HOW COULD I FORGET?
by Kage Otogi
Disclaimer: ahem I don't own Gundam Wing. And I'm glad. Have you ever thought about how much it would cost to FEED them?! Sure, I could borrow money from Quatre, but... Anyway, death, some angst, and lots and lots of confusion.
Blue forget-me-nots littered the ground.
That in itself made Relena want to cry, to fall to her knees and break into tears. But that was ridiculous. She knew that Heero was lost to her forever. And yet is was still painful to think of him. What was she doing here, anyway? There was a meeting to attend, business to take care of. Why did the dark forest suddenly seem so compelling?
Because he is here.
A silent tear ran its course down her cheek. She was no longer a wistful teenager, why did she still feel obligated to search him out and be with him? For that matter, she was no longer a young woman either. The past eighty-five years had been hard, but Relena, now with grayed hair and wrinkled features, was still leading the world and colonies in peace. It was ridiculous for a woman nearing her one hundredth birthday, and a world leader to boot, to be pining after a boy. Though he would no longer be a boy. Or would he?
His eyes will be the same.
The green clearing was beautiful, forget-me-nots weren't the only wild flowers growing here. Birds chirped in the trees that shielded the break in the wood. Relena had been avoiding this place for a long time. Over sixty years, in fact. Over eighty, even. She had expected the grass to be long and the grounds unkempt, but had been surprised to see that it was the same as she remembered it.
Except for those damn forget-me-nots.
The wooden cross was still there, though the wind had knocked it to the ground and the once shiny new wood had been stained by the rain, snow, and mud. Relena propped it back up, the arthritis in her hands flaring. The wood was soft under her fingers, but the designs could still be seen, just as Duo had promised they would.
"You'll be able to see these as clearly at a hundred as you can now," he had promised.
He was so proud of the cross, the first piece of work he had made alone, after the woodworking class. The cross Duo had spent no more than a day working on was beautiful, even now. Duo had done a wonderful job, even Heero had been forced to admit that. The cherub angels and flowers had been carved in an expert's hand and an artist's skill. Duo's work. He would have made a wonderful carpenter, if he had wanted to be. But the braided boy- then an older man, with the braid cut off, Duo had had no choice in the matter- had kept his job as a salvage worker. He had loved working with his hands, whether by rooting through garbage and building useless machines or shaping wood into masterpieces such as the cross. He'd been working on a birthday gift for Hilde when he had died.
He worked in Relena's shed. He always worked in the shed when he was shaping wood. Relena had let him practically take it over. When his braid had finally been cut off, she had even let him put it in a glass case and mount it on the wall. Hilde had teased him that he was just trying to keep an eye on his strength, and Duo had made reference to the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. The case was still there, to this day. The doctors had guillotined the braid while Duo was under the grip of anesthesia's deep slumber, and Duo had woken up later in shock. The operation had been successful and Duo would, the doctors claimed, live for at least twenty more years. Duo, at the time, could not have cared less. He was furious that his braid had been snipped off.
He had died a week afterwards. Relena remembered the day clearly. Duo had been working in the shed, keeping Hilde ignorant of his plans for as long as he was able. Relena had been sitting by the wall, watching him and smelling the sweet scent of saw dust. Duo's hair was still a rich chestnut brown, even at forty-six, though Relena was almost positive he dyed it, but the braid was separated from it. He worked at a saw that was powered by a foot pedal, as he claimed the tools that were turned on and off by the flick of a switch were dangerous and held them in utter contempt. Relena had been dozing when the buzzing suddenly stopped. Relena had looked over, thinking he must have finished, and released a piercing scream when she saw him sitting straight backed on his wooden stool, holding his chest. Duo hadn't lived the promised twenty years, but he hadn't died by the cancer, as the doctors had predicted. Duo had died of a heart attack, not the plague that had been eating away at him slowly for years now.
But Hilde's birthday gift had indeed been finished. It was a shelf carved from white beech wood, designs of roses and vines all around. The only thing missing had been Duo's signature, his symbol, the tiny mark he put on all his work.
Relena's fingers touched the symbol now, engraved on the back of the cross. The tiny scythe was wearing slowly away, but it was still there, if barely. She remembered how Wufei had laughed when he heard why Duo didn't make his symbol to last as long as his carvings. They had all laughed, even Duo. Especially Duo.
Duo always laughed hardest, even when he was hurting. Which was a lot near the end.
"The scythe," he had said with a look that was almost serious, "isn't meant to last forever because I won't last forever. None of us are immortal. I want my work to stay around for as long as it's able, and my mark to fade away even as I do, just to prove that none of us are around forever." He had grinned then. "Besides, I don't have enough money to buy all the extra stuff I would need." And they had all laughed.
Duo had been right about being aware of his own mortality, though. Wufei should have payed more attention. The Chinese boy had died just a year after Duo had been diagnosed with cancer, at the age of forty-two. But he had died honorably, as he would have wanted, and quickly, with little pain, as Sally had wanted. Wufei had left behind his wife and two children, a girl and a boy, who were grown now, with children on their own. Grandchildren of their own. Sally was proud of them, of the children she and Wufei had conceived.
The children Wufei had died for. It was only understandable that the children had grown up with a fear for frozen water. They had been at Relena's estate, with the others. Sally had been out on the pond with the two children, teaching them to ice skate. The wind had been bitter cold, and the air numbing, but the ice was weak and they had fallen through. People had risen too panic, everyone rushing this way and that, calling for help. Only Wufei had taken action.
The sound of a splash had alerted everyone and brought them to their senses. Wufei had dived in after his family. Sally was forced up first, shivering and gasping on the ice. The two children had followed, one by one, to join their mother. But Wufei did not come up. Sally and the children had been given medical attention, watching with wide eyes as emergency crews huddled around the ice.
They managed to get Wufei out, but by then it was too late. Sally had rushed forward, towards her frigid husband, but had tripped and fallen to her knees, weeping over the frozen corpse. Quatre had led the gaping children away, back to Relena's warm mansion. He had later allowed Sally and her offspring live with him, when debts began to pile up and their home was repossessed. Relena knew that Quatre had secretly payed off many of Sally's debts, without the blonde widow knowing. Then, when economy on Quatre's colony, the Arabian ruler fell with it. But his people were unaware of this, and assumed that Quatre was living in the lap of luxury as they starved. Death threats began to appear, and Rashid, near death then himself, had forced the ruler to take refuge with Relena.
At least Rashid was given the mercy of dying before he heard about his master.
Quatre had lived with Relena quietly for months before the shot was fired. Relena had gone to his rooms one day to bring him down to dinner, and, when there was no answer to her knock, had walked in to find him sprawled, already dead, across his desk, a gunshot wound through his head. He was forty-nine.
The police found the murderer two years later. He was tried and found not guilty of murder in the first degree. So the system of justice went. As far as Relena knew, the killer still walked the streets to this day.
Relena was glad Trowa had not been around to attend Quatre's funeral. Trowa- no, Triton Bloom, as they had discovered- had been like a brother to the blonde Arabian. Which was only natural, as Quatre had romantic interests in Catherine, Triton's sister. But he too had died fairly young, yet still he had been so old. He had only been thirty-eight when he died, but with a wisdom Relena had never seen equaled. Triton would have lived a long life, Relena was sure, if he hadn't taken so many chances. Life as a circus performer had been packed full of risks, and Triton had been so used to facing his own mortality that he tended to forget that his life would one day end. Knife-throwing, wild animals, and crazed sisters... all were dangerous for even the most spry of young men.
And, in the end, it was none of those things that made him fall.
No, it had been the chances of everyday that had destroyed the clown. Triton had simply been walking and talking with Relena as they made their way across the street. Both had stepped off one side of the crosswalk, but only Relena made it across. And that was only thanks to Triton. A driver, extremely intoxicated, had sped around a sharp curve, and, seeing the danger approaching, Triton had pushed Relena out of the way. But he had not had the chance to follow her to safety and the truck had rammed into the wise entertainer. A hit and run killing, the police had said.
They all died with me.
The thought surprised Relena. In all her one hundred years, she had never considered that. But it was true. All of the Gundam pilots had been with her when they had died. Many of the other war survivors she called friends had died in her presence as well. She was the only one of a large group left. Duo, Wufei, Quatre, Trowa... even Heero, had been with her.
But no... Heero hadn't died with her. Had he? Relena couldn't remember, the memory was blurred in her mind. Heero had died youngest of them all, at the age of twenty-four, but Relena couldn't remember how, or where he had been buried... She frowned. Her memory had never troubled her before. But slowly her memory of all the years after her twenty-third birthday were starting to fade. Everything was leaving her.
Relena knelt shakily on the ground. Why was it that she could no longer remember the deaths of those she had just been reminiscing about only moments before? Doubt of her sanity riddled her mind as the knowledge left her.
Duo wasn't dead... He still lived with Hilde, didn't he? And Wufei was with Sally, who was expecting a child, her first, in about two months. And Trowa- Relena wasn't sure why the name 'Triton' came into her head here- was with Quatre, helping him with business. And Heero was still Relena's handsome young bridegroom, was he not?
Relena shook her head. She could no longer remember why she was here, gazing at this wooden grave marker. A hand touched her shoulder, and Relena knew who it was that stood behind her.
Will Heero still love me, not that I am old?
Heero chuckled behind her, as if he had heard her thought. "Old? You are not yet twenty-four, love. You're young again, Relena."
"But I was old... and you were dead," she protested, grasping a memory that was trying to fade away, like clamping onto a forgotten dream. The others, who all stood nearby, smiled at her. "You were all dead."
Heero smiled comfortingly. Relena had been right, his eyes were still the same. "We are still." He took her hands and helped her to rise. Relena noticed then that her hands were as smooth and painless as they had been in her youth, and that her hair was golden, and long.
"Heero, I'm so confused," she whispered, afraid.
"The confusion will pass soon," he told her quietly. "Come with us, Relena. It's time to return home."
It was like a dream. It was a dream. "Yes. Home."
She stood and walked forward a few steps, with Heero leading the way. He walked backwards, smiling softly at her the whole time. Then she looked back. The wooden cross was standing there, bright and new, and something in the back of her mind told her it was a memorial for all of those who had died in at war, and that Duo had been proud of it.
"It's a lovely marker, Duo," she murmured.
Duo smiled, stepping forward out of the throng of people, braid thrown nonchalantly over his shoulder, hair gleaming in the sun. "Isn't it? I wonder who made it."
Relena smiled, thinking. Maybe Duo would be able to carve like that one day. He was taking a class to teach him how to shape wood, and he had a knack for it. True talent. Relena was sure that he would one day be an expert, a maestro in his art.
Maybe he will make Hilde a shelf.
The thought amused her, though she didn't know why. But she didn't let it bother her. She took Heero's arm and stepped with him into a flare of light, leaving the forget-me-nots behind.
The radio broadcast came later that day.
"Relena Peacecraft-Yuy," it announced, "died today, moments before her one hundredth birthday. She will be remembered forever in our hearts." The world wept for her.
They shouldn't have. After all, the forget-me-nots grow wild.
Hope you liked it, it's my first fan fic ever! Sorry it was so confusing, but it turned out, right? E-mail questions, comments, and complaints to:
Thanks for reading my fic! I hope I can write a lot more in the future! Ja ne!!