Duo sat in a corner of the dimly lit room. His braid was in front of him and inside of his shaking hands as he untied it slowly. His eyes remained strained on his long hair as he continued to untie the braid. Duo's body jolted suddenly when a shrill ring pierced the air. Blinking slowly, he rose to his feet and immediately teetered to the side, slamming his shoulder into the wall. He walked along it, sliding his body against the wall and finally reached the phone on its sixth ring. Fumbling one handed with the reciever, Duo brought the mouthpiece beside his mouth.
"...Yeah?" he asked, his voice cracking slightly into the reciever. There was a pause before a girls voice spoke up.
"Hey...Duo?" Hilde asked, her voice holding confusion in it.
"Hm?" Duo replied back, turning his back and letting it hit the wall as he sank back down to the floor.
"...Have you been drinking?" She asked apprehensively.
Duo only bobbed his head once.
"Duo? Answer me." Hilde pressed on, her voice rising a note.
"Only a couple...sips.." Duo responded slowly, throwing his head back with a thunk as it hit the wall.
Duo stared up at the ceiling as Hilde started to talk into the reciever. "I don't know what's wrong with you anymore. You just drifted into this-this depression, Duo, and you're starting to really make me worry. I care a lot for you, and what you're doing now is not only harming you..but it's hurting the people around you. Could you please just come outside for once and tell them that yo--"
Duo dropped his hand with a stifled groan, letting the reciever fall onto his leg. He leaned forward, grunting, and rubbed inbetween his eyes with a shaking hand. Hilde's voice grew tinny inside of the reciever and Duo sat up on his knees, setting it down onto the hard wood floor.
"Duo! Oh God...just please--answer me!" Hilde's voice rose up to his ears and he could hear her crying. Duo just shook his head once and then looked to the side as his loose hair wrapped around his shoulders. Throwing his hand onto the wall, he stood up slowly and pressed his side against it for support. He shook his head again, throwing back his long hair and then took an uncertain step towards the desk at the far side of the room.
Shuffling his feet, he pulled out the rolling chair and nearly fell when the seat twisted in his shaking hands. Straightening his back, Duo laid a knee into the seat and opened a drawer inside of the desk. A shrill beeping caught his blurred attention and he turned his head slightly, his eyes darting around in a vain effort to locate the noise. His hand in the drawer fell onto something cold and smooth and Duo returned his attention to the task at hand. Grunting slightly, Duo let out a small burp and straightened himself from the chair, holding up a pair of scissors.
He held onto the pair of scissors tightly, his palm resting easily against the sharp shears as he walked back to the phone. The shrill beeping noise was coming from the reciever. Duo just stared at it for a moment before taking a quick step towards the reciever and punting it. The phoneline dragged behind it violently and then slammed into the opposing wall, tearing the phone jack out from its place.
Duo felt a little better after that extertation of energy and continued his walk to the bathroom. He had to steer away from the empty beer bottles that littered the floor, but a stray one underneath a loose rug caught him off guard. Letting out a short cry, Duo fell right onto his back, banging the back of his head against another bottle.
"Ahh...sheee...." he winced out between his teeth, feeling something hot and warm cut into his palm. Lifting his hand up, Duo examined the scissors before letting his hand drop to his side. He slowly turned on his side, but his head began to swim. Swinging his arm with the scissors in his hand, Duo, passed out on the floor, a trickle of blood escaping from the back of his head.
"Ah now, Duo. You're going to need to do something about that hair there." Sister Anne said, tugging at his head to still him.
"No! Don't touch my hair!" Duo yelled out, pulling from her hands and holding his head protectively.
"Tsk. Your hairs so dirty and tangled, Duo. You need to cut it off." Sister Anne pressed on, crouching down slightly to the child's level. Her habit restricted a lot of her movement, but Sister Anne just watched Duo thoughtfully. Duo, on the other hand, stood pressed against the wall, staring at Sister Anne as if she'd spring out at him. Sister Anne noted the boys look and frowned, feeling her heart go out to the orphan. They had found him on the steps of the Maxwell church and the poor boy couldn't recall anything about how he got there. He was originally wearing a dingy white tee-shirt, but Father Maxwell gave him a new outfit and Sister Anne had been assigned to the child.
He had been fairly easy to get along with, but his eyes were always moving and the child was in constant motion. One thing Sister Anne learned early on was about his longing to hold onto that mane of filth he called his hair.
Watching the child now, Sister Anne thought that maybe young Duo held onto his hair was for the mere fact that that was all he had. Sister Anne extended her hand out, keeping her palm flat and watched Duo with a small smile.
"I'm sorry about that Duo, but I just worry for you, that's all." Sister Anne stated in her soft Irish accent, watching the boy with a warm look in her eyes. Duo only stared at her hand, his brow knitted tightly into a firm line. With a sigh, Sister Anne lowered her hand to the floor and then rose up from her position.
"Well..come on now. I won't cut your hair, but we still need to clean it, Duo. I don't want you getting the mange, all right?" she stated curtly, turning around and busying herself with a towel and walked down the long hallway. After a slight pause, Duo followed Sister Anne quietly, never letting go of his hair inbetween his hands.
"Urrgh! Oww! Don't pull so hard!" Duo squeeled out, pulling his head down and holding the back of his head. Sister Anne put a hand underneath of his chin and righted his face to look into the mirror and continued brushing his hair with the wide-toothed comb. Duo scrunched up his face but didn't struggle as his head bobbed up and down with every stroke of the comb. Sister Anne had quite a struggle trying to get him to wash his hair, so she had to do it herself. In no time at all, the clean bathwater turned a pale brown with dirt and had to be emptied twice before she was satisfied with the cleaning.
Once Duo's hair was slick and clean, Sister Anne left him in the chair and busied herself at a sidetable. Duo fidgetted slightly in the chair and watched Sister Anne out the corner of his eye.
"What're you doing?" He asked, a look of worry sweeping over his eyes. Sister Anne took out a long piece of black string and walked behind him, turning his head to face the mirror straight ahead of him again. Sister Anne took his hair in her deft fingers and parted it into three long strands. She put the string inbetween her teeth and set to work braiding his long hair. Duo sat there, blinking slowly as she pulled at his hair. "What're you doing?" He asked again, his voice rising a little on the last note.
"Don't worry so, Duo. I'm just tying your hair back so it won't get in your way and get all messy again. This way, you won't have to have your hair cut, okay?" Sister Anne replied, taking the string out of her mouth and tying the ends of his hair.
"There you go now. Nice and clean." She said, smiling warmly at him. Duo slid from the seat and turned sideways, looking at his profile in the mildewed mirror. A smile lit his face when he saw the long braid and his hands instantly went to the tip of his hair, toying with the ends of it.
Duo turned and smiled at Sister Anne, curling an arm around her waist and hugging her as tight as he could muster, burying his face into her habit. Sister Anne stroked the back of his head and thanked God that he'd finally settled down long enough for a cleaning.
Duo drifted back into consciousness with a soft groan. Lifting his head up, his eyes rolled back and he rolled slowly onto his back, letting out a long groan. The alchohol he had consumed was starting to work up inside of him again. Duo slowly sat up, letting his hand stretch out behind him for support. Skidding his feet backwards, he got into a crouch and took in a gulp of air, feeling like he was going to hurl. His hand slipped to his side and Duo cried out when a sharp pain sliced into his finger. Clasping his wounded hand, Duo looked down at the pair of scissors apprehensively. After a moment, he stretched out his bloodied hand and grabbed the cold scissors, tucking it close into the palm of his hand. Steadying himself with his other hand, Duo rose up from his position, his knees cracking as they straightened out. He wiped at his brow with the back of his hand, but got a smear of blood across it.
His hand didn't hurt since the alchohol was too strong in his system, but Duo could still see ahead of him in his dazed state. Taking a tentative step towards the bathroom, he looked down at where he walked and kicked at that stray bottle that was under the rug. Duo tilted his head back, gulping some wanted air as his stomach heaved. Stumbling over his feet, his face crashed into the bathroom door and spit covered it as he gasped out. He fumbled with the knob, shaking at it furiously as he felt another surge of nausea take ahold of him. Duo opened the door finally, falling forward and slammed his elbow into the doorknob as he fell. Turning quickly, he skidded against the bathroom tile and fell on his knees beside the bathtub. Letting out a gurgle, Duo vomited up all the alchohol that was inside of his system. His forehead dropped against the side of the tub and Duo started to bang his head slowly against it.
Tears welled up in his eyes and he coughed up some excess bile and spit. He lifted his hands to the back of his head, sniffling and shaking visibly, and dragged his fingers through his hair, untieing it fully from its braid. The back of his head was wet and sticky and when Duo dragged his hand back to his eyes, he saw that his fingers were covered in a thin layer of blood. Duo closed his eyes and dropped his head to the side, breathing deep raspy breaths. His hands fell beside him and Duo fell back into a haze, whimpering softly.
Duo searched frantically for Father Maxwell through the wreckage. He kept on calling out, but no one answered. The ground was still hot and it burned through Duo's shoes, but he kept on running through the rubble. A mat of blonde hair caught Duo's attention and he bolted to it, falling to his knees.
"Si-Sister Anne!" He cried out, tears streaming from his eyes. He cradled her face but she didn't even look up at him. A dark bruise was evident on her cheek and blood was running freely from a wound on her neck. Duo's hands started to shake as he stared at the nun, blinking back the anslaught of tears. He lowered his face beside hers, weeping into her hair.
Duo was the only survivor of the Maxwell Church burning.
With a soft noise, Duo drifted back again. He blinked slowly, breathing in his own bile and then choked. He fell to the side, leaning heavily on his hand and continued on with his coughing fit. A sudden thought of sense drifted into his incoherant head, and Duo hoisted his weight onto the toilet seat, grappling for the sink. With a choked gasp, he fumbled with the water faucet and dunked his head into the stream of cold water.
The water suddenly grew hot and Duo jerked his head away from the sink, slapping his cheeks. He spit in the mirror, staring doggedly at his own reflection. His eyes were sunk and had dark circles surrounding them. His face was thin and hollowed out. Wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand, Duo fumbled across the wall for a towel to clean up all the mess...
"Oh Duo!" Hilde said, running to him and then stopped, a look of shock crossing her face.
"Your hair!" She cried out.
Duo sheepishly smoothed down his short hair, smiling at her with a crooked grin.
"Well...I needed a change of style, y'know."
Hilde threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. He returned the embrace by picking her up off the ground and holding her just as tightly.
"It'll be alright now, Duo. We'll get you some help.." She said, kissing his cheek softly.
Duo nodded once and smiled weakly down at her.
"I don't like the haircut..."