Duo Loses It
Quatre tried to approach the situation with some delicacy. "Duo," he began, then faltered, unsure how to go on. Duo gazed at him with innocent, guileless little angel eyes. His halo practically outshone the fluorescent lights.
Quatre tried again. "Duo," he repeated, more formally. "You see, Duo, once in a while--that is, I mean, occasionally--occasionally, um, well . . . "
"We want to be alone," Trowa filled in bluntly.
Duo sighed, and tried not to let his disappointment reach his face. He might have wheedled Quatre into letting him come along, but never Trowa.
The Arab pilot seemed both relieved and concerned. "I'm sorry, Duo. Maybe next time? But we've sort of been planning what we want to do. And--um--well, you see--"
"There isn't room for three." This from Trowa, again.
Duo dutifully nodded.
"But Heero is sticking around, isn't he?" Quatre asked, trying to be
cheerful. "He'll do something with you, won't he?"
"Heero?" Duo retorted in disbelief.
"Oh," Quatre blushed. "Sorry. You're right. Well, Wu Fei . . . ?"
"Isn't speaking to me."
"Oh. Well, I'm really, awfully sorry, Duo, but we really have to get going and if we could take you we would, but we--well, that is, Trowa and I, we--"
"Are leaving now," Trowa finished. He stood, and shouldered a duffel bag.
"We'll see you later, Duo. If there's an emergency, you'll have to go to Heero."
Duo summoned a bright smile for the two. "Sure," he said. "Have fun, whatever you're doing. Don't worry about me. I'll find something."
Quatre smiled back, and patted his friend on the shoulder. "Right. We'll see you later."
"Thanks. See you, Duo." Happily attaching himself to Trowa's hip, Quatre and his quiet partner left.
As soon as the door shut, the grin slid off Duo's face, replaced by an expression of wistful sadness. He turned to gaze at the closed door leading to Heero's room, shared now with Wu Fei after his fight with Duo. Who knew that the Chinese boy was so sensitive about his precious Nataku? It had just been some playful teasing. Duo hadn't meant anything by it.
Duo sighed. It was raining outside. It matched his mood.
Standing, he poked his head in Heero's room, saw that Wu Fei was not immediately visible, and stepped inside. Heero, inevitably, sat before his computer.
"Hi, Heero," Duo grinned.
"Go away," Heero grunted. His eyes didn't even leave the screen.
Duo wilted. "Um." He toyed with the tip of his braid, and lifted it to his lips to chew on the silky hairs. "Um, I was wondering if you'd like to do something."
"Maybe I could make you lunch? Would you like that?"
Heero tore his eyes away from the computer to glare that trademarked Heero glare at him. "Omae o k--" he began, growling deep in his throat.
Duo backed off, hands raised. "Sorry! I'm going." He hurried out, and shut the door after him. He heard Heero grumble briefly, then settle in again.
Duo scrounged around and found a coat. He thought it might have belonged to the previous tenant of the cramped little motel. It didn't smell too bad, so he wrapped himself in it, took the scarf that had been stuffed in one holey pocket, and scribbled a note. Just in case anyone decided to care where he was. Then he braved the blast of cold, damp air that hit him when he flung open the door, and he lurched out into the rain.
As much as he dreaded seeing the angles of a steeple and the sharp spearing thrust of a cross against the darkening sky, that was what he saw almost immediately. Duo made a conscious decision to turn away and maybe find a club--but his feet didn't seem to be paying attention to his head, and so he wound through the streets and followed that cross until he stood in front of the church.
It was warm, dimly lit, and surprisingly clean, given the neighborhood. He headed into the nave.
Duo knelt slowly behind a pew, and assumed a position for prayer. But he couldn't focus his thoughts. He had reached the all-too-familiar state of depression where he couldn't hold onto a thought for more than a few seconds. His mind kept racing back to Quatre gently trying to tell him to get lost, to Wu Fei screaming at him about Nataku not being a stupid joke. He was also very hungry.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up. A middle-aged man, probably the priest, smiled down at him. "You seem to have a lot to say to our Lord," he observed.
"Um," Duo said, mostly to avoid lying. He shifted cramped leg muscles, and realized dimly that he'd been kneeling there for a long time. "Am I disturbing something, Father?"
"Call me Max." The older man gestured for him to sit, then perched beside him. "No, you're not disturbing anything. It's just so rare to see a devout young man like yourself in our house."
"Don't get many visitors?" Duo guessed. He looked around. "That's too bad. It's very peaceful here."
"I'm glad you think so." The priest smiled.
"I'm Duo," Duo introduced himself, holding out his hand. The man took it and gripped it firmly, then reached out to touch the crucifix Duo wore.
"That's lovely," he said.
Duo fingered it, suddenly downcast. "It belonged to a man I respected very much. He gave it to me, just before he . . . " He trailed off.
"I'm sorry," Max said simply.
Duo tried to smile, surprised to feel actual tears pricking the backs of his eyes. Since when was he so weepy? He should have better control of himself.
"Would you like to talk about it?"
*Metallic smell of blood overlaying decaying flesh--all those bodies, and the crows--* To his further amazement, Duo discovered that he did. "It was a long time ago," he shrugged, uncomfortable.
"That doesn't matter."
"Naw... " Duo wiped his eyes furiously, not wanting the priest to see him cry like a baby; then suddenly he couldn't hold it back, it all came crashing down, Trowa and Quatre dismissing him and Wu Fei hating him and Heero never knowing he was alive--and he was aware of warm arms going around him while he wept.
"Shhh," he heard the whisper. "Let it out. It's all right, Duo."
"It--it hurts so much sometimes," he choked. "So much I can't stand it. They were the only good people in my life--they were the only ones who ever wanted me."
"That isn't true."
"It is! No one else cares, and why *should* they?" He hiccoughed. "I know I'm annoying and I talk too much and sometimes I say things that go too far--"
"It's part of your charm, Duo."
"I know I make people mad at me," he mumbled, hiding his face in the dark fabric of the man's shirt. "But I don't mean to. I want people to like me. I want them to like me so I won't be alone... "
There was a long pause. "Do you really feel--alone?"
He nodded. "Today was my birthday," he breathed, in the dim damp fabric of Max's shirt. "No one knew, of course, but somehow I kept hoping that everyone would guess and--and--I don't know... But they all have better things to do. Quatre and Trowa, they deserve time for just themselves, they do, and Wu Fei, I'm really sorry for saying mean things to him, even though I was just joking, and Heero... Heero... "
"What about Heero?" the man asked.
Duo sighed. The tears were done with now, and he felt strangely exhausted. It was just as good the priest was holding him up, or he might have fallen over. "I just want him to be *happy*," he whispered. "I want him to smile with his eyes because I know he'd be beautiful. And because he deserves good things, too. Just like all of them. And because... "
"Because, I... I love him. Is that wrong?"
There was another pause. "No. No, that's not wrong. Duo, what about you? What do you want for *yourself*?"
He shook his head, letting his eyes drag closed. "Nothing. I don't want anything. Just for everyone to have good things and be happy."
He was held at arm's length, and looked up--at Heero.
"EEP!" He scooted back about three feet in one jump, grabbing his heart.
"What the hell--"
Heero watched him gravely. He lifted one hand, and brushed his knuckles over Duo's cheek. "Surprise," he said briefly, one corner of his mouth rising.
Duo hid his face in embarrassment. "How long have you been there?"
"I came in just as you started... crying." Heero said the word as if it
were foreign. "You let me hold you."
Duo was fairly sure he was going to die of humiliation any time soon.
Heero seemed strangely puzzled. He frowned a bit as he stroked Duo's cheek again. "I didn't know you felt those things."
He glanced away, flushing. "Look, Heero, you don't have to say something just because you think I need comforting--"
"I happen to think exactly that, but I wouldn't lie for you," Heero
responded bluntly. "Duo, come back to the apartment. I think we should talk. About a lot of things."
Duo's blush deepened.
For just a second, Heero's fingers touched his lips--and then Heero stood, and offered a hand up to Duo. "Come on," he said. "Let's go while the rain has stopped."
Duo glanced out the door. "I didn't know it stopped."
"It's starting to look better out."
Duo wound his scarf around his neck again as he followed his friend. He paused, just at the door, and looked back into the nave.
"Hey, Heero," he said. "Did you happen to see a priest in here?"
The Japanese pilot turned. "A priest? Duo, this place has been abandoned for years. There's no one here but us."
For some reason, that made him smile.
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