I can feel my life draining – He's gone away.
She's crying so softly. Is she going to stay?
The pain of the future - the guilt of today.
I'm the only one left - they all ran away.
The Dark Dream - Gypsy fire
Transition from the Dark
Stage One: Denial
It had been the slight noises that roused him from his stupor. He
picked up the soft thudding of his heartbeat and the rasp of his
breath. The swirl and clank from the overhead fan reminded him again
that he'd neglected to fix the loose blade assembly. He lay on
his bed, and couldn't remember why or how he'd gotten there.
He closed his eyes once more, and pretended to sleep.
Other noises, louder and more persistent, came from the entry door.
Alternate knocks and rings of the bell he continued to ignore as he
had the phone earlier. He didn't have the energy to talk, to see
Sleep might have found him then, for when he next roused voices were
raised in the other room; ones he recognized and didn't want to
"Do you think he knows?"
There was a brief hesitation before Wufei's distinctive snort
sounded. "Of course. Why else would he be sleeping in the middle
of the afternoon."
He heard movement through the closed door and noticed the blanket
covering him. Heero, he thought, and stifled the flash of pain.
No, not Heero. He's not home yet. Friday... he's coming home
on Friday. His gazed focused on the comforter under his hand, his
eyes tracked the paisley pattern. Unbidden, the thought to toss it
out and get a new one brushed his consciousness. At his insistence,
and much cajoling, his lover let him buy it; Heero had hated the
color and print.
His fingers clawed the fabric and he made them relax, and cleared
his mind. He didn't want to think. Almost, if he held still long
enough, he could feel Heero's faint presence at his back with the
man's arm draped around his waist. His lids slid shut and his
lips ghosted upwards to smile softly.
Muffled talk from the other room disturbed his slumber. He stirred,
shifting on the bed quietly. He wanted the voices to leave, to go
away and give him peace. Though he tried not to listen, the
sorrowful tones of his normally cheerful friend penetrated the hazy
cocoon around his mind.
"I cleaned up the kitchen. Did you reach Relena yet? Is she on
"Quatre, I told you already. I've left her two messages and
another with her secretary. She'll be here."
He could no longer disregard the undisguised hurt emanating from his
friends. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he scrubbed at his face and
wondered why his eyes felt heavy and sore. The lethargy that held
him captive to sleep threatened to consume him, that thought gave
him the energy to push himself up on his feet and shuffle slowly
towards the door. He felt old suddenly. His body ached, pain
alternately throbbed and pulsed in his head, and somewhere inside,
it was as if something was missing, leaving him hollow. With
unsteady steps and eyes fixed on the carpet, he entered his living
It'd taken several moments for his presence to be noticed.
Hearing the sharp in-drawn breath, he raised his head and blinked.
"Quatre? Wufei? Why are you here?" his voice was hoarse, his
The young-looking blond rushed forward and embraced him. Enveloped
within those strong arms, his head held against the man's
shoulder, he could do nothing but return the hug.
"Duo... oh Duo. I'm so sorry. I came as soon as I heard." Quatre
pulled back just enough to look at him. "Are you all right? How
The man blinked and stared with concern at his friend. "You're
crying. What's wrong, buddy?" he asked softly. His hand, though
shaky, rose to wipe the tears away. "Did you and Trowa have a
fight?" At the collective gasp, Duo shifted his gaze to the other
man. "Wufei? Why are you here?"
Coming forward, the Asian Preventer put an unsteady hand on his
shoulder. "Duo, we're here because of Heero... because he...
he's..." He stopped speaking and looked away.
Duo pulled away from his friend's embrace, and moved clumsily
into the room. "Heero won't be back until Friday. He left me a
message yesterday." He lost interest in talking and sat abruptly on
the couch, making a soft flumpping sound. Though they spoke, he
tuned the two out and stared absently at the fuzz balls pilled on
the sofa material. On its own accord, a finger rolled one such ball
under its tip.
"Here," Quatre picked up a slack hand and pressed a warm mug into
it. "I made you some tea. It'll do you good."
Automatically closing his fingers around the smooth surface, Duo
lifted his head to watch the blond perch next to him. "You going
to tell me what happened with you and Trowa now? Need a place to
"Duo, Trowa and I did not have a fight. But I am here for you, and
will stay with you for as long as you need me." Quatre's voice was
quiet. Duo dropped his gaze, not wanting to see the pain reflected
back at him. Quatre's hand rested on his thigh and he stared at the
fingers, long and slim with their nails perfectly manicured and
buffed. Briefly he wondered why his friend would touch him in such
an intimate manner, but sidestepped that thought as another hazily
He stood suddenly, startling Quatre. His steps quick, he plucked a
set of keys from their hanger by the door; the mug landed on the
carpet in front of the couch, its existence forgotten for the moment.
"Duo! Where do you think you're going?" Quatre asked, distress
coloring his expression. He'd risen and taken a step, but Wufei was
already there, his hand closing over the keys in Duo's fingers.
"Wufei, com'on, man. I gotta go to the store. There's nothing here
to eat, and if you two are gonna stay..." His voice drifted away;
Wufei stepped into his arms and held him close. Duo slumped against
his chest, his breath hitched twice and he released the
keys. "Heero's gonna get mad if I don't have his tea when he gets
home," he whispered.
A hand stroked his braid and ran down his back, firm but gentle. The
other hand pressed his face against the coarse cotton of the
shirt. "Heero's not going to be mad, Duo. I'll go to the store
later." His words were quiet, his voice rough and soft at once.
Wufei slid his hands to cup the sides of the other's face, pulling
back to look down at him, his expression gentle intensity. "Duo,
Heero's not coming home. You know that."
Duo jerked away, a spasm shook his body. "No! Heero's coming home on
Friday. He told me himself." He backed away, his eyes evaded the
looks from his friends. "I'm really tired right now. I'm going to
bed." Shutting out their words, he moved stiffly away and back to
his room. Once on the bed, he lay curled on his side, his hand
clutching Heero's pillow close as he listened to the rhythmic
swirl and clank of the ceiling fan.
The apartment was dark when Relena arrived. She waited at the door
setting her bearings; it had been a long two days; the shock of the
news, the public appearance, the rush to the shuttle. All the hurry
only to sit frustrated as delay after delay kept her grounded. She
ran an almost steady hand over her hair, and smoothed down her
slacks. Nightmares filled what sleep she had been able to snatch,
and did little to stabilize her emotional state.
For a moment, she wondered if she should have stayed at a hotel, and
come in the morning. It appeared as though all in the house were
sleeping. Her soft knock was answered immediately. If Quatre's
ragged appearance shocked her she didn't show it. After giving
him a quick hug and allowing him to kiss her cheek, she picked up
the small case at her feet.
"I would have been here sooner, but the weather wouldn't cooperate."
She entered as the young man moved aside, her eyes searching the
room. As if he knew who she was looking for, Quatre nodded to the
bedroom. She gave him a half smile and took her steps to the door
where she hesitated, one hand resting against the panel. "How is
"He..." The normally articulate man seemed at a loss to continue. He
shook his head sadly and averted his gaze, his hands cupping his
Relena nodded in understanding, her hand unconsciously caressing the
wood grain. She could almost imagine that he would be behind the
door, and it was the previous summer with the two of them
frantically painting the last bit of wall before Duo arrived. She
bit her lip to stop its quivering. Straightening her shoulders, she
drew in a deep breath before opening the door, her eyes immediately
drawn to the figure lying immobile on the bed. Quelling the tremble
in her chin, she strode resolutely forward barely sparing a glance
to the one seated at the side. She dropped to her knees, bringing
herself to eye level and reached for the man.
"Duo?" she queried gently, her hand brushing back the hair drooping
over his brow.
The glazed eyes blinked, slowly focusing on her. Recognition formed
and he frowned. "Rel? What... why..." His voice cracked and he
She rubbed the back of her hand over his cheek. "Ssh... it's all
right, Duo. I'm here." She leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on
his lips. Drawing back, she asked quietly, "Are you hungry? Want me
to make you something to eat?"
Duo released a soft sigh and closed his eyes. "I'm tired, Rel.
But... yeah, I think I'm hungry." He peered at her intently for a
moment. "Have I been sick? I don't feel so well."
Tears threatened to wash away her resolve. She resisted the impulse
to climb in beside him and let herself become just as lost. Dredging
strength she didn't know she still had, she smiled sadly before
replying. "No, hon, you haven't been sick. We'll talk about it
later, okay? After you eat, and maybe take a shower." She wrinkled
her nose daintily causing the man to chuckle slightly. "You smell
like you haven't touched water or soap in a couple weeks." Her
fingers stroked the edges of his face, removing any sting from her
He nodded and shifted to rise, sliding his legs over the side of the
bed. She stood and offered a hand. "I think I need a shower... and
something to eat." His eyes narrowed when he saw the other person
in the room. "Wufei? Why are you here?"
Slipping an arm around the too slim waist, Relena said hurriedly,
"I asked him to come check on you when you didn't return my call,
hon. It's going to be all right." She guided him from the room,
distracting his attention. "How about some eggs? Or maybe soup?
Which would you prefer, hmmm?"
Her eyes remained glued on him as he blinked down at her, seeming
confused. When he glanced back and started to speak, Relena tugged
on his shirt.
"A nice plate of scrambled eggs and toast... how's that sound?"
He licked at his chapped lips and she noticed his tongue held no
moisture. He blinked rapidly as if trying to make sense of what she
was saying. "Sure, Rel. Anything you want." She felt him stiffen and
stop, resisting the pressure she put on his back to move. He had
spotted Quatre curled up at one end of the couch, and frowned. "Did
someone ... am I drugged?" She stared at him in shock, giving him
to time to say with a rush, "It's just, my head feels funny. Cloudy
and thick, like when I had that fever the one time or when someone
gives me morphine." His expression lost its animation and he dropped
"Duo," she began, continuing to pull him along with her. "You are
not sick, and no one has drugged you. What you are feeling is a
natural reaction to... to events." She gave his waist a
squeeze. "But we'll talk about that after we eat, okay? I have to
say, I haven't eaten since breakfast, and I for one am starving."
She kept her tone deliberately light.
Relena prattled about the conference she'd been attending, giving
her sarcastic wit a chance to play. Her movements were quick in long
familiarity with the kitchen and placement of items. Her gaze stayed
on the man at the small table, only occasionally moving it to watch
what she did; he sat hunched over, drawn inward, and offered no
comments to her chatter. Dishing up the eggs, she smoothed the frown
from her face. It's going to take time. He's not even to the point
of realizing what happened yet. She reminded herself, squashing the
details before they registered. A hand absently wiped the stray tear
before it had a chance to travel and she turned to set the plate
down. "There you are, hon. Just how you like them - soft on top,
browned on the bottom."
When he looked up, a ghost of a smile formed and lost steam midway.
He lifted his fork and ate mechanically. She noted his eyes had
begun to glaze over again. After a handful of bites, he let the fork
go and his hand dropped to his lap. "I... I guess I'm not hungry
after all," he said tiredly, not raising his eyes.
Her own food feeling thick and unappealing, she quit eating as well.
Her hand touched his tenderly. "That's fine, Duo. Let's get you into
the shower, and another nap then, okay? After that, if you feel up
to it, we'll talk. All right?"
He nodded dully, and allowed her to lead him back towards his
bedroom. Her hand on his arm, she matched her pace to his. Passing
Quatre standing by the couch, she felt the despondency roll like a
wave, and her knees buckled. Wufei caught her and she straightened.
Duo hadn't noticed.
Pulling him around to face her, she waited until she had his
attention. "Would you mind if Wufei helped?" She offered, giving the
Preventer a pointed look. The man nodded solemnly, compassion
radiated from him. Relena turned Duo over into his hands, and gave
him an understanding smile. The longhaired young man at her side
didn't protest when he was shifted and led from the room. Once the
bedroom door closed, her shoulders drooped and she clutched her
stomach, nausea making itself known.
"Relena," Quatre's arm slid around her shoulders, pulling her tight
Giving into his soothing hands, she sobbed quietly into his
shirt. "Oh Quatre, what are we going to do? He's so lost... has he
even eaten or even moved since he found out?"
Quatre exhaled softly into her hair. "He... I think he was eating
when he heard... two nights ago? Might have been three. I didn't
hear about it until yesterday." He continued to rub his hand over
her back. "There was food on the stove, the oven was still on,
and the relay scanner was running. I cleaned ... well, it was a
Relena drew in a shuttering breath and released it slowly. She
relaxed in her friend's embrace and let her mind dwell on the
situation. "Where's Trowa?"
The hand on her back stilled for a moment. "He left immediately
for the space port. He wanted to be on the investigation team, but
they felt he was too close. So he'll be a silent observer."
She nodded against his chest. "What happened? Does anyone know
yet? I only heard there was an accident on the ship and all died."
Quatre drew back and walked her to the couch. They sat close, his
arm still around her, and both her hands held his one remaining
one. "They don't know for sure. The recordings were pretty
broken up, but it seems the ship ran into an asteroid field." Relena
dropped her head down on his shoulder and willed the trembling to
stop; she had too much to do, and needed to keep her purpose firmly
in place. "How about you? How are you doing with...?" he left
Closing her eyes, she tried to not picture the man who had played a
significant role in her life. "I'll be fine. I can't be
otherwise... now. Not while Duo needs me," she finally replied
He made a non-committal noise and dropped a kiss to the top of her
head. Relena heard the shower start, and relaxed slowly. She heard
the low thrum of Quatre's heart beating and slipped into a half
doze. It startled and shocked her when he blurted out, "Can I
ask... why? I mean, I know you and Duo are close, and have been for
awhile. I always thought... well, I don't know the whole story, but I
know some of the history..." His cheeks flushed with embarrassment,
and he shook his head. "Never mind. It's not the time nor the
place for talk of that sort."
Questions dealing with a more personal nature, she knew Quatre did
not normally ask. At any other time, Relena might have been amused
to see the self-contained pilot so off-balance. Never easy at any
time, her friends - his friends floundered in the dark, uncertain of
which direction to turn. Banishing those thoughts for the moment,
she allowed herself to be drawn further into his warm embrace,
almost curling on his lap.
"It's all right. I don't mind. It might help all of us to remember."
Her voice muffled by his shirt, sounded distant to her own
ears. "When Heero made his... his choice... he was there - Duo." She
shifted more comfortably at his side. "He held me while I cried,
and talked to me. He told me how he would have felt the same if it
had been me Heero had chose." Her words died into a sigh as she
remembered those hard cruel days. Being so young and in love was a
terrible thing and the three friends could barely see past their
pain to hold onto the love between them. "He's always been
there when I needed someone, in more ways than Heero most of the
time. But... Heero was our rock, our strength." She stifled the sob
wanting to escape, and waited until the trembling subsided. "I
don't know what we're going to do now," she whispered.
Quatre moved and she let him pull her onto his lap, envelop her in
his arms and surround her with what strength he had to
offer. "You'll have each other and us. You won't be alone in this."
They stayed wrapped up together until they heard the shower shut
Relena gained her feet somewhat shakily. "God, I must be a sight
now. I should go wash before Duo comes out. I... I have to be strong
for him - this time." Without looking back, she went into the
other bathroom and shut the door. Leaning against it, she fought for
the calm she'd maintained for most her life, that inner peace that
allowed her to rule the world and space.
She went through the motions, moving automatically turning on the
facet and splashing her face with water. It wasn't until she was
patting her face dry she looked at her reflection. Her eyes widened
in shock. She appeared to have aged decades in the past two days.
Relena made a face at herself and shook her head slightly. Her
vanity would have to wait; it wasn't needed in this house at this
Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths. He needed her,
needed her strength. It was time.
Duo stirred and looked up. He became aware of voices talking around
him, and he plucked at the afghan covering his lap, his eyes darting
from one to the other. His sense of time off, his body shaky and
weak and he didn't know why it was happening. His hair felt damp,
its braid heavy on his shoulder. His skin, tight and warm, told him
he'd showered recently. He didn't remember taking one. Looking from
one friend to the other, he wanted to shout, to tell them to shut
up. Their voices sounded unnaturally loud to his ears, and their
words bounced around in his head, gaining momentum, over lapping
each other, and causing more confusion.
He jumped as a warm hand touch his arm. "Duo." A sigh escaped and he
relaxed when he saw it was Relena. She looked tired, haggard in a
way she hadn't been since the near galactic war five years previous.
Focusing entirely on her, he trailed his fingertips over her face,
his eyes scrunched with worry.
"Babe, you look exhausted. You're working too hard again," he said
Her smile trembled and she leaned into him for a moment.
Straightening, she gripped his hand tightly. "Duo, we have to
talk now." Her eyes looked so sad, her expression so earnest.
"It's been three days, hon... three days since the news was
delivered." She stared at him intently. "Duo, you have to remember.
You have to think and understand. Heero's dead."
Duo blinked and furrowed his brow. "Rel? I don't understand..." His
expression cleared and he smiled. "Oh, a joke. That's in bad taste,
girl. You need a new gag writ..." he stopped in surprise as the
tears welled in her eyes and spilled over. Jerking his hand from her
grip, he shook his head. "No, Rel... he's not dead. See... he's
coming home. Friday. He said." Jumping to his feet, he evaded the
hands reaching for him and sprinted for the videophone. "I'll
show you. He left me a message, see... he said they'd finished early,
and they'd be coming home. Home by Friday..." His fingers flew
over the buttons, queuing the stored message. The image and voice
appeared, alive and vibrant, giving lie to their worries and tales.
"Hey baby," Heero voice sounded tired, but pleased. He looked
up into the camera through the mess of hair hanging over his
eyes. "I've got to make this quick, but wanted to let you know,
we're done!" His eyes shown brightly, an extension of the smile he
wore. "Three weeks early, can you believe that!" He looked back over
his shoulder for a moment, continuing to speak. "They're one hell of
a crew... I couldn't have done it without them." Facing the camera
again, his expression softened. "Two months is too fucking long.
I've missed you." A hand passed in front of the camera as if to
touch the screen. "I should be seeing you this Friday, okay. And
don't you be making plans for the weekend - you're all mine." His
brows raised rakishly, and he gave a growl. A shout sounded behind
him and he swung around. "Be right there!" When he turned back to
the camera, his expression was gentle, tender. "Ah, Duo. I have
to go. We're about to launch. I love you baby. Bye." The monitor
blackened for a moment before the blue vidscreen took over.
His fingers touching the screen where Heero's face had been, Duo
continued to stare at it in a somnolent state. He exhaled loudly and
turned in the chair to face his friends. "See, he's coming home.
Friday." Scanning their faces, each held a different expression,
and each frightened him.
Wufei's normally stoic demeanor held a gentle tenderness mixed with
a hint of embarrassment. Knowing that had come from listening to a
private message did nothing to dispel the building anxiety. Quatre's
face crumpled in sorrow, his body seemed too heavy, the weight of
his sadness pulling him downward. And Relena, her lips trembled and
her chin quivered, tears streamed unchecked from her eyes. She stood
halfway from the couch, her hand reaching for him or possibly
A trace of a memory, just a few days old but buried deep, surfaced.
Call numbers shouted out with its distress signal, alarms blaring in
the background. It'd come through while he listened to the
interstellar traffic chatter eating dinner. Heero's ship. Imminent
explosion. Evacuation procedures. White noise.
"Heero... he's... Heero's not coming home, is he?" Duo whispered,
his eyes pleaded for Relena to tell him he was wrong. She shook her
head slowly, the tears dropped faster. His vision blurred and his
eyes stung. The horror welled. Distantly, he heard a whimpering
noise, and was surprised to discover it came from him. He
desperately gasped for breath, certain his heart would burst from
the sudden onslaught of pain. Slipping from the chair to his knees,
a high keening sounded. Arms wrapped around him, holding him, soft
words meant to sooth washed over him. He rocked, wishing his heart
would stop beating, wishing the pain would end.