Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em
for free etc
Category: Angst, religious themes, Heero POV
Warnings: Yaoi (slight)
Notes: Maybe the greatest abandonment of them all.
Feedback: If you liked it, PLEASE let me know!
Well, first time I've posted in how-long-can't-remember, and then it's
an angsty piece! This is for steph (mad_about_yaoi), a late Xmas present,
based (loosely) on the 'Dear God' lyrics by XTC (attached below, if you'd
like to read them).
It was pitch dark in the corridor,
and I stumbled a couple of times, just trying to get to the doorway. The
floor was cold stone beneath my feet - the walls rough with broken plaster.
Everywhere I could smell the thick richness of old wood; the cloying fragrance
of burned candle wax. Finally reaching my goal, I leant against the thick
wooden door, but was frustrated again - it seemed to be too heavy or stiff
to open easily. It wasn't until my eyes began to acclimatize to the blackness
that I realised the door was blocked at the base of its hinges, hindering
my efforts. What was actually stacked there made the bile lurch up in
A small pile of tumbled, inert bodies. I could see the pale glistening
of blood still fresh. Some of the limbs looked very slight, the perspective
distorted by the poor visibility. Small limbs. Young.
I tried to harden myself against the shock. I had a mission of my own,
didn't I? It wasn't as if I'd never suffered; as if I'd never seen such
horrors in a war zone.
"Duo?" I called, very softly. I knew he would hear me, if he were there.
"Are you here?"
The atmosphere inside the room was eerie; there was the sound of breathing,
as if from several people. But no voices; no words. I had braced myself
- what for? For hostility, perhaps, or attack; but there was none. There
was the occasional cough - a stifled moan. I likened it to the devastation
and the victims that I'd found throughout the whole city - but this was
different, somehow. There was no aching stench of fear, nor any blinding,
helpless rage - no overwhelming pall of terror that I'd come to expect
from any inhabitants still left alive. No, things were very different
here. I stood just within the doorway and let it envelop me; a blanket
of something far more distressing - misery. A fog of total, debilitating
I tripped on an outstretched leg, and cursed softly. No-one cursed me
in return. The leg lay immobile at my feet; no-one snatched it back. I
knew without being told that everything was finished here. But then I
heard an answering noise to my right, and I turned to peer into the darkness.
There was a trace of movement; there was the sudden glint of a large,
"Duo? It's me. The city's been taken back under Peacekeeper control. The
assault is over. The invading army has been routed; they're either fleeing
The voice that replied was nothing more than a whisper. Even then, it
was harsh. "Surrendering?"
"For punishment." I peered into the shroud of dark, trying to see him
properly. "They'll be taken before the world's court - the scale of this
atrocity is unprecedented. There will be retribution for this attack,
Duo - there will be justice."
Was he hurt himself? I couldn't see any movement of his body. He appeared
to be crouched down somehow - he was at the far end of the room, between
rows of broken, uneven benches. I could feel a draft of air on my skin,
but it was only from the broken windows above me; from the night wind,
wheezing between the jagged edges of the smashed walls, the rubble still
gently smoking with dust from the burning strike of incendiary devices.
I could hear the shriek of carrion birds as they passed the building on
their way to forage.
"Justice, you say. And what will that mean to the people here, Heero?"
The accusation was unmistakable. It was Duo's voice, of course it was,
but his tone was shocking. Unfamiliar. Frightening, on several
levels. For the first time, I felt a shiver of fear for him. This place
was too close to his own life; too damned close to his own demons! We
should never have sent him ahead of us to scout; not here.
Not to the church.
His words rang out sharply, echoing against the pathetic, broken remnants
of the stone walls. Walls that had been built to last for centuries, maybe.
We were in a small, primitive chapel, set at the far end of the clutch
of church buildings. Or at least, that's what it had been - a chapel -
until a matter of hours ago.
"Got no answer, Heero?"
Hell, I knew he wasn't looking for my answer! "Duo -" I tried to
be placating - to be sympathetic. I started to step forward, towards him.
My eyes were clearer now, and I could see him kneeling at the foot of
the altar steps, facing me, his legs apart, creating a kind of lap. He
nursed a pile of clothing, balanced on his thighs. I suspected it was
a body, even before I approached and could see for definite. My heart
ached at the sight of the many corpses lain at his feet; the trails of
dark fluids on the wooden flooring, following many an attempted escape
- but my heart ached for Duo even more.
If I were to be honest with myself, he was all I cared for at this moment.
I tried to draw his eyes, but they were lowered, staring down at the bundle
in his lap. I was only a couple of feet away from him when it stirred,
and a small, bare foot emerged from the grubby blanket that covered it,
and wriggled itself to some greater comfort. A child's hand gripped briefly
at Duo's shirt, as the person settled itself against him.
I was close enough to see his expression now, and the streaks of dirt
and grease and blood on his skin. His trousers were ripped - there was
the hint of dark shadow between his chest and armpit that may have been
a bloodied surface wound. His gun lay at his side, within reach, but his
hands were around the bundle instead.
He still looked down, and now he smiled.
I narrowed my eyes, and watched as the child - a thin, dark-haired, dark-skinned
girl - nestled her head against his chest and brought her stubby-fingered
hands together in a clasping gesture. She gave a soft cough, almost like
a giggle. She didn't bother passing me even a glance; when she looked
up, her eyes were for Duo alone.
"Who is she, Duo?" I asked, softly. I crouched down in front of him, concerned
that I didn't add to the child's stress and fear.
"She lives in the city," he replied. The cadence of his words was very
slightly sing-song; I wondered if she couldn't understand English, but
he didn't want her to guess what he was saying from his tone alone. "Her
community came here for refuge when the attack started. The women and
children were sent into the church to shelter; to protect themselves from
the hostilities. They were driven further and further to the edges of
the compound - until this chapel was the only place left untouched." He
looked up then, and gazed straight at me; almost as if he were willing
me to understand the feelings inside him. I'd tried so often, over the
last few years; and I was proud that I'd often succeeded. "A familiar
tactic, eh, Heero? Many's the time we've seen it; the attempt to save
the innocent from the warmongers' enthusiasm."
"The chapel was hit in the crossfire -" I moaned slightly. The bodies
around me were all young; or female; or very old. Few still had signs
of awareness, and none looked fully alive.
"No, the chapel was hit by a deliberate strike," said Duo, very calmly.
It made his words all the more shocking. "They had no interest in differentiating
the innocent from the guilty; no respect for the significance of a place
of worship. Indeed, that was the objective of this whole campaign, right?
All the city's inhabitants must be eliminated; they are all the enemy
- all of them are deviants from the one true path. However small or infirm
The girl tugged at her hands; her lips were moving slightly, and her brow
furrowed as if she tried to remember particularly hard words. She flickered
another look up at Duo through lashes thick with dust and grime. "Must
pray, tall man," she said. "Papa told me so." Her eyes glazed over slightly
"I don't pray," said Duo, but very gently. It didn't seem that she heard
him, anyway. She was concentrating on words that were obviously well practiced,
and that she could recall, even in the midst of this carnage.
"God is good, God is truth, God is beauty.. praise him."
"No..." It was only a murmur of distress from Duo. His eyes flashed at
me again, aching with a mixture of pain and need. I wanted so very much
to help him; to offer the support he needed - but I didn't know how.
"God will be constant - God will not be scared. God will hear me... Papa
says so." Another of her strange little giggles.
I glanced round at the dead and the dying around me. "Her father?"
"Is dead," he groaned softly. "She crawled to me from under his body,
where he'd tried to protect her. He was disabled himself - unable to fight
obviously, so they left him with the others."
"Any other relatives?"
"Her grandfather, I think, only because he was in the same -" he paused,
struggling with words, "same heap as she was, draped around her and her
father. Frail - thin. Probably ill himself, even before today - life in
this community has suffered under the same siege that we've witnessed
across the city. A perverted preparation for the inhabitants, weakening
them for this final act of aggression. He was also dead. No sign of any
mother or siblings. People have huddled here together, Heero, in a semblance
of the family units they held in life. Seeking sanctuary. Gathered - praying
- hoping - begging..."
I wanted to tell him to hush, if only to save his own anguish, but I wouldn't
embarrass him with it. "We will be the peace keepers, Duo. For now, we're
fire fighters - justice dealers..."
"Garbage sweepers!" he snapped. "Those are noble terms, Heero, for times
of battle - for the honour of the military. There are no soldiers here,
are there? This isn't war! This is a church - meant to be a place of religion;
"This is - persecution," I said, slowly. My eyes ranged round a few bodies
still stirring - knowing that the medical help was still too far behind
us, too far beyond us to help them.
"Yeah, this is persecution," Duo's words came from gritted teeth. "For
the sake of religion. For the sake of being different. Women and children
- what were they guilty of, then? Guilty of seeking their God? Damned
futile quest -!"
"But not the same God," I felt a soft agony in my words, as if I were
exposing things that I'd never thought through for myself. "A different
God. Different - not compatible - not submissive..."
Duo's eyes glinted at me in the semi-darkness. "An excellent summation,
Heero. Not submissive - to political as well as religious agenda. And
so their precious religion has been the very thing that has brought them
to this - that has destroyed them!"
I turned back to the child, who was still running half-silent words through
her chapped lips. "Why are you praying, child? What for?"
She still looked at Duo, but her scorn was for me alone. "For salvation,
'course - for rescue. And you came!" She gazed up at him with something
like adoration in her expression. "Didn't you, tall man?"
"No - " I was struggling with my own words. "But we're not salvation -
we're not sent by God -"
"How do you know that?" she whispered, and her hand tugged at Duo's arm,
trying to get his attention away from me. "God won't tell you straight
out, like a priest - like Papa -" She was impatient with us, I could see;
I thought she was becoming distressed again, but I didn't see what we
could do to pacify her. "Why did you come then?"
"Because - we had to," I said, sounding very simple.
"It's where we were ordered to be!" Duo's reply was angry, but she didn't
respond to his emotions in the same way as mine.
"So that's how he tells you, right? His men tell you to come -"
"Not God's men! Soldiers - officers of the military -" He was trying
hard not to inflict his contempt on her.
But she was unaffected. "Yes, like I said. God made men. All of 'em. You're
silly sometimes, tall man. You should pray too, now. For the sick ones."
I wondered whether she meant the victims in the chapel, or maybe the perpetrators
of this. I realised that Duo was crying - it was a sudden shock to me,
but I couldn't mistake the glimmer of damp on his dirty cheek.
"I've tried, believe me," he muttered. "But I don't see God here today.
Communication lines are down."
"Try harder," she announced, in obvious mimicry of a parent.
"You wouldn't like my prayers," he groaned. His eyes met mine. What
work has God done here? he was asking. What God allows this to
The thoughts were in my expression, too.
"Teach you prayers o' mine," she said, very softly. She coughed a few
times; her hands went back to their clasping gesture.
There was a broken candleholder on the floor beside us - I snagged it
over to us and lit one of the stubs of offertory candle still remaining.
I propped the holder on a spliced plank of wood, maybe from the pulpit,
or from one of the small confessional booths along the wall beside us.
A cruel sign of the shattering of their world around them. The shadows
were long and ghostly around us; the flickering light sliced over one
side of Duo's grim face.
He looked up at me over her head, his eyes wild; the flame reflected in
his pupils. "It's tortuous - impossible to argue with her - to refute
such an attitude! She wants to believe, however ludicrously it compares
to the truth around her."
"That's faith," I said, and I spoke to him directly.
"That's stupidity!" he bit out at me. Our voices sounded strangely loud
amongst the chilled silence around us. There was less and less noise from
the others in the chapel, even as the night enveloped us; as the temperature
dropped. Occasional chunks of stone from the bombardment of the walls
hissed and crumbled to the floor around us; some kind of rat ran across
the far side of the altar, pattering amongst the broken glass and wood,
its claws skittering on the marble tiles. I tried to hear the sounds of
our vehicles approaching, but there was nothing. I'd tried hard to reach
him in advance of everyone else - and I'd succeeded too well.
"It's a self-fulfilling prophecy," he muttered down into her hair, so
that I hardly heard him. She was gathered close into his chest now. "Religion
is the opium of the masses, don't y'know. There's nowhere else to go."
"When there's nowhere else to go, that's all they have left," I said,
softly. Some emotions stirred in me that were both thrilling and terrifying.
I didn't think I had any such memories of my own to trouble me; I was
a child of my time. I had my masters, and religion didn't figure there.
I was closer to Duo than he would ever think - and also further apart.
"All they have is God. Their faith."
"It's that faith that has brought them to this place, Heero. That's taken
everything they have. All in his name."
The girl's voice suddenly rose a little in pitch. "Ternal rest give unto
them-o Lord, petchell light shine upon 'em -"
Duo caught my confused look, and sighed. "Eternal rest, Heero. A prayer
for the dead. Let perpetual light shine upon them -"
"May they rest in peace Amen!" she finished, with a satisfied smack
of her lips; as if Papa would have been proud of her performance.
"Can't help them now, love," Duo said, gently.
"No, I'm helping you, tall man!" she almost snapped.
The candle sputtered suddenly, though there'd been a lessening of the
wind since the night had sunk deeper outside our battered, incomplete
shelter. One last grasp at life - then the tortured flame was extinguished.
We were plunged back into darkness.
I could hear Duo's voice, a thread of misery in the gloom - was he continuing
the prayers? His hand was a wraithlike movement, a contrast against the
pale colour of her blanket. He was making the sign of the cross.
"Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Pray for us. Grandfather, Papa and daughter
- the three all lost - all gone!"
"Duo?" I whispered to him in the darkness - I touched at his shoulder
to find his whole body was shaking. The bundle in his arms was still.
"She's gone, Duo."
His body tensed, abruptly. "Of course, Heero! She's been dead for three
hours or more - since I first arrived."
I felt a chill that was from the inside of my heart. My hand hovered over
the child on his lap - there was no body warmth from it. No lingering
"She collapsed on my lap and choked on her own vomit. All I did was pull
a blanket round her and hold her until you came."
I stared at him. I'd heard the voice... I'd seen the small, possessive
hands, clutched in prayer.
"I know, Heero," came his tired voice. "But don't you think I know enough
to recognise signs of life? - or not. She was dead. Until you came - until
we were here for her." He quoted softly, from a text I didn't think I
knew. "God is not a man, that he should lie."
I felt a weakness that I'd never known before. A voice cried out inside
me - crying in confusion; crying for comfort.
Duo gave a low, gentle laugh, not of mirth. "But still I can't believe
her. I can't believe the same as she did. She wanted to believe - hell,
maybe I do too. But just the same, I don't." He stared at me, his eyes
fierce. "Will we rest in peace, Heero? Will any of them?"
I just stared back at him.
I thought my eyes might burn out before I could ever be easy again.
hope you got the letter,
I pray you can make it better down here.
I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer
but all the people that you made in your image, see
them starving on their feet 'cause they don't get
enough to eat from God, I can't believe in you
Dear God, sorry to disturb you, but...
I feel that I should be hear loud and clear.
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
and all the people that you made in your image, see them
fighting in the street 'cause they can't make opinions meet about God,
I can't believe in you
Did you make disease, and the diamond blue? Did you make
mankind after we made you? And the devil too!
don't know if you noticed, but... your name is on
a lot of quotes in this book, and us crazy humans wrote it,
you should take a look, and all the people that you made in your
image still believing that junk is true.
Well I know it ain't, and so do you, dear God,
I can't believe in I don't believe in..
I won't believe in heaven and hell. No saints, no sinners, no
devil as well.
No pearly gates, no thorny crown.
You're always letting us humans down.
The wars you bring, the babes you drown.
Those lost at sea and never found, and it's the same the whole world 'round.
The hurt I see helps to compound that
Father, Son and Holy Ghost is just somebody's unholy hoax,
and if you're up there you'd perceive that my heart's here upon my sleeve.
If there's one thing I don't believe in
to Fancy Figures' fic]