Warnings: Drug abuse, major character death, mention of rape, angst.
Definite Romantic Pairings: Quatre/Trowa
Potential Pairings: Logan/Heero, Wufei/Duo, Duo/Pyro, Duo/Remy, Wufei/Pietro
The sun was setting.
Quatre Raberba Winner stepped out of his car, greeted by the dubious sight of one Chang Wufei and Duo Maxwell actually having a sane conversation that didn't consist of battle strategy or insults. Duo looked up, laughing violet eyes now dark with pain, sorrow, and a resigned hope. His chestnut braid was flipped over one shoulder, the end frayed and worn from his nervous chewing.
Wufei fared no better; dark circles rimmed his obsidian eyes, and his ebony hair, usually gleaming with health and tied tightly back, now hung free, dull and lusterless.
"Hey Q!" Duo greeted, striding over to meet the shorter man. His lanky height towered over the blonde, forcing Quatre to look up to greet him. Duo bent down and the two of them kissed each other's cheek in affection; they were the most physically affectionate out of the five pilots. Wufei appeared by Duo's side, giving the former pilot of Sandrock a dignified embrace.
Duo smiled sadly at Quatre, noticing how their time apart had changed the angelic-looking businessman. His skin was paler then usual, cheeks nearly sunken from long hours of stress and nights filled with screams. His blonde hair, stiff and dry, hung limply, shadowing his dulled blue eyes.
"Where's Trowa?" Quatre asked, curiously looking around for the emerald-eyed acrobat. Wufei answered, "He's here. He had to say goodbye to Catherine, first." Quatre nodded somberly, again reminded of their purpose in gathering in the wooded field. The sun painted the grass crimson red, as though splashed with the blood of the victims of war.
Just then, Trowa Barton jogged out from behind a tree, his characteristic bang flickering in the wind. Time had not been kind to the tallest of the Gundam pilots; his frame now seemed shrunken, swimming in the jeans and turtlenecks that used to fit him so well. He walked with his shoulders slumped, startling green eyes brightening for a moment as he caught sight of the small gathering.
"Hello," he said softly, wrapping Quatre up in a firm, warm hug. Those two, out of the pilots, had always had a special bond; Duo liked to think that it was because Quatre had nearly killed Trowa. He had joked about that sending a bad message; nearly kill your comrade, become best friends for life!
"Heero'll be here soon," Duo said confidently, American accent brazen and ringing across the silent field. Wufei, hand resting idly on the hilt of his sword, nodded; if there was one thing that the elusive Heero Yuy was, it was punctual.
Just then, as if summoned by Duo's utterance of his name, Heero Yuy, the Perfect Soldier, arrived in their midst. Dressed in black slacks, dark blue shirt, and a worn jean jacket, he nodded coolly to each of them.
Time and pain had inflicted their ravages upon him as well; his skin seemed shockingly pale and translucent, dark blue veins running a delicate tracery beneath the skin. The sharp bones of his face and shoulders jutted out alarmingly, corded muscles and sinews shifting under his skin. His dark, fathomless blue eyes rested on each of them, calculating their health, before he spoke in his nearly-nasal voice.
"Hello Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Wufei. You all know why we have come here, affirmative?"
They all nodded silently; indeed they knew. Heero would only have summoned them for one purpose, and that was to allow them to say their final goodbyes to him.
They had all known that someday this day would come; Heero was never meant to survive in a time of peace. While all of them were damaged irreparably, it was only Heero who was broken, only Heero who had to die.
Duo glanced around the circle, a sardonic smile on his face. The paranoia that had been instilled in each of them was alive and well; he knew by the twitching, flickering eyes, the tense hands, ready to throw a punch. He knew all too well that each one of the young men gathered in this field was a walking arsenal in themselves: he alone carried over twenty small throwing knives concealed in his boots and pants, a gun in a concealed holster, and two spring-loaded sheaths on his forearms. Heero, by far, was the most paranoid; God only knew how many weapons he carried as a matter of course.
"I want to thank you all for coming," Heero said stiffly, looking at each of them for a moment. "I know that during the-" he paused for a moment, eyes glazed- "-during the war, I never told you, any of you, that you meant something to me. I will now rectify that mistake." The other four young men blinked rapidly, forcing tears away. Heero Yuy, the boy-how stupid a word for one so old- who had saved the world, given up life, sanity, happiness, was going to die. They had known this was coming, but they had never said a word to each other, never considered the possibility of trying to talk him out of it. "I-" Heero said haltingly, seeming to struggle with the unfamiliar terrain of emotion- "I care very much for each one of you.
Wufei, thank you for providing me a guideline and teaching me how to meditate." A slight smile curled his lips as he met the Chinese man's eyes, remembering Wufei's frustration when he had tried to explain the concept of meditation to him. He hadn't understood the concept of having an empty mind, saying logically that it was impossible, as the mind was always at work. Wufei smiled in return, but it was shadowed by sorrow, nodding his acknowledgment.
"Quatre, thank you for giving me many safehouses to hide in, and teaching me the concept of feeling." Quatre gave a choked laugh at the mention of safehouses; he had torn most of them down, feeling that they were too laden with pain and regret to live in. He had indeed taught Heero the concept of feeling, but Heero had still locked his ability to feel away, finding that it was a weakness. Only now did the billionaire realize the immense sacrifice Heero had made by giving up all expression of emotion.
"Trowa, thank you for doctoring me after my self-destruction, and teaching me the value of having a traveling companion." Trowa smiled in response, remembering the long, lonely nights where he had sat by Heero's bedside, watching the bandaged, broken body struggle to take just one more breath, the fragile heart to pump just once more. He remembered the cold European nights, and the pride he had felt in his comrade as Heero offered his life to Sylvia Noventa in reparation for his sins.
"Duo, thank you for stopping me when I tried to kill Relena, and teaching me the idea of friendship." Duo flashed him a cocky grin, his memory of that night as sharp as ever. He remembered Heero's dark, cold blue eyes, his unnatural speed and ability to ignore the pain of having two bullets lodged in him. He remembered staring down the barrel of Heero's gun, and seeing the blue eyes widen as Heero lowered the gun, sealing the first, fragile stirrings of friendship.
Heero stepped away from the circle, turning his back to them as he stared at the blood-red sun. "Will you stay until my heart stops?" he asked softly. Duo threw himself forward, wrapping his lanky arms around Heero's thin shoulders. The other three joined them, Trowa laying a hand on Heero's shoulder, Wufei snaking his arm around his back, and Quatre leaning into his chest, arms joined around Heero's waist.
"You know you don't have to ask that," Trowa said softly, almost in reproach. Even now, it seemed that Heero had a hard time trusting them, but they were the only people he would ever allow this close. That had to count for something. Heero stepped away from their embraces, bending over and removing something from his boot that gleamed like fire.
One of Wing's feathers, perfectly formed, glittered in the sunlight as he turned to face them, a rare, wonderful smile spreading across his face.
"Thank you all for teaching me what it means to be a family."
The feather descended, slashing his wrists as surely as any knife. Red blood erupted, but Heero made not a sound. Calmly he lowered himself to the ground, stretching out to stare at the cloudless sky.
The other pilots arranged themselves around him, Duo holding Heero's head in his lap, tenderly stroking his hair, Quatre, Wufei, and Trowa sitting by his side, safeguarding the former Wing pilot's passage.
Heero was finally happy, finally at peace with the knowledge of his death, so rapidly approaching.
The universe, however, was not. With the impending death of the Heart of Space, Time made its own decision, flinging the pilots back into the past, to the only era where the Heart of Space and his companions could find healing.
A white light exploded from the earth itself-
A cold light-
A dead light-
A light like the eyes of Satan-
And then it faded.