Regret (part 2)
Heero... I'm dying. the words echoed through the stillness, there meaning lost to the Japanese pilot who lay in the grass, "What are you talking about?" he asked, passing the statement off as a bad joke.
"I'm sick and I'm not going to get better. I'm dying, Heero."
Heero rolled onto his side and glared at him, "You're not funny."
"I'm not trying to be." Duo took a deep breath, "It's the real reason why Quatre is coming here to visit me. I called him a few weeks ago to pass along the news I got from my doctors. We both tried to locate you and the others but you were always on duty somewhere and God only knows where Trowa and Wufei have gone off. I wanted to see you all again, ya know, one last time. You're the only family I've got."
This can't be real. Duo can't die. He has so much life in him. Death can't die. Heero's thoughts blanketed his mind in shadows, a frantic terror held deep behind his cold and unmoving eyes, "How long do you have?" the voice was detached, almost machine like.
Duo opened his eyes and rolled his head to the side, looking at his friend with red eyes, "They say a month at most. I don't buy that thought. What they really mean is that I've got two to three weeks of living, and one or two of lying in bed, waiting to die. What a lousy way to go, ne? No blaze of glory as Deathscythe and I self-destruct and take a sector of mobile dolls with us, no heroics, just drifting off into an endless slumber." he stood up, shaking he droplets of water from his bangs, "We should probably be heading back. I've still got chores to do and lunch is in no way ready. Unless you want to be eating cereal, I suggest you get up too."
The change in attitude was astounding. One minute the braided boy was telling him he was going to die and in the next, he was worried about chores and meals.
"Are you lying to me?"
"I'm dead serious. You don't get off your soaking wet ass and get up to the house you're going to be eating Captain Crunch."
Heero stood, his prussian eyes narrowed into a scornful glare, "You know what I mean. Are you just telling me this as an excuse to keep me here longer?"
Duo took off up the hill with short strides, watching out for patches of mud on which he might sip, "I learned a long time ago the difference between an excuse and a reason. I want you to stay here, Heero. I don't want to die alone in that house, have my last days pass without a memory to share with anyone. You know that philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods, right?"
Heero shook his head, "What about it?"
"It goes like this; If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound."
"But how can you be sure?"
"Listen to me, Heero!" Duo interrupted neither stopping nor slowing in his incline towards the house, "Forget about hearing the tree an just listen to me. What I was trying to get at was that if between now and my death, if no one is around to see me live, whose to say I did? I don't mean live as in to be alive, but to have made the best of my time, to have not just given in to the inevitable and carried on. I don't want to fade away into nothing. I want to have meant something to somebody. Like now. With you."
Heero listened, his senses numb, "I thought that was why Quatre was coming here."
Duo shook his head, "It's different with Quatre."
A kind smile crept upon the heart shaped face, "Quatre's coming here out of concern. He feels a need to be here because he is my friend. But you.. you came here on you own, without an excuse.. just to see me." he sighed and kicked at a rock buried deep in the mud, "With you, I know I can make a difference too. There are so many things in life that you've yet learned to appreciate and I know I'm just the guy to remind you what it's like to live." He turned his head to smile at his friend but stopped suddenly, and stared out behind him.
The American reached out for Heero's shoulders and turned him around to face the hill. A long ribbon of colored light hung in the sky, radiant against the grey-blue background, "For instance, bet you never sat back and enjoyed a rainbow before."
Heero stared in awe, "No... not in a long time."
Duo smiled, quite pleased with himself, "You know, a rainbow is the symbol of one of Gods greatest promises."
"Really," Heero turned back and started towards the house once more, "Your just full of useless information, aren't you."
He turned his head at the sound of his name, "Hm?"
"Promise me you'll stay. I'll do anything."
Anything? Then don't die..."Duo, I...." he sighed, "I'll stay as long as I can. I can't promise any more than that."
Duo caught up with him and laid a warm hand on his shoulder, "I can accept that. Thank you, buddy. It really does mean a lot to me. So, tomato soup or chicken?"
You just told me you were dying... are you completely insane or are you just trying to make me feel better with that smile of yours?
"I don't want to be an inconvenience. I'll make lunch if you want."
"Whoa, hold it, Yuy." Duo stood in front of the door, his arms pushing against the frame, "Let's get one thing straight before we put this all behind us, okay? I don't want you to treat me differently, you got that? No special treatment. I may be dying but I'm not incapable of doing things for myself or others. I'm no different from the Duo Maxwell you were playing in the rain with a few minutes ago. So don't treat me that way."
Heero raised an inquisitive eyebrow, "No special treatment?" with that, he grabbed Duo by his arms and tossed him over his back and into the lawn behind him. The grass and mud broke his fall but the sheer surprise of the event cause the air to be forced from the young mans lungs, "Oi -cough- Heero! That doesn't mean -cough- you -cough- can pull that shit!"
Heero sneered and pulled the door open, walking immediately towards the bathroom, "I need a hot shower. Call me when lunch is ready."
"Hai, Heero. Just put your wet -cough- cloths in the hamper outside the door so I can put the in laundry."
Heero nodded and closed the bathroom door. He turned the water on and watched the slow currents bead against the cold porcelain surface of the tub. Heero stripped down to nothing and placed his soaked clothing in the happier by the door as he'd been instructed to do. Duo can't be dying. The thought raced threw his mind, leaving painful pressure throughout his scull. It just wasn't possible though. Duo was only in his twenties, the war was over, they had all survived… barely. They'd fought side by side and in some cases even fought each other. But they had still survived. How could one of them die now? Let alone the one of them who truly knew what it was like to live. The warm steam fogged the mirrors and filled his lungs with soothing vapor. The warm water felt wonderful, a dividing contrast between the icy chill in his heart. At least in the shower, no one can tell the dampness on your cheeks are tears.
Quatre arrived a few days later, bags of gifts and luggage seeming to sprout from his body. He put down the heavy bags and knocked at the door, trying to keep back tears he promised himself he wouldn't shed. The door opened but instead of the bright and cheerful American he had expected, a dark and brooding Heero Yuy stood before him.
"Heero! It's great to see you! Where's Duo? Is he well?" The words flowed like a train from his lips, each one following the other in rapid succession. Heero gathered what he could from it and helped Quatre inside, "Duo's fine. He's watching TV right now. We weren't expecting you till tomorrow."
"I couldn't wait any longer. I've been so worried."
Heero nodded, "I bet you have." He took the bags and heaved them into the guestroom across the hall from his own, the bags sagging deeply into the worn matrices, "Duo said he wanted you to have this room."
Quatre looked around the room with surprise written all over his face. It was beautiful. Every wall was littered with pictures of the five of them, hang out like normal kids would, having fun.
"He thought you might appreciate this room more than others."
Quatre felt his crystal eyes well up, "It's wonderful." He reached out with trembling hands and took from the wall a framed picture, smiling down at the image. Duo was always such a ham. As always and as could be expected, Heero stood beside him, a scornful look on his face. What an unlikely pair of friends, Quatre thought. He was there too, of course. Right along Trowa, his best friend. Funny how they'd all grown apart. Wufei stood in the back, almost lost and separated from the group. Quatre remembered this picture. It was the last time they had all been together, and if something didn't happen fast, maybe the last. Weather by play of imagination or the glare from the lights, the image of Duo suddenly vanished from the scene. It was devastating to see only the four, subdued faces of himself and friends behind the glass in the frame. Somehow, without Duo's cheeky smile, it just wasn't complete. He placed the photo back on the wall, pleased to note it had returned to it's original form. He turned to see Heero still standing in the room, a forlorn look in his eyes that betrayed this stony expression.
"Where's Duo?" Quatre asked again, forcing himself to smile.
Heero gestured down the hall with his hand, eyes transfixed on the faces on the walls. Quatre nodded in appreciation and stepped quickly from the room, "Duo? Oi, Duo? I'm here!"
"Quatre!" came a cheery reply. Duo sprang from his seat at the couch, his fingers quickly finding the mute button on the remote, "I'm over here, buddy!"
The small blonde jogged joyfully into the room and wrapped his arms around his friend, "Duo! You look great! I thought.. I feared… I-"
Duo noticed the red tint to his friends eyes and gave his a reassuring squeeze, "Hey, Quatre, don't look so down!" he pulled away from the embrace and smiled winningly, "I'm fine. I'm glad you made it here all right. I wasn't planning on seeing you till tomorrow though! I would have cleaned up."
"So Heero told me. How have thing been sense we last spoke?"
Duo seemed to come alive with renewed interest, "Man, you wouldn't believe it! We had so much fun over these past few days."
"Did you tell him?"
"Yea. I got to thinking about what you said. You're right. If I didn't tell him, he'd probably hate me for it, especially knowing that he'd just seen me a few weeks prior. It's better he knows. This way, I at least have two of my best pals to keep me company!"
Quatre's crystal eyes watered, "Still can't find the other, huh?"
Duo shook his head, plopping back down onto his favorite seat, "I've all but given up on them. I've traced just about every circus rout from her to earth and back and my search for a freelance Chinese mercenary hasn't come up with much either."
Quatre nodded, seating himself down on one of the bright blue chairs, "So… you and Heero been having a good time?"
"The best!" Duo practically leapt from his seat, "Have you ever heard him laugh? I mean, really laugh? Not that twisted battle laugh but a real genuine one?"
The Arabian shook his head.
"It's amazing to think such a cold person could make such a beautiful sound! I never thought I'd live to see the day."
You wouldn't have if Heero hadn't shown up that day. Quatre thought, fighting his tears once again, "If Heero showed up unexpectedly, then maybe the others will too."
"We can hope," Duo folded his arms behind his head and starred at the starry ceiling above, "And we can pray."
Heero stepped into the room, his footsteps echoing in the silence of the room, "Duo, I have to go now."
Duo sat up straight, betrayal written across his face, "Your… your leaving? Now?"
Heero nodded, a slow incline of his head, "I promised you I would stay as long as I could and I have."
"I know.. but I thought that maybe… that…"
"I'm sorry, Duo," The Japanese man shook his head, his dark brown hair falling before his eyes like the curtain of a stage, "I have to go." Having brought nothing with him, Heero walked immediately to the door. Duo quickly followed him, "You'll be back though, won't you?"
Back for what? To watch you die? To watch you as that light in your eyes dims and fades away? "We'll see."
"Heero! Please, promise me you'll be back!"
Heero kept his back to his friend, fearing he may loose his courage if he turned and looked into those hurt filled eyes, "I can't do that. Gomen ne, Duo. We'll see."
"Wait, Heero! Heero!"
The man walked on, not bothering to turn nor reply. Duo watched his back as he left him again. How long will you be gone this time, Heero? Will I be here when you return?
Quatre pulled at Duo's arm, beckoning him to come back within the house, "Come on, Duo. He'll be back. I know it. You look like crap, let me make you some soup or something, all right?"
Duo nodded, absently fiddling with the end of his braid, his gaze still transfixed on the form of his friend traveling into the distance, I have faith in you, Heero Yuy. You'll be back. I know it. You'll come back. With no better purpose than to just be with me.
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