A/N: Don't ask… I just felt like writing a fic where everyone ended up dying, for some strange reason. shrugs I was bored, okay? Oh yes, and for everyone who was wondering what happened to Mission Complete and When There's No In-Between, they were deleted, put on , and they're staying there until they're deleted again. They can still be found on my website, and I'm planning to put them on , too. As for ESD, next chapter still in progress, slowly but surely being worked on.
Disclaimer: I no own Gundam Wing.
They told us it would be our last mission, before the Gundam pilots officially went into retirement. They asked us to do it, saying that no one else could possibly pull it off, and as one last tribute to our efforts in the Eves war twenty-five years ago. They claimed it was for the best, to help keep the peace, to prevent soldiers like us from ever having to fight again.
What could we say? Nothing that could really change their minds. That was how the Perfect Soldier, God of Death, Silent Clown, Desert Soldier, and Dragon reunited, for one more assignment.
"The entrance's clear," Trowa's voice broke through the silence. A slight crackle of static came through the communicator. "You're up, Duo."
Crouching beside me, the braided man winked, grinning. "You heard the man. That's my cue." He stood slowly, taking a wary glance around before he slipped into the shadows, black clothing causing him to be almost invisible. Duo hadn't changed much since the war, besides the maturity that crept into him when he reached full adulthood. The long chestnut rope had become slightly longer, but the mischievous twinkle in his eyes hadn't faded. Under the forty-year-old appearance, Duo was still the same happy teenager we'd always known.
As Duo reached the entrance, another figure exited, dressed in a Neo-OZ uniform. He gave Duo a brief nod as 02 stepped inside - Trowa, his infiltration skills not yet diminished by being out of practice or his no longer being a teenager. At almost six feet, he was still the tallest of the five of us. He'd grown leaner and more muscular, and last I heard, he was still working as a lion tamer in the same circus. The long bang that hid his face so well during the war was still there, and the man himself was as quiet as ever.
My earpiece buzzed slightly, and Quatre's voice spoke, slightly distorted by the microphone. "Guard two is near me, three and four rounding the corner. I'm going now."
"Roger that," I replied, straining to see as a flash of neatly-combed blond hair darted to another side of the building. A few seconds later, the CEO came back into view, a pair of reading glasses perched on his nose and a standard-issue military helmet fitted on his head. As the owner of the influential Winner Corp., it was hard for him to go anywhere without being recognized, hence the "disguise." Still, the aquamarine eyes glittered with sympathy and a kind of innocence that the rest of us had lost long ago. The walkie-talkie at his belt beeped, and Quatre lifted it to speak. "Northeast wall, near the entrance. No problems here." He threw a quick glance around before passing Trowa, continuing "his" rounds. The shift was due to end in five minutes, and he'd join everyone inside then.
"It's our turn," 05 said calmly. "Let's go." We entered the shadows surrounding the base, waiting until the next two soldiers were directly before us, then pounced. Trowa watched impassively as we made quick work of the guards, stealing their uniforms and throwing the bodies into the bushes around the outskirts of the base.
Wufei had grown almost as tall as Trowa, standing at 5'9". Out of all of us, his face had matured the most, lines standing out and making him seem older than he really was. Under that, however, he was still as good at martial arts as ever. Sheathing his katana, he turned to me and smirked. "Our shift's over. Let's go."
I nodded, and as if on cue, our relief arrived. We joined Quatre and Trowa at the door and walked inside in silence, our footsteps echoing loudly down the empty halls.
Quatre spoke first. "Duo?"
"Hacking into the weapons room," he answered. "I know I'm a little late, but there were a couple guys guarding it. Same meeting place, ten minutes later fine with you guys?"
"It works. One more thing: what did you do with the guards?"
I could almost hear him grinning. "Gagged, bound, and unconscious in a storage closet."
"And what'll you do when the time comes for a shift change?" I asked sternly.
Duo swore softly. "I might need some backup. Cover for me, Heero?"
"Give us a few minutes. We're still going with the original plan."
"Got it. Shinigami, out."
Quatre smiled, shaking his head slightly. "He hasn't changed at all."
"No, we've all changed more than we realize," Trowa said softly.
I agreed silently. All of them had changed – except for me. Still the same mess of brown hair, the same icy Prussian-blue eyes, the same emotionless attitude. If peace had affected me in any way, it wasn't obvious from the outside. We'd seen children grow into adults, living without the reality of war as we had. And once that war had shaped us, there was no way to go back.
A small victorious sound escaped into my earpiece, and 02's voice spoke gleefully. "I'm in. Bazookas, anyone?"
Wufei snorted quietly. "Baka. Grab the machine guns and a couple grenades and meet us out here."
"I would, but there's a slight problem with the guards. They just changed shifts, and I can't get out without being caught. Whatever happened to that backup, Heero?"
"Hn. I'll come and get you, then. Just stay there and be quiet."
" 'Kay." Silence for about two seconds, before a loud clattering sound came, followed by muffled shouts on the other end of the comm. unit. "Duo?"
"Forget stealth," he answered grimly. "I think I just managed to trip the alarm. I knocked over a case of ammo…" At once, the harsh discord of the alarm bells grated in our ears. "Guys, get down here! Or else… aw, hell… never mind."
Before any of us could say a word, there was a brief report of gunshots. Then a gruff voice spoke, close enough to the mike on Duo's collar for us to hear. "Okay, who are you and why are you here?"
"I'm Shinigami, and I'm here to claim your souls… though that's none of your business, now is it?"
A growl, followed by a sharp intake of breath on Duo's part. "Who else is part of this plan of yours?"
"You don't know and I'm not telling," he said mockingly. "Why don't you go off and ask your fairy godmother? She might know. In the meantime, you're getting nothing out of me, not even the time of day."
"Well, if that's the case…" A single shot. A soft thump. A low chuckle, and the sound of footsteps walking away.
We stood there for a few seconds, none of us saying a word as the sirens continued to jangle in our ears. At last, quietly, fearfully, Quatre asked, "Duo?"
No response. It was a bit strange, for the emotionless Perfect Soldier to be half-frozen and numb with shock. Most of me was in total disbelief, but one part of my mind, the part that kept the personality of the fifteen-year-old Heero Yuy, said, in a flat voice, 'He's dead and you know it. Your old partner from the war is dead. Not like it matters, though. You work better alone anyway.' It paused for a moment, before adding in a slightly bitter tone, 'Strange, though, that when he finally dies, it's during a time of so-called peace. And when he's murdered… he already has something to truly live for…'
Wufei was the first to shake out of the stupor. "Baka Maxwell," he snarled, voice tinted with a tinge of worry. He started forward. "I'm going to check on him."
I caught his arm, barely even conscious of what I did. "Wait."
The Chinese man turned on me, eyes blazing in a fury of anger. "Wait?" he snapped. "That idiot's lying on the ground in a pool of blood, and you tell me to WAIT?"
"We can't just storm in there. We need a plan."
He wrenched his arm out of my grasp, anger contorting his face beyond all reason. "You don't get it, do you? He could be dying, right now!" His voice choked. Even he knew the lie behind his words, but it didn't seem right to give up hope. "I'm going, Yuy, and you can't stop me. It's your own problem if the years of peace haven't given you enough goddamn emotions to care when one of your best friends is dead-" He stopped, realizing what he just said.
I shook my head. "Still, we need weapons, and they'll be on guard. We'll have to be careful."
"Calm down," Quatre whispered. "If you're acting this way, you'll only get caught."
Wufei took a deep breath before fixing his eyes back on me. "Fine," he grumbled. "FINE. But I'll tell you this, Yuy – you haven't changed a bit. You still care too much about your missions, and too little about the rest of us." With that said, he stepped forward, heels clicking briskly against the tile floor in time to his steps.
I could feel Quatre's and Trowa's eyes on me, but I didn't look at them. "He's right. I haven't."
We entered the weapons room silently, our eyes caught by the black figure, sprawled in a heap by the door. One look at the hole in his chest told us all we needed to know. Quatre let out a stifled sob, and Trowa and Wufei averted their eyes as they gathered up the dropped grenades. I grabbed the machine guns, handing them to the others and ignoring the one left leaning against the wall. 'You always knew that big mouth of his would get him in trouble one day…'
We left quickly, resisting the urge to glance back. Just as we turned the corner, a group of soldiers emerged from another room and spotted us – or rather, the machine guns that we carried. And unfortunately, they were smart enough to add two and two correctly. "Get them!"
Trowa's eyes narrowed and he spun around, hoisting a grenade in one hand and holding the gun at the ready in the other. In response to our questioning glance, he answered, "I'll hold them off. You go on ahead; I'll catch up to you later."
A slight feeling of foreboding hit me, but I nodded anyway. "Be careful." Trowa fell back slightly, keeping one eye on us and the other on the advancing soldiers. Pulling the pin of the grenade, he lobbed it at them, following us in our mad dash to the control center. Basically, all we had to do was delete all the information in the databanks and call Preventers to arrest the leaders. We were lucky enough to get here before this organization gained too much power.
I risked a glance behind me, to notice that the number of people on our tails had doubled. Wufei noticed my look and grimaced. "They just keep coming."
Whatever I might have said in answer was lost as the sound of a gun being fired broke through my thoughts, just as the chatter of the machine gun stopped abruptly. Despite myself, I turned around, as did Quatre and Wufei. My eyes locked with Trowa's for a split second, before he snapped, "Run!" With that said, he collapsed almost bonelessly to the floor, the wound on his chest bleeding rapidly.
"No!" Quatre half-yelled, turning to go back. I grabbed his wrist, pulling him forcefully along behind us. "Let me go!"
"There's nothing we can do," I answered, keeping my blank gaze straight ahead. "He told us to run. That's all we can concentrate on right now – the mission. Trowa's probably dead already."
Quatre followed quietly, making no resistance to my grip on his arm, but not running like crazy, either. "First Duo, then Trowa," he said softly. "What next?"
"Hopefully, we finish the mission," Wufei replied grimly.
Unfortunately, fate wasn't that kind. Trowa hadn't been able to delay the oncoming soldiers very long, and they caught up quickly. Gunshots rang out on all sides – luckily, we hadn't quite lost our skills and were much better at aiming than they were. Neo-OZ soldiers fell like dominoes – but with so many of them coming, it was inevitable that one of us got hit. I'm not really a medical expert, but I'd say the bullet went through his left lung and pierced his heart. A choked cry came from behind me, and I released his wrist. Quatre was dead before he hit the ground… and that was when I realized that none of us would get out of there alive.
Apparently, Wufei came to the same conclusion. He shot me a look and a small, cold smile. "Well, Yuy, we might as well finish the mission first."
I nodded and put on an extra burst of speed. The Dragon matched me easily, and we reached the control room within minutes. I hacked the access panel quickly and took out the soldiers inside, glancing questioningly at Wufei, who still stood at the door, hands wrapped loosely over the machine gun. "Wufei?"
He shook his head, the corners of his mouth curving upwards ever-so-slightly. "You know what to do. I'll make sure they don't get inside. Fix the system so it calls Preventers when you're done, alright?"
"Sure." The door closed between us, locking me away from the rest of the world. I got to work on the computer, cracking open the security and wiping the databanks clean of all information, while at the same time wiring them to contact Preventers, as Wufei had suggested. The faintly muffled sounds of a battle raging outside reached my ears, mixing with the soft clicks and beeps of the computer. I was almost done when the noises outside stopped, so abruptly that I didn't notice it at first. Then the door slid open with a soft whoosh, and I heard the safety of a gun being clicked off. I ignored it and continued typing.
"Heero Yuy, aged forty. Former pilot of Wing Gundam and Wing Zero. Codenamed Zero-One, often referred to as the Perfect Soldier."
I paused in my work. "What do you want?"
"Turn around." I did so, keeping one hand resting on the keyboard casually, to see a man a few years younger than me. His face was calm, but his eyes glittered with hatred and malice. Not surprisingly, he held a gun leveled at my head. Behind him, two others stood at the ready, in case I should try something. "Your comrades, the other Gundam pilots, are all dead."
"Hn." I studied him carefully. "I'll ask again: what is it that you want from me?"
His face darkened into an ugly scowl. "Your death." He stopped to see my reaction, but caught nothing. "I always admired Treize Kushrenada… his power, his grace… his belief in the necessity of battle in the lives of men. And you killed him."
"Actually," my voice was deadpan, "Treize planned to use the final battle of the Eves war to show everyone how horrible war is, and to destroy all weapons. And it was Wufei who killed him, not me."
"It doesn't matter." His trigger finger tightened. "You Gundam pilots – you're all the same to me. You all opposed OZ, tricked people into believing you worked for the good of the colonies… and now, you're the only one left. Any last words, Heero Yuy?"
My hand still lingered on the keyboard. "Just two."
Confusion was etched on his face. "What?"
I smiled – a real smile. "Mission complete." I pressed the last key, and NO DATA blinked on the screen. Shocked, the man pulled the trigger, and the bullet flew true, embedding itself right next to my heart.
It was supposed to be the last mission we ever completed. And in a strange, warped way, it was. Though not in a way any of us ever expected. Oh well. I suppose we had it coming – us, the ultimate fighters, had to go down in battle. We were never meant to die as old men, safe and secure in our homes.
It's red – everything is red. As I lie here, dying in a pool of my own blood, I can't see anything other than red. My heart thumps painfully in my chest, sending more blood spurting all over my clothes with each beat, trails of it running down my sides… but I don't feel it much anymore. All there is, is the pain…
"What should we do with him?"
"Leave him there. He'll be dead in a few minutes anyway."
"I can't believe they went down that easily…"
"They were getting old."
"You're right. How shall we celebrate?"
"A bottle of wine sounds nice."
Footsteps sound as if from far away. My eyelids are so heavy… they droop against my will, and I fight against the oncoming sleep. I can't… I have to see this through… wait for Preventers to get here.
But sometimes, nothing can overcome death.
'Shinigami's coming for you…'
My eyes close, and for a moment, I see nothing as I am swallowed by darkness, only to spot a small, flitting light in front of me. My consciousness reaches out to it, and the light blossoms before me – it's not just a light, but a picture. I gasp slightly as I realize that it's an image of us, back when we were fifteen – a photo that Howard took, Christmas Day after the war ended. We'd landed on an L1 colony, and the holiday lights sparkled on the branches of the tree we stood under, which was bare of leaves in the midst of winter. The weather manipulators had decide on a white Christmas, and everyone was wearing warm clothes, while the scenery was covered with a white blanket of snow. It was still falling in flurries, framing everyone with a soft powder. Duo, Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei were smiling, relief in their eyes that the war was finally over. As for me, I was ignoring the camera and was half-turned away, but peace and a certain happiness filled my soul, more than I'd ever felt before. The image of my friends smiles at me, as I stare at them, and slowly, even that fades to nothingness.
A/N: REVIEW PLEEAAASSE! Reviews much appreciated! Tell me what you liked, didn't like, if you thought it was sad, or give me constructive criticism. Don't flame, unless you want to melt the pretty snow in the last scene…