Attrition

Summary: After the war, Duo contemplates his own loss of innocence

Fandom: Gundam Wing

Pairings: None

Warnings: Slightly disturbing imagery, possible OOC

Disclaimer: Not mine

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"Come on; best three games out of five!"

"What, you mean we get to beat you again?"

"Show off..."

Bright sunlight beat down on the concrete of the basketball court as the teenagers messed around, not a breath of wind disturbing the dust that hung in the still air. This was one of the corners of Earth that had escaped the worst of the war, a place where the children were still children. Duo watched the kids playing with an odd expression on his face - it was difficult to believe they were all older than him.

It was easy to spot another veteran in places like this. Even those without visible physical scars carried them in their eyes; the look of lost innocence, of pain held distant but never quite forgotten. They had seen too much to fit in with those who had never been touched by the war. They saw the fire and death again, blood spattered across the scenery like so much cheap paint, heard the agonised dying screams of friends and enemies alike in their dreams. Once you had seen the carnage, the casual brutality and utter ruination, it was too late to go back. Especially for a sixteen-year-old ex-Gundam pilot who has just discovered to his disgust that the legal school leaving age was eighteen.

Even before he had become Deathscythe's pilot, he wouldn't have been able to fit in with normal children - growing up on L2, you either grew up fast or not at all. When he was running his mouth off, when he joked around, when he acted like the kid he should have been, he was doing exactly that - acting. The Shinigami was always watching from behind his eyes.

The kids on the basketball court may have been seventeen at the youngest, but they were still younger than him. They hadn't lost their illusions yet. They didn't - couldn't - understand. They didn't know what it meant to watch innocent people die and know you should have been able to prevent it; to feel the searing pain and the adrenaline rush of knowing you were probably about to die; to feel the sick fear of enemy capture, the agony of torture and interrogation.

The Shinigami felt contempt for them. But Duo couldn't summon anything other than a sort of wistful pity; half wishing he could have had the chance to grow up away from the war, half pitying them for the loss of youth and innocence they were all yet to experience. He knew the pain as the innocent assumptions of childhood were slowly chipped away, giving way to the weary cynicism of those who had seen too much to believe in anything any more. He remembered his own loss of innocence often - and that was on the good days.

On the bad days he wondered if he'd ever had any to lose.

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