The Blood of Peace
Third Movement, the Thirteenth Part: a Requiem Mass
Relena watched the battle from the hilltop and silently prayed. From where she was, she could not hear the horrible din of battle nor see men fall from mortal wounds. But somehow, she felt their pain and sorrow. All around her, servants and retainers had paused in their daily duties to look out onto a battle Treize had deemed as the final one. They saw what she saw, a mass of bodies, Oz undistinguishable from Earthian. From this distance, one could not tell them apart.
"Is my father on that field?"
Startled, Relena looked down to her right. Mariemeia was standing next to her with a sad but fierce look in her too mature eyes. The afternoon sun glared madly in her red hair, giving her a fiery halo. She was too young to watch this. Sometimes, Relena thought she herself was too young to see all this carnage.
"I said, is my father down there?"
Mariemeia's childish voice held steel now, daring Relena to answer differently.
"Yes, he's there. He is fighting for your future."
No matter how much she disagreed with Treize's point of view, she would not make him seem a villain to his child. Every child deserved a hero for a father.
"Father told me before he left that he would not come back. Is that true?"
Mariemeia asked in a dead voice that did not fit her years. Then she slowly turned her head and looked up at Relena. Her eyes were filled with tears and her face held an ageless sorrow of all children who would be orphaned. Relena did not know what to say. For all she knew, Treize wasn't coming back. Could she lie to Mariemeia?
"You know.." Relena began, but she was abruptly interrupted.
"My father is going to die today. He's going to leave the dance. He's going to leave me."
Mariemeia said it with such certainty, such acceptance, that Relena felt her heart break for her. This war was costing Mariemeia the only parent she knew, the only person whom she loved more than herself. And she was so young, too young to know the sorrow of losing someone dear to her heart. Relena could not remember losing her parents, but she had had Milliardo and Noin to love and nurture her. Mariemeia would have her, she supposed, but would she be able to raise this young girl? The questions spun in her head but she had to answer.
"Your father may die today. There is always that danger in battle. If he dies today, it won't be because he wants to leave you. He does not choose to die, Mariemeia. If he could, he would grow old and watch you grow up. That is the wish of every parent."
"If that were true, then why did he tell me that he would leave? He can't leave! He's all I have! He's my father. He's my.. Daddy.." (I took out the second father)
Mariemeia's voice trailed off into silence as she mouthed 'daddy' over and over again. The tears which had only hovered in her eyes fell freely, already mourning the death of her father. Relena could not say anything, so she reached out and surrounded Mariemeia in a hug.
"Don't cry. There is still a good chance that he may come back. Don't give up on him."
Mariemeia pushed away from Relena and glared at her through watery eyes. There was such anger and resentment burning in them that Relena involuntarily shuddered.
"I did not give up on him. He gave up on me! He told me we would dance this waltz together, but he's going to leave and make me stand there all alone. All ALONE."
"You're not alone. You have Une. She loves you dearly. And you have me."
Mariemeia let out a laugh that bordered on madness. Then she looked Relena directly into her eyes and gave a rictus of a smile.
"Lady Une would follow my father into his grave. As for you, you're my father's wife. You are not my mother. I don't even like you. You and that Heero, you are both responsible for killing my father! If you had just sided with him from the beginning, if Heero had just surrendered, my father would not be out there! I hate you! I hate everyone!"
With that, Mariemeia turned and ran to her tent. Relena watched her retreating form and then slowly sank down to her knees. Her legs refused to support her any longer. No matter what she did, someone, somewhere, always hurt. She felt so helpless knowing that Mariemeia would cry until she was sick. And her selfish action of sending Hilde to Heero was causing more deaths. Feeling the nausea in her stomach, Relena doubled over and dry heaved onto the ground before her.
She could still see the accusing eyes of her peace loving people from her dreams, condemning her actions. What could she do but watch now? Suddenly, Relena lifted her head and looked onto the battlefield once again. With renewed emotions, she stood and purposely started to walk towards the field. She would not sit here and watch people die from a distance. Duo's words from a seemingly long ago past drifted through her head. She did not know death. She did not know the true measure of suffering. She would go and see for herself now. She would no longer hide behind her ideals, but instead go forth and experience them. If she wanted to rule in the name of peace, then she would know the true face of war.
WuFei felt the sheer weightlessness of Altron slice through bone and armor with equal ease. He was like the mist; there, but not there. He moved too swiftly for anyone to land a decent hit, and killed too efficiently for anyone to have a chance of survival. Everywhere he went, Oz soldiers fell in groups. Right beside him, his stubborn wife was cutting a swath almost as wide as his. Her sword flashed and spun gracefully, just like his wife. The look on her face was frozen, however. As much as she had goaded him into taking her into battle, she did not enjoy this. She was in this war because she believed that war was wrong and also because she wanted to protect him. She had not said so, but it was evident. As aggravating and frustrating as she was, Meiran cared for him deeply. Just like he cared for her. He would make sure she left this field the way she came into it; alive, spirited and joyous. WuFei saw more soldiers coming at him and he ran to meet them.
Soon, he and Altron were engaged in another skirmish. WuFei knew who the victor would be - these boys were no match for him. Showing mercy, WuFei killed them quickly and as painlessly as possible. Deep inside, he felt sorry for their families who would not see them again. He was so engaged in his thoughts and his fight that he did not notice Meiran running towards him. All of a sudden, he felt a body impact into his and then he was on the ground with Meiran laying on top of him.
"Girl, you're lucky that I killed all those boys or we would be sporting several nasty stab wounds. What is wrong with you?"
When Meiran did not answer, WuFei felt something in his soul scream in pain.
"Girl, answer me. Wife?"
Trying to keep the panic out of his voice, he got up carrying Meiran with him. What he saw terrified him more than anything.
"Are.. Are you okay, husband?"
Meiran's voice was husky and thick, just as if she was drowning. WuFei heard her but was still in shock. The arrow which had been meant for him was now in Meiran's back with the front end protruding grotesquely from her small bosom. Blood was rapidly staining her white tunic. In his shock, all WuFei could think was that Meiran would bitch tomorrow about the blood stain because it was ruining her favorite tunic.
"Are you hurt, WuFei?"
Meiran's quiet and whispery voice finally penetrated the fog of his mind. Blindly, WuFei looked around for Sally. For anyone. This was not happening.
"Wife, I'm taking you back. Sally will get this arrow out and you can have a great time ordering me around until you recover. Hold on to me."
The desperation showed through clearly in his jerky actions and strained voice. Not noticing the shaking of his hands, WuFei reached out for Meiran when she grasped his hand in her own bloodstained ones.
"WuFei, there is nothing you can do. I don't think I'm gonna make it."
Suddenly angry, WuFei yelled at his wife.
"Girl, don't give up! One wound and you're ready to throw it all in. I swear, you don't agree with me on anything!"
Smiling weakly, Meiran squeezed WuFei's hand.
"We could not see eye to eye too often, WuFei. But I still.. I still.. love.. you.."
WuFei felt warmth trickle down his cheeks and watched in wonder as some of it splattered onto Meiran's dried and chapped lips. He saw Meiran dart out her tongue to take his tears into her mouth. He saw her body wrack itself in a terrible cough, blood spewing from her mouth. It was too unreal. This was not real. It couldn't be.
"Wife, what are you saying? You are going to be embarrassed when you are better. You can't take those words back."
"I don't want to, WuFei. Before I die, I wanted you to know how much I love you. How I will miss you. How I will wait for you in the other world."
Meiran's voice became weaker and weaker during her sentence, but WuFei did not miss a word. His wife always accused him of not listening to her when she spoke to him. This time, she would not be able to yell at him for that.
"Meiran.. Don't leave me.."
Meiran smiled. It was the first time that her husband had called her by her name. Her eyes could no longer make out the face of her only beloved, but she still heard his voice. Her throat could not seem to utter another word, but she heard his words.
"Meiran.. Who is going to yell at me? Who will tease me? Who will love me? If you leave, what am I to do?"
Meiran felt more tears drip onto her face. Her husband, so much the warrior of justice and honor, was crying over her. He was hurting because of her. She had to speak, even if it was so painful that she longed for death.
"WuFei, you live. Live for me. I'll be waiting for you. Remember, husband? The night.. the night.. does not last.. forever.."
With the last of her strength, Meiran blindly reached up and caressed WuFei's face. Then her arm went slack and she breathed out her last quiet breath. WuFei stared at his wife with unbelieving eyes. Meiran had a gentle smile on her face, the smile she had only bestowed upon him when she had thought he was not watching. It was filled with love, even in death. Death. She was dead. WuFei heard a voice screaming like a wounded animal. He heard the voice continue to scream and scream. He did not know that it was he who screamed endlessly.
"Meiran! Meiran! MEIRAN!!!!!"
The pain in his voice forced the soldiers advancing upon him to halt in their tracks. No one came near him. Through the ranks of the enemy who were standing still came Heero and Duo. They stopped just before WuFei and Meiran. They saw WuFei holding Meiran in his arms. He was crying, he was screaming. He had buried his head into Meiran's hair, holding his fallen wife so tightly and closely to him that there were no spaces between their bodies.
"Dear gods, no. Not this. Anything but this."
Duo's horrified voice trailed over WuFei's grief. WuFei looked up into the eyes of his brothers who stood so still in front of him. His eyes were red and filled with tears and pain.
"Tell me why this happened. Tell me why I am holding my wife's lifeless body in my arms! Tell me why I have her blood all over me.
GODDAMN IT, TELL ME!!!!!!"
Duo and Heero flinched from the sheer intensity of pain in his voice. The agony vibrated out from his heart to theirs. They saw a proud warrior holding his beautiful and spirited wife in his arms. They saw a grieving husband who could not let go of her body. They saw an angry, uncomprehending man whose face was streaked with tears and blood. Most of all, they saw WuFei, their honorable brother, lost and lonely. Oz and Earthian alike stood by and watched the terrible grief of one man on the battle field. His tears were theirs, his anguished screams echoed alike in their souls. In this moment of death, all were united in grief for this young warrior. And somehow, in a gentle breeze, everyone heard a quiet statement uttered in a feminine voice.
'The night does not last forever, WuFei.'