by Anria Lalumin

High Hopes

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun

Duo stared at the mobile suit carriers. Soon it would be over. One last battle. That’s it.

He clutched Deathscythe’s controls fiercely, trying not to let his anxiety overrun him. Face it, Maxwell, he growled at himself. Part of your anxiety is anxiety over what the anxiety is for. He snorted. That sounded pretty ridiculous, even to him.

The grin vanished. It was true. What was he anxious about? His friends? Whether or not he would survive the battle? Whether they would be able to end this pointless war?

Or whether they wouldn’t?

Once the war was over, what was holding them together? What would be able to keep the five of them as friends or acquaintances at the very least? They’d been together too long for one battle to finish it all.

But one battle could.

Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut

Duo waited for the others to arrive. This was their monthly gathering, suggested by him, so that all five Gundam pilots could keep in touch with each other. They’d picked a beautiful spot, in a little-used area of a park in England. All green, with the lake stretching before them, the cool breeze bringing the scent of pine trees.

Duo waited for hours. Wufei called to say he couldn’t come for personal reasons. Quatre called to apologise for an overly long meeting. Trowa called, saying he’d come down with the flu and Catherine was insisting he stay in bed.

Heero didn’t call.

Duo waited for nine hours past the meeting time, staring into the lake, noting the silver reflection of the sky on the top and the inky depths beneath. He tried not to let his tears fall.

He’d known this would happen. Dammit, he’d known.

But everyone except his wartime lover called.

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

Quatre got home and collapsed, groaning, onto his bed. Nearly a year. Nearly a year, since the war had ended, and he had taken over as head of Winner Enterprises Limited.

His sisters meant well, he supposed, but they had overloaded him with work, then complained that he wasn’t looking well. He had called Duo once, telling him that there was no point in him saying he could come to their monthly meetings any more, since he was only going to have to call on the day and say he couldn’t make it. Duo had tried not to let his pain show. More than any other one of them, Duo wanted to keep in touch with everyone else.

Quatre had dreamed of a life after the war that wasn’t touched by any kind of pain, where there would be no more killing, no more use for the Gundams or their pilots. But now, once again, there were signs of a group mobilising for war.

And Quatre, as hard as he tried to find time to look into this, had his hands tied by the demands of his family and his work.

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Heero lay in his bed, staring up at the ceiling, wondering why he had been afraid to go to Duo’s monthly meetings. Wondering why he had been afraid to call his former lover and just talk to him.

He remembered back during the war, when everything had seemed so different. He and Duo had told each other they would be lovers, give each other comfort, just during the war. He had thought that was all he would need. The time after the war seemed to stretch like an open expanse of green field that Heero longed for, and yet was afraid to want, because he wasn’t supposed to survive the war. A soldier has no life beyond war. A small, niggling voice had often asked him, what are you fighting for? And he never had an answer, not one beyond ‘a soldier lives to fight.’

He wanted an answer.   

He remembered dreaming once, of what it would be like if he lived after the war. He remembered thinking even the light would seem brighter on Earth, because the sun would no longer be afraid to shine on war. He had been all for Duo’s idea of them getting together often, being surrounded by those four people he had come to care for more than anyone else in the world. Not that he would admit it, but the feelings were there.

Then he remembered during the war, longing for a mission (or the lack of one) that would let him be near to Duo, because whenever he turned to him in the night, the braided boy would give him more than anyone else ever had. More joy, more pleasure, more happiness.

Several times Heero had wondered what he had to give the boy in return. During the war, fine, he could give companionship, a warm body, understanding when the boy occasionally let the mask slip and showed the pain he felt at all the deaths. But afterwards? Nothing. Nothing that could convince Heero he should stay, anyway. And that above all was why he had left Duo.

Duo deserved better than him.

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide

Trowa sat outside in the middle of the night, staring up at the stars while all around him the circus performers slept in their trailers.

He closed his eyes. He’d tried to make a new life for himself, he truly had. He’d tried to forget his love for Quatre which was undoubtedly unrequited, though Trowa had never gathered enough courage to ask. He tried to forget being a soldier, which was all he had known for so long.

He’d tried. He’d tried so hard to be the brother Catherine wanted him to be, to be the performer and friend the Ringmaster wanted him to be, tried so hard to forget his past and look to the future.

He made a few steps that way, but now found himself back where he started.

The Barton Group.

He knew what he had to do. And God he hated it. It was just like during the war, just like with Oz, too close for comfort...

Then he shut his eyes and pictured Quatre’s face, his golden hair and sweet smile.

I can’t make him have to fight again by not doing what I must, Trowa thought. It would kill him. He’s too good, too ... pure, to be sullied by war again. He should never have fought the first time -- it nearly killed him, to have to kill.

If only I had told him how I feel... If only I had kissed him, just once... It would make it all worth it. Because this is one I can’t survive -- who am I now, but Trowa Barton? And Dekim knows his own son... If I do this I am dead. Yet I have no choice.

Oh, Quatre...

At a higher altitude the flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Wufei stood in the ranks of Mariemeia’s army and wondered why he was doing this. After the war, he had had such high hopes of what life would become... And all for nothing. Nothing good had happened. He had been on top of the world... Why was he doing this?

Because I am a soldier, Wufei thought to himself. I was trained to be a soldier from childhood. I know no other way to be... And I want to know why.

Why do they fight? What reason do they start this? What reason do they keep fighting for, when they are wrong, evil? Why am I expected to fight when they do, and find some other task when they don’t?

I was a scholar. I tried to return to that. I could not.

If I have to become evil to understand these things, then so be it. At the end of the last war I helped to bring the dream of peace, I  was on top of the world -- and then reality came.

And brought the dream crashing down.

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There’s a hunger still unsatisfie
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we’ve been so many times

They were in a war again. All of them.

Duo typed furiously on the computer, hacking for all he was worth. At other points in the room, Heero and Trowa did the same. So Trowa was still on their side, and Quatre had gone for their Gundams, but... What was Wufei doing? What did he want?

Duo shook his head. Dekim Barton and Mariemeia. More greedy, ambitious people who wanted nothing more than to use the world and the colonies as their personal playground.

It was strange, how easy it was to slip back into the familiar role of the terrorist, embarking on a quest to save an oblivious world. Strange how everything seemed to fit, as though this was what they had been made for. Guerrilla tactics in a war that had no point. They were fighting against the army of a seven-year-old child, for God’s sake!

But it had brought them together again like nothing else could. Duo found himself looking to the future the way he had during the war; a bright place full of hopes and dreams, and maybe this time he could get it right.

But he was so tired of fighting... So tired of having to fight...

And at the same time... knowing it was what he lived for...

The grass was greener
The light was brighter

Heero strapped himself into Wing Zero and momentarily closed his eyes. Almost there... Almost over... Then they could go back to the life after the war.

Then he could see if Duo would have him back.

Seeing the baka again had made Heero remember why he had been scared to see the boy after they had split up. He knew he would ask Duo to come back to him, and he didn’t know how he would react. Whether Duo would agree, or laugh in his face. No, Duo wouldn’t do that... He wasn’t so cruel...

But even a gentle refusal would hurt. It would hurt so bad.

Heero had come to realise he needed him more than just a warm body in his bed. Hell, if he wanted that, he could have Relena. No. Duo was more to him than that, more to him than anything.

He had finally answered a question that had plagued him for years. And now he knew the answer, he was not going to let the answer go, not for anything. A small voice asked him the question again.

What are you fighting for?

And he had an answer. It was one that brought a small smile to his face and determination to his heart, and made the sun shine brightly on the green, green grass that the end of the war would bring.

Duo.

The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder

Sandrock.

He was at the controls of Sandrock again.

A part of him grieved for the necessity that had made him climb back in, but most of him rejoiced in the familiar confines of the cockpit, adrenaline flooding through him at the thought of the fight he was about to enter.

Quatre looked at the oncoming enemy and smiled.

This was what he had been trained for. This was what he had lived for.

With friends surrounded

Duo made his big entrance, leaping high into the air and knowing full damn well he was silhouetted against the moon, Deathscythe’s bat wings making a stunning sight.

They were all here. All except Heero and Wufei. Trowa and Quatre beside him, Zechs and Noin up ahead. Part of him expected to see Tallgeese II any moment, another part told him that was stupid.

Wufei no one expected to turn up. Heero everyone knew was on his way.

Duo closed his eyes, preparing himself for the coming battle. His friends were all around him. He was fighting the good fight for the freedom of Earth and the colonies, and this time they knew it. He was even fighting for Little Miss Queen Relena, who was being held captive by Mariemeia, because he knew what good she had done for the world and space in just one year.

He was Shinigami again. His friends were near.

A damned good way to die.

The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing

Heero wiped the encounter with Wufei from his mind and aimed the beam cannon again. The first blast had shaken the shield so much one more would shatter it.

It would also shatter Wing Zero, and him along with it.

But not yet. Not before he said one thing.

Switching his comm unit so it only sounded in Deathscythe, Heero said, “Duo.”

Duo’s startled face turned towards him over their comm units.

“Duo, I was wrong.”

“N-nani?”

“When I said we would only -- we should only -- last as long as the war did. I was wrong.”

Duo was silent, staring at Heero.

“Duo -- I’m not going to survive this, but I just had to tell you that I was wrong. That I missed you. That I need you.”

“Heero...” Duo’s hand raised to touch the screen. Heero did the same.

“One more blast will end this war, Duo, but one more blast will end me too, in all likelihood. I just had to say... I love you.”

With that, Heero turned off the comm unit, both vocal and visual, on Duo’s wide violet eyes.

The endless river

One more blast...

Forever and ever

~Owari

Yeah, yeah, so you all know what happens in Endless Waltz. This is a fanfic, okay? Who knows... I might decide to do a sequel and make it AU...

For anyone who’s interested, the song is ‘High Hopes’ by Pink Floyd ©. It’s on their ‘Division Bell’ album, the last track, and I thoroughly recommend it. There is a guitar solo at the end that is what electric guitars were made for. If I had to chose one song out of everything else in the entire world that I had to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be this one. It is way the fucking hell beyond good.

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