author: 0083
disclaimer: i don't own gwing.. my bad. again.
pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3
genre: AU, fantasy, aka no spoilers
warnings: angst. oddness. read previous parts for rest of warnings and notes.

Evergreen + Part 11

I stand here a prisoner of the soul, captured forever in the amber of time, undying and unchanging.

After all the running, it seemed rather anticlimactic when the time to use the Raduleum passed. There was no epic battle, no ultimate decision to choose between life and death. There was just a quiet passing of time punctuated by small fights until the appointed time flew past everyone. When Relena announced that they were now no longer in danger from erasure, the breath of relief released was heartfelt. When she had further announced that she had set them all up for nice futures, the grins were bright and wide, warming her to the heart. Duo and Heero looked the most happy, finally being free from the dangers posed upon them by her sisters.

It was with the light heart of knowing they had won that Relena stepped into the cavernous space within the deep mountains. It was Noin's personal space on the mortal realm, a place where the sisters used to sit and play with mortals. Now, Relena knew that she could no longer step into this same space with the same disregard for mortals she had for so long. With a determined and victorious smile, she walked to the center of the room where Noin and Dorothy stood with unreadable looks on their faces.

"Well, Noin, Dorothy.. After all that, Heero and Duo managed to evade you completely. And not only that, I managed to outwit you, sister. Plus, I sent off Milliardo on a path that does not lead to the throne. That's revenge, but hey, point for me, I'd say."

"Relena," Noin said seriously, "this is no time for being smug. The world is being thrown to chaos. Have you even considered what will happen to the Well of Souls once they die and enter it with their free souls?"

"You are too pessimistic, Noin. If we work hard, we can calm the damage and the world won't go to ruins."

"Sister," Dorothy replied in Noin's stead, "it's not about how hard we try anymore. They are too strong for us to contain now."

Relena let out a crude snort followed by a flip of her hair.

"Don't scoff, Relena. This is most serious."

"Noin," Relena spoke with a bit of disdain, 'you have been going about this all wrong. Heero is not going to ruin anything. All he and Duo want is to be left alone. What is so dastardly about that? They won't interfere with others."

"Not consciously, no. But they are rippling through the pattern. Surely you have seen it as well."

Relena clamped her mouth shut, knowing that Noin did have a valid point. There had been innumerable amount of strange occurrences within the pattern that none of them could have predicted as of late. But none of it had been damaging to the extent that Noin made it seem. They had all been contained by her careful mind and Noin's thorough follow-through.

"I don't care, Noin. I really don't. We're doing just fine, I think. Besides, we have nothing left to do! Raduleum's time has passed. And by the time we can use it next, they would have already entered the Well as free spirits. You know as well as I do, you cannot use the Raduleum on a soul without a body."

"That is all very true, dear Relena. But.. we still have the Metanilim."

Those words choked out a pained gasp from Relena's throat. Her light heart filled with victory and satisfaction died quickly, replaced by a cold dread and dark fears.

"What.. what did you say?"

"It's the only way, Relena. Either this, or we use the Raduleum the next time we can. Make your choice."

Relena stared at her sisters through the haze of her tears. It could not be! The proposal her sisters were making was cruel, merciless in its objective.

"How.. how can you do this? Don't you know what this will do?"

"We know what it will do," Dorothy replied with surprising compassion, "but it is the only way left to us, dear sister. You know we cannot let them run free like this. It will corrupt the Well of Souls and then the pattern will burn from the inside out. I'm sorry, Relena, but you must choose between the eradication of the Raduleum or the eternity of the Metanilim. What will it be?"

"But Heero! He was one of us! He is family, damn you!"

Relena felt her knees collapse beneath her as the reality of the situation hit her hard. They were going to do it again. They were going to destroy Heero.

"Out of respect for Heero, we will only do this to his mortal."

"His name is Duo!" Relena snarled, "and he is Heero's whole universe. You cannot mean this!"

"We do mean it," Noin said unrepentantly, "so it is up to you now. Choose, Relena!"

With a despairing wail, Relena chose the only thing she could. She chose to destroy Heero's heart once again.

+

Heero sat with his hand clasped loosely in Duo's, reveling in the silent and beautiful scene before them. It had been a hectic week, but finally, there was peace. They were not erased, they were together, and everyone they loved were alive and well. They had won over the Fates.

"Hey, Heero," Duo said wonderingly, "can you believe that we're sitting here now? After all that happened, I can't seem to believe it!"

A joyous laugh escaped Heero's mouth and his fingers tightened around his lover's almost protectively.

"Believe it, love. It's all over."

Duo snuggled closer to Heero's side, letting his head fall upon his lover's broad shoulders as he let his vision wander about the fantastic view before them. Their vantage point from the grassy hilltop showed them an endless field of rolling hills and small blue lakes, all soaked in the bright colors of autumn. A wintry chill was just entering the atmosphere, but neither noticed it.

"I love you."

In response, Duo turned his head and kissed Heero. It was a kiss tinged in the vibrancy of passion and the serenity of love. It lasted for some time.

"Can we build a house on this hill you think?"

"Yes," Heero answered with a soft smile, "I think we can."

"Great!" Duo said as he stood, "then let's get started!"

Heero watched his lover's standing form with love in his eyes. For the rest of their lives, it would be like this, joyous and spontaneous.

"I think I want to use white birch. Good colors. Let's get goin-"

Heero frowned when his lover stopped talking so suddenly. It was unlike him to leave a sentence unfinished.

"What's wrong, Duo?"

There was no response and Heero felt the vague edges of concern in his mind. Standing, he touched Duo by his shoulder, hoping to jolt him out of his sudden revelry.

"Duo?"

Concern faded quickly into panic when he met his lover's widened and glassy violet eyes.

"What's wrong, Duo?"

His voice hitching, Heero desperately tried to get his lover to respond. But Duo was unmoving, unresponsive to his touches and pleas.

"Duo!"

Heero clamped his hands down on Duo's shoulders and tried to shake him, but Duo was immobile. It was as if he was rooted to the ground, stiff and unbending, forever frozen in that stance. In desperation, Heero looked into Duo's eyes, trying to find answers within the purple depths, but he only saw fear and..

Tears.

Tears that Duo never shed were welling up in his eyes, gathering into pools, refusing to fall.

"DUO!!!"

Then Heero saw it. He saw how Duo's feet were merging with the grassy hilltop beneath them, how his body was changing. Duo's glorious hair unbound itself from the hair tie and flared upward, twining around each other in a sinuous dance. Duo's arms elongated, his legs merged into each other and his body began changing colors.

Before Heero's unbelieving eyes, Duo changed. Branches formed where his arms should have been. His hair turned darker and greener, becoming sharper by the moment. His beautiful face frozen in shock began to fade away. But his eyes, his teary violet eyes, never changed.

When it was done, before Heero stood a tree... an evergreen.

That was the last thing Heero saw before the world faded into black.

+

When Heero opened his eyes, he found his vision filled with Relena's tear streaked face. Groggily, he tried to remember what had happened, but nothing came to him. He felt Relena's hands gently smoothing his hair which was placed on her lap. He also saw that it was still bright, but thankfully his eyes were shaded by the tree looming over them.

"I'm so sorry, so sorry, so sorry.."

Heero frowned in confusion. Relena was apologizing, but for what, he could not fathom. Had something gone wrong? Had something happened to Duo?

Duo.

Suddenly, his mind cleared and he sprang up from Relena's lap. Whirling, he faced the tree and stared in mute disbelief. It could not be Duo. He could not be remembering right!

His denial ringing clearly in his head, Heero continued to stare at the evergreen. It couldn't be. It shouldn't be. Then he saw it.

A pair of eyes, exquisitely shaped and seemingly carved into the tree trunk. They stared back at him in infinite sorrow and longing.

And they were weeping.

"Duo.."

Heero put his shaking hand to the tree and felt the shock of recognition. Hysterical laughter bubbled in his throat as he finally saw what stood before him.

"What.. what have you done?"

Relena heard Heero's tremulous voice filled with agony, a pain that was a thousand times worse than it had ever been. Apologies would never be enough. There was nothing she could do to repent for what had been done.

"I'm so sorry, Heero. But.. it was the only way to save you!"

"Save me? Save.. ME? Who the hell cares about that!"

Relena had been prepared for the rage and the pain, but she had not anticipated the violence. Heero grabbed her by her neck and threw her down to the ground beneath the evergreen and shook her hard.

"What the fuck does it matter if you save me? What the hell have you done? Why him? WHY?"

"It was either this or eradicating the both of you in the future! It was the only choice, Heero!"

Abruptly, Heero released Relena and stepped back, leaning his body against the evergreen.

"Please, Heero," Relena pleaded, "understand. I did not want to, but I could not let my sisters erase you and Duo completely from existence. The Metanilim was the only choice left. We had to turn Duo into a form that would not hamper with other threads in fate. I'm sorry."

"Then why am I still here? Do I not fuck with the fated destiny?"

"Yes, but you are one of us. Not even Noin could do that to you. But all is not lost, Heero. At least this way, his soul still exists in the tree. It is more merciful than the other."

Relena watched in sadness as Heero turned and faced the evergreen, his fingers trailing along the moisture running down the bark.

"Do you see this, Relena? Do you see Duo crying? Can't you feel his sorrow? How can this be.. merciful?"

The rationalization that Relena had built to make her choice acceptable crumbled before the weeping tree. Heero was right.

"And what of me? How can I live without him?"

"You lived without him before, Heero. And when you die, you'll forget about him. There are no threads of fate tying the two of you together. You'll forget, Heero."

Heero wrapped his arms around the tree and pressed his face into the rough bark, feeling Duo's tears soak into his cheek.

"How can I forget? What we have is stronger than destiny. He chose to love me, Relena. He wasn't made for me, we weren't meant to be together. He chose me of his own free will. He is imprinted on my soul! I cannot forget. My soul won't allow it."

"Oh, Heero.."

Relena tried to place her hands upon Heero's pain wracked body, but he flinched away, digging his body deeper into the evergreen.

"Leave me. Leave us. Just.. go."

Tears falling from her eyes, Relena walked away from the grassy hilltop. There was nothing she could say or do. Nothing.

When he could no longer feel Relena's presence, Heero sank to his knees before the tree. Resting his head against the bark, he wept his bitter and lonely tears, letting them join Duo's own tears on the ground.

"This isn't how it's supposed to be, Duo."

Heero's tears kept falling.

"This isn't right."

More tears and more pain mingled with the ground.

"I love you.. and I'm not ever leaving you.."

Only the bright sun witnessed the grief of the lovers as they wept endlessly.

+

[part 10] [epilogue] [back to 0083's fic]