Warnings and Disclaimers: All quotes from Episode 49: The Final Victors were retrieved from gundamwingdotnet, and in some cases were suitably altered. I'd never actually seen the episode, so I have now ruined it for myself...

Dee woke up at four p.m. on December 22. It was no more than half an hour after Bikky (Gil? He couldn't seem to make up his mind which name to call him...) placed a call that his aunt and uncle appeared to hover anxiously at his side. Apparently his cousin watched over him in the early afternoon while the adults were working, and then they switched off in early evening. His doctor came with them, a calm, middle-aged man with a receding hairline.

"Ah, Mr. Larson, it's good to see you awake," he said with a pleased smile. "We were getting just a touch worried there."

"Hey, Doc," Dee replied with a lopsided grin, sitting up with a wince as his head protested the sudden movement. A legion of nurses had passed through earlier, poking and prodding and seeming to do nothing constructive except make his headache worse. "Gil said I wasn't out of it that long…"

Just seventeen years…

The doctor smiled again, a little patronizing this time, the corners of his eyes creasing into crow's feet. "A week is more than long enough to spend in a coma, Mr. Larson. Most people wake up within the first couple of days; anything longer and brain damage becomes a concern. Now, the nurses tell me he's not showing any signs of impairment. And you've seen nothing either?" He directed this question towards Dee's family, and his uncle and cousin nodded, Gil with an ironic smirk towards Dee while Aunt Rebekkah hugged him yet again, her pretty, dark face stiff against threatening tears.

"He's a little quiet, but I guess we ought to be expectin' that," Uncle Anton offered. "Got any idea when we'll be getting him out of here? Christmas ought to be spent at home, and all that."

"We'll want to keep him for observation for a couple of days, Mr. Harcourt, but barring complications, a discharge on the 24th might be possible," the doctor said, studying his patient carefully. "We'll see. Nothing's conclusive at the moment."

"Dunno, you might need to keep him longer than that. I think that soccer ball killed even more of his brain cells than usual," Gil deadpanned, glancing Dee's way with a barely-concealed smirk.

"Virgil!" Aunt Bekky hissed, aiming a swat at the back of his head that the teenager ducked with the ease of long practice. Dee would have done the same, but the brat was out of reach of the bed and he had a feeling his head would hate him if he tried to stand up at the moment.

Suppressing a smile at the two's antics, the doctor sent Dee's aunt and uncle a glance and then beckoned towards the hallway. They rose and stepped outside, Dee scowling after them; he was an adult, damn it, they could talk about what was wrong with him in front of him!

…Well, sort of an adult. And wasn't that a head-trip? He still remembered every moment of growing up as David Larson, but it was like those seventeen years were just a thin, mostly see-through layer on top of Detective Dee Laytner. Like those colored plastic sheets you wrapped leftovers in after the holidays were over. And if you thought about it, it kind of made sense. Dee had had twenty-nine years of experience, a lot of it gained through some tough times. David's life had been pretty damn sheltered in comparison. Was it any surprise that he didn't think of himself as David anymore? In fact, maybe he could get Aunt Bekky and Uncle Alton to start calling him Dee…

"…Your funeral was beautiful, you know."

Dee's head snapped around at Gil's words, and he stared at his cousin, taken aback by the deep sadness in his eyes. "…What?"

"We buried you together, you and Ryo. We thought you'd want it that way. There were a lot of flowers, and everyone cried, even that jerk Rose you were always ranting about," Gil said in a soft monotone, looking out the window. "I ended up in a foster home. It wasn't bad, but… it wasn't like it was with Ryo."

Uncertain of what to say, Dee kept silent and listened. "Carol really missed you guys, too. We… we got together for a bit, after high school, but it didn't work out. It was like it wasn't right, wasn't a family without the two of you. You know what I mean? And then… I think a car hit me and I died, but I don't remember that part really well. Gets all fuzzy. I didn't remember all this until I was twelve, you know. Hell of a thing, suddenly remembering shit that never happened and that no one else does, not even someone who was supposedly there, like you. I was pissed at you for that for a long time."

Dee had no idea what he was going to say when he opened his mouth, but it went unheard anyway as Gil turned to look at him again, his eyes smoldering with resentment. "Oh, and Dee? If you ever cheat on Ryo again I'll rip your spleen out and make you eat it."

The teenager spluttered for a few seconds. "What! I didn't… that wasn't… How the hell was I supposed to know?!" Dating Zach hadn't been cheating. He hadn't even remembered Ryo at the time!

…He flinched at the guilt that came with that thought, even though the more logical part of his brain told him it was in no way his fault. He'd died, for fuck's sake, and he kind of doubted you were supposed to go around remembering past lives. It had to be against the laws of the universe or something.

The guilt stayed anyway. Dee gave Gil a tight-lipped nod, and the younger boy sat back, satisfied.

"Have you seen him?" Dee almost didn't ask the question. He wanted Ryo back, more than anything, but… there was no telling what Ryo was like, now. Or if he was even alive. Just because he and Bikky had both been reincarnated, didn't mean anyone else they knew had as well.

So he really wasn't surprised when Gil shook his head. Felt like a few internal organs had been scooped out and something cold and empty left there instead, yes, but not surprised.

"Then we'll just have to keep looking."


As it turned out, Dee hadn't been released by the 24th. The lingering headache that assaulted him whenever he tried to go vertical made the doctor want to keep him just a bit longer, to make sure nothing was seriously wrong. The plan was that he could head home the next day, though, provided he took his nice pills whenever his skull started playing its own rock music and called the doctor for any particularly bad ones.

In a display of familial love and support that forced orphanage-raised Dee to hold back tears, his uncle decided they were all going to spend as much of the day with him as possible until the staff kicked them out. The three brought as much food with them as they could carry in lieu of the traditional family dinner, and all day long doctors and nurses popped inside to grab a nibble or two. Dee and Gil found it vastly amusing, though as growing boys they carefully guarded their own shares of the feast.

Aunt Bekky, of course, bustled around decorating the room, all the while firmly maintaining that she didn't celebrate non-Jewish holidays Christmas even as she hung her nephew's red and green stocking on the unused IV stand. It wasn't until Uncle Alton, exasperated, pulled her down into a seat that she herself took a few bites of the delicious food. And through it all, Dee basked in the warmth of knowing he had a family who cared about him.

He was happy and at peace, as content with life as he could be without his partner by his side; at least until later that evening, when to their surprise and bewilderment a deeply worried nurse hurried in and turned the telescreen to a worldwide news channel. Two armies of mobile suits were duking it out in space around an enormous, four-sectioned battleship, soundless explosions bursting like fireworks every few seconds.

Dee frowned. Why in the world did the nurse look so anxious if it was just another battle between mobile suits, not even inside the atmosphere? Even if the war was technically supposed to be over, it was nothing new, nothing bad enough to so frighten someone.

"After Colony 195... the curtain attempts to close on the history of wars... But these two must fight or the peace will not come. Can you feel it... the sorrow of this fight? Can you see it... the peace that lies beyond this?" a woman's voice said, stern but sad. "This is the question of peace that must be addressed by everyone!"

Suddenly there was an explosion, and the battleship began to disintegrate, pieces of its infrastructure floating off into space. "The Peacemillion and the Libra are heading away from the Earth," a man's voice broke through, and there were gasps around the room as the rapt audience realized the ship had indeed been headed straight for the planet.

Something was wrong, though, and it took no time at all for Dee to pinpoint what it was. Not every part of the ship was tearing itself apart.

"No! A portion of the Libra is still falling!" the alarmed voice confirmed.

"Lady Une, a declaration has come in from the colony representatives," a new voice said as the last intact piece of the Libra continued on course for Earth.

"We the colony representatives have come to a consensus regarding the surrender of the earth... We of the colonies desire that the White Fang change their demands; we, for many reasons, strongly desire to co-exist with the nations of the earth. We declare a cessation of hostilities and hope that the nations of the earth can follow suit. Because our indecisive behavior we have greatly inconvenienced many people with this war... and for this we apologize deeply."

Beside him, Gil snorted bitterly, and Dee spared a moment to wonder when his cousin moved over to sit on the bed with him. "Fat lot a 'cessation of hostilities' will do if that chuck wipes us all out," he muttered, looking green. "It'll be the end of the dinosaurs all over again."

The other teenager nodded, and shifted until their shoulders touched. He had a feeling they both needed the comfort.

Someone must have cut the sound from whoever had been broadcasting earlier, because now they were watching the piece of the ship fall in silence. Several mobile dolls rushed desperately toward it, and Dee's eyes widened as he recognized the terrorist Gundams cutting their way inside.

Then slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, explosions from the inside began to further fragment the ship. Dee could hear Aunt Bekky praying in Hebrew, but most of his attention was riveted on the screen when suddenly the sound returned and left him grateful for the prayers. They needed all the help they could get.

"Two hundred seconds until the Libra begins reentry! It's at its limit!"

There was another, larger explosion, and they held their breaths. When the flames cleared, half the ship was gone…

But the other half was still falling.

Before Dee could blink, his aunt and uncle had joined the two of them on the bed and were holding them tightly. The nurse had moved to stand beside them, and he reached out to take her hand as she wept silent tears.

"The Libra has entered the atmosphere… Ma'am, we're still reading Gundam 01 inside."

For the second time in his two lives, time seemed to stop for Dee. By now it was hard to see the Libra clearly as it burned through the outermost layer of the atmosphere, but it was all too obvious that very little of it was being burned off; Dee braced himself for an impact he knew he wouldn't feel from half a world away and a death that wouldn't come then, but later when the temperatures fell and the world choked on unbreathable air.

Then the last, final explosion blossomed, tearing apart the ship that would have ended the world, and time resumed its course.

"…Readings show that… 01 has self-destructed. He… he did it…"

They could hear cheering coming from other parts of the hospital, but the only sound in their room was Aunt Bekky's sobs of relief as she hugged her two boys tighter. There was something running down his cheeks, and Dee reached up to find that he'd been crying without ever realizing it.

"Bless him," the woman managed to choke out, and through the fog of shock the understanding of what had just happened- and what one man had just given up to save them all- hit Dee like a hammer blow.

"Bless his soul…"

A/N: I realize this isn't the way things went in canon GW. Heero never self-destructed to destroy the Libra, but the thing is, it's not Heero in that cockpit…

Hugs to all ye few, readers and reviewers alike.

29 May 2007