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IT'S TOO LATE

Shikami Yamino


"It's Too Late" is property of Weiß -- Second ending to the anime Weiß Kreuz
   [Honou no you na kanashimi iyasu
    Tsumetai ame ga konya wa furi tsuzuku
    Dareka wo aishi dareka wo nikumi
    Itameta mune no oku made shimite yuku]

      The raging fire of sadness dies away
      As the icy rain continues to pour tonight
      Those I love, those I hate,
      Are hidden within my aching heart

The roiling dark clouds that pour out their tears above me seems to suit my mood as I stand here on the corner of a dimly lit street, watching the festivities that are taking place to celebrate the end of the war. A war that was as meaningful as it was meaningless. A war which gave some a purpose in life... A war which took from others so much that retribution is impossible. Of those two categories, I am not sure to which I belong...

For my companions, the war, although having taken some, has left them with so much more. It has left them with a sense of triumph, of relief and of the feeling that from now on they are free to love and to receive love as they saw fit. But yet again, I stand alone in the darkness that threatens to engulf me; my purpose for living slowly ebbing away with the coming of Peace and my dissipating anger no longer enough to hold it to me as it had been the first few days.

I can still see Maxwell's impish grin as he tugs Yuy off to join the dancing crowds. And, though it was hidden well, the former Perfect Soldier could not hide from me the little smile he wore when he followed his braided lover. Obviously the rain had not deterred Maxwell any from his instinct to party and act like a normal teenager. Quatre had strolled off with Trowa's hand firmly in his own, cornflower blue eyes speaking so much in a silent language that only Trowa could understand.

The love that emanates from all four of my companions is almost a tangible thing. And predictably, it only serves to feed the irrational resentment laced with the affection I feel towards each of my comrades. Only serving to remind me of what I had and no longer have. Only driving deeper the ache in my heart that I have become so adept at hiding from everyone but myself.

   [Ano hi shinjita koto
    Sore wo koukai nanka shite nai
    Itsuka wakareru koto
    Unmei no yakusoku da yo to]

      I found I couldn't regret
      What I believed in long ago
      That a day of parting
      Was only destiny's promise...

Do I regret what I did?

On a certain level... Yes. I hated myself, damned myself and would kill myself over and over again if it meant I could have one last moment with him. Instead, all that is burned into my memory is his last words. I didn't even get a chance to see him as I watched from the cockpit of my Altron while Tallgeese II exploded into flames. Flames that signalled the end of a war I and my friends should never have been forced into.

On that rational level, I didn't regret what I'd instigated. Justice had prevailed. It had been imperative that he be gone before the war could officially end and I somehow understood that he would not have allowed himself to die at anyone else's hands but my own. He was as proud as I, and similarly he would not admit defeat to anyone but the one that had allowed him into his heart.

How you have cursed me Treize...

Cursed me not the first time, but the second...

Nataku...

It's as if Destiny is set on making me a pawn in its games, allowing me to love once and then twice, only to take those loves from me when I finally find the strength to admit it to myself. Had I known, I would never have allowed myself to love... Never would have allowed myself to open the heart that I now know would be the end of me.

And yet, how was I to know that the day I held Nataku's bloodied form in my arms would be how Destiny would dictate the rest of my life? How was I to know that Destiny would allow me to walk no other path than the one it had chosen for me?

   [Kiss ga sabishikute kokoro hanareteku
    Futari kako ni aetara yokatta no ni
    Setsunai omoi mo itsuka
    Sotto natsukashiku naru]

      A sorrowful kiss as our hearts go their ways
      The past was better for having been together
      These undying memories I hold
      I'll cherish tenderly, someday.

"Nataku... Nataku!!"

My voice echoed over the field of flowers as the girl in my arms, my wife, left me without another word. Left me to bear the burden of being the strongest, to bear the burden of making myself worthy of her before I joined her in the afterlife.

The tears had streaked down my cheeks then as I hugged her limp body close, something I had never had the courage to do when she was still alive. Something I will regret for the rest of my life.

I had never gotten around to telling her that I loved her.

Our first kiss, as I brush her forehead then her lips with my mine, before I found the strength to pull myself away. Found in pain, the strength to force myself away with blurry vision and a shattered heart.

   ~~~~~~~~~~

"I love you Wufei... but for the sake of peace I do not think we should continue this relationship any further. I am truly sorry, Dragon."

Those words... delivered with such a heavy heart and resigned voice. Delivered with such emotion and regret that they had caused me to freeze, caused me to stand without expression as his last sorrow-filled kiss was pressed to my lips.

Then he had turned and walked away.

And I, like a coward, fled; unable and unwilling to subject myself to any more pain and rejection than I already had.

With those memories, suddenly comes those of the better times and even as I stand here, soaked to my skin, I cannot help but smile bitterly at the scenes which flash past in my head.

Fighting with Nataku, but then the occasional secretive glance as she performs her katas with grace and agility. Held in the protective warmth of Treize's embrace, letting fire warm ourselves as we do nothing but talk, long into the night.

Such memories, specks of brightness in my existence surrounded by the bleakness of war, of death. Specks too bright to throw away and infinitely too precious. Someday, I hope I will have the chance to cherish those memories, allow them to bring me comfort as I sought the brighter moments in my childhood.

But now, all they bring is the undeniable heartache as that imaginary knife digs deeper into my chest, refusing to be dislodged.

   [Naze umareta no ka? naze ikiteru no ka?
    Donna riyuu mo ame ga keshite iku
    Nanni mo tsutawaranakute
    Ai wa kowareru]

      Why were we born? Why do we live?
      The rain washes away all the reasons
      Without anything to follow
      Love can be broken

What was the purpose of this painful existence? Why was I born to live when I would have nothing in my heart but this unescapable ache which devours me as each day passes? Why do I breathe to live when nothing but the rustic smell of blood on my hands taint every breath? Why this continued life when I have nothing to live for?

This soothing rain that heals the world after a long war, it washes away all reasoning I once had. Once I had lived to fight for peace, for justice, for Nataku...

Peace is here, no longer needing myself and my friends to show the way. Justice has been served; corruption banished; leaving a world ready and prepared to heal. And Nataku... Nataku has died. Even my Gundam, which once housed Nataku's spirit, no longer has a purpose in this battered but brighter world.

And I...

I, too, no longer have a purpose...

Unlike my comrades, I have nothing to live for. They live for a life renewed. They live for the peace that they have worked so hard for. But most of all, they live for the partner that shares their every thought and moment. Live for the purity of the love that they have found in each other.

The love that turned its back on me. The love that left me with nothing but a shattered, aching heart. And the love that leaves me no more than a broken doll, empty of all feelings but rejection.

   [Aoi honou wa kioku no na-nori
    Hari no you na ame ga tsuki-sashite yuku
    Dareka no sakebi dareka no yume ga
    Nureta hodou no katasumi iki taeru]

      The memory of names is a flaming stormy blue
      That droplets pierce like a rain of needles
      Someone's wail, someone's hopes
      Smothered on a corner of some drenched street

Shaking myself from my thoughts, I turn my face up to the icy rain and close my eyes, allowing it to wash the unshed tears away. Tears of pain have no place in a place and on a day such as this. A day on which the known universe celebrated peace... A day on which I am alone to remember the painful memories, the ones I've lost, and to ponder the illusive 'what could have been's.

Behind my closed eyes, despite all my willing for it to dissipate, my traitorous heart still manages to conjure up the images of my loved ones. I can still see Nataku's dark eyes flaring at me, challenging me. Meiran... a name which I have not uttered in my mind nor voice for over a year. A name forever branded into my memory along with the stormy blue of another pair of eyes. Eyes that knew war, eyes that knew pain... eyes that loved me. Treize...

It was then that I noticed I was shivering; trembling under the bombardment of needle-like rain... and needle-like memories. It was too much...

Oh Gods I miss you... Meiran... Treize... I miss both of you...

Slowly, I sank to my knees, clenching my eyes around the hot tears that nevertheless began streaking their way down my drenched cheeks.

Why...?

I forcefully choke down the wail of hopelessness that bubbles up inside me. And instead, am glad that the sound of the pouring rain is enough to smother the pitiful mewling that still emits from my throat.

   [Nani mo dekinai kedo
    Hitotsu mamoritai mono ga atta yo
    Tou ni nakushita kara
    Ima wa warau shika nai no sa]

      There is nothing I can do,
      Even for the one I wanted to protect
      Now that one has passed away
      And nothing left but to laugh

After an immeasurable amount of time, the tears finally run themselves dry and I am once again forced back into the cruel arms of reality.

And the simple reality was that I was too weak. Too weak to protect the wife I should have. Too buried in the books to fulfil my duty as a husband. Too afraid to face the fact that I had loved her, cherished her... and too stubborn to admit that I was nothing without her.

I had failed her...

As I had failed Treize...

Failed Treize in that I couldn't think of a better way out of the situation. Failed to stand by him and given him the support that he had needed. Failed to protect that which had given himself to me freely.

The sense of accomplishment at having ended the war was nothing compared to my many failures. Failures that I could never atone enough for. Failures that had cost the two most important people in my life their lives.

In the wake of the tears, self-mocking laughter arose. And this time I let it out. It came out awkward and manic -- the first time I could remember ever laughing. Hearing the hysterical edge, I almost laugh harder. Maxwell would have been proud of my efforts, they almost sound as crazy as his.

It is irrational I know and my mind was screaming for me to shut my mouth and force the laughter down. But finally, my heart understood what Maxwell had said in one of his flip comments that actually showed more of his personality than one would have thought.

"In some situations, the only thing left to do is laugh."

And laugh I did.

   [Ame ga kanashikute subete kanashikute
    Moshi mo shiawase na toki kizametara
    Hakanai negai to shitte
    Sotto namida wo yurasu]

      The rain hurts, all is hopeless
      Even if the joyous times are torn apart...
      I know it is only a vain wish
      And the tears gently trickle down

How I wish everything could go back as it were. No war, no Gundams. No need to kill and no need to murder. No need for nightmares, no need for the pain. No need for the hundreds of souls to have left their bodies ahead of time by my hand.

No need for this ache... No need for regrets...

No need for anything except the loved ones by my side.

What I wouldn't give for a few more minutes with each of them. If only to say the things I only realized I needed to say after they had left. After I was forced to stop running away from my feelings and face up to what my heart had already decided.

A vain wish by a hopeless soul...

The tears are starting again, quietly, almost silently. Mourning for those lost to me. Mourning for those I condemned.

Funny how they mingle so easily with the rain...

Both seeking to pull open the wound in my chest further...

It... hurts...

   [Ame yo furu ga ii honou kieru made
    Soshite yume no utakata wo houmurou
    Nanni mo tsutawaranakute
    Ai wa kowareru
    Ai wa kowareru]

      Let the rain fall until the fire disappears
      Then consign those fleeting dreams to oblivion
      Without anything to follow
      Love can be broken
      Love is broken

I was once told that inside each person is an eternal flame, symbolizing their spirit and will to live, to survive.

I can feel mine diminishing, quenched into hissing steam by the rain that continues to fall around me. From the rain that continues to fall inside me, showing themselves only momentarily in the form of tears.

Those who could stoke that fire back up again were gone. And no matter how much I wanted, how much I dreamed, they weren't going to come back...

They weren't coming back to show me if there was light at the end of the tunnel, they weren't ever going to be here again to guide me through the endless darkness that Fate had damned me to. A darkness devoid of light, life and love. A darkness that was the deepest pit of Hell. A darkness that could only be likened to that of Oblivion.

And without their comforting guidance, I continue to be weak. And I continue to run, from my memories, from my emotions, from my pain, from my love...

Pulling myself to my feet, I raise a hand to wipe the last traces of tears from my face, leaving only the rain that becomes the substitute. And I know my eyes are empty.

Empty of everything... except hopelessness.

Steeling myself, I turn from the meagre light of the street lamp to my right and walk away from the festivities.

Into the shadows.

Into my shadows...

Into the shadows of what's left of my life.

And just before I fully sink into the darkness, of the shadows and of my life, I spare my comrades a lasting wish. Cherish what you have. Every hour, every minute, every second. For only in the one you love will you find the will to truly live. As for me...

It's too late...

It was too late...

A moment...

And an eternity...

Too late...


~~~OWARI~~~


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