Soldier in the Shadows

by WSJ < p>I've always been hypnotised by this song, ever since the very first time I read its lyrics in a songfic. But I never understood what the tin soldier riding away in the chorus had to do with the story in the verses.

But I guess now we've come in a full circle. Here I am writing a songfic set to these words, and I think I finally get the meaning of the soldier in the chorus.

I don't own the song or Gundam Wing.

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Quatre felt a tear in his eye as he looked out across the sunlit feild. This was no day for an anneversery, it was far too sunny.

The cemetary was old, the headstones cracked and fading. Wildflowers grew in between the graves, and Quatre walked along the paths until he came to a willow tree.

He parted the veil of leaves and dropped to his knees in front of six carved headstones, quite newer then the ones in the main cemetary.

The Arabian ex-pilot felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned to see his blond haired, blue eyed, thirteen-year-old daughter, whom he'd named Leena, after Relena.

"Papa..." she said, kneeling down next to him. "Who were these people? I've heard their names before..." She traced her fingers over the name engraved in the headstone closest to them. Duo Maxwell.

Another tear sparkled in his eye as Quatre read the rest of them to himself, as he often had before. Heero Yuy, Relena Peacecraft Yuy, Trowa Barton, Chang Wufei, and Dorothy Catalona...Winner.

"Heros." he said.

Leena saw the name on the last grave marker and went over to it. "Mama?" she asked. She had never known her mother. Leena turned toward her father and went over to sit next to him, snuggling close to him. "There's a story here." she said quietly. "There's a story in everything about you, Daddy. Tell me."

The tears came hot and fast now, and Quatre told her.

Listen children to a story that was written long ago

'Bout a kingdom on a mountain and the valley folk below.

On the mountain was a treasure buried deep beneath a stone,

And the valley people swore they'd have it for their very own.

"Long ago, before you were born, the people of the Earth believed that the colonies had some secret, some special treasure that they were not giving the Earth. The Earth people felt that they deserved whatever the colonies were keeping from them, and so they first politely asked the colonies if they could have whatever it was.

"Those on Earth didn't even know what it was, they just knew that they wanted it. They were very greedy people. The colonies said they had no secret, and gave everything they had to the Earth people.

"But the Earthlings didn't believe them, and they went to war with the colonies. The colonies didn't want a war, but they had to defend themselves. So they sent five very special Mobile Suits called Gundams to Earth to try to help fight for the colonies.

"I was one of the ones who piloted those special Gundams. Duo, Wufei, Trowa and Heero were the other four. Relena was a very special lady who believed that the Earth could live at peace with the colonies. I believed that way too, but even though I didn't want to, I had to fight."

Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end.

There won't be any trumpets blowin' come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after one tin soldier rides away.

"The Earth thought what they were doing was right. They truly thought they deserved whatever the colonies were keeping from them. And what the colonies said was true, they would have given any treasure to the Earth. But they weren't keeping any secret." Here Quatre clenched his fists.

"Each of us pilots developed a certain battle style, which earned us 'nicknames'. Duo Maxwell, Shinigami, the god of death. Trowa Barton, the Silencer. Chang Wufei, the Dragon. Heero Yuy, the Perfect Soldier. And me? Quatre Raberba Winner, the Prince of the Desert.

"But I gave Heero another name in my mind, Steel Soldier. He seemed to be able to do everything and anything he wanted without so much as flinching. I, on the other hand, couldn't kill without appologising.

"If Heero was made of steel, then I was simply tin."

So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill

Asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill.

Came an answer from the kingdom: "With our brothers we will share

All the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there."

"One summer day, this day, only years ago, a mission came in for all five of us, which was pretty rare. We were to go in and destroy the Earth city of New York to try to get the people of Earth to listen to the colonies, who kept telling them truthfully that they had no secret.

"When I heard about that mission, my pascifist sences really kicked in. I knew the people of Earth deserved to be destroyed, but my heart kept telling me that it was wrong.

"So in we went, us five Gundam pilots, to destroy New York. Want to know what I did Leena?"

Leena didn't answer for a moment, she was busy staring at the headstones. She had just noticed that all of the first five, except for her mother's, had the same death-day. "Hm?" she asked after a minute. "What?"

"I hid." Quatre said, shame dripping from his voice. "I didn't follow them in. I hid, and they all died. Relena tried to go in and reason with them, and they killed her out of cold blood. And I just hid. The Steel Soldier fell, and the Soldier of Tin was the only one who rode away that day."

Leena placed a hand on his arm. "You were the bravest of all. You weren't afraid to stand up for your beliefs, and you weren't afraid to say no to something you knew was wrong."

Quatre smiled thankfully at his daughter. He still wasn't able to forgive himself, but at least he knew she didn't think less of him for his past actions.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end.

There won't be any trumpets blowin' come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after one tin soldier rides away.

"And so Earth won, for the moment. The went up to the colonies and ransaced them. They destroyed at least seven, and maimed most of the rest. Most of the colonies you see today weren't there ten years ago. Most had to be torn down and completely rebuilt.

"Earth finally realised that there was no secret. You know what made them? A bit of Gundam graffiti. Before they killed her, Relena told the Earth leaders that they could find the colonies's secret at my mansion on L4.

"When they got there they found that Deathscythe (that's Duo) had taken maybe 50 cans of spray paint and scralled the words "Peace on Earth" across the front of my mansion." Quatre smiled a little through his tears. "It's still there today. International landmark it is. Earth surrendered soon after that. They'd finally realized what they'd done.

"Of course, by then it was too late to save Relena and the others." he said bitterly.

Now the valley cried with anger; mount your horses, draw your sword,

And they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward.

Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain, dark and red,

Turned the stone and looked beneath it. "Peace on Earth" was all it said.

As Quatre and Leena stood up and prepared to go, Leena glanced over the graves again and thought of something. "Daddy," she said. "You never mentioned Mom."

Quatre smiled saddly. "Your mother... What a fine, wonderful woman. She was Relena's best friend, and after New York we sort of banded together, me and her. After awhile it turned into love, and then turned into you." he said, smiling happily this time.

"How did she die?"

Quatre's smile faded, and went funny. "There were still people on Earth who believed the colonies should be whiped out. They somehow got word that a Gundam pilot, me, was still alive. They figured thy wouldn't kill me, but cause me as much pain as possible. They murdered your mother. They were going to get you too, but I managed to get you away in time."

Leena nodded. "You did your best Daddy. That's all that matters. I'm sure they're all proud of you." Smiling at her father, she turned and walked back toward the car.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend.

Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end.

There won't be any trumpets blowin' come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after one tin soldier rides away.

Turning his back on his daughter for the moment, Quatre parted the willow leaves to have one last peek at his loved ones.

Heero stood as still and strait as ever, but there was a hint of a smile on his lips. Duo leaned back against his own headstone, arms crossed across his chest, a huge smile of admiration splitting his face. Trowa sat on his marker, his flute poised to his lips although Quatre could hear no sound, and a flicker of pride in his green eyes. Wufei stood perched on top of his stone, towering above the others, a smirk of satisfaction gracing his Chinese features. Relena stood still, a smile on her face, thank you shining in her eyes. Dorothy... She smiled at Quatre, love in her eyes. Unbidden a sentence dropped into his heart. I'll be waiting for you...

In unison the five pilots and two women saluted their surviving member, giving him a more heartfelt tribute then he could have ever asked for.

There was grey mixxed in Quatre's platinum hair, and his soft blue eyes were beginning to fade, even though he was only almost thirty-seven. But just for a moment, a trick of the light had his hair flash full and gold again. Just for a moment, the gleaming sun seemed to erase the small lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth. Just for a moment, there were no sorrowful shadows in his eyes. Just for a moment, he looked seventeen again. But only for a moment.

Tears swimming in his eyes Quatre saluted back, sending a simple message to his six dearest friends with all his heart.

I'll keep your memory alive untl I can join you again.

Turning around to head back to Leena, Quatre let the willow curtain drop, guilt no longer piled in his heart.

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God Bless!