Duo lay the strips of paper out on the bed, staring at them morosely. His tallies for the past week, all laid out nice and neat. At the beginning of that week, he'd been struck with a thought after being told to go away for what seemed like the hundredth time. He picked up the paper marked Heero.
24 omae o korosu's
11 braid pulls
15 go away's
Putting the paper down, he picked up the one next to it marked Wufei.
3 five minute justice rants
8 ten minute justice rants
11 times being told he took the war as a joke
22 go away's
4 braid pulls
Duo barked out a short laugh that fell short of reaching his eyes. He set the paper down with hands that had started to shake, ever so slightly. Taking a deep breath, he picked up Trowa's paper.
15 conversations he tried to start with Trowa openly ignoring his chattering.
7 blank stares
3 times leaving the room when Duo began to tell jokes.
The lump in Duo's throat was getting thicker. He put the paper down and closed his eyes for a minute before reaching for Quatre's paper.
4 hesitant smiles before finding Trowa and leaving with him.
5 heartfelt entreaties to be quiet
Duo set the paper back in its space among the others and sat back, breathing heavily. One week. That's all it took. He vaguely wondered what the score would look like if he'd started keeping track a long time ago. Duo bit his lip and gathered the pieces of paper up carefully, neatly stacking them in the night stand drawer. Dashing his hand across suddenly damp eyes, he looked into the mirror that hung over the dresser beside the bed, meeting the hollowed-eyed reflection.
" So that's it," he whispered dryly. He shuddered slightly. No matter how he tried to lighten their situation, he only seemed to irritate them more. He wasn't being helpful, he was being annoying.
Duo thought back to his days before piloting Deathscythe, before the church massacre, way back to even before the plague that ran rampant through the colonies. Solo. His best friend.
' You're like a light, ya know that kid?' Duo remembered Solo ruffling his hair fondly as he spoke to him.
' What do you mean Solo?'
' I mean your a good kid!' Solo's hearty laugh echoed in Duo's memories. ' You light up the place just by being there - ya make everyone feel better. Never let that light go out kid - you'll never know how much it's appreciated.'
' I won't Solo.'
" You were wrong Solo," Duo mumbled, eyes closed. " I'm not a light - I'm a darkness. The shadow of death." Drawing a deep breath, he met those dead eyes in the mirror. " I tried. I tried to keep the light in me Solo. But somewhere I messed up. Bigtime. I'm doing more harm then good. And you know what? I don't care."
Standing up, he began stalking around the room, sneaking glances at the reflection in the mirror that had somehow morphed from violet eyes to light brown. The braid, melting away into scruffy blond hair.
" I tried Solo, but I can't do it anymore." Duo slammed his fists onto the dresser staring at the memory in the mirror. " I'm sick of being hurt all the time - I wanted to stay like you wanted me to - but I can't do it anymore. I can't."
" They won."
Duo couldn't look at the mirror anymore, afraid he'd see condemnation in the eyes of a dead man. He slammed his fist into the mirror, the glass shattering beneath his blow, raining down on the dresser and carpet. Blood began gushing from the cuts on his hand and he ignored it, sucking in deep breaths. He heard a knock on the door.
" Go away!" he rasped harshly, squeezing his eyes shut.
" Duo, are you okay?"
Duo stared into the fractured remains of the mirror.
" I'm just...fine."