A Heart Too Burdened
"Master Quatre," Rashid knocked at the bathroom door, "are you all right?"
"I'm fine," Quatre didn't like lying to Rashid. The man was like a second father to him. But he did not want to burden the Manganac Leader with his personal troubles. "Look, I just got into the bath, so I'll be at least several minutes."
Rashid nodded, then moved away from the bathroom door. "I'll have the house-staff make some hot tea for you."
"Thanks," Quatre said, through closed door. He looked down at his wrist, open and bleeding, at the crimson billows in the water below.
"Quatre?" Trowa knocked on the bathroom door about thirty minutes later. He hadn't been alarmed for the first twenty minutes, seeing as Quatre had just gotten into the bath, and he usually took about fifteen to twenty minutes for bathing. But when he still hadn't returned to the sitting room to watch TV with the others, Trowa had become worried and had gone to check on the boy he loved.
"Quat..." he began as he opened the bathroom door, the name faltering upon his lips as he beheld the macabre spectacle before him.
His knees gave way as he sank to the floor, the entire world suddenly shattering as his mind fragmented into a million pieces.
There on his knees, the sight before him forever burned into his mind's eye, excluding all other images that ever were or had been, Trowa didn't even know he was screaming.
Alerted by Trowa's anguished screams, the Manganacs and the other three Gundam Pilots converged at te bathroom door.
"Master Quatre!" Rashid could not have been more heartsick if Quatre had been his own son. He'd helped raise and protect the boy from infancy and the young heir had always held a special place in his heart. "Why? Allah! Why?!" He raced over to the bath and lifted the lifeless body from the blood-reddened water. "Great Allah! This cannot be! Please, it cannot be!"
He turned from the tub and carried Quatre's naked and dripping body out of the bathroom and to his bathroom, the other Manganacs following in silence like a funeral procession. He placed the still-wet body upon the bed and lovingly dried him, as one might dry a newly cleansed infant, before finally covering the lifeless body with the bedclothes, pausing only for a moment to place a parting kiss on the cooling brow.
Moments later, an ambulance, summoned by Wufei, arrived for Trowa. The boy was beyond the other pilots' help, Wufei knew. The Chinese boy also knew that he was the only one of them with the sense to see that.
Heero had his hands full with Duo, who was shaking his head and whispering "I'm sorry. Please, forgive me. Oh, God, I'm so sorry." and a variety of other heartfelt apologies over and over.
"It wasn't your fault, Duo." Heero told the Shinigami Pilot as he held Duo close and did all he could to reassure the grieving boy despite the fact that he was grieving himself.
"It is my fault, Heero." Duo told the Perfect Soldier as stood on the balcony half an hour later. "It's always my fault. I loved him. That's why Quatre died. All my love and feelings I focused on Quatre. I did it to trick Him, you see. To trick Shinigami. I had to. Every time we made love, every time you kissed me, I thought of Quatre."
"Why?" Heero asked, trying to make sense of what Duo was saying.
"Because I thought He would be unwilling to take Quatre." Duo explained. "I thought Shinigami's fatal hand would be stayed by Quatre's pure soul. But He killed him, too. Shinigami took Quatre because of my trickery."
"Duo... that's nonsense!" Heero shook his head. "Quatre killed himself. We don't know why. But I'm guessing this war was taking its toll on him. Its taking its toll on all of us, even me. But he had to cope with all our emotional baggage as well as his own. That's a lot for a person our age to bear."
"Heero, I appreciate what you're trying to do for me, but it won't lessen the guilt. I used Quatre as a decoy to trick Shinigami away from you. I... I won't let him take you, Heero. I'll focus my feelings on someone else... he won't take you away."
"No, Duo," Heero shook his head, "no. Now, you listen to me. If you want me to ever make love to you again, if you want to feel me inside you, you must love *me*."
"If I love you directly, you'll die, Heero. Just like everybody else."
Duo's eyes gleamed with a cunning madness that deeply worried the Perfect Soldier.
"Duo..." Heero said, placing a hand on his koibito's shoulder.
"Don't tell me I need help. I know the truth, Heero. But don't worry, I won't let Shinigami take you."
"Duo, I want to lay claim to the love you feel for me. I'm strong enough to break the curse, if there is one. Please.. let me do that for you. Let me free you."
"You can't, Heero," Duo shook his head. "I cannot escape this. I can only misdirect it."
Heero covered Duo's lips with his own and drew him close. "I love you. I will always love you."
Duo murmured, but gave no answer.
Duo shook his head. He would not say the words. He would not doom Heero to an early grave. Another would have to take his place. He was too emotionally exhausted, however, to focus his feelings for Heero on anyone specific. He would just project it elsewhere, anywhere away from Heero. It didn't really matter where at the moment. He was too tired and too drained to worry about it.
~As long as Heero was safe, that's all that matters, right?~ he thought to himself, as he drifted off to sleep in his lover's arms..
At that same moment, thousands of miles away, the peace summit that had been moments from the solution everyone had yearned for suddenly fell apart
The phone rang and Heero picked it up quickly. Duo was finally asleep and the Perfect Soldier didn't want his lover to be woken up again. Duo looked so beautiful, he decided.
"Heero," Relena's voice sounded very upset, "I know you're probably with Duo, but I had to talk to you. I just had to. Its so awful. We were so close to peace and then... I don't know what happened? Everything just went to Hell... I don't understand... we were so close to peace, now the war is back on."
Heero looked at the sleeping boy in his arms, realization dawning in his eyes, and his heart broke.
"It's true," he whispered. "Oh, kami-sama... Relena, can I call you back later? There's something I have to do."
"Sure, Heero." Relena replied, hanging up the phone.
Heero retrieved his gun and pressed the barrel to Duo's head. Duo had to be destroyed, he knew, for the sake of the world. Duo had caused this. And he'd killed Quatre, too. As much as Heero loved him, Duo had to die. This was his duty, and he could not let his personal feelings for the fatal beauty get in the way.
"I love you, Duo." he whispered as his finger squeezed the trigger.