7-23-2002

Well, I had been sitting on this, but in light of some recent events I rushed it to my beta and back again because I wanted to post it now. No plagiarizer is going to hold me back. Enjoy!

Dev

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TITLE: The Tragedy
BY: Dev-Aki Basaa

PAIRING: 1x2, R+1, 3x4
RATING: PG
CATEGORY: yaoi, angst, romance
FEEDBACK: oh yes, please!
dev_aki_jediknight@yahoo.com
ARCHIVE: DHML, GW Addiction, Shinigami & Wing, Moments of Rapture (if you want it, Sharon dear ^_^)
WARNING: This is NOT a deathfic.
DISCLAIMER: Bandai and Sunrise own all. I'm just borrowing the boys and their world. THE STORY,
HOWEVER, IS *MINE*! Do I need to repeat that?
SUMMARY: Life can change on a dime, in spite of your plans, and sometimes because of them.
NOTES: Takes place post EW
AUTHOR NOTES: I don't mean to keep torturing Relena like this. I just seem to put her through a lot of reality checks o_O;; Also, I wasn't so much trying to imply social homophobia but more of a public idyllic fairy-tale view of the world's beloved heroes.
Thanks be to my beta, Sakti ^_^

**This fic is dedicated to Sharon [www.zerotwofan.com] ::::hugs::::

~**~~**~

"Is this the right thing to do?" he asked as he looked down at the handcrafted detonator he held tight in his hand.

"I haven't doubted it for a minute."

Satisfied with that response, he nodded. "Good. I trust you implicitly."

~*~

"The world was rocked once again yesterday by a tragic accident claiming the life of another Gundam pilot, Duo Maxwell. This coming just one day after the shocking death of world hero and fiancé to the Vice-Foreign Minister and former Queen, Relena Peacecraft-Darlian, Heero Yuy. Preliminary reports have shown that both accidents are completely separate, un-related incidents and at this time, no foul play is suspected. Not unlike his former Gundam comrade, Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell also had very public life. As chief PR representative for Preventers, Maxwell was also considered to have a rising political career and many charitable groups have expressed today their devastation at the loss of one of their most vocal supporters. Funeral arrangements for Duo Maxwell..."

"Oh, Dorothy!" Relena cried from the settee, her body curled into a ball on the cushions, "turn that off, I can hardly stand it!"

Dorothy Catalonia stood from her seat near the vid-feed and shut off the news report, just as it began giving the funeral information for Heero. She then turned to face Relena, who whimpered softly across the room, a small pile of crumpled tissues collected beneath her.

"Don't you think it's odd that they've both died in freak accidents just a day apart from each other?" Dorothy said, folding her arms across her chest.

Relena lifted her head and sniffed. "It's so tragic, isn't it?" Her tear-filled eyes scrunched up as she began to sob again. She dropped her head back down to pillow in her arms, drawing her knees up close to her body, curling into a tighter ball.

Dorothy retook her seat by the vid screen, crossing her legs and carefully arranging her skirts to fall in the most flattering of manners. Even in this most tragic of times, one must still hold a level of decorum. Well... Dorothy tipped her head to once side, contemplating poor dear Relena's state, her legs drawn up against her body in an almost fetal position. But could she blame her? She was devastated.

"How have you been doing, Lena?"

Relena sniffed, her face still buried in the fold of her arms. Murmuring against the soaked sleeve of her dressing gown, she answered Dorothy's inquiry.

"There are times when I'm fine. When I'm not thinking or I'm thinking how close I came to losing Heero during the war and that I was lucky to even get this time with him. And then there are times when I start to think..." She chocked back another sob. "He was such a gentleman... We never..." She breathed a shuddering sigh and wept again. "He was my fallen prince!" she gasped.

Dorothy frowned at the statement, but refrained from comment. Relena had all the reality she could deal with at the moment. She glanced back over at the now blank vid screen and remembered something she'd heard in the news report that had intrigued her.

She looked back over toward Relena as another crumpled tissue fell to the floor.

"I'm surprised that they're not having joint funerals."

Relena shook her head against her arms and waved a dismissive hand, a tissue tucked under her thumb.

"No, they were never close. I think Quatre Winner is handling Duo's funeral. It'll be the day after Heero's." Her voice cracked at the end.

But Dorothy hardly noticed, she hadn't gotten past Relena's first comment.

"Weren't close?" she questioned. "But..."

She remembered...

Relena shook her head again, turning to look over the crook of her elbow at Dorothy.

"No," she answered her. "They hadn't even kept in contact after the war. I would know."

Dorothy looked back over at the blank vid screen. She remembered seeing them, standing so close together.

She chewed on her lip for a moment, and then glanced back towards Relena. Her dear friend was giving her a puzzled look. She seemed to have noticed her contemplative moment. No, Relena didn't need more reality right now.

"How are the other's taking it?"

The segue did the trick and Relena was pushing herself up to a sitting position, heaving a long suffering sigh - her crying subsided for the moment. She drew her legs under her and settled back against the settee cushions. Her dressing gown fell perfectly into place, without one tug of arrangement. Dorothy smiled at that subconscious grace.

"Fairly well, I suppose," Relena began, her fingers twisting around the only slightly damp tissue in her hands. "No real public comments from any of them. Quatre called with his condolences, but that was before Duo's tragic accident."

Duo and Heero. Dorothy blinked. She remembered...

"Relena, don't you think it's quite a coincidence that..."

She remembered how happy they looked.

Relena had the puzzled look on her face, the same one from before when she noticed Dorothy's distraction. "What?"

So happy.

A small smile curled on Dorothy's lips, but she shook her head to hide it, waving a dismissive hand at Relena. "Nothing," she said. "Nevermind."

Relena suddenly raised her hands to her mouth, seemingly in the throes of another approaching sob.

"Oh, Dorothy, how will I ever survive?"

Dorothy glanced back at the blank vid screen and smiled openly this time.

"You'll find a way, Relena. We all do."

~*~

Quatre Winner scuffed the soles of his shoes against the carpet of the funeral parlor. The sound almost seemed to roar in the sedate quiet of the room. He surveyed all the seats, filled with so many unfamiliar, yet somber faces, and then he glanced towards closed casket beyond. He shook his head and shoved his hands in the pockets of his dark suit, turning his head just enough to speak softly to the companion on his left.

"Brave, don't you think? Attending your own funeral."

Duo Maxwell chuckled and rocked a little on his heels. He dipped his head to try to hide the amused smile that split wide across his face. "You don't get chances like this everyday." He made a slight gesture towards the rows of chairs before them. "I don't even know half of those people!"

Quatre turned to look at Duo full on, sighing and shaking his head again at the sight he beheld.

"I just can't get used to it," he said, resisting the urge to reach up and finger the newly shortened locks of his friend's once long beautiful hair. It barely brushed his shoulder's now - though, really, no less beautiful for its lack of length and altered color.

Duo tugged at a few strands by his ear, now pitch black from the dye. "Tell me about it." He nodded towards the front of the parlor. "You should see Heero as a blonde. I'm still adjusting."

Quatre glanced about the room, his eyes searching out every blonde he could find. "He's here too?"

Duo nodded, rocking on his heels again. "Oh yeah. I think he's really getting a kick out of this hiding in plain sight stuff." Duo made a more distinct nod towards the front right corner of the room. "He's over there."

Quatre saw Heero this time, conversing with yet another unfamiliar face among the many. Even with just a color change and the slightly shorter cut, a different style of clothes - he looked so different! Just as Duo did, with his black, short hair falling in waves around his face, so unlike how he ever wore it. Such simple things and they looked completely changed, almost unrecognizable. They could actually pull this off.

"You should join us." Duo's words jolted Quatre out of his reverie.

Join them. It sounded so tempting... But the corporation, his family, his charity work, his political ideals... He was needed. He...

"I... I can't," he answered finally, his eyes still fixed on Heero and the person he spoke with. It seemed Duo had given him some pointers on social conversation, though his hand gestures seemed stilted. He'd become more natural with time, certainly. It was probably another aspect of their disguises.

Duo nudged his elbow against Quatre's side, a physical prod to accompany his verbal one.

"Come'on," he started. "No more media exposure, no more family pressuring you to marry." Duo spread his hands as his speech became a little more dramatic. "Say goodbye to social expectations and hiding what's really important to you, forget the fake smiles and baby-kissing." Then he paused and his tone became very serious. "Just you and Trowa against the world, together, nothing to hide."

"Everything to hide!" Quatre countered.

But Duo shook his head. "Not if you do it right."

Quatre said nothing in response. He'd be hard-pressed to effectively argue this with Duo. He really couldn't do it, just disappear like this...but it did sound so tempting.

"Will you keep in touch?" Quatre asked instead, glancing at Duo again and hiding the wince he felt as Duo's expression let him know that he hadn't missed the deliberate change of subject.

After a moment, Duo nodded, again rocking on his heels as he had before. "Of course," he answered. "It won't be obvious to the general public, but, don't worry, you won't miss it. Heero's very creative."

Quatre's gaze settled on the ends of Duo's hair again, but he held back his sigh this time. Their time was running thin, he knew. "You know I wish you both all the luck in the world. Will you be changing your names?"

Duo's wide splitting grin returned. "Yeah, just call me Blissfully Happy and In Love'." Quatre caught the heated stare that passed between Duo and Heero and he smiled to himself. He was looking forward to Trowa's expected arrival later that day. He'd be just in time to attend the plot-side service. Quatre actually rather hated that he had to be in attendance, especially knowing that nothing of importance would be lowered into that ground. He got such little time alone with Trowa... But he promised Duo and Heero he'd maintain their cover, so plot-side they all would be. Wufei was expected in just a few hours as well.

They'd all come together for them in this bizarrest of endeavors.

"I'll miss you both," Quatre said, drawing Duo's attention back to him. "We all will."

Duo nodded and sighed, the first touch of sadness to his tone since his arrival at the parlor. "We won't be as far as you think, I promise. I can never say goodbye, you know that... and yet..." Quatre noticed the pointed looked Heero was now flashing Duo, their silent communication so efficient he couldn't help but be impressed. "We have to get going," Duo finished. He reached forward and pulled Quatre into a bone-crushing hug, whispering against his ear as he gave him a tight squeeze. "We have a life to start together."

Duo left first, the word 'goodbye' never did pass his lips. He always had a tendency to dawdle, but seemed to force himself to leave more quickly this time. A few minutes later, Heero approached Quatre, reaching out to shake his hand. It was firm handshake - to be expected from Heero - but there was something more, the way he let his hand linger. He was saying thank you in his own way, even as his words were simple and trite.

"Good seeing you again, Quatre Winner." So full of formality. Quatre smiled and squeezed Heero's hand as he thanked him for coming. He knew they planned on making special trips to visit both Trowa and Wufei after some time had passed. Perhaps he could make sure his visit to see Trowa coincided with theirs and they could all escape, even for a little while. It would be like old times, after the war, when things were still good. Before the media ran off with their privacy, before the public was allowed an opinion on their lives.

It seemed like so long ago. They'd all become pawns - even Relena, whether she realized it or not. She, sadly, had seemed to buy into the public assessment of them all.

But Heero and Duo weren't pawns anymore, they'd broken free - at a great sacrifice, yes, but one that they obviously felt was worth it.

"Mr. Winner?"

Quatre turned from staring out the door Duo and Heero had left through to see a young woman who worked for the funeral home hovering near, an expectant look on her face. He nodded for her to continue.

"The priest is here for the blessing."

Ah, Duo's cross. Quatre nodded. "I'll be there in a moment." Satisfied, the woman hurried back to the funeral director who stood near the side door entrance to the parlor. The cross wasn't the original; Heero wore that now. But the copy was meant to authenticate Duo's demise, effectively blackened to show charring from the explosion that had taken Duo's 'life'. Quatre arranged to have a priest bless it and that was what would actually be buried in the casket. Of course, no body had been recovered.

Quatre glanced back towards the main entrance, wishing Trowa would march through right then, though he knew his shuttle wouldn't be landing for another hour. He wanted him near so much - all the time.

It made Duo and Heero's choice seem that much less bizarre.

At the distant cough of the impatient funeral director, Quatre schooled his features and headed across the room.

It was time for the fake smiles and the baby kissing.

~*~

"Any regrets?"

"Not a one. You?"

He paused. "Only that I had to hurt Relena."

He nodded, understanding. "She'll be fine," he assured him, wrapping his arms around the other man's waist and drawing him near. "One of these days she'll fall in love for real and understand things she never considered before."

"I hope you're right."

"Me too," he answered in a soft voice.

Nuzzling his nose against his love's jawbone, he whispered to him. "I love you."

"I love you too," he sighed in response, his voice full of emotion.

"Ready?"

He tightened his grip around his waist. "For a life with you? Absolutely."

"Then let's go - forever awaits us."

~*~

The End