever forgiven yourself for that, so maybe that's why you try to make me more human. Maybe that's why you tell me, "Don't cry." It's a stupid sentiment. You did what you believed was right. You protected the girl who may end this war. But you still feel badly about it. Why? Better my blood than hers.

Over the long months that followed that day, we became partners of sorts; we worked together. I've never worked with anyone on my mission before. But you pulled your own weight, and there was no reason for me to get rid of you. If you failed, I could always kill you. So I told myself as I typed my mission reports and ignored your endless chatter. I always told you, "Shut up," and now you tell me, "Don't cry." Do I deserve that?

Maybe. Because you did fail; you were captured. You were careless and you paid the price. I had to kill you, just like I always thought I would. I had to break into the enemy base where you were held and plant a bullet in your brain. I had to kill your smile, and your laugh. I had to.

When I walked into the holding cell and saw your battered, broken form, I still intended to pull the trigger. You shot me. I'd shoot you. Always we should do what we feel is right. Better my blood then hers.

You looked at me, somehow you knew, and you smiled. You tried to make it easier on me. You tried, because you knew once I pulled that trigger, there was no coming back for you. And you knew that I would never forgive myself. That smile made it a thousand times harder because I looked into your eyes and I saw _her_. I saw a little girl with a puppy. I saw an innocent.

My mission has always been to protect the innocent.

So I helped you when I should have killed you.

We broke free of that base. I endangered my mission. And for the first time in my life, I didn't care. I had saved that little girl. When I went to sleep that night, she didn't come to haunt me, and I didn't wake up screaming. You were in my dream instead, with your smile and your laugh, and when I woke up, I almost smiled too.

We were partners again, and all was as it had been. But something changed. I felt it.

You talked, blithely chattered about inconsequential things to pass the time, but for once I began to listen. I could no longer dismiss you as a joker or a fool because no one who's as insipid as you seem to be can smile in the face of Death. That's when my training first began to fail me; you made me feel.

A month later we were captured. The both of us, together, as partners. Partners in war. Partners in pain. Partners in death. We were captured, but it didn't matter. We were together, and together we'd allowed the other three pilots to escape. The little girl smiled at me in my dreams that night.

OZ must have been ecstatic. Two Gundam pilots to break. Two Gundam pilots to crucify. Two Gundam pilots to kill.

They came for me first, doing things that made me scream until my throat was so hoarse that all I could taste was blood and bile. Torture is too kind a word, I think, but it didn't matter. Every bruise they gave me, every mark and every scar, made the little girl smile wider. Her eyes lit up when she saw me, and she wrapped her frail arms around me and told me that it was okay. I was protecting innocents. I was fulfilling my mission.

When I woke up in the cell, it was your arms that encircled me, not the little girl's. I looked into your eyes and saw your jaw clench a little. "Don't cry," you whispered fiercely. Only that. Don't cry.

I said nothing when the cell doors opened again and they took you this time. Hours ticked away and I was left to wonder. There was a heavy feeling in my stomach and I made a note to ask you if that's how you felt when they took me from the cell and you were left there, waiting.

Eternity passed and my heart did something. It began to quicken its pace, the beat tattooing against the inside of my chest with a thump thump, thump thump. I glanced at my palms and they were sweating. I didn't understand why.

The doors slid open with a soft hiss and they threw a limp rag doll of cloth and marred flesh in. I didn't understand. Why would they give me this pale imitation of a human being? And then the bloody mess coughed wetly and lay still.

I touched it curiously and when I brought my fingers away, they were covered in sticky redness. Again, my heart leapt, thump thump, thump thump, and I turned the mess over. It had your face.

Violet, too-bright eyes blinked owlishly, unfocused as they looked up at me, and the mouth on the refined, blood-splattered face smiled slowly. "Don't cry," it told me. Don't cry.

I stared down at you, suppressing the painful lurch my heart gave, and asked why I would cry. As I reached my hand out to touch you, you flinched away from me. I didn't understand why, not until it was too late.

They no longer bothered with me. My training made me immune to their efforts, just as it had made me immune to yours. Each day they took you. Always you. Only you. Every time the doors opened, they dragged you away from me, but not before you'd look up at me with those sad, beautiful eyes and say, "Don't cry." I don't remember hearing you say anything else. Your endless chatter was a thing of the past, and I was oddly grateful for all the times that I'd really listened to it.

In the beginning, you were only gone for a few hours. It felt like eternity to me. Then they started to keep you for days at a time. Eternity became hell. And my heart kept up with me, kept count of all the time you were away. Thump thump, thump thump. I stopped counting the seconds and started to count my heartbeats. They meant more to me anyway.

I slept occasionally. Really, only when my body told me I wouldn't be able to function properly without rest. The little girl no longer visited me. You took her place, wrapping slender arms around me and telling me, "Don't cry." Always and only that. Don't cry.

And one day when they threw the husk of your body I'd become accustomed to seeing into the cell, you didn't open your eyes and smile and say, "Don't cry." You didn't move.

I reached out to you, touching you softly because anything more would hurt you, and turned you to face me. Slowly, ever so slowly, two dull eyes opened. You looked up at me, but you didn't smile. Your hand reached up and brushed across my lips, and you stained them red. Your fingers tangled in my hair, tugging me down to bring our parted mouths together. That was the first time I'd ever kissed anyone, the first time I'd ever been kissed.

I felt you take a deep, shaky breath, and our mouths parted. I looked down at you, and you looked up at me, and I could see something in your eyes slowly fade, then die. I finally understood, Duo. Looking into your eyes and seeing a mirror of my own soul, I finally knew why you always said, "Don't cry." You weren't telling me.

You were telling yourself.

So I did something which surprised me. Something that took more courage then surviving J's training or self destructing ever did.

I smiled at you, brushed my fingers across your lips and ran my hands through your hair. I don't know who I was trying to comfort. "Don't cry," I told you.

And smiling back, you didn't.

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fin

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