Just a Shadow

Disclaimer: - I don't own Gundam Wing or any of its characters!

It took me a long time to decide what to do about this fic and this chapter is the result. This is truly the last chapter of 'Just a Shadow'. Thank you to all the people who have reviewed me and I hope this final chapter doesn't disappoint.

There's quite a bit of depressing content in this chapter, so for those who thought it was best to end in the last chapter, don't read, but for those who requested an epilogue, this is for you. Please don't cry, as it will be very sad. You have been warned!

Epilogue: When Finally Caught Up

Two calm eyes watched from the warm glow of their window as the wind picked up outside, blowing the trees to a slant and the snow across the ground.

Winter had come early this year.

A soft sigh escaped the lips of the spectator as he turned away from the window to stand by the doorway with his gaze fixed on the stairs. The house was quiet save for the howling of the wind.

The man made his way towards the stairs and silently crept to the top, frowning when he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the full length mirror by the wall. Silver hair, wrinkles and faded eyes stared back at him, but what else would you expect from a ninety-eight year old man?

Another soft sigh escaped his lips as he continued on his way. Time had been kind to him, he just wished he could say the same for his partner. He slowly made his way to their bedroom and quietly opened the creaky door, hoping not to wake the room's occupant. A glance into the room told him that he had been unsuccessful. Another pair of sleepy, faded eyes were staring back at him.

The man walked in the room and sat down on the bed beside his lover, gently running his fingers through the others hair, just the way he knew he liked it.

"Mmm … s'nice …"

The man smiled at the others comment – it was rare for him talk nowadays.

"Good morning Duo"

Duo smiled up at him, faded eyes half closed. The man helped him out of bed, washing and dressing him before helping move to the chair lift installed on the stairwell. Five years ago, he could have carried him, but that was five years ago and this was now.

He stopped as they passed the mirror, but this time he smiled. He didn't mind that he or his partner looked old – it was a sign of a life well lived.

Here he was, Heero Yuy, perfect soldier, devoted lover, loyal friend, stubborn fool, and now old age pensioner.

Heero snorted at his own thoughts, helping Duo into the chair and setting it to lift him down the stairs. He followed slowly after, walking on aching limbs. When he reached the bottom, he once again helped his lover, supporting most of the others weight, into the lounge where his breakfast was prepared.

Duo and Heero were the only ones left from the five Gundam pilots.

Heero's POV

Taking care of Duo has become almost automatic to me. My mind wanders to our comrades as I do; it's been so long since we've last seen them and I miss them so much, but I can't visit them where they are … at least, not yet.

Wufei had been the first to die, at the young age of 35. He had been on a mission for Preventers. It was only meant to be a simple infiltration and collection of data, but the young Chinese man had stumbled onto something much bigger. He had successfully obtained the data of his discovery and with more advanced technology, transferred t directly to Preventers HQ. He though, never returned. His information stopped the major uprising of a large terrorist group that had since been undetected.

He was found in the holding cells a week later, unconscious and barely alive. They brought him to the best hospital available and he fought for 3 days before his body finally gave in. He had been beaten and raped for information, but when he wouldn't talk, they had tortured him within an inch of his life, leaving him for the Preventers to find as a warning. Chang Wufei age 35 died sixty-three years ago saving the world, and with him, died a little bit of the rest of us.

Quatre had been the worst at the funeral, but I have to admit I was almost as bad. I could hardly breathe from the sobs, and I don't know how Duo managed to keep control of his feelings. He and Wufei had been the best of friends doing everything together and always having fun, but I guess he did it for me, as Trowa stayed controlled for Quatre.

Quatre died next aged 63. He was assassinated. We may have been Gundam pilots, but I doubt any of us could have survived a bullet through the heart. One minute he was standing at the podium promoting pacifist ideals, and the next, he fell. Time seemed to slow down at that moment. Trowa had been in the audience with Relena whilst Duo and I had watched from home. A shocked expression crossed the young blonde's face before slowly he slumped to the ground. The doctors said he was dead before he had fallen halfway.

Trowa was devastated. He stayed locked in his room for days or weeks at a time, only leaving for food which was usually left outside his door anyway. Duo and I thought for sure that one day we would open the door to check on him and there he would be, dead to the world, following Quatre t the grave, but nevertheless he pulled through somehow. His motivation was to find the assassin that had killed Quatre and punish him. As long as he was okay, that was all that mattered to me, but deep down, I knew he would never be alright ever again.

During Quatre's life, with the help of Relena, total pacifism was maintained between the Earth sphere and the Colonies. We had wanted a private burial, but of course with Quatre's position that was impossible. After his public funeral, we went to pay our respects perfectly. This time it was my turn to comfort Duo as he wept into my shoulder. We made it through though, just like we did with Wufei, we made it through.

Five years passed without incident before our world were thrown upside down once more. I was making breakfast and duo was in the shower when the announcement was made. We had the TV on quietly and I'm quite surprised I noticed the reporter, but when Rlena's picture came up, I gave my full attention. I can still remember her words to this day as the camera's fell on her aged, but still beautiful face.

I come to you, the people of the Earth and colonies with an announcement I am sure you will not want to hear. Three months ago, it was confirmed that a cancerous tumour had developed inside my body and was inoperable. Since then I have undergone a series of medical treatments to rid myself of this tumour, which however has been unsuccessful. I apologise for not making this announcement sooner, but it was necessary for the maintenance of the peace.

People of the Earth and the colonies, this is a terminal illness.

I can remember I dropped the plate I was holding when I heard that sentence. Duo had jumped out of the shower and rushed into the room to check on me, but all I could hear was the sentence replaying over and over in my head.

Relena died 8 months later, with her husband and 3 children by her side. She had asked us not to come to see her die, but to remember her as we had always known her. I can't remember if I cried or not, but I do know that I never want to feel that way again.

Relena Darlian Peacecraft died aged 68 from inoperable breast cancer.

In that same year, Trowa's sister Catherine from a heart attack aged 75. Trowa was 68 at the time, and to this day I don't know how he managed to hold onto his will to live, even if he had made a resolve to find Quatre's murderer.

He stayed working in the circus throughout the rest of his life until the age of 74. He invited us to the show, to watch him perform in the circus for the final time. This was his retirement performance and was meant to b his last … it was.

He stood perfectly still as his assistant threw the knives in his direction, but then as the last knife was moved into her hand, he turned toward us and looked us both straight in the eyes. I don't know if Duo knew at the time, but I could tell that this was his goodbye.

She threw the knife and Trowa jerked to the side, deliberately moving his head into its path. He died instantly which I'm grateful for. I know Duo screamed out, but nothing seemed to be registering at the time. I could feel the tears trail down my cheeks and hear the sobs that escaped my throat, but I was so numb I could barely take it al in.

When we arrived home that night, we ventured into Trowa's room. Papers littered the walls and floor – his research into Quatre's assassin, but one piece stood out. It was a small green envelope, neatly left on his bedside cabinet. Inside was his suicide note. He explained how he had found and 'punished' Quatre's assassin and therefore had completed his goals in life, and finding no other reason not to join Quatre, had decided to end his life stating that 'There was no life without the ones you love'.

Many years passed and Duo and I celebrated out 86th birthday together. That was when it had first started. It was an innocent mistake really, Duo had thought that he was eighty-five, and not eighty-six, but things had progressively got worse from there.

As the years passed Duo memory faded more and more, and by the time he was 93, he could no longer remember his past or even me. My heart clenched the morning he woke up and called me Quatre, but the funny thing is, he doesn't even remember who Quatre is.

His strength gradually waned, until finally he could no longer walk or do simple tasks such as pick up a book or feed himself. From the age of 95, I have had to take care of Duo full time. It's kind of ironic how life can be. Duo took care of me full time for years of his life and now it's my turn.

As for myself, well I mastered my emotional outbursts by the age of 30 and my speech problems cleared up around the age of 33. I was the only one (along with Duo) to live full time in the house, as eventually the other pilots moved out to their own places. They still came to stay with us often though.

Duo and I adopted 5 children – all orphans from war, two boys and three girls, all named after the five Gundam pilots or somebody close to them. There was Wufei, the youngest boy, and then Quatrina, the youngest boy, Tria, the middle girl, Duet the oldest girl, and Heero, the oldest boy. I had wanted to name our first son Duo, but Duo had begged me to let him name him Heero after me, and as usual I had relented.

My life has been as happy as it could have been. Little memories still make me smile, such as Duo teaching the girls to braid their hair and letting them braid his with bows and ribbons (he had a soft spot for the girls!). I know that my happiness wont last for much longer though.

My smile wavers as I watch Duo cough harshly. His health has been declining recently and I know it won't be long now. The truth is obvious, no matter how much I try to deny it.

Duo is dying.

Normal

That night, Heero lay with his arms protectively wrapped around Duo. One hand rested over the braided man heart as Duo's back was pressed against Heero's chest. Heero sobbed as Duo's heart slowed and his breath came in deeper, and less frequent gasps, he could tell by his lovers breathing that he was asleep. Duo's body started to relax and Heero kissed the back of his neck, saying his goodbye.

"Love you 'Ro" Duo mumbled as he exhaled his last breath

The funeral was held a week later. Heero stood with his five children around him to give support and a shoulder to cry on should he need it, but Heero just couldn't bring himself to cry any more. Too many tears had been shed in his life and he just felt too numb to cry any more.

As his children said their goodbye's after dropping him home, Heero noticed that they lingered a little, letting him know how much they loved him. They obviously knew it too. This was the last time they were going o see their father alive. He just couldn't live without Duo, like Trowa said so many years ago 'There is no life without the ones you love'.

That night, Heero lay in bed, simply waiting to die. Tears streamed down his face as he thought of Duo and his hand roamed across the empty space beside him. Slowly his mind started to become foggy and his body began to feel numb. He slowly closed his eyes and smiled as four pairs of arms wrapped around his body. When he reopened his eyes four faces smiled back at him.

"Duo…" he whispered

Heero Yuy. Perfect soldier, devoted lover, loyal friend, stubborn fool ... just a shadow. Died aged 98.

OMG! I cried! I need a tissue! Someone give me a tissue! Okay, please review once more and tell me if I did okay, I hope you all enjoyed this fic and thank you all for making it a pleasure to write!

For the last time!

Clarobell xxx