Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing.

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Death, Language, Depressing Material

Pairings: If you squint you might see some

Author's Note: I've been working on this fic for a few months now, ever since the idea hit me in August. I'm not entirely happy with it, but it refused to be written any other way. Please let me know what you think.


"He's fucking insane."

He fights the smirk when he hears Duo's voice, keeping his breathing even. Monitors chirp and whirr and he recognizes each by the noise they make: heart monitor, respiratory monitor, blood pressure gauge… He tries to guess who's in the room with him.

"Duo." Quatre, he decides. Quatre trying to be reasonable, trying to rein in Duo before he says something he'll regret, trying to offer hope and optimism. "Don't."

A snort from his right, he's surprised Wufei decided to show up. Then again, Wufei has always been honorable like that, or so he claims. He relaxes further and tries to locate the last of their small group. He can't sense him though, and he finally opens his eyes.

"Hey buddy," Duo chirps happily. He grins at Heero, claps him on the shoulder, before a look of horror crosses his face. "I'm sorry, are you okay?"

"Yeah, it didn't hurt."

--

"He looks like he's got some color back in him." Trowa looked up from where he'd been washing the blood from Heero's forehead. She offered him a smile. "You're taking good care of him Trowa. Did you ever think of being a doctor?" She waited a beat before shrugging. "I'll go make some soup for you, okay? You need to keep eating, especially with our show tonight. It's supposed to be a good one!"

Trowa listened as Catherine bustled about the small kitchen for a moment before dipping the cloth in the warm water. He had been caring for Heero for a week now and this was actually the first time he was able to sit and clean off dried blood without worrying about fever, infection, stitches, or broken bones. There was a clang from the kitchen and then Cathy started chattering happily and loudly.

"The Manager has been talking nonstop about the profit coming in from our ticket sales, apparently you're a hit! Everyone's wondering about where you disappear off to though." There was a pause and Trowa moved on to the left arm, moving it carefully. "Where do you disappear off to Trowa? What happened to him?"

"He…had an accident," he replied finally. A pot slammed in the kitchen.

"An accident? He looks like he was in an explosion!" Trowa shook his head and rinsed the cloth again before frowning at the red water. He stood and picked up the bowl. If only Cathy knew how right she was. "Honestly Trowa, if you don't want to tell me, just say so. Don't trivialize it. Poor dear," she added as she arrived with the soup.

She looked at Trowa and frowned when she saw him smile briefly. "Are you amused by this? Really Trowa, he's your friend!" she exclaimed. She slammed the bowl of soup down on the end table, glaring. Unfortunately the tremble in the table caused the bottle of hydrogen peroxide to topple, crashing into the bowl, and knocking it over the bed. "Oh my!" She grabbed a towel and wiped the hot soup off the sleeping boy.

Trowa joined her quickly, wiping it away with the bloodied cloth. He glanced at Heero's face, to gauge if his patient registered the pain. There was no change, not even a twitch to his eyelids. His eyebrows drew together and he returned to work, listening as Cathy babbled apologies.

--

Wufei leaves the small hospital room about the time that Quatre falls asleep on the one comfortable chair and Duo goes in search of food. It's also the time when Relena enters the room and sets a small white teddy bear on the end table. She offers him a faint smile and it trembles on her lips.

"Hey, how do you feel?"

"Fine," he answers automatically. She glances at the I.V. drip and nods.

"I suppose they're giving you morphine, huh?" He offers a small shrug and she sits down in the hard chair next to the bed. "You were so stupid this time Heero. So reckless," she sighs. Her hand comes up, small and pale as it rubs her temples. "And you've scared a few grey strands into my hair."

"Hn."

"I know you don't care, but I do. Honestly, what possessed you to go off like that without backup, without anything? It was just a stalker, I've had worse threats and you know it. Were you asking for death?"

"Relena…"

"I guess talking is straining, isn't it? I just came in to say I hope you feel better soon. I have that meeting you know, to talk with the L4 delegates on that new trade policy…Wufei's going with me. I think he'll be bored stiff…Goodbye Heero, take care won't you?" she asks. She reaches over and trails her fingers against his cheek. For a minute she looks ready to cry. She tilts her chin though and blinks hard and then offers a smile.

He doesn't move; just watches as she sighs and exits.

--

Trowa watched him carefully after he woke.

He watched him openly: while he ate in halting bites with trembling hands; while he flipped through documents on what had occurred during his month-long absence, eyebrows furrowed and forehead scrunched. He watched when he first started to walk about the trailer in stumbling, wavering steps; and he watched as he sat and listened to Catherine talk on and on, propped up on pillows and covered in the thin blanket.

He watched him covertly: while he wandered the circus grounds, building stamina and observing the workers, while he sat and typed away on the laptop he had sent Trowa out to get, arm trembling without him noticing. He watched him push himself too hard, too soon; and he watched when the stitches in his arm gave way finally and the blood stained everything.

"Are you trying to kill yourself?" he demanded quietly. He was stitching his arm up, feeling Heero wince into and away from the needle alternatively.

"I feel weak."

"You were unconscious for a month, your muscles atrophied slightly," he muttered. He finished the stitches, cleaned the area again, and bandaged the wound once more. Heero inspected the stitches while Trowa put away the supplies and tossed the used gauze and bandage. "Take care."

--

"How are you feeling Heero?"

He opens his eyes and stares at her evenly. "Fine." She nods and flips a sheet on his chart before frowning slightly. When she looks up though, her face is composed and she's smiling faintly.

"Of course you would, wouldn't you?" she asks. She looks over at Trowa who's been reading the same page for the past ten minutes. He's positioned himself in a corner of the room where he can watch all the monitors, the door, and the window easily. He hasn't said anything since his arrival over two hours ago. "Have you noticed any changes?"

"His fever spiked," Trowa answers. Heero glares at the book clutched in his hands. "I think he ripped his stitches when he sat up to drink a minute ago too."

"Hn."

"I'll check now," Sally says. She wanders over and sighs as she draws back the blanket to check his abdomen. "Yeah, you did." There's blood coating the bandage, seeping into the sheet. She grabs a kit from one of the trolleys, opens it and pulls out the suturing. "Don't move."

She works in silence and when he looks at Trowa he has the book up, hiding the part of his face that his hair doesn't. He still hasn't turned the page when Sally's finished the repair work. "You did a real number to yourself this time Heero…" He looks at her and she sighs again, sitting down on the chair next to him and playing with the end of her braid. "We've run tests, but we should have run them sooner…"

"Understood."

--

"How long have you known?"

"A while, I had suspicions when you were still unconscious." Heero raised an eyebrow, staring at him over the laptop screen. "There was an incident, with soup, you didn't react."

"Ah…"

"Does it bother you that I know?"

He returned his attention to the screen, fingers typing quickly. He frowned, listening to Trowa flip a page every so often, before he finally looked up again. "No. It'd be worse if it was Duo." Trowa nods even though Heero isn't sure he's met Duo yet.

Trowa set his book down before he crossed the small living room and looked over Heero's shoulder. There's a map of a boot-shaped landmass surrounded by water displayed on the screen and Trowa frowns in concentration. "Italy?"

"I'm going to find Marshall Noventa's family. They have a right to know who killed him," Heero answered. He sat back from the laptop and frowned at the map he'd pulled up, mentally charting where each relative lived.

"I'll come with you," Trowa said finally, interrupting the quiet. Heero looked at him, frown already forming and Trowa glanced pointedly at the red-tinted bandage. "I didn't spend a month of my time treating you just for you to go off and kill yourself again. I'll leave you alone once your injuries heal."

"Hn."

--

"Trowa…"

"Your fever is leveling out," he replies. Heero nods, eyes fluttering. "Drink." He opens his mouth, whether to protest or agree he doesn't know, and Trowa shoves the straw in. He's pleased when he hears him slurping the water.

"Where is…everyone?"

He pauses, thinking. He honestly doesn't know, doesn't remember if they told him where they were going. He can't recall and it doesn't seem that important at the moment anyway. "Dinner, I think." Heero nods and lies back against the pillows, sighing and pushing the cup away. Trowa sets it down on the tray and leans back in the chair.

"You're angry."

"Furious."

"I'm sorry."

"You're dying."

They both freeze and Heero stares at him with wide eyes before he nods for the third time. Trowa looks at the linoleum floor and the scuff marks on it. He hears a soft cough and when he looks up again Heero's still staring at him.

"Do you want to die?" He swallows when Heero doesn't respond. "Is that why you searched out the terrorists…?"

"Relena thinks it was a single stalker." There's a bitter laugh, a sound Trowa hasn't heard since the first part of the war. It fills him with dread more than anything else. "I…I didn't think…they were good, weren't they? I don't…regret it."

"I envy your certainty."

There's quiet, except for the beeping of the monitors and then he sighs. "It still hurts like hell."

"Does it?" They're both laughing suddenly, though neither could say why, but it doesn't matter. When Sally enters she stands in the doorway, puzzled at their behavior. She wonders if Duo will believe her when she tells him later.

--

"Heero," he says. The typing stops almost immediately and Trowa watches him turn slightly. "It's time."

He nods and stands, coming to sit on the motel bed while he rolls up his sleeve. The shirt is sticky and red-brown and some of it pulls at the bandage wrapped securely around his upper arm. Trowa has the first aid kit out and is assembling the usual hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic, and gauze wrappings. Heero reaches up, tugging the bandage from his arm and wincing slightly.

"I know it doesn't hurt; you don't have to pretend." Heero smirks at Trowa's words and holds his arm out to be cleaned and bandaged properly. "That face was horrible."

"Hn."

Trowa shakes his head and wipes more blood away. That's another shirt in the trash, at this rate Heero will have to go shopping before they make it through half the list of Noventa's, he thinks. He frowns and examines the wound, noticing another torn stitch. He pours antiseptic on it before bandaging it, tighter and thicker than before.

"You need to be careful."

"I was." They both look at the laptop and Heero nods. "Maximilian Noventa will be arriving soon." Maximilian Noventa, nephew of Field Marshal Noventa. They've already visited his mother, Isabella, last week. An experience both would like to forget.

"Right." He dumps the bloodied bandage and gauze in the wastebasket. He shoots Heero's arm a look on their way to the door. It's trembling slightly but he doesn't seem to notice. "I'll drive," he adds. He grabs the keys to the rental car and pockets them before Heero can protest. It worries him when he doesn't.

--

"He's going to die, isn't he?" Relena whispers. She's curled up between Quatre and Duo, a cup of weak coffee warming her hands. Duo wraps an arm around her shoulders and offers her a smile.

"Nah, you know Heero. He's always on the verge of death. I'm sure he'll pull out of it just like the previous times." His smile doesn't reach his eyes and he looks away before she can return her own. She shivers and leans her head back. She's already removed her suit jacket and shoes and her hair is beginning to come undone.

"Do you know what's wrong with him? Sally hasn't told me anything," she moans. She blinks back the tears that won't fall and turns to stare at the waiting room television. The news is on, displaying muted images of the flooding affecting the country to the north.

"She hasn't told us anything either," Quatre murmurs. He rubs her shoulder consolingly before standing and stretching. A nurse walks past briskly, hands full with towels and he wanders to the vending machine. "I'm sure she would if it was serious."

"Unless Heero forced her not to," Duo grumbles. "I wouldn't put it past him. He'd be the one to stick to doctor-patient privilege, and make Sally too." There's silence and Wufei sits in his corner, watching the news and glancing into the hallway every so often. "I bet Trowa knows what's going on. He was the one who insisted on all those tests, bet Heero told him what was wrong."

"I doubt Yuy would disclose any information about his health."

"Heero knows to trust us Wufei. I'm sure he wouldn't withhold any information," Quatre protests. It's weak though, and his voice trembles, betrays him. He punches in numbers for a cup of hot tea and sighs as it begins to fill.

"True," Duo concedes. "But you've got to remember, he and Heero, they've got history. You know that Cat. Trowa's the only one who could ever get Heero to take it easy, it probably came from their time together, when he self destructed."

"That was years ago Duo," Relena exclaims. She reaches up; fingers redoing the French twist automatically. "Quatre's right, he'll be fine. I have a feeling." She stares resolutely at the coffee cup and Duo sighs, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

"I hope so Lena. I really do."

--

Heero glares out the window sullenly. They are passing through Salerno, on their way to Maximilian Noventa's estate on the Gulf. Trowa is staring straight ahead, watching the road with the paranoid look of one who's hunted. Heero glares at him before turning his attention back at the buildings rushing by past the closed window.

"Stop sulking," Trowa instructs. "You know you can't drive with your arm."

"Its fine - doesn't even hurt."

"Exactly," Trowa replies. Heero sighs but nods and crosses his arms. "Which exit is it?"

"Right."

Trowa nods and takes the road leading toward the gulf. Heero sighs once they're out of the city proper and rolls his window down. The scent of salt and brine fills the small car, replacing the smell of stale smoke that came with it, and Trowa inhales deeply. He glances at Heero cautiously, mentally charting any differences. There's a sheen of sweat on his forehead that's either from the heat or a fever, and his arm is twitching slightly.

"Are you going to give him your gun too?"

Heero shifts and doesn't answer, at least not verbally. He lets the fingers of his right hand drum idly on the window frame. His left hand reaches down though and fingers the handle of the gun, pointer finger caressing the trigger absently. His eyes are dark as he stares at the windshield.

He lets his eyes return to the road and doesn't press him.

--

"For once I agree with Duo," Trowa mutters. He's sitting at the head of the bed, bathing Heero's forehead with ice water, his fingers frozen to the cloth almost. He hasn't been this cold since their trip to Antarctica during the war.

"Don't…let him hear you…say that," Heero mumbles. His eyes are half closed, his skin burning. Trowa frowns and squeezes more cold water; he can almost imagine the sound of it sizzling as soon as it hits Heero's skin. Almost. "He'll get a…a big head."

"You are insane." It almost sounds like a lament, even to his own ears. He falls silent, watching the monitors and Heero's elevated breathing. "Duo already has a big head." Runoff water (or is that sweat? No, not sweat, can't be sweat) has already saturated the pillow, the blanket, everything it seems. He rubs more along Heero's hairline and watches the monitor. Forty degrees Celsius and not lowering. "Why didn't you tell them to run the damn tests earlier?"

"I hate hospitals."

"Great reasoning." He dips the cloth again and checks the I.V. and the monitors. Sally had given him the antibiotics an hour ago, once the test results were in. They all knew it was probably too late. He curses silently when the temperature rises another degree suddenly. "Damn it Heero…"

"Bad, huh?" he mutters faintly.

"It's been worse…" He can't think when though, maybe after the self-destruction, when he didn't know, or maybe it was after Mariemaia's Coup, when Heero denied and the doctors didn't persist. Maybe it was never. "Fuck it if you die after all the times I've patched you up." The monitors begin to beep. "Heero?"

He watches as his eyes roll back and he begins to seize.

--

"With all due respect Mr. Yuy, you are a fool." Maximilian Noventa gave a hearty laugh before tapping the ashes from the end of his cigarette. He turned his attention to the younger boy again and smiled. "My uncle was a brilliant man, you realize this of course. Brilliant, and bent on peace. He made a lot of men angry; it really doesn't surprise me he ended up dead."

"But you're a pacifist as well," Heero said. His eyes were dark, confused. Trowa leaned against the veranda, sipping at the iced tea he had been given by the maid. "Don't you think the same?"

"I think what I do," Maximilian replied with a shrug. "I believe in what I believe. I was never one to go off and join politics or war efforts to push my ideals on others. Yes, I wish more listened to my family, or the Peacecrafts back when they were still around, but I wouldn't want a war hawk like Dermail badgering me, so I won't badger him. Understand?"

He stretched out his long legs and waved the newspaper. "My God it's hot today. Don't know how you boys can go around in long sleeves and trousers," he added. Then, as if realizing Heero hadn't responded he turned to regard him once more. "Now listen here, I admire what you're doing Mr. Yuy, it takes a lot of courage to face a family after a death, but you are a fool. No one in my family, at least the side I socialize with, will take you up on your offer." He paused, inhaling. "Then again, his son's girl might. Her mother was French so I'm sure she passed on some ruthless blood to the girl. Sylvia I believe is her name."

"Sylvia?"

"Yes, Sylvia. She lives in Marseille last I heard. Of course my aunt would know more than I do. I hear she and Silvia are extremely close." He eyed the two pilots critically. "I'm sure she's about your age, so you have the teenage impulse in your favor as well. That is, if you really want to die." He laughed another hearty laugh before turning his attention to the gun that sat on the railing between them still. It had crouched there since Heero had set it down after his usual introduction. Trowa stiffened slightly at the look Maximilian Noventa was giving it.

"Is that all?" Heero demanded, eyes dark again.

He nodded slowly, reaching out a tanned finger and sliding the gun back to its owner. "It is a pity to die in vain, remember that." He blew out a stream of smoke as he watched them depart.

--

"You're a fucking class act Heero Yuy," Duo sniffs.

He paces the small room, ignoring the whoosh of the respirator as Heero's lungs inflate, and then deflate. Life support. The God damn fucking Perfect Soldier on life support. He tugs at the end of his braid, trying to find the words he wants to say. Sally had told them…Sally had told them a lot and yet nothing.

"Damn it Heero, why? I don't know anything, none of us do it seems except fucking Sally and Trowa. Shit." He sinks onto the horrible plastic orange chair and buries his face in his hands. "You weren't supposed to go out like this Heero. You were supposed to go out with a crash, not some stupid infection that you got who-knows-where. Damn it, why didn't you die with those asshole terrorists? Why didn't they die?"

He glares at the I.V. dripping whatever-the-hell it is into his friend's body, trying to keep him alive.

"Do you know what this is doing to us all? Relena's an emotional wreck you realize, and Quatre's nothing but a zombie. That's more from flying straight from L4 and not sleeping though I think. Wufei's taking it all with a blank face but I know he's just as upset as the rest of us. And Trowa is constantly in here, monitoring everything. In fact, I'm surprised Relena was able to drag him off to get food. Maybe he's finally given up. Maybe we all should. After all, this is what you wanted, right? To die? That's why you pulled all those stunts in the war, right?"

He glares at the small, pale body as it manually takes in oxygen. He glares at the tubes running in and out of his body. He glares at the monitors that show high heart rate, high fever, high everything it seems. Finally he turns and marches to the door, pulling it open forcefully.

"God rest the Perfect fucking Soldier," he mutters, bitterness coating his tongue, before pulling the door shut behind him.

--

They camped out in an open field – somewhere between cities Trowa doesn't recall the name of – on their way to visit Sylvia Noventa. He's too tired, too drained to care at this point. Heero is sitting off in the shadows, staring at the sky, at the stars and the colonies and the moon he thinks. He finishes the soup and leaves the can on the ground as he walks over to him.

"I've checked, it's not bleeding," Heero mutters s he approaches.

"And your temperature?"

"Is fine," Heero snaps. Trowa settles down next to him, feeling his forehead anyway. He gave up worrying about whether Heero would snap his hand off when they were still at the circus. "I lived fifteen years without you hovering."

He ignores the look Trowa gives him and Trowa sighs softly. The air is warm, full of summer. "It's deadly."

"I know the statistics." They fall silent and Trowa looks up at the sky as well, tracing the constellations. "It's just tiring."

"Mm." He doesn't comment when he sees the blood seep through the bandage later on. Instead he leans against a tree and counts the stars.

--

Wufei sits in the too-bright room and watches the strong turn into the weak. He wonders if this is for the best, if it's fast or if it's slow. He can sense Trowa hovering outside the door and it makes him wince inwardly. Trowa never hovered over anyone until now. Then again, there never was a need and maybe that's a lie.

A part of him regrets not getting to know him better, a part is glad. He shifts in his seat and stares at the body that isn't really his comrade's anymore and swallows. With a push and a surge he stands and checks the monitors and then looks at the too-pale face with the bruises under the eyes.

"You were the strongest."

He closes the door silently behind him, not looking at anyone.

--

"You're overdoing it Heero," Trowa mumbled. The air was stale and hot, the machines cold to the touch. He hated Antarctica. Heero continued to work, eyes red-veined and unblinking as he focused on his laptop screen, working out the differentials on Heavyarms. "Heero."

"I'm almost done…"

"Go to bed," Trowa murmured. He dropped down next to the other boy and ignored a look from the passing mechanic. "I'll handle it."

"Trowa."

"Don't make me break your hands to get you to stop."

Heero laughed, looking at him. "Won't matter." Trowa nodded and then sighed inwardly as Heero stood. "Are you sure?"

"Yes." He nodded and then slipped away in the yellow light.

--

"I don't understand," Quatre murmurs. It's late at night, too late to remember the time precisely, and he's just so tired. Time changes, terrorists, and dying comrades do not make for liveliness. He closes his eyes and grips Heero's hand.

"I wish you would have just told us Heero. I wish you would have realized, after all of these years, that we can be trusted. We're your friends Heero, whatever it is, we would have understood." He lets his eyes open and shifts. "Duo's not taking it well, Relena's not taking it well…Sally's always in and out of here," he murmurs. "You have her tied up in legalities, she can't tell use but she wants to."

He sighs.

"We were never the closest, I think Duo or Trowa won that spot, maybe Relena, but I want you to know that I respected you. You were a good soldier Heero, the best. I'm sorry about the past but that can't be changed, and I'm sorry about the future you've denied yourself. Promise me that you'll do one thing for yourself though – promise me you'll go peacefully. You deserve it," he whispers.

He grips Heero's hand again and stands slowly. He feels four times as old as he actually is as he shuffles to the door. He looks back as it closes behind him, he thinks that maybe Heero shifted a little but Sally assured them earlier that he was in fact comatose. Relena looks up at him, her eyes filled with tears. Trowa sits next to her, reading.

"Your turn," he sighs. Duo moves over, letting him collapse on the sofa next to him. He hears the door open and close and looked up, ready to soothe Relena. Only it's Trowa still sitting across from him, looking as if a friend isn't dying in the next room. "You will see him, won't you?"

A page turns.

--

"Are you…worried?"

He looked at Trowa curiously. The other ex-pilot is leaning against the wall, behind the chair Relena fell asleep in. "About what?"

Trowa moved slowly around the various articles of furniture in the bedroom, stopping before the small window. He pulled the curtains aside and stared at the stars outside. It had been due to Relena's influence, and Heero's threats, which made Sally agree to release Heero from the hospital – so long as he remained in his apartment and was checked on regularly – after he had been shot twice during a routine security detail.

"Dying." He turned to look at Heero.

To his credit Heero looked unconcerned. He glanced idly at Relena (she had insisted on visiting every night after her meetings let out, bringing dinner). He wondered if she felt some sort of obligation since he had saved her life. "Not usually," he murmured finally. She stirred and he paused, letting her relax back to sleep. "I came to terms with it a long time ago."

"During the war?"

"Before that, when I was still a child." Trowa doesn't mention that they were children in the war. "Doctor J wanted the perfect weapon and he made me it."

"He didn't give you CIPA," Trowa snapped. In all honesty though he could have. Trowa had no way of knowing, Heero never spoke of his training in any great detail.

"No, but he trained me," Heero retorted. He shifted in the bed, watching the way he moved his arm, judging the way the skin seemed to pull at the stitches. It would figure that he had been shot in his damaged arm. "Death is inevitable Trowa," he continued finally, "mine's just sooner."

"What are you talking about?" Relena asked, stirring. She rubbed at her eyes and sat up. They watched as she rotated her neck. "What's sooner Heero?"

"Inevitable drug addiction from all the times he's been injured," Trowa grumbled. She laughed.

"Funny. Can I get you anything?" she questioned, grinning.

"No, you should go Relena; you have a meeting with Romefeller tomorrow morning…"

"I know my schedule Heero, and you're more important. Stop sulking and ordering me away because I won't leave, I'll be here until the end."

--

"I guess this is the end, isn't it?" she asks softly.

Her eyes are moist and she sniffs back tears as she stands next to his bed. The white teddy bear she had brought earlier looks out of place against all the beeping machinery. Someone had turned the lights behind the bed on low and it gave his pale skin a soft glow. She had the sudden urge to turn them off.

"I'm still here though Heero, aren't I?" she whispers. She kneels next to the bed, gripping the cold hand. She had promised herself she would not cry. It amuses her in a dark sort of way when she feels the tears on her cheeks. "I'm here Heero. And you aren't, you're fading. You always told me I was selfless, sacrificing my time and life to helping others…I'm not Heero. Or rather, not this time.

"I want to be selfish, just this once," she cries. "I want you to wake up and be my bodyguard again; I want you to wake up and threaten to kill me. I want to know that I'm completely safe because you're in a corner somewhere, watching me. I want you to live."

The room is quiet when she stops talking and she draws in a heavy breath, listening to the monotonous drone. Her fingers clutch his almost convulsively. "It shouldn't be fair that you have sacrificed everything and gotten nothing in return. You lost your childhood, your family, your innocence, and your life and what have you to show for it? Scars and broken bones, nothing more than that!"

"Peace," a quiet voice murmurs. "He has peace to show for it."

She whirls and sees Trowa in the dark corner, watching them both. She glares and stands, slapping him soundly across his face. It angers and thrills her to see the red spread across his cheek from where her slap had landed. "You know what's wrong with him," she snaps. "You know why he's dying. Why?"

"I…can't tell you," he says finally.

"The Hell you can't," she growls. She doesn't feel like Vice Foreign Minister Darlian at the moment, she feels like Relena Darlian, a woman of twenty-six who can't remember the last time she was free to announce the injustices of life and to whine about them. "You know why he's dying; you know why he had to have all those tests. You know and you won't tell any of us. You have no excuse Trowa Barton, you aren't his doctor and he isn't your patient. You just enjoy seeing us all suffer and wonder about what really happened and if it was our fault!"

She turns on her heel and storms out, cursing Trowa and Heero and all of mankind as she goes.

--

"What happened?" he demanded icily. Duo looked up from where he was sitting next to Heero's bed. Heero was asleep.

"Hey Tro, didn't know you'd get here so fast," Duo joked. His smile faded when he saw Trowa's face. "You okay?"

"What happened?" he repeated.

Duo shrugged. "From what Une said, Heero went off half-cocked as usual. He was after that terrorist group that almost got Relena, you know? Une said the Retrieval Unit found him passed out in a snow bank. He had his hand presses to his stomach because the bastards tried to gut him and he was missing his shoes. Apparently they shot him in the arm too since that's bandaged up. Sally's been in once or twice."

"Did she run any tests?"

"She x-rayed his arm but I don't think she did any others…Hey, where're you going?" Duo called. Trowa exited the hospital room, heading to the nurse's station.

"Can I help you?"

"I need to see Sally Po." She frowned. "It's about a patient she has."

"I'm sorry sir; the doctor is very busy this time of year…"

"It's okay Mattie." He looked up, relieved to see Sally approaching. "Trowa, is it about Heero?" At his nod she set the chart on the desk. "Mattie, please send for Dr. Farrier, I think this will take some time." The nurse looked annoyed but didn't protest. "Come on Trowa, this way." She led him to an empty room and nodded. "Okay, what is it?"

"You have to run tests on Heero."

"I x-rayed his arm, its fine except for the bullet wound. Don't worry Trowa, I gave him a low dose of antibiotics but he hasn't exhibited any signs of pain the few times he's been awake…"

"He has CIPA."

"What?" She blinked, staring at him.

"He has CIPA," he murmured, staring at her. "Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidroisis. He wouldn't exhibit any symptoms outwardly."

"It's not in his chart, how do you…?"

"I found out during the war."

She nodded and then sighed loudly. "Damn it Heero…This explains a lot you know," she mumbled. "Do the others know?" He shook his head and she nodded again. "I treated him once in the war and he, well, I didn't know what to make of him. I should have thought of it sooner, and him not having it on his medical chart? I understand during the war, but now? He's had plenty of injuries in the past eleven years, it should be on there!"

He followed as she marched into Heero's room, grabbing his chart. Duo looked up at the intrusion. "Mattie!" she bellowed. "I need a full set of tests on him now!" She scanned the chart. "We should have done this hours ago…You two will have to wait in the waiting room while we're running him through the machines." She paused on her way out. "Thanks," she murmured to Trowa. He nodded, ignoring Duo's confused look.

--

"I still envy you," he whispers softly. He looks down at Heero and swallows whatever it is that has suddenly lodged itself in his throat. "I envy you the peace of your death. And the absolute certainty you have. I didn't lie to Relena about peace, did I?"

He laughs drily and rubs his temples. He hasn't slept in a day, two days, a week? He isn't sure how long he's been at the hospital and it frightens him a little. He knows this is goodbye, knows it deep in his bones. Heero won't make it out of this alive. All the others have said their farewells, it's his turn now, and he can't say anything except that he envies him. He laughs again, bitter turned humorous.

"Trowa?" Sally asks. She steps into the small room and waits for him to look up at her. "Trowa, he listed you as his medical proxy, it's up to you on what happens. I'm not going to sugarcoat it but…"

"Pull it," he replies. She stares at him. "Take him off the ventilator and whatever else you have him on."

"Are you sure?"

He looks at Heero, imagines him eleven years ago lying on his bed after the self-destruction. He can't help but think that he looks the same, now as then. He brushes a strand of dark hair from Heero's face, something he hasn't done since that time, and then turns to the door.

"Yes," he answers. He walks through the hall without looking at any of the others.


End Note: For those of you who don't know, Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA) is a disorder where the sufferer cannot sweat, cry, or feel any pain. For example, a non-CIPA patient will know to remove their hand from boiling water, a CIPA patient will not feel the pain and therefore will not remove their hand from the water, resulting in damage and burns. Therefore many people who suffer from CIPA do not live past early adulthood.