Bars of light and shadow dappled over the tense, still face bathed faintly in the greenish glow of the computer monitor. As far as the Arabian pilot could tell, Heero hadn't twitched a single muscle since his last visit, over an hour ago.
"Not in yet?" Quatre asked softly.
Heero remained silent, gaze fixed unwaveringly on the screen. There was still no incoming data from the freshly-recent mission. Still no news.
Quietly Quatre set a tray of food by Heero's elbow. He might as well have been a piece of furniture for all the reaction he got from the Wing Gundam pilot. He hesitated for a long moment, uncertain, then slowly shuffled out.
Heero's eyes barely flicked towards the door as it closed behind the blond pilot. All his attention, his entire will, was focused on the computer. It was the only reliable means, in this backwoods retreat, of finding out what had happened.
"Damn you, Duo," he uttered quietly. "You promised... remember?"
[Mission time: 2:35]
Takeoff was achieved with his usual almost machine precision. Everyone had their separate mission, and then the rendezvous point. The only thing that filled him, as usual, was the rushing flood of blood against his eardrums, until he could almost taste its coppery spread across his tongue.
Explosions were so thick and fast, it was hard to distinguish any one in particular.
It only came to matter to him, later, when Gundam Shinagami did not report in. Then, he raked over every single blast within his sensors' scope, searching for the telltale components of one of their distinctive gundams.
"Everyone is here!" Wufei yelled. "Everyone who's coming, so we have to get out now!"
"Duo isn't here yet," Heero observed, maintaining his usual monotone. He flicked his viewscreens to their highest gain. Nothing. Damn it, still nothing.
"We have to go!" Trowa added firmly. "My sensors show incoming over that low range of hills. It's now or never."
Heero cursed under his breath as they began to lift off.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you leaving without me!?" the familiar voice crackled over their comm channel.
Heero's mouth twitched.
"Duo!" Quatre cried out happily. "Where are you?"
"Coming up -- on your left!" Duo responded, and Heero heard the catch in his voice. He glanced sharply to the left.
"Duo, what's wrong?" he demanded, before he even spotted Gundam Deathscythe.
"Nothing that making port won't cure!" the American pilot replied cheerfully. He caught sight of his lover's gundam and spotted it instantly.
"Duo -- put down NOW, goddammit-"
"Don't be stupid, we've got half a fleet on our tails-"
"NOW, Duo! Or you're gonna-"
Deathscythe exploded, as the ruptured fuel line sprayed loose completely, sparking from the loose connectors. Heero could only stare in openmouthed shock even as his programmed flight reflexes kicked in, pushing Wing Gundam to the limits -- getting him the hell out of there.
The molten pieces fell like bloody rain from the sky.
The golden-haired boy returned hesitantly to the room where Heero sat in silent vigil, glancing at the untouched tray. "Heero -- you haven't eaten." He hadn't even moved.
Quatre refused to be intimidated. "Heero -- we still don't know--"
"Don't be stupid," Heero spat. "No one could've survived that wreck. Not even me."
"It's an unconfirmed ró"
"If you're trying to cheer me up, you can leave," the Japanese pilot snarled.
Quatre hesitated, wishing Trowa were here with him. He knew that his tall lover would have a better chance of withstanding the barely- veiled promise of violence beneath Heero's words. Heero was obviously suffering, and not just from the pain of the few wounds he'd sustained. But Quatre didn't know how to help him. Only one boy could do that. Finally he left, leaving the tray of food behind him hoping maybe Heero would make use of it.
Heero trailed his fingertips over the face of the unresponsive monitor. The fiberglass was cold to his touch.
Say it. Say it again.
Heero... as long as I live.
I love you.