The Grieving process.

This is a story that tries to explore the feelings and emotions of the other Gundam pilots (in particular Duo & Wufei) when Quatre is almost killed during a battle. It is quite sad in places and you get to see a side of their personalities that you wouldn't normally see. As I said earlier, this is non-Yaoi, but does talk a lot about good old-fashioned friendship, and people who actually do give a damn.

Enjoy. Baerwolf.

The Grieving Process

There was an eerie silence in the waiting area outside the operating theatre. Three floors up in the hospital, Heero, Trowa, Duo and Wufei all waited anxiously for news about their fallen comrade and friend.

Despite the mission's success, the battle had been one of the most intense they had seen. They all made it back to base, but Quatre, due to injuries sustained during the battle, crash-landed. Fortunately, the other pilots were able to get him to the hospital quickly, giving at least some hope of his recovery.

Wufei was sat cross-legged on the floor, his back to the wall, half meditating, half contemplating the past, looking back with mixed emotion of the times he and Quatre had spent together.

Trowa was sat quietly in a chair, leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees, staring at the tiled floor beneath him, his mind awash with a mixture of emotions and great concern.

Duo paced slowly and silently up and down the small corridor-like area, his arms folded. Like Trowa, his mind was full of nothing but worry and fear for Quatre. He felt empty, nauseous. His face was paler than usual, and the familiar cheerful personality mask he always shrouded himself in, was almost non-existent.

Duo had learned to always look on the bright side, or at the least appear to be cheerful and retain his sense of humour no matter how black the situation was, but this was different. On the outside, as always, he appeared to be holding it together, but on the inside Duo was hurting badly.

During the past couple of years, Quatre and Duo's friendship had grown strong.

Duo never usually allowed himself to get close to anyone, in the almost proven belief that anyone who ever got close usually ended up dead, but with Quatre he guardedly made an exception. After all, Quatre was a Gundam pilot, and able to look out for himself, and Duo cautiously allowed himself to believe there was not a lot he could do that would jeopardize Quatre's safety.

They spent a lot of time in each other's company especially recently. They seemed to have made a real connection.

Duo remembered back to when he first knew Quatre, He remembered being struck by his gentleness and compassion, a respect that to this day had never dulled. He remembered wondering for months how someone so warm-hearted, and so at odds with fighting could ever become a Gundam pilot.

Only as time progressed, did Duo get to understand Quatre more, and came to understand his reasons for his participation in the war, and the more Duo got to lean about his friend, the more respect he gained for him.

During the past year of war, all of the Gundam pilots had gone through times of great darkness and madness. In all but few cases it was Quatre, and only Quatre, who could offer the warm and gentle voice of reason the others needed to pull them back from the edge of despair.

Duo in particular was mindful of Quatre's guidance and counsel. There were countless occasions when Duo owed his life to Quatre. Some of those times were on the battlefield, but most were when Quatre had helped Duo to hold his own mind together.

For Duo, being known as the God of death was a driving motivation on the battlefield, but during peace and quieter times it was the very thing that was destroying him. Eating away at his soul like a sickening cancer.

In reality, Duo was kind hearted, but his training and his past had conditioned him into being the warrior he was today. The only problem was, deep down inside that toughened warrior shell, sat a heart that still cared.

Only in times of quiet could Duo hear the voices and cries of those killed at his hands. Only when the guns were silenced could he feel the torture of truly knowing what he had done. Every base, every Leo, every Aries, every transport ship he had ever destroyed meant more poor souls lost.

Duo's actions were quietly destroying him from the inside, for every Life he took, regardless of who that person was, he could feel another piece of his soul being cast into oblivion.

Despite the cheerful mask he shrouded himself in whenever he was outside or among people, Duo was suffering badly, and Quatre was the only one who knew.

There were many lengthy periods of time when Duo wanted nothing more than to end his life, and several occasions where he was very close to attempt it, only to be foiled at the last minute by Quatre. Each time, pulled back from the edge by that voice of compassionate Reason.

Duo recalled the last, and final time it happened, several months ago. He was in despair at learning he'd wiped out an Aries unit consisting of young civilian volunteers from the colonies, many of them barely out of high school.

He finally reached the point where his conscience could take no more and he was ready to end it all.

He was planning to take the Deathsythe to a quiet location, maybe even outer space, and self-destruct, but the night before he was planning to go, Quatre had turned up on his doorstep, concerned that something was wrong.

He recalled with a slight smile Quatre's refusal to accept his assurances that "everything was ok", and minutes later Duo recollected himself falling to his knees, an inconsolable sobbing wreck as he told Quatre everything.

They talked throughout the night until it was daylight, Quatre compassionately listening and comforting Duo, in the kind-hearted way that only Quatre could. That same morning, on Quatre's insistence Duo packed some things and went to stay at the Winner mansion where Quatre was currently living, and where Duo had continued to live to the present day.

After months of gentle counselling from Quatre, many tears and meaningful discussions about life and philosophy, Duo was much happier with his life.

Before Quatre had helped him, Duo looked upon his whole life as a long series of dark, cold chapters, where death would have been a welcome break. But that was all in the past, and life had started to look like it was worth living again. Duo owed it all to Quatre, If it wasn't for him turning up that night, he would be dead now.

As he paced up and down in the hospital corridor, Duo started to realise that he had never taken the opportunity to really thank Quatre for what he had done, and feelings of heavy remorse started to fill his mind.

"You need to relax Duo", said Heero, breaking the silence. Duo had been oblivious to Heero's observing him for the past five minutes.

"What do you mean Heero?" asked Duo, quickly breaking from his trance-like state and instinctively donning his cheery mask again, if only slightly.

Heero, who until now had been sat back in his char, arms folded, leaned forward resting his arm on his crossed leg.

"What I mean is, you've been pacing up and down that same bit of floor for the past half an hour", said Heero in his usual dry, monotone voice. "You'll wear it out".

Duo stopped pacing and stood in front of Heero.

"I just feel so helpless", said Duo, putting his upturned palms in the air, "Quatre is battling for his life right now, and there's not a damn thing that any of us can do to raise the odds in his favour".

Heero said nothing, but listened to what Duo had to say, as did Wufei and Trowa, both looking up, breaking from their own solitary meditations.

"If this was a normal battle, and Quatre was out there on his own, we'd have got into our Gundams and gone to help him, none of us would have a second thought, but here all we can do is sit and wait, and hope he's ok. It's so frustrating!"

Duo turned away from Heero and began staring out of the window, "If only I'd found him sooner, maybe he'd ..... I mean if I'd got to him sooner, his chances might have been ........."

"Duo!", said Heero sharply, stopping him mid sentence.

Duo stopped talking and looked at Heero,

"What?" he snapped, a little annoyed at being interrupted.

"I don't mind you babbling, but if you're going to start blaming yourself, could you do it somewhere else", said Heero, again, in his usual dry, emotionless voice.

At that point Trowa spoke up, backing Heero,

"You don't need to go down that path Duo", said Trowa, almost as dryly as Heero.

"It wasn't your fault any more that it was any of our faults, no-one is to blame for this. We all did what we had to do"

Duo wanted to say something back, but knew both Heero and Trowa were right. He sighed heavily,

"I Know you're right, both of you, but, still, It doesn't seem right. Why Quatre? why not one of us"

To Duo's surprise, not one of the other pilots responded verbally, but he could see all three of them mulling over his response.

"They were all thinking the same as me!" he thought to himself,

"It's clear that all of them were thinking that it should have been them and not Quatre". Duo's discovery made him feel slightly better in an odd sort of way. Emotion was not something these guys showed easily - if at all, but it was now clear to Duo that in their own way, each of the pilots were remorseful about Quatre much more that they were letting on.

"Quatre should not be the one lying in there", said Wufei, speaking for the first time in over an hour, still sitting cross-legged on the floor. The others all looked at him in a silent, but oddly agreeing sort-of way.

"You'll get no argument from me, Wufei", replied Trowa

"I'll have to agree with you too", said Heero

Duo took a seat near to Wufei, which left the group in a close semi-circular arrangement. He figured that the others wanted to talk, but needed some prompting.

Duo himself needed desperately to talk to someone. During the past few months he had done nothing but talking, talking about his past and his feelings, so he could come to terms with his life.

He was suddenly gripped by sadness as he realised the one and only person he could really talk openly to was lying on an operating table in the next room.

His sadness began to increase and he could feel his eyes were ready to well up.

Not wanting to openly express his grief in front of the others he stood up and shrouded himself in his slightly cheery mask again.

"I'm going outside to get some air, It's so stuffy in here", without waiting for a response, he span round and hastily made his way to the stairway door a short way down the corridor.

Outside the weather was pleasant. It had been warm and sunny all day, although it was late in the afternoon and the sun would be setting soon.

The hospital garden was quiet, no one was around and the only sounds were the gentle rustling of leaves in the occasional light breeze, and the sound of distant babbling water coming from the end of the garden.

The garden itself was simple, a huge rectangular fairly unkempt lawn surrounded by forest on all sides, and distant hills with mountains beyond, cutting into the horizon.

Running across the lawn to the far end was a stepping-stone path that led to a large natural stream, which cut across the far right hand corner of the grounds.

Duo hurriedly made his way down the path to the stream and perched himself on an out-cropping of large rocks overlooking the fast moving water.

The great sadness inside him was not going away, and he knew it would probably not be long before his tears would flow, that's why he had to leave the others.

"Damn it! This is not how a Gundam pilot should be reacting to loosing a comrade!", Duo thought to himself angrily, annoyed at his own weakness.

He looked back towards the hospital to make sure no one had followed him, but suddenly became struck by the most spectacular scenery that lay before him. The backdrop to the hospital was one of the most colourful sunsets he had ever seen.

The sky was awash with every shade of red and orange, and the distant mountains seemed to glow in every colour imaginable. Duo stared, awe-struck by this masterpiece of nature.

He saw sunset's every day, and never thought twice about it, but this, this was different.

"Why am I so touched by this?", he asked himself in a whisper, "is it because I am feeling so sad right now?", he thought, "Is this how people see the world through sad eyes?"

He mulled over in his mind looking for an answer, for some kind of explanation to account for his feelings. Suddenly, the answer came to him.

"God! oh God!" he thought, suddenly feeling a heavy sadness filling his heart,

"Because if Quatre were here, he'd be jumping up and down and telling me how beautiful it was, trying to make me see it too!"

With that thought, the sadness inside of him became overwhelming, and this time there was no stopping it.

The tears welling in his eyes began to distort his view of the sunset into just a bright sparkling mass of blured colour.

"I see it Quatre", he whispered quietly under his breath, his voice cracking,

"I really see it Quatre, ..... It's so beautiful,...... so beautiful", his voice becoming a barely audible squeak.

No longer able to restrain the tears, Duo buried his face into his hands and began to cry.

The tears flowed like small rivers, never before had he ever felt such an intense sense of loss.

Despite the fact Quatre was still alive, although barely, Duo realised his grief at just the possibility of Quatre dying was more than he could deal with.

He tried to tell himself to think positively, and to believe that Quatre would make a full recovery, but the moment was too intense to fight even with logical thinking.

Not even when the orphanage he grew up in was destroyed did he encounter such extreme grief. He felt like a part of him was missing, he felt empty, and so alone.

What seemed like a short time later, still with his face buried in his hands, Duo felt a hand gently touch his shoulder. He looked up to see Wufei looking down at him.

"Oh it's you Wufei", said Duo, quickly trying to dry his eyes, embarrassed that he had been caught off-guard.

"er....I was umm.... just washing my face in the stream, err ... trying to wake myself up a bit!", he exclaimed, instantly donning his personality mask again.

Wufei looked at him, expressionless. He didn't need to say anything, and Duo knew there was no fooling him.

"Ok, Ok! I know" said Duo putting his hands in the air,

"I'm just a little upset, that's all".

Wufei gave a slight, but wry smile.

"I just thought you might want to know that Quatre is out of surgery, but it's too early to tell how things will go". He said.

Duo nodded. "Thanks for coming to tell me", he replied quietly.

"Did the Doctor say anything else?", asked Duo, sniffing.

"Not really", replied Wufei, "He's stable, which is a good sign, but he's not out of the woods yet. It could be a couple of days before we know".

"I see", said Duo, "Can ... can we see him yet?"

"No, he's still unconscious", replied Wufei, turning and starting to walk back towards the hospital.

"Er.. Wufei!", called Duo.

Wufei stopped walking, listening for Duo's question, but continued to face the hospital.

"er... you.... you.. won't tell the others about... about me ...... you know, .... about ...... being upset?", Duo stuttered nervously, afraid of his image being tarnished.

Wufei turned and looked at Duo,

"You know Duo, I always had a lot of respect for your strength of character", said Wufei, slowly starting to walk away.

"I bet that's all changed now huh?" asked Duo, sounding disappointed.

"It has", replied Wufei, still walking away, "It just doubled".

Do you think I should do a part two or quit while I'm ahead? (Question applicable to this story, and my fanfic writing in general!!) All comments gratefully received

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